What does a young mother do when she discovers that both her young children are highly allergic to several different foods? Most of us would seek the help of a professional in the field, but how many of us would write a cookbook to address multiple food allergy issues? Enter Cybele Pascal, mother of Lennon and Montgomery, who did just that. With the support of her husband Adam and guidance from her sons’ allergist, Dr. Christine Fusillo, Pascal has produced a labor of love called The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, which contains 200 gourmet and homestyle recipes for the food allergic family.
Dr. Fusillo has written a very helpful Foreword for the book that explains what causes an allergy. In a nutshell, Dr. Fusillo says that: “The cause of an allergy is an overactive immune system” which is due to an excess amount of antibody E. It is the job of the immune system to create antibodies that attack infections while limiting cell damage. However, excess antibody E is a classic case of “too much of a good thing”. There is no way to control the amount of antibodies your immune system creates, as it is genetic condition. Dr. Fusillo delves deeper into this topic and discusses options for parents with allergic children.
After discussing the many recommendations currently being explored, the good doctor thanks Cybele Pascal for her taking the issue and offering at least a partial solution—cooking food that Dr. Fusillo recommends to parents and people with food allergies.
A sincere and informative introduction by the author explains the motivation behind this cookbook, which was due to her children’s food allergies and constant battle with health issues. Cybele explores both her and her husband’s family medical histories looking for explanations and insight into their children’s health. After that, an impressive book of recipes and menu ideas follow the powerful introduction from Mom Cybele.
An educational How to Use This Book section from the author clearly distinguishes her cookbook from one that provides gluten-free recipes. As she explains, a “food intolerance (i.e. gluten intolerance) means that the body lacks the ability or the enzymes to digest that particular food, whereas a food allergy involves an immune system response” (p. xvii).
Even if you are not a person with allergies, the recipes are worth your consideration because they are whole food recipes, that is, foods in their basic, natural state without being highly processed (think Pop-Tarts) or minimally processed (think mashed potatoes from real potatoes, not potato flakes). As Pascal notes, organically grown whole foods have their nutrients intact. Finally, she notes that the recipes are not complicated or take excessive time to prepare, which is a boon to busy mothers with or without allergic children. Some of the main dishes do use several ingredients, but the dishes themselves are not complicated.
The bulk of the book consists of the 200 recipes that follow in this 210-page cookbook. The recipes are divided into five sections: breakfast, lunch, dinner, sweet things and after school snacks. There are also metric conversions charts, an appendix, resources and a bibliography to help you learn more about food allergies. Most importantly, there is a section simple called Whole Foods, explaining what whole foods actually means, followed by a list of foods that the author uses to create meals free of the foods her sons are allergic to and that are the basis for the recipes.
This “comprehensive” food allergy cookbook is published by Square One Publishers and costs $18.95 or about 10 cents per recipe. A true bargain!
Here are samples of the quick recipes for you to try:
Author’s Note: Avocados are one of my favorite foods, and y son Lennon seems to have inherited the love. When all else fails, I feed him guacamole. It’s great as a dip or on a sandwich.
2 medium-sized ripe avocados
¼ cup finely minced onion
2 tsp. minced jalapeno pepper (about ½ a small pepper)
2 Tbsp. lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tsp. chopped cilantro (or parsley)
Halve the avocados. Remove pits. Carefully cut avocado into strips lengthwise, then crosswise, making a checkerboard pattern. Scoop out avocado into a bowl. Add minced onion, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Combine, gently mashing the avocado, but not too much—it’s good a little chunky. Taste. Add salt if necessary. Serve on a sandwich, with Mexican food, with tortilla chips, over grilled chicken, etc. If not using right away, gently press pits into guacamole to stop it from browning, and refrigerate tightly until ready to serve.
Makes about one cup.
Author’s Note: This spread is good as a dip, on crackers, or in a sandwich. I like it on toasted pumpernickel bagel with sliced ripe tomato and coarse cracked pepper. It’s also very good on pasta, used like a pesto—in which case, you’ll want to thin it with a little olive oil.
1 13.75-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
½ cup wheat-free breadcrumbs
2 tsp. capers and their juice
¼ cup green olives
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
½ cup oliveoil
fresh ground pepper
Puree all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Makes about 1 ½ cups