What's for lunch?

If you have food allergies, traditional lunch items are not an option. Since my daughter can't have dairy, eggs, nuts, or wheat, I felt like I had to come up with a creative way to pack her lunch.  The bento-box idea appealed to me, and I came across this fabulous version, The Laptop Lunch, at my local Whole Foods:
Laptop Lunchbox
Their website is full of great lunch ideas as well as a variety of box colors and insulated containers.  What I like about this system is the fact that I am motivated to fill each cup with a variety of colorful, healthy foods.  Plus, the plastic is BPA-free and very durable.  I can just pop the compartments into the dishwasher, and they clean up beautifully! 

Over the past two weeks, I took pictures of five different allergy-free lunches I packed for my daughter.  I tried to include as much variety as possible.   

Lunch #1: Chicken bratwurst (from Whole Foods), Glutino pretzel sticks: Glutino 38842 Glutino Pretzel Sticks Family Size- 12x8 OZ (Google Affiliate Ad), grapes, and grape tomatoes/cucumber slices.

Lunch #2: Chicken salad, veggie straws, blueberries, and carrots/cucumber slices

The chicken salad is a simple recipe of cooked chicken (I like to use rotisserie), celery, green onions, salt/pepper, egg-free mayonnaise, and a dash of dried ginger.  My daughter loves it!:

Lunch #3: Cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce, blackberries, red peppers/cucumbers, and Glutino pretzel sticks

Lunch #4: Black Forest Ham roll-ups, sliced apples, carrot sticks, and Allergy-free fudge brownies

The ham roll-ups are a big hit with my daughter and are easily made by thinly slicing carrots, red peppers, and avocado.  I then lay the slices on the ham and roll it up!:

Lunch #5: Chicken/Avocado/Black bean salad, blackberries, carrots/sugar-snap peas, Plentils chips

There you have it - five allergy-free, healthy lunch ideas.  I hope you've been inspired!  What are your allergy-free lunch options?  Please share below!

Vegan Whole Wheat Pancakes

Before we discovered that our daughter did not tolerate wheat, these were the pancakes I served our family.  They are the perfect pancakes for those who are allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts, and soy.

I adapted a recipe from a book I received long ago as a wedding gift.  The book is called 'Pancakes and Waffles' by Elizabeth Alston, and the recipe I adapted is called 'Best Ever Pancakes.'  That sounds like a sure bet, doesn't it? Well, like most pancake recipes, this one calls for buttermilk and eggs, which are not an option for us.  Here are the step-by-step directions:

After preheating the griddle, I make my own 'buttermilk' which consists of 1 cup of dairy-free milk (we use rice or coconut) plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. I whisk the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.:

Next, I combine the oil and buttermilk together and stir it into the dry mixture.  Mom always said lumps are good in pancake batter, so I never stir too much. The acidic buttermilk makes the batter nice and bubbly:

Once the griddle is hot enough, I pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake:

When bubbles appear on the surface, and the edges are starting to look dry, I flip them over:

Now isn't that just beautiful?  I let them cook 1-2 minutes more and then start stacking them on the plates.  My children who can tolerate wheat LOVE these pancakes, especially with powdered sugar on top.

Here's where I need your feedback:  In the comments below, please let me know if you'd like to have a mix for pancakes like these where you just add liquid.  I'm toying with the idea of developing some commercial mixes, starting with these vegan pancakes.   Thanks!


Vegan Whole Wheat Pancakes
(makes 8, 4" pancakes)


1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 T granulated sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
2 t Ener-G egg replacer powder (available at most natural-foods stores)
1 c 'buttermilk' (1 c non-dairy milk + 1 T apple cider vinegar)
2 T canola oil


  1. Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat.  Prepare 'buttermilk.'
  2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the 'buttermilk' and oil in a measuring cup. Stir into the dry mixture until just combined.
  4. When the griddle is hot enough (feels hot when you hold your hand directly above it), lightly grease it. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle.  
  5. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface and the undersides are golden brown.
  6. Turn the pancakes over and cook 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.
  7. Enjoy with powdered sugar, fresh fruit, or syrup!

Shared on: Healthy Vegan Friday

Allergy-free Scones

My daughter's gracious teacher planned to share some buttered scones with the kids today and sent a message out to all the parents inquiring about food allergies.  Well, with allergies to wheat, dairy, and eggs, traditional scones are just not an option for my daughter.  So, I offered to bring in a batch of allergy-free scones.  

Once again, it was Cybele Pascal to the rescue! In her fabulous cookbook, The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook , there are several scone recipes, and I chose to make the 'Basic Scones.' The recipe was simple: combine the liquid ingredients, sift together the dry ingredients, and combine the two.:

Then, form the dough into six-inch disks, cut into 6 triangles, and bake:

My daughter ate one right out of the oven, with a little vegan butter, and loved it!:


Allergy-free Basic Scones
(makes 12 scones)


1 (6oz) container vanilla vegan yogurt
3/4 c dairy-free milk (I like coconut)
1 T lemon juice
3 c gluten-free flour mix (6:2:1 superfine brown-rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour)
3/4 t xanthan gum
1/3 c sugar
2 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/3 c canola oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Add the liquid mixture and canola oil to the dry mixture. Stir until combined but still clumpy.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface with GF flour mix, and turn out the dough.  Lightly flour your hands and the dough.
  6. Divide the dough in half, and pat into two 6-inch disks. Cut the disks into 6 equal triangles and place on  the baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the center of the oven for 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden.
  8. Enjoy with vegan butter and jam.

Allergy-free Zucchini Bread

I went out this morning to gather vegetables from my garden, and I uncovered a few zucchini.  One of these things is not like the others...

Perfect opportunity for zucchini bread!  I've had a whole-wheat zucchini bread recipe, so I decided to adapt it to be gluten-free as well.  My current favorite gluten-free flour mixture contains superfine brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour in a ratio of 6:2:1.  

For this recipe, I first had to grate the zucchini.  I like to use a paper plate and my box grater.  I know, it's time to get a new one!:

The zucchini has to be smashed down tight when measuring:

I combined all of the wet ingredients with the brown sugar:

I then whisked together the remaining dry ingredients:

The dry ingredients were stirred into the wet mixture until they were just combined - not too much stirring:

I prepared my muffin tin by spraying with oil and then dusting with some gluten-free flour.  This gets rid of the need for any cupcake liners.  I then filled each muffin cup almost full with batter:

After baking at 350 degrees for 22 minutes, here is the result - fabulous!:

Here's the recipe (see below for the printable version):

Allergy-free Zucchini Bread
(yield:12 muffins or 1 loaf)


3T ground flax, whisked into 1/4 c warm water
1/4 c oil
1/4 c applesauce
1 c light brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/4 c grated zucchini, packed
2 c gluten free flour (see above for my favorite)
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t xanthan gum
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease muffin tin or 9x5 bread pan and dust with gluten-free flour.
  2. Grate the zucchini. Make sure to pack it while measuring.
  3. Mix together the flax seed mixture, oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla.  Add zucchini; stir until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.  Add to wet mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened and everything is incorporated evenly.
  5. Fill each muffin tin cup with batter, almost to the top. Bake 20-22 minutes. If using a bread pan, fill with batter and bake 28-32 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.
  6. Enjoy!

Shared on: Fat Tuesday, Allergy-Friendly Friday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-free Wednesday.

Allergy-free Fudge Brownies

This recipe comes from my favorite allergy-free cookbook, The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal.  Instead of using Ener-G to replace the eggs, it calls for baby food prunes, with wonderful results!

Most gluten-free recipes are so complicated, with several ingredients, but not this one - this is it (minus the vanilla extract which I forgot to include)!:

The recipe calls for 6oz of unsweetened chocolate, which had to be chopped up and melted with the shortening. Now doesn't that just look fabulous:

One thing that makes Cybele Pascal's recipes so easy is they call for a gluten-free flour mix, which she includes in the beginning of the book.  I'm not going to give away all of her secrets (buy the book ), but let me just say that it contains brown rice superfine flour, an amazing product.  You can find it at Vitamin Cottage or online. I included a picture of me mixing in the flour so you can see just how much batter this recipe makes:

The recipe in the book says to bake the brownies in a square pan, but I like to make mini brownie-bites as I'm less inclined to nibble until the whole thing is gone. Again, there's so much batter here - I think the recipe ended up making about 4 dozen of these brownie bites. I filled each mini muffin tin (which was sprayed with oil and dusted with GF flour) with a rounded tablespoon of batter:

I baked them for 20 minutes, and here is how they turned out:

Check out that beautiful brownie crust! Inside, they were so gooey and fudgy. They tasted as good as they looked. Everyone in our family, food allergies or not, loved them!

Recipe: (from Cybele Pascal's book, 'The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook', with a few minor changes)

Fudge Brownies

6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c dairy-free soy-free vegetable shortening (like Spectrum)
1 c granulated sugar
2 (4-5 oz) jars baby prunes
1 T vanilla extract
1 3/4 + 2 T GF flour mix
1/2 t xanthan gum
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 c dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325, grease mini muffin tin (or 9x9" pan) and dust with GF flour
  2. Combine chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave, stopping to check every 30 seconds. Once melted, stir in sugar and prune puree, mix well.  Stir in vanilla until smooth.
  3. Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, and baking powder.  Add to the chocolate mixture in three batches, stirring well after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Fill each mini muffin cup with 1 rounded tablespoon of batter.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until you can really smell them. (Alternately, you could spread the batter in a prepared 9x9" pan and bake for 55 minutes).
  5. Makes about 4 dozen brownie bites.
  6. Enjoy!

Listed on: Tastetastic Thursday, Gluten Free Fridays

Allergy-free Banana Bread

Traditional breakfast options are pretty limited when you can't eat dairy, eggs, or wheat. This morning, my daughter was wanting some banana bread, and thankfully my fruit bowl contained three very ripe bananas.

I followed an allergy-free banana bread recipe from 'The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook: Every Recipe Is Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, and Eggs ' by Elizabeth Gordon.  I must take some time to plug this cookbook.  It's full of super-yummy allergy-free recipes for common comfort foods.  

This recipe makes quite a bit of dough which filled up a 9x5 bread pan:

After baking at 325 for 70 minutes, here is the final product - delicious!:


Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Bread


1 1/2 c Chinese or Superfine Rice Flour
1/2 c potato starch
1/4 c sorghum flour
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t xanthan gum
1/2 c organic palm fruit oil shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c applesauce
3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1 T cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325, lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together first 7 dry ingredients.
  3. Cream together the shortening and sugars until fluffy.  Beat in the applesauce and mashed bananas.  Mix well, then stir in the cider vinegar.
  4. Stir the dry mixture slowly into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
  7. Enjoy!

Wheat experiment

Years ago, our pediatric allergist wanted to get a baseline for our daughter's food allergies by ordering a RAST blood test.  He tested the top 8 food allergens: dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and shellfish.  Her blood tested 'highly allergic' to dairy, eggs, nuts, tree nuts, wheat, and peanuts. She had noticeable, immediate reactions to all of those items except for wheat.  The doc told me that the test is not 100% accurate and can include some false positives.  Since we had to cut so many foods out of her diet due to immediate, severe reactions, I decided to allow her to still eat wheat.  

Over the years, she's had consistent issues with what I thought was acid buildup in her stomach, often causing vomiting in the middle of the night.  This past summer, we went on a 2 week vacation to Durango and together decided to try eliminating wheat from her (and my) diet during that time.  Low and behold, her sour stomach disappeared!  As an added benefit, her chronic eczema started clearing up as well.  The best result was how she felt.  No more morning and nighttime stomach aches!

During those 2 weeks in Durango, I also started educating myself about wheat by reading a current book entitled, 'Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health' by William Davis, MD.  Wow - very eye-opening!  I was convinced to rid my diet (and eventually the rest of my family's diet) of the inflammatory grain.  

That being said, Maddie celebrated her 11th birthday while on our vacation.  Like most moms, I wanted to be able to give her a yummy birthday cake, but now I was trying to avoid dairy, eggs, AND wheat.  While on Amazon, searching for cookbooks, and I came across 'The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook' by Cybele Pascal and had it shipped to our house in Durango.  Let me tell you, this lady is a genius with allergy-free recipes!  We made an amazing red velvet cake, and at high-altitude too! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn't tell it was gluten-free.  Since then, I've made several recipes from her book and have been impressed with all of them.  One of the big hits was the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting that we made for Maddie's birthday party in Albuquerque:

I plan to make more wonderful recipes out of Cybele Pascal's book as well as many of my own and will document the results here.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE (6.14.13) - We just returned from Denver where Maddie participated in a pediatric food allergy day program at National Jewish Health.  After extensive testing, we discovered that she has no allergy to wheat (nor does she have celiac disease or wheat intolerance).  We'll have to figure out the source of her stomach aches, but until then she will be enthusiastically enjoying vegan baked goods!