RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Allergen-Free Pre-Made Foods: Ian’s Alphatots

I found a brand for us to pay attention to at Whole Foods Market (and elsewhere): Ian’s. Ian’s foods are clearly and boldly marked “Allergen Free” and “no wheat or gluten, no milk or casein, no eggs, no nuts, no soy”. You can imagine my excitement when I found a whole case of products with this claim. My iPhone was handy so I snapped a shot:

Ian’s products, found at Whole Foods Market

In the photo are chicken tenders, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, space nuggets, mac and no cheese, fish sticks, popcorn turkey corn dogs, alphatots, and chicken nuggets kids meals. I piled a stack of these into my cart (and then put a few back when I realized I wouldn’t have room in my freezer for all of them).

Tonight my son and I ate Alphatots, with chicken left over from last night, as well as steamed broccoli and carrots.

Ian’s Alphatots, fried in safflower oil and salt

The Alphatots were so easy to make. I’d never fried any potatoes before, so I was having my own little adventure in the kitchen. I fried them in safflower oil and salt for about 4 minutes. Then I dabbed them in some paper towels to remove the excess oil. They were moist and crispy at the same time. And they tasted soooo good.

My son’s plate

My 3-year old and I took turns stealing the letters off of each other’s plate. Seriously…we did! I was hoping he’d get full so I could eat whatever he didn’t eat. Meanwhile, he got a chance to show off that he knew his letters. Well…not quite…but it provided me with a valuable teaching moment at the dinner table. Win-win.

My plate

In case you’re wondering, the Alphatots contained the following ingredients: potatoes, modified palm oil, rice flour, salt, modified cellulose. I’m certain those ingredients are better than those in the fries at McDonald’s. Ha! This makes me happy.

In Wellness.

A Simple Chicken, Kale, and Orange Salad (Soy and Milk-Free)

I have been salad-deprived. Mainly because I haven’t been to the market in way-too-long and so I’ve been eating out a lot more than usual. Salad dressings in restaurants usually contain dairy and/or soy, and I am not one to eat a salad without dressing…so, I order other things.

I finally made time to go to Whole Foods Market. I was happy to discover that Whole Foods sells warm baked whole chicken dressed with allergen-free seasoning or no seasoning at all. Today I bought a whole chicken that was only seasoned with sea salt and pepper. I decided that I would use my own Rena-safe seasonings to spice up the chicken when I got home.

Actually, I cheated. I made this kale, chicken, and orange slices salad with some Trader Giatto’s Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. It is my favorite and I call it my “crack” dressing since I can’t get enough of it, and it’s made with canola oil instead of soybean oil.

A simple salad…in a pretty bowl. What would have made this salad perfect is if I had crumbled up some graham cracker sticks (instead of croutons). They taste so good with the vinaigrette and kale! I would have added some this time but I had just eaten a small bagful of them on my way home from the market (I was starving), so I didn’t want the extra calories by adding more to the salad. Here’s the brand I use: Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks, which are soy and milk-free.

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks: soy and milk-free

Even without the graham sticks it was a delicious salad. I feel healthier already.

Living a Soy and Milk-Free Life: 4 Month Progress Report

I started this blog 3 months ago. It’s time for a progress report on my health and what I’ve learned. Here’s a “before” the discovery…and “after”.

The Before

4 months ago, I discovered I had an allergy to soy, one year prior to that, I discovered I had an allergy to milk. I am in my late thirties, and after seeing several doctors about this, I am able to confidently attribute my newfound allergies to enduring 4 years of intense chronic stress. When I ingest anything containing milk or soy (even the smallest amount), my skin will itch.

Throughout 2011, my skin felt like it was on fire. The only relief I could get came from an application of cortisone cream to my entire face and back.

I had already worked to eliminate milk from my diet that year, but I was still feeling intensely itchy. Once I discovered my allergy to soy, I made drastic changes in my diet and cosmetics, and I felt instant and major relief.

The Discovery

Products containing milk seemed to be far fewer than those containing soy. Soy is in everything. EVERYTHING. Well, almost everything. It was extremely frustrating to learn that all my favorite foods and restaurants are not good for me. So, label reading ensued. I threw away bags and bags of products in my pantry containing the pesky culprits. [Check out this fantastic summary about soy allergies (thank you to my newest reader, Dania), which includes a list of foods that contain soy: Living and Eating Well with Food Allergies – Soy Allergies]. I stopped eating fast food (except for a special order at In-N-Out). I discovered it was quite difficult to find any entree at any fast food joint that does not contain soy, and near impossible to find an entree without soy AND milk.

Then, I learned about my body’s reaction when soy touched my body. Hoping I was doing something healthy for my skin after scratching it raw, it seemed reasonable to apply pure vitamin E directly onto the problem areas to aid in the healing. After 4 days, my skin felt worse than before. “What is in this vitamin E anyway?” Pure soy. Yep. Vitamin E gels are derived from soy. Ohh! Then I discovered that my makeup, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor blade, skin care products, and sunblock each contained soy (look for the ingredient tocopherol, which is the vitamin E ingredient, and is most often derived from soy). Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies…and my skin was absorbing a great deal of soy every day. See my post, “My Lipstick Contains Soy!” and Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries”.

So. No touching soy. No eating soy. No eating milk products. Got it.
I soon discovered other foods caused my skin to itch. Almonds. Grapes (and all forms of it including wine…boo…). Some candies — I suspect it’s the food coloring, like red 40? Eliminating those foods have helped keep my skin happier. There are a few more foods that give me mild reactions, but I am in denial about them and someday I will have to pull up my big girl panties and admit I should cut them out of my diet too. Hmph.
Oh. I should also say…my chronic stress is gone and what’s left is a day-to-day normal level of stress. How? I’ve done my best to:
(a) eliminate the sources of stress (Actually, this part was largely out of my control, but I did make decisions to bring balance into my work/home life, and to make choices to not overbook my calendar)
(b) enjoy the people in my life (my son, my dear friends, my new sweet boyfriend (!))
(c) spend more time doing the things that give me peace (playing the piano, singing worship songs, praying, painting, doing photography, etc.)
(d) exercise whenever possible, and
(e) sleep more than 6 hours/night

The After

Relief. Sweet relief. I haven’t used cortisone cream in a couple of months. Woo hoo! My skin has healed from the intense scratching. My reactions are milder when I have an accidental bite of the no-no foods (OK, perhaps they’re not all accidental), and the reactions don’t last for days anymore. I suspect this is because my body isn’t being overloaded by the allergens anymore. Perhaps my liver needed some time to clean out. Today I ate an iced animal cookie (I couldn’t help myself) with full knowledge that it contained soy and dairy and that I would have a reaction. My skin itched instantly, but the itching went away after 30 minutes. So I ate another one. (OK, please. Stop laughing. I’m PMS-ing so I can’t be held responsible for my lack of self control.)

I’ve noticed I’ve been able to tolerate small doses of milk products again — like using butter in the pan for cooking eggs. It’s a good thing, because my 3-year old will not eat his eggs if I use any butter substitutes, like safflower oil or sunflower oil.

And here’s something unexpected: I’ve struggled with thinning hair since I was in my early 20’s. My hairdresser noticed last month that my hair is thicker than it was in December. Hmm…
I lost a lot of weight initially because I was afraid to eat and I hadn’t discovered many options for me yet. Now that I have plenty of options for meals and snacks, I’ve gained some of the weight back (and I’ve been told I look healthier now). I feel comfortable in this size, despite the fact that my new size 4 jeans I just bought in March don’t fit any more.
Hey people, I’m reaping the rewards of a soy and milk-free life! Tell me about your progress! Let’s encourage each other!

The Blog

I must mention something I find super cool: I started this blog in February, 2012. Since then, I have received over 2,300 hits from people in 42 countries. I haven’t written in 3 weeks (sorry about that), yet the blog now gets between 40-60 hits per day due to various Google searches and Pinterest re-pins. Wow. Just wow. I’m so happy that others are benefiting from what I’ve learned. I look forward to continuing this journey and learning from each other.

In Wellness!

Chocolate Thin Mints

Chocolate Thin Mints

Can you tell I am on a chocolate kick? After reading lucysfriendlyfoods blog on “Chocolate Mint Thins” this week (@Lucylox is a Cordon Bleu trained chef who prolifically posts friendly recipes for us allergic folk), I felt brave and empowered to make something new. I was craving chocolate (this is ALL the time, by the way), the recipe appeared to be super-simple, and I just so happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

I’ve slightly altered Lucy’s recipe to include the American unit conversions and other new details. Thank you, Lucy!

Chocolate Thin Mints

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 15

  • 1/2 cup of dark chocolate, I used Enjoy Life Mini Chips (soy, milk, and nut free)
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

– Melt the chocolate in a microwave and stir well until smooth.

– Stir in the peppermint extract to taste.

– Drop spoonfuls on a baking sheet lined with foil. I swirl them flat with a spoon.

– Leave to set.

Chocolate Thin Mints