Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nut substitutions

Since my toddler tested positive for peanut on the allergy test the allergist advised to avoid all tree nuts. Sunflower seeds seem to be just fine for her, though. I recently discovered that my VitaMix makes butter out of the seeds, to mock peanut butter! That's exciting for me. I'd been avoiding peanut butter since I started nursing my second child, and I'd really missed it!!! So now I have something close to the real thing. I spread it on bread for a sandwich, and I also use it in making no-bake cheerio treats and monster cookies(I will post the recipes sometime). You can purchase sunflower-seed butter, but make sure you check the label; many may be processed in facilities that also process peanuts. I make my sunflower seed butter in small amounts and store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. The butter does start to grow "ripe" and get rancid if you leave it too long. I use roasted sunflower seeds to grind, or toast raw sunflower seeds in the oven before grinding. I tried grinding raw seeds and I don't like the flavor.

While breastfeeding and going off dairy and nuts, I have been at a loss for what I can snack on that's healthy and contains protein I need. It has really helped for me to discover garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and soy nuts as alternative protein sources.

You can roast garbanzos. Either use them from a can, patted dry, or cook up your own from dry beans. Spice them up, toss them in oil if you like, roast them at 350 or 400 degrees, maybe 20-30 min., and they make a nice snack! Actually, my toddler prefers these simply cooked without being roasted in the oven. We spice them up together and she eats them right there! There are several recipes on the internet for roasting garbanzos, which have different spice combinations. Two seasonings I enjoy are plain Season All; or a mixture of oregano, cumin, cayenne, with a little lemon juice.

Hummus is a great way to get some healthy protein in a snack. You can make your own hummus, too. There are recipes available on the internet. I cook a large batch of dry garbanzos and then make lots of hummus! The hummus can be packed into small bags or small containers for the freezer. I pull out a container and place in the fridge a couple days thaw, then enjoy it on raw vegetables!

Dairy substitutions

Okay, there's soy milk and rice milk or water for substituting cow's milk in recipes. But what else? Juice can be used(you may wish to cut down on the sugar called for elsewhere in the recipe). If you use an acidic juice(orange) you may need to replace some of the baking powder called for with baking soda(which is alkaline) to offset the acidic juice. The base and acid then bubble together to help the goods to rise. My sister says rule of thumb, if you use baking soda instead of baking powder, you use 1/3 the amount. I made muffins the other day with orange juice instead of milk. The recipe called for 2 tsp baking powder. I wanted to keep some of the baking powder, and then use some baking soda to off-set the acid in the orange juice. I used 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Have you heard of zucchini milk? Zucchini can be boiled then blended up, then added to baked goods in place of dairy milk. It freezes well for use year-round! See for instructions.

Nuts can be made into milk. You blend nuts and water together. You can find the amounts of nuts to water to use on the internet. My allergist recommended that my daughter and I (as I breastfeed) avoid all treenuts, as my daughter tested positive for peanuts. But sunflower seeds are not tree nuts, at least I assume since they don't grow on trees! Sunflower seed milk is even in my recipe book for my VitaMix. I'm sure it could be made in a blender.

Margarine in recipes can usually be substituted with vegetable oil or shortening, as far as I understand. I've been using vegetable oil in all the recipes I make that call for margarine or butter. Sometimes I use non-dairy margarine spread, if I think it will matter to have the butter-like flavor. Usually I don't use it because it's more expensive than vegetable oil. Applesauce also can be used instead or margarine or vegetable oil.

If you're a breastfeeding mother who is going off dairy and eggs, and you like dairy based or egg-containing salad dressings, it may help to consider hummus. I home cook dry garbanzos and make hummus in a blender. It freezes in small containers and thaws nicely. I use it on pitas, wraps, and for vegetable dip. I've also seen many recipes for salad dressings that are oil based and don't contain dairy or egg.

What dairy substitutes have you enjoyed?

Flours to replace wheat

I was aware first off of the use of rice flour, oat flour, and barley in wheat recipes. I'd also come across spelt and Kamut and rye and buckwheat. But I felt confined to rice and oats. Even barley goods gave my toddler a rash. The first products I made with rice flour were grainy and dry. I then learned that rice flour works best when combined with other flours or starches. I've also learned that ingredients to add moisture, texture, and flavor help, such as applesauce, banana, chocolate, xanthan gum, etc. I have learned more about ingredients that complement rice flour, and have been opened to a whole array of possibilities in baking satisfying products for my kids! I'm amazed at the nutritive value of several alternate flours. Go to for articles on alternative flours and nutrition facts.

I highly recommend checking out from the library Jones' The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook(2001) for learning about alternate flours. She has an easy to read, informative discussion on flavor and color, breading, thickening, and baking performance, as well as tips and recipes for utilizing roughly 20 different types of flours, including high-protein and nutrition-packed quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat flours, as well as flours made from nuts or seeds. I'm excited to experiment with these flours.

Another book to utilize is The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini, 1997. She steps the reader through the process of adapting recipes to be free of common allergies. She has overviews on non-wheat flours as Jones does. As far as learning about adapting recipes goes, her book was more overwhelming, at first, then Jones, because things aren't organized in tables as well as Jones. But she has a wealth of valuable help if you're interested in learning to adapt recipes on your own. If you'd like to just try specific recipes already developed by an experienced cook, Gioannini has several for several different types of flours.

If you're more interested in having recipes that can be followed exactly, it might help to know that Gioannini and Jones have a good variety of recipes utilizing a wide variety of alternate flours. Jones does seem to gravitate towards combinations of amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. She's not afraid of more pricey flours, it appears, but these flours are highly nutritious(and they give more flavor than rice does). : ) If you want to cook with very basic and less expensive ingredients, I recommend checking out from the library The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Rominger. It is the point of these authors to have recipes which you can make without needing to go to specialty health food stores. They use rice flour in their baked goods. In skimming their recipes, I don't even see tapioca starch or xantham gum being used. Ener-G egg replacer or tofu are the only specialty foods I see in the baked goods recipes.

Now, if you're going to try out alternate flours other than the basic rice flour, where do you start? I get overwhelmed pretty fast in wanting to try out several types of flours at once. The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini, 1997, gives some basic recipes that use simply one or two alternate flours at a time, allowing the baker to try the flavor and texture of a new grain. I found making waffles helped me explore new grains. Gioannini has recipes for oat flour pancakes or waffles, quinoa pancakes/waffles, and buckwheat, rye, and spelt pancakes or waffles, each separate recipes, using one grain per recipe. This author also has simple yeast breads, with several recipes only using one alternate flour. If you want to explore bean flour, I suggest garbanzo-oat waffles( And you can interchange various legumes in place of the garbanzo. Try red or green lentils, they're mild and grind easily in a blender. Both Gioannini and Jones give descriptions of flavor and texture of several flours.

As a rule of thumb, a combination of a few alternative flours works best for replacing wheat flour in baked goods. Jones mentions how much of each flour, proportion-wise, she would use in a recipe. For example, she suggests 30- 50 percent brown rice flour in a recipe(she doesn't even use white rice flour, by the way, brown rice has more nutrition. I rarely use white rice flour anymore as well. I like the nutrition and flavor of brown rice flour-it's kind of nutty like wheat). 50 percent rice and 50 oats or 30 percent oats, rice, and barley each are combinations she mentions. With some experimenting, I've discovered I like either a basically 50/50 rice and oat combination(I add 1-2 T. tapioca and 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum into each cup of oats, so there is a little less oat than rice); or I follow a basic 1/3 oat, 1/3 brown rice, and 1/3 of a bean/cornstarch type mix, using home-ground lentils. Basically I just put some cornstarch with the lentil flour(maybe 2 T. cornstarch with enough lentil flour to make 2/3 cup), and put some tapioca with the oat flour, or I just use a little less than 1/3 ratio of lentil bean flour and use more rice flour in its stead. The tapioca starch/xanthan gum add-ins go into the oats measurement. The bean/cornstarch type mix idea I got from a garbanzo bean/cornstarch-based gluten free mix by souldog. It would probably be helpful to try out that mix, then see if you want to use lentils instead(I do because it's so cheap and easy to grind them at home).

It might help to know which flours are related to wheat, and which are not. Scientifically, wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, millet, rice, wild rice, sorghum, and teff are in the same food family(Gioannini, p. 16). Kamut and spelt are ancient types of wheat, but can sometimes be tolerated by those allergic to wheat. (Note: They should be avoided by people with celiac disease(Jones, p 5) I do read from "Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies, " by Scott H. Sicherer, M.D.(2006), that spelt is usually treated by the immune system the same as wheat is. So I would take caution if you try this variety of wheat. He also cautions that buckwheat has been associated with severe reactions. I've gotten the idea from several sources that buckwheat is tolerated by many that are allergic to wheat, it's not a member of the grain family. So, I guess try it out if you want, but be cautious. Maybe ask your doctor for his advice. Most often people allergic to wheat can enjoy grains from the same family, and then other non-related foods such as quinoa. Discovering which grains or alternate foods is the trick, I guess. Anyone have a list of the most often tolerated grains for those allergic to wheat? I do read that rice is the very least allergenic of the grains(Jones, p 9). Dr. Sicherer cites that oat and rice both are not immunologically strongly related to wheat(Understanding and Managing Your Child's Food Allergies, p. 64).

Oats, rice, wild rice, barley, rye, and millet are commonly in grocery stores. Gioannini says that experience has shown rye and barley to be most likely to cause reactions in this group of common grains. I have found most all the flours mentioned in this post in specialty stores including Whole Foods Market. Often grocery stores have most all the grains mentioned, in the Bob's Mill brand.

Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, legumes(including soy), potato, quinoa, and tapioca are ground into flour and are not related to wheat. Nuts and seeds also can be ground into flour, and be used for up to 25 percent of grain flour, says Jones(12). Check out for information about cabernet flour, which is from grapes! Look into coconut flour, ground teff, sweet potato flour- there's a whole new world of possibilities to explore!

Consider buying xanthan gum. It's pricey, but is used in very small amounts. It helps make up for lack of gluten. Several non-wheat flours don't contain gluten, or have it in very low amounts as compared to wheat. Gluten binds flour molecules together, helping reduce crumbliness and giving structure to enable leavenings(yeast, baking powder, etc) to work effectively(to make the baked goods rise). The xanthan gum, then, acts in the stead of gluten, reducing crumbliness, helping baked goods to retain moisture, and helping the product to keep a good texture longer on the shelf or in the freezer. Caution: too much xanthum gum can make your product gummy. A general rule of thumb:

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of flour for cakes, cookies, muffins, quick breads.
1 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour for yeast bread, pizza dough, other yeast products.

As an alternative, Marilyn Gioannini(The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, 1997) doesn't use xantham gum in her recipes, she says it often creates problems(such as gumminess). She's experimented to get just the right combinations of leavenings for her recipes. She uses psyllium seed husk, flax seed, and arrowroot powder, sometimes together, sometimes not.

Here is a link that reviews several different all-purpose baking mixes you can make at home that are gluten-free. I know there are several good all-purpose gluten-free baking mixes available in stores. But I want to know how to cook baked goods from scratch, and I think they could get quite a bit more expensive than if I find cheaper ways of getting non-gluten flours. (Buying non-gluten flours is pricey and may not be much less than buying the mixes is, I haven't compared enough to know, but in home grinding rice flour, oat flour, and bean flour, the cost is really reduced).

When adapting recipes, it will help to know which alternate flours contain gluten, and which are "essentially gluten free." Jones gives a list of each(p 5). I do not know if the "essentially gluten free" is safe for people with celiac disease. Contain gluten: spelt, wheat, kamut brand, rye, oat, barley. "Essentially gluten free," amaranth, arrowroot, brown rice, buckwheat, chickpea, legumes, nut and seed flours, potato, potato starch, quinoa, soy, tapioca starch, teff.

Some of my experience so far with baking with alternate flours:

After trying a couple rice flour recipes and finding them grainy and dry, I steered clear of rice flour recipes, at least where rice was the only or main flour. but I just recently decided to give a second chance to baking with rice flour as the main flour in my recipes. I tried out various cookie and cake recipes. I conclude that rice flour, even, as the only flour in a recipe, can make decent goods. I do still agree with Jones that rice flour recipes are best when combined with other flours or starches. I made a rice flour/applesauce drop cookie from The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook that was surprisingly pretty good. But it was a little grainy, and the cookies crumbled easily. They were, however, delicate and moist, and the flavor was okay. Adding raisins helped disguise the fine grainy texture, where chocolate chips did not. Substituting 1/4 c of arrowroot flour for rice flour(where 1 c rice flour was called for), resulted in a more bland cookie, which was still a little grainy, and was too "starchy."

I made some cookies calling for large proportions of potato starch with the rice flour, and these were delicate and rich. Only a little grainy, if at all. A little starchy, but still, quite impressive. Just not my preferred type of cookie. They were very rich(lots of butter-flavored shortening, in my case, rather than butter), and they were very sweet. Actually, one type, "Just like Nilla Wafers," (found in The kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook by Hammond), seemed to get better after sitting out two or three days. They are growing on me. They have a crunchy, yet not grainy, consistency like Vanilla Wafers do. My toddler really likes these cookies. I'm interested in trying the recipe with half the sugar and half the fat. But potato starch is quite expensive, and it doesn't have the nutrients that several other alternate flours boast.

I prefer cookies to be more wholesome, nutritious. I usually prefer them for a snack rather than for a dessert. I am not a butter cookie fan! I like cookies made with about 1/2 the fat called for. I love zucchini-oatmeal cookies made with part whole-wheat flour. I enjoy banana oat cookies. I do love chewy chocolate chip cookies, especially with coconut.

As for the rice cake recipes I recently tried(The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook, Hammond), I was impressed that the texture was moist and NOT GRAINY! I tried a chocolate cake which was quite good, and a carrot cake, which was not so good(lacked flavor). Though the chocolate cake had good chocolatey flavor and a good texture(if a little "wet," it was at least moist and not grainy), it's flavor was flat. I like the "nutty" flavor of wheat, and intend to find flours that provide flavor with depth. And I'm very interesting in exploring flours that good nutrients that mimic or surpass wheat. I'm also interested in recipes that utilize the "cheaper" grains. I can grind my own rice flour out of brown rice. I can grind my own oats and legumes. Even spelt and rye are cheaper than buying potato starch or quinoa or amaranth. I want to have some good basic recipes that are mostly rice flour or oats or beans, and then experiment with the more expensive alternate flours that provide extra good nutrition(the quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat specifically). Then, I can make some of my baked goods out of cheaper flours and some out of more expensive, more nutritious flours.

I've successfully made banana cookies and oatmeal scones with only oat flour(which I make simply by grinding oats in a blender), but the products are heavy. If I recall correctly, the cookies and banana bread I have baked only with oat flour or with large amounts of oat flour, had a texture that would "gum" to the top of my mouth a little as I chewed. Oat flour and rice flour combined with some starch(and flax seed for a little more flavor and better texture)is a good mixture, but I'm always looking to improve the taste and texture of what I'm making. It tends to make a better product to use several flours in combinations.

A couple months ago, my mother sent me a newspaper article from her local paper. It highlighted a Gluten-free restaurant in Poughkeepsie, N.Y, called Soul Dog. The restaurant shared it's recipe for Gluten-Free Baking Mix. See
It used mostly chickpea, or garbanzo flour(also gram or ceci). I had never heard of baking with bean flour! Garbanzo flour actually is a staple in India, I've learned. Awareness of this use of garbanzos has opened up an exciting door for enjoying baked goods. I first tried cookies which were featured in the newspaper article. Also online at
Besides being sweeter and more salty than I personally prefer, they were as good as wheat -based cookies! I altered the recipe to be less sweet and less salty and a little less fattening, and they were almost just like the cookies I grew up on! Dough made from garbanzo flour has a disturbing flavor, I think(and it's not good for digestion to eat raw legumes anyway), but once cooked, the flavor is mild. I search for garbanzo flour recipes on the internet from time to time. Garbanzo-oat waffes are moist and seem to have egg in them, when they do not! This is an amazing recipe, I think. The recipe can be found at

I've found that I like muffins and banana bread with 1/3 part Dog's GF baking Mix(consists mostly of garbanzo bean flour), 1/3 part rice four, and 1/3 part oat flour to replace the wheat four called for. In experimenting with blueberry muffins from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, I found that muffins made only with the soul dog GF baking mix garbanzo mixture had great flavor and moist texture, but were a little compact, not as fluffy or airy as most muffins(Note: I did use applesauce in place of oil or egg (I don't remember which), and I do wonder if that contributed to the density). The muffins made only with rice and oat flour rose pretty well, but were pretty flavorless. I figure I could add salt and flax meal or fruit juice or spices, but the combination of garbanzo mixture with the oat and rice had good flavor and good texture.

I then used 1/2 garbanzo mixture and 1/4 of each rice and oat flours. It tasted a lot like a part whole-wheat muffin! I tried this combination of flours in an oatmeal scone recipe, a banana bread recipe, and a banana muffin recipe, and have been really impressed. I'll post the recipes I've developed so far. they are in progress; what ever I post will likely be tweeked in some way or another in future trials. As a warning, it takes our bodies awhile to get used to eating large amounts of legumes. If you're not used to eating many beans, you may want to start with smaller proportions of bean flour to other flours in the recipe.

The last round of goods that I made with garbanzo flour had an off-taste, and I used recipes that I had used earlier and really enjoyed. I think the flour was not fresh, and it seems to matter that it is kept fresh. I had kept the flour in the freezer, but maybe it was on the shelf in the store too long.

I've looked into home grinding garbanzos into flour, but Jones doesn't recommend it because unsoaked, uncooked beans ground for flour can be rough on the digestion system(Jones, Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, p 12). I've also read that the beans can dull the blades of a blender. My mom has suggested that I might cook the beans, then dry them out with my food dryer, then grind them in the VitaMix. My VitaMix might be okay with them, but I hesitate to try it out. My Magic Mill grain grinder says that dried garbanzos are okay to mill in it, but chickpeas are "questionable". Most sources use the terms garbanzo and chickpea interchangeably as if they're the same thing, but the Magic Mill company says it depends which region you're in. Anyone succesfully made their own garbanzo bean flour? Do you understand how to figure which type of legume you have, whether it's a safe-to-grind garbanzo bean(as Magic Mill says) or a chickpea?

Marjorie Jones relates that yellow split peas and lentils, especially red lentils, don't need soaked before cooking. So they should be okay to home grind raw. They grind easily and into fine flour in my VitaMix, and they also grind in a blender(how fine of flour you can get would depend on how good of a blender you have). I use lentil flour a lot in gluten-free baking.

As far as grinding the beans other than lentils or split peas, I've seen various sources that don't mention a problem about digestion. I'm thinking that as long as you thoroughly cook baked goods containing raw bean flour, you should be just fine. What have you heard?

Emergency Essentials has an article online about using bean flour:
This source suggests replacing up to 1/4 the amount of flour in a recipe with the bean flour. Besides adding a texture and mild flavor that I like, using bean flour, whether garbanzo or other, really adds some nice nutrition. Eating beans with grains is a good combination for getting complete proteins. I do hear that if you're not used to eating beans, it's good to start in small amounts and gradually increase(otherwise you may have gas). The body adapts.

Another source discusses grinding beans into flour:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Making alterations to recipes

Most of the baked goods that I've made have been from recipes which I needed to adapt. I haven't found a lot of recipes that have no wheat, eggs, and dairy! I'm constantly learning more about how to succesfully adapt recipes for my needs. Here are some things I've learned, and resources to check out. Please share things you've learned, too!

Successfully altering recipes requires patience and optimism. It takes trying and trying again! I've made goods that didn't turn out very well at all. That's too bad, but it's got to happen! The great thing is that even my flops have almost always been turned into something else satisfactory(waffle stuck on iron crumbled as I scraped it; it become bread crumbs for chicken tenders, a yeast bread I made was flat and heavy and a little too strong in bean and yeast flavor, but was excellent broken into small chunks for meatloaf).

One more suggestion as you experiment: have a notebook handy for recording. Keep track of how you adapted a particular recipe. If it's simply a new recipe you're trying, record where you got the recipe from. When you and your kids have tried the finished product, rate how well you liked it. (I have a quick check +, check ++, check -, etc. system, with check +++ being the highest possible rating). If you think something could be improved(ie taste or texture), record that. Then develop a plan for next time. For example, maybe the muffin you made was crumbly and tasted too strong of baking powder. Decide on an ingredient that might help remedy that(ie use flax seed meal for your egg substitute rather than the vinegar/b. powder/liquid substitute you used).

The next posts discuss resources and ideas for substituting wheat, dairy, and nuts. The egg substitution post is now under Feb 10, 2009.

Many of the recipes on this site are recipes I have adapted from the recipes I already have at home(my mom's recipe file, cookbooks): recipes for things my kids couldn't have. The wonderful thing about learning to adapt recipes is that it opens up a world of possibilities for your children. My 3 year old knows that when she looks at her favorite cake decorating magazine, the pictures she sees are full of allergens for her. But she knows that her mom can make a tasty cake like the ones she sees! When she goes to a party and the kids are decorating cookies made of the wheat, egg, nut, and dairy products she can't have, she knows that we can go home and make some of her own cookies to decorate! She has the freezer stocked(okay, when I'm on top of things) with homemade, tasty treats that she can take to parties and meetings at a moments notice. She has shared some of these with others, and they enjoy them too! And most of the items she eats are more healthy than what the other children have. She enjoys her pumpkin cookies, zucchini cookies, and muffins that are made with whole-grain brown rice flour, whole-grain oats, flax seed meal, vegetable puree, etc!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A sampling of my journey up to present

My first experiment with non-wheat, non-dairy, non-egg baking was for my daughter's first birthday cake. My allergist has a website with helpful links of cooking without common food allergens. From this I learned a few egg substitues, and became aware of allergy support networks and available recipes online. I have used search engines a lot. I haven't found many recipes on the internet that actually can be followed without my adapting them. Most all of my baking has consisted of altering recipes.

From one network, I found a recipe for cake using rice flour. I attempted, while adapting the recipe to be eggless. I thought it was a flop. It was grainy and dry, and I did not attempt any baked good with rice flour for months afterward. Even seeing the picture of my daughter's birthday cake brought back sickening feelings to my stomach for probably a year afterward. It probably was a reaction made worse by the fact that I was in my nauseaus pregnant state when I tried the cake. : )

The next direction I took, then, was to develop recipes already asking for oats, to consist solely of oats and oat flour for the grain. I had some success with cookies. But I wasn't satisfied. I actually decided recently to bring the rice flour back into my baking, to use in parts with the oat. As I have sought recipes or had questions, I have gone to the internet for answers. I have been frustrated as many resources aren't available to me without subscribing and paying membership, or without buying books. I haven't used many existing recipes; most have needed to be adapted, which means a lot of guesswork and trial and error. But I have still found a wealth of information, in tidbits here and there, across the internet.

Recently, I realized I could check out books from the library for free, and they've been a huge resource. I have checked out two recipe books(see below), and they have helped answer questions about how different ingredients work, or which ingredients can be substituted and how. The books have confirmed and solidified some of the facts that I had gathered from tidbits of info scattered across sources from the internet. For example, from reading various recipes and suggestions across the internet and on Bob's Mill packages and such, I had gathered that it is usually helpful to combine several types of non-wheat flours into one recipe, and to use a little Tapioca Starch or Arrowroot or Cornstarch, and sometimes Xanthum Gum. But how much exactly? And when? I had added the starches in teaspoons or tablespoons when baking with rice flour. This was for moisture, I had learned. With the new books I've read, I learned Tapioca or Arrowroot or cornstarch help retain moisture and lighten the texture. Thus, I deduce, it might be good to use these starches with oat flour, too. Oat flour can make things dense.

To get to the point I'm trying to get to, it has taken a lot of researching and experimenting to get to the point I'm at, and I'm constantly learning. I have flops and I have successes. But it's neat how much I've been able to learn with research and resources and trial and error. You can too! And hopefully I can pinpoint some of you to sources that will help you learn much more quickly than I have! : ) And hopefully some of you can pinpoint me to several more sources I don't know about!

By the way, your "flops" often can be converted into something successful! Three examples: Today I tried to adapt a rice flour pancake recipe to make waffles. Despite careful oiling, the batter stuck stubbornly to my waffle iron! I left it alone and got out my second iron. A couple hours later, I went to work at scraping off the cooked waffles. As I scraped the first section off into the sink, I thought, wait a minute, maybe I can use this for bread crumbs for breading chicken! It was a hit. Another example: I made my first loaf of garbanzo flour/rice flour bread from a Bob's Mill recipe, but had to adapt it in a few different ways. The loaf came out flat and heavy and had a stronger flavor than we liked for sandwich bread. I decided to tear it into pieces for using in meat loaf. The flavor and texture were perfect for a non-wheat, eggless, dairy-free meatloaf! Third example: I made a garbanzo bean cookie recipe from a newspaper article my mom sent. The cookies were much too salty and much too sweet for our liking. But I don't like to waste things. I realized they would probably make a good crumb crust for desserts. Why not pumpkin bars? It seemed the flavors would compliment each other well. And I had been bummed about not being able to bake pumpkin pie, as it normally relies on wheat crust and a largely-dairy largely-egg filling. So I made pumpkin bars with appropriate substitutes(I'll post the developed recipe), and the cookie crumbs were an excellent component of the dish!

I leave this post now with two resources I highly recommend checking out from your library:

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt Jones, revised 2001

The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini, copyright 1997

An introduction, and my hopes for this site...

This is my first blog. I've been experimenting with baking without common food allergens, and I'd like feedback from others, any resources I can get, and the opportunity to record what I'm learning and to share it with others. So here I go!

I'm a stay at home mom. I enjoy baking(thus the play of words "homebaker" for my blogger name). Unfortunately, my two children have food allergies. The oldest, now two years old, is to avoid wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, until, and if, she stops developing rashes when she comes across these products. The youngest is breastfeeding, and has eczema, which gets pretty bad frequently. We believe she has food allergies, but she has not been officially tested yet. Children's allergies to food commonly are not permanent; 80% of most food allergies disappear by the age of 5 or 6, as I have heard. The allergist has told me that breastfeeding as long as I can will provide the greatest protection against my child's allergies, so despite frustrations of trying to guess what I ate that made the baby's rash flare up(again), I continue to breastfeed.

Presently, I'm not eating any nuts, eggs, or dairy, and am trying to eat less wheat than I normally do. For awhile, I was going to go completely off wheat, so it gave me motivation to find ways to eat healthy without it! My toddler hasn't done badly without it. She likes several types of boxed cereals that are wheat-free, and she eats potatoes, rice, meats, and fruit. But as she gets older, I want to provide cookies, cakes, etc that she can enjoy as everyone around her does! (Not that she's not content with fruit snacks, they actually substitute happily for most any treat she's missing out on! : ) Though I prepare home cooked meals, I am more of a baker than a cook. And I love whole wheat. The thoughts of "what if she doesn't outgrow her allergies? Or "what if she has celiac disease" were for a long time disheartening. How could she miss out on wonderful baked goods? And would it be better for me to be avoiding wheat, too, each pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding? It seemed that it was an awful thing to have to miss out on wheat goods(especially those made with whole wheat flour) not only for the lack of enjoyment, but for the nutrition. Grains are the foundation of the food guide pyramid, I'd tell my husband. They are our foundation! What would we do without wheat? I worried, as he suggested that our family might completely avoid it if the kids weren't outgrowing it. And what about dairy products? Those are very important in most breastfeeding mother's diets, and in a child's diet. Can we have diets that adequately compensate for avoiding these foods?

Fortunately, my perspective has become more optimistic, as I've been opened to a whole new world of nutritious, satisfying foods! I see that it is possible to go without wheat, eggs, dairy, and nuts, and to have good nutrition and an enjoyable diet, too. Of course there's so much I have to learn, with many questions yet to be answered, and foods to be discovered. This is what this site is dedicated to- discovering how to have a healthy, balanced, enjoyable diet without wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts that normally make up a large part of our diets. I will share tips and recipes in this blog. Please enjoy using my recipes. However, some of them have been adapted from copyrighted material, and I ask that if you print out, store, or share these recipes, you give the same credit that I cite. I don't want to infringe on any copyrights. My understanding is that the copyrighted portion of a recipe is the author's instructions, so that it's okay to take a recipe and paraphrase in my own words. I will publish my alterations to existing recipes, or if presenting an original recipe that is not adapted by me, I will paraphrase instructions. I think that is legal, please kindly tell me if it is not.

Please share suggestions, knowledge, resources, questions, etc!!!

Thanks, and I hope this helps us to dive deep into endless possibilities!

Note: I really don't support going without wheat(I believe in whole wheat when you can have it), dairy, eggs, nuts if you're not dealing with allergies, I do believe these foods are a large part of the easiest way for Americans to get the nutrition they need! For those who cannot eat these foods, I'm open to the possibility that the right combinations of other foods adequately provides similar nutrition.

Disclaimer: This site is not a substitute for medical advice for allergies or nutrition. I claim no authority to advise for your child's health. I am a mother who is seeking to provide nutritiously for her children, and who wants to share with others recipes, and especially ways to adapt with allergies in mind. Seek your best judgement on what is safe and healthy for you or your child, working closely with a healthcare provider.