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The Udi’s Gluten Free “care packages” arrived just in time for the College Celiac’s Christmas Break. It’s been a rough four years, trying to adapt to life with celiac disease while being away from home. Okay, truth be told, it’s been harder on me than him. I worried if he was eating enough nutritious foods.
So I was thrilled to introduce my son to new foods from a company I trust. These burritos were a hit. He added Cholula Hot Sauce. What is it with college boys and Cholula?
Based on the dirty dishes I woke up to on several mornings, the Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas were also quite good.
For those of you who are regular readers, you know I’m not much of a baker. Thankfully, Udi’s provided the College Celiac with treats this holiday: Snicker Doodle Cookies and Dark Chocolate Brown Bites (both soy and nut free). I have no photos because they disappeared so quickly. And someone only left one Double Vanilla Muffin.
My plan was to add berries on top of the muffins with some whipped cream. In fact, I’d planned on creating several of the terrific ideas Udi’s Gluten Free pinned on Pinterest, but then the other hungry son with food allergies came home.
For Christmas dinner, I served Udi’s Classic French Dinner Rolls. Even my husband–the Eater of Everything–said they were delicious.
Udi’s also has a new French Baguette that I’m planning to serve with split pea soup this evening. The boys are rallying for baguette pizza.
When I post Instagram photos of my meals using Udi’s foods, I’m often asked where followers can buy Udi’s. Udi’s started in Colorado and I live in Colorado, yet many of my stores don’t carry the foods Udi’s offers. If you go to their website catalog, there is a link to either order the products or find a store near you that carry the items. I suggest you ask the manager at your favorite grocery store to start carrying Udi’s; sometimes there is a form you can fill out.
Okay, so now that I have your mouth watering, I bet you’re wondering how you can enter to win one of Udi’s holiday prize packs or coupons for free product. It’s quite easy–just click here.
Good luck. And may you have a happy, healthy gluten-free New Year.
I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while growing up so I wasn’t much of a cook when I left home. My husband will attest to that. Most of what we ate came out of a cardboard box, the freezer aisle of the grocery store, or Pizza Hut. Then there was that year, two kids still in diapers, when I got most of our food from the Schwan’s delivery guy. When my husband couldn’t button his pants and I hadn’t lost any post-pregnancy weight, I decided I needed to learn to cook.
Out came the wedding gift crockpot. We ate a lot of beef stew and chicken with potatoes for a long, long time.
No one in our young family had food allergies (that we knew of). While my kids grew into young adults, we blissfully ate all types of foods without any worries—-until yours truly developed multiple food allergies and celiac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis (an allergic esophagus).
That was the game changer.
Suddenly I had to eliminate gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt), dairy (no more cheese!), soy, eggs (are there eggless cookies?), and more foods. It was hard. Really, really hard. What I struggled with most was finding the staples I relied on for decades . . . salad dressing, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, and marinades, to name a few. Even the staples that were supposed to be “allergy-friendly” contained at least one of my allergens or were not certified gluten-free.
I was still struggling with my new way of eating and cooking when I met Colette Martin on the shuttle bus heading to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas. Because I knew Colette was the author of a well-respected cookbook on allergen-free baking and because she was pretty much captive on the bus, I complained to her about how I couldn’t find any decent allergy-free mayo.
Turned out she was in the middle of writing her next cookbook and she was working on a mayonnaise recipe! (I didn’t admit this at the time, but I ‘d never even considered making my own mayo from scratch! Who does that?).
Fast forward eight months. A reader’s copy of The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts (The Experiment, September 2014) by Colette Martin arrives in the mail! Of course, I immediately flip to the mayo recipe.
Oh-oh. Sounds kind of complicated for a novice like me. First, I have to make “eggs” using flaxseed, which I just so happen to have in my pantry because I buy all the food-allergy cooking ingredients but never actually cook with them. I add water to the flaxseed and make the “eggs.”
I follow the steps to make the mayo using a hand-mixer that I’ve moved into three houses but have never plugged in.
Hmmm, not so difficult after all.
Wait! This mixture is actually starting to look like mayo! Using my finger, I put a little on my tongue. It tastes like mayo. Maybe even a little better than what I remember mayo tasting.
I decide to make Colette’s potato salad. Did I mention I have really missed potato salad since becoming allergic to eggs/mayo?
I serve the allergy-free potato salad and short ribs to my family. I don’t tell them about the flaxseed, which might turn them off. No one notices the mayo is eggless or made with flaxseed–they all help themselves to seconds.
Since that fateful day of making mayo, The Allergy-Free Pantry hasn’t left my kitchen island. Using this book, I now make my own allergen-free ketchup and mustard and barbecue sauce. I’m planning to branch out to crackers in a few weeks. For anyone with food restrictions, this cookbook will become your most-used kitchen tool. You can pre-order a copy today at Powell’s, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Thank you to Colette Martin for writing this book and for sharing her flaxseed mayo and potato salad recipes (below).
Makes 10 to 12 servings
Friends and neighbors will have no idea that this allergen-free version of potato salad was made without traditional mayonnaise or off-the-shelf salad dressings. Instead, Flaxseed Mayonnaise (page 99) is used to make a salad with added fiber and essential fatty acids—and that tastes marvelous! Add some blue potatoes, if you can find them.
Even though this potato salad contains no eggs or dairy, be careful not to let it sit out longer than an hour; it’s the potatoes, not the mayonnaise, that contain the bacteria that can make you sick.
10 to 12 medium Yukon Gold and Red Gold potatoes, with skins, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
About 5 cups (1200 ml) water
1 medium red onion, diced
2 tablespoons diced Dill Pickles, optional
½ cup (120 ml) Flaxseed Mayonnaise (see below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Place the potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Lower the heat to medium and continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender but not falling apart.
- Place the potatoes in a strainer and run cold water over them for 30 seconds to halt the cooking. Drain the potatoes well.
- Combine the onion, pickles (if desired), flaxseed mayonnaise, herbs, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and stir to coat.
- Cover and chill the potato salad for at least an hour before serving. It will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.
Makes 1¼ cups (300 ml)
Because this mayonnaise starts with flaxseeds rather than eggs, it has the benefit of being both healthier and tastier than traditional mayonnaise. Even if you aren’t allergic to eggs, this might just be the best sandwich topping you have ever tried!
Use measuring cups with a spout to measure the oil; this will allow you to pour the oil directly into the container for your blender when making mayonnaise.
2 Flaxseed Eggs
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (measured after grinding) or flaxseed meal
6 tablespoons warm water
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Mustard, or ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup (120 ml) organic canola oil
½ cup (60 ml) light olive oil
- Combine the flaxseed eggs, salt, mustard, and lemon juice in a working glass or the container for your immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Pulse four or five times to combine the ingredients.
- With the blender running continuously, pour a few drops of canola oil into the container. The slower you pour, the better. The mixture will start to become creamy as emulsification occurs.
- Continue blending and adding oil in a slow trickle until all of the oil is incorporated; add all of the canola oil first and then the olive oil. If the oil starts to pool on top of the mixture, slide your immersion blender up and down ½ inch, or stop pouring until the oil combines.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. The mixture will set further as it chills.
A single oil or any combination of oils (up to ¾ cup/180 ml total) can be used to make this mayonnaise, with the exception of coconut oil or palm fruit oil (which behave differently). Use less oil for a thinner spread.
Make Chia Seed Mayonnaise by substituting 2 Chia Seed Eggs for the Flaxseed Eggs.
One of the things I love best about being a blogger is meeting remarkable people who are making a difference in the food allergy community. Recently, I met such a person, a college student about to graduate named Amanda Merrill. Amanda won the giveaway Amanda’s Own Confections and I ran a few weeks back. Coincidentally, she shared the first name of the owners’ daughter, which the company was named after.
As Amanda and I emailed back and forth, I knew right away that I had to share her story. Though Amanda was in the middle of final exams at Tufts University, in Boston, she took the time to answer my emailed questions.
An Allergic Foodie: Congrats on winning the allergy-friendly chocolate bars, Amanda! In an email, you mentioned your senior honors thesis has to do with food restrictions . . . can you elaborate?
Amanda: Happy to, and I’m thrilled to win the chocolate bars because with my allergies it’s almost impossible to find chocolate I can eat. The title of my thesis is “Is Gluten-Free Worth the Price?” Basically, I looked to answer two questions: 1) if consumers are willing got pay extra for gluten-free certification, and 2) if so, how much are they willing to pay? This is the first study in this area, and I devised my own survey to distribute. In short, I concluded that consumers are willing to pay a premium. I am planning on publishing my findings in a journal.
An Allergic Foodie: I know you came up with this topic because you yourself have many food restrictions. Did you always have food allergies?
Amanda: As a young child, I was first allergic to tomatoes, potatoes and chocolate, which was very hard for me because my dad is Italian and my mom has an Irish heritage. I couldn’t eat any of their traditional dishes. Luckily, I mostly outgrew these allergies –especially the chocolate!
Around middle-school, I started becoming violently ill after eating and I broke out in this terrible skin reaction that left me unable to even open my mouth. I saw many dermatologists who couldn’t figure out what was going on, and I did all sorts of dye and metal allergy tests. My mom was the one to ask for food allergy testing; that’s when I found out I was allergic to soy, nuts and beans. I still wasn’t feeling 100 percent and with more testing, I found out I was allergic to wheat. I have luckily never been hospitalized for a reaction, but I always carry an epi-pen because some of my allergies are life-threatening.
An Allergic Foodie: You said you “outgrew” some food allergies, have you developed any new ones and/or other health issues?
Amanda: I get tested for food allergies yearly. I am now only “borderline allergic” to tomatoes and potatoes so I can usually handle then in moderation and in small amounts. Unfortunately, some of my other allergies are worsening, and this year I discovered I’m allergic to apples, pineapple and sesame. I also have extreme seasonal allergies to everything from grass, pollen, dust, and mold to dog, cats and rabbits. I also suffer from IBS as well as a slow-moving colon and stomach-emptying processes, which constantly leaves me feeling bloated.
An Allergic Foodie: Your food restrictions must make dating and eating out difficult. How do you do it?
Amanda: If I am going on a date that involves going to dinner, I often spend hours researching restaurants, menus, policies, and contacting managers to coordinate a meal. One time, I was out in Boston and when the waiter brought over the manager, I began going through my allergies and making adjustments, etc. At one point, the manager, jokingly, told me that he might as well put me in a rabbit cage with a piece of lettuce and a water bottle. The funny thing is, I’m allergic to rabbits as well!
An Allergic Foodie: I have a son in college dealing with celiac disease and I’d love to hear your tips for eating in a school setting.
Amanda: When was looking at schools, I was really concerned about how I would eat. When I arrived at Tufts, I met with a nutritionist/dietitian on campus. I’d advise any student with food allergies to research everything they can about the potential school’s dining services and to meet up with a nutritionist to discuss an eating plan.
In Tufts University’s dining hall, a nutrition card is placed above every food and condiment; the cards list every ingredient and has an allergen statement. The problem I run into is that Tufts, like many other dining halls, have all sorts of sauces, marinades, breading, etc. that contain wheat, soy, or another one of my allergens. I often cannot eat much or anything offered for meals and often end up eating a lot of salads and plain grilled chicken.
Since I cannot eat many dinner food items, the chefs prepare a separate meat for me–chicken, pork, or steak. They use a separate pan and just cook in olive oil, salt and pepper. Tufts had never had to deal with a student with so many allergies before, so I worked with the nutritionist to get more allergy-friendly choices. Now there is a separate refrigerator/freezer for items such as gluten-free breads, bagels, pizza crusts, and other baked goods as well as a special shelf with gluten-free cereal, granola, ice cream cones, and peanut butter and jelly–there’s even Sunbutter for those of us allergic to peanuts. I have my own special area for my foods that don’t contain my extensive allergies, and I even got the school to change to a soy-free cooking spray.
An Allergic Foodie: That’s so great that you’ve made a difference for future allergic students going to Tufts. I think you also are involved with FARE . . .
Amanda: I put together a team to walk in the Walk for Food Allergy Boston to raise money to assist in research for a cure. I hope to continue researching and advocating for food allergies in more ways post-graduation and would love to get more involved with FARE. I try to pass along their messages and awareness information as much as I can.
An Allergic Foodie: I love that you don’t let your food allergies hold you back! What are your plans after graduation?
Amanda: My double major is in Mathematics and Quantitative Economics. I will be working in a pricing and risk analyst position while taking the actuarial exams. My goal is to become a certified actuary. Also, I have been dancing since the age of three, taking ballet, tap, and jazz. At Tufts, I joined the ballroom dance team and competed in all ballroom and Latin dance styles. After graduation, I want to get back to studying classical ballet and pursue my dream of taking classes at Boston Ballet. Dancing is and has always been one of my passions aside from academics.
An Allergic Foodie: Thanks so much for making a difference, Amanda, and good luck with your job and dance– you are an inspiration to other college students with food allergies.
An Allergic College Student Your Just Have to Meet originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.