Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Tips!

As I start the holiday cooking for my brother- in- law's feast, I thought I'd pass along some tricks I use. Happy and safe holiday to all. 

Gluten Free Cornbread
Glutino Yankee cornbread mix
If you're not using dairy or egg:
Substitute one 3.9 oz applesauce-- that's one individual cup-- and one cup Rice Dream for the 1 1/2 cups Buttermilk the Glutino box suggests. 

I use Ener-G Egg Replacer -- doesn't  everybody!

Stuffing for mushrooms 
(FYI stuffed mushrooms are an Italian  American must on the Thanksgiving table-- as is broccoli rabe)
To substitute for bread crumbs--this year for the stuffed mushrooms-- I use plain
Rice Chex. I pulse them in the blender until coarsely ground. And mix in my salt, pepper, minced garlic and parsley. And viola! Mushroom stuffing. 

 I never used cheese, so don't have to substitute for it!
I always used olive oil instead of butter to coat the bottom if baking dish and I drizzle water and olive oil over the pre cooked mushrooms-- with the stuffing in it-- to keep it moist. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Food Allergy, Holiday Meals and Family!

Holiday Time --Again

It’s Monday morning and you’re doing the final shopping for ______________(insert a Holiday here )and your –mother—aunt—cousin-- calls and says “I’m making strudel for the holiday dessert and I know that Johnny is allergic to nuts, but it really doesn’t taste good without them, so I just wanted you to know.”
You hang up the phone –and (circle one)
A. Scream B. Cry C. Laugh D. Shake your head E. All of the above

All of the above is the correct answer – and then you get the baking mix from the cupboard and read about how to make a strudel.
      This is a typical holiday conversation for a food allergic family. We’ve all been there, and we all know what it feels like to NOT be able to make that special family recipe for a holiday meal. Well, as Loretta famously told Ronny in Moonstruck “Snap out of it!”
This is our life.
      And this is especially true around holiday celebrations when ritual meals, steeped in tradition , are the standard fare. Food allergies can cut us off those traditions, memories—whatever you want to call those remembered moments from our past-- and not allow us to make those dishes.
But we can’t make them.  And neither can my mother or my Aunt Sadie. Instead, I can make a menu that does not include allergens—and no one will know the difference. I can ask Cousin Pesky to bring a green salad—since that would be ‘easier’ for her—and ditch the strudel altogether. I may feel a pinch at giving up a family tradition, but what really makes the meal a tradition is that we gather our family and close friends to share it. That part doesn’t change.
    As parents we must smooth the way for a happy holiday. People may mean well, but don’t have as much practice at keeping our children safe—or people may not want to change their habits. Whichever the case, your child will have a happy and safe holiday because you –and possibly only you—make the effort to prepare and bring a special meal or host a worry-free fete. That you must think ahead, prepare, and possibly reorganize tradition—that is a given in the food allergic household.
But, above all, we must remember that --while the menu may need to change-- the message of these holiday meals does not. What we are eating should not be as important as who we are eating it with— as well as the laughter and gusto we bring to the table—no matter if it’s ravioli or rice cakes and jam.
The love, the sharing, the connection are what truly matters and there is no substitute for that.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Community. Fraternity. Equality. ...and Food Allergies

Ok. Maybe I'm not French, but I felt community, fraternity( and sisterhood) and equality this weekend at the FARE Teen Summit. Once again kids gathered and bonded over being just like everyone else in the room -- and video games and karaoke and hair cuts and school and dating and bullying and allergens and Epi-pens. 
  While parents talked about eye rolling and 504s and college planning and Epi- pens. 
  It was fun. It was tiring. It was informative. But mostly it was about finding community, sharing strategies and making new friends.
   For me, oldster that I am, it was seeing old friends too. Friends I met at previous Summits-- and sharing pictures of our college age kids and telling the middle school folks-- you can do it AND it gets easier. 
  I'm very grateful for my food allergy community and the opportunity to speak about my experiences. And I learn something new every time -- like there's a mobile help alert system( wireless) that you can get your child (ok it's sort of like an old person's Life Alert system). So if he's alone and having a reaction or she passes out-- someone calls and help is sent. Something to think about. 
 So great to see everyone, and as I said in my presentation: it's doable-- and remember it's Who is at the table-- not what's on it that counts. 


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Allergy Free College Cooking.

Putting the finishing touches on my new cookbook Allergy Free: College Cooking. 
This one I'm publishing myself because I want it out there and helping kids cook ASAP. 
    Easy recipes for basic fare-- meatloaf, roast chicken, chili. And then there's all the Italianate recipes: like minestrone. Escarole and beans. And kale with garlic. 

I'll keep you all posted when it hits Amazon-- and, it's good for any new cook-- college student or not, food allergic or not. Simple good food that's easy to make with ingredients from the grocery store. And NO Dairy, Eggs, Nuts,  Peanuts, Wheat, Soy, Fish, Shellfish or Sesame. 
 Support me on this one!
And see you at the Teen Summit!