Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Baking soda and baking powder and yeast. Oh my!

I never thought I would ever learn so much about these three things, how they work individually, with each other and with other ingredients.

I decided to work on making a good, allergy friendly bread again. The results were better than my first attempt at allergen free bread. This time I used a combination of potato and oat flour. 

The first loaf, pictured below, didn't rise much, but tasted delicious! I tried another, also pictured below, with some adjustments. As you can see in the second picture it rose a bit better and is larger than the first. In the third picture, after slicing you can see that it's still a bit dense. 

I have work to do to get this right, but I think I know what to do next and I feel like I'm close! And even though the texture isn't quite right yet I am very happy with the taste. My husband and I ate half a loaf that night!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Restaurants and food allergies

Yesterday I went to a new place for lunch and ordered a cookie. I asked if it had nuts in it and I was told it didn't. Well, when I bit into it I discovered it did.

Luckily I am only allergic to some tree nuts, not the walnuts that were in the cookie. Also, I am not anaphylactic to tree nuts the way I am to fish. They just make me violently ill, but I think about what could have happened to someone who is anaphylactic to walnuts. 

Cody has skin tested allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, but we don't know the severity of his allergy. Our house is peanut and tree nut free. I can't help but think, what if he bit into that cookie?

I realize and take full responsibility for the fact that I didn't ask the question in the right way. I didn't mention an allergy to nuts. I will be sure to do that in the future.

Still, it is scary to me that this happened. Especially because I know firsthand that even the tiniest amount of an allergen can cause an anaphylactic reaction. 

I think one of the biggest challenges of food allergies is that people don't realize that a minuscule amount can cause a full-blown, life threatening reaction. I think many restaurants are getting better and I appreciate the effort they are making, but there is still a long way to go.

I have had to use epinepherine and go to the ER three times since we first found out I was severely allergic to fish when I was about three years old. All involved tiny amounts of fish, not even a full bite. One time was from french fries that were cooked with fish. Twice I was given incorrect information about the food I ate.  Another time I had a severe, intense asthma attack from being in a kitchen where someone was cooking fish. There were also a couple other times that I noticed I was starting to have a minor reaction from something I was eating that had obviously come in contact with fish.

I am very careful about where I eat, what I order, the questions I ask and I listen to the way the answer is delivered when it comes to fish. I also look and smell before I eat. If I'm still suspicious I will ask again or put a tiny bit on my tongue and wait before continuing to eat. I'm not allergic to shellfish, but I long ago stopped ordering it for fear of cross contamination with fish (and my husband is allergic to shellfish). 

I can't yet imagine Cody being able to eat in a restaurant with multiple allergies. I'm sure that will change at some point, but right now it seems out of reach.

To give credit where credit is due, here are three of the best experiences I had dining out with a fish allergy. Oddly, two of these I would generally consider completely off-limits because of the type of food served.

Spiaggia Chicago
My husband and I splurged for our 5th anniversary. This place is amazing. Probably the best meal I have ever eaten.
Before we ordered, our server asked if we had any food allergies. They made changes to their regular tasting menu to accommodate us and assured us our food would be prepared safely without us having to ask.

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
Yes, a seafood restaurant! I first went for a group dinner expecting to eat bread. After mentioning my allergy to our server the manager came to talk to me. We discussed what I wanted to order and she assured me that it would be prepared separately. The manager was so knowledgeable and made me feel so comfortable eating there, it became a favorite place. 

PF Changs
I consider Asian cuisine restaurants off-limits because of the fish sauce and oyster sauce used in so many dishes. But PF Changs will print out a menu listing what foods are safe for your particular allergy and they will prepare it separately. A manager came out to talk to us and was very knowledgeable.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences dining out with food allergies.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Allergy Friendly Potato Salad

We love grilling out! I used to always make potato salad, but with the mayo and egg in it I thought our days of creamy potato salad were over. That is until I discovered soy free Veganiase!

This is another of my Grandmother's  recipes adapted to make it allergy friendly.

Happy grilling and enjoy!

This recipe is egg free, peanut/tree nut free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, wheat free and vegan.

Potato Salad

8 Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup soy free Veganaise
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish*
1 tablespoon yellow mustard*
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives or dill
1 teaspoon celery seed**
Salt and pepper

*I make sure I get dye free mustard and pickle relish since most contain yellow dye.
**Feel free to use some celery instead. I use celery seed because I like the celery flavor, but not the texture.

Peel the potatoes and cut them in half.
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Add the potatoes and boil for about 15 minutes until tender, but not mushy. If the potatoes get too mushy you end up with mashed potato salad!
In the meantime combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
Drain the potatoes and let cool completely.
Cut the potatoes into cubes, season with salt and pepper and mix with the dressing.

Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Chill in the refrigerator overnight, or until ready to use.

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all of you great dads out there!

I'm incredibly lucky to have two amazing fathers in my life. My dad and my husband are pictured below.

Since many of you will probably be barbequing today and throughout the summer, I will post a recipe for allergy friendly potato salad shortly.

Have a wonderful day with your families. You deserve it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Awesome Allergy Friendly Chickpea Omelettes

I really can't believe how tasty these are and they're egg free and soy free!

My mother-in-law recently sent me the link to a recipe for chickpea flour omelettes. I decided to try it last weekend and we all really liked them including Cody. He finally gave it a try after making his "this is going to be yucky" pfffft noise and sliding it back and forth around his tray. He ended up eating the whole piece I gave him.

Here's the link to the recipe I used from the blog Vegan Richa:

I used zucchini, spinach and only some salt and pepper for seasoning.

Seriously, you have to try these. I know I will be making them a lot!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Making oat milk part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Making oat milk. I tried making it again. This time I cooked the oats and used cheesecloth to strain.

It tasted good and didn't have the grassy taste that the uncooked oat milk had, but the cheesecloth did not work at all. It might have if I gave it more time, but the process was taking way too long and it was extremely messy. I'm pretty sure the entire kitchen counter was covered in oat milk! I strained using a sieve, but it ended up too gritty and Cody didn't like that.

So after making a complete mess of the kitchen I have decided to leave the making of oat milk to the professionals!

Had anyone else tried this and how did it turn out?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's apricot season!

I get so excited when I start seeing apricots in the stores. I love them and they always remind me of my childhood.

My grandparents had apricot trees and I remember the fun of picking buckets of apricots and then watching my grandma make yummy apricot everything!

One of the things that stands out in my mind is the apricot ice cream we used to make every year. It was my favorite. I am going to try to figure out an allergy friendly version soon.

For now I made an allergy friendly version of her apricot crisp. Our grocery store recently had a huge blueberry sale and we bought a LOT of blueberries, so I added blueberries to the crisp.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Apricot blueberry crisp

Fruit filling:
8 apricots pitted and chopped
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon oat flour

1/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup oats
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In large mixing bowl combine the fruit, maple syrup and flour.

In a food processor combine the flour, oats, maple syrup, oil and salt. Pulse to form a course crumble.

Pour fruit into a greased baking dish. Top with the crumble.

Bake until the fruit is bubbly and the crumble is golden brown about 20 - 25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Grilled cheese finally!

Finally, after about a month of trying I got the kiddo to eat a piece of oat bread with melted vegan rice cheese on top.

Before he would just carefully peel off the cheese and "hide" it in the seat of his high chair or throw it across the room. He has a pretty good arm! He also thinks it's hilarious to throw it at my head if I happen to bend over to pick up something else he threw on the floor.

Well, this time he actually ate it and seemed to like it. Yippee!

I feel like I have many more options if I can just use some kind of cheese that he will actually eat. I'm thinking allergy friendly mac and cheese will be coming soon!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Jerome Bettis Severe Allergy and Anaphylaxis Playbook

I love football. Jerome "The Bus" Bettis is one of my all time favorite football players even though I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. I knew he had asthma, but I didn't know he was also severely allergic to shellfish.

Check out the Jerome Bettis Severe Allergy and Anaphylaxis Playbook. It has some great tips for managing food and other severe allergies.

Now I have reason to like him even more!