The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family

allergy cookbook

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Last month I wrote about a restaurant in Berkeley, CA, called Socca Oven, where all they serve are Soccas. Soccas are Provencal pancakes (savory or sweet) that are traditionally made with chickpea flour (garbanzo flour).

Soccas go back at least to 1860. They are from Southern France, but were most likely an import from Northern Africa, where they eat a lot of chickpeas. In the 19th Century, there were Socca sellers at the markets and at work sites where they provided the favorite morning meal of the workers. The Socca sellers used special wagons with built-in charcoal ovens to keep their wares hot while they announced them with the appropriate cries of Socca! Socca! Socca!

I became interested in Soccas because they are allergen-free, gluten-free, low carb, high protein, and delicious!

I have kept my Socca recipe simple, because I like the rustic flavor. You can top it with olive oil, salt and fresh pepper, or go all out, topping it with things like carmelized onions and grilled rosmary chicken breast. For inspiration go the Socca Oven website at and look at their offerings. It will give you an idea of the kind of fun you can have with soccas.

Socca de Nice

1 1/2 cups cold water
3 tablespoons olive oil*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chickpea flour

Preheat oven to 575 degrees (f)

In a large bowl, whisk together water, olive oil, and salt. Add chickpea flour, a little at a time, whisking in completely. You want this batter smooth! Once you've added all the flour, and whisked it so it has absolutely no lumps, set aside. Preheat an 11 1/2 inch cast iron skillet in the oven, 4-5 minutes. Remove (with an oven mitt or potholder, this baby is HOT!). Put a little olive oil in the pan. Swirl it around. Then, working quickly, add a heaping 1/2 cup of the batter to the pan, swirling it around to fill the pan in an even layer. Put in oven and cook 5-7 minutes, till browned a bit around the edges. Remove from oven. Flip. It should be golden brown on the bottom. Remove to plate, add a little more olive oil to the pan, another 1/2 cup batter and cook, and so on. This recipe makes 4 socca, ie 4 servings. Eat hot. You can cut it into wedges and dip it into olive oil, or drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

* to add herbal flavor, you my heat 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs like rosemary or thyme in the olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Let the olive oil cool before making recipe.

You may also make these on the stove top. I like the texture slightly better in the oven, but the stove top is much quicker. To do so, heat your cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil. Once hot, add batter. Cook about 1 minute, flip, cook 1 minute more. Remove from pan.



Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dear Readers:

I was going to put this up in comments in response to a comment this morning, but I decided to post it here instead, to clarify my stance on warnings on food labels.

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for your comments. First of all, I want to stress that I think these warnings SHOULD be there. And I realize that in listing these statements, it is actually hurting sales for these manufacturers. This is why some of them are choosing to REMOVE the warning. However, all food manufacturers are businesses, and though the health of their consumers may be very important to them, one can not deny that they also employ lawyers who put policy into place to protect them from lawsuits. This does not take away from the fact that these labels help consumers. But in researching this subject, it has become clear to me that there is absolutely no regulation in place, and there needs to be. Every product should list a detailed, regulated disclosure, explaining exactly what type of manufacturing practices are used... Dedicated Plant, Dedicated Line, GMP, HACCP? And I believe we need to educate people in the food allergy community on what these terms mean so they can make informed decisions about what they feel is safe for them, or their children. I think the Perky's label is the best I've seen so far. But as I said, there is no regulation, no common language in place, like we have for the FALCPA. I'M ON YOUR SIDE. Like you, I think it's a great service to people with life-threatening allergies, or parents of those with life-threatening allergies, and would never suggest removing the warning. The health of the people in the food allergy community is extremely important to me, and my book sales mean nothing (and fyi, if you knew how little money I've made off of 4 years of continuous work on this book, you might think I'm insane to keep devoting so much of my time to it!). I keep up this blog because helping people is important to me, and I am saddened to hear you think I am so selfish as to want people's health endangered for the furtherment of my cookbook.

Have you read the new labeling information on the It's quite fascinating. I highly recommend it.

all the best,


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Recipe Updates

Dear Readers:

I tried making my Breaded Chicken Cutlets recipe with Perkey's Nutty Rice, which is a gluten-free and nut-free cereal, and it came out just great! In fact, it might be better than the cornflakes. You may substitute Perky's Nutty Rice in any recipe in which I recommend using cereal.

Now, I tried using the Nutty Rice (no nuts, just a nutty texture)because a reader asked about finding cornflakes that weren't at risk for cross-contamination from soy. As some of you may remember, I went on a cereal hunt for any kind of non-wheat flakes that were risk-free for contamination from allergens. I couldn't find a single brand that was processed in a completely "Dedicated" plant. Even Perky's cereals are processed in a "Facility that also manufactures products containing soy and gluten." But they say, "Strict manufacturing and sanitation practices are employed to prevent cross-contamination".(From their box)and "This product is routinely batch-tested for gluten" (also from their box). Are y'all sick of me talking about labeling yet? Better not be, because I'm just getting started! This whole business of "May contain" on labels has absolutely no regulations, and we in the food allergy community need to change that, because it's causing a lot of fear and confusion.

But back to Perky's for a second. Though they list this disclaimer, (which I believe is to deter litigious consumers), rest assured that this brand is owned by Enjoy Life, one of the premiere allergen-free, gluten-free manufacuters. It just goes to show, you can't avoid this very very very small risk of cross-contamination anywhere, not even with the allergen-free brands. And I'll be back with that article I'm writing on labeling very soon....

On to Gluten-free baking. I tried making my Classic Chocolate Layer Cake recipe with Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour, and it came out fine. It tasted great. It's slightly heavier than when you make it with oat flour and barley flour, but surely still tasty. The one thing I would say, is eat it quickly. Gluten-free baked goods don't seem to have as long a shelf life. Next, I tried making my Cherry Pie with this same GF flour. The crust was very hard to roll out, and I found I had to just use my fingers to patch it, and mold it together a bit. It came out tasting good, and was flakey, but personally, I think it's more trouble than it's worth. Again, it had a short shelf life. Something happens to the texture with the GF baked goods after a day or two, they get a little soggy and dense. If anyone has another GF crust recipe they'd like to share, bring it on. And I'll keep experimenting with other GF flours. I have a feeling that crust calls for the potato and tapioca flours/starches, which will have less density.

Here is a new immune boosting, allergen-free salad dressing recipe that's great for summertime. I made it up a couple of weeks ago, and am addicted. Both Pomegranates and Avocados are extremely good for your health. Pomegranates immune boosting properties are said to help guard against premature aging, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer! And avocados are revered for their healthy fats. They are cholesterol free, high in monounsaturated fats, and have 7 fatty acids, including the uber-healthy Omega 3 and 6.


2 Tbsp. Pomegranate Glaze (or any pomegranate reduction you can find -- readily available at supermarkets since this whole pomegranate craze began)
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Honey
4 Tbsp. Avocado Oil
6 mint leaves, torn or chopped

Combine Pom Glaze, Lemon Juice, Dijon Mustard, and Honey. Add Avocado Oil, 1 Tbsp. at a time, whisking thoroughly to really imulsify the dressing. Add mint. Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing (enough for two of the following salads). Feel free to increase the quantity of the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds if you wish. It's a matter of taste.

1 bag mixed baby spring mix/field greens/baby greens (all the same thing)
1/4 cup green grapes, halved
2 Tbsp. dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds *

* to roast your own raw pumpkin seeds, which I think is preferable and delicious, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds. Cook, shaking the pan every so often, until the seeds start to make a popping sound. Remove from heat and toss directly onto salad. It's great when they're still a little warm, because they pair so well with the cool green grapes.

If you can eat goat cheese, you may add a mild goat cheese to this salad as well.

Enjoy! And check back in the next few days for my new Allergen-free Chicken Mole Recipe (mole usually has peanuts and almonds in it, but I've found a way around that.
Also coming soon... recipes for Soccas, the chickpea flour pizza/tortillas I wrote about last month.