Allergy Advice

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“All Purpose” Gluten Free Flour

We use to do a lot of baking, but in my current state, not so much. We also noticed that baking for others was making me really sick. So, we now try to make things as corn free as possible, even if I can’t take part. Here’s a flour blend that I’ve been making. We use it for muffins, pancakes, and brownies. I have also tried it with cookies, but that’s a different story.

1 Cup Brown Rice Flour (we use organic)

2/3 Cup Potato Starch

1/3 Cup Tapioca Flour (Tapioca Starch)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

That’s it! Mix it all up, and store it in an air-tight container for when you need it. Lately I’ve been making large batches at a time. Just adjust the amounts for what you need. As a disclaimer, I must remind you that corn free gluten free baking is so not the same as the “regular” stuff. Happy baking!

2018 Update:
I wanted to share a little more information about making an AP flour. Blending your flours is important when you’re gluten free. Have you ever purchased something that’s GF and it’s very dense? Too dense? That’s usually because the right weight of flours wasn’t chosen, or there was only one flour (usually brown rice).

The above AP flour got us through a lot of fun times. We learned shortly after this was published just how allergic to everything I really am. These days, I can’t use anything listed above for myself, and you may have heard, we opened a bakery. We use corn free flours in the bakery from Authentic Foods. My current favorites for blending are Sorghum, Millet, Arrowroot, and Oat. We’ve had to greatly reduce the amount of rice used in our goods because the cooking fumes are crippling.

Finally, I wanted to share three amazing resources with you:
Fork & Beans Guide to Gluten Free Flours
Fork & Beans Baking 101
Oh My Veggies Gluten Free Flours Explained

Be Suspicious of Everything

Unfortunately, living with a severe food allergy means you must always be suspicious. Whether your allergy is ingestion, contact, airborne, or a combo of the three, it’s not an easy journey. To make matters worse, the people we should be able to trust can sometimes give us the wrong information (which I must believe is non-malicious). I’ve had to go through this problem, and I’ve had to learn the hard way to be suspicious. For example, I was told by a grocer that their pineapples were not gassed (ripening gasses are usually ethanol/corn-based), and were grown naturally. When I called headquarters, I was told the opposite.

For the sake of our health, we can’t take everything at face value, yet it would be nice if we could.

Here’s the kicker… Depending on the severity of your allergy, you have to be suspicious of your loved ones too. Unless you trust them with your life (or personally provided them with ingredients) you may need to decline to eat food prepared by others. Personally, I have to decline water in addition to food.

I’m not saying you have to be a hobbit, I mean, a hermit. Rather, find safe ways to be around those you want to spend time with. That way, you can leave the suspicion at home. Alternatively, invite them over to your house for non-food get-together.

In all honesty, I wish someone would have told me this a year ago. It would have saved me from a lot of physical pain. In addition to my personal struggles, I once watched someone (allergic to beef) break out in hives after cooking their “safe” food on a grill. The previous user hadn’t cleaned the grill after using it, and none of us thought to be suspicious.

The bottom line is that it’s overwhelming to live with food allergies. Yet, we all manage to find our stride and start to thrive. It doesn’t come overnight, and that’s OK. In the past few years I’ve seen a budding community come together to share inspiration and advice. Be sure you find your tribe of people who have similar struggles, be it online or in person. You’ll find that just by having a few people in your life that truly get it, the journey seems easier. Also, be sure to keep a food journal. If you’re new to allergies, keep it daily, religiously. If you’re a pro, be sure to take notes anytime you introduce a new product into your diet.

Think About Sponges

So, this may not seem like a big deal. If you have a dishwasher, then this may not even apply to you. However, sponges aren’t clean, and they love to hoard allergens. If you live in a house where there are multiple allergies, or even single allergies, you need to designate which sponge will clean which items. Now, this assumes that you haven’t eliminated the allergen from the house all together. There are times when only one person has a dairy allergy, and no one else does. Well, have different sponges, preferably of different colors so people know what’s safe and what’s not. Now, the level of sensitivity will also determine if this step is necessary. In our house, it’s an absolute must.

There are lots of little ways to arrange the kitchen to be more helpful to those with an allergy. Keep a separate pile of dishes for them, especially if you don’t have a dishwasher. Also keep a separate dish towel for them to use when in the kitchen.

If you are in an extreme case like our house (the house of allergies as we like to call it) you should invest in separate cookware. For example, we have 2 toaster ovens (we hate microwaves). This allows the people with dairy and gluten issues to steer clear of allergens. We also have separate cookware in my case where my food is prepared in dedicated items.

Each kitchen is different. You will have to assess where you’re at. However, sometimes there’s this nagging symptom that won’t go away, and sometimes it’s from cross-contamination.

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