New allergy, need help with recipes (Benzoic Acid, Cinnamates, and Balsam of Peru)
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?)
-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!)
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.
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. ;)
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
I should have responded to your helpful post earlier, it was great! And, yes, figuring out balsam free cosmetics and toiletries has been a huge help (and her doctor provided her with a list of approved products). I would strongly urge anyone with a B of P allergy to ask their doctor for such a list, and to take goodhealthgourmet's advice on that.
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.
Yes I also found that vanilla was ok as long as it was real vanilla and not artificial. Fortunately I also can tolerate paprika, nutmeg and clove, (I go easy on these) so I can do pretty well with recipes. All herbs are ok. I make my own BBQ sauce from scratch. I can eat fresh tomatoes, anything else like canned, katsup, canned sauce is a no no, so I make fresh sauce when I want to eat some. Homemade soups are great as you can freeze left overs in portion sizes for future use. Stews and chowders are great too. Nice thing about these is you can go easy on the meat and load them up with veggies.
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.
Hi everyone ... My heart goes out for you!
I had a back patch test. Dermatologist put the patch on my back, I wore it for 2 days, she removed it, I went back 2 days later and VOILA! 3 Allergies! My face and hands were raw from all the scratching! And as you all know, it's the kind of itch that, once you start, you just cannot stop!
Anyway, my 3 allergies were: Nickel, Mercury and Balsam of Peru. When I hear BoP, I said "huh"? Never heard of it in my life! Well, this was approximately 10 years ago. I was prescribed HydroVal Hydrocortisone 0,2% to help control the itching and it HELPS sooooo much!!!
Since then, I have not come across a doctor, specialist, dentist, nurse or pharmacist that had heard of Balsam of Peru allergy. I am so close to start a world wide campaign against Benzoate. I can still refrain from using natural products, but darn it! Just about every product has some or other form of Benzoate in it!
MY PREDICAMENT: I am South African and I lived in Canada when I was diagnosed and due to the HydroVal and of course reading every single Ingredients label, I managed to keep it at bay to a certain extent. BUT, now I have moved back to SA and there is not a product like HydroVal here! My friends back in Canada, cannot get it for me, as their doctors do not want to prescribe it for them. What on earth do I do? I cannot go to restaurants or eat at friends, because they don't think about these ingredients, If I DO eat any of these, I suffer afterwards and have to live with it! Some people look at you and say: "What? It cannot be THAT bad?" Let me tell you, lots of people also like to use cloves in their cooking. It's a PEST!
Oh well, now I've at last typed my heart out!!!!
All the best to all the BALSAM OF PERU sufferers!
Well, it's been several months and we've been eating balsam free ever since. It took a little while to figure things out, but I can tell you that we've eaten very, very well. We always tried to avoid preprocessed and preprepared foods, and this pushed us even further to make everything from scratch.
I thought I'd post a follow up with some of our favorite recipes. Some will be linked to other sites, others what we've come up with, and a few in between. Where applicable I've included the source of the recipe. If others would like to add recipes to this list, I think that'd be great. I'm sure folks would appreciate this as a good resource as they build up their own balsam free menus.
Finally, most of these are pretty easy. Both my wife and I work full time professional jobs (i.e., our jobs continue at home), and finding time to cook from scratch can be difficult. Hopefully you'll find these can be done rather quickly, are healthy, and taste really great!
• Fish filet (trout, salmon, arctic char, etc.)
• Olive oil
• Fruit vinegar or Honey vinegar or Cider vinegar
• Dried thyme
• Fresh mango
• Fresh parsley
• Place fish skin side down on aluminum foil. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle on vinegar, pepper, and dried thyme. Let marinate while grill heats up (∼10 minutes).
• Place foil with fish on hot grill, cook until done.
• For mango salsa, dice mango and jicama, and mix with parsley (cilantro if you’re not me---I don't like cilantro).
• Etruria makes a line of really nice fruit vinegars that are balsam of peru safe.
• Adapted from AMA Hypertension cookbook.
Have you seen this link: http://www.bowdiges.org/documents/fil...
Sodium benzoate may be used as a preservative in margarine, codfish, bottled soft drinks, maraschino
cherries, mincemeat, fruit juices, pickles, fruit jelly preserves, and jams. In addition, it may be added to the
ice used for cooling fish, and may be an ingredient in eye creams, vanishing creams, and toothpastes2.
Thanks for that link. We've rehauled the various lotions, creams, soaps, etc. in the house, and that has certainly helped. (Most notably: switching out citrus soaps for benzoate approved ones cleared up what we thought was hand eczema really quickly.) I had no idea that tea might contain benzoates. Ugh. Anyone have any other data or experience on this?
And Saffy11, do you know what book/journal that pdf comes from? We're sciency-types and I'd love to track it down.
(Okay, I'm sure folks on this site know how to BBQ chicken. Still, I'm including this because we love it.)
• Heat grill to a medium heat, place chicken off-heat. The key to great BBQ chicken is to cook it slow and with indirect heat, otherwise it will dry out.
• Cook chicken off-heat for about 40 minutes. (This is for whole legs; thighs or legs on their own may take less time.)
• If chicken is almost cooked through, flip chicken, baste, cook five more minutes. Baste again, flip, baste, turn on direct heat, cook for 2-3 minutes.
• Almost every BBQ sauce is out, but I found a good vinegar basting sauce recipe that I modified from Epicurious (from Bon Appetit): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
• My modification: Instead of chili powder (by which I presume they mean some premixed blend, which might contain benzoate preservatives), I used single chili powders. I used a combination of Ancho Powder (smokey, mild) and chipotle powder (spicy). I also added a little bit of smoked paprika, thyme, and marash pepper flakes (sweeter than typical hot crushed red pepper flakes—the only place I know to get them is through Zingerman’s mail order). Clearly this is one you could really experiment and have fun with.
• Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (and other cookbooks): http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/ch...
• I follow this recipe pretty straight, as it’s great. However, a balsam free recipe means we can’t put the lemon in the chicken (we used to add a lime too). Instead, I roughly cut up a Granny Smith apple and put that in the chicken. I actually like this better! Try it, it’s great!
• I end up making two different stocks from this recipe (see post below), one using the chicken carcass, and one using the veggies that roasted with the chicken (unless I use it to make a gravy). I can't find any balsam-free stocks to purchase, so I take advantage of easy ways to make stock whenever possible.
My son's favorite, Taco Tuesday! Here's how we now do it.
BEFORE YOU COOK THE MEAT make a quick pickle for a condiment:
Cut a radish or two, half a cucumber and half a red/orange bell pepper into matchstick thin slices. Mix together and cover with apple cider vinegar, and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal. At dinner time, this will be a nice acidic condiment for your taco. (You might need more than this, this is just enough for my wife and me!)
• Canola (or other neutral) oil
• We use about 3/4 lbs of either ground turkey or ground bison (we live out west, so we can get this pretty easily).
• half a red onion, and half a red pepper. Both diced fine.
• A large leaf of kale, diced fine.
• Ancho chili powder, Chipotle chili powder, Cayenne Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Cumin, Thyme, Marash Pepper Flakes, Merken Mapuche Spice (a Peruvian spice someone gifted me), salt, and pepper.
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan. Sautee the red onion, red pepper, and kale. When the onion begins to turn translucent, add the spices (you'll have to experiment to see how much of each you like). When cooked thoroughly, remove from pan. Add the meat, breaking up into small bits. When all the meat is close to cooked, add spices to taste. When meat is cooked return the onion/pepper mix to pan and mix. Let saute over very low heat while you prepare taco condiments.
• Sour Cream
• Fresh Avocado
• Shredded Cheese
• Chopped Radish
• Quick Pickle (see above).
Experiment. If you have other ideas please post them here! We've included a mango salsa (see the fish recipe I posted). Most importantly, if anyone knows of any hot sauces that are balsam approved let me know! (Is Tabasco sauce okay? That would be lovely.)
• I haven’t found a stock I’m confident is balsam free. Many include bay or unspecified ‘spices’. Stocks are easy enough to make that I’ve just been doing it at home. And we like to make soup at least once a week, so it's been key to the diet to figure this out.
• We often roast a chicken on the weekend, and I can get two stocks out of this. I take the chicken carcass, toss it in a slow cooker with some chopped up onions (with skins), carrots, celery, parsley and mushrooms (saut ́eed if I’m feeling like I’ve got time), cover with water, and let it cook on high for about 8 hours. I then strain out the solids and I’ve got a chicken broth. I freeze a quart or so, and save the rest to use that week (I usually get about two and a half quarts).
• I also take the vegetables that roasted with the chicken and save those, along with some of the smaller chicken scraps and bones (e.g., the wing tips or gizzard, if they came with the chicken). I throw these into my slow cooker, maybe supplement it with some fresh parsley stems or other veggies if I think they might be needed, cover with water, and set it on high while I’m at work the next day. Strain solids and it’s a kind of chicken/veggie hybrid stock.
• Mark Bittman has some really nice vegetable stock recipes. My favorite is to heat some olive oil in a stock pot, and to let the veggies saute for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, before covering with water. He adds mushrooms, which I think add a nice depth of flavor. Here's the link:
• This site had some good tips for making stocks too, though obviously leave out the tomatoes:
*Sweet Potato Soup*
This is a sweet potato and apple soup from Real Simple that is very easy to make (great weeknight soup). You'll probably have to skip the nutmeg (I can't recall whether it's balsam approved, but we leave it out). Remember, you'll probably need to use a homemade stock, as I don't think any packaged stocks are balsam approved. Here's the link:
I love this recipe.
• Olive Oil
• Handful of Crimini mushrooms (or your favorite), sliced.
• 2 Scallions, diagonally sliced.
• Salt and pepper
• Homemade broth
• Udon noodles (or your own favorite)
• Handful of kale, shredded
• Snow peas
• Carrots, shaved into long strips with a vegetable peeler (my six-year old loves them this way)
• Dash of cider vinegar or white vinegar
• 1 egg per person
• Mung bean sprouts
• Heat oil in medium size pot.
• Add sliced mushrooms and scallions, season with salt and pepper.
• Saute mushrooms until they begin browning, add small amount of broth (and/or water) and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add remaining broth.
• Bring broth to a boil. If using water (or broth/water mix) simmer for flavor (15-20 minutes).
• Bring back to a boil, and add udon noodles. Mine cook for 8 minutes.
• With 3 minutes left, add kale.
• With 2 minutes left, add snow peas and shaved carrots.
• After noodles are cooked, lower to a simmer. Add a dash or so of cider/white vinegar, crack an egg for each person into the soup, cover, and poach eggs for about 5 minutes (or until done).
• Serve immediately, by scooping one poached egg into each bowl, then covering with soup/noodles. Top with fresh mung bean sprouts.
This is a recipe to experiment with, adding your own favorites. You might try adding some fresh parsley or cilantro (yuck!) along with the mung beans.
*Jamie Oliver's Butternut Squash Soup*
This is delicious and easy to make. Starting off the soup by sauteeing the sage in the oil is brilliant. We halve the recipe, but there are only three of us in the household. You'll need to use a homemade stock unless you've found a balsam approved store bought one.
Here's the link:
*Sauteed Vegetable Pasta with Cannellini Beans*
• Baby zucchini, cut into ∼1-inch long pieces.
• 1 can cannellini beans
• 1 lb spaghetti
• Handful of kale, torn into large bite-size pieces
• Olive Oil
• Salt and Pepper
• Heat water to a boil in a pasta pot, add pasta and cook to instruction.
• Heat olive oil in saute pan (I use a cast iron pan).
• Add zucchini to the hot oil, season with salt and pepper.
• Saute for a few minutes, until zucchini begins to brown.
• Add beans to zucchini, saute for a minute or so.
• Kale may either be added to the pasta for the last two minutes to wilt, or saute with the zucchini if you prefer a crisper kale (or add with beans). Depends on taste.
• Toss pasta with vegetables, serve with parmesan cheese.
• Adapted from Cooking Light Recipe:
*Big Salad Night*
Okay, you probably don't need a recipe for this, but it's worth posting to just help folks get ideas. To make it a main course, we always add a protein (most common: Garbanzo beans/chickpeas---especially if we've prepared them from dried beans).
Typical ingredients include Red Leaf Lettuce; Arugula; Mix of Red, Yellow, Orange, and/or Green Bell Peppers; Cucumber; Radishes; Carrots (shaved into long, curly strips with a vegetable peeler); Avocado; Fruit (favorites: Blueberries, pomegranate seeds, blackberries); Sunflower seeds; Bleu or Feta Cheese.
Dressing: Just a simple oil and vinegar. We use balsamic vinegar (which I think is okay), but you could use a nice fruit or honey vinegar instead.
This is adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe:
This is delicious and easy! The original starts from a dried chickpea recipe, but uses bay leaves (which are not balsam approved). It’s easy to adapt, just leave out bay leaves. You'll also need to leave out the tomatoes. We replaced it with an extra quarter cup of the red and yellow peppers. It’s great!
I don't have many other sides or snacks to post, but boy did we miss pickles. I love pickles, but they are on the no go list (presumably because of the preservatives).
Luckily, I found a great site with tons of recipes for pickling vegetables:
Here's one of my favorites, a quick dill pickle recipe. We love them! It should be balsam free; at least, I can't see any ingredients that would cause problems:
We also really enjoyed this pickled radish recipe. You can use them as condiments on burgers! That's really nice, because we missed the acid from the ketchup we could no longer use:
Thanks for posting these recipes! Its great to know I am not the only suffer of this awful allergy!
I have a question about the citric peels. Do you use the juice of the fruit, freshly squeezed at all?
I am huge on freshly squeezed lemon juice on my salads and over fish and I havent had the guts to try it yet in case I have a break out.
Thanks again! :)
odd that they put preservatives in pickles. Vinegar is the preservative and you can't make pickles without vinegar. You can always make some of your own pickles. Sterilize the jars in your dishwasher and you can do the caps by placing in boiling water about 5 mins.
2 sites for refrigerator pickles:
these will last a long time refrigerated, at least a few months. The second site says one month but if you pack them into jars then pour the pickling mix over them, clear out any air pockets and refill to 1/2 inch from the top they should be fine for months. This also looks like a sweet pickle, might be nice chopped for relish.
If you want them to last longer then you need to cap the jars and submerge them into boiling water, bring back to a boil and let boil for 5 mins. Found a good tutorial on pickling:
I have the same allergy & it's been very hit and miss with toiletries & foods. Things like mustard, it's in an awful lot of condiments, and it took me a few months before I twigged - so no salad cream or mayonnaise for me :)
Like your wife I have to have plainer foods now. But it seems that she's lucky and she doesn't react the spice part of the allergy. Alas I do and the rash on my hands and feet can drive me crazy, so I stick to herbs or just plain if possible.
Chocolate - if you're in the UK, I've found 3 chocolate bars that are safe for BoP sufferers - Yorkie Bar, Cadburys Bournville, and Montezumas' Peru Dark Chocolate bar (this only has chocolate and sugar as it's ingredients - it's heavenly)
the hardest thing for me was the personal products and cleaning supplies. They had just come up with the free and clear laundry detergent. I had to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar for my hair and cleaning.
I recently found out that I'm allergic to vanilla, cinnamon, and paprika. It's very difficult to eat out. I just realized that chocolate contains vanilla. So now I'm not eating chocolate. Everything on the planet has cinnamon and now I don't eat most breakfast cereals because they don't have to disclose whether or not it is an ingredient. Please share anything you've learned! How did she find out about these allergies - a skin test? That's what I had.
This is definitely a tough allergy to get used to, and it can make going out to eat (or over to a friend's house for dinner) stressful. Though it's definitely cut into our restaurant experience, we find that looking at menus online ahead of time can help identify good choices and make things more relaxing.
Not all chocolate contains vanilla, though. You'll have to look for the high end bars, generally speaking, to avoid vanilla and other flavorings. I listed a few in a post above, but Amedei and Valrhona are two of the larger companies whose bars might be okay. Though obviously you'll need to check for yourself.
We found a super easy yet delicious Blackberry Cobbler recipe:
We leave out the lemon juice and it tastes great. We've made it for company and friends on numerous occasions, and it's always a hit.
Part of the allergy has been asking whether we can bring dessert when we are invited to dinner, rather than trying to explain our various constraints. This has worked out great. We just throw it into our host's oven about 30 minutes before we want dessert, they are happy for us to bring it over, and everyone enjoys the final product.