Living with Food Allergies and Sensitivities

It had  been a long day. 

A much longer day than I had expected.

Though I prepared snacks that would have lasted our kids a few hours, our appointment took nearly three times as long as we’d thought.  When it was finally over, as we began our way home, we stopped at a fast food restaurant that I thought might be okay to eat at.

As our three girls and I approached the order counter, there was a big sign that said:

“Our products may contain peanut allergen.”

I looked at our three daughters each one at a time.  All of them have a nut allergy, with one being extremely allergic-I made the decision to leave – eating would have to wait until we arrived home and I would have to cook.  I was tired of cooking.  I needed a break – but at what cost?

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Twenty years ago, if someone would have told me a person could be allergic to peanut butter, I would have thought they were crazy.  Flour? Carrots? Oats? Kiwi?  Peaches? Apples?

Yeah real crazy.

However when our oldest two daughters were eating a snack one day, I sat observing them.  They were eating apple slices with gold fish. A good snack right?  But I noticed something in our oldest daughter who was around 4 years old at the time, that she turned into the energizer bunny and could not stop moving.   I wandered what was happening to her.  Was she just excited about eating gold fish?

Over the next few weeks I tried some experiments on my own.

Apple and peanut butter – no problem.

Cheese and goldfish – problem.

Orange and oatmeal cookie – no problem.

Cheese  and saltine crackers – no problem.

Carrots sticks and salad dressing, gold fish – problem.

Goldfish – problem.

Finally I stopped buying goldfish and the problem stopped.

I believe she had an allergy to the dyes in the goldfish because as I started reading labels, anything that had that dye, she had similar problems. 

That was the beginning of our journey in food allergies and sensitivities.  As I started to read more labels, I noticed that many foods not only weren’t kosher (they contained pork, shell fish and or other unclean ingredients) but that they were full of many strange ingredients.  Eventually I read and heard that cow milk was bad for our bodies, so I switched to almond milk.  This is one of my biggest regrets…I will talk more about that further down.

During this same time we had our third daughter and after weaning her to nut milk she seemed to develop a rash.  We couldn’t  figure out why and it seemed like it wasn’t too bad however it  was always present on her stomach and legs.  Eventually as she learned to talk she would say “Mommy, legs hurt.”  I’d rub them with some creams, which seemed to help for the moment but nothing lasted very long.  Doctors suggested that she might have eczema, but they weren’t too sure.

Between the time of the birth of our two sons, I noticed some changes in myself.  Regular flour started to burn my hands and I would have these horrible sneezing attacks when I cooked with it.   Whenever I ate bread, I felt like there was a huge rock in my stomach.  Eventually I gave up eating bread and I wore a mask when I cooked with wheat.  Our second born daughter (who seemed to be born with a runny nose and was constantly sneezing) could not even come in the kitchen when I was mixing because her sneezing attacks were even worse!!!

Then one day, when she was eating some raw carrots for snack, she said to me “Mommy the carrots and raw almonds are burning my mouth.  They have been for a while.”

I told her to stop because she might have an allergy to them.  She stopped but I was still serving nut milk (I didn’t connect the two yet).   Eventually I found out about raw milk, particularly A2 Milk (which is the original cow  without the mutation).  We made the switch and…

Eczema gone.

Runny nose nearly gone.

I was still using white flour and wheat flour in baking until about few years ago, when our second born daughter ended up in the hospital for asthma.  We did not know she had asthma.  While in the ER, a respiratory therapist, said to me as he watched her “Have you had her checked for allergies because these things that she is doing are more than likely the cause of allergies?”

A few weeks later, her allergies  were confirmed: nearly every tree, grass, all nuts, wheat, corn, oats, raw carrots, some apples, and animals with fur.

I felt as if someone had sucked the breathe out of me-what were we going to do?  I could go without eating wheat (which is a bit hard as I love to bake) but what about her, what was she going to eat?  Corn was one of her favorite foods?  She loved nuts and apples?

As a family, we immediately made the switch to go Gluten-Free.  I still cooked with corn and oats for about another year (since they were lower on her allergic reaction chart) but those two things were removed from her diet a few months later.

One thing I noticed immediately, was that I could use the GF flours and I had no sneezing attacks!  What a relief! Well sort of…gluten free flours do not cook like wheat flour so there was a big learning curve.  I even attempted coconut flour with mixed results but I primarily cooked with sorghum, flax, and rice flours.

In our discovery regarding our second born daughters’ food allergies, we learned that some of our kids are allergic to nuts, raw carrots, kiwi, tapioca flour (which is in many gluten free blends) and some diary products.  For example our daughter with eczema, cannot eat many gluten free foods/mixes because of the dairy in them.  Recently I received a box of Bob Mill’s GF Brownie mix for free, well a day after the brownies where made, our third born daughter had huge patches of raised, itchy red spots on her stomach and legs.  She complained of feeling hot and was itching. 

So…living with food allergies and sensitivities that our family has is a big challenge.  We can all tolerate Einkorn flour but if our second born daughter or myself eats too much of it our stomachs will begin to hurt.

Over the years, we have learned to read labels on everything-hair products, toothpaste, laundry detergents-everything we buy is read to see if it contains anything that one or more of us might have a problem with.  Sometimes we miss the ingredient then a problem occurs and sometimes we recognize new ones.

Remember when I told you about having a long day and not being about to eat out because of the peanut allergy?  Well, on our way home, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up things to make nachos (Kettle potato chips for some and also some corn chips for the ones that tolerate it) and…some gluten free cookies.

Well the name brand gluten free cookies caused big problems in three of our kids!!!

Even the simplest of foods can cause us problems, so that means that we have to prepare all our meals-no eating out at all.  I often (with the exception of Sabbath) spend 70-95% of my day in the kitchen.  Sometimes I want to give up!  I love to cook but sometimes  it is a chore rather than a passion.

One day though, while our daughter with eczema was having a hard night in pain, YAHUAH impressed it upon my heart that He gave me the passion for cooking not for my own pleasure, but for my family.  So now when I feel like I am most frustrated and tired, I find strength in His Word, knowing that He is with me through this time and I praise Him for the hands I have and the provision He gives us to eat what is good for us.

As much as possible I plan to share what things I have learned, recipes, and so forth of what has helped us.  In addition, we are all eating low carb and some are keto!!! 

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My Multi-Allergy Friendly Baking Mix (GF, Nut Free, Corn Free, Tapioca Free)

When we first started this gluten-free journey more than a year ago, I was completely overwhelmed in trying to duplicate our meals.  I read several books that said it is better to make your own blends but then it listed bags of flours to buy of which I had never heard of.  Those books they suggested to use a scale (of which I have yet to do).  I was discouraged at the cost of the flours each, so I tried to stay with blends.

So I bought several different blends and used them for about 7 months.  I tried Pamela’s but it is quite expensive, especially if you bake a lot.  Then I found Domata, which was great and worked well, still a bit expensive but then we found out that one of our children is allergic to Tapioca Flour and Starch.  We discovered this when I made a cake of tapioca flour, it made her mouth burn.  Also the Glutino cookies, crackers and all processed GF foods we found had the same ingredient!

 

tapioca-flour-cake gf-order domatapizza
 

 

 

 

 

So then I found a blend on Sarah’s GF Blend, but switched the Tapioca Flour for Arrowroot Flour/Starch and recently have omitted the xanthan gum (because one child has a corn sensitivity too, xanthan gum maybe grown on wheat or corn!).  In many recipes I use 1 egg white as a binder per 2 eggs, in place of the xanthan gum.  Dr. Axe more info about xanthan gum, plus other substitutes.

So my blend is currently free of wheat, corn, nuts and tapioca.  It is an All-Purpose Multi-Allergy Free Blend and works in everything I have tried.

Here it is:

4 c. Bob Mills Brown Rice Flour

1 c. Bob Mills Sweet Rice Flour or White Rice Flour

1 c. Bob Mills Sweet Sorghum

**2 1/2 c.  Bob Mills Potato Starch (not Potato Flour)

3/4 c. Bob Mills Arrowroot Powder

Mix in a big ziplock bag or storage container.

*Sometimes I used 2 c. Sorghum instead of the white rice flours.  As per Sarah Bakes, using the Brown rice and White rice will create a lighter texture, but I find that using 1/2 white rice and 1/2 sorghum to be the perfect blend.

**I order Bob Mills Potato Starch from iherb.com usually 4-6 bags a month

Anyways, I like having the different flours on hand because I freedom to create many different recipes.  Bob’s Mills flours have great recipes on the back, like Yellow Cakes that have White Rice, Tapioca (I use Arrowroot) and Potato Starch, so in many recipes having the flours gives great flexibility in baking.

I also use coconut flour, buckwheat flour, garbanzo bean flour and I make our oat flour from oats (just grind in a blend-no need to pay extra for what you likely already have).  In my GF Oat Cookies, I like using oat flour and sorghum the most!

BTW, I get nothing for the links!

 

Amazing Homemade Ice Cream

For years my husband and I had been talking about making homemade ice cream.  About 7 months ago, we finally took the plunge, because we were trying get rid of any remaining allergy foods that we were still were eating – pasteurized milk is one of them.  We were still eating ice cream from the grocery store, however we were buying local raw milk for about two years, which we drank and used in baking.  The store ice cream always had hurt my stomach and I had stopped eating it most of the time.  However when we switched to making our own ice cream with raw milk, my stomach pains stopped!!!

Now we make ice cream weekly.  I have tried several different recipes.  For a while, we preferred only using the egg based ones to make a custard.  But using 20 egg yolks a week (12 for vanilla and 8 for chocolate) was becoming a bit much.  Plus making the custard and letting it set adds more time in my day.

So I began experimenting.  The first successful recipe came on the back of the Rock Salt for Mint Ice Cream.  That turned out good, so I altered the recipe for vanilla only, then chocolate.  This was good but too sweet for me.  Then I found and tweaked another recipe which is absolutely delicious, it uses less cream, less sugar but more whole milk.  I do not have the link where I found the recipe but have note my changes.

awesome-ice-cream

Homemade Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

*2 cups cream (we use raw milk so I pull the cream off using a turkey baster, the cream sits at the top of the milk separated.  I usually pull about 2 cups per 1/2 gallon)

*3 cups whole raw milk

*3 TBSP arrowroot powder (optional but makes the ice cream smooth and without ice crystals)

*3/4 c. + 2 TBSP cane sugar

2 tspns. good vanilla (I have tried many brands, but I love Rodelle’s Gourmet Extract 1 bottle will usually last a month, it is apprx. $13 at our local Kroger for 8 ounces)

*3/4 mini vegan/allergy friendly chocolate chips

Directions

Pull the cream off the milk to measure 2 cups and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar and arrowroot powder, add remaining ingredients and whisk for about 2 minutes.

Follow directions on your ice cream maker!  I usually churn ours the entire 30 minutes, but be sure to set a timer.

*Indicates the ingredients I changed from the original recipe.

ccc-ice-cream

Homemade Triple C Ice Cream (Chocolate Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream)

*2 cups cream (we use raw milk so I pull the cream off using a turkey baster, the cream sits at the top of the milk separated.  I usually pull about 2 cups per 1/2 gallon)

*3 cups whole raw milk

*3 TBSP arrowroot powder (optional but makes the ice cream smooth and without ice crystals)

*3/4 c. + 2 TBSP cane sugar

2 tspns. good vanilla (I have tried many brands, but I love Rodelle’s Gourmet Extract 1 bottle will usually last a month, it is apprx. $13 at our local Kroger for 8 ounces)

3/4 c. cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)

3/4 mini vegan/allergy friendly chocolate chips

1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:

Pull the cream off the milk to measure 2 cups and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar, cocoa and arrowroot powder, add remaining ingredients and whisk for about 2 minutes.

Follow directions on your ice cream maker!  I usually churn ours the entire 30 minutes, but be sure to set a timer.

*Indicates the ingredients I changed from the original recipe.

This ice cream is best enjoyed within one week!

Chicken Tortilla on the Side Soup

About 13 years ago, I had a wonderful cup of soup and since then the recipe has been in my “To Make One Day” stack.   I thought about it for several days, then I looked at the recipes I had and came up with our own.

As we sat down to eat, every one around the table was silent (a rarity with our large family).  I looked up from my plate to be sure everyone was okay.  Some were eating the homemade corn tortillas, some were digging into the salad and others were devouring the soup.  It was absolutely delicious!  Our family loved this meal.

chicken-tortilla-on-side-soup-2-copy

Here is my recipe:

Chicken Tortilla on the side Soup

1 large chicken, boiled and shredded

1 large onion, chopped

2 large bell pepper, chopped

2 large zucchini, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 bag frozen corn

1/2 can of crush tomatoes (28 ounces) (most people use chopped tomatoes with peppers, I did not have any and that would have been too hot for our family

1 tbsp. chili powder

2/3 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. paprika

salt and pepper to taste

2 kosher chicken stock cubes dissolved in 2 cups water

extra water as needed

Homemade Corn Tortillas (recipe to below), Fresh Tortillas or Chips

Cheese, Chopped Onions, Avocado, Sour Cream (Optional)

Saute the onions, garlic, zucchini until barely soft.  Add corn, canned tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.  Then add the shredded chicken and chicken stock.

We do not like very watery soups, so I did not use very much extra water.  Just enough to barely cover all the chicken and veggies.

Simmer soup until the veggies are the desired texture.   I suggest medium soft, not mush for the zucchini   Then adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Homemade Corn Tortillas

These are very easy and I love corn tortillas.  So much so that I am going to have to get us a tortilla press.

2 cups masa harina (located in the spanish section and in the flour section of the grocery)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot water, made need additional water

1/2 cups shredded cheese of choice (optional)

If you do not own a tortilla press then, wrap your cutting board and rolling pin with plastic wrap.

Mix masa harina and  salt.  Add water.  Kneed the dough until no longer sticky, should feel like PlayDoh.  If it is still too crumbly, add tsp of water until it hold together good. Then grab some dough, roll in a ball and flatten with rolling pin on the cutting board.  This part takes a little patience but after trying this three times, it is very easy! Peel the tortilla off the plastic and place in a hot cast iron skillet.  Cook for 30 seconds on each side.  Put on a plate and cover with a damp kitchen towel/paper towel.

When all the tortillas are done, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put tortillas on a cookie sheet and top with cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted.

Serve warm tortillas with soup and a salad.

 

**Please note, I made these early in our GF journey, however, we have discovered the one of our kids is allergic to corn.  So I haven’t made this in awhile.  I plan to make the soup, but it will be corn free and probably using rice tortillas or coconut flour tortillas.  Coconut Flour tortillas are awesome!

GF Pizza

Early in our GF journey I spotted some King Arthur’s Multi-Purpose Gluten Free Blend,  and decided to try it. I found recipes on their site for Sandwich Bread and decided to use it for burger buns that night. The recipe worked just fine and I was surprised that this blend did not have a gritty consistency as some other multi-purpose.

One day I tried the GF Pizza Crust and it was WONDERFUL!!!!! Before I made the crust I read all the comments (which have been very helpful) and made a few changes to the recipe. Here is the link to original King Arthur GF Pizza Crust and complete instructions.

king-arthur-pizza

Dry Ingredients:

1 ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour or Domata

T tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if blend contains it, or use binding substitute)

1 tsp. Garlic powder

1 TBSP Italian Seasoning

½ tsp. Salt

Wet Ingredients

1 c. warm water.

2 tblspn. Olive oil

1 ½ tblspns buttermilk using raw milk & vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar syrup/honey

1 ½ tspn. Instant yeast

Follow original instructions completely by mixing the dry ingredients, then set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients and add 1/2 cup of the dry mixture to the wet mixture and let it set until it is a nice yeasty and bubbly mixture about 30 minutes.

Then add the remaining dry mixture and let rest 30 minutes.  Pour 2 tablespoons Olive Oil in the middle of the pan, the scrap the dough onto the middle of the pan (right in the oil).  Then carefully spread the dough out into a circle using wet fingers.  I had cup with water in it and used my fingers to gently spread the dough..

Let rest 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bake for 8-10  minutes, add toppings, bake again at 350 degrees until done, around 15 minutes!

Everyone loved it! I even ate two slices and my stomach which normally hurts after eating anything with wheat, did not hurt at all! This is recipe is our new family favorite and I will be making it frequently.

Later switched to Domata flour because it is more cost efficient and it works fine in everything.

domatapizza

Now I create my blends using Sarah’s GF Blend without Tapioca Starch (use arrowroot power in place) and no xanthan gum (use 1 egg white in place of xanthan gum, add a touch of more flour).  Here is a picture of our last pizza night which was so good I ate a good amount of it.  I will post the exact recipe soon, but I wanted to show that it is possible to be GF, NutFree, Tapioca free and gum free and still eat our favorite foods!

awesome-pizza

30 Minute Turkey and Veggie Dinner

Most of the time I plan meals very well but yesterday morning, I thought I had all the things to make a quick Chicken Fried Rice, but during my morning dinner prep time, I discovered I had no frozen veggies, no chicken, not enough eggs and only had rice!

Thankfully I still had some grocery money left so I thought about what I could make that was quick, filling and economical!  We have rice, so I bought some ground turkey, two bags of frozen veggies and some eggs.

Turkey Meatballs, rice and some frozen veggies sounded real good.

However when we finally made it home after a family errand, I only had just over 30 minutes until our normal family dinner time.

What to do???

Nix, the meatballs and instead I browned the ground turkey, seasoned it with Kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, ginger and paprika.  I then sautéed the 1 bag of bell peppers and onions along with one bag of frozen stir fry veggies in coconut oil…

The result was….

30-min-turkey-bowl

 

…and it only took 30 minutes! Which is awesome because dinner usually takes me 1 to 1/2 hours.  I am going to make more of these types of meals.

Here is the recipe but since I did not measure season to fit your taste.

1 lb ground turkey

Kosher salt or Real Salt (apprx. 1/2 tsp)

Black Pepper -Dash

Paprika (apprx. 1/2 tsp)

Garlic Powder (apprx. 1/2 tsp – fresh chopped garlic would be awesome)

Cumin (apprx. 1/2 tsp)

Ginger (apprx.  1/4tsp or more – fresh ginger would be wonderful too)

1 bag bell pepper and onion frozen veggies (or 2 bell peppers and 1 onion)

1 bag frozen stir fry veggies (or a mixture of whatever you like about 2 cups)

Rice, we used Jasmine but you prepare what you like according to package

 

Brown ground turkey in skillet with a little coconut oil. Then add seasonings.

In a separate skillet over high heat, add coconut oil and frozen/fresh veggies.  Season with same amount of seasonings for turkey.

Serve immediately.  Makes 8 servings.

 

Giant Oat Breakfast Cookies

gf-giant-oat-cookies

This is one of my favorite cookies to make.  It is so versitle!  Oat flour and oats; GF flour and Oats; Sorghum, Oats and Oat flour; I have even sometimes mixed little bits of different flour blends and they were all good.  I have also used butter and shortening only or butter and coconut oil only.

GF Giant Oat Breakfast Cookies

  • ½ c. coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • ¼ c. shortening, palm shortening
  • ¼ c.butter melted
  • ¾ c. brown sugar (can reduce to 1/2 c. for a lightly sweetened cookie or increase to 1 c. for a very sweet cookie)
  • 2 eggs or egg replacer
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon (I usually add 1 1/2 tspn. because I love cinnamon)
  • 1 t. baking soda (can leave out for Pesach)
  • 1 t. xantham gum (optional but they hold together better with it)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ½ c. flax ground (optional)
  • ½ c. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  • 2 c.  oat flour (see below)
  • 2 c.  gf whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. cranberries or raisins
  • 1 c. allergy friendly mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.  Make oat flour in blender by measuring two cups flour into blend and pulse until ground.

Cream together the coconut oil, shortening, butter and brown sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in salt, cinnamon, baking soda, xantham, flax and/or seeds (if you using). Next add the oat flour, rolled oats, coconut and cranberries/raisins.

Drop by spoonfuls on to prepared baking sheets leavening 1 inch between the cookies (these cookies do spread a good deal) and bake for 10-12 minutes when the cookies are nice and light brown.  Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes or so before moving to cooling rack.

The number of cookies will vary based on size.  I double the recipe every time I make them and end up with around 80 cookies.  Pretty soon I plan to start making them using a  teaspoon size so we can get more!