Pheww – I have been exercising my grey cells overtime the past few weeks to come up with a momentous 100th post for Allergy Foodie! My mind raced over the past few years since Arjun was born and I was unceremoniously thrown into the world of multiple food allergies – it is a kaleidoscope of people who have helped make this journey a joyous one despite the travails.
That’s when it suddenly dawned on me…a parent/caretaker alone cannot keep a child safe! A lot of people contribute through big and small actions to make the life of a food allergic child joyous – family, friends, teachers and more. In fact, I would go a step further and say that it is impossible to raise a healthy and confident food allergic child without society’s help.
In my mind, the one person who stands ‘tall’ amidst them is my niece who was but a child herself when Arjun was born. The 9 year old would get up at 6 am despite her summer vacations just to see a 4 month old Arjun cackling with laughter. Since then a life-long bond of love, laughter, empathy and friendship was forged between these two cousins. So, this special post is dedicated to Soumya on her 16th birthday.
If I were to pick one person to take care of Arjun’s food in my absence, it would be her because she has taken it upon herself to know exactly what he is allergic to and how to read the ingredient statement. A few years back, the two of them were decorating a gingerbread house over Christmas with friends. I skimmed over the ingredient list of the icing and deemed it safe for Arjun to eat a couple of spoons. My niece kept asking me if I was sure and made me go through the list again. Oh boy – was she right! It contained egg whites and within minutes Arjun’s lips swelled up and he started throwing up. Thank god – it was not more serious than that but from then on – ‘I listen to her!’
That being said – another person who plays an equally big role in Arjun’s life is Soumya’s big sis Shruti who, I can totally rely on to take care of any emergency. Between the two of them – they make Arjun feel safe in a way only siblings can…
So many of Arjun’s childhood moments were first experienced with his beloved Soumya…pillow fight, tents, kiddie science experiments, making a snowman, sledding, summer fun – waterpark, beach et al, trick-or-treating and so much more!
She has helped my 6-year old gain confidence and feel loved in so many ways.
…when she found Arjun’s allergy-friendly dishes very tasty – it gave him the confidence that his food might be different but no less tasty than regular food.
…she is the one who has taught my shy little one how to make friends in a new school.
…to celebrate her 16th birthday, she wanted a movie-date exclusively with Arjun. So, Arjun went without his mom for the first to see Lorax and he wasnt scared because his big sis was with him. How special is that!!!
…she has been instrumental in making me realize that I should not let Arjun have an easy pass on other things just because of his allergies. That has definitely put him on the path of being strong despite limitations rather than being the object of pity.
…incidentally, she is also one of Allergy Foodie’s most ardent supporters 🙂
There is so much more I could write but then this would cease being a ‘post’ and become a book instead!
She has learnt a lot in the process too – she saw for the first time in her young life that life could be tough. I still cannot forget her eyes brimming with tears as she saw Arjun strapped up to the hospital bed for a medical procedure. But, she fought back those tears and read him books and played board games with him instead.
To celebrate my 100th post a dish bursting with energy, colors, nutrients and the spirit of fresh Spring seemed appropriate so here is – ‘Allergy Friendly Rösti with a layered salad’. The dish looks so elaborate, festive and gourmet that it almost comes as a surprise that it is so easy to put together. Above all – it is just the kind of dish that my niece and son would love too…
Now, what is a Rösti?! As epicurious.com puts it a rösti [RAW-stee, ROOSH-tee] is: In Switzerland rösti means “crisp and golden.” The term refers to foods (today, usually shredded potatoes) sautéed on both sides until crisp and browned. Rösti potatoes are pressed into a flattened pancake shape while browning. Instead of just using potatoes to make an allergy friendly rösti, we will uuse a medley of vegetables to kick up the nutrition quotient.
Rösti with layered salad
For the rösti:
- 4 medium sized potatoes (yukon gold works well)
- 10 beans stringed and cut into small pieces
- 1 medium carrot, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup spinach cut finely
- 2 tbsp Rice Flour
- Paprika powder
- 1/2 tsp: Cumin powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Coriander powder (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Oil to pan fry (approximately 2 tbsp)
For the salad:
- 1 large carrot grated
- 1/2 cucumber (preferably seedless) cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup cooked corn (use frozen corn)
- 1 cup sprouts (mung bean sprouts work especially well)
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 large tomato cut into small cubes.
- 2 very thinly sliced serrano chilis or 1 very thinly sliced jalapeno.
- 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1/4 tsp Cumin powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp Paprika powder (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Any allergy-friendly crunchies (I used rice and lentil chips)
- Boil and peel the potatoes. Cook the cut carrots and beans either with the potatoes or separately.
- Mix the cooked veggies, chopped spinach and other dry ingredients for the rosti and make a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll it into a smooth ball and gently press it down into a 1/2 inch thick disc.
- Heat a shallow frying pan or skillet (preferably cast-iron) on medium heat. Use a brush to spread oil on the pan evenly.
- When the pan is hot, place 4-6 Röstis in the center of the pan and cook till a beautiful golden brown – about 3-4 minutes.
- Flip it and press down lightly. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.
- Keep the cooked Röstis aside.
- When ready to serve, form an assembly line of all the salad items that you would like to top the Röstis with. Start by placing 3-4 Röstis in an individual serve salad bowl.
- Now start layering all the salad vegetables in any order atop the Röstis. Finsh it off with a sprinkle of paprika, cumin powder and salt. Finally, top it with an allergy friendly crunchy of your choice.
Apart from the toppings that I have used, a few other toppings that work great are:
- Grated lettuce
- Grated beetroot
- Grated radish
- Diced peppers (red, yellow, orange. yellow)
- Any beans like kidney beans, black beans etc.
- Pour 1/2 tsp of lemon or lime juice in the end
- Instead of lemon juice, add 1/2 tsp tamarind juice and/ or coriander chutney
Finally my longest post to date comes to an end with – ‘Thank you to all the people who have made a conscious effort to make Arjun and my life easier…family, friends, teachers and even strangers!’