Monday, November 29, 2010

What to Do With Leftover Turkey?

Thanksgiving is over, and if you’re like me you have at least two tubs of leftover turkey in the refrigerator. Of course, you can just re-heat the turkey, or slice it for sandwiches with your favorite allergen-free bread.

Or… you can get creative with your turkey leftovers!

Here is one idea to try:

Almost Turkey Pie

Chop leftover turkey into chunks (about two cups).
Combine turkey chunks with one small (6 oz) can of tomato paste, ½ tsp basil, and 1 tsp oregano.
Spread turkey mixture into a greased pie plate.

Prepare “crust” batter:
Blend together 2/3 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour mix with 1 cup of original hemp milk, and the equivalent of two eggs (mix 3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer with 4 tbsp. water), and ¼ tsp pepper.

Pour crust batter over turkey mixture in pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes until crust is lightly browned. Slice and serve.

This recipe works really well with the dark meat leftovers. Try it and let me know how you like it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maybe, Maybe Not – A Rant on Food Allergen Advisory Labels

Chances are if you are reading this blog you already know that in the US, the top eight food allergens need to be clearly called out on all food product labels, either in the list of ingredients themselves, or called out in a “contains” statement (e.g. contains milk). This of course is for the ingredients that are intended to be in the product.

But what about unintended ingredients? What about those pesky advisory labels? I’m talking about those optional labels that say things like:

“May contain tree nuts”

“Processed in a facility that also processes wheat”

Or the ever confusing:

“Precautions were taken to segregate ingredients…”

These warnings are inconsistent in their wording and in their usage, making it close to impossible to know how to interpret them. If something “may contain” an ingredient, then it’s also possible that it “may not contain” that same ingredient. If manufacturers include warning labels does that mean they are just being good citizens and fully disclosing? Or does it mean that there actually is a higher chance of the product containing that ingredient than the manufacturer who just doesn’t include any warnings at all?

The Food Allergy Initiative recently reported on the results of a study
that took a look at allergen labeling. The study examined cross-contamination of ingredients in foods with and without warning labels. They found the allergens they tested for in 5.3% of products with advisory statements and in 1.9% of similar products without advisory statements. Also interesting was the fact that small companies were five times as likely to have contaminated foods (5.1%), as large companies (0.8%).

These results would suggest that those with food-allergies are best off if they stick to products without warning labels, and buy from large companies.

Take this quick poll:

What is your approach to food allergy warning labels?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'll be back posting next week with some post-holiday food ideas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Mixes Spotted at Stop & Shop

Oh, I’m excited! I just got back from the grocery store, and guess what I found? The full line of King Arthur Flour’s new gluten-free mixes stocked on the shelves.

This wasn’t the health food store I’m talking about – this was the mainstream grocery store where I do my weekly shopping.

Where I live in New York’s Hudson Valley, it’s hard to find things like gluten-free flour blends at the grocery store. Luckily we do have a health food store chain that carries some items, and thank goodness for the internet for when I’m looking for brands (like Authentic Foods) that I can’t find locally.

Now I no longer have to go on a field trip to Vermont when I get a hankering for King Arthur Flour cookies. What a treat!

What about you? Have the new King Arthur mixes made it to your grocery store shelves yet?

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Brownie Mix

If you’ve been here before, you know that I am a chocoholic. My motto is: When in doubt, eat chocolate. If you’re going to have dessert, it may as well be chocolate – and, if it’s a breakfast muffin then obviously, chocolate is the right choice.

In my quest to try to adapt the variety of gluten-free baking mixes on the market to be allergen-free, I have found brownies to be a particular challenge. Specifically, those that are high in sugar content (or where sugar is the first ingredient listed on the package) tend to be the most problematic when you leave out the eggs.

This time I tried Namaste gluten-free brownie mix. I love the Namaste flour, muffin mix, and chocolate cake mix, so I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t make the brownie work. The only substitute required on this one was the eggs. I used Ener-G egg replacer to make the equivalent of three eggs, and I added the oil that the mix called for.

The result? A sugary brownie mess. I can now tell before time is up on the oven timer when a brownie mix isn’t going to work because I can hear the brownies sizzling in the pan. Brownies aren’t supposed to sizzle are they? No, I don’t think so.

And once again, I have concluded that some gluten-free mixes that require eggs, just can’t be adapted to be allergen-free.

Here’s the low-down on the brownies I have tried so far:

I recommend avoiding Namaste, King Arthur Flour, and Trader Joe’s gluten-free brownie mixes if you need to replace the eggs.

Brownie mixes that work with allergen-free substitutes include Bob’s Red Mill, and my favorite – Pamela’s Products.

Does anyone have a suggestion for other brownie mixes I should try?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Allergen-Free Holiday - Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce isn’t necessarily a problem for the food-allergic – you can find canned whole cranberry sauce and jellied cranberry sauce that works for most of the food-allergic. However, if you want a cranberry sauce without high-fructose corn syrup – or made with organic cranberries, you are much better off if you make your own.

I’ve been making cranberry sauce for years, and it’s about the simplest thing you can make. Oh, and it is soooooo much better than those cranberry jellies.

Cranberry Sauce


2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and strained
1 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped pineapple
2 tbsp light agave nectar


1. Bring cranberries and orange juice to a boil in medium saucepan over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to med-high and boil until cranberries begin to pop open (3-4 minutes).
3. Add pineapple chunks.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce starts to thicken (about 10 minutes).
5. Add agave nectar and continue simmering another 2-3 minutes.
6. Let cool.
7. Transfer to serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Leftover cranberry sauce makes a great jam or spread.

The Allergen-Free Holiday Cookbook is available at Smashwords. Download it for free with coupon code “AA48Y”. If you like it, I’d appreciate it if you post a review on Smashwords!

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Allergen-Free Holiday - Allergen-Free Cranberry Bread

I usually only make cranberry bread during the holidays, when it’s easy to find fresh organic cranberries. Then I load up on cranberries and make extra loaves of this great bread to freeze and eat throughout the winter.

I really like the combination of oat flour and rice flours in this bread, but you can substitute your favorite flours. I serve it on Thanksgiving, and then we have the leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Allergen-free Cranberry Bread


1 cup oat flour
¾ cup rice flour
½ cup sweet rice flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp xantham gum
2 tbsp softened Earth Balance
¾ cup honey
1 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped


1. Stir together dry ingredients.
2. In mixer combine Earth balance, honey, and orange juice. Mix on medium for two minutes.
3. Add in cranberries, and mix for another minute.
4. Gradually add in flour blend, mixing on medium speed until all ingredients are combined.
5. Transfer immediately to greased loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.


Always mix xantham gum in thoroughly with dry ingredients.
You may substitute 1 ¼ cups of your favorite gluten-free flour blend for the rice flours. If you use a flour blend that contains xantham gum, eliminate the ½ tsp of xantham gum.
Make your own oat flour from gluten-free oats in your food processor or blender is gluten-free oat flour is not available.
Try cranberry honey if you can find it.


For more holiday recipe ideas, download The Allergen-Free Holiday Cookbook from Smashwords. I recommend the PDF format so you can print it out and take notes. Use Smashwords coupon code “AA48Y” to get the book for free through year-end. If you like it, I’d appreciate it if you post a review on Smashwords!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can a Restaurant be Too Restrictive?

Saturday night my husband and I were in Princeton, NJ, with our food-allergic son. I had heard some good things about the way PF Chang’s handles food allergies, so we decided to try it.

There was a crowd, and we were told it was a one and a half-hour wait. Before making the decision to wait, I asked whether they would be able to handle allergies to wheat, milk, soy, eggs, and peanuts. The receptionist was very happy to tell me, “Yes! When you sit down, let your waiter know, and they’ll print out a list of what he can eat.”

Great! I was curious to see how it worked. My son was optimistic that he would be treated well.

Two hours later we sat down. I asked about the gluten-free options on the back of the menu, thinking that was a good place to start. “Yes, there’s a difference between the regular lettuce-wrapped chicken and the gluten-free lettuce-wrapped chicken,” I was told, “the gluten-free version uses a soy-based sauce.” Come to find out that pretty much every option on the GF menu substituted soy for wheat. Now, I’m not a big fan of soy, and in addition to my son’s allergies, I have had problems with it in the past, so we asked for the special list.

A few minutes later, the restaurant manager came by with a printout of things my son could eat. It went like this:

Chicken items available for you:
We’re sorry, there are no items for you in this category

Seafood items available for you:
We’re sorry, there are no items for you in this category

Meat items available for you:
We’re sorry, there are no items for you in this category

… and it went on like this for three pages.

In fact, the only items my son could eat were rice and a vegetable soup. That was it.

Needless to say, we were more than a little annoyed. The manager couldn’t have looked at the printout before he gave it to us, could he?

When our waiter returned, he explained that pretty much everything on the menu has hydrolyzed egg protein in it, and most items have soy. There was some good news. Our fabulous waiter worked with us and the kitchen. He managed to convince the chef to make a steak with no sauce. With steamed veggies and rice, my son was set.

What I learned is that PF Chang’s doesn’t accommodate, they restrict. They take an approach that says – if the way we make it you can’t eat it, then pick something else. In fact, what we need for them and all eating establishments to do is to accommodate – if the way they usually make it doesn’t work, then they should adapt their recipes and make something the food-allergic can eat.

What do you think? Can a restaurant be too restrictive?

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Allergen-Free Holiday - Apple Raisin Pie

Here in the Hudson Valley apples are in season. Apple orchards surround our community. There are farms where you can pick your own apples, and there are plenty of local apple selections available at the grocery store. What does that mean?

Pies, of course.

Even when I was baking with wheat I was afraid of pies. For years I was a slave to the Pillsbury pie crusts that you get at the grocery store and unfold into your pie plate. But I have discovered that gluten-free pie crusts can actually be easier than wheat crusts. You don’t have to worry about the crust staying in one piece – you can just glue it back together with your fingers and no one will be able to tell!

Today I am sharing my recipe for Apple Raisin Pie. You’re gonna love this one!

Apple Raisin Pie

Filling Ingredients:

4 cups chopped apples
½ cup raisins
½ cup sugar
¼ cup sweet rice flour
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp lime juice

Pie Crust Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice flour
½ cup sweet rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
½ cup tapioca starch
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sucanat
10 tbsp Earth Balance shortening
½ cup water
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar


1. Prepare filling: By hand, combine apples and raisins in large bowl. Toss with lime juice. Add sugar, sweet rice flour and lime juice. Toss to coat apples. Set aside.
2. Prepare pie crust: Combine flours, baking powder, salt, and Sucanat in large mixing bowl, by hand.
3. Using a pastry cutter, mix in Earth Balance, water, and vinegar.
4. Continue combining until a pasty mixture forms.
5. Separate pie crust mixture into two equal amounts.
6. Roll out first crust, and gently place in greased pie pan.
7. Add filling.
8. Roll out second crust. Gently place over pie pan, crimping the two crusts together.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool.


If a pastry cutter is not available, use your hands.
Gluten-free pie crusts can easily be repaired by sticking additional pie dough where the damage occurs. There is no need to rise.
Roll out crusts between two sheets of waxed paper, then gently peel paper back to release the crust.
2 ½ cups of your favorite gluten-flour mix can be substituted for the pie crust flours.


Don't forget to download The Allergen-Free Holiday Cookbook from Smashwords. I am offering this free to readers of Learning to Eat Allergy-Free through the end of 2010. Use Smashwords coupon code “AA48Y. If you like it, I’d appreciate it if you post a review on Smashwords!