One of the silver linings many people discover to living with food allergies is the need to make food from scratch. Once you start reading labels, you quickly come to the conclusion: 1) that it’s a lot of trouble to stand in the store and try to sort through 50 ingredients before you decide to put something in your cart and 2) that particularly on senior-discount day or any weekend day you will get run over in the grocery store aisle. It also isn’t exactly appetizing to think of biting into niacinamide or pyridoxine even if you can figure out what those are.
When Max was first diagnosed and while I was getting the hang of allergen-free cooking, we scaled back. I tried to buy only products with five ingredients or fewer on the labels. That meant canned tomatoes were in, Quakers Oats were doable, but most cereals and highly processed foods were out.
Consequently, Max had some strange but wholesome favorite first foods including fish with mushrooms, which he enjoyed best cold, and red beans sprinkled with brown sugar. Again he wanted the beans cold, and they had to be dark red. He also was a fan of avocado thanks in part to the book, “Super Baby Food.” We would cut it open, remove the pit and spoon it straight from the fruit, no serving plate involved.
Later on as I got more comfortable and quicker about reading labels and as Max began to outgrow allergies (dropping soy was huge), we began to add more processed foods back into the mix, but we are still somewhat wary of them. I am sure overall we eat less processed food than we otherwise would have, which, as Martha Stewart (I like her better since she returned from prison) would say, is a good thing.
Baked Fish with Mushrooms
1 pound mild-flavored fish fillet (about ¾ inch thick)
1 8 oz. package button mushrooms
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine or oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 375 use dairy-free cooking spray to grease bottom of a 7x11x1½ inch pan.
Saute mushrooms with butter or oil in saute pan over medium heat.
Cut fish fillets into pieces. Place fish skin side down in the pan, folding thin ends under as necessary for even thickness.
Pour mushrooms with pan juices over the top of fish.
Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve this warm with brown or white rice (we used a combination) for most people or stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes and serve cold to eccentric toddlers.
Here is the recipe, which was one of our pre-kid standards, that inspired the idea of serving toddler Max the red beans with brown sugar.
French Country Casserole
1 pound smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into pieces (Watch out here: while there are several dairy-free brands, many have dairy. You can also leave out the meat which I often did at first.)
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced, or a good handful of shredded bagged carrots
2 small onions, sliced into rings
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Combine all ingredients in 3 quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 for an hour. Don’t forget to turn the oven on as I did the first time I tried to serve this at a dinner party. The smell should fill the house quickly. If it doesn’t, check the oven.