Friday, May 28, 2010

Who Thought the Next Best thing to Sliced Bread would be Sliced Bread?

The folks over at the Really Great Food Company did it again with their lovely white bread mix. The crust is golden brown and the texture is heavenly, so much like gluten filled bread, it’s hard to believe it is safe. The bread stayed soft for several days, after that, I buttered each side with Smart Balance, sautéed each side until golden and topped with maple syrup for a lazy man’s French toast; a perfect breakfast treat.

White Bread Mix Ingredients include: White rice flour, potato starch flour, sugar, cornstarch, xanthan gum, salt, gluten-free yeast packet. The mix does require using egg for best results. I would love to hear from allergenistas with egg allergies describing their experiences using Really Great Foods products using egg free alternatives.

This bread is so good, you can eat it with just some butter, if you can, or Smart Balance if dairy is out for you. But why stop there? This easy recipe for roasted garlic is the perfect topper for this great find.

Roasted Garlic

1 bulb garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut top of garlic bulb off and place in oven safe Ramekin.
Drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil.
Place oven for 40 -50 minutes until garlic is soft.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

National Restaurant Association & Allergenistas – We are on our Way!

On Sunday, I attended the annual Restaurant Show at McCormick Place. I have, along with support groups and other bloggers, advocated vocalizing your needs as allergenistas at restaurants, stores and on-line venues and...

It’s working, it’s working! Not only did the National Restaurant Association hold a session for restaurant owners to learn the ins and outs of adding a Gluten Free/Allergen Free Menu in their restaurants titled, “Gluten-Free: Easy as ABCDE”, but the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness sponsored a pavilion with manufacturers of some of our favorite allergen free foods along with some new things to try.

Ok, what does this mean for you? Well the NRA Restaurant Show is attended by thousands of restaurateurs from all around the country looking for equipment, ideas to increase revenues and products for their restaurants. The show also holds sessions about hot topics and trends in the restaurant industry and celiac and food allergies are emerging trends in the industry. This means in the very new future - more options for you when you dine out.

The session “Gluten-Free: Easy as ABCDE was a 1½ hour session that was packed with restaurant owners and chefs learning about developing an allergen/gluten free menu. The speakers included:
- Kay Conley, executive chef/owner, Savory Moment
- Jim McCurley, regional chef, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
- Doug Radi, Vice president, marketing, Charter Baking Company
- Anne Roland Lee MS, RD, director, food and nutritional Services Schar USA
- Richard J. Coppedge, Jr., CMB, professor, baking and pastry arts, Culinary Institute of America - Tom Herndon, owner/chef, Hipp Kitchen and the Full Fridge

This group outlined the dedication, tenacity and diligence the task of developing an allergen/gluten free menu that will keep your guests Safe & Sound will be. They went over every step of preparation and service, from proper storage of product to special plating for allergen free dishes to make sure the diner stays safe but doesn’t feel different. I also got the thrill of being mentioned during the session, Chef Tom Herndon, addressed us all as allergenistas, he later told me that Lisa Cooks Allergen Free inspired him to start his business training restaurants to have successful allergen/gluten free menu programs! I feel so honored…

After the session, Gluten Free Betsy and I checked out the foods that are now available wholesale for restaurants - I love going with Betsy to these events, she can give you the low down on all the dairy filled products!
I was truly amazed at the new products to try, we have come so far in the last few years…. Can I hear a yippee for cream puffs or croissants?

First stop – Udi’s Bagels
The texture and taste of these bagels are outstanding, very close to their gluten filled counterpart. I encourage you to ask your favorite breakfast spot to carry these bagels…

Next up – Natural Cakes Éclairs and Puff Pastry Shells
These products are only offered thru a distributor, I am going to have to do some digging for more information on this product in terms of ingredients, but the fact that there is now a puff pastry gluten free is amazing! Keep posted for updates on this revolutionary GF product

On to Arepa De Choclo – A Sweet Corn Sandwich Bread, filled with low fat mozzarella cheese, and this is a great GF/soy free alternative to your standard grilled cheese, the flavor is a little sweet from the corn, but moist and tender in texture. I’d love to try a version, cheese free! We should introduce them to the folks at Daiya Cheese!

There were so many other great products, click here to go to my Facebook page to see them all.

We have all come so far allergenistas, looking forward to seeing what’s up next for us…keep asking for what you want or need and it will come!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finally, a Delicious Cheese Alternative!

Unless I am going to DaLuciano’s I usually skip the cheese alternatives, but I just picked up a bag of Daiya’s deliciously dairy free mozzarella style shreds to make a pizza and WOW!

One bag is the equivalent of 2 cups and is more than enough to make 2-12” pizzas. The bag retails for just over $6, but if you are dying for pizza, this will satisfy the need. The cheese like product melts and stretches and is dairy, lactose, casein, gluten and soy free. The taste is mild and blends well with the other flavors of the pizza, you should use a little less of this product than you would regular cheese.

Dairy Free Pizza

Pizza Sauce

Makes 2-12” pizzas
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound Italian sausage
½ onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, creamed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tomatoes, medium dice
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste


1 package Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Whole Grain Mix
5 sundried tomatoes, soaked in oil, sliced in thin strips
1 cup Daiya’s deliciously dairy free mozzarella style shreds

Take a small sauce pan and heat it over medium temperature for 1 minute.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat another minute.
Add Italian sausage and heat until browned, remove and set aside.
*If you want a vegetarian pizza, omit the meat and start with onions after olive oil is added.
Add onion and cook until translucent.
Add garlic, cook another minute, making sure not to burn.
Add tomato paste to bottom of pan and smear on bottom browning, but not burning.
Add tomatoes, honey, oregano, basil, bay leaves, kosher salt and pepper.
Reduce mixture until sauce thickens to nappe.
Taste and adjust sweetness and seasoning as necessary.

I used Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Whole Grain Mix, it requires egg, but the packaging gives an egg free alternative using flax. Follow package instructions to bake.

To assemble pizza:
Take parbaked Pizza Crust, top with tomato sauce (you can strain the sauce, I kept it with chunks of tomato and onion)
Sprinkle with Daiya’s deliciously dairy free mozzarella style shreds and the topping of your choice. We used Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes. The sundried tomatoes burnt a little, so I would recommend adding them about ½ way thru the baking process which is between 15-17 minutes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Restaurants to Visit and Products to Sample

Many apologies allergenistas, there has been such a flurry of activities in the city and suburbs during food allergy week, I hardly had time to rest… The good news is, I have lots to share with you.

On Friday, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center held it’s annual benefit at the Swissotel in Chicago’s Loop. Over 30 different restaurants offered their signature dishes all GLUTEN FREE. My favorites were:

Pinstripe’s Jambalaya risotto – I am a big fan of Cajun cuisine and Pinstripe’s delivered!

Bistro 110’s Braised Short ribs in red wine sauce over parsnip puree with a sweet pea veloute – I skipped the veloute (made with butter), but the ribs were so succulent and tender, really a treat.

Chef John Chiakulas from Foodlife brought these amazing beef barbacoa tiny tacos, the meat was fall apart tender and the flavors perfectly balanced. A little allergenista whispered to me that Chef Chiakulas is down for the Safe & Sound Challenge…

Last but not least, Chef Mark Mendez of Carnivale created Ropa Vieja, braised beef served with sweet plaintains. We had this dish as an appetizer at a Safe & Sound dinner and it’s every bit as good as I remembered; make sure to ask for no cheese if you have a dairy allergy…

A lot of the dishes had dairy in them, so I had to skip them, but for more details on these succulent dishes with dairy, visit the sites of my lovely dates for the evening, Betsy of Gluten Free Betsy and Anne of Gluten Free Musings.

On Saturday, I did a sampling of products for the IFAEA (Illinois Food Allergy Education Association) at the Free From Market.

I love going to the Free From Market or other specialty stores like Lil’s Dietary, I always like to try something new when I am there and this post I am going to share with you Zensoy Vanilla Pudding. I have had the biggest craving for vanilla pudding and have always been afraid to try the soy options. Zensoy is great, it has a grayer color than regular pudding, but the flavor is creamy and sweet. If your kids are sensitive to color, try the chocolate variety, they will never know the difference. Zensoy products are Lactose Free, Casein Free and Certified Vegan.

Next up: Lisa Makes Pizza Using Daiya Cheese

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baking Allergen Free – What are the celebrity chefs up to?

I don’t do a lot of baking. With cooking, you can adjust the recipe as you go, but with baking, once it is mixed and baked, you are stuck with the results, good or bad. Well, I wanted to see what recipes the food media have developed to address food allergies and I am quite pleased with the results, please enjoy these recipes from some of TV’s chefs! I tried to include a variety of allergens omitted so there should be something for everyone…

The following recipes are from the queen of entertaining, yes that’s right Martha Stewart. She has had multiple people on her show sharing the concerns of us allergenistas!

Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe courtesy of Divvies Bakery) This Recipe is free of milk, egg, tree nuts and peanuts.

Classic Crumb Cake (recipe courtesy of Cybele Pascal)
This recipe is free of wheat, dairy, soy, egg, peanut, tree nut, and I really hope fish and shellfish!

Erin McKenna, of New York City’s vegan bakery BabyCakes, shares her secret tips to bake your favorite allergen free goodies so that they are safe for your family. They include:

- You can use rice or soy milk equally as you would use cow’s milk
- Instead of eggs, you can use 3 tablespoons of applesauce per egg
- Substitute 2/3 cup of agave nectar per cup of sugar

Agave has a lower glycemic index, so it absorbs slower in your body and is a great alternative to sugar.

Who is your favorite “Cook”? Well some Americans might say Rachel Ray and she is just getting started with recipes that are allergen free… Come on Rach, we want some YUM too!

Sunny Pumpkin Choco Cookies
This recipe is free of wheat, soy, peanut and treenut.

I didn’t see a lot in the way of allergen free baked goods on the Food Network, but did notice that Alton Brown is a fellow allergenista and plan to reach out to him to see what he can share with us, I really like his scientific approach to cooking. In the mean time the Food Network has a handy guide for cooking for people with food allergies, it might help family or friends you plan to visit!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Celebrate Food Allergy Awareness Week with Me and IFAEA

Next week is Food Allergy Awareness Week and Illinois Food Allergy Education Association (IFAEA) is hosting some FREE events to get us all in the spirit!

Wednesday, May 12th - 4:30-6:30pm
Join Kelly Rudnick, the “Food Allergy Mama”, who will be signing copies of her book, “The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book” at New York Slices, a dedicated nut free facility. The recipes in this book are all nut, dairy and egg free.

Saturday, May 15th – 11-2 pm
Join ME at Free From Market where I will be sampling multiple allergen free products along with my quinoa with chimmichurri dressing and orange radish salad, FREE of the Big Bad 8 Allergens and Gluten! It’s always a treat for me to meet you all, please stop by if you have a chance; I understand everything in the store will be 10% off!

Hope you can make it to these great events!

Next Up: New Recipes – Let’s Make Some Salads and Dressings!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh What A Night

Allergenistas from New Jersey to California (yes, we have gone national!) gathered together at Lincoln Park hotspot Perennial to feast on a menu free of over 30 different allergens and included a vegetarian to boot.

The Perennial team handled everything with ease and confidence, and the food, oh my! Everything started with chicken lollipops in an orange glaze with cabbage and carrot slaw, the sweet glaze paired with the tartness of the slaw, just heavenly. Perennial used a dedicated fryer to make the texture of the chicken a nice crisp and also avoid cross contamination.

Next up was a perfect blend of sweet, tart and savory tastes with the frisee salad accompanied with sautéed mushrooms and fresh spring asparagus. The mushrooms in this dish added a savory taste to the light frisee and fresh asparagus with the dressing bringing all the flavors together.

On to the main event, braised and grilled pork belly served with roasted potatoes and cauliflower and grilled chicken with fresh carrots and spring peas. The pork belly was so succulent and had a little crisp to it as the kitchen finished it off on the grill to get the combination of textures, YUM!

How on earth do you top that? Easy, dessert from SWIRLZ cupcakes, the chocolate Armenia Cherry Cupcakes were all the rave.

One of my favorite things about the Safe & Sound dinner is that we always have a few people that don’t have allergies. I love to ask them what they thought, did they miss anything? Well, they didn’t miss a thing! Last night we also had the pleasure of having Maggie Shea of Chef Magazine at the dinner, she is doing a story on dining safely in restaurants. Chef Magazine is a trade publication for the culinary industry and dinners like the Safe & Sounds are helping bring more information to chefs to help them address our needs. I couldn’t be happier to help Maggie get information she needs for her story. This is a great step for us all!

What’s up next for the Safe & Sound Dinners? Lettuce wait and see! Details to come in the next few weeks…

Sunday, May 2, 2010

EnerG Has Arrived and a Little Heat for Cinco de Mayo!

Cases of products arrived on Friday from EnerG for the gift bags, just two days until the Safe & Sound Dinner at Perennial, I just can’t wait. If you haven’t reserved your spot yet, there are still a few seats left and we’d just love to have you. Chef Ryan Poli is accommodating over 30 different foods and I know we won’t miss a thing. Click here to reserve your spot.

Cinco De Mayo is my favorite holiday, being ½ Mexican, I just love the food of my culture and May 5th is my day. The good part is Mexican food is easily modified to be free of the Big Bad 8 and Gluten, in fact, many of the dishes are already allergen free! I never miss cheese on Mexican food, who needs it with a good guacamole? Enjoy!

Authentic Green Salsa
Chicken Fajitas
Fire Roasted Salsa
“Flour” Tortillas
Pork Rib Tips Served with Spicy Tomatillo Sauce
Pork Tostadas
Quinoa with Chimmichurri Dressing and Orange Radish Salad