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New allergy, need help with recipes (Benzoic Acid, Cinnamates, and Balsam of Peru)

Rambutan2000 Feb 3, 2014 07:03 PM

My wife was recently diagnosed with a number of food allergies. Not life-threatening, but the effects do seriously impact quality of life. We are hoping that the right diet will help.

Sadly, the allergy eliminates some of her favorite foods, and basically cover 75% of our go to dinners. So I look to you Chow Hounds for help! Any ideas for recipes given the following restrictions will be HUGELY appreciated. All the more so if they are good weekday meals, or something I can make over the weekend and then easily serve as leftovers. I would also welcome good websites or other resources for menus/recipes.

We limit meat to 2-3 times a week (red meat only once), so vegetarian meals are appreciated. We prefer lighter dishes, as opposed to heavier meals. Think `steak salad' rather than `grilled ribeye'. Aside from pork, we'll eat anything. I tend to cook largely from scratch, though do use canned tomatoes or stock-in-a-box. Turns out a lot of the allergens are used as preservatives, so we were on the right track with that one.

The entire list of foods is long, but here are the biggies:
-Chili? (unclear if chili powder or spicy peppers too?)
-Spiced Condiments
-Pickled Foods
-Chocolate and Vanilla :(

The allergy is to Benzoic Acid, Cinnamates, and Balsam of Peru. Balsamic vinegar is okay though! Anyone have any experience with this, or any good ideas?

(I'm trying to cheer up my wife, so please don't elaborate on how much you'd regret having to give up any of these foods. Believe me, we know!)

  1. r
    Rambutan2000 Feb 3, 2014 07:06 PM

    I'll help get things started, too. Finding this out right before the super bowl threatened my guacamole. I wasn't going to let that happen! So I replaced the lime juice with pomegranate seeds and chopped granny smith apples. Turned out great! In addition to the acidic bite, it also added some nice texture and great color. I highly recommend.

    1. r
      Rambutan2000 Feb 3, 2014 07:08 PM

      Oh, one more thing. Beer and gin are also on the no-fly list. Does anyone happen to know whether whiskey is okay on this diet? We definitely need a strong drink after learning all of this, and I hate to drink alone. ;)

      1. Ttrockwood Feb 3, 2014 07:37 PM

        This thread may have some inspiration:

        This thread should also be helpful:

        Obviously these are veg recipes and suggestions but it's easy enough to add whatever meat and to omit/modify the allergens.

        This thread has some really great veggie burger recipes- i make a big batch, freeze them, and then add to a big salad for a quick meal, or even crumbled into a simple soup like butternut or a corn chowder.

        1. hotoynoodle Feb 6, 2014 12:26 PM

          you can do braises of meat or chicken in big batches, then round the meal out with fresh veggies. it's winter here, so i've been making lots of soups, with home-made broth, bits of meat or swirling in eggs like egg drop soup. seaweed or spinach in there as the green.

          i'd do an elimination diet for now and some further research into the unreliability of food allergy testing:



          both are transcripts from podcasts, so you'll need to scroll down for the relevant bits.

          also do some reading about how leaky gut syndrome can cause false positives in food allergy testing.


          these will help explain why tests like this produce results that seem both nonsensical and all over the map.

          in addition to eliminating these foods for now, please look into the gaps diet for healing the gut.

          good luck.

          1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 6, 2014 12:39 PM

            I'm sorry to hear that you're both going through this, I know it's not fun. Have a look at these two blogs - hopefully you'll find plenty of meal/recipe ideas within:

            I don't want to wander off topic here, but B of P and its derivative components are also very common in cleaning supplies, cosmetics, toiletries & medications, so your wife should check the labels on all the products she uses in those categories as well.

            Regarding liquor, yes, whiskey is safe (though you should add vermouth to the no-no list along with beer, wine and gin).

            Since warm spices are out, I'd encourage you to focus on preparations that rely heavily on herbs. Pesto is a delicious, versatile option - serve on pasta, or use to coat meat or fish before cooking.

            Take advantage of cooking methods that increase or concentrate flavor without the addition of spices (like roasting vegetables or grilling meats and veg).

            Other ideas:
            A frittata or omelet with lots of veg and some cheese.
            Salad with a variety of vegetables, your choice of protein (and/or cheese/nuts/seeds), and homemade vinaigrette or a yogurt-based dressing with herbs.
            Homemade hummus, bean dip or baba ghannouj as a spread for pita or lavash (garnish with cucumber slices, sprouts, shredded carrot, etc).
            Popcorn with herbs or cheese (or both!) would make a nice crunchy snack.
            Oatmeal can go sweet or savory.
            Polenta is wonderful with cheese, pesto or an herbed mushroom ragout.
            Risotto and other rice or whole grain dishes cooked with homemade stock or broth.
            Ricotta or goat cheese mixed with herbs makes a tasty spread or topping for crackers, toast or cucumber; either one can also be lightly sweetened and/or paired with fruit for a light dessert.

            Hope that helps!

            1 Reply
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
              dinaofdoom Feb 9, 2014 09:48 PM

              goodhealthgourmet, a few years ago i remember reading on the home cooking board about how someone's grandmother cooked such delicious food without any spices/seasoning. she just took the time to bring out all the natural flavors with slow cooking and whatnot. i try to cook slow and low when the weather's not so hot here, so i can accomplish the same. your post above reminded me of that.

            2. r
              rsd Feb 20, 2014 12:11 PM

              i have the same allergy and it is very difficult. i just wanted to say that your wife definitely needs to check all of the ingredients on her products (shampoo, conditioner, dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent, sunscreen, etc.). With regards to food, we cook and eat very well. i have found that citrus is ok -- except for the peel, so you might want to experiment with citrus juice in your cooking.
              i did a thorough elimination diet for 3 weeks and then "tested" each ingredient listed above. I found that I can use vanilla for baking, btw. Ginger was a problem for me, too, and also things like lemongrass (unexpected, but i guess it has the same chemical components as citrus peel). Use lots of fresh veggies and herbs and you will eat very well.

              1. s
                scrnme007 Apr 12, 2014 09:23 PM

                Would love to know your full list because I patch tested allergic to Balsam of Peru and Kathon CG. However, I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to cinnamates as well. Benzoic Acid is on my suspect list, as well as a few more things. I got no help from my dermatologist. I was under the impression that some of the above foods have links to Balsam of Peru... but that I might not be allergic to all links. For instance if I'm allergic to cinnamates and that's the part of BofP I'm allergic too... the citrus peels, vanilla, etc may not be allergens for me. How did you determine your allergies? What safe foods have you found? Why are spicy peppers (I've suspected them too...) on the list? Wine? Beer? Tomatoes? Spices? What are their links to BofP, BA or Cinnamates? It is all rather confusing.

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