The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family

allergy cookbook

Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Recipe

"New Year's Lasagna"
Vegan, Wheat free, Gluten free, and Dairy free Lasagna

Sicilians eat Lasagna on the New Year for good luck. Supposedly, any other baked pasta dish won't do. Manicotti will bring bad luck and so will Canneloni. Not wanting to risk it, I stuck with the traditional here, and tried my hand at Tofu Spinach Lasagna. This lasagna is vegan, gluten free, and free of all major allergens EXCEPT SOY. It is Dairy free, Wheat free, Egg free, Peanut free, Tree nut free, and of course Shellfish free and Fish free. My son Lennon no longer has a soy allergy, so we've added it back into our diet. If you can't eat soy, try the recipe for Lasagna with Eggplant, Portobello Mushrooms, and Fresh Tomatoes in The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook.

2 Tbsp. dairy free vegetable shortening (I like Earth Balance Soy Garden Natural Buttery Spread)
2 Tbsp. brown rice flour
1 cup soy milk
3 cups silken tofu (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 bag pre-washed baby spinach (about 1/2 cup steamed)
9 slices Tofutti "Mozzerella"
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 box De Boles Rice Lasagna (No Boiling - Oven Ready)
2 cups tomato sauce (try with The Lady from Naples Red Sauce in my cookbook, or a good store bought Marinara if pressed for time)

Make a cream sauce by melting the vegetable shorting in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring about 3 minutes. Add the soy milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often until it's thickened up to a nice creamy constistancy. Remove from heat. Steam spinach, drain thoroughly, and chop. You want about a 1/2 cup. Set aside. Take 6 of the Tofutti "Mozzerella" slices and dice them up. Crumble silken tofu into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the cream sauce, the diced Tofutti "Mozzerella", the chopped spinach, nutmeg, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Blend well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Use a 7 x 11 baking pan. Put a little olive oil in the bottom. Start with one layer of lasagna noodles. Cover with tofu/spinach mixture. Top with a little bit of the cream sauce and top that with tomato sauce. Do another layer of noodles, topped with tofu/spinach, cream sauce, and tomato sauce. Do a final layer of noodles, topped with remaining cream sauce and tomato sauce. Take final 3 slices of Tofutti "Mozzerella" and tear them into small pieces over the top. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for several hours before eating. If you like, serve with a little extra tomato sauce. Serves 4-6.

Friday, December 30, 2005



Article created: 12/30/2005 04:36:33 AM

An alarming rise in food allergies among kids has parents questioning
What's safe to eat?
MEG BARONE, Correspondent

F ood is one of life's greatest pleasures. And, obviously, it's a necessity. But the very food that sustains us can also kill. When the body's immune system mistakenly identifies certain foods as enemies it attacks the invaders, prompting any number of reactions, from annoying skin rashes to stomach discomfort to the life-threatening throat swelling.
Such was the case last month when 15-year-old Christina Deforges, of Canada, died after kissing her boyfriend, who had eaten a peanut butter sandwich hours before.

Deaths from food allergies are rare, only 150 to 200 per year in the United States, according to the nonprofit Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network at

But allergic reactions to food prompt about 30,000 trips to emergency rooms annually, and food allergies themselves are increasing at an alarming rate. Disturbingly, so is the severity of reactions, said Dr. William Rockwell, chief of allergy and immunology at Bridgeport Hospital.

"Since the 1990s it's been going up, not only the allergies but how big the reactions are and we really don't know why. The medical community is dumbfounded. I don't know whether it's something we're doing to the food, the preservatives or whether the human being is changing," Rockwell said.

Some speculate it's because of genetic engineering of produce and the antibiotics, steroids and hormones injected into livestock, but no scientific evidence exists to support or disprove the claim.

One thing is sure. Certain foods should be avoided by certain people, particularly the common culprits — peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.), shellfish, dairy, soy, wheat, eggs and fish.

However, warns Rockwell, "Any food can be allergic for any individual. There are some people who are allergic to celery. It's very rare but it does happen."

In addition to foods, children and adults can have reactions to food preservatives and artificial food colorings and flavorings, said Dr. Samantha Eagle, a naturopath at the Center for Naturopathic Medicine in Stratford, who also has a master's degree in nutrition.

A change in food labeling laws that takes effect Jan. 1 and a new cookbook due out next month will make life easier for those with food allergies.

In August 2004 President Bush signed into law the food allergen labeling and consumer protection act that will end the use of false or misleading information on labels. Beginning Sunday, food manufacturers are require to list on packages the common or usual names of ingredients in their products.

Currently, they can disguise ingredients by using less recognizable names, for example, whey, casien or casienate to represent dairy. But that could spell trouble for the person allergic to dairy products and who is unfamiliar with alternate names.

"When the new law goes into effect they can no longer say 'may contain one or more of the following — corn oil, peanut oil.' It has to say 'this batch was made with peanut oil,' " Rockwell said.

"It's going to be a help to people, but I'm still telling people they've got to use their brains," Rockwell said.

Cybele Pascal, author of "The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook: Two Hundred Gourmet & Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family" (Vital Health Publishing, $18.95), said she learned the importance of diligent food label-reading three years ago after her 4-month-old son Lennon was diagnosed with severe dairy and soy allergies.

Pascal, of Westchester County, New York, radically changed her own eating habits to prevent allergens from reaching Lennon through her breast milk. She switched to a non-dairy creamer for her morning coffee, but Lennon continued to suffer from bloody diarrhea.

"I discovered that the non-dairy creamer actually had dairy in it," said Pascal, whose experience prompted her to write the cookbook.

And there is definitely a market for it.

"When I started writing my book three years ago there were seven million Americans with food allergies. When I finished the book only three years later in 2005 there were over 11 million. And the majority of them is children," she said.

Eagle said Pascal's book is great because it prevents the allergic child from feeling deprived and allows families to eat the same meal.

It also addresses people's misconceptions that allergy diets are tasteless.

"It's challenging to make tasty meals for these people but it can be done," said Valerie Sorensen, owner and chef of Kiss the Chef, a catering company in Stratford, whose clients more frequently ask her to accommodate food allergies in her menus.

Sorensen teaches healthy cooking classes with Dr. Susan Rzucidlo, director of the Center for Naturopathic Medicine, and gives cooking tips to Rzucidlo's and Eagle's allergic patients.

Pascal's cookbook eliminates all major allergens from recipes. In the past these type of cookbooks have concentrated on eliminating one item, for example eggs, from their recipes.

Drastically changing family menus and food preparation is imperative though not easy. But what initially is a minor inconvenience becomes habit, Pascal said.

"That learning curve is really steep at the beginning and it can be pretty overwhelming," said Beth McTigue, of Fairfield, mother of Owen, 14, who has allergies. But the vigilance must be ten-fold once a child goes off to school.

"If you have your child at home it's overwhelming anyway [to make changes]. If you're child is going off on a bus to school, that's really scary. Once they're out of your hands and there are birthday parties and there are snacks and there are lunches, that's when you begin to lose control and rely on other people to take up your role as a protector," she said.

McTigue worked for safety initiatives to protect children with allergies in the Fairfield school system — a peanut-free table in the cafeteria, no snacks in the classroom, twice-yearly drills for severe reactions. McTigue warns parents that the teenage years are the most dangerous. "They don't want to call attention to themselves so they won't ask questions about food. Some object to wearing the EpiPen [a device that provides an emergency self-injectable dose of epinephrine for those experiencing an acute reaction to something they ate]. They want to blend in. Those elements are deadly," said McTigue, whose son carries two EpiPens at all times.

"I've heard of kids who keep their EpiPens in their lockers, start having a reaction and never make it to their lockers. They just collapse."

Rockwell also recommends carrying two because "35 percent of people who have anaphylaxis will need a second dose."

The EpiPen comes with a demonstrator so people can practice administering the shot without actually injecting themselves.

"The babysitter's got to know how to use it." Have them practice too, Rockwell said.

McTigue learned of her son's allergy after feeding him peanut butter when he was 10 months old. Today, doctors recommend not exposing children to allergy-inducing foods until at least age 3 when the immune system is stronger.

If there is a family history of allergies, that mother should avoid high allergy foods during pregnancy and while breast feeding, said Rockwell. "And the child should avoid eating those things until they are 3 or 4 or 5 years old. That will prevent or delay the onset of the allergy," he said.

"There is no way to predict who's going to have an allergy until they have a reaction," Rockwell said. "Avoidance is the only treatment for food allergies right now."

Most people think allergies only affect children, some of whom are lucky enough to grow out them. But adults can also develop food sensitivities and allergies later in life.

"Some people have allergies come on after a trauma to the system. If you get the flu or have a death of a loved one, an emotional trauma, something that changes the hormonal balance in your body. Going through menopause for women will sometimes trigger allergies. Any one of those things can cause an adult to get them," Rockwell said.

"Unfortunately there are a lot of hidden exposures. Some restaurants thicken their chili with peanut butter," Rockwell said.

When eating away from home make sure you ask about ingredients and food preparation methods, Pascal warned.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Holidays to ALL! Here is a picture of my sons, Lennon (AKA Dash Incredible) and Monte (Spiderman) on Christmas morning, post presents.

Lennon is my food allergic child. He was the inspiration for my cookbook. He's still allergic to Dairy, and can't eat Peanuts, Tree-Nuts and Shellfish. This year has been my first year of really experiencing the challenges of having food allergies in the outside world. Up until this year, everything Lennon ate was made or approved by me. But now Lennon is in pre-K. He has lunch in the school cafeteria. All the other kids eat cheese sandwiches, while Lennon eats a turkey sandwich. Well, this has become a bit of a problem, because Lennon doesn't really like turkey sandwiches. Last week I tried making him a sunflower butter and jam sandwich. This upset his teacher, because Lennon had something "different", and she asked me to feed him at home from now on. This too is a problem, because then Lennon will feel like an outsider as all the other kids sit eating lunch, and he sits there eating nothing. Additionally, the teacher organized a party for the last day at school. I bought allergen free candy for the party, but when I arrived to drop Lennon off, I was informed that there would be cupcakes with dairy, and was asked "did I have one without dairy for Lennon?" Of course I didn't, nobody had forewarned me. In fact, I'd been told they'd be making a dairy-free baked good with oil to substitute for the butter.

I have come to suspect a bit of hostility on the part of his teacher. I believe it is because she resents having to alter any of her choices for the food allergic child. The little girl with the apple allergy in their classroom doesn't really disrupt things, but a dairy allergy... well, dairy is a staple in the American diet, and particularly in processed and packaged goods. So I see a parent/teacher conference looming in my near future....

This may seem obvious to some, but in case it's been overlooked, DARK CHOCOLATE IS OFTEN DAIRY FREE. If you or your child has a dairy allergy, go for the DARK!!!!! I have spent this holiday running around replacing milk chocolates with dark.

And in answer to KATE who asked about whether a person with a chocolate allergy could eat soy chocolate -- NO, tho it's made with soy instead of butter, it still contains cocoa which I'm pretty sure is the ingredient that a person with a chocolate allergy is allergic to. White chocolate, however, is not really chocolate, and you might want to look into that (tho not if you have a dairy allergy!)

Can I take one last moment to sing the praises of WYLDE PRETZELS made by Ener G? These are Wheat Free, Gluten Free pretzels (also, free of all top 8 allergens) which are slowly but surely becoming an addiction in my house. They are so... dare i say it... "BUTTERY". Buy them, eat them, you will not be disappointed!

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!


Saturday, December 17, 2005

New Allergen Free Recipe!!!!

Hi everyone:

Here is a new recipe that many people who can't eat peanut butter might find helpful. If you have a peanut allergy, just double check with your allergist first about eating seeds. We LOVE this at my house, and I hope you will too.

Pumpkin Seed Butter

Nutty and sweet, pumpkin seed butter is a wonderful alternative to peanut butter or other nut butter spreads. I love it on toast for breakfast, it makes a great PB&J for the kids, it’s great in cookies, after school snacks, spread on apples, you name it. It’s highly nutritious, packed full of protein, iron, zinc, and potassium, and if you make it with flax seed oil, also omega-3 fatty acids. It’s only drawback is that it’s expensive, often about $15 a jar. But not if you make it yourself! You can save yourself more than $10 a batch by whipping up your own in about 2 minutes. Here’s how. You’ll need a food processor.

1 cup pumpkin seeds
4 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil (safflower, sunflower, canola, or my personal favorite, Spectrum Organic Flax Oil*)
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Put pumpkin seeds in food processor. Blend until a fine powder. Don’t rush it. Add oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each. Add salt. Blend until smooth. Decant and keep in the refrigerator. Makes an ample 1//2 cup.

*If you’re going to be cooking with the pumpkin seed butter, don’t use flax oil, use safflower, or sunflower oil, or another such oil that can withstand high temperatures. For more info on cooking oils, see the section “About Cooking Oils” in The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook.