Chocolate! Allergy Friendly! FREE!

If that headline got your attention, you’re probably a chocoholic like I am.

Did you also say this mantra when being tested for food allergies? Please don’t let me be allergic to chocolate. Please don’t let me be allergic to chocolate. Please don’t let me be allergic to chocolate.

Ha! You ARE a chocoholic like me!

Fortunately, to my great relief, I am NOT allergic to chocolate!

Unfortunately, I AM allergic to dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, corn and vanilla–all ingredients that are typically found in most chocolate.

For a long time, I was sad. Very, very sad. Especially during Valentines Day and my birthday. And maybe also Thanksgiving and Easter . . . and all the days in between.

But now I’ve recently discovered Amanda’s Own Confections. Actually they discovered me (thank you! thank you!), and it just so happens the month of April is both my celiac college son’s and my birthday month. Yes, I know the lemon in the sunglasses looks way too young to have a kid in college (or perhaps that’s why An Allergic Foodie uses a lemon for a Gravatar! LOL!).

Chocolate Bar Giveaway. Enter to win by Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 5 PM EST

Chocolate Bar Giveaway.
Enter to win by Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 5 PM EST

Anyway, back to chocolate. To celebrate our birthdays,  Amanda’s Own Confections wants to give one lucky person a present–a box of chocolate bars! That’s right! An entire box. TWELVE BARS OF GLORIOUS CHOCOLATE.

These chocolate bars make me close my eyes and moan–maybe that’s too much info?–and there are only three ingredients: Cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter. So this makes them free of dairy, nuts, gluten, eggs, sesame, and fish/shellfish. (Why any fish would be in any chocolate is incomprehensible, but I’m told it happens.)

Here’s what you need to do to enter (you only have to do one, but if you do all I will do a happy dance and post it on You Tube*).

  • Write a comment below telling me how much you love chocolate (and my blog, of course).
  • Follow @anallergicfoodie on Instagram and like one of the pictures of Amanda’s chocolate bars. I’ll be posting several.
  • Follow me on Twitter–that 2,000 rule is killing me!–and tweet this blog post  with hashtag #amandasown
  • Like my Facebook Page and give a thumb’s up to one of my posts mentioning Amanda’s Own Confections.
  • Pin this blog post on Pinterest.

The contest will end on Tuesday, April 22, 8 PM EST. Must live in the U.S. to enter.

Ready. Set. Go!

I hope you win!

*I won’t really do a happy dance on You Tube because my sons, and maybe my husband, would be mortified.

Chocolate! Allergy Friendly! Free! first appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

What is this in my cheese?

Everywhere I go this holiday season, huge festive plates of crackers and cheese tease my allergic taste buds. BA (before allergies), I loved cheese! After all, I grew up in Vermont, the state that has more cows per capita than humans. As if it was yesterday, I remember enjoying thick cheddar on apple pie, melted Swiss on rye crackers, cream cheese swirled in broccoli, ricotta lasagna, parmesan sprinkled on spaghetti.

Glorious Cheese!

Then I was diagnosed with a dairy allergy.  Sigh.

Seeking help at the healthfood store, I discovered the most common alternative to dairy cheese is vegan cheese . . . made from soy.

I’m allergic to soy.

So I turned to nut cheeses. I’m not allergic to nuts. Nut cheese will do in a pinch (and some allergic foodies love them), but honestly I don’t find cheeses made from almonds and cashews and hazelnuts all that flavorful (I do like almond yogurt flavored with fruit though!).

This allergic foodie did a happy dance when she discovered cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk (this was a few years back, before goat cheese became so popular). I thought the goats and sheep had saved me


until I got sick, really sick, after eating a goat cheese salad.  Imagine my disappointment when I read that many allergic foodies who can’t eat dairy also can’t eat goat’s or sheep’s milk.  C’mon!  Can’t a cheese-loving allergic foodie get a break?!

According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Food Allergies, “If you are allergic to one food group, you may also be allergic to another food in the same family because they share similar proteins.”   The authors include cow and goat under the listing of “dairy proucts.”  The Food Allergy and Anaphalaxis Nework states on their web site  that goat milk is not a safe alternative to cow’s milk.  Many other foodies I’ve talked with say they are indeed allergic to both cow and goat and sometimes sheep.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living provides some more positive info.  The author writes, “Goat milk is slightly closer in composition to human milk than cow milk is, with proteins that may be easier to digest. It is estimated that 20 to 40% of milk allergic individuals do not react to goat milk [my emphasis].” However, she goes on to say, “Milk allergic individuals should obtain an allergy test prior to trialing, as most people who are allergic to cow milk have similar reactions to goat milk. Plus, a rare few are in fact more allergic to [the casein or whey in] goat milk.”

cheese making

Ah ha.  Maybe it wasn’t the goat part I was allergic to, but rather the other strange-sounding and -looking stuff in my cheese.  I dug out my massive allergy-testing paperwork from ImuPro, as it’s been a few years since I’ve read the results. Under the category of “milk products,” I had no allergic reaction to camel’s milk and mare’s milk–those should be easy to find on the grocery shelf!–and [insert drum roll here] I had no reaction to SHEEP’S MILK AND CHEESE.

Reading on . . . it appears I have a slight reaction to goat cheese (blame my allergy-induced brain fog for not remembering that one!).  I am also quite allergic to halloumi, rennet, kefir, and whey.  Huh?  I’ve often seen these ingredients listed on the labels of dairy products, but since I’m not sure what they are, I put on my investigative hat. I discovered a lot of ingredient and allergy crossover, which probably explains my reactions to most types of cheeses.

Halloumi is a semi-hard and unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk (gotta read those labels carefully).  It is set with rennetTrader Joe’s has a handy list of rennet definitions.  Basically, animal rennet is an enzyme that comes from the stomach (yuck!) of a suckling calf, lamb or goat; vegetable rennet is derived from plants (soy alert!); and microbial rennet is derived from microorganisms (fungi and bacteria; mold alert!) through a process of fermentation.

Kefir, according to my ImuPro test, is a thick and slightly alcoholic fermented milk product that is often used for milk mix drinks, sweets or sauces.  I’ve seen kefir advertised lately as a health benefit, but certainly not for those of us who are allergic to it.  Finally, whey is the watery liquid that separates from the solid part of milk when it turns sour or when enzymes are added in cheese making.

Wow.  Cheese is not my friend.*  My best guess is that when I developed leaky gut, I was eating a lot of cheese and crackers with my wine.  This holiday season I’ll be grabbing the grapes.

* In Italy, I ate mozzarella made from water buffalo–no reaction!


Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Nework

Go Dairy Free

What Is This In My Food?

Cow’s milk can be disguised under the labels of:

  • Buttermilk
  • Butter (Many restaurants I’ve encountered don’t realize butter is dairy!)
  • Casein
  • Hydrolysed milk
  • Lacatalbumin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactoserum
  • Milk proteins
  • Whole milk, dried whole milk, concentrated milk
  • Sour cream

(Note: Lactic Acid is not derived from dairy.)

You Can Always Go Home, But You Can’t Always Eat the Cheese

I grew up in a small town in Vermont,  passing by pastures of dairy cows on my way to school each morning.  Cheese was a diet staple: macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, cheese and crackers, cheese on broccoli and on top of potatoes.  After swimming lessons in the summer, we stopped at one of the many “creemee” stands for a maple creemee (you may know it as soft-served ice cream) or a “swirl” (two flavors, like maple and vanilla, swirled together–yum!).  When Ben & Jerry’s first ice cream store opened in a renovated gas station in Burlington, it became a regular high school hangout.

Recently I returned to my hometown and I couldn’t help seeing the irony in my being allergic to cow’s milk.   No samples of Cabot cheddar or licks of creemees for me (the stands were on every corner beckoning me!).  I had to turn down my mother’s nightly offer of cheese and crackers, which she still enjoys with a glass of wine before dinner.

Some habits are hard to break.

But I’ve had to break mine.

If I eat just a smidge of dairy or a bite of egg, I’ll feel like a bull stampeded into my gut, my throat will constrict, and my face will become tomato-red.  I never had a problem during all those years of drinking milk for healthy teeth and strong bones.  How odd to develop such a severe allergy to something I grew up eating virtually every day.  But now my body definitely doesn’t like casein or whey, the proteins found in dairy products.

Experts say that children often outgrow their milk allergies, but those of us who develop them later in life aren’t so lucky.  Fortunately, I’ve found some wonderful substitutes.  Instead of ice cream, I enjoy natural sorbet without corn syrup (which is lower calorie too).  I put almond, rice, or hemp milk in my morning coffee.  Almond yogurt has recently hit our local grocery stores, and I can now eat one of my past favorite breakfasts: yogurt with fruit and granola.  I also make all sorts of delicious smoothies.  Since I’m also allergic to soy and have celiac disease, I must carefully read the labels on “dairy-free” items (so many have soy!), but Amy’s Kitchen has a to-die-for mac and cheese that is dairy-, soy- and gluten-free.  I did a happy dance the first time I tried it!   I also don’t seem to react to goat and sheep cheese, though I know this isn’t always the case with some milk-allergic persons.

I’m curious.  What foods did you grow up eating that you can’t eat today? And what substitute foods have you discovered?