The critics have spoken

I’m back from my excursion to the time and land of pioneers with the fourth-grade classes, and the critics have spoken with regard to my vegan, major-allergen-free fireside stew. It was well-received by kids and adults alike, and I even had a few meat-eaters come back for a bowl of it after tasting some of their friends’ stew, so that seems like a vote of confidence. :)

My final recipe and prep instructions follow. Continue reading

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Pleasing the Vegan Under-12 Crowd

My son is in the 4th grade, and every year in 4th grade the students from his school visit a local working farm with an historical perspective for a day of pretending to be pioneers. One of the requirements of this all-day excursion is that the kids be fed dinner, since they won’t be home in time for it. Enter the honorary title of “Pioneer Chef,” for which I volunteered.

The majority of the kids get a hearty beef stew to end their day, but my son’s school is quite culturally diverse, and there are many students who are either vegan or vegetarian. Consequently, we need a hearty bowl-delivered meal for these kids as well. I volunteered for this particular task too.

It’s an interesting exercise because my dream of being a restaurateur when I grow up requires that I think about how to increase the quantity of, and master preparing within the legal requirements for a commercial kitchen, recipes that are otherwise simple and familiar to me. It also requires that I learn to cook things that aren’t in my usual eating plans, and that I fine-tune my first attempt to improve and ultimately perfect it. 

In this case, I decided that it made sense to prepare something that was not just vegetarian, but vegan, and that was also free of the 5 major allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, shellfish).

Read on for the process and the recipe! Continue reading

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How Paleo might help me get my groove back

Why am I suddenly eating like a Cavewoman?

Back in the beginning of this blog, I had just learned about the food hypersensitivities that made my life more miserable than it needed to be. I knew that my greatest sensitivities were to cow’s milk, wheat, and eggs, pretty much in that order. I knew that consuming them gave me instantaneous headaches, aching joints, weak muscles, and itchy feet that would burn like they were being consumed by horrible tiny ants in the middle of the night. Of course, the sleep I wasn’t getting from the sore joints and burning feet wasn’t doing me any favors either.

I never thought I had Celiac disease, because wheat was not the greatest offender in my diet. But it did make me wonder — with sensitivity to 4 of the 6 proteins on a basic test, what else might I be reacting to? Despite eliminating the offending foods, my headaches hadn’t entirely gone away. Neither had the sore joints or the itchy feet. In fact, it seemed as if they came back at random sometimes, and even though I felt worlds better on my radically modified diet, I knew I hadn’t cracked the nut yet. So after three months avoiding dairy, wheat, and eggs, my doctor and I decided to run a more extensive test and determine where I was, and what I might be able to do.

While I waited for my appointment I consulted Dr. Internet, as many of us are wont to do, and I came back to something I’d glossed over several times before: Leaky Gut Syndrome, or by its clinical name, intestinal permeability.

Perhaps you got to this page by searching for headaches after eating, gluten-free, Celiac disease, dairy allergy, leaky gut, or Paleo diet. If you’re here for the recipes, I won’t be offended if you skip this post. I’m going to tell you my story in exhaustive detail. I was helped by dozens of personal anecdotes pieced together over time. Perhaps mine, in turn, will be the one that helps you.

Continue reading

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Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

When I realized that my path to digestive freedom passed through the land of a Paleo diet, I immediately panicked – not because I dislike Paleo foods, but because I was going to have to cut back on the spices and fats I use to prepare the meats I usually eat. In self-defense, I went out and bought a Weber Smokey Mountain grill, whose description proclaimed its capacity to cook a ham and a turkey simultaneously, and I decided it was time I learned how to BBQ the low, slow, smoky way. After all, everything seems to taste better when it comes out of a smoker.

Every book I bought on the subject has turned out to be useful in a “seeds of ideas” sense, but there’s really no substitute for experimentation. Yesterday I ran about 15 pounds of meat through the smoker in two rotations, and I want to share a particularly successful and ridiculously easy tidbit with you. How do you make hamburger into something Paleo-friendly and delicious? Smoke it! Read on for the recipe and instructions.

Continue reading

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Moroccan Lamb Meatballs and Cabbage

I’ve been absent too long, I know. And in lieu of a real explanation, which involves leaky gut syndrome/intestinal permeability, the difference between food allergies and being allergic to everything, and why I’m going to a Paleo diet so I can regain my full delicious food repertoire, I am giving you a recipe. This is, for people who know me, not unlike how I apologize for other shortcomings.

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs and Cabbage

Half and half: meatballs and cabbage

On my new and exciting even more restricted diet, I have a limited repertoire and also a limited frequency with which I can eat the same foods. This leads to a lot of experimenting, some of which has convinced me I am not as awesome at cooking as I’ve long believed. But tonight’s dinner turned out well, so read on for the recipe! Continue reading

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Stuffed dates that make you look like a rock star

This recipe is gluten-free, egg-free, and cow’s milk-free, but it contains goat dairy.

My good friend and fellow chef Rob first fed us this ridiculously easy appetizer that just screams “rock star chef.” I made it yesterday for a big party and had the foresight to take some pictures, so here’s a quick and dirty photo tutorial.

The combination of sweet dates, mellow chevre, and salty prosciutto hits all the happy food buttons.

Even more awesome? You can get all of the ingredients at your local Trader Joe’s.

Read on for the shopping list and steps. Continue reading

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Sweet Slow Cooker Spareribs

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.

Sweet Spareribs, sticky rice, and a simple salad.

My son loves BBQ ribs, but often complains that the sauce is too tangy (he’s sensitive to citrus and vinegar). Last night we made some delicious sweet BBQ spare ribs in the crock pot that will definitely be repeated.

The basis of this recipe is lost to me now, but I think it came from an old recipe CD back when cookbooks on CD were a novelty (thousands of years ago). I make it in my small slow cooker to serve just our family, but you can easily double the recipe and make it in a standard size slow cooker. I don’t recommend making this quantity in a large slow cooker, however. Read on for the recipe! Continue reading

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Wednesday Potluck

I’ve had a few things rattling around in my notes that haven’t made it to full-fledged entries and aren’t likely to inspire one, so I decided to jam them all together in here like the awkward “kids’ table” at a gathering of far-flung relatives. In today’s entry I’ll regale you with tales of goat cheese, gluten-free soy sauce, a startling fact about an Asian chain restaurant, a few conventional cookbooks I love, and my philosophical approach to eating around my allergies. Continue reading

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Chicken Satay

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.

In honor of my husband buying me a new KitchenAid food processor for Christmas, tonight we had Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce straight out of the KitchenAid food processor manual. While it was unquestionably a success, it was a bit salty when prepared with the organic gluten-free Tamari I use in place of soy sauce. I’d make a few variations for next time, so I’m sharing my suggestions here. Continue reading

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Nostalgia can be bitter; success can be sweet

Grilled gluten-free bread and soy cheese sandwich

Appearances can be deceiving.

Last night I baked bread — something I had not done since I learned about my allergies. I kept seeing tempting gluten-free recipes, but they all called for copious amounts of egg. Once I found a satisfactory solution to the lack of egg in cookies, I felt like maybe I could tackle the bread.

As fortune would have it, I didn’t need egg substitute for the recipe I chose — Carrie over at Ginger Lemon Girl (another blog you might enjoy if you’re reading mine) dedicated much effort to her vegan, gluten-free bread recipe and I set out to follow it exactly. The recipe and the tutorial are hers, so I am not reposting them here.  I do want to share some thoughts about the process, the success, and the failure.

I often read from others with food allergies that in the beginning we chase after what we used to have, rather than exploring new possibilities. I like to think I have such a range of cooking chops and culinary favorites that I can just plow forward and never look back, but I’ll be honest: I do pine for the things I used to eat. I pine for them desperately sometimes, especially if I cook them for other people. Nowhere is this more achingly apparent than when I make a golden, crispy grilled cheese sandwich (with grilled ham slices) for my son. Oh, the buttery French bread. Ah, the melting cheese. Mmm, the butter and cheese. On bread. Did I mention? ….Anyway. Continue reading

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