The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family

allergy cookbook

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


No, I'm not dead. Just busy. I have considered leaving a message saying there will be no more posts until I publish my next book, but I can't quite commit to that yet. First, Miss Roben's is sending me some fabulous new allergen-free, gluten-free product samples to review, so look back for that soon. Second, I'll be attending Expo West next month, so expect some breaking news on upcoming allergen-free products to be expected on store shelves in the coming year. Speaking of which, does ANYBODY like the GF mixes from Whole Foods? I think they are awful!!!!! They ought to be ashamed of their supposed "Whole Foods" selves. Made with WHITE RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, and POTATO STARCH (ummm, hello, WHITE, NON-WHOLE FOOD STARCH!!) these mixes are closer to a twinkie than a whole food (and nowhere near as good, I might add).

But on to the drama....

There has been A LOT OF DRAMA in the world of Food Allergies in the past few months. First, FAAN founders are stepping down, which is kind of a huge deal. Kind of like a whole new administration is coming in to rule our allergy country. Second, The NY TIMES ran an inflammatory article about Robyn O'Brien (founder of AllergyKids)

and the community has responded with furor.

Additionally, Meredith Broussard wrote a flippant article, which has stirred up a commotion. The best response I've seen so far is posted below.

Published January 19, 2008 09:37 pm

GUERILLA MOTHERING: I'm allergic to semi-humorist attacking serious subject

Local Columnist

Someone is attacking my kid, saying his food allergies are exaggerated. My first response is to fire back, and I do, in my own way — I write about it on my blog. I write about it also in a letter — the most scathing, insightful, soul-piercing prose ever composed by a sentient being on the topic of food allergies. I don’t finish the letter, though. I know there’s something more important I have to do first: take stock.

1.) There’s my son. I look at my boy, one of three children I would give my very life to defend. At age 6, he’s impudent, spunky, serious, and goofy in equal parts-but he’s a kid, so get off his back, already and let him be, right? Don’t go after his medical frailties, or any other weaknesses. He’s not ready.

2.) There’s the trouble-maker. I recently read an article implying that food allergies don’t exist. That the “few people” who do have them will easily outgrow them, and that all the hysteria surrounding food allergies is a marketing ploy put together by the corporate cronies who make drugs and fund research.

3.) There’s my quandary. Now I’m at odds. I fear the sinister manipulation of The Man, but I love my peanut-allergic kidlet with all my heart and don’t want to play Russian Roulette with his health.

4.) There’s no easy answer. Do I fight for my kids health, sanity, and safety by rejecting the corporate brainwashing some magazine article is telling me that I’ve been eating all these years? Or do I stick by what I know is true: I have seen my son — with my own eyes — swell up, develop hives, rashes, experience intestinal problems, and a lot of other disturbing symptoms that together are known as anaphylaxis.

Some writers enjoy just shooting from the hip, blathering out their opinions and being humbly corrected later by the powers that be — if anyone cares enough to respond. It allows them to go way out onto the fringe, to elicit powerful responses from sensational verbal imagery. It’s powerful, I know. I used to be that kind of writer. It’s thrilling.

Nowadays, I prefer to research my arguments before I make them. I like the power and weight of a solid argument before I slam it down on the table for discussion. I’m not afraid of being a drama mama when the need arises, but more than that, I just like to be right. So I started my research by looking up the author of this inciting bit of news. Was this article even written by a credible authority?

What I found was telling. The author of the article, Meredith Broussard, is a semi-humorist with a history of failed relationships. I’m not saying that to be mean — she has actually built a writing career on the topic of failed relationships, even publishing a presumably witty book on their unique lexicon. I’m sure it’s hilarious, just the kind of thing I would have loved back when I was a single chick who valued a snark above all else. Since I’ve become a mom, I feel differently about that kind of thing, but that’s just me going soft, I’m sure.

On her blog (entitled “The Blog of Failed Relationships,” naturally), Broussard mentions the torture of growing up with food allergies, and the diet of strict avoidance her mother put her on. In her own words “no sugar, no white flour, no peanut butter, no artificial coloring of any kind, no chocolate, no fish, no shellfish, no dairy.” Ouch. Strict avoidance. The diet evidently worked — Broussard outgrew her food allergies — but she still sounds so angry about it.

I hate it, but it’s the same kind of diet we have our kid on, though admittedly Broussard had it worse. Sam doesn’t have to avoid such a long list of things, but he really has trouble with what he has to manage. And now I feel sorry for her. I can’t help but see her as having so much in common with our own witty, impudent, wacky kid. How hard her life must have been, and at the same tender age our child is now.

I wonder if I can do any better than this woman’s mother did — not just in making my child avoid his allergic foods, but in communicating that I am doing so in hopes that he will outgrow his food allergies. Can I somehow impart kindness and caring to my son, who is denied so many treats and experiences that his friends and classmates get to have? Is it part of life for allergic children to be resentful of their parents? Must this baseline frustration hinder him for life?

I wonder if, in the history of another woman’s failed relationships, I can find inspiration to make my own family a success.

Ultimately, as I have advised the participants in my journaling classes so many times, I decide to keep my scathing letter unsent. I do not wish to add more hurt and trouble to the world. I use it to release, to voice important emotions, and now I choose to roll forward in an attitude of acceptance, focusing on the long-term solutions to food allergies instead of wasting time in the present arguing with a woman who’s already been deluged by angry letters from allergy parents and doctors all over the nation.

With my own eyes, I have seen the truth of food allergies. I know that there is a food allergy epidemic, and the fact that 10 percent of my son’s class has peanut allergy, alone, is illustrative of what is going on with one particular food. There are similar widespread cases of milk allergy, tree nuts, wheat, and many other foods. That’s just how it is. I have seen my son react and I have seen photos and videos of other people reacting, mostly children. No magazine article can change that.

With my choices, today and everyday, the people in my life, and in my son’s life — including my boy — I speak volumes about what I believe. My actions must stand up to the end result I wish to see. I must be the change I wish to see in the world — and my wish is for a world that works together to protect all its children, regardless of whether they have allergies or not.


Everyone's gone nuts: The exaggerated threat of food allergies

by Meredith Broussard

from the January 2008
Harper's Magazine

(sorry, you'll have to cut and paste this into your browser, the link is being as uncooperative as Ms. Broussard)


Check back soon for a review of GF Allergen-free Soft Pretzels from The Allergy Grocer/Miss Roben's and Allergen-free Marshmallow Peeps (just in time for EASTER!!!)




  • At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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  • At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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  • At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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  • At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Jane said…

    It's surprising how allergies continue to be so controversial. It must be very frustrating for you.

  • At 8:20 PM, Blogger wachibre said…

    I think it is too bad there has been some neg press but I'm focusing on the fact that in my life more and more people know about food allergies and are supportive.

    I think the most important thing that is missed in the debate that not *that* many people have FAs and very few actually have fatal reactions is that we have no way to know how severe a reaction will become once it starts and any systemic reaction may become fatal. So, we must treat people who have systemic IgE reactions to foods as having potentially fatal reactions and act accordingly. If there were some test that wold tell me *for sure* my son won't have a potentially life-threatening reaction in the future to his allergens my life would be different in many ways. But there is no such test. My son has had serious anaphylaxis reactions so we take precautions. I focus on my son and ignore people who don't "get it". They are not my concern. My son is.

    Good luck with your book, Cybele.

    -99.9% vegan

  • At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Leslea from said…

    Thanks, Cybele! You sent a copy of your cookbook a few months back, which I reviewed on my Allergy News show, too. Nice work! I'm glad you appreciated my response. I got a lot of comments from non-allergy parents on that one. They really appreciated it. I think it helped build a bridge, because it shot for common ground, using the sitch as a learning opp for me, as a parent, on how to deal w/ a child's adversity.

    Have a great day!

    PS I think I already have a link to your book on my site--want to trade links?


  • At 2:04 PM, Blogger Cybele Pascal said…

    Dear 99.9% vegan:

    I completely agree with you. People seem to completely overlook the unknowns that we live with. For example, my walnut allergy has gotten progressively worse over the years, going from a couple of minor hives to total body hives, eyes swelled shut, mouth/tongue swollen,with the hives lasting for a total week before I had to take steroids! My allergist is quite fearful that it will become complete anaphylaxis. My son Lennon also has a walnut allergy, and I live in fear that his allergy will also progress along these same lines. What's to say it won't? So, though technically, he just has run of the mill "food allergies" without being anaphylactic, I have no assurance that this will not explode into something worse at any given moment. Particularly given the long list of things he has been allergic to over the course of his short life.

    Dear Leslie:

    I loved your column. Now, when did I send you my book? I don't think I sent it, perhaps it was my publisher. Do you have a link to the review?

    I'd be happy to trade links with you! Consider it done.

    Keep up the great work. Your writing is a joy to read.



  • At 7:38 AM, Anonymous kat said…

    There is still a long way to go in educating people about food allergies. Like you 99.9% Vegan, my focus is on keeping my son safe and educating family members and caregivers on the severity of food allergies. There are still some who are more concerned about his pigeon toes rather than his severe allergy to milk (one of his mulitle food allergies), but I believe that slow and steady wins the race. Patients and persistance are needed to get through to those individuals who don't "get it".


    On a much lighter note...has anyone tried using avacado as a substitute for butter?:0)

  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger tpkyteroo said…

    Kyt here -
    I seriously believe that some people will only "get it" when 25% of the people with food allergies all of a sudden die within a very short period of time of each other from a food allergy. My own father has told me that he thinks my food sensitivies is all in my head. I've promised myself that the next time I accidentally eat an allergen, I'm going to send him the results in a shoe box coffin with a rose on top. Unfortunately, its hard to wrap up a fake appendix attack. LOL

    Avocado on toast works, but I don't know about cooking with it. I'm allergic to it too. LOL

    ps. Kombu as broth works very well! My stomach and brain are still trying to figure out what signals to send each other, but my tastebuds loved it! (Sometimes my brain sends the wrong signals due to shaken baby syndrome. It makes me laugh.)

  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger 1AllergyMom said…

    Thank you for posting this! I did send Ms. MB a note via her email listed on her blog, but it was loaded with anger and I realize now it ultimately doesn't change my daughter's or our family situation with life threatening food allergies. My daughter recently had an anaphylatic reaction to milk and I was anger she could belittle it so much. I wrote about the reaction on my blog, Also, I attended a support group meeting here in the DC area where Anne Munoz-Furlong was the speaker and she said they and the medical community felt it necessary to refute her article, but they were only going to do it once and then let it go. No need to fuel her fire of negativity. I received your book, love it and recommended it to a group member at the FAAN conference this weekend in Baltimore, MD. I have it on my blog too. Many thanks!

  • At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just found out over Easter I am allergic to the coating on M&M's!!! They severely burned the roof of my mouth (more than 10 bowls of Captain Crunch feeling). I love M&M's and normally only eat them once in a while, not ever experiencing this type of reaction. But the plain pastel Easter version tore my mouth up. Acid burn! I wonder if the coating is made in China...

  • At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    cybele- Thank you for the work you do. I have 2 children with multiple food allergies and finding your book helped me to have a little more fun with food. Scary world we live in but we don't have to do it alone. Isaiah 53

  • At 1:50 PM, Blogger Cassie Rivera said…

    Hi Cybele,
    I just tried Amy's Black Bean burrito with vegetables. I can't believe how good her frozen meals are. I'm trying the dairy free pizza with spinach next time I go to Wild by Nature. I can't wait for your new cookbook. That will make my life so much easier to cook and eat. Can't wait.

  • At 3:59 PM, Blogger support said…

    LOL, I tried out the Whole Foods basic flour replacement mix for baking with a couple of gluten free cookie recipes and thought they came out really good. I MUST try making a healthier and better version from a recipe--then the cookies should be AMAZING. LOL, good to know, I guess things start tasting good when you haven't had anything like them in months!

  • At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Katy said…

    Hey Cybele,

    Just posting this link to Bethenny Bakes products. She was featured on the Real Housewives of NYC, and has baked goods that are wheat, egg, and dairy free. Might be worth testing!

  • At 6:06 PM, Blogger Lauren said…

    happy 4th of july

    we had a really good hypoallergenic chick pea tomato salad.

  • At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Carmen said…

    It really is sad that people have such a blazé and sometimes even downright negative attitude towards people with food allergies. I don't have them myself, but I have some friends who do and it's sad to see people not care when someone has a serious allergy to food. My friends have told me story after story of going into restaurants and having the servers treat them disrespectfully and ignorantly when my friends told them they were allergic to [insert food here]. It's not a laughing matter and people shouldn't treat it as one. I guess all we can do is keep trying to spread awareness and hope that everyone will realize that people with food allergies aren't going to go away.

  • At 12:29 PM, Blogger catsmum said…

    one does not outgrow allergies - one may if one is lucky outgrow sensitivities , but not allergies.
    I get why it's easier to say "I'm allergic to ...." but as one who has both sensitivities and full blown anaphalactic-response causing allergies [ and the mother of a whole bunch more of the same ] I do wish people wouldn't overuse the term... and having said that I HAVE found my self saying " oh she's allergic to ..." rather than " allergic to this and that and sensitive to the other"
    I'm sure that's part of why some people like that journalist don't take true life threatening allergies seriously


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