Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Let Food Allergies Ruin Your Holiday Feast: A Few Delicious Options

The holiday season is here. Time to deck the halls, trim the tree, and most importantly, fire up the oven. For most Americans, the holidays mean chestnuts roasting on an open fire, homemade pumpkin pie, and turkey with all the trimmings. But what if you must cook for a family plagued with food allergies? What if you have one yourself? Does your holiday feast have to be a bland, flavorless affair? And if not, is it inevitable that you (or someone) must suffer the decidedly unfestive fate of being stuck at a dinner table full of foods that you can't enjoy?

Of course not, says food allergy expert Terry Traub. She insists that your annual family feast doesn't have to diminish your holiday spirit. For people who must live with food allergies or for the families who must prepare safe, nutritious meals for them, all it takes is the right recipe and a little bit of planning to create a dinner that is both delicious and safe.

"The trick to cooking allergy-free is not to make a separate meal for the family member who is allergic," says Traub, author of the new book Food to Some, Poison to Others: The Food Allergy Detection Program (Frederick Fell Publishers, July 2008, ISBN: 978-0-8839117-1-6, $14.95). "The secret is to find safe recipes that the whole family can enjoy. No one should spend her entire holiday cooking separate meals for everyone. Find something that works for each family member, and everyone at your table will leave happy and satiated."

Traub speaks from personal holiday cooking experience. A dental hygienist and the mother of two sons with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) and one with lactose intolerance, she wrote her book and created her website——to help families and individuals who struggle with food allergies.

The first step, of course, is getting educated. Traub's book helps people to figure out what's causing their distressing symptoms—food allergies can take the form of runny nose, coughing, asthma, itchy throat, diarrhea, abdominal pain, excessive sweating, mucus in the chest, eczema, constipation, and/or vomiting—and provides a wealth of recipes, pantry lists, and meal-planning menus to combat the condition.

Once you've eliminated the offending foods from your diet, you're free to start focusing on the delicious, nutritious meals you can enjoy. And now, as we gather 'round the table for another holiday season, it's the perfect time to try out some new recipes.

"People commonly assume that cooking allergy-free is complicated or more time-consuming than preparing traditional recipes," says Traub. "But all it really takes is being aware of the right ingredients and having a cooking schedule that works for you. If you do your shopping and prep work ahead of time, you can spend more time enjoying your family over the holiday season and less time fretting over the stove."

The best part? Your guests will never know the difference. "Cooking allergy-free doesn't mean sacrificing taste or quality," explains Traub. "I've even found that my guests often prefer the meals that I've prepared with gluten-free ingredients to those that don't. The holidays are about family—and the meals you share during this time of year are special. Making sure that it's a time that everyone can enjoy safely is worth more than every gift underneath the tree."

# # #

About the Author:

Terry Traub has been in the health field for 37 years. She is a practicing Registered Dental Hygienist with a degree in Public Health. She has two sons, both with Celiac Disease, and her husband has shown symptoms of Celiac in the last two years. Her younger son also has lactose intolerance.

Terry's first book, The Food Allergy Detection Program, was written in response to the trauma the family went through trying to detect what her boys were allergic to. Their predicament made her aware that other children and adults may have problems similar to her sons. Terry developed an elimination diet to isolate the allergens causing these problems. However, unlike other elimination diets, her method was in recipe form, not just a list of foods to avoid. Also, unlike the elimination diets of the time, she stayed away from any saturated fats during the diet as these can be difficult to digest.

Terry's new book, Food to Some, Poison to Others, is an expanded version of the first book. While primarily it is still an elimination diet, more has been added to the book. The book recognizes the problems with GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and changes the way the food is prepared to help with these diseases. The new book also has a chapter entitled "On the Road," which gives tips and advice on eating out.

About the Book:

Food to Some, Poison to Others: The Food Allergy Detection Program (Frederick Fell Publishers, July 2008, ISBN: 978-0-8839117-1-6, $14.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and from all major online booksellers.

For more information, please visit

Holiday Recipes from Terry Traub
A few preliminary notes:
1) Anything designated with AF means the recipe or item is dairy-free (no cow's milk), egg-free, corn-free, and gluten-free (no wheat flour or other gluten flour).
2) Gluten-free bread is heavy flour bread. Traub favors the commercial ones that are freshly sealed, but watch out for egg whites in these breads. If you are not positive about egg allergies, you need to stay with the pure rice breads. The best tasting breads are the homemade breads. All of the homemade breads contain egg whites.


One 12-pound organic turkey

Kosher salt

Sorghum flour found at health food stores or

Rice flour

Potato starch

Xanthan gum found at health food stores, organic stores, or

8 sea scallops

1 pound organic cured or uncured turkey bacon (my favorite is Trader Joe's uncured)

Shallots, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes (If you are unable to get organic veggies, buy a pesticide and wax remover. You can find products like this, such as Environné, in the produce department of your grocery store.)

1 loaf homemade gluten-free bread—mix available at select stores, health food stores, and organic stores (for corn-free, use tapioca bread from Ener-g)

Rice milk and/or soy milk

Organic canned pumpkin


2 Weeks Ahead: Order organic turkey

1 Week Ahead: Buy vegetables and supplies

3 Days Ahead: Pick up organic turkey

2 Days Ahead: Make gluten-free bread and gravy

1 Day Ahead: Make chiffon pie

1 Day Ahead: Brine turkey

1 Day Ahead: Chop vegetables


Turkey Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

AF (dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, gluten-free)

1/4 cup olive oil

8 large sea scallops, cut into four 1-inch chunks each

8 turkey bacon slices*

1/4 cup sorghum flour

Place flour in shallow bowl. Roll cubed scallops in flour and place to the side on wax paper. On cutting board, slice each turkey bacon strip in half, first horizontally, then vertically. Each bacon strip will make 4 thin slices. Wrap turkey bacon slice around each scallop. Secure with toothpick. Heat 12-inch skillet with olive oil to medium-high heat; place bacon-wrapped scallops into skillet. Cook turning the scallops for 20 minutes or until all areas of the scallops are lightly brown and the bacon is cooked. Serve warm.

Makes 32 appetizers

*I like uncured (unsalted) turkey bacon, because there are no added nitrates or nitrites. Trader Joe's uncured turkey bacon is great! But it spoils faster, so I divide the package and freeze the other half.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Instructions for brining turkey: Because the organic turkey is not processed like a commercial turkey, we need to brine our turkey. Pre-wash turkey and clean out cavities. Save neck and other portions for gravy. In a 5-gallon container, containing 1 to 2 gallons of water, place 1 cup kosher salt (3/4 cup if using Morton Kosher) and 1 cup sugar. Dissolve salt and sugar thoroughly. Place turkey into container and cover for 24 hours. This may take up a great deal of room in your refrigerator. Remove turkey from container. Let turkey drain upside down for 30 to 45 minutes.

Cooking turkey: We are not stuffing the turkey. The stuffing dries out the bird. If you are barbecuing the turkey, no basting is necessary; follow instructions. The "Weber Barbecue" turkey instruction is the best. If using an oven, baste the turkey with milk-free, corn-free margarine and follow instructions for a 12-pound turkey.

Savory Chicken (Turkey) Stuffing

AF (dairy-free, egg-free*, corn-free**, gluten-free)

1 loaf homemade, day-old, gluten-free bread, crust removed, cubed

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

3/4 to 1 cup chicken stock* or organic chicken broth

2 tablespoons margarine, melted, dairy-free, corn-free

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Slice bread and let it dry out for 2 hours. Cut bread into cubes and put into bowl. In saucepan, place oil and heat. Add onion and celery, sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until onions are transparent. Cool slightly and add to bread cubes. Add liquids, margarine, and spices. Mix together and put into 2-quart casserole dish, cover. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with gravy and turkey.

Corn-free**: Use Ener-g tapioca bread for corn-free stuffing

Serves 8

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

T (testing for eggs, dairy-free, corn-free, gluten-free)

3 eggs, separated 6 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup cold water

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin 1/2 cup rice milk

1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 envelope unflavored gelatin Baked 8-inch rice pie shell

Whipped topping (optional: can contain corn or soy)

Beat egg yolks and brown sugar until thick; add pumpkin, milk, salt, and spices. Cook mixture in double boiler until thick. Meanwhile, let gelatin stand 5 minutes in cold water, then stir into hot mixture. When dissolved, cool mixture until it begins to set. Beat egg whites until fluffy and gradually add the 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until quite stiff. Fold egg whites mixture into pumpkin mixture. Pour mixture into baked pie crust and chill. Serve with whipped topping if desired.

Pie crust:

3/4 cup rice flour 1 tablespoon potato starch

1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 egg beaten 4 tablespoons margarine, milk-free, corn-free

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place aside an 8-inch pie pan. In medium bowl, beat egg and margarine. In another bowl, mix rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, sugar, and salt. Add to egg mixture. Gently stir until blended. Place on rice-floured parchment paper. Sprinkle rice flour over mixture and cover with another piece of parchment paper. With rolling pin, roll out dough larger than the pie pan. Fold the dough over on the parchment paper. Place on one half of the pie pan. Now unroll the other piece. Seal edges with fingertips. Bake for 20 minutes on lower rack in oven.

Serves 8

Note: Sometimes the rice mixture will fall apart if you roll it. You can also hand-press the mixture into the pie pan.

1 comment:

Ben Saur said...

I found a great new website: that lets you search their database of recipes and filter out specific food allergies and dietary restrictions. It is a great resource.