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



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. 

Continue reading “A family legacy and allergy friendly fryums – Part 2”

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  🙂

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!

Continue reading “A family legacy and allergy friendly Fryums – ‘Part 1’”

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


  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.


  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


  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.


  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!

Water Chestnut Flour Tortillas – AF!

What do you talk to a friend who is an army dude ensconced thousands of miles away in the mountains of northern India. Well, since most topics are ‘classified’ – if you are a couple of foodies albeit one a steak-lover and the other a vegetarian –  and the vegetarian is a mom who is on a constant quest for new, fun and safe things for her boy – you talk ‘food’! One such discussion led to him telling me about the many delicious recipes made using water chestnut flour (not to be confused with chestnut which is a tree nut and an absolute no-no for those with a tree-nut allergy!). This flour has been found to be naturally gluten-free and there is no recorded incidence of allergy to this flour. In India it is also referred to as ‘singoda flour’ and is available in most South Asian grocery stores. It is used extensively in parts of western and eastern India to make pudding, desserts, tortillas, fritters and more. It is also used in other Asian countries as a thickener and to dredge food before frying.

Starting off my series on Water chestnut flour based delicacies with a dish that my friend, Ashwin swears by – Tortillas or ‘parathas’ as they are referred to in large parts of India. This was my first time eating it and in one word…’abso-delish-azing’. Loved the rustic, country feel of this unleavened bread…


Gluten-free and Allergy Friendly Water Chestnut Flour Tortillas


  1. Water chestnut flour/ Singoda flour: 1 cup IMG_1110
  2. Water” Approx. 1/3 cup
  3. Finely chopped cilantro: 1 tbsp. (optional)
  4. Serrano chili (finely chopped): 1 (optional)
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Oil: 5-6 tsp


  1. Mix the flour, salt, cilantro and chilies in a wide vessel.IMG_1112
  2. Add the water slowly and bring the flour together to form a pliable dough. It should not stick to the hand.IMG_1116
  3. Divide it into 6 equal sized balls. In a plate add 1 tbsp of any allergy friendly flour like rice flour or water chestnut flour and roll the balls gently on them till it is coated all over.
  4. Take an 8″ long Saran wrap and lay it flat on a marble board. Place one ball lightly dusted ball in the center and press it down lightly using the edges of your fingers. Place another 8″ long saran wrap atop the ball.IMG_1118
  5. With a rolling pin start rolling the ball into a 6″ – 7″ circle.IMG_1121
  6. Meanwhile heat a cast-iron or non-stick pan on low to medium flame.
  7. Gently peel back the top Saran wrap from the rolled out tortilla.IMG_1122
  8. Now slowly transfer the tortilla with exposed part of the tortilla resting to the palm of your hand. Now peel back the wrap from the bottom and place it in the center of the heated pan.IMG_1123
  9. Cook on each side for a couple of minutes or till it turns a golden brown with brown spots on them. Use about 1 tsp of oil to coat both sides of the tortilla.IMG_1119
  10. Serve immediately as-is or with a chutney of your choice.IMG_1128_1


  • Add 1/4 cup of mixed vegetables like finely chopped spinach, onions, grated carrots.
  • Mash in 1 small boiled potato to help the dough hold together even better.

P.S: Technically, one could be allergic to anything so use caution before trying out any new ingredient by talking to your allergist and/or starting off in small quantities.

8 years of Allergy Friendly Living…

I truly believe that a memorable birthday is one of the best memories you can gift your child. I still remember every birthday party my parents threw  me despite their extremely modest means from the special birthday frock to the cake.  My baby – all of 8 years old and maybe, just maybe even I have to admit that he is a baby no more!

This year he wanted a pirate themed birthday party…


The birthday cake was Homemade Martha Stewart’s Red velvet cupcakes (to ensure zero cross-contamination with nuts) featuring his favorite sport – baseball!

But, for me the best part about his birthday party was when one of his dearest friends who has a severe dairy and egg allergy felt so special because I had made allergy friendly Cherrybrook Farm chocolate cupcakes  and pizza with Daiya mozzarella cheese for her. The child was ecstatic to have her first slice of pizza albeit allergy friendly in her 8 year old life and cupcakes that other kids wanted too!

It has become a tradition for my boy to start off his birthday with a very special breakfast. This year he wanted black beans and cheese grilled sandwich. Yes, now he can eat small quantities of processed dairy products…

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And a ‘Dari-free’ banana berry shake…

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Steps to an awesome Dari-free Berry Shake:


  1. Dari-free: 2 heaping tsps.
  2. Water: 3/4 cup
  3. Banana: 1/2
  4. Berry Mix: 1/2 cup


  1. Prepare Dari-free milk according to directions with the water and dari-free powder. You can use  Oat milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Milk or Hemp milk instead.
  2. Mix the fruits, Dari-free milk and ice in the blender and there you have it…

Of course, his lunch box had to have a special note from mommy…

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And, he has to pick out an outfit from his favorite store, Naartjie! Yes – he is quite the metrosexual little boy who swears by this South African designer because of her attention to detail 😉

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And, then dinner was his first time trying what he had been begging for ages – a steak dinner with steamed broccoli at Uno’s Chicago Grill. Now why does mommy like Uno’s?! Quite simple – they were among the first restaurants in my knowledge which have a detailed ingredient listing and waiters that are aware of the precautions to be taken when ‘food allergy’ is mentioned!

My young man has had such an eventful year where he has thrived despite his multiple food allergies. He has learnt that one does not run away from the ball in soccer as his team went on to win the championship…

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He has learnt to be a graceful loser as his coach pitch team had an undefeated season but went on to lose the championship. Yes – he and his best pal ran off for an ice cream the moment the last game ended 😉 Arjun’s fav allergy-friendly ice cream is the Spongebob Popsicle though he does hate their awful gum ball eyes!

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Yes, he found his love in playing drums – thanks to the awesome atmosphere in School Of Rock


He also has grown to love skateboarding, snowboarding, golfing, basketball, swimming and chess! He is yet to excel at anything but I am convinced he is on the right path because he has found a joy in learning and is passionate about the journey.

Above all he is a goofy child…


Whose mommy loves him to death and wants to make the world a safer place for all food allergy sufferers…


Yes, my son is small compared to his peers in large part because of his food allergies. Numerous studies have shown that children with multiple food allergies tend to be much smaller but thanks to his personal challenges he is blossoming into an aware, thinking and curious child!

Ending this post with his favorite lullaby…’Into my arms, oh Lord‘! Yes – he listens to it three times every night before he falls asleep 🙂 And, with good wishes to everyone out there!