Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cheers to Your Health!

It’s the time of year again for making New Year’s resolutions. They usually center around the betterment of health: quitting smoking, losing weight, more exercise. Having a plan can help one succeed in meeting these aspirations.

The US government offers online assistance for quitting smoking. There are many support groups for weight loss, such as Weight Watchers or Overeaters Anonymous. To meet of goal of more exercise, join a gym or enlist a friend to make the commitment.

Eating more green vegetables can improve overall health and boost energy. Having a variety of new ways to eat these vegetables is great way to insure success.

An enjoyable way to start the day is with a Green smoothie. Raw greens maintain more of their nutrients than their cooked counterparts, making their health benefits even greater. It’s easy to create a variety of recipes so that the green smoothie becomes a good habit.

Keeping veggies fresh while maintaining variety can be a challenge. This can be a factor in discouraging one from continuing with a good and healthy habit. Washing and freezing greens keeps them from wilting. Roll up in parchment paper and store in a freezer bag. When needed, a piece can be broken off and added to your smoothie. This also eliminates the need to add ice to any recipe. Apple should be stored in the bottom of the refrigerator in a bag that allows air circulation. Keep the pit in an avocado for maximum freshness. Browning of surface exposed to air can be scraped off before use.

Here are a few recipes…

Basic Green Smoothie
Cilantro Lime Refresher
Kiwi Green Smoothie

Apple - a good source of dietary fiber, regulated blood fat levels, promotes heart health, reduces asthmas symptoms, balances blood sugar, lowers cancer risk, especially lung cancer.
Arugula - imparts a spicy flavor, rich in antioxidants, lowers cancer risk, source of trace minerals.
Avocado - contains heart-healthy fats, anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, balances blood sugar, lowers cancer risk.
Beet Greens - rich in bone-building nutrients, promotes heart health, high in antioxidants, promotes good vision.
Celery - imparts a light flavor, contains cold-fighting Vitamin C, lower cholesterol, promotes blood vessel health.
Chard - enhances digestion, lowers cholesterol (better than kale when steamed,) detoxifies liver, lowers cancer risk, anti-inflammatory.
Cilantro - anti-inflammatory, heavy metal detoxification, balance blood sugar, balances good and bad cholesterol, antibacterial.
Cucumber - imparts a light flavor, promotes heart health, anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, promotes skin radiance.
Dandelion Greens - detoxifies liver and kidney, balance blood sugar, balances good and bad cholesterol, protects against lung and mouth cancers.
Kale - enhances digestion, lowers cholesterol, detoxifies liver, lowers cancer risk, anti-inflammatory.
Parsley - promotes optimal health, tames bad breath, rich in antioxidants, lowers cancer risk, promotes heart health, protects against rheumatoid arthritis.
Spinach - high in Vitamin C, anti-inflammatory, lowers cancer risk, rich in antioxidants, promotes bone health.

Some greens are bitter. The sweetness of fruit or Medjool dates can mask this. After a few weeks, these ingredients can be eliminated to suit one’s taste.

Non-green ingredients can add a boost to flavor and texture while enhancing the nutritive value

Date - adds fiber, sweetness, and a boost of iron
Fish/Flax Oil - high in Omega-3 fatty acids which benefit heart and brain health. Also promotes colon health and boosts immunity. This ingredient should be added during the last 10 seconds of blending to maintain maximum health benefits.
Strawberry - contains manganese which can help fend off chocolate cravings, a great source of vitamin C, balances blood sugar. 
Tomato - protects men’s health, benefits heart health, balances blood lipids, rich in vitamins, A, C, and K.

During the winter months, raw foods may have adverse effect on digestion. According to Chinese medicine, this is due to the “cold” properties of uncooked foods. To avoid this discomfort, follow smoothies with warm liquids or detoxifying teas, such as those that contain licorice.

Basic green smoothie recipe

Click here for other allergen-free smoothies at Vitamixerific.

Eat well and be well,


Friday, December 23, 2011

A Toast to the Holidays

The holidays can always be a challenging time of year for those with food allergies. There are many tempting foods available which need to be avoided. Having substitutes available can help keep willpower strong. 
Starting in the late autumn, mulled apple cider is a seasonal favorite. Making your own fresh can avoid preservative which can be a hidden source of allergens. Find the recipe here for Mulled Apple Cider.  As autumn turns to winter, and the snow starts falling, nothing this the spot like hot chocolate. Find two recipes here for Hot Chocolate. One with a homemade flavor and another similar to a popular powdered mix.

Holiday parties are just not limited to evenings. This alcohol-free mimosa recipe can help you keep a clear head and enable you to make better food choices. Find the recipe for Faux-mosa here.

Happy Holidays!

Eat well and be well,


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Roasting Squash and Pumpkin

I recently bought a can of pumpkin and was disappointed with the lack of flavor. It was flat and tinny. By roasting and freezing your own, you can preserve taste and guarantee that it is free of food allergens.

Small varieties of squash, such as acorn, can be cut in half, seeds removed, and placed face down on an oiled surface. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F. Cook until the skin is easily pierced with a fork. This can vary depending on the size of the squash, but is generally between 30-45 minutes. Once cooled it is easily scraped from the skin and frozen for future use.

Butternut squash should be cut into equally thick pieces. Then remove seeds. Place in an oiled casserole dish and bake in an oven preheated to 350F. Cook until the skin is easily pierced with a fork. Time can vary depending on the size of the squash but generally is between 45-60 minutes. Once cooled it can easily be scraped from the skin and frozen.

Cut the lid off of a pumpkin in the style that you would use to make a jack-o-latern. Scrape out the seeds. Put 3 tablespoons of water inside and replace the lid. Place in an oiled casserole dish and bake in an oven preheated to 350F. Cook until the skin is easily pierced with a fork. This time can vary depending on the size of the squash but generally is between 1 - 1-1/2 hours. Once cooled it can easily be scraped from the skin and frozen.  Pumpkin is used in the recipe for Quinoa Everything Cakes.

Eat well and be well,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oil Slick

Olive oil has many health benefits. It is a good source of healthy fats (monounsaturated fatty acids) and contains antioxidants. For people suffering from allergies, it has the extra bonus of being made from a fruit rather than a nut.

A 2010 report at the UC Davis Olive Center found that approximately 69% of olive oil imported into California, is adulterated. Even more shocking, according to Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive OIl by Tom Meuller, soy bean oil is often mixed with a small amount of olive oil, beta carotene, and chlorophyll and then labeled extra virgin olive oil. This oil may end up on your grocery shelf but more often, it is sold commercially to restaurants. (Listen to the entire interview on Fresh Air, aired December 12, 2011.) 

Take action to protect your food sources. Contact your congressional officials to encourage their support of the fair labeling of oilive oil and adequate funding of the USDA for enforcement to prevent counterfeiting.

Eat well and be well,


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Gets Busy

A few months ago, I started sharing my recipes and experiences about living allergen-free. Life had given me the time and space to do that. Then, as things always do, they change.

After an eight month period of being totally allergen-free, I decided to experiment with veganism. Fortunately, I am not allergic to tree nuts, which are a staple of vegan eating. Further, I’ve been incorporating raw foods into my diet.

These types of food preparation are quite different. They take a lot of planning and knowledge of different equipment. My energy is directed on acquiring these new skills. I am still cooking allergen-free and those recipes are posted on

Recipes that include nuts can be found on Recicopeia as well as Vitamixerific.

I hope to be back soon with new blog posts. Until then...

Eat well and be well,


Friday, July 15, 2011

Liver Detoxification

There is a connection between toxicity and disease. In 2010, Drs. Duk Hee Lee and David R Jacobs concluded that obesity alone did not lead to Type 2 diabetes. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs,) namely pesticides, must also be present in the adipose tissue, or fat, for this disease to manifest. (1)

Further, these two doctors did another study which showed that various POPs (BPA, dioxin) found in the blood contributed to the cardiovascular disease. Surprisingly, pollutants had varied effects based on sex. (2)

Many of these toxins are fat-soluble and are therefore stored in the adipose tissue (fat cells.) Their presence can contribute to difficult weight loss and obesity by means of causing insulin resistance. They are also a contributing factor in cancer, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease, coronary heart disease, and fibromyalgia.

A properly functioning liver can help rid the body of toxins. Detoxification takes place in two phases. During Phase I, dangerous substances are made less harmful through a conversion which also produces free radicals. During Phase II the substances are made water-soluble and are ready to be excreted from the body.

Many nutrients are crucial in supporting this process. Glutathione is an antioxidant that will combat the effect of the free radicals produced during Phase I.  One of its building blocks is sulphur which can be found in cabbage, onion, garlic and broccoli. Other nutrients needed during Phase I detoxification are folic acid, found in spinach and orange juice; flavonoids, found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and beans; and for the B vitamins: spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, and cabbage.

Phase II nutrients include methionine. Methionine is mainly found in dairy, nuts, and eggs. For anyone on an allergen-free diet, the best food sources include sesame seeds, tahini, sunflower seeds and navy beans. Cystine is another nutrient that can be challenging for someone on an allergen-free diet. It is mainly found in dairy and wheat germ, but can also be obtained by eating poultry and oats. Other food-based components important to Phase II detoxification can be found in the following allergen-free foods: poultry, seaweed, meats, carob, cocoa; many are not included in a vegan diet.


Sometimes supplementation is important, but the best way to absorb nutrients is through fresh foods. Try the Caliente Cabbage Salad (click for recipe) and the Pomegranate Orange Salad Dressing (click for recipe) with fresh spinach as a delicious way to acquire many of the nutrients needed to support liver detoxification.

Eat well and be well, 


(1) Duk-Hee Lee, MD, PHD, P. Monica Lind, PHD, David R. Jacobs Jr., PHD, Damira Salihovic, MSC, Bert van Bavel, PHD, and Lars Lind, MD, PHD; Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Organochlorine Pesticide in Plasma Predict Development of Type 2 Diabetes in the Elderly: The Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) Study; Diabetes Care, June 23, 2011

(2) Myung-Hwa Ha, Duk-Hee Lee, and David R. Jacobs, Jr.Association between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Self-Reported Cardiovascular Disease Prevalence: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2002; 
Environ Health Perspect. 2007 August; 115(8): 1204–1209.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Heavy metals occur both naturally in the environment and as a toxic by-product of industry. They make their way from the earth into our water supply.  Eventually, they enter the food supply and are unknowingly consumed. The most harmful among them are lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and aluminum. They are commonly found in cookware, household paint, reclaimed wood, gas fumes, fertilizers, tobacco smoke, and amalgam dental fillings.  

Of the many health conditions that are associated with heavy metal toxicity, the most common include; migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivity, nausea, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, hair loss, dry skin, diarrhea, PMS, confusion, arthritis, learning disabilities, etc. (1) (2)

If in a healthy state, the body will rid itself of these poisons.  Otherwise, these metals will be stored in the organs and tissues, mainly adipose tissue -- otherwise known as fat. They can contribute to difficult weight loss since fat storage is a way for the body to dilute the levels of metals in the body.

The organs most important to detoxification are the intestine, liver and kidneys.  The intestines and kidneys are the organs of elimination. And the liver plays a vital role in cleansing the blood and making toxins inert. Before starting any heavy metal detoxification, these organs must be in good working order. If a detoxification program is attempted before these organs are healthy, the metals may be released from the tissues, but still remain active as free radicals and cause further damage before being stored again in the organs and tissues.

A diet rich in fiber helps the intestines function properly.  Additionally, consuming healthy fats and oils, such as cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and avocados will help the body remove these dangerous substances through the liver.  Plenty of water will help to flush out the kidneys.

Further, a balance in the complex synergy between trace minerals is key in the removal of toxic metals. This includes metals such as zinc. Zinc is important to aid in the removal of cadmium and lead. If Zinc levels become depleted, copper toxicity may arise. Copper is necessary in the body for the formation of red blood cells and elastin. It works optimally when in balance with zinc and in the presence of vitamin C.  Zinc is also important for reproductive health, as well as immune system function. 

Taking biochemical individuality into consideration, a hair mineral analysis is one of the best ways to determine an appropriate approach to detoxification for an individual. This empirical scientific data establishes a base line for health as well as determines any toxicity that may be present.  It is one of the most effective course of action for health concerns.

Dr. Yoshiaki Omura is the president and founder of the International College of Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics, a former professor at Columbia Medical School, and a member of the New York State Society of Medical Examiners. In a 1995 study, he discovered that cilantro helps remove mercury from the body through chelation. In a matter of two weeks tissue begins to heal and his patients had fewer occurrences of viral and bacterial infections.(3) Further, cilantro has also shown to aid in the chelation of lead and aluminum. 

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine.”  

If a mercury, lead, or aluminum toxicity has been established with a health care practitioner or by other verifiable scientific lab work, then consuming cilantro can aid in the removal of these heavy metals from the body.This Cilantro Lime Refresher (click for recipe) is a healthy, tasty way to start your day. It provides a gentle detoxification, and should be done for a month before retesting for the presence of heavy metals. The lime in this beverage provides vitamin C which is necessary for tissue regeneration and plenty of fiber to keep things moving through the digestive system.  After the metals are no longer detected, the Cilantro Lime Refresher can be incorporated into the diet occasionally as a preventative.

Eat well and be well,


(1) Detoxification, Advanced Nutrition Publications Inc., 2006
(2) Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A Balch & James F Balch, Penguin Putnam, Inc., 2000
(3) Omura Y, Shimotsuura Y, Fukuoka A, Fukuoka H, Nomoto T. Acupunct Electrother Res. 1996; 21(2): 133-160.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life’s a Picnic...

Holidays can be hard for those with food allergies and food sensitivities. Everyone seems to be having a good time while you obsess over the unknowns of what you can and cannot eat. Does the salad dressing have soybean oil? Are the meatballs made with breadcrumbs or cheese? Did that hamburger touch the salmon when they were on the grill together?

A good strategy for dealing with picnics and parties is to be informed. If you know the host or hostess well, you can directly address your concerns beforehand while offering to make a side dish and/or a dessert. Making something similar to what will be served is a good tactic. This way, you wont feel deprived since you CAN have what others are having.

From a buffet, choose foods that are basic, such as a salad that has dressing on the side, or a plain baked potato. If you have problems with wheat or gluten, wrap a burger in a lettuce leaf. This is a popular strategy for people on a low-carbohydrate diet. Remember to avoid mayonnaise if you are allergic to soy or eggs. And always take the opportunity to read a label before putting something on your plate.

Are you going to a picnic or party as a guest and feel awkward about being vocal regarding your food allergies or food sensitivities? Then consider eating a large meal at home and taking snacks with you. Avoiding alcohol can keep you focused and enable you to refrain from making bad choices.

If you have a severe allergy to any food, you should avoid it no matter how socially uncomfortable it may be to ask the questions that will protect your health and, possibly, your life. The consequences are not worth the risk.

Someone with food sensitivities may be willing to take such a risk. In the event that you opt to indulge, then make notes of any symptoms experienced. This knowledge may help you be more diligent in the future. It’s also a good idea to take some digestive enzymes as they may shorten the duration of any symptoms that may occur.

Here are a few picnic- and party-friendly dishes:

Other suggestions that are not shown are Potato Salad (click for recipe,) Italian Salad Dressing (click for recipe,) and Pomegranate Orange Salad Dressing (click for recipe.)

You never know, you may be providing a nibble for some who didn’t want to speak up about their own food allergies or food sensitivities.

Eat well and be well,


Monday, June 27, 2011

Dealing with Cravings

Discovering food allergies as an adult presents some unique challenges. There is a lifetime of favorite foods mulling around the brain, tempting and cajoling one to run right out to get them. Then to consume said foods without a second thought as there is no room in the brain for that thought. It is only after reason returns, that the situation can be viewed with an analytical mind.

These intense cravings can often be associated with specific nutrients. Finding substitutes for such foods is a very important action towards the betterment of one’s health. Cravings for a single food can easily be explained. For instance, a peanut contains substantial levels of vitamins B1, B3, E, and Folate. Chocolate is loaded with the minerals iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus.

To decipher a craving food, do a search for “nutritional profile __________” while filling in the blank with a craving food. Find a site that allows serving size adjustment. For example, 1 ounce is an appropriate serving for cocoa whereas 1 cup is not. A valuable site will also provide RDA information. This is critical in determining which nutrients may be triggering the craving. Take note of any nutrients that are providing 15% or more of the RDA.

Next, do a search for “__________ rich foods list” filling in the blank with the above determined nutrients. Find a list that shows the RDA of an appropriate serving size. Choose foods from the list that are free of any food allergens or intolerances.

This process can be time consuming and tedious but it will lay the invaluable foundation for making better food choices. To keep cravings at bay, it is a good idea to incorporate these foods into the diet. Make sure to keep plenty on hand for a food craving emergency!

Another stumbling block may be restaurants. Sometimes an entree from a favorite restaurant may be calling your name. Tackling this type of craving is possible too. Taking the time to play in the kitchen and experiment is all that is needed. Find a recipe, or two, or three, and use them to create your own while substituting ingredients that are allergens or intolerances. It may not be exactly what you are expecting the first time, but the process can be fun and tasty. Keep notes and make improvements. You may end up with something better than you’re used to.

I’ve been craving Middle Eastern food lately and was able to come up with a tasty Moroccan Chicken Tangine (click for recipe) and a refreshing Egyptian Iced Tea (click for recipe.) This venture was even better than going out since I would’ve had to go to two separate restaurants to get them both!

Eat well and be well,


Monday, June 20, 2011

Taste the Rainbow

Food colorings have been used as early as 1901 to enhance the marketability of oleomargarine, which would otherwise be grayish in color. Before the 1950s, food colorings were generally derived from other foods. Red would come from beets or cabbage, green was from chlorophyl, and yellow may have come from a variety of spices, such as turmeric or saffron.

But in the post-war economy, chemical companies were looking for ways to maintain business. They set about attracting the food industry by promising consistent color, lower prices, and longer shelf life. At this time, there was little government oversight. "Safety was determined primarily on the amount of a chemical that was needed to kill 50% of the…” test subject “…animals. The data was then extrapolated to humans for assessing risk.”(1)

Several of the original colors have been “delisted” or removed from commercial use. For example, FD&C Red No. 1 was delisted in 1961 since it was found to cause liver cancer. In 1959, FD&C Yellow No. 3 and 4 were shown to cause both liver and bladder cancers in animal experimentation. (2) Thankfully these and other toxic food colorings are off of the market. 

In 1965, Dr. Ben F. Feingold, a pioneer in the fields of allergies and immunology made a ground breaking discovery.  By removing certain food preservatives and colorings from the diet of an adult patient, not only were her hives cured, but it also affected a vast improvement in her personality disorder.  Currently, the European Union is planning a ban on Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, and Red 3. They are among the food colors associated with hyperactivity. (3)

Recently, I picked up a bag of Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish Colors and was expecting to read a list of Red this and Yellow that. I was pleasantly surprised to find the colors were derived from natural sources like beet juice and turmeric. A good start to change. There is dye-free ibuprofen in the pain relief aisle of the drug store.  And in the baking aisle of the health food store, you may find vegetable-based 
food coloring, such as those from India Tree

I used only two drops of the red in approximately 2 cups of liquid to achieve the color in this Rose Sorbet.

For the Rose Water Sorbet recipe click here.

Finding a happy medium between prepackaged convenience foods and making everything from scratch is possible. Understanding the source and long-term impact of what goes into your body is important to your health and the health of those around you. This link to a list of food additives found at Wikipedia will help you get started. Just remember the computer programer’s acronym “GIGO” - Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Eat well and be well,


(2) Deshpande,S.S. The Handbook of Toxicology. New York, Marcel Dekker, 2002, p231

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hold the Mayo!

Bring out the best hidden source of allergens! For summer-time picnic fare, it seems difficult to steer clear of mayonnaise. It’s glorified as the miraculous ingredient that holds it all together. A basic mayonnaise recipe calls for eggs, egg yolks, olive oil, lemon juice, water, mustard, and salt. So it seems that the only obvious common allergen ingredients are the eggs and egg yolks.

Yet the label on a mayonnaise jar may read more like this:

or this:

The above images are screen captures (sorry for the quality) of label information from two manufacturers websites: one, a popular brand and the other, an organic artisan brand. Both are marketed as containing olive oil; which is not incorrect. At best, it is misleading as they also contains soybean oil. And since ingredients are listed from most to least abundant, there is more soybean than the olive oil. Unfortunately,  as a subsidized crop, soybean oil is very inexpensive so it helps keep costs low and profits high. Always carefully read labels to avoid hidden sources of food allergens or sensitivities.

For those sensitive to corn, not only is modified corn starch a listed ingredient, more than likely, both vinegar and xanthan gum are corn derivatives. And like soybeans, the majority of corn crops are genetically modified. If a product is not labeled as containing no GMO ingredients, you should assume that it does.

Natural flavors can also be a source of hidden allergens. These additives, by law (FDA:21CFR101.22), can contain substances that are fermented and will contain trace amounts of alcohol. They may include substances derived from any of the 8 common food allergens or food sensitivities, as well as be derived from animal matter. So vegans and vegetarians, be diligent. Since the FDA does not require labeling to be more specific than “natural flavor,” call the manufacture if in doubt. Typically they are willing to share this information.

Now, that being said, it is still possible to make a tasty potato salad while holding the mayo.

A mix of olive oil, lemon and mustard are a great substitute for egg-laden (and who knows what else) mayonnaise. Enjoy your picnic!

Find the Potato Salad recipe here. 

Eat well and be well,


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where the Oven meets the Freezer

I recently went to visit a dear friend who lives in Western Pennsylvania’s Amish country. She fed me well and graciously met the challenge of catering to my family’s food allergies and sensitivities. We got there about a week after the Maple Harvest. Before our arrival, my friend frittered away some fresh maple syrup and maple sugar for my pantry. A trip to the Amish-run grocer was on the agenda. I picked up a jar of apple butter and my friend says, “Ooooh, I see an Apple Brown Betty in your future!” Psychic as she may be, I was not quick enough to put together a recipe before it got too hot to turn on the oven.

Then, it hit me! Why not make an Apple Brown Betty sorbet? Ah, inspiration! After looking up several recipes for ingredients, I decided upon an oatmeal base because of its thickening property. If you are gluten intolerant, please note that in farming practices, oats are rotated with wheat. Cross contamination occurs, so make sure your oats are labeled gluten-free.

The first attempt was good, but not as flavorful as I would like it. The cold of this frozen treat will somewhat numb the taste buds. I added more spices and apple butter on the second attempt. And YUM!

For the Apple Brown Betty Sorbet recipe, click here..

Eat well and be well,


Monday, June 6, 2011

Evolution of a Chocolate Cake

The evolution started a few years ago. I wanted to celebrate my birthday with a few close friends and decided to introduce them to how one could enjoy food, even with such constraints as making a cake that was wheat/gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free.

After we shared an flavorful meal, it was happy-birthday-to-me time. Everyone knew this was the moment for my culinary expertise to shine. The cake, even without icing, was a hit and they were all amazed at my success.

About six months later, we were going to visit my in-laws and I offered to bring dessert. Trial and error had revealed, that the best way to steer clear of my allergens, was to bring the food which was the biggest temptation, usually dessert. The slightest bump tends to throw me off track and keep me there for quite some time.

That day, there was a surprise guest: a sweet little cutie of an eight-year-old girl. We were fast friends. She had an intelligent wit and most lyrical little laugh. Now my cake was going to have to pass the kid test. At dessert time, her eyes were fixed on the cake. She took her first bite and with the most pitiful look on her face stated, “This is the worst chocolate cake ever.” Stunned and yet relieved by her honesty, I was interested in what she had to say about her experience. She wouldn’t just encourage me because she wanted me to succeed, she would tell the truth. Unfortunately, the adults quietly shushed her. My next bite was taken critically; as someone who had a choice of eating the real deal.

I noticed that the texture was gritty. The taste was a bit bitter. As far as consistency goes, it was undercooked in the middle and overcooked at the edges. I was slightly discouraged and the next time I needed to bake for a crowd, I used a chocolate cake mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen.

It was convenient. I liked that it only made one 9” round layer. This way there wasn’t going to be so much leftover sitting around the house calling out my name in the middle of the night. It baked easily, I cut it in half, iced, and layered it. But in the end, there was something about it that didn’t agree with me.

I don’t tolerate sugar so well. It doesn’t matter if it’s cane juice, cane sugar, brown sugar, etc. It’s just not for me. And usually when I’m cooking for my family, I need to take my father-in-law’s diabetes into consideration. Agave syrup, maple syrup and honey are my sweeteners of choice. I didn’t know it then, but now I know that xanthan gum, which was in the mix, is usually derived from corn. And I don’t tolerate that well either. But if you don’t have a problem with sugar or corn, then read no further and go out buy yourself a Cherrybrook Kitchen cake mix.

Back to the evolution. For a while, I just did without. Then, like it does, my birthday came around again. Since the previous year, I had learned some tricks for allergen-free baking. The most valuable lesson being that small portions are best. I decided to try again with cupcakes.

I’d like to say this attempt was successful, but that is not true. It took one more try with a few small adjustments and I finally came up with something even the harshest critics can enjoy.

So moist, light, and fluffy.

I hope you enjoy it too!

For the Chocolate Cupcake recipe, click here.

Eat well and be well,


Friday, June 3, 2011

Let’s Do Brunch

I love lazy weekends. Sleeping in late. Hanging around in pajamas. And having the time to make extravagant breakfasts.
During the week everyone is going in different directions at any given time. A piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal, and even left overs are quick, easy breakfasts. Personally, I like Saturday mornings for reconnecting with family after a good night’s sleep. Some weekends, my husband gets up super early, drives into Manhattan before traffic get congested, and brings my father-in-law over. I know my daughter enjoys having someone else in the house whose mouth she can fill with the food off her plate.
Last weekend, I tried making waffles for the first time in years. For some reason, I no longer had a waffle iron and so had to borrow one from a friend.

A few tweaks to the pancake recipe and I was ready to go.

Top with fresh fruit or maple syrup and start the weekend off right!

For the waffle recipe, click here.

Eat well and be well,


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Ever Shall I Feed My Mother?

The challenge of cooking for my little family unit with our multiple food allergies is compounded when extended family comes to visit. My mom has been a vegetarian for at least 20 years and my father-in-law is diabetic.
My father-in-law is an occasional visitor, although I regularly cook for him; then my husband stocks his freezer full of low-glycemic-index meals during biweekly visits. My mom, on the other hand, comes over about once a week for some grandma time. I like to feed her well since it takes her at least an 1-1/2 hours to get here by public transportation. She was scheduled to come over today and all I had prepared was hummus (click for recipe) and babaganoush (click for recipe.) She loves them, but must be sick of eating the same thing every time she comes over.
I looked in the refrigerator for inspiration. I found scallions, celery, mushrooms, thyme and green.

Now, my father-in-law lives near a gourmet grocer in the Manhattan and my hubby is always finding me interesting ingredients. Recently, he found Argan oil. It has a very exotic taste and I thought this was just the thing to give my ingredients a boost.

If you don't have access to such exotic ingredients, 2 parts of toasted sesame seed oil to 1 part of extra virgin olive oil makes a nice substitute. I started by sauteing the scallions,

then added the rest of the veggies.

I little bit of water, then cover and cook until celery is soft.

Cool and toss with al dente cooked spirals, (rice pasta, of course) chopped olives and the Argan oil or subsitute mentioned above.

Note to self: don't wear a pink shirt when photographing white plateware.

Find the written recipe here. Addendum June 1, 2011. After having this for leftovers, I found that I wasn’t as satisfied with the taste and texture and therefore, removed the recipe.

Eat well and be well,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Screaming for Joy!

Although I couldn’t mix up a quick sorbet in the food processor the same way one can with a Vitamix, I ended up getting great tasting results by refrigerating my concoction over night, then churning it in an ice cream maker.

Out of the refrigerator for a quick stir to break down the gelatinous texture provided by the arrowroot starch. Churn, scoop, garnish,

and savor! You can freeze the left overs. Just thaw slightly before serving.

Click here for the Orange Chocolate Sorbet recipe.

Be well,


Source of the Problem

Today I was going to on a web fast, but something important came up.

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are on the rise. And it’s not pretty. All the great promises of higher crop yield and less resources needed for production are proving to be, well, not so great. Now, I’m not at my most eloquent when talking about this subject. I think it just gets me so riled up that the flood of angry neuro-chemicals coursing through my brain will only allow expletives to come out of my mouth.

So, I’m taking a deep breath, and asking you to take a few minutes out of your day to look at some scientific information posted on Food Democracy Now. In summation, GMOs are causing many health problems in the animal population, such as infertility. And that can only mean one thing for the future: GROWING MEAT IN A LAB! Wha-wha-what?! Yep, this isn’t science fiction. Go check it out for yourself. Here are the google search results for “scientists grow meat.” I’ll wait.

I used to drone on to everyone I met about what goes on in the food industry. Now, I try to be moderate about these things. Being an alarmist is not for me. Being informed is. Buying organics when possible is. Supporting local agriculture is. Growing my own, well, not quite there yet.

Want to be informed? Watch a movie! Food, Inc. has a lot of good information about the food industry in general, and King Corn is about the corn industry specifically.

That’s it. Short and sweet. No droning about the link between GMOs and food allergeries. I’m going back to my web fasting for the day.

Be well,


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Because We Can't Eat Ice Cream!

One of the disappointments of discovering food allergies and sensitivities later in life, for me, has been that I've been introduced to many delicious foods that have had a negative impact on my health. Yet, the desire for them, still remains. Of course, the best thing about discovering food allergies later in life is that I rid myself of life-long health problems and, so, comparitively, I feel as though I'm getting younger.

But I digress. Back to ICE CREAM! What an integral part of life it is as Memorial Day approaches. I grew up with a local dairy bar which had a miniture golf course. Opening was always Memorial Day weekend. It was a family ritual, sometimes with grandparents, to play a round of golf and indulge in a dip of flavors like Teaberry or Butterscotch.

These types of rituals keep the impact of foods allergies and sensitivities closely tied to happy occasions in life thereby associating postive emotions with negative physical responses. Breaking these connections will vastly contribute to better health in mind, body, and spirit.

Yes, yes, back to ice cream. Now we are presented with an opportunity to repattern responses by having new happy memories associated with foods that keep the immune system from going haywire.

I know, I'm digressing again. But this weekend, there was a demo for the VitaMix 5200 in the grocery store. Wanting that to be my next kitchen appliance, but not having the cash on hand to invest in it, I decided to try an adapted ice cream recipe in my Waring professional-grade food processor. It made sense to me since it has the same horsepower motor.

I peeled an orange with a knife, reserving 1/3 of the peel while trying to retain much of the inner white pith. The pith is high in bioflavonoids and helps aid the absorbtion of vitamin C, a crucial combination for recovering health.

In to the food processor went the orange, the peel, cocoa, agave syrup, vanilla powder, arrow root starch, salt...

...and ice, just like the VitaMix recipes.

Unfortunately, regardless of having the same horsepower engines, all the ice melted. I think there has to be some different blade configuration.

But not to worry, I have an ice cream maker bowl in the freezer now and will attempt to churn it into something yummy tomorrow. If it works, I'll post the measurements. If not, I'll keep trying for summer is just around the corner!

Addendum: read Screaming for Joy! for the tale of the success click here for the recipe of Orange Chocolate Sorbet.

Be well,


Spicy Fig Chicken with Spinach

Sometimes cooking is so simple that all you need to do is open up your pantry, pull out what you're craving and create a culinary masterpiece. OK, well, maybe not a masterpiece every time, but at the very least, something enjoyable. Tonight's attempt started with a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat and a chicken breast sprinkled with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear both sides then add a heaping tablespoon of each of the cravings that were hiding in the cupboard, in this case, tomatillo salsa and fig preserves.

Bring it to a simmer

and then throw in some spinach and cover. Cook until done.  Plate and serve.

Devour with a friend and join the clean-plate club.

Be well,


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Food Stylin'

For a few years, I've bee trying to write a cookbook benefiting people with multiple food allergies and sensitivities. I’ve crafted and recorded many recipes with something new always brewing in the back of my mind.

This past winter, I started doing some research into what it would take to actually publish and publicize a book. Thankfully, I live in an area where I have access to an excellent public library system and was able to borrow 6 different books to read on the subject. Amazingly, unless you are already an established and lucrative writer, you need to finance everything yourself; including promotion. To me, that seemed a bit backwards. I decided to share my recipes and knowledge of health and well-being with everyone on the internet.

Photographing food is very new to me. I have an acquaintance who changed her career many years ago to become a food stylist. She started by going to James Beard School of Cooking every evening after work as well as weekends to learn how to cook and plate food. If it wasn't for a crossing of paths with this very creative woman, I would have no idea about food styling. Fortunately I now know and my library had several good books.

Here are some of my attempts today to capture a thousand words to describe the essence of my allergen-free, avocado-based, delicious chocolate pudding (click for recipe.)

Too lonely :(

Yes, that's right, I'm an avocado disguised as chocolate pudding.

Go ahead, dig in!

mmmm, all gone!

I'm not quite sure which picture I'll go with for the final post on my website. Let me know your opinion. AND, in the end, if I’m not satisfied with any of them, I'll just have to try again. I'm sure I can find some volunteer to enjoy every spoonful!

Be well,


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cold Spring Day Cooking.

Today I made a busy day for myself. I made my Apple Maple Oatmeal (click for recipe) again so that I could take a good picture of it. Not quite sure how I did. Maybe it's time to upgrade my camera.

 Then I also wanted to capture a good image of the Sweet Potato Comfort Food (click for recipe.)  I had some ground meat and onions cooking for another dish so I after I snapped some photos I had a nice lunch on this cold Spring day.

I finally got to quantify and photograph my Babaganoush (click for recipe.)

And since everything can’t always go right, my attempt at adapting Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins was less than perfect. I don’t think they cooked long enough and even though they looked fluffy when I took them out of the oven to cool, they sank quickly.

The taste was good but they are quite heavy. It was the first time that I've used palm kernal shortening in baking. I think this will get adjusted soon and hopefully I will be posting a success!

Eat well and be well,