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Sep 23, 2009 02:06 PM

What to Cook When Your Allergic to Just About Everything

My boyfriend is struggling with yeast/mold and corn allergies and it puts us on a very restrictive diet. I posted about this for suggestions as to where to eat out but we are not doing much of that lately. So the blacklist is as follows: corn (obviously), cheese, wheat, yeast, mushrooms, alcohol, buttermilk, vinegar, chocolate, coffee, tea, nothing fermented and nothing that goes through a molding process, nothing preserved, condiments, and nothing to high in sugar or salt.

We don't eat much fruit or drink much milk (because of the sugar). We try to eat things that are fresh and natural, lots of grilled meats and veggies and some brown rice/brown rice pasta once in a while.

It hasn't been so easy thinking of interesting meals and I hope you all can help!! Thanks in advance!

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  1. I have two little boys with about the same host of allergies as your boyfriend. My wife and I make a lot of Thai dishes with rice noodles. I understand the lactose issue but fruits have much simpler sugars and normally shouldn't be a problem although I do know a couple of people with berry allergies. Has he tried coconut milk or any of the others (rice, soy, hemp...) I prefer the coconut and use it as a substitute for regular whole milk whenever I can.

    A lot of the gluten-free blogs have good recipes too, but gluten free doesn't mean corn free so make sure you read the fine print. I made a really good lentil dish the other day with a wild and brown rice mix from Bob's red mill and some green lentils from the health food store. We use tinkyada brand rice noodles since they seem to be the most like what we're used too. They have a pretty good spaghetti which the kids really like. My wife makes some pretty killer spaghetti and meatballs.

    I suggest investing in a good wok, maybe a rice cooker, and explore Asian cuisine to add a bit of variety to the same old, same old fare. I know it's difficult at times, but eventually you'll discover stuff that he can eat and find substitutes for things that you crave.

    I hope I helped a little bit. Hang in there!

    1 Reply
    1. re: po3tree

      We have recently found tinkyada products and really like them too! Thanks for the support!

    2. I have to echo po3tree's recommendation of lentils. They are incredibly versatile and nutritious to boot. In addition to Thai, I would look at Indian cuisine as well. There are many bean, lentil and vegetable curries that your boyfriend should be able to eat. Off the top of my head, here are some relatively easy Indian vegetable dishes you can make: chole (chickpea curry), aloo gobi masala (potato and cauliflower curry), rajma and poriyals (dry curries, for example green beans.) A lot of Indian cooking has the reputation of containing a massive ingredients list. You can somewhat accelerate the process by buying premade masalas. I'm not sure what the danger of cross-contamination is with these spice mixes though.

      I find that vegetable stews provide a warm, soothing meal during the colder months. Some ideas: ratatouille, caponata, bademjan (Persian eggplant stew), vegetable tagines.

      Pilafs and biryanis with veggies would make a good one-dish meal. Dirty rice, hoppin' John (sans bacon or ham hock) and rice and beans also fall in this camp.

      I'm sorry to hear of your boyfriend's condition. It's great that you're helping him find meals that accommodate his dietary constraints.

      2 Replies
      1. re: amy_wong

        We make tabouli with lentils since I can't eat wheat. It should fit within the food rules of the OP. The tart comes from lemon juice instead of vinegar. Lemon might also be a good swap where vinegar is used in some dishes.

        1. re: blackpointyboots

          Quinoa makes great tabouli as well if you can eat that.

      2. I can totally relate... I can't have yeast (therefore the fermented/molded foods are out), gluten, dairy (including casein), and coconut (no loss I don't like it, but it's useful in cooking). The hardest things for me have been balsamic vinegar and mushrooms, two of my great loves.

        I got several great cookooks...
        Feast without Yeast
        Extraordinary Foods for the Everyday Kitchen
        Allergy Self-Help Cookbook
        There are lots of great recipes in these... made great buckwheat pancakes the other week. But lots more!

        In one of my cookbooks, there's a good recipe for tortillas, which can be altered based upon the flours you use. I've done a garbanzo flour based tortilla, as well as buckwheat. Both are good for making fajitas or burritos or the like.

        Chili is an easy one.

        Seared Scallops with Toasted Beluga Lentils and an Orange Reduction and Parsley OIl
        Soak black lentils over night. Rinse and dry. Toast the lentils in a pan til crispy and crunchy. You can also do this in the oven and just bake at 300 for 20-30 minutes. Sear scallops in olive oil, then deglaze pan with a little orange juice (I'm usually fine with a little) -- you can also use lemon. Serve scallops over a bed of lentil, drizzled with reduction and parsley oil.

        Big fan of blackened grilled fish. Grilled anything is great since it adds flavor without dangerous ingredients.

        Try making frittatas or quiches with unsweetened almond or rice milk... I eat a lot of egg whites.

        Paella can be done

        Hummus and Baba Ghanoush

        Make fried rice using Bragg's Amino Acids instead of soy sauce

        Lettuce wraps

        Jamaican Rice'n'Peas

        Also check out

        10 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          Wow!! Thank you so much! So many great ideas! The buckwheat pancakes sound fantastic! And yes, some things have been hard to let go like the balsamic!

          Question: I was under the impression that dried foods tended to be moldy... are lentils okay? And how is Bragg's? Have heard the name a lot but not 100% sure what its all about yet.

          Thanks again! Its so nice knowing there are others out there!! I will post some of the things we eat and hopefully they can help someone else out too!

          1. re: Yes Please

            Braggs liquid aminos are similar to soy sauce. While not quite the same as soy, it is a great unfermented gluten-free alternative to those who can't have soy sauce for whatever reason. They have it in Whole Foods and many health food stores. They also sell it in a spray bottle (which I love).

            I have no problems with corn but have discovered that I feel better when I limit my intake of fermented foods. I would recommend you looking into some Mediterranean recipes. There are lots to eat that don't have gluten and fermentation. One of my favorite cookbooks is Arabesque by Roden.

            You should look into exploring other grains aside from brown rice. Black rice is deliciously nutty and has a great fiber and mineral content. Quinoa is excellent. Lots of threads on this board about quinoa. Millet is also another favorite of mine. I used to hate it until I learned to toast it before cooking. Gives a similar texture to couscous. I make a millet "pulao" using millet, veggies, chicken, curry leaves and spices.

            I do make some substitutions to avoid using fermented items. Not quite the same, but still good. Instead of vinegar, I use lemon or lime juice for many things. I make my version of Korean hwe dup bap using chili pepper powder, lemon, braggs, garlic, ginger and sesame oil instead of the gluten-containing fermented hot bean sauce. I eat lots of soups like asparagus soup, leek and potato soup, chicken vegetable soup -- it's endless. I made my own chicken pho last night using salt instead of fish sauce. Braised vegetables like braised cabbage in Molly Stevens's braising book is awesome as well. I've also made my own fried chicken using cornstarch as the coating. I know you can't have corn, but tapioca starch is also a good substitute. I've also used brown rice flour to coat things like fish and chicken for pan-frying. Fish baked in salt-crust served with olive oil and lemon is terrific as well. If you can eat citrus fruits, ceviches are also good too. As another poster noted, many things in Indian cuisine you can eat that are gluten-free and fermentation-free. You can make potato samosas using rice paper. You can eat mayo if you make it yourself. The Zuni roast chicken with rosemary is something we have a lot as well. Really, there are so many things out there to eat.

            Good luck with this diet. Hope your boyfriend will feel better. And who knows? You may feel better as well. My sister's ex-boyfriend and my aunt were both really ill at one point. They did a huge overhaul of their diet and both are doing well now and can eat many more things that they couldn't in the past.

            ETA: In order to answer your question about dried foods and mold, in my experience, I haven't noticed a huge difference with things like lentils and mold. But I've seen things like dried fruits (probably because of the high sugar content) causing problems in people who are sensitive to molds. It's really an individual thing. The only way to tell is to test and see if your bf has a problem. Oh, and you can't have Braggs if you're allergic to soy as it's made from soy.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Thanks! We have been eating this way for a couple months now and we look and feel absolutely amazing! We've learned lots of tricks but was hoping for some new ideas too!

              The tapioca starch is a good idea! As for the dried lentils, we've found dried packaged things esp certain nuts to be a bit of a problem.

              1. re: Yes Please

                The dried, packaged things like nuts are often dusted with corn starch- if its used as a production aid, it doesn't have to be listed on the ingredients. Its no fun with a corn allergy. Has he figured out how careful he has to be with all the corn derivatives?

                1. re: anniemax

                  The doctor said some nuts are moldy like pistachios in particular. But the corn starch would explain why roasted almonds make him sick sometimes! I think the corn allergy is slight but because there are so many other things to be careful of and therefore it being easy to slip up or make a mistake, we try to avoid everything we can.

                  1. re: Yes Please

                    Corn is tough because is omni-present in modern US food- you just cannot avoid it without really knowing the ins & outs of all its possible names...and a lot more about food processing then any of should have to know. It took a lot time for me to totally figure my corn allergy out, even after I was officially diagnosed...and even longer to convince my doctors how severe it was. I have to avoid all forms of corn, which takes a lot creativity- and can lead to a pretty boring diet because its easier to fix the same things all the time. Have you seen the list of corn names to watch for on labels?- Also, I noticed in the soda thread that you were talking about Xylitol as a sweeter- did you know its made from corn mostly now (occasionally still find it made from birch, but not often). Have you found the Avoiding Corn at yet? Its really helpful sometimes to see what other people are doing.

                    And if you have any questions, I can try to help- my diet is limited by some other medical issues & I a lot of the corn free foods I do make wouldn't work for your BF because of the other foods he is avoiding now. I can help with identifying if things are corny or not, for the most the part.

                    1. re: anniemax

                      Yes, we had tried Xylitol before we knew about the corn allergy and have since switched to stevia.

                      Thanks for the corn allergen link! Seems really helpful!

              2. re: Miss Needle

                Used some Bragg's the other night for the first time and it was a hit! A little goes a long way! Thank you soo much!

                Also using brown rice to coat meats... do you add anything else or just use the flour? We've been using almond meal which has been pretty good if you want to try it!

                And ceviche is on the list too! With brown rice tortillas baked into chips! Brown rice tortillas have been an exciting find!

                1. re: Yes Please

                  I buy raw almonds and toast them myself. Then I whiz them up in the food processor and use them to coat meats. I have also done the same with pine nuts and fresh herbs. Love it. I have no allergies (though I grew up with misdiagnosed Celiac) I just like this 'crust' on meat and fish - it's yummy.

              3. re: Yes Please

                I soak dried soy beans, lentils, whatever overnight in water, then rinse. I rpast/toast them in the oven, sprinkled with some salt and onion powder (or whatever else), and it's a great protein dense snack... You can do a combo for your own Chex mix kind of thing.

                And the Bragg's explanation was spot on. I prefer it to soy actually.

            2. Here are the things we've macgyvered to make from what we could that have been tasty and a little interesting. Hopefully you all can offer tweaks or benefit from this!

              -Chicken with chopped jalepeno, lime, cilantro, and this smoky Santa Maria seasoning.
              -Brown rice cooked down with chicken stock (almost like risotto) and red peppers and onions.
              -Brown rice with butter and broccoli.
              -Quinoa with onions and peppers and basil wilted in.
              -Salmon with lemon and fresh ginger and herbs.
              -Pork chops/tenderloin with olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
              -Chicken or pork crusted with almond flour and herbs.
              -Salad dressing: Olive oil with crushed garlic, herbs and lemon juice.
              -Cream of buckwheat with cinnamon.
              -Green apples with raw almond butter.
              -Cinnamon and stevia sprinkled on anything to make it dessert-y!

              1. I have no experience with your situation but I don't see eggs on the no-no list and if you can have tapioca starch, then could you make Fluffy Tapioca on the Minute Tapioca box? The only ingredients are milk, eggs, Minute tapioca, sugar (I reduce the amount they call for), vanilla. That's all. It's a nourishing pudding. Goes nicely with any fruit.

                Or, if tapioca pudding is out, could you make a rice pudding? Reading your post I am feeling kind of sorry for you both and thinking that you need a treat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Querencia

                  Yes, eggs are fine. For the sugar we can use stevia.

                  Thanks Querencia! We do miss sweets and those are difficult to macgyver from the "allowed foods" :)