Monday, December 31, 2012

Warming Up with Soup

by Kelley Lindberg

Winter is a great time for curling up with the ultimate comfort food: a big, steamy bowl of soup. It’s even more comforting when you don’t have to make it from scratch! With food allergies, that can be challenging.

So I was happy to find a line of soups from Boulder Soup Works that are free from eggs, shellfish, fish, wheat, peanuts, soy, sesame, and gluten. The founder, Kate Brown, was eating a gluten-free diet when she founded the company, so she decided that all of the soups her company made should be gluten-free. “We realized the need for a gluten-free soup with dairy-free options, as consumers in our area are highly cognizant of food-related challenges,” says Kate. Over half of their soup flavors are vegan or vegetarian varieties, too.

Their soup comes in a variety of flavors. Some of their soup flavors contain milk and casein (Roasted Tomato Basil, Potato Leek, and White Bean with Tomato). The other flavors don’t contain milk as an ingredient. However, all of their soups contain a “made in a facility that processes tree nuts and dairy” warning. When I spoke to a representative, she said the only tree nut in their facility is coconut – and it’s only an ingredient in two of the varieties (Carrot Coconut with Ginger, and Red Lentil Dahl). Because my son isn’t allergic to coconut, I would be fine serving this soup to him. However, when I asked the representative about dairy contamination, she said the Boulder Soup Works factory uses good manufacturing processes, but she obviously couldn’t guarantee that there would be no risk of dairy contamination (if she could, they wouldn’t need that warning).

In the mood for something a little out of the ordinary, I picked up some of their Red Lentil Dahl soup to take to a party where several of the party-goers are eating gluten-free diets, and they all loved the mild curry flavor and tasty texture. All the soup varieties from Boulder Soup Works are fresh and made with local, organic ingredients, and they don’t use preservatives or artificial ingredients. You can find them in tubs (not cans!) in the refrigerator case at Whole Foods in Salt Lake City.

To read more about why Kate Brown started making gluten-free, fresh soup, see the article “Boulder Soup Works Brings Fresh Soup to Grocery Stores.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hope for This Season of Light

by Kelley Lindberg

I wrote this a few years ago, but I decided to dust it off and repost it, because it still sums up my wishes for us all in this season of light. Best wishes to you and your family, wherever you are.
The season of light is upon us.
Earlier this month, we celebrated Chanukah, when Jews light the candles on their menorahs to celebrate the miracle of a sacred lamp burning steadily in the reclaimed temple for eight days on only a single day’s worth of oil. Christmas is tomorrow, when candles everywhere will be lit to welcome the newborn Prince of Peace to earth. Kwanzaa starts on Wednesday, with candles for Kwanzaa’s seven guiding principles. Last Friday was the winter solstice, and drum circles and candles said good-bye to the shortest day of the year and welcomed the lengthening hours of sunlight. In another week, the New Year will arrive in a shower of booming fireworks.
In the middle of our darkest times of winter, we use candles and fireworks to restore light and remind us that the darkness will not last. The cold will give way to warmth. The ice will thaw. The spring will come. Leaves will bud and flowers will bloom. And we light candles to show we remember, we believe, and we will persevere until light spreads around us once again.
Last week, I was outside at my mailbox when I heard a flock of geese approaching. We live near a bird refuge, so geese are forever flying overhead, even in the winter. I stopped and waited to see them as they came up over the house across the street. It was a small flock. There were nine geese.
And one seagull.
The seagull was white and shining in the sun, almost glowing beside the darker, larger bodies of the geese. But the seagull appeared to be a welcome member of the flock. He soared and glided in the middle of the others, keeping perfect time and formation with them. As one, the entire flock, including the seagull, curved into a turn and headed for the mountains, finally disappearing in the distance. There was no honking protest. There were no missed wing beats. There seemed to be nothing but comfortable acceptance. The seagull was simply a member of the flock – whether temporary or permanent, I don’t know, but it was clear he was welcome. Adding the seagull didn’t diminish the flock – it enhanced it, adding a quiet splash of sunlight to a routine flight of noisy shadows.
It was a lovely thing to see. If nature can make acceptance look that easy and beautiful, perhaps all hope is not lost for us human beings after all.
So my wish in this season of light is this – that we all find, somewhere in our hearts, the capacity to welcome each other’s light into our little shadowed worlds, because there is strength in numbers and beauty in new colors. And strength and beauty are good things to keep close as we push through the cold months ahead.
May the lights of the season be yours. Merry everything!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Educating Nannies about Food Allergies

by Kelley Lindberg

Part of what makes living with food-allergic children challenging is trusting the people who care for our children when we are away. Teachers, day care workers, babysitters… they all hold our children’s lives in their hands and act as surrogate parents when we are unavailable.

Making sure those caregivers are informed about how to avoid your child’s food allergens and prepared to act quickly to an accidental exposure is critical. Fortunately, awareness has been growing dramatically over the last decade, to the point where food allergies are becoming an important topic even in online communities that aren’t food-allergy-centric.

For example, I recently met Sarah Tucker online, who runs a blog for nannies: She let me know about a blog post she wrote last week that instructs nannies on the importance of learning about their charges’ food allergies. She also includes several helpful tips on avoiding allergens not just in the child’s home, but at playdates or restaurants, too.

You can read her post at “What Nannies Need to Know AboutFood Allergies.”

People like Sarah are helping keep our smallest generation of food-allergic loved ones safe by making sure that nannies everywhere are informed and prepared. If you know a nanny, babysitter, or day-care provider, be sure you let them know about Sarah’s blog. It’s an extra helping hand for a stressful situation, and we can all appreciate that!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Allergy-Free Gingerbread Houses and Cookies

by Kelley Lindberg

It’s rapidly becoming the time of year when gingerbread houses and gingerbread men (and their assorted wives, children, neighbors, dogs, and lawn furnishings) make their appearance. Traditional gingerbread recipes are full of common allergens, so I updated my list from last year of allergy-safe recipes for those days when you have entirely way too much creative energy and time on your hands. (Yeah, right. We can all hope.)

Allergy-Free Gingerbread House Kit from Sensitve Sweets
If you’re in the mood to go all Habitat for Gingerbread Humanity on your family, here are a few places to jumpstart your allergy-free baking frenzy:
And if you don’t have time for baking, but still feel compelled to glue candy to a house (and who doesn’t?), here are a couple of fantastic no-bake options:
  • The Candy Cottage has a snap-together plastic gingerbread house that lets you add your favorite icing and candy without the time-consuming baking. Nice! You can even wash off the decorations and use it again next year. Many thanks to Michelle Fogg (UFAN’s fearless president) for finding this one.
  • Sensitive Sweets has an Allergy-free Gingerbread House Kit that uses pre-baked gingerbread pieces, and you can order it with or without allergy-free candy from Surf Sweets. The kit is free from nuts, gluten, soy, egg, and dairy. Cool, hunh?
Looking for safe candy to use for decorations? Depending on your allergens (check all labels for ingredients), try Necco wafers, Chex cereal or Frosted mini-wheats for roofing, Smarties (I like to stack them, wrappers and all, to look like firewood or logs on a gingerbread train car), Dum-Dums, Spangler’s candy canes, Bob’s Sweet Stripes Soft Mint Candies (red & white peppermints), Bakers & Chefs Starlight Mints, Skittles, Starburst, your favorite safe fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups, Haribo gummy bears, Jolly Ranchers, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ikes, Dots, Life Savers, rock candy, candy sticks (those swirly candy sticks that they used to sell in general stores – maybe the ones at Cracker Barrel are safe?), or sticks of safe chewing gum.
Enjoy your new Home Sweet Gingerbread Home!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Allergy-Free Cookies for National Cookie Day!

by Kelley Lindberg

Good news! This week we get to celebrate National Cookie Day! That’s right, December 4 is National Cookie Day, a time when we come together to remember all those cookies that have made a difference in our life. After all, where would we be without them?

In honor of this most venerable of holidays, I blew the dust off my recipe box and went on a treasure hunt for one of my son’s favorite cookie recipes. I got this recipe for Cherry Cookies from the Salt Lake Tribune several years ago, and it’s credited to Pam Pettigrew. Of course, I had to make a few alterations to make it allergy-friendly. It does contain coconut and wheat flour (although you can probably substitute your favorite gluten-free flour), and there’s corn syrup in the maraschino cherries (maybe you could try a safe cherry preserves if you're avoiding corn?). My son and his friends love them.

Do you have a favorite allergy-friendly cookie recipe you’d be willing to share? Post it in the comments (or post a link to its website if your favorite recipe is online) and please give credit to the source where you found it, or tell us if you invented it yourself!

Remember, as you’re baking cookies for National Cookie Day, bake up an extra batch or two (or three!) and put them in the freezer for all those holiday parties, co-worker gifts, and neighbor gifts that are coming up. Cookies freeze really well, assuming you have any left over to freeze. That doesn’t happen often in my house.

And one more tip: Don’t have time to bake? There are allergy-friendly cookies on the market now, like those from Enjoy Life Foods (available at Whole Foods and other markets). If you have a favorite allergy-friendly store-bought cookie, share that with us, too!

Thanks for sharing your favorite recipes. Hope you enjoy this one, and have a happy National Cookie Day!

Cherry Cookies

(source: Pam Pettigrew, with modifications by Kelley Lindberg)
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c safe shortening
  • 1 egg substitute *(see below)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T rice milk
  • 1/2 c. maraschino cherries, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. shredded, sweetened coconut
*(For an egg substitute, I like to use Ener-G egg replacer, but I’ve also used 1 tsp baking powder mixed with 1 T white vinegar and 1 T water, and that works great, too. I haven’t tried using 1/4 c. applesauce, but that might work, also. Use whichever egg substitute you prefer when baking.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add shortening, egg substitute, vanilla, and rice milk and mix well. Stir in cherries and coconut. Drop by spoonful on cookie sheet. (I like to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper so the cookies slide right off.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.