Monday, December 2, 2013

...Packages Tired up with String. These are a few of my favorite things.

Mostly I eat food that do not come in a package. I eat a low-sulfur, low preservative diet; however, I do eat some things that have a brand and come in a package that do not make me sick. Here are a few of my current favorites:

Walker Shortbread Cookies
These have butter, sugar, and flour in them. That's it! They are currently available in cool holiday shapes.

Ghirardelli Gourmet Milk Chocolate
This is one of the riskier packaged foods that I eat, but it is so good! These bars contain sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, unsweetened chocolate, milk fat, soy lecithin, and vanilla. That is a longer ingredient list than I usually digest, but did I mention that this is chocolate? My favorite way to eat the delicious squares in the place one on the Walker Shortbread Cookies and eat it like an open faced sandwich. Mmmmm...

Zeiglers Organic Apple Cider
This is a new product for me that my local organic market started selling. Its ingredients include the following: apples. Yep, that's it. I called the company to find out if anything else is possibly added at any point, and the nice woman who called me back says that the bottles have apples in them--nothing else. She even called her bottle manufacture to make sure they didn't add anything.

Plain Chobani, Oikos, and Taste of Inspirations Greek Yogurt
I eat a lot of yogurt. Usually I add a bit of local honey to a plain greek yogurt that contains no flavors or thickeners.

Organic Valley Grassmilk
My local organic market has recently been selling "Grassmilk." The flavor is deliciously fresh and creamy. I'd read that milk from grass fed cows has less harmful fat than milk from grain fed cows. I'm not sure how valid those studies are, but the milk sure tastes good.

King Author Brand Flour (All Purpose and Bread)
This is the flour from which my husband's glorious yeasty confections arise.

Friendship Farmer Cheese
This is a fresh cheese that resembles a low moisture ricotta. I think that it is pretty low in sulfur because it didn't make me sick when I made a lasagna with it.

Nancy's Cultured Cream Cheese
Really, really delicious cream cheese make the old-fashioned way before Kraft. I made a cheesecake with it, but it's also great on crackers.

McCann's Quick & Easy (5 minute) Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
The Quick & Easy style doesn't take as long as the original, but provides the same texture as the original (not the complete mush of the instant). Do not try cooking it in the microwave even though it has directions for microwaving on the label. There was less oatmeal in the bowl than on the sides of the microwave. I like to add honey, butter, and banana chunks to mine.

Food Lion Nature's Place All Natural Chicken
This chicken tastes good and is always available at one of the local Food Lions. I admit that it is not as good as the Amish organic chicken that my local organic market sells or the organic Farm Fresh chicken, but it has the advantage of always being on the shelf. It is nice being able decide, "I want chicken for dinner," and actually be able to go out and by chicken, while Farm Fresh and the organic market were often sold out. Another bonus is that this chicken doesn't seem to make me ill.

Aquafina Bottled Water
A lot of bottled water contains sulfur. Spring water can pick it up naturally by flowing through sulfur rocks. Some companies (Coke) add sulfur to bottled water. Aquafina seems to have a low enough sulfur level to not make me sick. Plus it tastes much better than distilled water. I've been reading about sulfur in tap water and water filters that add sulfur, so I'm back on bottled water until I do more research on that subject.

Whole Food Bulk Mozzarella
One summer I got sick and wasn't getting better. After a while, my husband and I figured out that the store brand of mozzarella cheese had changed. We also noticed that it was taking much longer to go bad in the refrigerator. I think the company started adding sulfur to preserve the cheese, and it was making me sick. We switched to eating cheese in the ball form, and I got better. My husband uses the cheese to make pizza, and I use it to make lasagna and steak and cheese subs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Really Simple Allergy Friendly Apple Stuffing

I caved. I know that I said I wasn’t making stuffing this year, but I love it too much to forgo it even though it is a lot of work. Instead of giving up the stuffing, I simplified my recipe a bit and did not make the cornbread this year, making it with only two types of bread that I already had in my freezer.

5 cups of cubed bread*
1 green apple, diced
1 red apple, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
½ cup cooked sausage, diced or crumbled*
1 to 4 cups quality chicken or turkey broth*
Salt and pepper to taste*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange bread cubes on a large baking sheet. Place bread and oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 200 degrees and prop the oven door open. Dry the bread this way for about 30 minutes or until no longer moist.
  2.  Meanwhile, sauté the apple in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the apples are slightly soft. Add the sausage and cook until warm. Turn down the heat to low and add the remaining olive oil or butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix the apple mixture and the bread cubes together in a large bowl until the bread cubes are oily.  Add one to two cups of the broth and allow the mixture to rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. After one hour, add 1/3 cup more broth if the mixture isn’t soft yet. Stir and allow the mixture to rest in the refrigerator for another hour. Continue adding broth 1/3 cup at a time and waiting an hour until the bread cubes are no longer hard. My most recent batch took 2 2/3 cups broth, but each batch will be different based on the kind of bread used and how dry the bread was before adding the liquid.
  4. Once the stuffing has reached the desired moisture level. Oil or butter a baking pan and press the stuffing into the baking pan. If you have an olive oil sprayer, spraying the top of the stuffing will cause it to brown prettily, but if you don’t have a sprayer, it’s okay to skip this step. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to warm through and brown the top. Alternative, you can press the stuffing into muffin tins to make individual portions and bake for only 20 minutes.  This recipe should serve 8, but let's be honest, it will probably serve 5.

Note about Bread: You can use nearly any type of good quality bread—gluten free, white, whole wheat, or corn. I recommend homemade or deli bread, not the cheap mass-produced stuff. The recipe works best if you use at least two types of bread. I recommend a quick bread like biscuits or soda bread and yeast bread. Cornbread is also good to throw into the mix. I keep chunks of homemade bread in the freezer for recipes such as this one. If you don’t have food allergies, you can also buy toasted bread cubes at many grocery stores.

Note about Sausage: I used my homemade chicken sausage recipe that I have provided in an earlier post. You could use a vegetarian sausage as a replacement or any store-bought sausage if allergies and intolerances are not challenges for you and your guests.

Note about Broth: I cooked an organic chicken the week before. Then I simmered the left over bones, meat, and skin in my slow cooker with a quart of water for 2 days. You could substitute vegetable broth.

Note about Seasonings: This recipe would be even better with freshly chopped sage, oregano, parsley, chives, and the leafy parts of celery. I am not sure of my allergies and tolerances for these seasonings, so I have left them out for now. Feel free to add a tablespoon or any or all of these to enhance the flavor.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Sulfite Intolerance Website

Tracy has the best website I've found so far that explains which foods may contain sulfites on her website Hold the Sulfites. I wanted to share this link with any fellow sulfite intolerance sufferers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Overnight Slow Roasted Organic Turkey with Gravy

The centerpiece of Thanksgiving is a deliciously roasted bird. Mmmmm.
My body doesn't like most commercially processed poultry for some reason. Therefore, I secure an organic or less processed "natural" bird for my table. These birds are often tougher than the massive commercial birds. Therefore, I find that the slow cooking method gives me the most tender and flavorful bird. I use regular wheat flour in my turkey bag and in my gravy because the gluten-free flours make me ill. However, King Author's Gluten-free Multi-purpose Flour works as a substitute in this recipe. Not all gluten-free flours work for making gravy, so you may want to do some trial runs if you are using a different variety of gluten free flour than this one.


1 twelve to 18 pound organic or natural turkey
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 rib celery, halved
1 apple, halved
1 carrot, halved
1 tablespoon flour (wheat for me, but any kind for those with glutton allergies)
Turkey bag and large roasting pan

1.     Make sure to thaw the turkey completely. Partially frozen turkeys are dangerous to cook using this method. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add 1 tablespoon of flour to the turkey bag and shake. Remove giblets and organs from turkey cavity.  Salt and pepper outside of turkey and rub with olive oil.  Place celery, apple and carrot in turkey cavity. Place turkey in turkey bag and then place in a roasting pan. Cut several holes in the bag.
2.     Bake turkey at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Then turn temperature down to 200 degrees. Roast at 200 degrees for 10 to 24 hours (Avoid opening the oven for the first 10 hours).
3.     Remove turkey from oven. Allow turkey to rest for 20 minutes.  Remove turkey to platter.  Reserve drippings for gravy.

Turkey Gravy

2 tablespoons olive oil
Drippings from roast turkey, strained
2 tablespoons general-purpose flour (wheat for me or King Author Gluten free Multi-Purpose flour for those with a gluten allergy)
1 to 2 cups chicken broth (I usually cook an organic chicken the week before and freeze the broth for this purpose).
Salt and pepper

1.     Skim fat from turkey drippings and add to a saucepan with olive oil.  Turn heat to medium and add flour, stirring constantly. 
2.     When flour is brown and is free of lumps, add the rest of the turkey drippings. 
3.     Continue stirring until gravy thickens.  Add broth or water to get the amount of gravy you need.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One-Hour Chicken and Potatoes

This recipe yields a delicious, tender roasted chicken with crispy potatoes.

1 organic whole chicken
1 lime, halved
4 tablespoons cold butter or olive oil
4 potatoes, cut in 8 wedges each (russet or Yukon golds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper as desired

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place chicken beast side up onto a large baking pan. Don’t forget to clean the innards out of the body cavity. Place the lime and the butter in the chicken cavity. Use olive oil instead of the butter if you have a dairy allergy. Tuck the wings tips behind the body to stabilize the chicken. Bake for 10 minutes
  2. Toss the potato wedges in oil. After the chicken has cooked for 10 minutes, use a spoon to move the chicken around so that it won’t stick. Then add the potatoes to the pan. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. After the potatoes have baked for 15 minutes, use a spatula to unstick them from the pan. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Then use the spatula to unstick them again. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from oven check for doneness (I always jiggle a leg to see if it is loose and see if the juices in the body cavity run clear). If the chicken isn’t done, return it to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Creamy Pistachio Chicken Pasta

I visited a Whole Foods for the first time. The company finally built one an hour away, so we made a pilgrimage last Saturday. It is a marvelous place. A couple were selling local honey and showcasing their bees out front. Just in side were mounds of fresh produce. There were bulk honey, syrup, oil, and vinegars. Fresh whole fish gleamed in tubs of ice. Frozen organic turkeys nestled in coolers in the center aisle. Someone had told me about the cream. She said it would be in an old fashioned milk jug and would not be labeled as milk, except for the top of the lid, which would say cream. So I saw it and new what it was immediately. You may not realize it, but the cream you buy from the typical grocery store isn’t really cream. The grocery store whole whipping cream has stabilizers that keep it from becoming whipped cream or butter. The real stuff is much different.
This recipe isn’t for those with nut, dairy, or wheat allergies. It is low sulfur.

3 organic or natural, additive free, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
8 ounces (1/2 a package) angle hair pasta
1 pint real whipping cream
¼ cup pistachios, crushed

1.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil and salt chicken in a casserole pan. Bake until done, about 40 minutes. Cut chicken into slices.
2.     Bring a pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Do not overcook. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot.
3.     Stir the cream into the pasta and add salt to taste. Divide the pasta onto 4 plates. Top each plate with chicken and crushed pistachios. Serves 4.

Grilled Tomato Lasagna


A low sulfur lasagna, not safe for people with dairy, wheat, or egg allergy

Lasagna is normally a sulfur bomb. With aged cheese, beef or pork, gassed canned tomatoes, and garlic and onions, most lasagna makes people who are sensitive to sulfur sick. This is a lower sulfur version. If you are not feeling adventurous, leave out the egg and spinach and cut the amount of cheese in half. If you are feeling ambitious, make your own white vinegar-based cheese because you will know that it will be low in sulfur. It was super tasty and made the best leftovers.

2 or 3 pints cherry tomatoes
7 lasagna noodles
1 cup fresh farmer’s cheese
½ cup fresh mozzarella cheese (the kind in a ball), torn into small pieces
½ cup fresh spinach
olive oil
1 egg
½ pound ground beef or organic or additive-free ground turkey

Special Equipment:
Blender or food processor

1.     Preheat the grill. Toss tomatoes in a tablespoon of olive oil and then cook them on the grill until they burst. Then remove them from the grill. Puree the tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
2.     Brown the ground beef or turkey in pot. Then add the tomato sauce.
3.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Make sure that you have not bought the no-boil variety, and make sure to not overcook them as the noodles will cook more in the oven.
4.     Mix together the farmer’s cheese, a beaten egg, and the spinach finely shredded.
5.     Oil a 9x9 casserole dish with olive oil. Layer sauce, noodle, sauce, cheese mixture, noodle, sauce, noodle, sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

Mozzarella cheese
Cheese mixture
Olive oil

6.     Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin Centerpiece with Thanksgiving Fried Rice Pilaf

I’ve been looking for an alternative to holiday stuffing. Don’t get me wrong I love the toasted bread concoction that some people shove into their holiday birds and call “dressing.” But making stuffing from absolute scratch—baking bread, cubing bread, toasting bread, making homemade sausage and turkey stock, dicing and sautéing fruit and veggies--due to food allergies and intolerances constitutes hours of work and a huge mess in my kitchen.
So when I saw an orzo dish in an advertisement in through Savor magazine last week, I was inspired to try something similar with rice. I put the rice in a pumpkin because it’s pretty and adds a bit of squash flavor that really speaks of fall. The oven turns the pumpkin a deep burnt orange that will be the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table. This recipe makes a small portion for a two-pound pie pumpkin. You will need to experiment with cooking times for a larger pumpkin if you need more.
Although this recipe if fairly labor intensive (it took 2 hours to make), it is less bothersome than making stuffing. As a bonus this whole dish or parts of the dish can be cooked ahead of time. If you do make it ahead of time, I suggest reheating the rice mixture separate from the pumpkin and then putting them together already hot because they will reheat much faster that way. The pumpkin and wild rice and brown rice, and nuts (if you’re using them) can also be cooked days ahead, so you have a lot of flexibility in how you want to stage the steps in the recipe if available time and space in your oven become challenging around the holidays. The recipe instructions assume that you are making the whole dish at once.
To get cooked cranberries, I run water over my cranberry sauce in a strainer, but you could buy cooked, dried cranberries to use instead. If you want to use my method, the cranberry sauce recipe was posted previously.
Instead of the chicken sausage, you could use a cooked and diced chicken breast or vegetarian sausage or you can leave it out altogether.
I used walnuts in this recipe. However, the nuts in this recipe are completely optional because they are a last-minute garnish. I would not use them if someone at the table had a nut allergy. Alternately, the nuts could be replaced with seeds, such as pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, and prepared the same way. Seasonings such as chives, celery salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger can be added if you and your guests can tolerate them.
In the photo, I have used the cornels from a last-of-the-season ear of sweet corn and left out the greens. This pictured version has a diced chicken breast instead of chicken sausage.

½ cup wild rice
1 cup brown rice (I used basmati)
1 small pie pumpkin (about 2 pounds)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 apple, diced
¼ cup cooked chicken sausage or other sausage (optional) (see recipe below)
¼ cup nuts or seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon cooked cranberries
¼ cup shredded greens such as spinach, radicchio, or baby swiss chard

1.     Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add ¼ wild rice. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1 cup of brown rice and increase the heat until it boils. Then reduce the heat to maintain the simmer. Simmer the rice until that are tender, about 35 minutes longer. Strain the rice through a fine sieve.
2.     Meanwhile, begin roasting the pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the top off of your pumpkin and scoop out the stringy flesh and seeds just as if you are making a jack-o-lantern. The stringy goo doesn’t taste good, but you can reserve the seeds for another use if you are so inclined. Oil the inside of the pumpkin and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Replace the lid and put the pumpkin into a casserole dish in the oven. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes or until the inside flesh is tender.
3.     Next we will “fry” the rice. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil on medium high heat in a large skillet. Then add the diced apple and stir occasionally until it is tender. This will take only a couple of minutes. Next add the sausage to reheat it. Last add the drained rice. Stir until it is thoroughly mixed and the rice is slightly oily and toasted, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. If you are not going to serve this dish the same day you are making it, this is a good place to stop.
4.     Putting the finishing touches on the rice is the next step. If you are using the nuts or seeds, mix them with honey on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt. Roast them in the 375 degree oven for just a couple of minutes until they sizzle just a little. If your pumpkin is still cooking, you can cook the nuts or seeds as it finishes. Mix in the shredded greens and cranberries while the rice is still warm and garnish with the nuts or seeds if you are using them.
5.     Put the pumpkin on a platter and put the rice mixture in and around the pumpkin and then serve. People will scoop out some of the pumpkin flesh when they spoon out their rice. This recipe serves 4 generous portions.

Simple Chicken Sausage
Grind a skinless, boneless chicken breast in a food processor or chopper. Stir in one tablespoon good quality honey, one teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon black pepper. You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want it extra spicy. Shape the sausage into links or patties or cook as loose sausage. This sausage is very lean and will typically need to be cooked with a little oil in the pan.

Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Juice


Crisp, refreshing, tangy—all words that describe the seasonal delight that is cranberry sauce. A few years ago, I decided that I liked it too much to have it only during the holidays and started making it a regular side to our meals year round. Eating the jewel-toned sauce in every season is especially easy when a batch of homemade cranberry sauce lasts the whole year when stored in the freezer. And thanks to the high quantities of pectin that occur naturally in the fruit, the sauce jells automatically on its own.
This time, when I whipped up my usual pot of cranberry goodness, I decided that I wanted a sparkling glass of the ruby juice too. To make the juice, I used the sauce to infuse filtered water with a rich cranberry flavor. Interestingly, the pectin from the berries gives the juice a velvety mouth feel once it sets up in the refrigerator over night.

2 pounds fresh cranberries
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
Additional water for juice

Directions for Cranberry Sauce:
1.     To make sauce, combine the cranberries, sugar, and 2 cups of water in a large stockpot. Bring to a vigorous boil. Then reduce heat to low to maintain simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
2.     Remove from heat. Set aside about 3 cups of the sauce to make juice. Store the remaining cranberry sauce in the refrigerator until it sets up like jelly. Then the sauce may be frozen for up to a year.

Directions for Cranberry Juice:
1.     To make juice, you will need about 3 cups of warm cranberry sauce, a juice pitcher, a large spoon, a mesh sieve, a bowl slightly larger than the sieve, and about a quart of water. Place the sieve in the bowl and add 1 to 2 cups of the warm cranberry sauce to the sieve. Pour some of the water over the sieve and stir.
2.     Once the cranberry sauce turns the water very read, lift the sieve out of the water to strain the juice. Pour the resulting juice from the bowl in the juice pitcher. Discard the cranberries that have been strained. Repeat this process until you have about a quart of juice. Store the juice in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beef and Barley Soup

Having meals ready to eat in the freezer is essential to making it through my week without going hungry or eating something stupid that will make me sick. Right now, I'm cooking up 6 quarts of soup in my Crock Pot slow cooker so that I can restock my freezer. To make the preparation process quicker, I put most of my ingredients in my Cuisinart Mini chopper to get them diced fine. Later in the week, I plan to roast a pie pumpkin and serve the reheated soup in it for a dramatic presentation.

1 pound of beef, cubed
1 rib of celery, diced fine
3 carrots, diced fine
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, diced fine
1 apple, diced
1 pear, diced
1 cup pearl barley
1 handful of fresh spinach, shredded
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
10 cups of filtered water

Put ingredients in the slow cooker in the order they are listed. Cook on low for 8 to 12 hours or cook on high for 6 to 8 hours. This recipe make 12 servings.

Next time I make the dish, I plan to leave out the celery and add potatoes, either sweet potatoes or Yukon Golds.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eating While Traveling: Microwaved Tagine

A tagine is a North African stoneware cooking vessel with a conical lid. I've been considering purchasing one and was unable to resist when I saw this microwave miniature version called the "Stone Wave" at Walgreens.

I bought the tagine when I was getting ready to go on a trip and would need to prepare my meals using the usual hotel microwave and refrigerator. I imagined cooking with the tagine would at least make my meals a little more interesting than the usual microwaved bowl of food.
In my hotel room, I made a tomato and chicken tagine and served it with a microwaved sweet potato. The resulting dish tasted better than just microwaving the ingredients in a bowl. The lid seems to let just the right amount of steam escape to concentrate the sauce to deepen flavors, yet keep the dish moist. The addition of a high quality olive oil provided a warm savory flavor to the tangy and velvety tomato sauce.

Microwave Chicken and Tomato Tagine


1/2 tomato, diced
1/2 organic chicken breast, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 squirt of water from sports bottle (hay, I was traveling)
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place half of the tomatoes in the tagine. Then place the chicken in the dish and top with remaining tomatoes. Add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Place lid on "Stone Wave" and place in microwave. It is helpful if you have a microwave safe plate under it as it has the tendency to boil over a bit. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. Serve with microwaved sweet potatoes. Serves 1 small portion.

I am considering buying this larger version from William Sonoma to use at home so that I can make enough for my whole family at once. But the smaller Stone Wave version worked perfectly to feed just me safe meals while I stayed in a hotel.
How do you deal with your food allergies when traveling?