Food Allergies and Sensitivities - Some Alternative Recipes

Food allergies and sensitivities seem to be on the rise. Either that, or there are just more and more people who are aware of what is causing their ill health.

Back in the 80’s, I was one of those people who scoffed at the claims of some people regarding environmental sensitivities. At that time the focus was on dyes, inks, fragrances and environmental pollutants. Many of the people featured in news articles and documentaries were reduced to living in tents or “bubbles”. I thought they were all a little bit “nuts”. Then I became one. It sure taught me a thing or two.

The list of things that I must avoid is daunting: milk in all its forms; wheat in all its forms; corn, which includes corn oil, corn starch and corn sugars; bananas, all citrus fruit; strawberries; chocolate; caffeine; nuts; peanuts; yeast; mushrooms and environmental fungi; artificial sweeteners; artificial colors; artificial flavors; preservatives; alcohol, whether taken internally or inhaled as in a hairspray; and all artificial fragrances and quite a few natural ones. All of the above items give me migraine headaches. I had the migraines every day for about four years before I figured it all out. I have to severely limit my salt intake due to having Meniere’s Syndrome, which is too much fluid pressure in the inner ear. It causes extreme dizziness, ringing in the ears and gradual loss of hearing.

Because of all of these limitations, I have had to find alternatives to the things that most people take for granted. I have spent a lot of years researching food allergies and sensitivities and the alternatives. I would like to present you with some of the recipes I have developed for some of my favorite foods.

When I was young, my mother made the most wonderful ginger cookies. She used white wheat flour, butter, Crisco, salt and baking soda as well as a few other ingredients that I can still use. So, if gluten is not a problem for you, here is my ginger cookie recipe:

1 ¾ cups whole grain spelt flour or oat flour
½ cup brown cane sugar
½ cup refined cane sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup light olive oil
4 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate (rising agent)
¼ teaspoon clove
Unwashed, raw sugar with large crystals

Pre-heat oven to 370°

In a large bowl, mix olive oil, sugar, brown sugar and molasses. Add the ginger, cinnamon and clove. Then add the flour and the rising agent. If it looks too loose or oily, add a little more flour until it doesn’t. If you add too much flour and it becomes to dry to hold together, add a little water. It should not stick to your hands.

Take about a tablespoon and a half of dough in your hands and form it into a ball. Roll the ball around in the raw sugar and place on an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet. They will spread out, so only place about 12 balls per average sized cookie sheet. About ¾ of the way through baking, the tops start to crack.

Bake for about 15 minutes.

Be a little careful as you remove them from the sheet to a cooling rack. They do not hold together really well until they have cooled. It will make at least 2 dozen, maybe more.

I have been told by countless people that these are the best ginger cookies they have ever eaten.

Another treat I dearly love are pancakes. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could. Actually, I have, but not all on the same day.

The trick with pancakes is to get them to hold together well. Also, to make them “gluey” enough to hold the gas produced by the rising agent so that they are nice and fluffy. Spelt and oat flours do not have nearly as much gluten as does wheat flour. The potato starch mentioned in the following recipe acts as a conditioner for the batter and the flax seed meal acts as the “glue”.

1 cup whole grain spelt flour
½ cup whole grain oat flour (or use all oat flour)
¼ cup light olive oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons refined cane sugar (or raw sugar)
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons potassium bicarbonate (rising agent, if sodium is not a problem, use baking soda)

Mix the egg, olive oil, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours, potato starch, flax seed meal and rising agent. Stir. It will be very thick. Add water by 1/3 cups until you have the consistency you desire. Cook on a non-stick griddle over medium heat until they are golden brown.

Because oat flour and potato starch soak up a lot of water, the batter tends to thicken as it sits between batches. It may be necessary to add a little water as you go.

I make smallish pancakes by pouring the batter by ¼ cupfuls onto the hot griddle. I get about a dozen from this recipe.

I like my pancakes best served with 100% maple syrup or a little locally produced honey. Do not toss out the leftovers (if you have any). Just store them in the refrigerator. When you are in the mood for a quick snack, pop a couple in the toaster. Yum! I am always hoping there will be some pancakes left over.

I hope you enjoy my first foray into presenting some alternative recipes. Be creative with your food and do not be afraid of failure. Cooking might be chemistry, but it is not rocket science.

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