Monday, April 28, 2014

What Does the Food Allergen Labeling Law Require?

Today's question in the APFED educational series is all about food labeling:

What does the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) require?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Allergic Solution Flour Blend Review & Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I like to try every new gluten-free and allergen-free flour blend that comes out and I was very happy when Allergic Solution sent me a sample of their new All Purpose Mix to review.

I have a series of test recipes that I use to test flour blends, with a range of different types of baked goods. My testing over the years has proven that some flour blends are better for certain types of baked goods; I prefer high starch blends for pastries and cookies, whereas breads benefit from more whole grains and batters (muffins and cakes) usually work best with a lower starch blend.

This flour blend is different than any I have previously tried: it is completely rice-free and it uses navy bean flour. The navy bean flour is combined with tapioca starch and sorghum flour for a (relatively) high protein/high fiber blend. It is wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free, corn-free, and non-GMO. The facility processes soy and corn.

The package claims that the flour blend can be subbed for wheat flour 1:1, however, my tests show that this flour weighs in at about 138 grams per cup – higher than the 120 grams per cup for a typical wheat flour. Therefore, if replacing wheat flour, less of this flour should be used.

I decided to make some Chocolate Cherry Chunk Muffins to test this blend. Based on the flavor profile of this blend I expected this flour to be best at muffins and breads, and I think I was right:

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Muffins

256 grams Allergic Solutions gluten free flour blend *
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sucanat *
1 cup hemp milk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2/3 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup cherries, pitted and chopped
½ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks

Combine the flour blend, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and Sucanat in a medium bowl. In a separate large mixing bowl combine the milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the cherries and chocolate chunks by hand. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

The muffins browned very nicely (more than is typical with gluten-free blends). I find that baked goods made with bean flours can be spongy until completely cooled and that was true here as well. If you plan to make bread with this blend I recommend letting it cool for a couple of hours before slicing it.

Overall, I give the muffins and the Allergic Solution flour blend a thumbs up! I recommend it for anyone who needs a rice-free blend to make cakes, muffins, cookies (especially chocolate chip cookies), and bread.

* I received complimentary samples of these products from the manufacturers. The views expressed here are my own.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Will My Baked Goods Taste Good After Eliminating Wheat, Dairy, and Eggs?

While at the APFED (American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders) patient conference last year, I had the opportunity to make a series of videos to be used as part of the APFED Educational Webinar series. EE/EoE (eosinophilic espohagitis), and other EGIDs (eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders) are often triggered by food allergies -- and especially the top food allergies (wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts). 

Today and over the next couple of weeks (as a lead up to Food Allergy Awareness Week in May), I will share the links to these videos. 

First up: Will my baked goods still taste good, even after eliminating wheat, dairy, and eggs?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ian’s Frozen Foods – Product Review

There are a handful of companies that I can rely on when it comes to foods for multiple food allergies and Ian’s Natural Foods is one of them. They recently sent me some samples of their new frozen foods to try. Among the options available top-8 allergen-free are chicken tenders, onion rings, French toast sticks, and French Bread Pizza.

I was intrigued about how they would make French Toast without eggs; it turns out that these are made from a rice-based cinnamon bread, and then coated with a batter of flour and sweeteners. An interesting concept!

I tried the chicken tenders with onion rings for dinner. I love that the chicken tenders are made from real chicken (no fillers, no hormones, and no antibiotics). Both of these foods are coated with a crumbly corn-based batter. The onion rings are the crunchy type of onion ring (as opposed to the smooth batter type you might be used to). I served them up with some sliced avocado and salad.

My meal was tasty and satisfying. Prep was simple – just heat and serve – making it a great option for a quick dinner after a stressful day. All of these foods should be kept frozen.

Note that the servings are small – for example, one box of chicken tenders is just two servings. (What you see pictured above is half of what's in the box.) If you are buying to feed the whole family you will need more than one box.

Monday, April 7, 2014

White Lion Baking Company, A Gluten-Free Bakery Review

I recently visited my mother on Cape Cod and decided to take a drive to The White Lion Baking Company in Mashpee, Massachusetts. Whenever I hear about an allergen-free or gluten-free bakery in an area that I am visiting, I like to check it out. My curiosity is as much about learning how other bakers create their treats as it is about finding something great to eat while traveling.

Upon entering the bakery we were greeted with cases of cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and other sweets. But when I say "sweet" I should mention that the bakery is refined sugar-free; in this case that means that they are sweetened with honey. Everything is gluten-free, grain-free, and soy-free. They bake some treats dairy-free, but some do contain dairy. Some treats are nut-free, but many are made with almond flour (or a combination of coconut and almond flour). Since they are all made in the same kitchen, the bakery is not appropriate for anyone allergic to tree nuts or dairy. They do also use eggs.

My sister and I picked a half-dozen treats to sample. My favorite -- by a mile -- was the chocolate brownie (should have gotten more of those).

After dinner we tried the chocolate cupcakes and the carrot cupcake. We all agreed that the carrot was the best, whereas the chocolate was dry (but the non-dairy frosting was quite good!)

We saved a blueberry muffin and cinnamon bun for the next morning; both were dry.

All in all, I was a bit disappointed but the trip did encourage me to try baking with coconut flour. I am dreaming up coconut baking projects -- perhaps a coconut flour brownie will be first on that list.