Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Review of World Market Spices Bags and Jars

Originally submitted at Cost Plus World Market

Sourced from around the globe, our spices offer exquisite, high quality flavor without the usual high price tag.

Bargin Prices - Great Spices!

By Visiting other countires via cuisine from Spring, TX on 9/23/2009


5out of 5

Pros: Exotic, Flavorful

Best Uses: Baking, Cooking, Seasoning

Describe Yourself: Foodie, Health Conscious

I love to prepare dishes from all over the world. Often my recipes call for Cardamom, Turmeric and other spices with low demand here in the US. I had been paying up to $15/oz at local grocery stores for some of them until I found the spice selection at World Market. None of their spices cost more than $2.99(at my local CPWM)! I was even able to purchase whole vanilla beans (with which to make my own vanilla extract) at the low price of 2/$2.99. When I priced them at local groceries, they were up to $13/each. Our local CPWM selection is great and I love the glass jars that a lot of their spices come in.
All of the spices I have purchased have smelled wonderful and have flavored my food at least equally well - if not better than the higher priced items avaliable else where.
(NOTE: I'm not supposed to mention pricing but it's one of the BEST things about purchasing spices from CPWM.)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Devils Food Cake

When we go out to eat (which I'm sure one can imagine is not very frequent due to several things, David's allergy being but one of them) we like to share an appetizer, entree and dessert. This way we get to taste everything but not eat too much and have a reasonable tab at the end of it all. Since David has been diagnosed, however, desserts are pretty much off the list of options for him. Nearly all desserts have some form of corn or soy. Vegetable oil (soy), chocolate chips (soy), powdered sugar (corn starch), baking powder (corn starch) and on and on the list goes. David LOVES chocolate desserts. Pies, cookies, cakes ...

Yesterday was a difficult day. When I got home I decided baking was in order. Something about baking is calming, soothing, familiar. Similar to cleaning I suppose (something I also enjoy doing particularity when stressed out or nervous). NONETHELESS there is a point!

I chose to make a Devil's Food Cake for David. The recipe is as follows, taken from my Pillsbury Best Desserts cook book, and surprisingly, UNSUBSTITUTED!! All of the ingredients are available in safe brands so it was simply a matter of mixing it up.

*2 cups all purpose flour
*11/4 teaspoons baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*11/2 cups sugar
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*2 eggs
*4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
*1 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (OK so I did substitute this. Since it's chocolate cake I dusted my pans with cocoa powder rather than flour) two 8 or 9 inch round bake pans.

In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In large bowl, combine sugar and butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs. Blend well. Stir in melted chocolate. Alternately add dry ingredient mix and the cup of milk. Beat well after each addition. Pour batter into grease pans.

Bake at 350 for 27-35 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 mins in pans. Remove from pans and cool completely, about an hour.

(I used 9 inch pans and they needed the lower end of that cooking time est.)

For the frosting I used some of the organic powdered sugar I had purchased that was made with tapioca starch rather than corn starch. I just sliced a bit of butter into the powdered sugar and mashed it with a fork. Then added some milk and vanilla. I mixed it a little with the fork to prevent it from flying all over when I used my little hand held mixer on it. Then I whipped it until it was all mixed thoroughly adding a little milk or powdered sugar as needed to reach my desired consistency. There's a recipe out there, I am sure, with the specific measurements to make a butter-cream frosting but I don't use one. I like to make it to taste. =) And it tasted good.

Powdered sugar
Milk or cream (I used some 1/2 & 1/2 because we have one percent milk which isn't really rich enough)

I'd say about a cup of the sugar (you HAVE to use powdered or finely ground granulated or your frosting will be gritty) to 3 TBS or so of butter, 1 tsp of vanilla and a TBS or 2 of milk depending on desired consistency. But I really don't know the measurements. I just dump it in and mix things until I like it. For chocolate frosting just leave out the vanilla and add some cocoa powder. The vanilla can be substituted with any kind of flavored extract to give the frosting a little kick. I personally like plain white frosting for the most part on my chocolate cakes but I have used almond extract, mint extract, lemon extract and Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur in my frosting on occasion. Each adds a unique flavor to the item frosted.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Home Made Vanilla Extract

David thought I should post about our making vanilla extract. I purchased, from Cost Plus World Market a few weeks ago 2 vanilla beans. I have been waiting for the purchase of potato vodka to start making my own vanilla. Although my mom had a vanilla, that I think would have been OK for David, I have seen only one alcohol free vanilla extract, which I purchased for an exorbitant amount of money. I brought it home in anticipation of making my own once I was able to get the two needed ingredients:

750ml bottle of potato vodka
2 vanilla beans

David came home two days ago with a bottle of potato vodka. We dropped the beans in and have been checking it daily to see progress. We both expected to see the clear vodka start changing colors immediately but that's just not the case. In two days the vodka has started to take on a faint brownish tint of sorts. Hence the reason that the beans must soak 30 days. Our camera is currently being recharged as the battery was so low it refused to allow me one picture but I will post a few pictures when the camera is charged.

I made another quick trip to the World Market today. I needed caraway seeds for rye bread. At about $7 for a tiny jar at the grocery store, I was hoping to find a bargain at WM. And I did! $.99 for a baggie full. I was so delighted. I was also able to find a bag of ground cumin, which we use for Hummus, curries and other things. I LOVE their spice section. Everything is so reasonably priced and thus far has been of good quality.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


David and I went to CT in early August to visit my family. Mom read the blog called me and did loads of research and was able to provide David with some FABULOUS food - allergen free. It was great. Even all the little details about "dextrose" and unspecified vinegars, spice mixes and so on. She was able to make substitutions like ground oats rather than bread crumbs and other such things. It was so nice to relax and let mom do the cooking and not worry about David being sick for hours after eating. We had offered to bring food for David because we know what an inconvenience (and expense) it can be to purchase and prepare food for him but mom did beautifully (thanks, Mom!). She had homemade bread waiting for David and cookies and meatballs and on and on and on. We ate our way through our visit. We had dinner with other family members that also went out of their way to ensure that David was able to eat without concerns about label reading and it was humbling and gracious and so very much appreciated! This is the first extended trip we have taken since finding out about David's food allergies and it was so nice to travel and eat without worrying.

We packed snacks and such for the road (it's a loooong day of traveling to fly from Houston to Bradley) but once we arrived David was totally covered.

Our home, grocery shopping and food preparing has become a bit less challenging which is so nice. David is shouldering about 1/2 the cooking since my having gone back to school limits the amount of time I have to prepare meals. He's planning on making some cashew butter in lieu of the almond butter he's been eating since we discovered his food allergy. While we can purchase almond butter that would be safe for him to eat, it's about $10 for 6 oz and we simply can not justify that expense when we have a food processor and it takes on a few minutes to prepare our own nut butters.

While visiting mom my sister and David had "Pie School" as they termed it. Now that David can make a pie I'm looking forward to him baking one here. ;) My sister made an apple pie, my mom made a peach pie and David made a chocolate-pecan pie concoction that didn't last long. (I'm getting quite skilled at mixing up a batch of semi-sweet chocolate for all sorts of goodies from 100% cocoa).

In sauce pan melt 100% cocoa. Add a touch of 1/2 & 1/2 or cream, vanilla and sugar. Whisk all ingredients until thoroughly mixed. I don't really have measurements but I do it to taste.

The pie crusts were made from butter, rather than Crisco or lard. It makes for slightly different measurements but it has to be done by feel.

David has gotten quite good at substituting for baking powder and recently whipped up a great batch of blueberry waffles.

When David sticks to his food changes, he does really well. He can always tell when he's run into something because he typically feels sick for several hours. His energy is back and he's started running in the early morning with Sunshine, our lab mix. All in all, I am happy to report, things are well on the food allergy horizon. = )

Saturday, August 15, 2009


This is a quick rise pizza dough recipe that my mom used to make quite a bit when we were kids. I stumbled on it last night and David and I worked together to make it. It was fabulous. And really quick. About 20 mins to get it in the oven unless you use pre-shredded cheese and quick toppings. Total time, including baking - less than 40 mins.

Dough Ingredients
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water in mixing bowl. Stir in flour, oil, sugar and salt. Mix with fork or use a stand mixer, just until dough forms. This dough is a bit sticker than most bread doughs. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for about 5 mins while you prepare your toppings.

Roll out dough (it's sticky so grease or flour the surfaces and rolling pin - I use a pastry mat with a little butter and a pin, also with a little butter - rinse rolling pin with hot water if you butter it as the butter can go rancid). This dough makes one thick crust 16 inch in diameter pizza or two thin crust 16 inch pizzas. This dough also works well on a cookie sheet if a pizza stone isn't avaliable.

Spread sauce and other toppings on top of dough and bake at 425. A single pizza stone, thick crust pizza needs about 20 mins. A cookie sheet or two thin crust pizzas need about 15 mins. Cook times will vary if ovens run hot or cool to temperature.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulate sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups oats
1 cup raisins

Pre-Heat oven to 350
Beat together butter and sugars
Add eggs and vanilla
Add cinnamon, baking soda
Add flour
Stir in oats and raisins
Scoop onto cookie sheet
Bake 10-12 minutes
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet
Continue cooling on wire rack

*This is a fabulous recipe for David because it doesn't call for any baking powder or chips. He can have everything in this recipe but make sure that the vanilla is CORN-FREE!!! Most vanillas, even the 100% vanilla extracts are made with corn syrup.*

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blueberry Walnut Granola

Here is a specific granola recipe that David and I both LOVE. David prefers a sweet tasting granola and this one leans towards the sweeter side. Amount of honey can be adjusted to taste. I recommend tasting your dried blueberries for sweetness prior to adding honey. If your blueberries are really sweet you will need less honey. And reverse, if your blueberries are tangy or tart you may want more honey.

3 cups oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
cinnamon to taste
1 cup dried blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 275.

Melt butter. Add honey to warm butter and whisk to blend the liquids. May need to heat mixture a minute or two more.

Put your oats, coconut, walnuts and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix well so that cinnamon is well incorporated. Pour warm butter/honey mix on top and mix well. The oats will stick together a little and look wet.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter. Spread the oat mix over pan. Put pan in oven. STIR granola every 15 mins or so until brown. Usually takes between 45-75 mins depending on size of baking sheet. The more thinly that the granola is spread the less time it will take to brown.

When granola is piping hot and browned pour back into large bowl. Add dried blueberries and mix well.

Dump granola back on baking sheet and spread out. Set to cool or eat warm!

Once granola is cooled to room temperature, store in tightly sealed container. (Packing granola warm can cause condensation in its container which can lead to yuckiness.)

World Market

Today I ventured to Cost Plus World Market. I have found that traditions and food availabilities in other countries often lend towards more corn free and soy free items. I wasn't sure I'd find much but was delighted with their selection of foods and SPICES!! I have been saving to purchase two vanilla beans to make my own vanilla extract. Thus far the best price that I have found was $17/per bean. YIKES!!! I need two pods. I couldn't justify $34 for vanilla extract given the explosion in our food budget. Imagine my surprise and joy when I found TWO vanilla beans for $2.99!!! In fact all of their spices were $2.99. I have never purchased spices, have never even looked at their spice selection. It's wonderful. All kinds of "exotic" spices for a fraction of the cost of grocery stores. They also had a large selection of organic foods. I had purchased a can of organic soup to keep on hand for when we don't have leftovers for David's lunch. The can in a grocery store was nearly $5. WM had the same product for 1/2 as much! They had organic pastas, raw sugars, chocolate bars and more on sale and at great prices. As a result of David's allergies we are eating more and more organic foods. Organic food labels are easier to read and have each ingredient labeled clearly rather than ominous words such as "spices" or "food thickeners" which could mean corn.... Many pre-mixed spices and seasoning salts have dextrose (corn) in them so unless spices are clearly listed we don't purchase the product. We had a food drive at church yesterday so we cleaned out just about everything left in our pantry that David couldn't eat. There are just a few items left that were opened like peanut butter. I love my peanut butter so I'm OK with that. I made David almond butter which was pretty delicious and plan on trying some cashew butter next.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I was hoping *fingers crossed* hoping that I wouldn't have to make spaghetti sauce from scratch each time we wanted a pasta dish. On a whim I checked the sauces at Sam's Club. And found one! Bertolli Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic sauce. First time to eat it is this evening. Hopefully it's delicious.

Sunday, July 19, 2009



*1 Cup granulated sugar
*3/4 Cup butter, melted
*2 Tbsp water
*2 large eggs
*2 tsp vanilla^
*11/3 Cups flour
*3/4 Cup Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa (it's a "safe" brand for David's allergies)
*1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter
*1/4 tsp Baking Soda

^Make sure it is corn free.^

Preheat oven 350

Mix sugar, butter and water in large bowl. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in baking soda and cream of tarter. Mix in cocoa thoroughly, then the flour.

Bake about 18 mins - the center should still be a little soft.

These brownies are more cake like in texture than the typical store bought mixes but they are safe for David to eat. Safe chocolate chips are quite pricey so I have been making these instead of chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Enjoy your diet. (by David)

In this adventure of food, one thing I have found is that I tend to stop and enjoy my food more. I think there are a few things that cause this. One, is that my diet has become slightly more bland. I eat more oatmeal or other simple to prepare meals. So when I do eat a more flavorful meal, I stop and enjoy it. Becca does her best to prevent a bland diet.

Another thing is that my food either cost more or takes longer to prepare. Either way it causes a person to stop and think about the food when the cost goes up. Our fruit intake has increased also as of late. Many more fruits are in season currently but fruit is an easy snack that is "safe."

Friday, July 10, 2009


I intended to post this recipe. Well it's an idea of a recipe.

Granola Guidelines

3 cups of old fashioned OATS
1 cup of flaked coconut (although this can be left out if one doesn't like coconut, or the flavor doesn't go with the other choices below)

(FAT) 1/4 cup of any one of the following:
Canola oil
Butter, melted
Coconut oil
Olive oil (it's quite flavorful so be prepared)
Vegetable oil (but not if the granola is for David)

(SWEETENER) 1/4 cup of any one of the following:
Brown sugar
Other sweetener of choice

(SPICE) Amount to taste of any of the following or combo of the following - ground:
All Spice
Garam masla (a spice mix that includes: cloves, black pepper, and more)

(NUT) 1 cup of any of the following, or any combo of the following - chopped:
Brazil nuts
Hazel nuts
Macadamia nuts
Peanuts (but not if the granola is for David)

(DRIED FRUIT) 2/3 cup of any of the following, or any combo of the following:
Dried apple
Dried banana pieces
Any other dried fruit

(I wouldn't recommend going to crazy the first time you mix the granola as it's easy to over flavor when there are too many things going on at once. Pick a theme such as Hawaiian and go with it using coconut oil, dried pineapple and macadamia nuts with cinnamon as your spice.)

If using a solid fat such as butter, melt it prior to beginning. I keep my olive oil in the fridge so as to prevent it going rancid in our hot climate. Same with my Coconut Oil. Thus I set them out a few mins prior to starting. I still have to melt the coconut oil for a minute though.

In a large bowl thoroughly mix your fat, spice(s) and sweetener of choice. Add your oats, nuts and coconut to the bowl and mix well, ensuring that your oats are evenly coated. Depending on the amount of dried fruit/nuts/sweetener that you add you may need to ADD A LITTLE MORE FAT. Use the same fat and add a SMALL amount a little at a time. Mix thoroughly between adding more. The oats should be a little damp-ish but not soaking and the mix should have a little stick to it.

Lightly grease a baking sheet (or two) with whatever fat you used in your granola. Spread the granola mix evenly over the baking sheet. The thinner the layer the more quickly the granola will bake. Pop into oven at 275. Stir the granola every 15 mins paying attention to the edges which will brown more quickly. The granola will need about 50-75 mins depending on how thick it is on the baking sheet and how well it's stirred. STIR EVERY 15 MINS or it will brown unevenly and have an unusual texture when eaten with milk.

Remove from oven when reaches desired toasty-ness. I like mine with a little crunch so I let it brown up pretty well unless I am in a hurry and don't have 70 mins to cook and stir it. Also, if you use multiple pans rotate them in the oven with each stirring session. I typically use two sheets so I take the bottom one out and stir it then put it on the top rack, rotating each time I open the oven to stir.

Immediately after removing from oven add your DRIED fruit and mix in it well. (I like to keep my large bowl handy and dump all the cooked granola back in with the fruit and mix it up.) Then spread it back on the sheet and allow it to cool thoroughly, stirring it occasionally. When it's cool store in an air tight container. I like Lock 'n' Lock containers that seal when closed and prevent air from getting in but Ziplocks work well when my Lock 'n' Lock's are full.

David's body reacts

David has been following an ever increasingly corn free, soy free, peanut free diet for 10 days. In the first few days David thought that he was thinking more clearly and already felt as though he had more energy. After 4 days of carefully reading labels and being cautious our neighbor woke us up early and said "We are going to breakfast, I am buying." What to do other than go? We ended up at IHOP. David picked a meal that was mostly meat and eggs. Some eggs mixes may have corn in them but we can't read the ingredient labels in a restaurant. Without thinking, he followed suit on the iced coffee orders. Right. So any pre-mixed iced coffee WILL have corn syrup of some sort and probably soy lechtin. Needless to say he didn't feel fabulous after that meal but it wasn't terrible because the iced coffee carries trace amounts. Another 6 full days of eating carefully and he's feeling even better. More energy, more even keeled, rational emotions (I'm getting my husband back!!), fewer crazy BM's, less bloated...

We were invited by a friend to join them for dinner last night. Tricky situation when one has such allergies as corn and soy. Especially when our friends have a son who is kept to a pretty strict gluten free diet (think corn and soy food alternatives). Nice. We talked about bringing David his own meal, prepared here but decided he would have a snack before we went and see how things went. Our neighbor also gave him digestive enzymes to take when he was going to be in such a situation. He took one and off we went. Thankfully our friend prepared fajitas. David was able to eat the meat and most of the sides. We sat down, huge bowl of chips in the middle. David dug in. Yea. CORN chips. Also he ate the cheese dip from a jar (corn and soy) and the pre-shredded cheese (corn starch and other products are used to prevent clumping). While he could have easily avoided these items, our friend had everything in separate bowls, I didn't have the heart to say "you can't eat that" and David didn't think much about it.

Needless to say David felt the effects almost immediately. We ate about 7:45pm. David was feeling pretty terrible by 8:50. The bloating, the BM's, the grumpiness.... And David says "I'm a believer!!!" LOL. I think he was some how hoping he wasn't really allergic or possibly attempting to ignore the situation and hope it went away.... poor guy. He didn't eat a ton of any of the items either. But CORN chips were probably the kicker.

So, today we are back to corn free and I'm thinking it'll be a while before David casually eats something without reading a label if it didn't come from my kitchen.

The baking challenge

The following products all contain corn by products:
Baking Powder
Powdered sugar
Yeast (Except Red Star brand)
Some flours (nearly ALL self rising - which I don't use anyway and MOST bleached white flours - which I also avoid)
Corn Starch (duh!)
Corn meal (right?)

The following contain soy:
Baking chips - chocolate, butterscotch, dark chocolate... you name it soy lechtin is probably in it
Vegetable oil

As a result of David's allergies baking has become a challenge. What once was second nature and a soothing activity has become some what stressful and not nearly as enjoyable. Reading labels and researching basic baking ingredients has sapped some of the pleasure out of baking. Further more, many of our wheat products here in the US are genetically engineered. Which, many think, has led to the rise in wheat and gluten allergies. With this in mind I have been attempting to experiment with new kinds of flour. Rice, rye and so on. While rye has a trace amount of gluten, rice has none. This means that a standard bread recipe I once made and always turned out perfectly no longer has the same light weight texture and feel. Gluten helps bread obtain that beautiful airy-ish texture we know and love. I made a batch of bread yesterday. Using a cup of rye and three cups of rice flour along with the remaining 2 cups or so of wheat flour. The bread is quite dense. While it's not dry like biscotti, it's dense like biscotti.

I made brownies on Tuesday night. I was bringing a meal to a friend who just had her first baby and thought a little something sweet would be perfect. I made the brownies with my cream of tarter/baking soda substitute for baking powder.

Word to the wise something I wish I had known: CREAM OF TARTER WILL EXPEDITE THE DRYING OUT OF BAKED GOODS. The muffins I made last week were perfect on Friday night. Moist and delicious. By Saturday morning, despite having bagged them in Ziplock bags and removing all excess air, the muffins were dry. Particularly the poppy seed. Like sand paper on my tongue. How terrible. I mushed them up in a bowl and ate them like cereal. Sand paper, slight exaggeration, eating the muffins like cereal, true story. All that to say I wish I had known. I should have figured it out. Cream of Tarter is most commonly used for things such as: making egg whites stiffen for pie toppings or assisting in the crispiness of a sugar cookie.... but with so many other things to think about those things NEVER crossed my mind. And so, when baking and using the Cream of Tarter and Baking Soda alternative ADD EXCESS FAT or APPLE SAUCE or something that will help to keep baked goods moist. Also if you live in a ridiculously hot place (like TX) and your A/C is running all the time just to keep the house at 80 degrees, storing baked goods in the fridge is a good idea. Helps keep them moist and because there are no preservatives in home baked goods, keeps them from going stale or molding.

Back to brownies. I used the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa Powder: which is safe. Substituting the baking powder and using my alcohol free, corn free vanilla and adding a few extra tablespoons of butter. They turned out perfect and were still pretty moist when we finished the last of the brownies today.


On Tuesday June 30 David and I went to the grocery store and picked up, among other things, the items in this photo. All of the items are safe foods for him to eat. Because I knew it would take time to ensure all of my staples were safe we purchased cookies and snack items as well as granola for breakfast. David's allergy is tricky because many gluten free items substitute corn or soy or both for wheat flour. Enjoy Life is dedicated to creating all of their product without the top 8 allergens, which include soy and peanuts but not corn. Some of their products do contain corn so we're becoming pros at reading labels.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Grocery shopping trip

On Tuesday after a light supper of the few products that we had that we thought were probably corn free, we went grocery shopping to purchase products that David can safely eat.

Some of our great finds included:
  • Central Market Organics Powdered Sugar - This product is made from Tapioca Starch as opposed to the often used Corn Starch
  • Enjoy Life Food Products - All of their products are free from the top 8 food allergies, which include soy and peanut so we have only to look for corn ingredients. Their labels were pretty clear and easy to read so spotting the products with corn were easy
  • An alcohol, corn syrup free Vanilla Flavoring product - I have never used anything but Pure Vanilla Extract so I'm a little nervous as to the flavor of this product but typical vanilla's aren't safe for David so here goes nothing
  • Back to Nature Cinnamon Crunch cereal - David hasn't opened this cereal yet as he dug into the Enjoy Life granola we purchased to tide him over until I could make granola but it looks good and the ingredients once again were clearly listed and easy to figure out
  • Lundberg Rice Cakes - made from brown rice and a little salt, David's waiting until I make almond butter to eat these bad boys
I have been preparing for a brunch this morning. When David was a kid his family would have a 4th of July brunch. We decided to do something along those line, only here at home being that the weather is clearing 100 degrees before 10am. I made three batches of home made muffins last night (all baking mixes are now out for muffins, brownies and cakes - which is fine now but we will have a sweet shortage during school months). I made an apple cinnamon batch, a blueberry batch and a poppy seed batch. I used the same basic muffin recipe and substituted the baking powder with a mix of cream of tarter and baking soda.

Here are baking substitutes for the corn, soy and peanut allergy folks:

Baking powder = 1 teaspoon substitute is 1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter plus 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
Corn Starch = 1 Tablespoon substitute is 2 Tbsp flour

The baking powder substitute worked well in the cheddar biscuits I made for dinner and the muffins I made for this morning. I haven't tried the mix in anything else yet but I'll keep posting.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Food preparers beware

The difficulty level in preparing foods for David has me a bit spooked. Read a label on any box, container, pasta.... in the pantry and you will see why. Nearly everything includes a variation on corn or soy.
Both are used extensively in items such as:
  • sugars (particularly powdered and brown)
  • baking powder and other leavening ingredients
  • flours
  • pastas
  • cereals
  • canned soups
  • bullion cubes
  • canned beans (think Bush's baked)
  • canned fruits
  • canned veggies
  • snack food items of all kinds from chips to fruit snacks and flavored yogurts
  • foods in foil packages as the packages are often dusted with a corn product to prevent sticking to the packaging
  • crackers
  • condiments
  • juices
  • sodas and many other beverages...
the list goes on and on and on and on.

Products that have an ingredient of "citric acid" often have used an acid derived from corn. Corn is hidden in the ingredients listed as:
  • modified starches
  • vegetable oil(s) (the standard veggie oil is made from soy)
  • alcohol
  • syrup
  • citric acid
  • maltodextrin
and once again the list continues.

This means I can't use traditional baking powder, I need to find a brand that uses a potato starch or make my own. This means that my vanilla may not be safe and I have to investigate it prior to cooking with it. This means I have to research my oats, nuts (can't be processed in a plant with peanuts) and coconut before I make David some granola. YIKES!!! Same with my powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour, pastas and so on. Thank God I have one less class in the Fall. Food preparation will be a full time job.

Of late we have been attempting to eat more plain veggies and grilled meat. Both of which should be safe. Some waxed fruits/veggies however are also now unsafe. Horizon organic plain yogurt appears to be safe. My neighbor and I had dinner one night and she served a dessert of fresh fruit and plain yogurt. While we were in San Antonio we got smoothies from a Mediterranean place that made smoothies from yogurt, bananas, other fresh fruit and a bit of honey. Combining both concepts, I have been making breakfast smoothies with the yogurt and fresh fruits. They are delicious but only a short lived fulfillment as there isn't much protein or fiber to keep one full until lunch time. David had one this morning. He mixed his with blueberries and the yogurt.

I'm feeling overwhelmed and I have to go shop. David and I made a pasta I think is safe last night and he tossed it with fresh mozzarella balls, garlic and Parmesan with a little olive oil. I'm still not 100% certain that my garlic is corn free. YIKES!

In the beginning

We just found out yesterday that David, my husband, has a food allergy to corn, soy and peanuts. David started going to a GI specialist for the better part of 2009 trying to figure out the cause of his problems. We met in 1999. David had a few of the symptoms even then, just not nearly as noticeable. This blog is to collect all our resources in one location and provide a bit of information for other people that may also be looking for answers to their GI problems or need resources for a newly discovered corn, soy or peanut allergy.

  • Eczema
  • "Personal noises" - my term for David's little hiccups, burps and other throaty noises. He didn't think that anyone else could hear them because they feel as though they are in his chest/throat and rarely actually arrive as a full blown belch.
  • Heart burn - excessive. In the past two years has been getting much worse. Poor Hubs pops Tums like a kid eating Smarties candies.
  • Bloating
  • Irregular BM's (sorry Love, it's a symptom and this is for medical purposes)
  • Breath that smelled rotten (literally)
  • GERD - this diagnosis was received and medicated with Nexium about 3 months or so ago. While the Nexium worked really well, it had unpleasant side effects and David didn't like the prospect of being medicated for life.
Prior to being married (03/05) the first, most noticeable, symptom was Eczema. Something most people don't realize, is that Eczema is most often a symptom of a food allergy. Actual skin irritations causing eczema is a secondary cause to food allergies. David called me and said "I have this weird rash on my arms and behind my knees and on my calf's..." I couldn't see it over the phone, but I said some of it was probably ring worm. I had picked up some ring worm on a missions trip to Mexico and had seen him while I had it. I was skeptical about it getting to his legs though so told him to see a dermatologist - it was probably eczema. I recommended iodine for the ring worm. He put iodine on every thing. The rash in a loose ring on his arm went away but the stuff on his legs didn't. A trip to a doctor confirmed eczema. He occasionally got eczema when we were in northern states, often in the winter (think chili and corn bread) but a quick visit to a tanning bed for a little while and it would clear up. I didn't think chili and corn bread at the time.

When we were first married the primary symptom was "personal noises". He had some affection for Tums but only occasionally.

After moving around together for Hubs' job, for a few years we bought a house and settled. David traveled nearly every week, for a couple of days for his job. His Tums popping habit got significantly worse. And the BM's were, let's just say, odd. We attributed it to his poor diet while on the road and excessive use of Tums (taking too many Tums to alleviate heartburn can cause irregular BM's). He often ate take out or pizza or fast food. The heartburn, the bloating and the BM's were all bothersome but were easily overlooked in light of his on the road diet. Foods we rarely eat at home. When David came home from several lengthy business trips late November he didn't take another trip for several months. We couldn't blame a poor diet any more.

Over about a year David's breath had turned sour. Even after having just brushed his teeth his breath would smell rotten, unfortunately, literally. I often would ask if he was dehydrated and we attributed the bad breath to dehydration. We live in TX after all. But there were times when we would attempt to blame it on dehydration but his urine would be clear. A sure sign of good hydration.

I finally asked David to see someone about what was going on. He was miserable and the personal noises and breath were out of control. We went to a general practitioner who referred us to a specialist (waste of time and a co-pay by the way - we don't need a referral to see a specialist, so cut the general practitioner out if you can). David went to see a GI specialist. She diagnosed him with GERD, put him on Nexium and started running tests. I mentioned it could be a food allergy but David decided to go with the GI specialist.

Several months of Nexium and we realized a side effect that is rare but unpleasant. The GI specialist had mentioned to David that a few months on Nexium may clear up his problem entirely so David stopped taking Nexium. The symptoms came roaring back full force. And he wasn't taking Tums so the BM's and bloating couldn't be explained by anything. Another drug, more testing.

At the same time a dear friend of mine was seeking answers to similar GI problems. She was also dealing with a severe rash as well. She was going through laundry detergents attempting to clear up what she had been told was an allergic reaction to detergent. She went through extensive food allergy testing about 2 months or so ago. She discovered allergies to wheat, strawberries, walnuts, specific fishes, cayenne pepper and a few other equally random allergies. She adjusted her diet and now she looks amazing. She has more energy, her rash is completely gone and her GI problems are dramatically reduced.

I mentioned again that allergy testing would be a $35 co-pay and an hour or so and may provide answers. David endured one more procedure with no results or answers and booked an appointment with an allergist.

The allergist was skeptical about David having food allergies because he didn't think that his symptoms fit a food allergy. We had done research on the internet and I had spent a lot of time discussing things with my friend (who had been looking for answers for at least 2 YEARS). David was tested for the 9 most common food allergies. Corn, egg white, fish mix, milk, peanut, pecan, shellfish mix, soy and wheat. Coming up positive for three. Corn, soy and peanut. David said that the nurse walked in to check his back and said, "Now this is interesting." She was skeptical as well when David went in. The doctor told David he had seen one other patient with similar symptoms. That patient had also had a corn allergy.

While we aren't certain that eliminating these foods from David's diet will solve his GI problems we are quite hopeful. David is going to remain on his current medication for another 4 weeks or so while we eliminate all food items and allow his body to flush the corn, soy and peanuts from his system. When we go off the meds, we shall see if his problems were indeed food allergies. We haven't found any other answers through testing ordered by his GI specialist so this is our best bet as of now.