Reprint of my Book Review: The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook

I sometimes write for a new online magazine called It’s Your Life. This month they posted my review of a wonderful book from Square One Publishers that is kid-friendly, but also adult-friendly. Check it out!

Since the direct link to my review I first received did not work, I am reprinting the review here and will post the link when I am sure it works. NOTE: The photos are from the Internet, not the book. Here is the link to the magazine itself for this month: http://www.itsyourlifemag.com/organic-gifts-for-the-holidays/.

 

Holiday time can be especially difficult if you or your child have food allergies. Most snacks and desserts served at holiday meals or at parties are made with wheat, eggs, dairy and sugar (and more), which can cause major problems with digestion and trigger other emotional and physical reactions. Enter Judi and Shari Zucker, twins who have been writing healthy cookbooks since their teens and are now mothers. They have a new cookbook from Square One Publishers entitled THE ULTIMATE ALLERGY-FREE COOKBOOK.

As the Zucker twins note in their first chapter, “Allergies on the Rise,” more than 15 million people in the US have food allergies, and the highest incidence is among children 18 years or younger. In this chapter, they discuss this rise in food allergies, discussing theories based on research, such as the hygiene hypothesis, that is, our tendency to live in a dirt-free world in which germ-fighting is less, the burden that medications and antibiotics add to the burden of our immune systems, and too-early of an introduction to foods that are known to be allergenic  (a controversial theory).

Discussing the difference between food allergy and food intolerance, listing and explaining the eight foods that trigger most allergic responses (peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk and other dairy, eggs, wheat soy, fish, and crustacean shellfish), issues of cross-contamination because manufacturers are not required to state whether or not the food was processed in a plant with other allergenic foods (although many companies do this voluntarily), and food labeling that does require the major allergens be listed.

On pages 10-17 is a terrific guide to avoiding food allergens that is worth the price of the book ($15.95). The top allergens are listed with all the places you can find them often camouflaged under another term, such as hydrolyzed plant or vegetable protein on a label may include peanut protein; all the terms for cow’s milk such as whey, rennet, or lactose; ditto for eggs, such as vitellin and globulin; wheat terms such as seitan, emer, and farina; soy terms and derivatives such as lecithin, miso, okara, and yuba; and finally a list of fish and shellfish including ingredients from these foods found in sushi, roe, and some salad dressings (ex. anchovies).

The chapter ends on a high note, stating that avoiding an allergic food reaction by avoiding the foods and their derivative “doesn’t mean a limited diet of bland, unappealing meals and snacks¾and the delicious choices found in this book will prove it.” (p. 19).  (Recipes are also gluten-free.  Authors recommend oat flour be certified pure oat flour with no presence of wheat or gluten.)

After providing you a second chapter entitled Stocking the Kitchen, in which the authors emphasize organic foods because they are free of chemicals and additives and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), because people with food allergies might react more strongly to these foods that have been altered or cross-pollinated. (Environmental issues are also important to consider, since pesticides and altering foods may not be what Mother Nature intended. es) An organic product labeling section (important sections such as these are printed on a pale green backdrop throughout the book) helps the reader understand some of the confusion surrounding organic labeling.

This is followed with a green-backed section on fats and which “heart healthy” fats the twins use in their recipes.  Chapter 2 also contains an excellent chart on pages 29 and 30, entitled “Ingredient Substitutions for Recipe Adjustments.” The food allergens are listed on the left side of  the column, with substitutions in the middle column, and best uses at the end of the column. For example, potato puree is listed as a substitute for cream (dairy allergen) to be used as a thickener in soups and sauces.

From Chapters 3 to 9 the twins have done an incredible job of providing recipes that could be in any cookbook, allergy free or not. From Drinkable Delights (3) to Desserts and Treats (9) your child will not feel deprived. (And if you have food allergies, you will want to try them, too. And even if you don’t have allergies, the recipes will appeal to you.)

Here are a couple of recipes to tempt you.  The ingredients are conveniently listed in a green-backed box, the directions are listed in the body of the recipe, and variations are noted at the bottom of the recipe in a section called Change it Up. First, from Chapter 3 on Smoothies:

Berry Coconut Smoothie
Very “coco nutty” and berry berry good!
(Organic is the best choice. es)                                                      

1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup vanilla-flavored coconut yogurt
¾ cup water
6 ice cubes

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and the ice is well crushed.
  3. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings (about 8 ounces each)

(After this recipe is a chart called Create-a Smoothie that mixes and matches the juices, whole fruits, thickeners and natural sweeteners that you can use to create your own smoothies using your favorite allergy-free ingredients.)


From Chapter 9 on Desserts and Treats:

Celery Boats
Kids especially love this easy-to-prepare snack      

8 celery stalks, cut in half
¾ cup sunflower seed butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
raisins* to garnish (*use organic-es)

  1. Add the cinnamon to the sunflower seed butter, and stir well. Spoon or pipe the mixture into celery halves.
  2. Garnish with raisins before serving.

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

Change it Up…

  • Fill the “celery” boats with Mummy’s Yummy Hummus (page 50+) instead of sunflower butter.
  • If nuts are not an allergen concern, substitute almond, cashew, or other nut butter for the sunflower butter.

+Hummus is a traditional recipe using chickpeas olive oil, cumin and garlic.


THE ULTIMATE ALLERGY-FREE COOKBOOK by Judi and Shari Zucker contains more than 150 easy-to-make recipes that contain no milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, or shellfish. In soft-cover, 184 pages, it can be found in bookstores and online for $15.95.

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