The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family

allergy cookbook

Monday, June 25, 2007


Hi Folks:

I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and finally got to go to Babycakes on the lower east side. This was a much anticipated visit, as I had seen Erin McKenna on MARTHA, and was really excited about trying her brownies. I had tried visiting the bakery in the past, only to find it closed. So I was PSYCHED!

First, the PROS: The GF Cinnamon rolls were to die for! And the fact that they've figured out how to make brownies without eggs is a real accomplishment, which even companies like Ener-G have failed to do. The cupcakes were very good, particularly the vanilla, and I love that they sweeten most of their baked goods with Agave nectar, which is something I also do in most of my baking these days. I remember Erin saying she uses roasted apple sauce as a sweetener, but when I asked about that at the bakery, the girl behind the counter said "Nah".

I was surprised to discover that they call the bakery "Wheat-free" when half the products are made with Spelt. Spelt was declared wheat in 2006. Personally, I don't take issue with their use of spelt, because although the FDA has declared it to be "Wheat", I still think it's easier for people with wheat allergies to digest than modern wheat. In fact, I've been told by many a person with a wheat allergy (I'm not talking about Celiac here) that they can still eat spelt... and I too included it in my first book (I won't in my new book, because it created so much controversy). They also use coconut oil in all their baked goods, and coconuts were declared a tree nut this year by the FDA. I'm curious what others think about the fact that Babycakes uses spelt (wheat) and coconuts (tree nuts) but still call themselves a wheat-free, nut-free bakery? I used both ingredients in The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, but that book came out before either of these foods were declared allergens by the FDA. Only a few years ago, spelt was just a distant ancient cousin of wheat, and coconut was a part of the date family. Thoughts?

But enough of my musing about the FDA and its labeling (note: they are open to un-declaring coconut a tree nut, because there seems to be no evidence that anyone has ever suffered an allergic reaction to a coconut -- to which i say, YEAH, let it go back to being part of the date family, after all they both come from PALM TREES).

And, on to the cons, and I really hate that I have any cons to mention -- after all, this bakery is so closely aligned with my own heart that I feel like it's treason to criticize. But I too am a customer, and this is what I learned. First of all, when I asked questions about the ingredients (such as nuts, due to my walnut allergy), they were extremely rude and acted put out. This is not what I'd expect from a bakery catering to people with food allergies. They of all people should know that it's important to ask questions. When I asked for a recommendation on what to order, the girl behind the counter just shrugged, and said "Whatever, different people like different things". Um, how about coming back with something more along the lines of "Well for starters we have Gluten-free products and then those that are made with Spelt. Are you Gluten Intolerant, because of so, you should try ____"? To borrow from medicine, these girls had no bedside manner, or should I say pan-side manner.

And though I liked the cupcakes, the icing had a slightly bitter flavor, and turned to a runny goo shortly after I purchased it, finally sliding off the cupcake altogether, so I ate it naked.... But all this is really beside the point. The point being that this bakery is raping people with food allergies by charging obscene prices for their products. $39 for dozen cupcakes? $29 for a loaf of banana bread? A loaf of banana bread usually costs $14 tops! This is truly highway robbery, and I consider it unacceptable to charge so much just because you know people who are desperate will pay any price for fresh baked allergen-free goodies for their food allergic child's birthday party, or school party, or afternoon with grandma. I know that the cost of ingredients doesn't justify these prices, because I bake with these ingredients too. The only excuse I can come up with is that their rent is so high and business isn't huge, so they have to make up the difference somewhere. Incidentally, they are opening a Babycakes in LA next year. Perhaps I'll have a completely different review of that one. After all, NY attitude should stay in New York. No joke, the service industry in LA is a much kinder, gentler breed.

But here's looking up.... Next post will be reviews of PAMELA'S PRODUCTS, which are very affordable allergen-free, gluten-free mixes and baked goods. These are what you should be stocking your pantry with for that next birthday party.... affordable, and semi-homemade!

Somebody left a comment about allergen-free whipped cream... Anonymous, can you eat soy? If so, try Soyatoo, it's an organic soy whipped cream. I don't think I'm capable of the chemistry it would take to come up with another. Also, please note, for those thinking "Cool Whip", it has dairy protein. Another one of those tricky "non-dairy" products that actually contains dairy.



Friday, June 01, 2007

Dear Readers:

Here is a link to post comments at Food Network (see my post below). Ask them about that special on Food Allergies! Make your requests! Spread it around!,1904,FOOD_9777_8657,00.html

Also, my new column is up on Lime at

8 snack recipes, most allergen-free and/or gluten-free.