Friday, October 29, 2010

Have You Visited the Living Harvest Blog?

I am really excited to announce that you can now find me blogging for Living Harvest at their blog:

Living Harvest Blog

As you know, I am a big fan of hemp, and Living Harvest's Tempt product line is my choice when it comes to hemp milk. Check out my first blog post there, and be sure to join the community!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Allergen-Free Holiday - Breadless Turkey Stuffing

It's hard to believe that the holidays are almost here! Of course, that means family gatherings and holiday meals – and for those of who need to cook for families with food allergies, there can be added stress.

For the next few weeks I will share some of my family’s favorite allergen-free and gluten-free holiday recipes. First up is my breadless turkey stuffing. My family has been making meat stuffing for years. This recipe goes back to my grandmother’s French-Canadian heritage. I have modified it over the years, but the essence of the meat stuffing tradition in my family remains.

Breadless Turkey Stuffing


1 cup brown rice (measured prior to cooking)
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground turkey
2 medium onions, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
4 tsp Bell’s seasoning


1. Prepare the rice according to package instructions. Set aside.
2. Brown the turkey and pork together in a large skillet over med-high heat. When cooked thoroughly, drain. Add the Bell’s seasoning to the meat mixture.
3. In a small skillet, add the olive oil and onions. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are caramelized (8-10 minutes).
4. Combine the meat mixture, rice, apple, and onions together in a large mixing bowl.
5. Stuff and roast turkey.
6. When turkey is done, remove stuffing from bird and transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.
Makes enough stuffing for a 14-18 pound turkey.


Stuff the turkey only when you are ready to begin roasting to avoid illness.
Adjust the amounts for a smaller or larger bird.
If Bell’s seasoning is not available, substitute equal 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp oregano, and 1 tsp pepper.
This recipe can be made as a side dish. Prepare as above, transfer to a casserole dish, add 4 tbsp Earth Balance soy free buttery spread on top, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


For more holiday recipe ideas, download The Allergen-Free Holiday Cookbook from Smashwords, available in many formats. I recommend the PDF format so you can print it out and take notes. 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!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hemp Discussion Goes Mainstream

Hemp Seeds - Don't let them growThe last thing I expect to see when I crack open Fortune Magazine is something that I might write about on this site. Imagine my surprise, when on page 22 of a recent issue I stumbled upon an article about hemp.

It’s not a big article, just a short piece in the front of the magazine, with a picture of Nature’s Path Sunny Hemp bars – one of my favorite snacks.

The article points out that prior presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, which would – if passed – exclude hemp from the DEAs definition of marijuana.

Here are some quick facts about hemp:
  • Hemp is a very profitable crop, as it can be grown without pesticides.
  • Since 1970 is has been illegal to grow hemp in the US. Hemp is grown in most industrialized nations, including Canada.
  • Hemp is high in protein.
  • Hemp is high in Omega-3 and Omega-6.
  • There are no known allergies to hemp.
  • And most importantly… hemp is not a hallucinogenic.

I, for one, am very happy to see this discussion more play. What about you?

Picture by xJasonRogersx.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disappointed in Daiya

Lots of food-allergy blogging buddies have been sharing recipes with Daiya, a dairy-free alternative to cheese. I had been waiting for it to show up at my local health food store, and was very excited when it finally arrived.

I decided to make an allergen-free veggie pizza, with the mozzarella style Daiya. Made primarily from tapioca, arrowroot flour, pea protein, and oils (including coconut oil), this product is vegan, gluten-free, and top eight allergen-free (except for coconut). It boasts the ability to melt like traditional cheese, and it does. While you don’t get the stringy effect like traditional cheese, Daiya does provide a nice soft melted layer.

That said, my family was less than thrilled with the taste, which is more reminiscent of beans than cheese.

Despite being quite willing to try just about any new product, my son’s assessment was that he’d rather have had the pizza without the cheese. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

The pizza was made with Miss Roben’s pizza crust mix.

Have you tried Daiya yet? What did you think?


Monday, October 18, 2010

Orgran Buckwheat Pancakes

I find pancakes to be one of the toughest foods to make allergen-free, second only to rising breads. I long ago gave up trying to find a pancake mix that I could use to make waffles – without wheat, butter, eggs, or milk. Usually the gluten-free mixes (when made without eggs) stick like crazy to my waffle maker, which is why this buckwheat pancake mix from Orgran was a bit of a surprise.

Those who are used to eating wheat-free already know that buckwheat is not made from wheat. Buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grass, and is gluten-free. It is possible to be allergic to buckwheat, but for those who aren’t, buckwheat is yet another alternative to wheat.

The flours in the Orgran mix include rice flour, maize (corn) starch, and tapioca, in addition to buckwheat. The mix suggests adding water, milk, and eggs. I used unsweetened hemp milk, and Ener-G egg replacer.

The verdict on these pancakes was that they were quite good. They do have a distinctive – not quite nutty – taste. They don’t fluff up like traditional wheat pancakes do, but overall they satisfied the troops. The most surprising aspect of this product to me was that the pancakes don’t stick to the pan like most gluten-free pancakes do. I was actually able to make the entire batch without ending up with scrunched up messy pancakes. Yeah!

Disclosure: I received a free sample of this product from Organ.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Brownie Alternative

I am on a never-ending quest to try all of the allergen-free and gluten-free brownies on the market. You might wonder, as my family does, why I don’t just stick with my favorite Pamela's Products Brownie Mix,and I don’t have a good answer. It may be because so many of the brownie mixes I have tried have been a challenge to get just right when made without eggs, butter, or milk, and I just can't resist a challenge!

This week’s brownie experiment was Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Brownie Mix. I actually found this at a Christmas Tree Shops store. (Who knew that Christmas Tree Shops carried Bob’s Red Mill products?)

I used Earth Balance shortening (1 ½ sticks) instead of butter, and Ener-G egg replacer (4 ½ tsp Ener-G mixed with 6 tablespoons water) to replace the three eggs. I added Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

I find that with most adapted gluten-free mixes I need to bake a little longer, and that was true here as well. I left them in the oven for 25 minutes, and voila!

These brownies were quite good! This mix makes a large batch – it fills a 13X9 pan versus the usual 9X9 brownie pan. Not quite as fudgy as my favorite Pamela’s brownies, these are a great alternative when you want a more cake-like brownie, and they adapt quite well to allergen-free substitutes.

I should also note that the flours in this mix are potato starch, sorghum, tapioca, and corn, while the Pamela’s Products brownie mix is made with rice flours.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Great Baking Book - Divvies Bakery Cookbook

Divvies Bakery has a new cookbook that allergen-free families will love. Lori Sandler created the Divvies Bakery Cookbook with recipes she uses in the Divvies Bakery, a bakeshop she started that is peanut-free, tree nut-free, milk-free, and egg-free.

I was thrilled when the folks at St. Martin’s press asked me if I wanted to review this book because I’m always looking for allergen-free baking ideas to share.

First a warning – most of the recipes use wheat flour, and many use soy products (including tofu and soy milk). So if you have soy or wheat allergies and need to follow recipes line by line, this won’t be the book for you. That said, if you don’t mind being just a little adventurous as you bake, the soy-allergic will easily be able to substitute rice or hemp milk, and I think most of the recipes can be adapted to use a gluten-free multi-purpose flour as in my example below.

The book itself is very inviting. I love the blue and white striped theme that is carried throughout the book, and there are terrific pictures of some of the great baked goods you can make.

I decided to try one of Divvies signature items, the Divvies Famous Chocolate Cupcakes. (Yes, of course, it had to be chocolate.) The folks at St. Martin’s Press allowed me to share this recipe with you:

Divvies Famous Chocolate Cupcakes

1 ½ cups unbleached flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ¼ cups water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together until well combined; do not sift. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, and water and blend with an electric mixer on medium speed.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and mix until very smooth, scraping the batter from sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula. Continue to mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. This batter will be more watery than typical cake batters.
5. Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pan filling each well about three-quarters full.
6. Bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes on the center rack of the preheated oven. After 12 minutes, rotate the pan to ensure even more even baking. Remove the cupcake pan from the oven, and immediately transfer the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack – this is very important as it allows excess moisture to evaporate from the bottom of the paper baking cups.

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Recipe from The Divvies Bakery Cookbook by Lori Sandler. Copyright © 2010 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

To make these allergen-free, I substituted multi-purpose gluten-free flour. I increased the flour slightly (which is usually necessary when adapting for gluten-free flour) – I used 1 ¾ cups of Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. Since the Namaste flour has xanthan gum in the formula, there was no need to add more, but if you use a flour like King Arthur gluten-free flour, I would recommend adding ½ teaspoon on xanthan gum also.

Lori Sandler uses vinegar in a lot of her recipes as an egg-replacer, and I loved the way this worked in the cupcakes. I am going to be trying this a lot more in my own recipes.

The cupcakes were a hit! I think this recipe could easily be used to make a cake, or adapted with add-ins.

Bake to the cookbook itself – there are cakes, breads, pies, cookies, and more. I am planning to make the Classic Strawberry-Raspberry Bars next.

Have you tried Lori’s cookbook yet? What do you think?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Training for Water Polo

When my son first started playing water polo two years ago, I knew little about the sport other than what I had seen on the Olympics. Patrick played football, basketball and track in high school, but water sports were a whole new venture.

For those not familiar with the sport, here’s a crash course:

  • Water polo is played in a pool, with each team fielding six players and a goalie.
  • It’s like soccer in that the object is to get the ball into the net, which is guarded by a goalie.
  • It’s like basketball in that every player plays both offense and defense. Plays are run on offense, with each man being guarded by a man from the opposing team.
  • It’s like football in that it’s an extreme contact sport, with the defender doing whatever they can (including almost drowning their opponent) to cause a turnover.
  • Players (except the goalie) cannot touch the bottom of the pool, and can handle the ball with only one hand at a time.
  • The team that scores the most goals wins.
Sound tough? It is the most physically demanding sport I have ever seen. Speed in the water matters. Strength matters.

Training season is intense. My son’s team practices twice a day in the pool – for two hours each. One session is swim training – laps, sprints, speed training – while the second session is water polo practice – running drills and plays in preparation for game play. They lift weights in between pool sessions.

Of course, all this training means lots of calories are burned. It’s tough for the players to maintain their weight, and they are eating four or more meals a day. It’s tough for the average player to get enough calories, but when you have multiple food allergies, it’s even tougher. Yes, my food bill from the college is double during water polo season than any other time of year.

To help meet his higher calorie needs and to ensure high quality calories, my son likes to add protein shakes. Living Harvest’s High Protein formula is the best we have found on the market. Soy and whey formulas are not suitable due to his food allergies, and while rice protein formulas can be found that are free of food allergens, they tend to leave a grainy aftertaste. Better still, Living Harvest’s high protein formula has almost double the protein of most formulas (which is important for building muscle mass), and has a high dose of potassium (to help avoid cramping).

Pat usually makes himself a very simple shake, combining protein with hemp milk, after his weight training session for the day. Even if your kids aren’t athletes, protein shakes can make a great snack. Mix the Living Harvest original with chocolate hemp milk, or the vanilla spice with vanilla hemp milk for a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Fabulous Restaurant Choice – Joe’s American Bar and Grill

Massachusetts sure seems to have their act together when it comes to restaurants and food allergies.

When my husband and I were in Boston a week ago for my son’s water polo tournament, we decided to have breakfast at Joe’s American Bar and Grill on Newbury Street. Again, we were eating without my multi-food-allergic son, so the only consideration was my wheat allergy.

The first thing our waitress did was to let us know that they were happy to accommodate gluten intolerance and food allergies. I didn’t even have to ask – it was part of her “I’m your server” spiel. She went on to explain exactly how the food would be handled. She would notify the chef, the food surfaces would be scrubbed down, and everything would be made to order.

I was impressed.

They didn’t have gluten-free rolls or muffins, but they did let me know that they have gluten-free pizza crust and gluten-free pasta. But it was breakfast, so I ordered an omelet. My omelet took a little longer to prepare than I expected (others who sat down after us were getting their food earlier) but it was worth the wait. My food was delivered to my table by a special waitress, who made sure that it was what I expected.

Contrast my recent experiences here and at Legal Sea Foods, with the one that Paul Antico writes about in a recent blog post.

Could the ease of eating out in Boston be a result of the Massachusetts food allergy law that was passed earlier this year? If so, let’s keep pushing for other states to adopt similar laws.