This past January I finally got retested for food allergies after twenty years! I’m still going through the process and will tell you all more about it when it’s done or at least mostly done mid-March. For now, I want to tell you about the exciting thing that did happen; I got to try something new! I was given the green light to try buckwheat at home.
How to add a new food to your diet safely
Please note that this is what I did after talking to my doctor and that you need to get the green light and talk to your doctor before introducing any new food (especially one that may be have been considered an allergen).
I was REALLY excited to be able to try buckwheat. The big reason I went for testing was to see if I would be able to cross off any foods from my list of allergens. Since I tested negatively to buckwheat on the skin prick and had no history of a reacting to it, honestly it’s because I’ve never tried it since we were told to avoid it over 20 years ago, my doctor explained that I could give buckwheat a go.
She explained to try a little, wait, and then try some more. If I felt any symptoms of a reaction to stop and take the appropriate medications, which would be my side during the whole process.
A few precautions I took before trying a new food:
1. Before eating the buckwheat, I made sure that the flour I used had no traces of any other of my allergens and that whatever I ate with it was also 100% allergen free.
2. I did not have any antihistamines in my system.
3. I was relaxed and made sure not to get stressed or panic. I have talked myself into believing I was having a reaction in the past – so I needed to make sure I was calm and level-headed.
4. The way I went about trying the buckwheat was I ate a little piece, waited around ten minutes, no reaction. So I ate a little more, waited five minutes, still no reaction. Then I ate a whole slice of bread, nothing. Success! I did the same thing the next day and still no reaction. I did this for four days and no reaction! So I feel like I can successfully say that I can eat buckwheat!
8 Buckwheat Recipes to Try
Since I had no idea how to use buckwheat I reached out to fellow food bloggers for some ideas. I used Mi Gluten-Free Gal‘s Buckwheat Bread recipe, which contains buttermilk, sugar, and raisins (I also made sure those ingredients we 100% allergy friendly). The bread is super easy to make, has a lovely dense texture, and yes I would totally bake it again.
Buckwheat does have a very earthy taste to it, and I am happy to have been forewarned by Erin, of Texanerin Baking, she also helped me source the allergy-friendly buckwheat flour. Thanks, girl!
Next, I hope to try something with buckwheat groats, I’m thinking about upping my oatmeal game or using them like Shahla from My Berkely Kitchen who adds the groats for crunch where you would typically use nuts.
What happens when a celiac and an allergy girl walk into a restaurant? The kitchen staff freak out?! Well, not at the Michelberger Restaurant!
95% of the time before eating out at a new restaurant I will call or email in advance. This way I can make sure that they will be able to accommodate my food allergies and they know I am coming. There is nothing like rocking up to a busy restaurant with multiple food allergies and expecting to have a safe and stressfree meal. It’s better for everyone to prepare, me included.
So when Kate, the celiac in this story, and I decided to go out for lunch, Kate did the investigating and made sure that Michelberger Restaurant knew we were coming.
After talking about how both of us wanted to go Michelberger Restaurant, but never had an opportunity and since Kate knows the chef, it felt like the perfect starting point for our dining adventures. We had a few nervous moments while ordering because of the back and forth with the waitress. In the end, the restaurant did a great job at making sure we had a safe meal. I didn’t get my first choice, or precisely what was on the menu, however with a few substitutions they served up a hearty plate of mashed potatoes (so good ‘n buttery) and beef shoulder.
The sign of a quality restaurant is one that can take your list of allergens and make you something that is full of flavour, looks beautiful, and is safe. Nothing can feel more disappointing than some steamed vegetables at a restaurant known for its creative and beautiful food.
A side note: It is better to be safe than take a chance and I acknowledge that catering to food allergies can feel like a huge liability. That’s why I am super appreciative when the kitchen can create something other than a plate of lettuce because you know that’s happened more than once.
♥ That sauce! Those potatoes!
Dining with a celiac
Dang, I thought dining out with food allergies was hard! Since meeting Kate, I have been learning a lot about what it’s like to be celiac. Our recent lunch date was eye-opening. It is so much fun to eat out with someone who also becomes an investigator while talking to the waiter. We were able to compare notes about how we dine out safely. And bond over things like why neither of us eats foods containing Worchestershire sauce or what we both see when looking at a menu. For instance, risotto. I see it as a potential problem because of broth, which can contain sunflower oil or soy, she see’s it as a red flag also because of broth but this time because it may contain yeast. We might not have the same dietary restrictions, but man can we share/laugh about our in-depth knowledge of ingredients!
I know that this will not be our last dining experience. So, get ready Berlin we are coming at you!
Kate has recently launched an Instagram account and hashtag #celiacdoesntsuck where she celebrates the wins of eating gluten-free. I highly recommend checking it out and getting to know more about celiac disease.
Lately, I have been on a German baking kick. Well, I’ve made two things, but that is still a lot when it’s only two of you eating them! You know what I have learnt about German baked goods? Their cakes are kinda dry and taste better the next day. Honestly, I think that German cakes are mainly invented to be a vessel for a whole lot of whip cream, vanilla sauce or pudding!
One of my favourite Germany baking experiments has been transforming my mother-in-law’s Apfelkuchen into a spiced pear cake. Her base recipe is straightforward, requires very little equipment and takes no time to prepare. Since it is initially an apple cake recipe, and if pears aren’t your thing, you can easily swap back in the apples and make a few tweaks to the spices (mainly leave them all out except the cinnamon and even that you can leave out!).
You could probably also use peaches or plums since the cake itself is very neutral, and a juicier fruit may be just what you need to combat the pseudo dryness. Just be sure to add more fruit because stone fruits tend to shrink quite a bit when baking (trust me – you can see what I mean here lol ).
Four things to know about this spiced pear cake:
1. Like many German baked goods, it is not overly sweet.
2. It is a dry cake, so you may want to serve it with whip cream, ice cream, or a delicious sauce like vanilla or caramel with it.
3. This cake is way better the next day when all the pear juices have seeped into the bottom layer.
4. It tastes best cold, so I would emphasise waiting for it to cool before serving. (But don’t refrigerate it!)
The first time I posted about spiced pear cake was for my two year blogarvery, and I am happy to deliver it to you, albeit two months late!
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this post is in no means intended as medical advice. You should talk to your doctor and allergist about what the right path is for you and your allergies.
When I got my first boyfriend at the age of 16, the story of Christina Desforges‘s death from an anaphylactic reaction caused by kissing her boyfriend who had eaten peanuts was big news. It was only later that the autopsy showed she died due to an asthma attack and not anaphylaxis.
Not only was I nervous about my first kiss (I’m a late bloomer), I was now worried it could also be my first and last. Lucky for me, I had one of those nosey girlfriends who broke any tension by bringing it up because she had heard about Christina Desforges’s story. We were eating lunch, and she schooled us on how we need to be careful. Thanks to her we were able to talk about my allergies and intimacy, and thanks to her we listened. Let’s be honest, you don’t want to hear these things from mom.
Now as a married woman we have a system worked out that keeps me safe and has become second nature to us both. My husband can eat nuts or sesame or soy, he just has to let me know, and we are doubly aware of glasses and toothbrushes that day. We had to talk intimacy pretty quickly since our first date ended in the hospital, not because of kissing thank goodness!
When is it safe to kiss someone who ate my allergen?
Trying to navigate what a safe enough time between partner’s PB&J and a smooch is still pretty unclear. This year at the Food Allergy Blogger’s Conference, Dr Dave Stukus discussed the different studies looking at that safe zone. The best solution he presented is also one I read about a few years ago, and we implement at home.
Here is what he presented:
→ 87% of people had undetectable levels of peanut protein (Ara h1) in their saliva after an hour of eating a peanut butter meal.
→ 100% had undetectable levels three hours later following a subsequent peanut-free lunch.
→ Immediate brushing, prolonged rinsing, and chewing gum were not effective.*
→ Best time to kiss after your partner ate a peanut meal: wait several hours and after they have eaten a peanut-free meal.
NOTE: This did not evaluate transmission to another person, reactions, or other types of food.
My kissing with food allergies rule
As you can see the data was only for peanut. I also have an anaphylactic allergy to sesame, so we take further precautions. What we do is wait at least 3 hours, and my hubby has eaten an allergen-free meal. The reason I am so specific about this is that I had a reaction from sharing the same water bottle as my mother after she ate a candy bar containing tree nuts (we mixed up water bottles). So I have had a contact reaction in the past.
One more thing that Dr Stukus emphasised during his talk is that it also depends on your threshold to a particular allergen. There are multiple factors at play, so you need to decide what works best for you and I suggest talking to your allergist.
What about having sex after your partner has eaten an allergen?
First off this should only be something you are concerned about if you are trying to get pregnant. Hey teens! I’m looking at you and saying wear a rubber. But if you are having unprotected sex, there is no safe answer for you. There was one case where a woman who has a brazil nut allergy reacted (hives & difficulty breathing) to her partner’s semen after he ate brazil nuts. They did a skin prick test with his semen after he ate brazil nuts and confirmed significant reactivity, a sample before nut consumption was negative. I’ll let you make your conclusion. **
There’s no need to worry
After all this information, it can be easy to develop a fear of intimacy. It shouldn’t be because, and I’m going to get super old fashion here, if you are getting physical you have to be open with your partner, trust that partner, and they should be worth it! Talking about these things is vital, and really at the end of the day, it weeds out the baddies. I’m not from the school of Tinder and am no authority on dating, but I see allergies as a gift. Being open and able to talk about things is one of the pillars of a good relationship, and that starts with your allergies.
P.S. I don’t think it is ok to ask your partner to refrain from your allergens outright. You need to find a level and system that works for you – remember relationships are about compromise and being open!
Spicy Bean Patties are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and taste good warm or cold.
These Bean Patties are one of my favourite go-to meals because they are easy to throw together and make excellent leftovers. If food prep is one of your New Year resolutions, then I highly suggest adding spicy bean patties to your menu. This recipe makes ten patties, so you can enjoy them when they are freshly made for dinner and then for lunch another day of the week.
These spicy bean patties are perfectly sandwiched in a pita, between your favourite gluten-free bun, or sweet potato toast (if you’re into that). Add a dollop of guac, and you are seriously good to go. Or, break them up and sprinkle them over a salad for an extra boost of protein and not to mention flavour.
I love having a bunch of these in the fridge because they make a simple grab ’n go snack. Sometimes granola bars are too sweet, and I am in the mood for a savoury pick me up, cue spicy bean patty snack party.
More about these spicy bean patties
These bean patties are made using lentils and chickpeas, but you can feel free to use whatever bean you may have lying around in your cupboard or that you can eat. I like to use two different types of beans for texture, which doesn’t mean you can’t make it a one-bean spicy bean patty. The only thing that you may need to look out for is the softness of the bean paste and how this may impact cooking time. If your bean patty is super soft, then add a teaspoon of oat flour or cornmeal to bind it.
Now the question is, how will you eat your spicy bean patty?
1/2 tsp Chili flakes (you can use more or less depending on how much heat you like!)
1/4 cup Oat flour (GF) or cornmeal
2 tbsp Olive oil
Potato masher or fork
Large & small bowl
Place lentils, chickpeas and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using either a potato masher or two forks mash the beans until they become a paste - it is ok to have some chunks for texture.
Add the minced garlic, minced onions, chilli powder, oregano, and chilli flakes. Mix well.
Place the oat flour in the small bowl. Scoop out the bean paste and form into a patty (roughly 1/4cup for ten patties). Roll the patty in the oat flour to lightly coat - pat the excess flour into the patty.
Heat your frying pan. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the patties. Avoid overcrowding since the patties are quite soft and challenging to flip - you may need to batch cook them or use two pans. Cook on medium-high heat for roughly 5 minutes, until the patty is firm and crispy. Flip and cook the other side for another 4-5 minutes until crispy. Flip one more time and cook for a minute for an extra crispy patty.
Serve fresh or store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
If your bean patty is super soft, then add a teaspoon of oat flour or cornmeal to bind it.
Life with food allergies means you are risk assessing all types of situations before doing them: whether it is something simple like going out to the movies or something a little more tricky like heading 1700m into the Alps for a skiing adventure. You have to evaluate the worst case scenario and plan for it. I like to live with the attitude that as long as you know what to do, everything is possible.
How to prepare for a skiing trip with food allergies
This past Christmas we did just that, we hit up the Alps for three days of skiing. This was my first time skiing in the Alps, and I have to admit I was nervous about both the skiing part and about being high in the mountains without easy access to a hospital or food. You got that right; I was worried about how to handle my food allergies while skiing. And you know what it wasn’t that bad!
To calm my nerves and feel more prepared for our trip I did a risk assessment. Asking the question: If I have an anaphylactic reaction while skiing what would happen?
Here is a summary of my skiing with food allergies risk assessment:
⋅ I would need to use my adrenaline pen.
⋅ I would need to go to the hospital. To get to the hospital, I would need to take two cable cars and drive 40 minutes to Salzburg.
⋅ I would want to have a family member with me during this.
⋅ The restaurants in the mountains are bustling, and I am not sure how accustomed they are to serving people with food allergies.
How I prepared for a skiing trip with food allergies:
I wore a bright backpack that contained: my allergy kit (2 adrenaline pens, one bottle of Benadryl, Antihistamines, a bottle of steroids), a note about my food allergies (in German and English), my cell phone, and all the food I would need for the day. The backpack was a bright purple so that I could be spotted on the slopes.
I only ate my packed food, which was a challenge when everyone was eating delicious Käsespätzle and Kaiserschmarrn, hello a tiny bit of food jealousy – but seriously not worth risking it. I did drink tea while on the slopes, and was happy to see the tea bag had the ingredients listed. The menus at two restaurants I went to had allergy statements, but this is law in Europe and does not guarantee they know how to cater to allergies.
If I did go off and ski on my own, which happened a few times, because I am really slow, I would tell a family member which slopes I would be on. Knowing they were aware of my whereabouts was very comforting, also just in case I fell and broke something.
The one good thing about skiing and access to medical aid is that there enough people who break their bones that they are quick at getting to you if need be.
Skiing trip with food allergies: yes you can!
Prepping for a skiing trip with food allergies is very much like preparing for camping orhiking. You have to have all your medications, safe foods and have an action plan in place in case you do have an allergic reaction. You and at least one person should be aware of your action plan and where you will be skiing.
With a plan in place and Epis in my backpack, I was able to leave the nerves to the slopes instead of about my food allergies. After a successful trip I can’t wait to go skiing again and maybe I’ll even try some more challenging slopes next time!
What a better way to launch the New Year with a giveawayand a review of Alisa Fleming’s new cookbook Eat Dairy Free. Dairy is not one of my allergens and even it isn’t one of yours this book is still an excellent allergy friendly resource. Alisa offers a whole slew of options for making most of her recipes allergy friendly. All the options she provides throughout the book become a comprehensive guide for getting a better feel for creating an allergy-friendly kitchen catered to you.
The first section of the book walks you through the ingredients used in the book and a little bit about them. This is my favourite part of Eat Dairy Free because Alisa emphasises that it isn’t about substitutes it is about eating good food. I totally support this way of looking at a restricted diet; it’s not about trying to recreate your favourite cheese. Instead, it is about finding something equally delicious, healthy, and on budget. Because you know that eating a allergy-friendly diet is not always cheap and you bet this book keeps that in mind.
Dairy Free Meal Plans
If you are going dairy free, the book is a fantastic guide. Not only will you feel more informed about your non-dairy options, but you will also feel eased into the process with the help of meal plans. One of the most overwhelming things about changing your diet is figuring what to cook or how to do it holistically. With a cookbook, it is easy to bookmark recipes, what is not easy is to actually get them on the plate. The way Alisa presents the meal plans and methods make you feel like yes you can make this food! Not only does cooking feel attainable, so does a dairy-free lifestyle (and that’s coming from a girl who eats dairy all the time!).
The recipes are clear, made with ingredients that you can quickly get at home, and have options to suit many diets, such as gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free. On top of that, many of the recipes include notes about how to jazz up your recipe or something about the ingredient. As I went through the book, I felt like I learned something new about each recipe.
All the Dairy-Free Pictures
Eat Dairy Free is full of pictures! I LOVE this because I rarely make a recipe that doesn’t have a picture. The picture on the cover and the first image you see when you open the book is Roasted Carrot Bisque, and it had me at hello!
Like I said earlier reading through a cookbook is one thing, actually giving a recipe a try is another. So to honestly be able to provide a thorough review I made the Roasted Carrot Bisque. I could not resist making it, especially with the grey weather in Berlin I needed some brightness in my house (recipe at the bottom).
I followed the recipe to the t. The timing, the proportions, the flavouring, and the cooking temperatures all worked perfectly! You can tell that Alisa put a lot of care into writing foolproof recipes. This roasted carrot bisque has an earthy richness from the roasted carrots and a smooth creaminess from the coconut milk. The only tiny change I made was the garnish using thyme instead of parsley and adding a drizzle of spicy olive oil. This bisque does not disappoint and pairs perfectly with some crusty bread!
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, halved and then quartered
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut or olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
4 cups (1 quart) chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water, more or less as needed
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Coconut cream or additional full-fat coconut milk, for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 425.F.
Place the carrots, onion, and garlic cloves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and sweetener to coat. Spread out the vegetables into a single layer.
Roast for 20 minutes. Stir and spread the vegetables back into a single layer. Roast for 20 to 25 more minutes, or until soft and browned around the edges, but not burned.
Transfer the roasted vegetables to your blender or food processor and add the broth. Blend for 2 to 3 minutes, or until relatively smooth. This may need to be done in two batches.
Pour the carrot mixture into a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the coconut milk and desired amount of water to thin. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Cook until heated through.
Ladle into bowls. If desired, swirl with a little coconut cream or coconut milk and sprinkle with parsley.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Recipe Type: Soup
Curry: While heating in step 5, stir in 2 to 3 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder.
Smoky: While heating in step 5, stir in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, or to taste.
Herb: Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, or rosemary, or add the herbs to the vegetables during the last minute of roasting.
Winter: For a creamier seasonal finish, substitute sweet potatoes or squash for the carrots.
Credit for this Recipe: This recipe is reprinted with permissions from Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets by Alisa Fleming (BenBella Books, 2018). Photo by Nicole Axworthy.
Are you thinking about doing Whole30 this January? It was about this time last year that we decided to give Whole30 a go, and as much as I thought I was prepared, I was not. It was an emotional rollercoaster for me, so I have decided to share the top things I wish I knew before starting Whole30.
1. Don’t be afraid of fat.
The first ten days I was hungry all the time. When we started adding more fat into our meals, we were full longer and had fewer cravings. My go-to was avocado with at least one meal a day or try an avocado dressing for your salads.
2. Protein-based snacks are your best friend.
I kept hard-boiled eggs and beef jerky on hand. Both are a better choice than something sweet like dried fruit or an apple (because you may be craving a sugary treat and not hungry). If you are hungry something protein based is more satiating than a sweet pick me up.
My crutch during Whole30 was dried mango. I ate that stuff like it was going out of style. If you are doing Whole30 to curb your sugar cravings, then I would suggest keeping your dried fruit consumption to a minimum. Hense point number two.
4. Variation is the devil.
Since I documented every meal during Whole30, I wanted to make it exciting, but it was to much work. My advice: meal prep, meal prep, meal prep, and cook twice as much as you would typically because LEFTOVERS ARE YOUR BFF! That’s how you will get through 30 days of cooking from scratch. Oh and Whole30 is not cheap, so meal prepping will help you stay on budget.
5. The hardest part comes when you are done.
Whole30 gave me a new understanding of the role food plays in our body – as in how much control it has on our well being, emotions, and brain space. But at the same time, it gave me an even more problematic relationship to eating. I became afraid of unhealthy foods and I have been carrying around a sense of food guilt for the last year. This does not make having an already restricted diet due to food allergies any easier. This is a heads up that you will have a lot of emotions during and after the reset.
6. Whole30 is longer than 30 days.
Once you are done day 30, you aren’t actually done. Don’t skip the reintroduction, as I did (we were travelling to Australia the day after our last day). If I look back, I think this part of the reset would have eased the guilt I am still getting over.
7. Know why you are doing this.
Having a clear idea of why you want to do a reset will help you come out of it with a more precise and positive approach. My ‘why’ got lost during the 30 days, and all the emotions took over. For example, if this is the start of a lifestyle change, then you will be motivated to see it through to the end and have something as a base for you post-Whole30 reflections. Journalling is a good idea.
The final thing I wish I knew before starting Whole30 is: it is just food and should not be everything (sound similar to living with food allergies?). We need to see eating as a holistic part of our lives and find the right balance of healthy and happy.