An Allergic Foodie Is Back!

My life story has recently been rewritten.

About sixteen months ago I learned I was adopted. My elderly mother with dementia could no longer keep the secret she kept for 50-plus years. Sadly, I learned the truth the very same week my only sibling, my older brother Eric, passed away.

Not a day goes by when I don’t look into the mirror and wonder who I am. DNA has helped me track both maternal and paternal sides, but unfortunately my biological mother died in her forties. She never revealed who my father is in my adoption papers. I only know he is one of four brothers. I have very few photos. So I don’t know if I resemble my mother or father and I can’t ask them for their medical histories.

I have found dozens of cousins on both sides with various autoimmune diseases, including celiac disease and food allergies. I remember my adoptive mother acting like my illnesses were “all in my head.”  She often said, “No one in our family has such food issues as you.”  She didn’t understand why I couldn’t eat at McDonald’s.

Ha! Perhaps that should have been a red flag.

I’ll write more about genetics later.  Today I just wanted to share a little about why I disappeared.  I’ve missed blogging and the support of all of you who share a food-restricted life.

And now for some exciting news. This week I will be traveling to Scotland with my family to see where my biological mum and grandparents came from. I thought this adventure will be the perfect opportunity for me to resume Adventures of an Allergic Foodie. I hope you’ll join me.

Christmas Vegetable Tree

Appetizers for an Allergic Foodie

Flashback Monday: A post from two years ago. The allergy-friendly appetizers from my friend’s party were a hit. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays to you and your family.

It took another Amy–my friend Amy Brown–to teach me it’s okay to serve your nonallergic guests allergy-friendly foods.

Maybe it comes from having a husband who has yet to embrace gluten-free, dairy-free foods (to be fair, he doesn’t have to) that makes me think everyone else will feel the same way he does: Not going to try it if  I don’t have to.

So I often go to the trouble of serving “regular” food at our social gatherings. A few years ago when we moved into our new home, I hosted a potluck open house where everyone brought an appetizer.  As you might guess, there was very little for me to eat.

Then last year I hosted a holiday cookie exchange. I figured this was a fun way for my kids and my husband to get treats without me having to touch a stick of butter or sift flour. Ironically, it was over Christmas break last year that my younger son realized gluten was making him sick and my oldest son gave up everything dairy.

So when this holiday season came around,  I decided to skip hosting a party. With our sons home, I just didn’t want to have foods around that they couldn’t enjoy.  And frankly, I didn’t want to do all the work of preparing both allergy-free and regular foods.

Then I went to Amy Brown’s party.  Take a look at this table of yummy appetizers:

Delicious appetizers for an allergic foodie

Photo by Amy Brown

 

The food was incredible!  Amy and her husband, Brandon, follow a “Whole30” diet, eliminating grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes. This made many of the appetizers free of  gluten, soy, and dairy!  They did include some macaroni and cheese the kids devoured and deviled eggs that my husband devoured.

My favorite appetizer was incredibly simple: A BLT on a toothpick!

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoe Appetizer

Photo by Amy Brown

 

Then there were these adorable olive penguins.

Gluten-free treats

And the zucchini wrapped around sausage with pesto and olive oil were fabulous.

Delicious sausage/zuchinnin wraps

Photo by Amy Brown

 

Amy also made several types of dips, including one with eggplant and red peppers that she found at She Cooks . . . He Cleans  (recipe follows). I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but I’ll be making this dip soon.  I eat a lot of veggies and hummus, so–cover your ears, Amy–I wasn’t that excited to try the black bean hummus. But I did, and it was delish!

And who wouldn’t want to eat their veggies when presented this way?

Christmas Vegetable Tree

Amy also served the gluten-free crackers on a separate plate and labeled them!

None of the guests seemed to notice the appetizers were “different” or “allergy-free” or “gluten-free.”  The food was just good . . . actually, better than good.  And oh so cute.

Roasted Egg Plant and Red Pepper Dip

(Note this recipe includes sesame seeds)

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (to start with…)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • juice of one lemon
  • lots more good extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the eggplant up into 1-inch square pieces.  (Before cutting, I like to take off some of the skin in stripes around the eggplant.  Up to you.)   Cut the red bell peppers into 1 inch strips.  Toss the eggplant, peppers, and garlic in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and several grindings of pepper.

Spread the vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 35-45 minutes, tossing once during cooking, until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor; add the tahini, cumin, cayenne, lemon juice, and another glug (or two) of olive oil.  Process in pulses until blended.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Try to avoid over-processing or it will become paste-like in texture.)

Drizzle with more olive oil on top, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Appetizers for an Allergic Foodie originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic FoodieRoasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip originally appeared at She Cooks . . . He Cleans.  Thank you to Amy Brown for sharing these treats and photos.

To Eat or Not to Eat

My  husband, He Who Eats Everything, and I searched the aisles of Harris Teeter for something easy to eat before catching a plane. So many options for him: a pre-made sandwich from the deli, prepackaged tuna and crackers, fried chicken and chips (okay, I didn’t say healthful options). I wanted more than a coconut-milk yogurt or slices of gluten-free lunch meat. I wanted to be full and not tempted to eat the fattening potato chips on the plane.

This chicken curry stared at me from the prepared food section in the refrigerated  deli section:
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I flipped the package over to read the ingredients. Surely there’d be at least one allergen likely more. Soy lecithin? Wheat? Corn (unidentified maltodextrin)? Milk slipped into the coconut milk?

Nothing. I couldn’t find one of my allergens! And there was no warning of contamination either.

There was no “certified gluten-free” label either.

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The curry and rice looked so good–and filling. I put it into my cart.

As we looked for something for Eater of Everything (he was having trouble making a decision!), I kept hearing a voice in my head: “Don’t eat anything that isn’t labeled certified gluten-free.” How many times have I told my celiac son the same thing?

I also kept thinking about that plane ride–and those tiny airplane bathrooms. Anyone who’s ever experienced a GI reaction on a plane–especially during takeoff and landing–never forgets it.

Damn voice. I put the chicken curry back. I bought ingredients for a salad and Applegate lunch meat and a So Delicious yogurt.

Better to be safe than sorry.

For more info on labeling, see What the FDA says .

To Eat or Not to Eat” originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.