Allergy Friendly Stir-fry okra and peanuts during pregnancy…


‘Eating peanuts while pregnant cuts child’s risk of allergies’ - hmm! This research study made headlines on Christmas Eve, 2013 in Food Allergy circles. Now, I did eat tons of nuts but it did not help my son escape nut allergies. But, it did help me put on oodles of weight :)) However, one example like me does not a study make and it is definitely good news for all of us!

Dare I complain about the cold with Sochi Olympics in full swing?! Oh well – here in the North East we are getting bombarded by snow storms like never before – the only thing that is keeping me sane is the crackling fire and soul satisfying freshly made Allergy Friendly food in the comfort of my family room. Ye ye – it is bad manners to eat in the family room but try eating in a cold kitchenette when the outside temperature is 0 degrees :D

So, today I welcome you to the warmth of my hearth with my son’s favorite lip smacking allergy friendly okra stir-fry (yup there is more to okra than the deep fried version) and a bowl of warm split mung bean (with skin) soup seasoned with sauteed onions and a dash of paprika (recipe for the soup in my next post)

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Stir-fry Okra

  • Prep time: 30 – 45 minutes
  • Serves : 2

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Allergy Friendly Pigeon Peas Tomato Soup


Brrr – 14 F but the lure of the snow does not allow one to remain indoors…

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A beautiful, brisk hike till my fingers and toes were numb and back into the warm comfort of home…what better time than to whip up a warm bowl of Allergy Friendly Pigeon Peas Tomato soup which is also surprisingly quick to make…Green Brook-20140105-00804

Yield: Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients:

  1. Split Pigeon Peas without skin: ¼ cup (available in any health food store)
  2. Turmeric powder: 1/8 tsp.
  3. Freshly ground 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds + 1/4 tsp. black pepper powder: 1 tsp.  (I like it coarsely ground)
  4. Curry leaves: 4-5 (optional)
  5. Tomatoes: 2 large
  6. Rock Salt
  7. Finely chopped Cilantro: 1 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Pressure cook the pigeon peas with turmeric powder and 1 cup water till completely soft. You can cook directly on stove top too – it will just take longer! (I keep a cooked batch handy in the freezer almost always)
  2. In a heavy bottomed vessel add the cooked pigeon peas and the remaining ingredients. Green Brook-20140105-00799
  3. Add 3-4 times water and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Green Brook-20140105-00801
  4. The flavors of the soup have reached its peak when a whitish red froth forms on the surface – it’s time to switch off the heat. If desired garnish with 1 tbsp. of finely chopped cilantro leaves. Green Brook-20140105-00805
  5. Serve it hot with your favorite allergy friendly bread. For a hearty twist, add 2-3 tbsp. of cooked brown or white rice to the soup.     Green Brook-20140105-00809

Yesss – winter just got better even if you were part of the audience as the 49ers and Green Bay Packers battled it out in Wisconsin’s sub-zero temperatures :)

Allergy Foodie wishes you a ‘Safe Eats’ 2014!


Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy 2014! I rang in the New Year quietly – watching the ball drop over Times Square from the warm comfort of home with my little boy cuddled up next to me and a glass of Conundrum red wine.

It’s at in that mellow moment that some random allergy friendly tips popped into my head which I feel compelled to share with all Food Allergy sufferers and caretakers…I will add more as we cruise through the year!

  1. French Macaron: Did you know that this fancy, brightly colored French confection that has suddenly become omnipresent in the US is not a humdrum flour based cookie with a jelly filling? They are made with Almond flour. I almost gave it to my son since he is no longer allergic to wheat and can even have dairy and eggs in baked items. Of all his allergies – my son is most severely allergic to almonds so you can imagine what an accidental bite might have done to him.
  2. Thai food: The crunchy vegetables and healthy meats seem the right choice but wait…very often this cuisine uses fish or shrimp paste in many of its dishes. Thai cooking also uses Soy, Sesame, Peanuts and Tree Nuts extensively. So, unless you understand the nitty-gritty of Thai food – this is best avoided.
  3. Chinese cuisine: I love Chinese fare but then I don’t have any food allergies. Peanuts, Soy, Sesame and Tree Nuts are an integral part of this cuisine hence better avoided completely even though it is the most easily available food when traveling apart from the quintessential pizza slice!
  4. Indian cuisine: Now this is one cuisine I understand well and that is exactly why it freaks me out. Tree nuts and Peanuts are used in gravies, chutneys in such sneaky ways that it isn’t funny. On top of that dairy, mustard seeds and poppy seeds are used across the board – stay away from Indian or any South Asian dishes unless it is homemade or you understand the prep process completely.
  5. Some other cuisines to watch out for: Definitely Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese – all of them use Soy and Fish extensively
  6. Hidden sources of food allergens: As I have learnt from my readers who have contributed to spreading awareness about flax seed allergy through Allergy Foodie – a food allergen may creep into our lives in insidious ways. An allergen may be present in cosmetics, toiletry, pillows/ cushions, jackets and more. In other words – always be conscious of what you come in contact with.

Safe eats!

Love,                                                                                                                                                      Anu

A family legacy and allergy friendly fryums – Part 2


The warm Saturday afternoon sunshine, family gossip and fryums – life just does not get better. Oh wait, it did get better…the one thing I have loved even as a little girl – a handwoven string of fresh fragrant flowers to adorn the hair. That was my kiddie cousin’s spontaneous gift for me from their kitchen garden ;) India-002

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And the next part of our Allergy Friendly cooking journey continued with ‘Tapioca Pearls Fryums’. What are Tapioca Pearls?  They are white starchy balls (usually 2-3 mm in diameter) made from processed cassava (Manihot esculenta).  Cassava is a shrub that is cultivated in large parts of South America and Asia for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. The starchy part is often referred to as Tapioca. In recent times – it has been made very famous thanks to the tasty and pretty looking bubble tea. Do not confuse Tapioca pearls with Sago pearls – they look very similar and are cooked in similar ways. However, Sago is extracted from the starchy center of various palm trees. 

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A family legacy and allergy friendly Fryums – ‘Part 1′


Merry Christmas to all! Santa loved the Dari-Free chocolate milk and allergy Friendly Chocolate Chip and Sugar cookies. He also left some mighty fine toys for my not so ‘Naughty’ 8 year old :)

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So, on a day that embodies love, family and the spirit of giving I am reminded of my granny and my gorgeous aunt – everyone says I am a splitting image of her so I gotta say she is gorgeous ;) But my aunt and I do share a beautiful camaraderie.

The last memory I have of my beautiful and sprightly grandmother, or avva as all her grand-kids called her is of her sitting on the front porch of our family home in India in a bright green saree and a big bindi waiting to welcome me – her ‘special’ granddaughter. Or, that’s what I believed – she had a way of making each one of her 7 kids and numerous grand-kids feel as if they were important to her in a way no one else could be – shrewd, huh  :)

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Aah – the adoring look cast her husband’s way befitting 50 years of togetherness!

My family likes to believe that I am a chip of the grand old block in terms of courage and zest for life. But, I can never hold a candle to my avva who in her last days was a frail 81 year old woman, back bent with age and life’s travails. Even as her health failed and she could hardly sit up – she was a source of immense strength for each one of us and she has left a void which the entire family has been hard-pressed to fill even after 15 years!

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Allergy Friendly Quinoa dishes – exciting guest post!


This is such an exciting moment for me!! For years – I have hungrily watched my Facebook news feeds fill up with pictures of the many dishes my friend Lakshmi makes for her family. Finally I couldn’t resist it anymore and requested her to write a guest post and she readily obliged and agreed to write a post on Quinoa based dishes. Now AllergyFoodie readers know how much I love nutritious and allergy friendly Quinoa. Just the past year my Holiday gift contained this homemade Allergy Friendly bar… IMG_2701

So, thank you Lakshmi for an awesome post based on a grain that I particularly love despite your hectic schedule. As summer draws to an end in my neck of the woods – a light summery dish bursting with flavor and fresh vegetables…

Allergy Friendly Quinoa dishes – exciting guest post!

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Thanks Anu for asking me to write a guest post for your popular blog – AllergyFoodie. I was introduced to Anu by a common friend 3 years back since I am a caretaker to a food allergic child too and since then have been following her blog and reading all the useful tips and news she keeps us updated with from the world of food allergies. I am yet to meet her but her enthusiastic and exuberant personality just shines through every post. But above all it is her eternal positive spirit that makes the thought of living with multiple food allergies not so tough!

Severe multiple food allergies are extremely tough to handle and we caretakers/ moms go through an inordinately high level of physical and emotional stress on a daily basis. Little wonder that I greatly appreciate people like Anu who invest time and effort to do the research on behalf of so many moms and share that valuable information through the written word and make life a wee bit easier for food allergy sufferers.

My name is Lakshmi Priya Vijayabaskar and am mother to two adorable boys aged 5 1/2 and 31/2 – now, that should give you an idea you how my day begins and never seems to end. I am a full time working mom and when I get back home from work I have a laundry list of chores awaiting me like every other mother. My older one was diagnosed with severe nut and egg allergies at 7 months and from then on we have been avoiding nuts not only for him but for the family as a whole. He is slowly outgrowing his egg allergy – we are able to give him certain baked goods that contain a small quantity of eggs. My younger son showed signs of mild nut allergies in his tests and since he is a sibling of a highly allergic child the Allergist wanted us to wait 1 more year before challenging him.

My kids health and allergies encourage me to explore different cuisines and to choose allergy friendly recipes and since dining out has become less possible I end up cooking most of the time and this exploration has helped me open up creative and smart choices towards food.

In recent times Quinoa has been in the news so much dues to its superior nutritional value that I have consciously tried to adapt it in our regular meals instead of white rice which used to be a staple earlier.

Quinoa with Toasted Vegetables in Cilantro Lime Dressing

Ingredients:

  1.  Quinoa: 1 cup
  2. Onion: 1 (diced)
  3. Red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers: 1 cup (diced)
  4. Black bean: 1/2 cup
  5. Corn: 1/2 cup
  6. Spinach: ½ cup
  7. Juice of 1 Lemon
  8. Chili flakes: 1 tbsp. (You can add jalapeño peppers diced small if you want more of a Mexican spice, i used chili flakes)9. Black pepper powder: ½ tsp.
  9. Few sprigs of cilantro
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Oil: 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp.

Method:

  1. Cook quinoa in 2 cups of water with a little salt and fluff it with a fork to make sure the grains are separate. You can add a tsp. of oil while cooking to avoid grains sticking together.
  2. Place the wok or pan on a high flame and add a tbsp. of oil and add the diced onions and bell peppers and sauté them until the vegetables are cooked to desired level.
  3. Then add the pepper powder and a pinch of salt (adjust with a little salt since you already cooked quinoa with salt) and give it a stir and then add the corn and black bean and spinach and sauté them for a 4-5 minutes. Add the cooked quinoa, combine and toss it with the red chili flakes. Switch off the stove and finally add the juice of a lemon and minced cilantro, mix it well. Serve either hot or cold. Note (if you are having a cold salad then you can top the salad with avocados, shredded carrots, cucumber or any other vegetable of your choice. Quinoa

Quinoa Tomato Pilaf

Tomato quinoa

Ingredients:

  1. Quinoa: 1 cup
  2. Black bean/ white bean/ kidney bean or any other allergy friendly bean to kick up the protein quotient
  3. Large tomato: 1
  4. Large onion: 1
  5. Ginger root: 1 inch, sliced length wise
  6. Mustard seeds: 1 tsp. (optional)
  7. Serrano chilies: 1; cut into two
  8. Turmeric powder: ½ tsp.
  9. Curry powder/ garam masala: 1 tbsp. (Or, simply use paprika/ cumin seed powder)
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Cilantro: a small bunch
  12. Oil: 1 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Heat a tbsp. of oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds after it splutters add the ginger, green chilies and onions and sauté for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
  2. Purée the tomato and add it and cook it until you no longer get the the raw smell.
  3. Add turmeric, curry powder/garam masala and salt to taste.
  4. Add cooked beans
  5. Pour 2 cups water and a cup of quinoa and allow it to cook on medium flame, until the quinoa is cooked perfectly. Garnish with cilantro.

Tip: Both these dishes taste better with a dollop of freshly made dipping sauce. Sprinkle chili flakes atop a cup of chilled plain coconut yogurt. Or, mix the coconut yogurt with 1/4 cup chopped fresh tomatoes or cucumber – yumm!

Walk with ‘FARE’ to eradicate Food Allergies!


Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 children in the United States. FARE works to support research and educate the community to create a safe environment for all food allergy sufferers. FARE also works with organizations worldwide to battle this growing epidemic.

FARE Walk for Food Allergy for 2013 is well under way but there are still many coming up across the country and you can do your bit to help FARE say ‘FARE well to Food Allergies’. I plan to take part in 2 walk this year – yes! One in my home state of NJ and other Las Vegas.

Why should you do it?

Well as the FARE website puts it…

’40% of children with food allergies have already experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylaxis.’

Walk for them…

‘Scientists estimate that as many 15 million Americans are living with food allergies, including about 5.9 million children.’

Walk for them…

And, the returns you get is a healthier you. Not a bad bargain at all :-)

Some walks are right around the corner so put on your walking shoes and head out for a fun and meaningful summer outing…

To register for a walk near you go to FARE Walk for Food Allergy.

Happy Walking to bid FAREwell to Food Allergies!