Thursday, April 28, 2011

Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival - 4/28 edition

I am excited to be hosting this edition of the Living With Food Allergies blog carnival!

First, a big shout-out to Jennifer at Food Allergy Buzz for re-invigorating the food allergy blog carnival this year -- we missed it!

As many of you probably know, May is allergy awareness month, and the week of May 8th is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Given that, I'm thrilled that some of our contributors focused on awareness:

Trista presents How will you celebrate Food Allergy Awareness Week? posted at Food Allergy Families, saying, "Food Allergy Awareness Week is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to get involved and encourage others to do the same."

Jennifer is Always Sick presents Food Allergies and Bullying : Threats, Assaults, Attempted Murder posted at Always Sick and Tired, saying, "All about how to protect our kids at school when they have food allergies, how to educate others about food allergies, and the consequences that should be inflicted against those who bully and threaten a child with foods they are a allergic to."

Eric presents a review of Allergic Girl's new book,  Book Review | Allergic Girl: Adventures In Living Well With Food Allergies at World (and Lunar) Domination.

Jennifer Kales presents Food Allergies and Seasonal/Pet Allergies...Triple Whammy posted at The Nut-Free Mom, saying, "My daughter always inspires me in the way that she handles her many allergies with optimism and grace."

Are you looking for an allergen-free salad idea? Libby presents Spring Salad with Fresh Corn and Asparagus posted at The Allergic Kid.

And while you're here at Learning to Eat Allergy Free please check out a video post on How to Make Flax Seed Eggs.
Submit your blog article to the next edition of living with food allergies carnival using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Purely Decadent Coconut Frozen Dessert

The snow is melting, and before long it will be ice cream season. Ice cream has been one of the treats we haven’t enjoyed much in the past few years due to food allergies. The rice substitutes just don’t do it for me, and my son and I are both allergic to soy.

Last summer we discovered Tempt non-dairy ice cream made from hemp, and it is definitely a must-try for the milk allergic or the lactose intolerant. More recently we discovered Purely Decadent frozen desserts made with coconut milk.

When I picked up this product to read the label I fully expected it to have eggs in it, or in the case of this cookie dough flavor – wheat. Much to my surprise I discovered that the only food allergens listed were soy (due to lecithin) and coconut (which is a rare allergy). Woo-hoo!!

After trying it, I have to say that I think the folks who made this product are absolutely brilliant for not using wheat cookies. The “cookie dough” is made from brown sugar, rice, and dairy-free chocolate chips.

I found the “ice cream” itself to be very creamy, without too much of a coconut taste. That said, I must tell you that my husband discarded his due to what he called a distinct coconut taste. But that’s okay – more for the rest of us!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What a Difference a Pan Makes

I had seen them in catalogs. Special pans for baking gluten-free bread. But do they make a difference?

I decided to find out.

A typical loaf pan measures 8 inches by 5 inches, or 8.5 inches by 4.5 inches. The gluten free bread pans are narrower and taller; mine measures 9 inches by 4 inches, and it’s 4 inches tall. It doesn’t seem like a big difference.

The gluten-free pan is on the left, and my traditional loaf pan is on the right:

My gluten-free breads are also made without eggs, which makes rising that much more difficult, so I’m determined to get all the help I can from my tools.

Does it work? Yes, it definitely does. My bread rose at least an extra inch during the proofing process prior to baking, and by the time it came out of the oven the bread was at the top of the pan – something that I’ve never seen before.

Note that these pans are best for yeast breads. For quick breads I’ll continue to use my regular loaf pan.

What are your tricks for helping your gluten-free and allergen-free yeast breads to rise?

Monday, April 18, 2011

More Allergen-Free Haircare – California Baby

I recently shared my problem with haircare products that contain wheat, and the rash that resulted from my using them. (In case you need to catch up on that story – the punchline is, more and more hair and skincare products contain wheat, soy, and nuts.)

The first haircare products I tried were from the Gluten-Free Savonerie, and I have been very happy with them.

This week I tried the California Baby haircare products. I used the fragrance-free version for sensitive skin – and they are truly fragrance free, gluten-free, and free of the top eight allergens. They also contain no animal products.

The shampoo is very similar to what you think of in a baby shampoo. In using it I noticed that my hair does get tangled easily, so I don’t recommend using without the conditioner. The conditioner is thick. After using my hair was clean, but on the dry side, with flyaways (not a problem I usually have). If you go for this brand I recommend ordering a larger bottle of conditioner than shampoo.

What gluten-free or allergen-free shampoo and conditioner do you use?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Magazines for Food Allergy Diets

I am often asked what the best resources are for those with food allergies, and while I am quick to mention FAAN, APFED, and Kids with Food Allergies, as well as couple of my favorite cookbooks, I sometimes forget to mention the magazines that address special food needs.

So today, here’s a big shout-out for two of my favorite food allergy magazines

Living Without helps you do just that. While a great deal of the focus is avoiding gluten, there is more and more information in this publication about avoiding other food allergens, with great recipes and ideas each issue. (Published every other month.)

Allergic Living
was started as a Canadian publication. The Canadian version has been available in the US, and now Allergic Living has just introduced their US version. This terrific magazine focuses on all allergies (not just food), and is chock-full of ideas to live allergen-free. (Published quarterly.)

What are your favorite food allergy publications?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Details That Matter

I’ve had my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for at least ten years, but (here comes a confession) it turns out I’ve been using it wrong.

I know, you’re wondering how anyone could possibly be using it wrong, especially someone who bakes as much as I do. Well here’s the story:

A couple weeks ago I took a baking class at the Culinary Institute of America, called Baking for Brunch. (This was most definitely not an allergen-free baking class, but great for technique and recipe inspiration.) The very first thing Chef Hayman taught us was how to use the Kitchen Aid stand mixers at our baking stations – mixers exactly like the one I have at home.

“I want to hear it click when you put the bowl in,” Chef Hayman said, “A really nice loud click.”

A click? What was he talking about? My partner and I pressed our bowl into the mixer stand and sure enough, we heard a click. A nice loud click locked the bowl in place.

This must be different than my mixer.
Or was it?

The first thing I did when I got home (after handing all my gluten, milk, and egg-laden baked goods to my non-food-allergic husband for his tasting pleasure) was to check out my own stand mixer. And yes, when I pressed down on the bowl I heard the click, locking it into place. And yes, it does make a difference. I loved my Kitchen Aid mixer before, but now it performs even better.

When it’s not locked into place, the bowl sits at a slightly different angle, as you might be able to see in these pictures.

Kitchen Aid mixer without bowl locked into place (aka the way I used to use it):

Kitchen Aid mixer with bowl locked into place (aka how I will use it from now on):

Go figure…

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'll Be Speaking At BlogHer Food in Atlanta

Last year I attended my first BlogHer conference in New York City. I was surrounded by bloggers of all types, and it was a blast. This year I decided to attend the BlogHer Food conference, and I have big news -- I will be speaking on a panel about creating and adapting recipes for people with special food needs.
I'm Speaking!

I'll be in great company, sharing the stage with:

Alicia Simpson from Vegan Comfort Food, Sarina Shasteen from Non-Dairy Queen, and one of my personal heroes, Alisa Fleming from Go Dairy Free.

The conference is May 20th and 21st. You can find the complete agenda here.

If you're planning to be there please let me know. I'd love to meet you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Make Flax Seed Eggs

About a year ago I wrote a blog post on how to make flax seed goop – I like to call it goop because flax seeds can be very “goopy” when they are prepared correctly. I shared last year’s post with pictures and text. This time, I have a prepared a short video how to for you. Enjoy!