The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family

allergy cookbook

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


First the great news, because I like to start out on a positive. I have once again confirmed that SPECTRUM ORGANIC SHORTENING is manufactured in a facility that is peanut-free and tree nut free. Though some angry consumer wrote the opposite in an Amazon review, claiming it's processed in a facility with nuts and peanuts (a bold-faced lie, for no good reason!!) I spoke with their parent company, Hain Celestial this morning and they once again stated that it is produced and packaged in a tree nut-free, peanut-free facility. The reason this is such great news is that this is the only dairy-free/soy-free shortening I've been able to find for baking, and it is also organic, non-hydrogenated, and trans-fat free. So please don't listen to these alarmists who are making untrue claims on Amazon. You can't always believe everything you read, and always check for yourself!!

Now here's the not so great news. I went back to read comments on an earlier post and noticed what Adrienne had written about Arrowhead Mills. Though they don't list a warning about processing in a facility with peanuts and tree nuts, I decided to call them this morning. Unfortunatly, Arrowhead Mills Cereals are not produced on Dedicated Lines (and for anyone who wants to know about what that is, check back soon, I'm writing an article about labling which I will also post here). They do practice GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), however, and feel the risk of cross-contamination is low. But they can't promise you.

I think I will test some of my recipes that use cornflakes with Perky's O's or some of the other cereals. Check back in the next few days for updates on that. Perky's are part of Enjoy Life now and are allergen free, and made in dedicated facilities.

What else.... well somebody asked what my family ate for Memorial Day. I did grilled corn brushed with lime juice/olive oil, salt, and chili pepper flakes (very yummy), and a lentil/quinoa salad (also very yummy), and buffalo burgers. But the special thing I made was my chocolate cake (recipe is in my book, and I make it with the oat flour/barley flour combo). First of all, I used pears instead of applesauce, because I was testing for a person with an apple allergy. Earth's Best Pears (yes, it's baby food) work just great in place of apple sauce for baking, if anyone else needs to substitute. Then, because I'm out of "Better Than Milk Rice Powder", I used the Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting Mix. My family all agreed it tasted just like the inside of an Oreo. Pretty yummy. But then, because I'm a chocoholic, I also made the Enjoy Life chips into a frosting following their recipe on the bag, which just combines the chips with rice milk. It didn't really firm up like frosting, so I dribbled it on top of the vanilla frosting in a pretty spirally pattern. YUMMY!!!! Highly recommended for kids and grown-ups!

p.s. Thanks to Nancy for her really interesting info on GMO Corn Crops!!!!! This requires further study, as I for one believe there is often a relationship between GMO foods and food allergies.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hi Folks:

Here are some updates:


1. After receiving requests from people on gluten-free diets for alternate flours, I've done some experimenting. Your best bet is to use BOB'S RED MILL ALL PURPOSE GF BAKING FLOUR. It is free of all top 8 food allergens, and is also gluten free. It is made from Garbanzo Flour, Potato Starch Tapioca Flour, "Sweet" White Sorghum Flour, and Fava Flour. You may substitute it cup for cup in my recipes. For example if a recipe calls for 1 cup barley flour, and 1 cup oat flour, then substitute 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour. It makes for very tasty muffins, etc. Pancakes come out a little thinner, more like crepes, due to the lack of gluten (which helps baked-goods rise), but they're still tasty. I have yet to make a cake with this flour, and will update once I've done so.

CORN FLAKES (and other flakes)

2. In response to an anonymous question in comments, I have used many types of Corn Flakes in making cornflake crumbs for recipes like the Breaded Chicken Cutlets. Health Valley, Arrowhead Mills, Erewon, Nature's Path. But, as with all other labeling as of January 2006, many labels now list the potential of traces of allergens that were never listed before. So brands like "Health Valley" may contain trace elements of allergens.

Arrowhead Mills Organic Corn Flakes do not list any potential allergenic ingredients, and thus seem like the safest bet (I haven't checked Erewon Flakes yet, they may be fine too). Arrowhead Mills Organic Corn Flakes are made from Organic Corn Grits, Organic Fruit Juice Concentrate, Organic Corn Bran Flour, Sea Salt, Ascorbic Acid (vit C) and Natural Vitamin E. Hope that's helpful! And as always, if you have any concerns, contact Arrowhead Mills directly.
p.s. If you wish to use their Organic Amaranth Flakes or Organic Oat Bran Flakes in a recipe that calls for cornflakes, they will work just fine. I use them all interchangebly. For example, I often use Oat Bran Flakes when making the Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs.


3. I received a tip off from a very helpful mom that Healthy Times Vanilla Teething Biscuits have changed their recipe. When I recommended them in my book, they were made with Barley Flour. They've since changed the recipe and now contain Wheat Flour. YET ANOTHER REMINDER TO ALWAYS READ LABELS BECAUSE EVEN THE "SAFE" FOODS SOMETIMES CHANGE THEIR INGREDIENTS!!!!!!!

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend! Hope you're all grilling up a storm.



Monday, May 22, 2006

Okay, more on labeling craziness. I'm doing my best to help out those who fear the risk of cross-contamination, but this is a can of worms, people!!!

Again, let me stress, my book is FREE OF ALL TOP EIGHT FOOD ALLERGENS!!! It is each individual's responsibility to call manufacturers if you are concerned. I'll try to help you when I can, and if you contact me for help I'll certainly assist, but I can't call every product manufacturer on the market.

Re: the change in food allergy labeling, as of January 2006, according to the Kids With Food Allergies Website:

"The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that went into effect in 2006 does not require manufacturers to list common allergenic ingredients resulting from shared equipment and cross contamination issues. Therefore, it still remains the responsibility of consumers to read labels carefully and call manufacturers to be sure that each food is safe for their unique allergy issues."

I am trying to help people who have concerns, but ultimately, as always, it's up to you what you choose to feed yourself and your family.

Today I discovered that Ener-G Egg Replacer has changed their label... AGAIN. First, I received an email from a concerned parent of a child with egg and nut allergies, who said the product was processed in a facility with nuts. I looked at the box, and lo and behold, the label had a disclaimer. But today at the grocery store, I looked at the box again, and there's NO MENTION OF NUTS OR PEANUTS!!!!! So I called Ener-G. They've changed the label, so now it doesn't mention tree-nuts or peanuts, because they are so sure that there's no risk of cross-contamination. Same processing, new label. Go figure. If you're really concerned about cross-contamination with this product, I would suggest you buy the ORGRAN "NO EGG". As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is processed in a peanut-free, tree nut-free facility.

I got an anonymous tip on comments today that suggested California Rice Bran Oil as a brand of cooking oil, safe from nut and peanut cross-contamination. I called them. They produce their rice oil in a nut-free, peanut-free facility. The processing facility only has rice oils. However, they bottle in a facility with other oils. They have very strict hygeine practices and flush the lines out with the incoming oils. Thus the lines are purged by the incoming oil, and they feel there is no risk of cross-contamination. I believe them, and trust their product. If you would like to contact them with further questions, call toll free (866) RICEOIL (742-3645)or email They were very nice and helpful.

And to those who have concerns over Spectrum products, I found the following on the Spectrum Website at FAQ's page:

Are there any nuts in Spectrum Oils? Do any Spectrum products come into contact with nuts?

Spectrum bottles several different nut oils, such as our Peanut, Walnut, Almond, Toasted Hazelnut and Toasted Walnut Oils. These oils come to us already pressed, ready to be bottled–meaning that the actual nut or fiber from the nut is not present in our manufacturing plant.

However, the nut oils, as well as other oils we bottle in our manufacturing plant, do share an immediate finishing filling line and filler with our flaxseed oil. To prevent any cross contamination, Spectrum thoroughly flushes the filling lines and filler between the bottling of our different types of oils. In addition, we also flush many pounds of the new oil to be bottled through the lines and filler before actually bottling the new oil.

Spectrum has never had an allergy problem arise from the use of its oils. However, some of our oils do share equipment with that which has been used to process nut oils.

I'm testing some gluten-free flours today, so check back in the next couple of days, and I should have a substitute for those seeking gluten-free baked goods.

Have a great day!


Sunday, May 21, 2006

More on Cherrybrook Kitchen!

This afternoon, my son Lennon and I made the Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. Some of you may be wondering why I'm using mixes when I have my own hypoallergenic recipes. Good question. And here's the answer: When I did the Al Roker special "Edible Enemies" for the Food Network, they had just come from Cherrybrook Kitchen, and the producer was kind enough to give me all her samples, since my kid's got food allergies, and her's didn't. But whether or not they'd been donated to me, I'm sure I would have bought them just to test anyway. So here are my updates. I've used the pancake mix (contain wheat) a couple more times, which I have found stick with a nonstick surface. But if you make the pancakes in a cast iron skillet with a little canola oil or safflower oil, they cook up beautifully. I have added old-fashioned oats and berries, to make them a little more nutritous. Thumbs up!

The chocolate chip cookies (contain wheat and soy) are pretty good. They are impossible to mix, however, and I gave up using a wooden spoon and just kneeded the dough with my fingers to combine it. They also take about 15 minutes to cook instead of the listed 8-10 minutes. But all in all, are a great time-saver in a pinch. They have a slightly bitter after-taste which I wasn't crazy about, but my sons said they were yummy, and they dunked them in chocolate soy milk and were none the wiser. As anyone who reads my blog or book knows, I'm a great believer in unrefined sugar alernatives, like honey and maple sugar, but I must admit, it's fun to have the ease of whipping up a mix once in awhile, and so far, this one is the best one I've found.

But I have a question. These are marketed as being manufactured in a nut free peanut free facility. So clearly they are for people with nut/peanut allergies. But some of the mixes require adding cooking oil. Has anyone found a vegetable oil, that is soy free, and processsed in a nut free facility? That's not olive oil? I'm still on the hunt for a vegetable oil that is completely risk-free for cross contamination from nuts. Please Please email me if you know of one, so I can share the news!

Now, I'm going back to those cookies!


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dear Blog Readers:

It has come to my attention this weekend that a couple of the products I recommend in my book are now being labled differently, and are produced in the same facility with tree nuts and/or peanuts which poses the potential risk of cross-contamination for people with severe peanut or tree-nut allergies. Since I wrote my cookbookbook, the legislation for labeling has changed. As of January 2006, in fact. My publisher and I truly didn't know at the time I wrote the book and are only finding out ourselves now.

One of these products is Ener-G Egg Replacer. I didn't realize it was produced on the same line as tree nuts. This is a problem with the Spectrum Oils as well, which now list that they are produced in the same facility with nut oils. And apparently some types of Mochi are produced in facilities with nuts, though I don't think this is true across the board.

While the vast majority of the products I recommend in my book are still totally safe, I would like to suggest that in light of this change in labeling that people continue to read labels carefully. While none of the recipes in the book use any of the top 8 food allergens, it is always possible that this change in labeling will reveal a product to be produced in the same facility as an allergen.

I am tracking down safe substitutes for the products I have been alerted to for those who are concerned about peanut and tree-nut cross-contamination. Though I know that companies like Spectrum practice strict hygiene in cleaning between batches (which is why we chose to recommend them, in fact, due to lower incidence of any kind of cross-contamination), and cross-contamination is extremely unlikely, I understand why many are hyper-vigilant about avoiding any possible exposure.

Today I emailed Orgran about their Egg Replacer "No Egg". This is an Australian product and is available at many health food stores in the US. You can subsitute it for Ener-G Egg Replacer in equal quantity. At the bottom of this post is their response that this is a safe substitute, and not processed in a facility with peanuts or tree nuts.

Though the Spectrum Oils are processed in a facility with nuts, I have been told by Spectrum that their Organic Shortening is NOT. I am verifying this once again, and will post about it asap. But I believe it is totally safe!!!

Re: Spectrum Oils, I emailed the Allergy Grocer to find an alternate brand of Safflower Oil or Canola Oil that was processed in a nut-free peanut-free facility, and she didn't know of any. For those concerned about using these oils, please feel free to use a mild flavored olive oil instead. And if anyone knows about a safflower oil, or canola oil, or sunflower oil that is processed in a nut-free peanut-free facility, please let me know.

I would also like to reassure readers, in response to a comment on Amazon that my book should have been reviewed for medical accuracy, that my book was reviewed by many reliable medical sources. It was reviewed by Lynda Schneider, M.D., directer of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Children's Hospital in Boston, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, as well as her staff of nutritionists at Children's Hospital, and by the Review Staff (which includes physicians) at FAAN, by Christine Fusillo, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Allergy at Westchester Medical Center, and by Eric Chivian, M.D., director of the Center for Health and the Globel Environment at Harvard Medical School. Additionally, I have never claimed that my book is a medical guide. It is a cookbook, that I wrote to help other people in their struggles to cook allergen-free meals.

If anyone wants to write a review on Amazon, please do so. It would be great to hear your feedback, and for others to hear it also. I've received a couple of "alarmist" reviews, due to these three products (the Ener-G Egg Replacer, Spectrum Oils, and Mochi) but it would be such a shame for them to discount the hundreds of other ingredients, and most of all, the recipes.

Thank you all for reading this, and please tell others who you think would like to know.

Be well,


Dear Cybele,

Thank you for your enquiry and interest in ORGRAN products. We would like to inform that ORGRAN products are what free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, non-GMO, suitable for vegan and natural.

Orgran No Egg processing is in nut free environment, where we do not stock peanut or tree nuts.

I hope this information is helpful. Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.


C. Alice Rujiravongs
Quality Assurance Officer
Roma Foods

Ph: 03 9776 9044
Fax: 03 9776 9055

Int Ph: + 61 3 9776 9044
Int Fax: + 61 3 9776 9055

47-53 Aster Avenue
Carrum Downs
Victoria 3201

Our company is dedicated to providing a high level of product quality and customer service. If you feel there is a way in which we can improve any aspect of our products and/or services, we kindly ask that you provide us with any feedback, comments and/or suggestions. Thank-you for your time.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Just a brief update.... I'm settling in here in LA, but my 1950's O'Keefe and Merritt oven is broken, so I haven't had a chance to test any new recipes, yet. I promise I will soon, though. I'm very inspired by the Mexican food here. I think I'll be creating some new dishes around the Mexican theme. You can do so much with soft tacos.

My sister-in-law Thanya just sent me a menu from a restuarant in Berkeley, CA. It's called Socca Oven. Soccas are little French pizzas, and the dough is made from chick peas, a great alternative to wheat. Everything at Socca Oven is gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, and sugar free. Sounds like my kind of place! I'm going to plan a trip to the Bay Area to visit my brother and sister-in-law just so I can go eat at Socca Oven. Their website is if anyone is interested in finding them too.

I tried the Cherrybrook Kitchen Original Pancake Mix this morning. It's diary-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, and of course free of fish and shellfish. It does have wheat, however. It was pretty good. I added some sliced strawberries. My only complaint was that they really stuck to my non-stick skillet, even though I used canola oil too. But the kids liked them, and they're great for when you're short on time (or still unpacking a house full of boxes, like me!). I'm going to try all their mixes, so I'll keep posting as I do so.

For anyone who missed the Martha Stewart segment I did on April 20th, it's on youtube:

Hope everyone who reads this is well. I keep hearing it's a really bad allergy season, so for those of you out there with seasonal allergies as well as food allergies, I'm thinking of you, and hope you're not too itchy and sneezy.

all the best,