To Eat or Not to Eat

My  husband, He Who Eats Everything, and I searched the aisles of Harris Teeter for something easy to eat before catching a plane. So many options for him: a pre-made sandwich from the deli, prepackaged tuna and crackers, fried chicken and chips (okay, I didn’t say healthful options). I wanted more than a coconut-milk yogurt or slices of gluten-free lunch meat. I wanted to be full and not tempted to eat the fattening potato chips on the plane.

This chicken curry stared at me from the prepared food section in the refrigerated  deli section:
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I flipped the package over to read the ingredients. Surely there’d be at least one allergen likely more. Soy lecithin? Wheat? Corn (unidentified maltodextrin)? Milk slipped into the coconut milk?

Nothing. I couldn’t find one of my allergens! And there was no warning of contamination either.

There was no “certified gluten-free” label either.

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The curry and rice looked so good–and filling. I put it into my cart.

As we looked for something for Eater of Everything (he was having trouble making a decision!), I kept hearing a voice in my head: “Don’t eat anything that isn’t labeled certified gluten-free.” How many times have I told my celiac son the same thing?

I also kept thinking about that plane ride–and those tiny airplane bathrooms. Anyone who’s ever experienced a GI reaction on a plane–especially during takeoff and landing–never forgets it.

Damn voice. I put the chicken curry back. I bought ingredients for a salad and Applegate lunch meat and a So Delicious yogurt.

Better to be safe than sorry.

For more info on labeling, see What the FDA says .

To Eat or Not to Eat” originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Making Mayo with Colette Martin (The Allergy-Free Pantry)

I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while growing up so I wasn’t much of a cook when I left home. My husband will attest to that. Most of what we ate came out of a cardboard box, the freezer aisle of the grocery store, or Pizza Hut. Then there was that year, two kids still in diapers, when I got most of our food from the Schwan’s delivery guy. When my husband couldn’t button his pants and I hadn’t lost any post-pregnancy weight, I decided I needed to learn to cook.

Out came the wedding gift crockpot. We ate a lot of beef stew and chicken with potatoes for a long, long time.

No one in our young family had food allergies (that we knew of). While my kids grew into young adults, we blissfully ate all types of foods without any worries—-until yours truly developed multiple food allergies and celiac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis (an allergic esophagus).

That was the game changer.

Suddenly I had to eliminate gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt), dairy (no more cheese!), soy, eggs (are there eggless cookies?), and more foods. It was hard. Really, really hard.  What I struggled with most was finding the staples I relied on for decades . . .  salad dressing, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, and marinades, to name a few. Even the staples that were supposed to be “allergy-friendly” contained at least one of my allergens or were not certified gluten-free.

I was still struggling with my new way of eating and cooking when I met Colette Martin on the shuttle bus heading to the  Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas. Because I knew Colette was the author of a well-respected cookbook on allergen-free baking and because she was pretty much captive on the bus, I complained to her about how I couldn’t find any decent allergy-free mayo.

Turned out she was in the middle of writing her next cookbook and she was working on a mayonnaise recipe! (I didn’t admit this at the time, but I ‘d never even considered making my own mayo from scratch! Who does that?).

Fast forward eight months. A reader’s copy of The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts (The Experiment, September 2014) by Colette Martin arrives in the mail! Of course, I immediately flip to the mayo recipe.

Oh-oh. Sounds kind of complicated for a novice like me. First, I have to make “eggs” using flaxseed, which I just so happen to have in my pantry because I buy all the food-allergy cooking ingredients but never actually cook with them. I add water to the flaxseed and make the “eggs.”

I follow the steps to make the mayo using a hand-mixer that I’ve moved  into three houses but have never plugged in.

 

Hmmm, not so difficult after all.

Wait!  This mixture is actually starting to look like mayo! Using my finger, I put a little on my tongue. It tastes like mayo. Maybe even a little better than what I remember mayo tasting.

I decide to make Colette’s potato salad. Did I mention I have really missed potato salad since becoming allergic to eggs/mayo?

Allergy-Free Short Ribs and Potato Salad

 

 

I serve the allergy-free potato salad and short ribs to my family. I don’t tell them about the flaxseed, which might turn them off.  No one notices the mayo is eggless or made with flaxseed–they all help themselves to seconds.

_________________________________

Since that fateful day of making mayo, The Allergy-Free Pantry hasn’t left my kitchen island. Using this book, I now make my own allergen-free ketchup and mustard and barbecue sauce. I’m planning to branch out to crackers in a few weeks. For anyone with food restrictions, this cookbook will become your most-used kitchen tool. You can pre-order a copy today at Powell’s, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.  Thank you to Colette Martin for writing this book and for sharing her flaxseed mayo and potato salad recipes (below).

Recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

Recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

 Potato Salad

Makes 10 to 12 servings

 Friends and neighbors will have no idea that this allergen-free version of potato salad was made without traditional mayonnaise or off-the-shelf salad dressings. Instead, Flaxseed Mayonnaise (page 99) is used to make a salad with added fiber and essential fatty acids—and that tastes marvelous! Add some blue potatoes, if you can find them.

 Even though this potato salad contains no eggs or dairy, be careful not to let it sit out longer than an hour; it’s the potatoes, not the mayonnaise, that contain the bacteria that can make you sick.

10 to 12 medium Yukon Gold and Red Gold potatoes, with skins, cubed

1 teaspoon salt

About 5 cups (1200 ml) water

1 medium red onion, diced

2 tablespoons diced Dill Pickles, optional

½ cup (120 ml) Flaxseed Mayonnaise (see below)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Place the potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender but not falling apart.
  3. Place the potatoes in a strainer and run cold water over them for 30 seconds to halt the cooking. Drain the potatoes well.
  4. Combine the onion, pickles (if desired), flaxseed mayonnaise, herbs, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and stir to coat.
  5. Cover and chill the potato salad for at least an hour before serving. It will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Flaxseed Mayonnaise

Makes 1¼ cups (300 ml)

 Because this mayonnaise starts with flaxseeds rather than eggs, it has the benefit of being both healthier and tastier than traditional mayonnaise. Even if you aren’t allergic to eggs, this might just be the best sandwich topping you have ever tried!

 Use measuring cups with a spout to measure the oil; this will allow you to pour the oil directly into the container for your blender when making mayonnaise.

2 Flaxseed Eggs

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (measured after grinding) or flaxseed meal

6 tablespoons warm water

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Mustard, or ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup (120 ml) organic canola oil

½ cup (60 ml) light olive oil

  1. Combine the flaxseed eggs, salt, mustard, and lemon juice in a working glass or the container for your immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Pulse four or five times to combine the ingredients.
  2. With the blender running continuously, pour a few drops of canola oil into the container. The slower you pour, the better. The mixture will start to become creamy as emulsification occurs.
  3. Continue blending and adding oil in a slow trickle until all of the oil is incorporated; add all of the canola oil first and then the olive oil. If the oil starts to pool on top of the mixture, slide your immersion blender up and down ½ inch, or stop pouring until the oil combines.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. The mixture will set further as it chills.

To substitute

A single oil or any combination of oils (up to ¾ cup/180 ml total) can be used to make this mayonnaise, with the exception of coconut oil or palm fruit oil (which behave differently). Use less oil for a thinner spread.

Variation

Make Chia Seed Mayonnaise by substituting 2 Chia Seed Eggs for the Flaxseed Eggs.

Making Mayo with Colette Martin appeared first on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Cookies from Goldilocks Goodies

An Allergic Foodie Finds a “Just Right” Cookie

It’s not often an allergic foodie gets to eat a treat. Not often at all.

If I’m eating out, a restaurant may offer me sorbet–please no mango or pineapple or I’ll break out in hives–or a bowl of berries. A dessert cup of berries costs more than a pint at the store, so I usually smile sweetly and say, “I’m too full for dessert.”

I am never too full for dessert.

So imagine my happiness when these allergy-friendly cookies arrived on my doorstep!

A Sweet Treat for an Allergic Foodie

They arrived two weeks before my birthday, so I decided to save them for a birthday treat.

This was hard. Really, really hard.

But here’s the thing. Not only do I have celiac disease and allergies to dairy, soy, and corn, I also cannot eat vanilla, nutmeg and guar gum. Oh and yeast seems to be a problem lately. (Actually, yeast has been a problem for a long time, but I have a tiny bit of a problem with denial.)  All these allergens are common in gluten-free and “allergy-friendly” processed baked goods.

For an allergic foodie, the words “No Top 8” does not mean the cookies are “Allergy Friendly.”

Goldilocks Goodies Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip cookies have FIVE ingredients. FIVE!  I didn’t have to scan the package for words like “maltodextrin” or “food starch.”  (Do note, however, if you have a peanut allergy, these aren’t for you.)

So I thought, how can a cookie stay together and taste good with just five ingredients?

I ate one. Okay I ate them all–it was my birthday. OMG, these are so gooooood.  I’m a Vermont girl, so I love the maple syrup flavor. The Himalayan sea salt gives the cookies a grown-up taste. Of course, I don’t know any kids who wouldn’t like them, too.

Lately, my husband has been into eating chocolate bars with almonds and sea salt while I drool, so I am really thrilled to now have something I can moan over and not give him a bite (we have issues; see my last post).

Besides having awesome cookies and other baked goods like Whoopie Pies, Goldilocks Goodies is a really cool small company. Emily Robins, the chief baker and founder, comes from a long line of bakers including her grandmother who singlehandedly rolled out nine pie crusts during harvest season to bake pies for the farm hands. Wow.

A Sweet Treat

Founder and Chief Chef of Goldilocks Goodies Emily Robins (right) with her mother

Emily went gluten free six years ago to help with the symptoms associated with Lyme Disease (celiac disease also runs in the family).  While going gluten free helped her feel better, she couldn’t find a cookie that wasn’t “grainy, too processed, and full of artificial ingredients.”  Like Goldilocks, Emily searched and searched for a cookie that was “just right.” Emily and I have a lot in common.

Discouraged, Emily began baking her own gluten-free cookies. She says, “My passion for baking was started because of my love of eating.”  Did I mention Emily and I have a lot in common?

As an allergic foodie, I believe it’s important for those of us with food restrictions to support the small companies like this one who are dedicated to making food we can eat safely. Without them, there’d be no cookies for an allergic foodie, and that would be sad. Really, really sad.

You can read all about Goldilocks Goodies here. The business is in Lancaster County,  PA but baked goods–did I mention they have WHOOPIE PIES?–can also be found in Virginia, Maryland and the DC area.  Some baked goods can be ordered online, too.

An Allergic Foodie Finds a “Just Right” Cookie originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Why He'll Never Suggest Lettuce for Lunch Again

Why He’ll Never Suggest Lettuce for Lunch Again

We’d been driving for a day and a half and were only halfway home. The high winds across the Kansas plains and the oversized trucks creeping into our lane forced my husband to keep a hands-of-steel grip on the wheel while I kept eyeing the sky for a tornado.

An Allergic Foodie and her husband don't always agree on where to eat

We were a little on edge.

And we were hungry.

When we finally decided to stop for lunch, we began quarreling. For us, quarreling involves a lot of silence.

Husband-Who-Can-Eat-Everything wanted to stop at Taco John’s. With my soy, dairy, gluten, and corn allergies, I didn’t even want to breathe the air in Taco John’s.

Besides, Husband-Who-Can-Eat-Everything knew I wasn’t looking forward to the three-day-old tuna and garbanzo beans I’d packed for myself. He knew this because I kept opening all the apps on my iPhone–Allergy Eats, Find Me Gluten Free, YoDish–and reading the reviews.

Still, he said, “Taco John’s has salad. Did you bring salad dressing?”

“Yay, more salad,” I said.

“The lettuce looked fresh last time.”

“How would you like a bowl of lettuce for lunch?”

Silence.

I pulled up Taco John’s list of allergens on my iPhone. Just about everything has milk, wheat and/or soy.

Except maybe the lettuce.

“I just thought you ‘d want to order something while I ate,” he said.

“Lettuce?”

More silence.

Food Allergies and relationships are a difficult journey

A few exits later, my husband of 20+ years tried to explain how he thought he was being thoughtful. Almost six weeks ago, on the drive out, he’d gotten Taco John’s to-go and taken it to Subway; a food-allergy app had given the Subway salad bar a good review.

While standing in the salad line, I watched the worker make pizza with gloves, then dip the same gloved hands into the salad ingredients. Even if he changed gloves, the tomatoes and lettuce and cucumbers were already contaminated with wheat.

I passed on the salad. My husband ate his tacos and I ate my fruit and almond-milk yogurt in one of the Subway booths.

It was a little weird. But if  an employee had said anything, they’d get an earful about how anyone with celiac or a gluten intolerance would get sick from Subway’s unsafe practices.

So this time around, my husband didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable by eating outside food in a Taco John’s booth. That’s how he was being considerate. To me, suggesting we go to a grocery store and picking up food we both could eat would be considerate. But that’s just me.

Here’s the thing: I GET IT!  My food allergies are not only a pain in the butt for me– but for him, too!

After a long difficult drive, he wanted tacos. He didn’t want to have to drive around looking for a grocery store or a safe place for me to eat–and allergy-friendly options are limited in Colby, Kansas.

Still, if he’d just said, “I’m sorry you can’t eat tacos or burritos or nachos, but do you mind if we stop at Taco John’s?” I would have been okay with it. Sometimes I just want confirmation from my husband and others that they get how food restrictions make life’s road bumpy.

Just don’t tell me to eat lettuce for lunch.

Why He’ll Never Suggest Lettuce for Lunch Again first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Chocolate! Allergy Friendly! FREE!

If that headline got your attention, you’re probably a chocoholic like I am.

Did you also say this mantra when being tested for food allergies? Please don’t let me be allergic to chocolate. Please don’t let me be allergic to chocolate. Please don’t let me be allergic to chocolate.

Ha! You ARE a chocoholic like me!

Fortunately, to my great relief, I am NOT allergic to chocolate!

Unfortunately, I AM allergic to dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, corn and vanilla–all ingredients that are typically found in most chocolate.

For a long time, I was sad. Very, very sad. Especially during Valentines Day and my birthday. And maybe also Thanksgiving and Easter . . . and all the days in between.

But now I’ve recently discovered Amanda’s Own Confections. Actually they discovered me (thank you! thank you!), and it just so happens the month of April is both my celiac college son’s and my birthday month. Yes, I know the lemon in the sunglasses looks way too young to have a kid in college (or perhaps that’s why An Allergic Foodie uses a lemon for a Gravatar! LOL!).

Chocolate Bar Giveaway. Enter to win by Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 5 PM EST

Chocolate Bar Giveaway.
Enter to win by Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 5 PM EST

Anyway, back to chocolate. To celebrate our birthdays,  Amanda’s Own Confections wants to give one lucky person a present–a box of chocolate bars! That’s right! An entire box. TWELVE BARS OF GLORIOUS CHOCOLATE.

These chocolate bars make me close my eyes and moan–maybe that’s too much info?–and there are only three ingredients: Cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter. So this makes them free of dairy, nuts, gluten, eggs, sesame, and fish/shellfish. (Why any fish would be in any chocolate is incomprehensible, but I’m told it happens.)

Here’s what you need to do to enter (you only have to do one, but if you do all I will do a happy dance and post it on You Tube*).

  • Write a comment below telling me how much you love chocolate (and my blog, of course).
  • Follow @anallergicfoodie on Instagram and like one of the pictures of Amanda’s chocolate bars. I’ll be posting several.
  • Follow me on Twitter–that 2,000 rule is killing me!–and tweet this blog post  with hashtag #amandasown
  • Like my Facebook Page and give a thumb’s up to one of my posts mentioning Amanda’s Own Confections.
  • Pin this blog post on Pinterest.

The contest will end on Tuesday, April 22, 8 PM EST. Must live in the U.S. to enter.

Ready. Set. Go!

I hope you win!

*I won’t really do a happy dance on You Tube because my sons, and maybe my husband, would be mortified.

Chocolate! Allergy Friendly! Free! first appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.