Tag Archives: food allergies

Chicken and Sausage Paella from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking

Chicken and Sausage Paella from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com
As a community leader for Udi’s Gluten Free, I’m always on the lookout for new cookbooks written for people who are gluten free. That’s why I’m excited to share with you Cybele Pascal’s new cookbook, Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame. As you can tell by the title, it’s also for people with food allergies and food sensitivities, and is a follow up to her book The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook.

I met Cybele at a blogger event in Los Angeles over a year ago. She knows all about dealing with food allergies having cooked that way since 2001 after her son, Lennon, was as diagnosed with severe dairy and soy allergies. She obviously knows her stuff, which is why she’s an Ambassador Who Cares for Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. You can find more about her on her website cybelepascal.com.

Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame

Cybele also has great taste and style, which is why I fell in love with her new cookbook and love dipping into it to find ideas for what to make for dinner. I’ve already made her Garam Masala Lamb Chops with Cumin Quinoa, which was fantastic and a huge hit with my family. To quote my daughter, Lucie, “I really don’t like quinoa, Mom. But this is so good!” She even got her brother to eat it!

The recipes in Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking are similar to the way I like to cook – healthy, delicious and can quickly be put together on a weekday night. Cybele’s recipes aren’t complicated and fussy, and don’t contain a zillion hard-to-find ingredients. Like me, she loves ethnic foods, such as Sopa de Lima, as well as classic family favorites like Chicken Noodle Casserole. In addition, she has a lot of great tips for those new to allergy-free cooking, like how to stock your pantry and what kitchen equipment you’ll need. It’s a great book for beginners as well as seasoned cooks who need to eliminate allergens in their kitchens.

Chicken and Sausage Paella from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Chicken and Sausage Paella

Reprinted with permission from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. Photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews.


  • 1 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/8 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 8 ounces chorizo, andouille, linguica, or kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish


  1. Combine the rice with 1 1/4 cups of the chicken broth in a microwave-safe container. Cover and microwave for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken tenders with the paprika and some salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until starting to shimmer. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the onion and sausage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the bell pepper, garlic, saffron, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the remaining 1 cup chicken broth, bring to a boil, and deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits along the bottom, 1 minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, partly cooked rice, and chicken, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, loosely covered, for 8 minutes more or until the liquid is absorbed. Add the peas and heat through for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss with the parsley, and serve hot, sprinkled with a little more parsley
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6
  • Serving size: 1/6 of recipe

Disclosure: I was provided with a sample copy of Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame to facilitate this review. All opinions and experiences are my own.

As an Udi's Gluten Free Community Leader I'm compensated for my time and efforts on their behalf.  Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Dealing with food sensitivities and allergies at Dollywood

gluten free cookieAs a community leader at Udi’s Gluten Free, a mom to a daughter with allergies, and someone who deals with food sensitivities, I was excited to learn about Dollywood’s Start Fresh program. During my recent Brandcation trip to Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, our group had the chance to meet with food team member, Cecil Page, during lunch at Granny Ogle’s Ham N’ Beans, who told us all about the program they developed with the help of FANN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network). The program has been in place over two years and as far as I know it’s unique to Dollywood.

How Start Fresh works

When you arrive to any of Dollywood’s restaurants or eateries, talk with the manager to let him or her know what allergies and food sensitivities you and your family is dealing with. There’s no need to call ahead, though you can contact the Foods Department at 865-428-9428 if you so choose.

The manager and his or her team will make sure that your table is cleaned, sanitized and as free as possible from any allergens. They’ll also make sure you’re seated away from the kitchen so you don’t get a whiff of anything you may be allergic to, like fish.

The manager will then present you with a yellow binder (yellow is the color assigned to anything Start Fresh related) that contains the list of ingredients of all the menu items. This way you can decide what you feel comfortable ordering for yourself or your child.

Once your order is placed, it’s assigned to a cook who will prepare your meal from start to finish and will not cook up anyone else’s order until after you are done. The first thing he or she will do is clean and sanitize their work area and put on a fresh area. Then he or she will break open a Fresh Start pack containing everything they need to prepare and serve your meal (utensils, cutting board, knife, spoons, etc.) The cook will then prepare the meal to your specifications and deliver it personally to your table. It’s like having your own personal chef!

The cooks go through the special one week Start Fresh program after going through a regular culinary course at the Dollywood. Only those who pass the Start Fresh program can cook for allergy affected guests. So while other theme parks and restaurants serve up allergen free food, this is probably one of the few that understand about allergen contamination.

Dollywood restaurants also offer vegetarian, diabetic and gluten free menu options. I was pleasantly surprised to find packaged gluten free cookies at the Spotlight Bakery. And if you’re traveling with kids with allergies or you have food sensitivities yourself, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy dining at Dollywood can be!

For more information about the park, admission and hours, go to dollywood.com. You can also connect with Dollywood on Facebook and @Dollywood.

Eating gluten free when traveling

The Udi’s Gluten Free Community offers lots of great info and tips about traveling while gluten free:

How do you deal with food allergies and sensitivities when traveling?

Disclosure: The Brandcation bloggers received special discounts and passes to many of the attractions we visited. All experiences and opinions expressed here are my own.

As a Udi's Gluten Free Community Leader I'm compensated for my time and efforts on their behalf.

Making Silk Organic Soymilk part of my daily routine #Silk4All

Silk for breakfast

When I learned I had a food sensitivity to whey, I gave up milk and yogurt. This meant no more cereal, no more cookies and milk snacks, and no more smoothies. It also meant that foods like quiche, creamy soups, pancakes, and mashed potatoes were off limits since they also contain milk. Major bummer, right?

Luckily, I discovered alternative milks from Silk like Silk Soymilk and Silk Coconutmilk. (They also make Silk Almondmilk, but since my daughter has a nut allergy I try to avoid having nut products in the house.) Currently, unsweetened Silk Organic Soymilk is my non-dairy milk of choice. Here’s why:

Unsweetened. In my opinion, Silk Organic Soymilk doesn’t need to be sweetened since I enjoy the taste straight from the carton. Unsweetened soymilk is also a great non-dairy milk for cooking. I used in mashed potatoes last night and my family – who can drink cow’s milk – didn’t notice the difference. However, you can get Silk Organic Soymilk sweetened (original flavor) or in vanilla, if you like.

Organic.  When I consume soy products, I prefer them to be organic whenever possible. Silk non-dairy milks, organic or not, are made from non-GMO products.

Calcium. An eight ounce glass of Silk Organic Soymilk has 30% of the recommended amount of calcium. This is important since I have to avoid dairy products and have to get my calcium from other sources.

7 grams soy protein. After attending a trip to Iowa courtesy of The Soyfoods Council, I’ve become a big believer in soy. While I was on the trip, I attended a lecture by Mark Messina, Ph.D. from the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University. He had reviewed current medical studies and concluded that soy does indeed reduce the risk of heart disease. (In fact, the FDA recommends 25 grams of soy protein per day to gain this affect.) He said that studies demonstrate that soy lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. His review of the medical literature also showed that soy reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes. You can learn more about soy’s health benefits on The Soyfoods Council’s website.

My day with Silk Organic Soymilk

After attending Dr. Messina’s talk, I decided to make soy milk part of my daily routine. I start the day off with Silk Organic Soymilk in a smoothie or in my cereal. At night, since I have perimenopause symptoms like feeling very warm and having insomnia, I drink a glass of Silk Organic Soymilk as a nightcap. I find that it cools me down and helps me sleep better.

Silk Organic Soymilk Nightcap

A Silk Taste for Everyone

No matter what your personal non-dairy milk tastes are, Silk has a product for everyone:

They also have milk in single serve containers, creamers, Silk Fruit & Protein, and during the holidays, Silk Nog.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy Silk non-dairy milks?

Silk-LogoSilk® soy, almond and coconut milks are perfect choices for your healthy lifestyle. More than 30 years ago, Silk set out to make the world a healthier place. Not just for people who drink Silk, but for everyone. Don't let the delicious taste fool you, we're serious about our soymilk, almondmilk and coconutmilk.  With every cup of Silk, you get calcium, vitamin D and the goodness of soy, almonds or coconut. All of our non-dairy milks are free of lactose, cholesterol, gluten, eggs, casein, MSG and worries. Whether organic or natural, all of our Silk products are made with non-GMO ingredients and verified by the non-GMO project.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Silk via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Silk.

Let’s chat about food sensitivities on Monday, July 30 8 pm ET #gfcommunity

sneezing-coldDo you have a constant runny nose, migraine headaches, or sore tummy that’s making you wonder if what you’re eating is bad for you? Are you suspecting it’s food sensitivities, allergies or maybe even celiacs disease? Join me, Jo-Lynne of  Musings of a Housewife, Alta of Tasty Eats at Home, Penelope of Penlope's Oasis, and Rachel of finding joy on Monday, July 30 at 8 pm ET (that's TOMORROW) to discuss food sensitivities and how to get tested. We'll be touching on topics like tests for gluten intolerance for celiacs vs. the ALCAT blood test for food sensitivities, as well as food allergies vs. food sensitivities and much more.

We’ll be sharing our experiences, so bring your questions! You can join us in the chat box below or live on the Udi’s Gluten Free community website here.

Disclosure: As a Udi's Gluten Free Community Leader I'm compensated for my time and efforts on their behalf.

Join us for a Twitter chat about food sensitivities and the ALCAT tomorrow at 1 PM ET/10 AM PT #Previlean

blood-testTomorrow, July 18th,  Jessica Gottlieb and I will be hosting a #Previlean chat about the ALCAT test and how it can help you discover what food sensitivities you have. We’ll be discussing the pros and cons of the ALCAT test, what it is, why we took it, and what our test results showed. I took it a few years ago (read about it here and here) and Jessica recently got her test results back (read about it on her blog).

Also joining us will be the team from PreviMedica, so be sure to follow everyone on Twitter:

RSVP here with your name and twitter ID for the second #PreviLean twitter chat on Wednesday July 18 at 10 AM PT/1 PM ET.

Hope you can join us!

Divvies – egg, milk, nut and peanut free treats that are made to share

I often blog about the challenges of having a daughter who is allergic to eggs, nuts, peanuts (a legume) and soy both here at This Mama Cooks! and on my children's book blog, My Readable Feast. It's probably why Divvies Bakery in South Salem, New York contacted me about reviewing some of their products.

Divvies caramel corn Divvies cookies, popcorns, and cupcakes are made in the company’s own dedicated facility. Divvies candies, frosting, and sprinkles are certified by their manufacturers to be peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, and egg-free. Divvies conducts routine testing to minimize the risk of any cross-contamination in their certified allergen-free ingredients.

My daughter Lucie isn't that allergic to eggs and won't go into anaphylactic shock if she comes into contact with peanuts. (Instead she breaks out into hives, throws up and gets a fever - scary enough!) Lucie can eat snacks that are made in food plants or at the local supermarket. We've also discovered that she can get away with having products with a teeny bit of egg. (If the label says "contains less than 2%" of eggs she can have them.)

Still, so many people get deathly ill if they smell or touch a nut or have a trace amount of milk or eggs. Benjamin, the son of Divvies founder, Lori Sandler is one of those kids. That's why she started the company knowing that there's a need for allergen-free products. Great idea, but how do their snacks taste?

Divvies sent me a two small bags of their gourmet popcorn - caramel corn and kettle corn - that we took with us to enjoy at the National Western Stock Show rodeo. They were yummy and two bags were enough for the five of us. The bags are $5 each, which is what we would normally pay at the rodeo. That does seem pricey, especially if you factor in shipping, but a great way to save money would be to get their five gallon popcorn duos or "corn for a crowd" sets that go for $54 (free shipping, too!) If you're a big popcorn fan, you may be interested in signing up for monthly shipping with their Automatic Divvies and save an additional 20%. Again, this may seem expensive, but if you, a friend, or a family member has nut allergies or is a vegan (yes, they're certified vegan and kosher, too!) these are worth every penny.

Divvies cupcakes What really sold me were their cupcakes. Not only were they delicious (we got chocolate cake with vanilla frosting) but I loved their practicality. A dozen freshly baked cupcakes, sprinkles and frosting are shipped to you in a large box. Inside you find a special bakery box that does double duty. The cupcakes are in smaller boxes that can be turned over and made into trays with holes to hold each cupcake individually. The trays then fit snugly back into the bakery box and your cupcakes can be brought to a party without messing them up! Another idea would to have the cupcakes shipped to arrive the morning of the party. Then everyone can decorate their own cupcake as a fun activity.

If you're pressed for time and concerned about possible allergic reactions, $24 plus shipping (one box costs the same to ship as three) isn't a bad price for saving you time and the headache of a sick kid at the party (and a trip to the emergency room).

Note: the cupcakes are preservative free and will go stale after a few days. But they're so delicious that you'll eat them in one sitting.

But if you're into making your own cupcakes, check out the recipes for Chocolate Divvies Cupcakes and Divvies Vanilla Frosting that Benjamin and Lori Sandler shared with Martha on The Martha Stewart Show this morning.

If your child has food allergies, check out DivviesBattr, an informative and supportive forum where parents of children with food allergies can participate and learn from a community of experts and other parents how best to nurture and protect their children while creating a positive, calm atmosphere that pervades the entire household.