I don't usually present dinner recipes on this site. That isn't because I don't cook: on the contrary, we never really go out, so I cook pretty much every dinner (and prep every breakfast...and lunch). But I'm from an old-school Italian-Slovak family, and we never really used recipes for meals. Instead, I watched my mom (or grandma) work in the kitchen. Although we had written-out recipes, they didn't always include directions, and sometimes they didn't even include quantities! When talking with a family member about a regular on the dinner rotation, the discussion would go toward either "the way it's always done" (meatballs, very proprietary: different in every house but the same way in the same house every time) or an array of possibilities to vary the base recipe (meat sauce with ribs, with peppers, with veal, and on and on and on, as long as you start with onions, garlic, and tomatoes).
All of this is to say that I don't often bother writing out mealtime recipes for myself or others. I'll jot down the seasonings I tried and liked (or didn't), and I might make a list of the ingredients, with notes when something absolutely has to be done a certain way (I'm thinking of the timing for your addition and removal, bay leaf!).
The only real downside to this is that I don't have a popular main or side dish that is requested at potlucks, made quickly to share, etc, or to pass onto the kids in writing later in life. I just go with what's on hand most of the time.
For example, last weekend we had family in for a recital followed by a cookout at home. I knew that we'd be busy and need room temperature foods and make-ahead dishes, so I opted for smoked sausage and green pepper kebabs, a three-bean salad with the beans I had on hand, and a rice and veggie salad as the base. For the non--meat eaters, I pre-baked a salmon filet and flaked it to top the rice and beans. All of the food was a hit and pretty much gone by the end of the day. Most of my family said how much they enjoyed it, but no one asked for a recipe. (We don't do that, remember?! And I wouldn't have had one if they did!)
Strawberries have nothing at all to do with dinner. Except that the week before Memorial Day, for me, is jam-making week! Here's a shout-out to Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, MD, who supplied me with 4 jam flats when I couldn't pick my own this year. Freezer is officially stocked. Click on the photo for a link to the recipe on Pinterest, or just go directly to the blog post from my recipe index page.
Now, Memorial Day is coming up, and we have no big plans. I remember how awful I used to feel about this weekend, though, when I had to come up with a potluck side to share, or a cookout meal to plan, that would satisfy burger lovers and vegans alike on a food-allergy diet. I'm guessing that plenty of families are feeling that way, too, but they weren't fortunate enough to have the kitchen-comfy childhood that I had, so they're seeking clear recipes for their start-of-summertime meal.
In that spirit, then, here are ingredients AND directions for an entirely top-allergen--free* cookout for Memorial Day, or any fun party day. All of the recipes are meant to feed about 10 people of all ages and appetites. Enjoy!
Sausage and Pepper Kebabs
*We didn't season, marinate, or otherwise flavor these, and they were fresh and delicious. You could douse them in some olive oil before grilling to get a better char, or to hold some seasonings onto them. But it's okay to just keep it simple!
White (or mixed) Rice and Veggie Salad
This recipe is easily doubled, too, if you have a crowd that really enjoys plant proteins. It's called beans-on-hand because I didn't shop ahead, so we used whatever was in the pantry and safe. It turned out that this and the kebabs were red-white-and-green Italian flag colors, which worked out well for my family gathering! Go ahead and substitute your own favorites.
As a bonus, for a quick make-ahead dessert, here is a recipe for 12 or 24 (you pick the size) chocolate no-bake cookies, also free from all of the top allergens and then some.**
[MotherEarthProducts, thanks for waiting patiently for me to make these, have surgery, recovery from surgery, test the recipe, and finally post it!]
Easy No-Bake Cookies
For 12 cookies, follow these quantities. For 24, exactly double the amount of each ingredient.
*These will set quickly at room temperature, and they store well in the refrigerator or freezer, too.
*If you use vanilla extract, you may need to offset the teaspoon of liquid with an extra teaspoon of cocoa powder in your oat mixture or at any point during the stirring. Varying the amount of cocoa powder according to the humidity of your kitchen also works well, up to a Tbsp or two more for humid days, for example.
What is your go-to recipe for potlucks and cookouts?
Is it allergy safe for you and your family? For others? Or not at all (yet)?
My first post in a very long while. I'm still not upbeat enough about food to write/journal, but I want to get this recipe out anyway. So, without commentary, here's the latest family "made from air" scone recipe!
2/3 cup rice flour (I use a 50/50 mix of white/brown)
2/3 cup oat flour
1/3 cup cornstarch (you can replace with tapioca starch or arrowroot for corn allergy)
1/3 cup potato starch
1-1/2 tsp psyllium (I use this instead of gums)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar (I forgot this once and it was not as tasty but still baked well)
1/4 tsp vanilla powder (I use this as a gluten-free alcohol-free equivalent to 1 tsp extract)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp orange peel
3/4 cup dried berries
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal in 2 Tbsp hot water
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oil (I use canola oil)
1 ounce (2 Tbsp) water, as needed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare a quarter-sheet baking pan or round pizza pan with silpat or parchment (or you can spray with oil).
In a medium bowl with a wooden spoon, combine all dry ingredients and berries until well mixed.
In a small bowl, combine the flax and water to replace 1 egg. Let sit to thicken.
Measure the two wet ingredients separately.
Add all three wet products to the bowl and mix well to combine. Switch to light hand-kneading after a few good stirs.
As needed at the end, add the extra water (especially if the mix appears crumbly, such as when it's a very dry day). You'll know that you need this because the dough will not pull together well with your hands to be shaped.
Place the ball of dough on the pan and flatten; shape the sides to form a circle or rectangle.
Lightly pre-slice (you don't need to go all the way through) the dough.
Bake for 15-17 minutes. Rest on the pan for another 5-10 or until completely cool.
No nutrition details yet, but I'll update when I get back to those calculations later on.
Two more months again.
As school has ended and spring has rolled into summer, I've been delighted to meet new people in person and online who are working through food allergies, EoE, or other immune-related nutrition issues. And I wish that I could be even more engaged than ever!
But. I'm officially deciding to take a break from the blog, at least for the summer.
I've put off the decision for awhile now, but a few things are quite apparent:
I plan to continue on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram as I'm able, though, and to gather ideas from all of the wonderful online groups and families. And I hope to come back strong with ideas for thriving with EoE!
Meanwhile, I'll spend the summer teaching my girls how to cook on their own, especially letting them use ingredients that I can't anymore, and enjoying as many simple recipes as I can.
I'm still not organized or business-like enough with the blog to have an e-mail sign-up, or a newsletter, or another way to keep in touch. But, if you're interested in hearing from me directly when I return, please do comment below or find me at my work site (nicolevanhoey.weebly.com) to stay in touch.
If you're finding me here anew because of a recent EoE group I joined, please explore what is here already, and do come back in the fall to find more news and posts! I'm on a steep learning curve (again), but I'm certain that I'll make it to another decent-or-better plateau and have recipes to share.
Oh my. It's been nearly 2 months since I've posted here, and just as long since I've felt capable of engaging else where in food world, too.
When I started this blog, it wasn't for emotional support or outreach; it was because I felt like we had enough of a grasp on vegan+meat allergy eating that we could collect and share our successes. Mostly I wanted a record of what we tried and what worked for my girls, and blogging was (and is) a convenient platform for that.
Now, though, we're starting over and I don't have successes in my pocket, or even logical places to start recipes yet. I don't want this space to turn into a sad, venting place, but I definitely don't have the spare time to blog on non-recipe topics yet, either (all of that "extra" time after work goes straight into finding, and I hope soon making, safe food again!).
I suspect this rock-and-a-hard-place situation will ease up eventually. For now, though, this is just another placeholder post while I brainstorm ways to get back to kitchen happy again soon. On that note, here's a collage of my successes just since the holiday: proof that I am not starving and that I am making things in the oven that are mostly edible! One day, when these recipes are tested and stick with me, they'll end up here.
Until then, happy baking with whatever your safe ingredients are. :-)
After 15 years of marriage, I'm still not used to people who ask me if I'm Dutch...or people who are astounded (shocked! disbelieving!) when I say that I'm Italian. My heritage is something that shaped me enormously: I grew up in an Italian American community where every Friday was homemade pizza night and every Sunday had red sauce on something. Cheese was everywhere, and the two most important dinners I learned to make before heading off into the world were gnocchi for holidays and lasagna...just because it's hard to get right. Being Italian is just BEING. There is no other way.
But, fast forward into parenthood and a child who ends up hospitalized after simply inhaling cheese. That was quite a change for us, but it did open up our culinary world so very much. With things like baked ziti literally off the table, I turned to my mom's other recipes: mostly Eastern European or plain old American classics. Also, naturally, pasta very often without the cheese on top. It worked.
Dairy-free Italian was surprisingly doable (though a little bit sad), but wheat-free Italian has been tricky. So, back to the drawing board. For me, that means historical research, lots of recipe explorations, and some epic kitchen fails. I don't have free-from Italian completely figured out, but I have made enough strides to see the possibilities ahead.
This post won't give you any allergy-safe Italian recipes, but I hope that it gets you started thinking about ways to "eat Italian" without cheese or wheat...or to get you started exploring your own favorite type of food. Maybe there's something in that culinary history that can bring new favorites for you to love.
Eating Italian, not Italian American
First consider Italian American meals against the traditional Italian versions. You might be surprised to see that Italians rely much less on cheese and gravy dishes than we do in the states.
Eating by Region, Historically or Today
Also consider that we what think of as Italian really reflects only a tiny portion of actual Italian regions and foods. Italy was not well-collected as a country until the mid-1800s, and each region can seem like a country unto itself: northeastern areas mirroring Eastern European influences; northwestern, French and Swiss. And of course the regions of the "south" (really, most of the bottom two thirds of the country!) with a bigger emphasis on farming, fishing, and shepherding.
So, here's just a tiny sampling of Italian standards that don't rely on milk/cheese, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, or seeds:
And another sampling that also excludes wheat for breads and pastas:
These dairy-free, wheat-free Italian options don't necessarily take me back to fond childhood memories, but they certainly satisfy as an adult with a passion to reclaim a heritage despite allergy challenges!
Having these options doesn't mean I've given up on pasta entirely, though. After giving lentil, rice, and bean pastas a few tries, I've settled on Le Veneziane corn pasta made in Italy. It cooks as close to durum wheat pasta as I can find, and it takes up sauces and broth well, too. It's available on Amazon, ItalianHarvest, and Vitacost websites, and the easy access is a nice bonus. For now, though, the cost of these small packages will keep pasta in the once-in-awhile dinner category.... Which leaves me plenty of room to explore new ideas.
I’ve grouched a lot lately, in person and on media, about not eating. Of course, I’m not starving. And I’m not at risk of anaphylaxis if I goof up and eat something I shouldn’t. In fact, I’m amazingly fortunate in that I can whip up dinner for everyone while I’m working from home with a lovely variety of fresh foods available every day.
I guess what I’m really grouching about is the loss of so many recipes we’d built over a decade and the relative normalcy that they brought us. Now I’m asea in the kitchen again, with recipe gains in bits and spurts… And a distinct lack of fun, for now.
But dinners and lunches still have to happen and that’s still on me. In the spirit of just getting things done then, here are five 5-minute (seriously) meals to feed your family on your busiest days. All are free from the traditional top 8, most are free from seeds and soy, and some are completely vegan /meat free.
Masarepa (right) is precooked corn flour. Sort of like premade dried pasta.
My deli wraps (left) come with a side of upside-down Eeyore and pepperjack.
Truly, lunch on the go at its most basic. Inspired in part by the bologna-ketchup rolls of my youth (don’t judge). Layer one piece of deli-style meat (kudos if you made it at home), one piece of cheese/cheese-type product, one pile of greens (I’m a fan of spinach leaves here). Repeat for thicker or neater wraps (I add another piece of meat on top for the protein and to rein in the leaves). Roll as if it had a tortilla around it. Slice it, or just start eating. Bonus points if you actually rolled this out on a board or plate, too.
Arepas to slice and stuff or scoop
Not a bun, not a tortilla. Technically requiring a specific (but very low cost!) ingredient. Mix 1 cup masarepa flour (order it here, for example) with 1 cup water. Let it sit while you turn on the broiler or toaster oven. Pull off chunks of the thickened dough, roll into balls, smoosh flat. Bake as many as you want to make under the broiler for a few minutes on both sides. If you have more than 5 minutes, go ahead and turn off the broiler and keep the patties in the oven with the door closed to make sure the insides get fully cooked and sliceable. Possibilities here are endless: slice and toast and slather; pile salsa or leftovers on top and use it like a taco shell (or slice it genteelly, if you prefer); just walk away from the kitchen with it in your hand on the go.
Quickest tomato broth gravy
I love days when the house smells like long-simmering tomato gravy. It takes me right back to happy childhood memories. Sometimes that just won’t happen, but the meal I can pull off for everyone still requires some kind of sauce. This is my latest answer. Mix 1 can/box/whatever of tomatoes with a really good splash or two of vegetable broth (maybe 1/2 cup? hard to say….). Add a spoonful (really, a dinner-size spoonful, so maybe a Tablespoon) of cornstarch (or tapioca or arrowroot if you can’t use corn). Whisk is together in a pan over medium-high heat until it gets bubbling. Simmer it for as many minutes as you have available. Add whatever flavors you like (we vary between traditional Italian and a Tex-Mex version). Toss the cooked meat or beans or other protein in if it’s available. Toss in veggies if you want. Really, just throw anything you want to have flavored into the pot, then eat it. Maybe pour it over the arepas if you’ve really got your timing down!
Stir-fried veggies mix
This one is a much less sarcastic approach to fast homecooked meals. We’ve been enjoying our Washington Green Grocer deliveries so much. It’s a small source of joy in another otherwise-crazy food year. All of the fresh veggies means that we rarely rely on frozen steamed options, which are healthy and easy, but sometimes not as flavorful. If you have fresh veggies, greens, and roots on hand, try this quick stir-fry. Add some protein and you have yourself a (possibly vegan) meal. Coarsely chop (in the interest of time, go ahead, tear it instead if you have to) greens---we like baby bok choy, green onions, leeks, Also some carrots, maybe celery if we have it. I’ve shaved in turnips, tossed in teeny dices of eggplant (so the kids won’t notice). Anything goes. My favorite seasoning right now is a mix of Green Goddess, ginger, orange peel, and basil at the end. But chili powder and cumin with a bit of cocoa and paprika would be nice, too, perhaps. Gotta try a lot of flavors to make the same food every day taste different, right?
One-bowl salmon saute
An indulgent but easy lunch/dinner meal that I miss a lot is chicken salad made from leftover rotisserie shreds. Mix in a little mustard, mayo (if you can), dill, thyme, etc, and you have a *great* sandwich started. I never understood tuna salad, frankly, when you could have this instead. Now that I’ve found pouch salmon, though (check the no-metal box and the healthy-fats box), I’m gradually missing my chicken salad a bit less. Because the pouch salmon is already cooked, you really don’t even have to do this in a saute pan, if you’re that short on time. I like to mix in a small skillet some olive oil, the salmon, something crunchy like onions or celery, some carrots and/or peppers, and maybe a few dark greens to wilt. Sometimes I just toss in leftover veggies from stir fry night, actually. Mix it all together to warm, and add in whatever seasonings you like. Since this can’t be a sandwich in my world, but I often require something crunchy to make a meal worthwhile, I like to crush rice crackers or even rice cereal into the salmon mixture. You can eat it with a spoon as is, or you can add it to something else that’s safe for you, like leftover rice, or corn pasta, or a gluten-free tortilla. Either way, it checks off the protein/carb/veggie boxes for at least one meal. And it’s pretty tasty.
And a bonus (like a baker's dozen, but not-quite-halved):
Rice paper rolls
This is my youngest daughter’s new favorite recipe. She’s become my sous chef of sorts, which I love. We saw a Craftsy video that showed viewers how to roll lettuce and stuffing into round rice paper. Egg rolls without the egg?! Spring rolls without the wheat?! I’m in. I ordered these papers, which are unbelievably affordable, and which store well. With some of the WGG Bibb lettuce, some leftover salmon one day and pork another, and a bunch of veggies on hand, we got started. I used my tea kettle to heat water, poured the water into a bowl, and ran the rice paper through the water until it was pliable and see through. On a dinner-sized plate, we layered the rice paper, some lettuce leaves, and a pile of veggies and meat/fish in the middle of it all. Then we rolled, tucked, and rolled some more. Remarkably easy. And delicious. And surprisingly filling. We ate them at room temp one day dipped in a vinaigrette, after refrigeration another day dipped in BBQ sauce. New favorite, indeed. They’re packable, portable, not too messy, all around great. And if you have leftovers in your fridge, they only take as long as it takes you to boil water and spoon in the filling. Enjoy! 😊
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
I made the 2017 Top-40 Food Allergy blogs!
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy