Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gluten Free Faces Pot Luck Luncheon Cook Book

Our first meet and greet was a huge success with great food, company and conversation. Please enjoy our cookbook featuring recipes served that day. All of my recipes are free of the Big Bad 8 Allergens and Gluten, please read the other recipes to make sure they are safe for your family.

Click here to download our cookbook.

The excitement for the May 4th Safe & Sound Dinner at Perennial is growing, we just have a few seats left, don’t miss out on Chef Poli’s wonderful menu. SWIRLZ cupcakes announced their special flavor for the dinner - Chocolate/Amarena Cherry, can I hear a big YUM?

Here is what savvy allergenistas are saying about Safe & Sound Dinners…

“Coming to a Safe & Sound Dinner is an incredible experience for anyone with food allergies. To have dinner in a restaurant without worry is a gift, and the food served is incredible. The dinner I enjoyed at BOKA was easily the best meal I've eaten in seven years since my diagnosis! What truly sets Safe & Sound Dinners apart is the company at the table. By the end of a shared meal filled with personal food stories, chatting about favorite products and moaning with pleasure while eating wonderful allergy-free food, you will have a full stomach and new friends.”

-Jenn Sutherland

“Safe & Sound Dinners is an absolutely delightful and stress-free dining experience! For those of us with intolerances, allergies and Celiac disease, eating at our favorite restaurants can take a lot of work. Lisa has taken all of that work and preparation out of the dining experience for me, so I can sit back and enjoy an amazing meal. Bring your family and friends with or without allergies to the dinners and they will enjoy this as much as you do! It doesn't hurt that you get at some of Chicago's best restaurants on an affordable prix fixe menu. I can't wait to see what Lisa picks next. I'm so there.”

- Alexandra T.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring is Here, the Flowers are Blooming, but My Mind is on Sandwich Petals

At the office complex where I work, there is a deli - their food is good, however there are no bread options for sandwiches that are free of gluten or dairy. I saw on The Whole Kitchen that Jenn had found a tortilla that she raved about. I got my order last week and couldn’t be happier. Sandwich Petals comes in 3 flavors, Agave Grain, Chimayo Red Chile and Spinach Garlic. I just take my wrap downstairs or to where ever I go to lunch and ask them to make my sandwich in my petal. What I really like about them is that they are the perfect portion size and don’t need to be refrigerated so they are perfect for the office (they are shelf stable for 60 days). I found working full time limits how much time I spend in the kitchen and convenience foods although allergen free are filled with more calories and fat than I should have. I have only used these lovely wraps in tacos, sandwiches and can’t wait to try them in a dessert or eggrolls, the website has recipes to get you started. Sandwich Petals are free of dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut, shellfish, soy and wheat so they are safe for everyone!

Sandwich Petals sent me an extra box for the Safe & Sound Dinner, there isn’t enough for everyone; I recommend you get your gift bag early!

I also got a large case of products from Pamela’s Products to share with everyone at the Safe & Sound Dinner, make sure you register now, there are only a few seats left.

I met Pamela at the Gluten Free Expo and what a delightful person. We have in common being raised in a family business; she worked in her grandparent’s health food store and took it to the next level when she opened Pamela’s Products, hoping to take health and safe foods to the next level from not only nutritious but also delicious. Pamela sent along Ginger mini snaps (gluten and dairy free) and Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies. The ginger mini snaps remind me of the Gingerbread cookies my great grandmother would make for me when I was young.

Next up: Gluten Free Faces Meet & Greet Wrap-up and a Cookbook you can download with all the recipes from the event.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bar Food Allergen Free

Bar food is always problematic for me – most of it is deep fried, so for those with wheat allergies, off limits. Well, that’s all a thing of the past. Wilde Bar and Restaurant’s chef Alan Katz brings an allergen free menu to Lakeview and that includes Kinnikinnick Hamburger Buns which are free of wheat, dairy, soy and nuts. (Ingredients: Water, White Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Whole Eggs, Sugar, Yeast, Sunflower and/or Canola Oil), Dextrose, Poly Dextrose, Pea Protein, Sodium Carboxy Methylcellulose, Salt, Vitamin Blend(Thiamine, Vitamin B2, Niacin, Folic Acid, Iron).

I went to Wilde last week with my husband Mark and just loved being able to enjoy the bar scene again. The gluten free menu covers it all; from appetizers including artichoke cheddar dip and buffalo hot wings to delectable burgers like the Wilde burger (that’s what I had minus the cheese). All I can say is YUM, carmelized onions, just a favorite of mine! I spoke with the manager Pat Rogers, and he is happy to accommodate special needs diets, “We strive to please all our guests, including those that can’t eat wheat, dairy or any other restriction, if you have additional restrictions, call us in advance so we can plan for your visit.”

Please note: in the picture of my burger you will see French fries; I had to skip the fries, as they do not use a dedicated fryer. Luckily, Mark was able to take them off my hands…. Enjoy!

Click here for Wilde’s Gluten Free menu.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lisa’s Hot Picks for April and Cooking with Cippolini Onions

Two weeks until the Safe & Sound dinner at Perennial and packages are starting to arrive of goodies for the gift bag; the cases of Risotto chips are taller than me! I can’t wait to see you all at this special event, and I am so pleased we can donate a portion of the full ticket price to your favorite food allergy charity/support group. Click here for more details.

I just went to the Gluten Free Expo Vendor Fair to find some new products to share with you and my favorites were:

Schar has a lovely shortbread biscuit that is gluten/wheat and dairy free. I was amazed at how close the taste was to an allergen laden shortbread cookie. The ingredients include: maize flour, sugar, non hydrogenated vegetable margarine (oils and fat of palm, coco and rape, salt, emulsifier: E-471 and E-475, acidity regulator: E-330, flavor), eggs 9%, potato starch, honey 2%, modified maize starch, raising agent: ammonium hydrogen carbonate and sodium hydrogen carbonate, maltodextrine, salt, rice starch, natural flavoring.

The next product to try is Gluten Free Mama’s Sugar Cookie mix, she made the most amazing raspberry thumbprint cookies for us to try at the Expo with this mix. This mix is wheat/gluten and dairy free, and Rachel (Mama herself) gives lots of great tips for dairy and egg substitutes. Sorry Gluten Free Mama also produces almond flour so watch out allergenistas with nut allergies. Check out her website for recipes and tips for the best way to use her flours.

Lets’ get to cooking….

I just loved these onions, they are sweet and more mild than pearl onions. Enjoy this simple recipe, a perfect accompanyment to many dishes.

Baby Red Potatoes and Cippolini Onions

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound baby red potatoes
½ pound of Cippolini onions
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Heat a pot of water to boiling.
Add the potatoes to the pot and cook until they are tender, remove and set aside.
Place onions in water and cook for 3 minutes.
Squeeze onion out of skin, you may have to cut the end off and they will pop right out.
Heat a saute pan over medium high heat for one minute.
Add olive oil and heat another minute.
Add potatoes and onions to pan and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Cook until browned and flip and repeat.
Add garlic after flipping, make sure not to burn the garlic.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What’s Going on Allergenistas?

The city of Chicago is a flurry of activity for us allergenistas.
I am going to be at the following events and would love to meet you…

April 24th
Free From Market Bread Round Up
11:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.

Peter has assembled over 20 different breads from dedicated gluten and allergen free bakeries from across the country to taste. Who will win top honors? Will Udi’s keep their top spot? This is the 2nd annual Bread Round Up, where else could you taste this many options of breads to match your taste? I am looking forward to this event and will keep you posted on what tops both my list and the winners of the taste test.

April 25th
Gluten Free Face Meet & Greet Pot Luck Dinner
Whole Foods Market – Halsted
1-3 p.m.

Join the Chicago Gluten Free Faces for this Pot Luck Meet and Greet. All my dishes will be FREE of the Big Bad 8 allergens and gluten. We will also be sampling products from Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market 365 Brand, Doodles Cookies and Kitchen Table Bakers Parmesan Crisps. Come join us at this event where there will be plenty of food, fun and fabulous company.
Please RSVP to me at info@lisacooksallergenfree, all are welcome.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Perennial Announces Safe & Sound Dinner Menu – All the Season’s Best…

Chef Ryan Poli sent me the menu for the Safe & Sound dinner on May 4th and I am counting down the days until this scrumptious meal. A focus on all things fresh and in season…

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm
1800 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL
$50 per person

Family-Style Menu

First Course:
Chicken lollipops, sherry vinaigrette, carrot and
cabbage slaw, orange glaze

Second Course:
Green asparagus salad, marinated wild mushrooms, frisse

Third Course:
Grilled pork belly, cauliflower, roasted potatoes
Grilled chicken, spring peas, roasted carrots

Swirlz cupcakes – Flavor to Be Announced

Not only do we have a great menu planned, get ready to carry home a gift bag packed with allergen swag from favorites like:
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Mixes from the Heartland
- Whole Foods Market
- Pamela’s Mixes
- Peanut Free Planet
- Ener-G
- Risotto Chips from New York Style

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Freeling Friday –Get a Great FREE Sample Pack

Our friends at Peanut Free Planet are donating 5% of all sales to Kids with Food Allergies on Friday, April 9th. With your purchase you get your favorite allergen free products, help a great support group for allergenistas and you will also get a FREE sample package full of allergen free products to try including:

Sunbutter Natural pouches
Sweet Alexis Chococolate Chip Cookies
AllerEnergy Energy Bar
Surf Sweets Candy
A special gift from Beyond a Peanut
Glee Gum
Home Free mini Oatmeal Cookies sample pack
Enjoy Life sample size Cinnamon Crunch Granola
Hiton School Safe Soybutter Mini Cups
Sunbutter Deluxe Trail Mix

Peanut Free Planet has expanded their offerings to accommodate other allergens on their site Allerific.com so there is something for everyone.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why I do this and Giving Back

Sometimes, when I get out of work late, traffic is creeping along, nothing is made for dinner and I know that I am overdue for a blog post; I want to blow it off - hey who will notice if I skip one? And then I got a little note and picture that changed everything…

Michael has allergies to egg and nuts (he has outgrown his allergies to wheat and milk), and was one of the recipients of the extra gift bags on Valentine’s day. His message and picture just melted my heart and helped me refocus on what Lisa Cooks Allergen Free is all about and that is helping families learn to deal with their food allergies. I have so enjoyed sharing products, restaurants, recipes and experiences with you and look forward to helping you find just the right cake mix or recipe for your favorite dish. Please share with me what you like, what you want to see more of, and of course I love a challenge when it comes modifying family favorites…

In the spirit of giving back I want to announce that for the rest of the 2010 Safe & Sound Dinners, you can donate $5 of the ticket price toward your favorite food allergy/celiac charity, so not only do you get a great allergen free meal, a killer gift bag filled with allergen free swag and new friends to share your favorite products and experiences with, you get to help toward education, research and outreach to the allergen community. Once your order is placed, you will be contacted via email to see if you want a portion of your full ticket price to go to the charity of your choice listed below.

- Food Allergy Initiative
- Food Allergy and Anaphlaxis Network
- University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
- Illinois Food Allergy Education Association
- Mothers of Children Having Allergies
- Parents of Children Having Allergies

Thanks for joining me in my adventures cooking, shopping and dining allergen free.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coloring Easter Eggs Using Natural Dyes and Egg Free Options

Yesterday, I had a compliance test to take for my job downtown, I love the hustle and bustle of the Loop. As I was walking to the bus stop to get home again, I came across the Chicago Downtown Farmstand on 66 E. Randolph, where the focus is on local with hundreds of products made within 250 miles of Chicago. They have lunchtime programs on Wednesday and Fridays featuring cooking demonstrations using seasonal ingredients. Since being diagnosed with allergies, I have seen lots of talk about the way our food is processed and handled having a hand in the number of people afflicted, so I try to buy local and organic when I can and spread the word on great organizations like the Chicago Downtown Farmstand.

Even though it was a Thursday, they had a special demonstration in honor of Easter - natural dyes for easter eggs. I apologize to those of you with egg allergies, but don’t worry, I will give some egg free options as well.

Chef Melissa Graham ran the demonstration runs the blog Little Locavores and non-for-profit group Purple Asparagus. Little Locavores is a blog that focuses on eating fresh foods grown locally, with an emphasis on farmer’s markets. Purple Asparagus works to be a resource for the community for food-related activities, education and fun for families.

Melissa had some interesting natural dyes that had beautiful results, please share with us any natural options you have tried.

Yellow onion skins - lovely beige shade
Red onion skins - purplish
Blanched spinach - green (this needs to sit for a while to get a good green)
Boiled beets - red
Leftover coffee - brown
Tomato powder mixed w/vinegar - orange
Red wine - purplish color with a sparkly sheen – My favorite!

For those of you that can’t eat egg try these fun options:
- Get the plastic eggs and fill them with your favorite treats or money and use a glue gun to add gems and sparkles to the outside of the egg.
- Go to Michael’s and get the Styrofoam eggs and some fabric scraps, gems and sparkles, use glue guns to create your egg masterpiece.
- Pick another object besides an egg, like little toy bunnies or chicks and make a new family tradition, or make a game where you find a bunch of items in an Easter treasure hunt in your neighborhood.
- Have everyone start at the same place in the house, everyone has a color string assigned to them, they have to follow their string thru the house, at the end of the string is their basket full of safe goodies. It is so fun to see everyone unwinding their string.

Happy Easter and Passover!