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.




  • At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Racheal Tilman said…

    Hello Cybele! I told you that I would let you know if the recipe I found worked out. And it did, Egg-free and Butter-free brownies. They were supprisingly good. They are not wheat free but I'm sure you could trade out the flour for whatever you normaly use. The recipe follows, and I add some cinnamon whenever I make brownies because I like the added sweetness it adds. I hope you find this recipe useful, and if you try it let me know how it turned out for you!! My family seemed to enjoy it very much.

    Racheal (

    ·2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (Or the flour you normaly use)
    ·2 cups white sugar
    ·3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    ·1 teaspoon baking powder
    ·1 teaspoon salt
    ·1 cup water
    ·1 cup vegetable oil
    ·1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pour in water, vegetable oil and vanilla; mix until well blended. Spread evenly in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is no longer shiny. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

  • At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Any idea when your new cookbook will be released?

  • At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Joanna said…

    Sounds like your visits would have been fun :-)
    I have always been confused about the wheat content in spelt bread. That last part clarified things for me a little, however the FDA confuses me. And the way people treat each other in the the catering environment. At least there were some really nice cinnamon rolls (my mouth is watering at the thought of cinnamon desserts...I think that they are the best...cinnamon and chocolate!!)

    In Melbourne there is a good organic bakery on gertrude street which I might look for gluten / wheat free bread and goodies...they seem to cater for a lot of people there.

    Looking forward to hearing the review on Pamela's Products.

    Warm Wishes,

    P.S.I though you might be interested in this comedy if you haven't heard of it before. It's very quirky and fun and bizarre and wrong at the same time. 3 main characters. They have it on youtube now.
    Black Books:
    "Grapes of Wrath"

  • At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry you were disappointed in Babycakes. The prices sound pretty outrageous, and you'd think with all the food allergies around now they'd have a fairly large potential customer pool.

  • At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…


    That is a shame that they were rude and put out about your question on nuts. I am really surprised, and I agree with you 100% -- if you are a) charging those prices! and b) catering to a crowd that must, must know where their food comes from, you cannot act like that. I hope someone sends them this review. Oh, well.

    Re: coconut -- my understanding from the nutritionist we met with is that it is not the sort of thing people react to in the way they do most other nuts, but of course you can ALWAYS find someone who has an allergy to any food, including coconut. I vote for having it out of the top 8, though -- I cannot imagine more people react to it than to corn, for instance.

    Spelt I know nothing about, sorry!

    thanks again for your great site and book.

  • At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am very new to the world of allergies. I have an 11 month-old son allergic to "everything". I am breastfeeding him still so now I am living a non-allergenic lifestyle as well. To sum it up: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I bought your book a few months ago and I am now finally trying the recipes. It has become my bible! Everytime I make a dish I tell myself that I have to thank you! The recipes are DELICIOUS! And I am thrilled and excited about trying new things in the book.You have truly truly made a differnce in my life and my son's.

  • At 9:14 AM, Blogger Robin said…

    Hi Cybele,
    I finally made "your favorite salad dressing" from your cookbook. why did I wait so long? it is incredible and a BIG hit at my house. We made an event of it, I wheeled Amber downtown to our local grocery store to get all the ingredients and salad fixings. Grove Market has wonderful local produce, and I bought fingerling potatos also. I roasted them according to your recipe, and they were delicious. (I had never bought them before). Amber proclaimed my salad dressing "so great , it tastes professional, like a restraunt" LOL. we gobbled it up so I made a another batch and doubled it. do I store the balsalmic vinegar in the fridge? how about the rice vinegar?
    Amber keeps prodding me to make more recipes out of the book, and thats a good thing. hope you are having a wonderful summer, we are doing pretty well, one day at a time. thanks for everything, :)

  • At 8:32 PM, Blogger Cybele Pascal said…

    Hi Racheal:

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us! I will make it asap, and will let you know how it turns out for us. I'm pretty sure by looking at it that it will be good. It looks like they're more chewy than cakey, which is how I like my brownies. When I was growing up, my mother put almond extract in brownies. Those with nut allergies obviously can't do that, so the addition of cinnamon is a nice idea instead.

    Anonymous, unfortunately, there is no ETA on my book yet. My current cookbook was bought by a new publisher, Square One Books, and there's a bunch of business around the contract on that one. First have to take care of that before moving on to the next one. But I am compiling recipes, and am keeping my fingers crossed that a new book will happen this year. They take awhile from start to finish. I started my first cookbook in 2002, but it wasn't published till 2005! But I will make every possible effort to get it done and out there in a timely fashion.


    Thanks for keeping me up on culture! I get buried sometimes.


    Thanks for your ideas about coconut. I've been really back and forth about whether to remove it from my book when we do a reprint. My gut says no, because I think it may be "undeclared" a top allergen soon. I guess I'll wait and see what happens.


    Your comment brings tears to my eyes! Thank you for writing in. I am so happy you enjoy the recipes.


    Always great to hear from you. Glad Amber is on the mend!! Isn't that dressing yummy? (if i do say so myself!) you can use it on just about anything too. Put it on steamed veggies like green beans, on potatoes, etc.

    You don't have to keep the vinegar in the fridge. Just store them in a dark cool place. Like the cabinet.

  • At 10:13 AM, Blogger Racheal said…

    No to share when I can. I also put coconut in my brownies with a bit on top, but that depends on your tastes....I like the taste of chocolate and coconut together, but that's just me. But yes...tell me how it worked out for you!!

  • At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I just read one of your old posts about how your son tested positive to a lot of foods and you tested positive to a bunch as well. I am wondering why your allergist tested your son to these foods? Did you have reason to suspect her had additional food allergies? The reason I ask is that testing has a *large* % of false positives. Skin testing and CAP RAST testing are only 50% accurate for positives so they give a *lot* of false positives. However, they are over 90% accurate for negatives so a negative result is a good way to rule something out and a positive in addition to clear allergic reaction symptoms helps confirm an allergy. RAST #s can give some valuable information as well. But if you or your child have been eating a food fine with no symptoms FAAN and other food allergy organizations recommend continuing to eat that food.

    Also, you said something about food allergy symptoms occurring up to 24 hours after ingestion. According to FAAn, generally speaking this doesn't happen. Food allergy symptoms (IgE allergies, not food sensitivities) happen within two hours of ingestion. Some more serious reactions can be biphasic and I have heard of people having anaphylaxis and then having continued symptoms lasting for even days, however, the initial reaction always is supposed to occur within the first two hours. I'm sure there are some rare exceptions but this is what almost always happens with IgE allergies. Also, according to FAAN, about 90% of IgE reactions include the person having some hives so reactions that don't begin within two hours of ingestion and reactions that do not involve any hives are not as likely to be IgE reactions.

    At the least, if I had foods which my child had been eating just fine but tested positive to I would want to do an in office trial. I would not pull a food just based on a test result alone. If I had reason to believe the food was a true allergen I would be very cautious, though.

    I wish you all the best.

  • At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Racheal Tilman - Great recipe!!!

  • At 9:08 AM, Blogger Amy Bauer said…

    Hi Cybele and fellow food allergy avoiders! Hope you all are having a good summer! I am so excited because I am having my daughter tested for the second time tomorrow for food allerges. She turns two next month and the last time she was tested she was 10 months old she's allergic to peanuts, milk, soy and eggs, but we also avoid all tree nuts and fish. I say "we" because I nurse my daughter and avoid these foods as well. So my question to you, Cybele and others is how old were your children when they grew out of their food allergies? I am hoping she has grown out of something, but know there's a huge chance she hasn't. Would love to know your experiences!

  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger Margaret said…

    For whipped cream--if you buy one of those aerators from Williams Sonoma, you can make whipped cocconut cream. Either buy a can of just the cream, or insert a can of full-fat cocconut milk into the fridge and, when chilled, skim off the layer of cream. Put it in the aerator with a little bit of powdered sugar and arrowroot starch and it'll whip right up.

    Actually, I know someone who is allergic to cocconut.

  • At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow... Did you really write that a vegan bakery was "raping" their customers? It's incredibly offensive to discount such a traumatizing act of violence and abuse.

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger Cybele Pascal said…

    Dear Anonymous:

    I am so sorry you take offense. Rape has several meanings, and I of course did not mean "sexual assault". I am not discounting such a traumatizing act of violence and abuse. I am using the term as meant as seen below under the Noun definitions for the word. To "rob people of their money, to violate by taking our resources". But again, I apologize if you interpreted it the other way.

    [raping, raped]
    to force (someone) to submit to sexual intercourse
    1. the act of raping
    2. any violation or abuse: the rape of the country's natural resources [Latin rapere to seize]


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