We are so very lucky to have a happy baby. Since I’ve gone back to work, Luca has been hanging out with his dad, who is on paternity leave, and eating it up. These two are the best buddies.
The only hiccup in the whole thing has been finding out about Luca’s food sensitivities. Perhaps TMI, especially on a food blog, but around 2 months he started getting blood in his stool, and lots of diarrhea. After ruling out infections and other possibilities, his pediatrician posited it was most likely MSPI–a milk and soy protein intolerance. This is a horrible name for what he has, which we now believe is allergic proctocolitis, in that in addition to dairy and soy, he’s also sensitive to egg, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and coconut that he gets via my breastmilk.
We feel extraordinarily grateful in that Luca doesn’t have severe IgE allergies–those are the kind that can cause severe anaphylactic shock. He seems super happy and healthy, and other than his weird diapers and some eczema when I accidentally eat an allergen, all is normal. However, it has been a tremendous challenge to both figure out what caused his problems in my diet, especially since these types of sensitivities can’t be tested for, and then to eliminate such a tremendous number of things from my pescatarian diet. In comparison, eliminating dairy or soy seems like a piece of cake.
The good news is that he’ll most likely outgrow his sensitivities–hopefully by 1 year old. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to figure out what to eat and still get enough protein and calcium, in particular. First of all, almost anything processed (even minimally processed) has dairy or soy. There are cheat sheets for hidden milk and soy, but since I don’t want to spend my life reading labels, I just don’t eat anything that comes in a package–easier said than done. As for nuts and coconut, it has been a bummer to also have to avoid them, since they have that fatty mouthfeel I’ve missed so much. And as for eating out, forget about it. I recently went to a very allergy-friendly local restaurant, but still managed to eat something that gave Luca blood in his diaper. When we go to friends’ houses, I just bring something with me to eat, because I would never wish cooking for me on anyone.
In the meantime, I’m writing this horribly long post because I’ve found very few helpful resources online for cooking on such a limited diet. Allergy-free cooking sites and blogs tend to rely on complicated ingredients (flax “eggs”) and other processed food ingredients (vegan “spreads”) that are often labor intensive, and not so tasty. While I know you three don’t need this diatribe, I figured I’d try and share and put some allergy-free recipes here in hopes that if anyone Googles this and is looking for ideas, it may be helpful. I’ll also tag older recipes on the blog as allergy-free as I find them.
So many lovely people have shared recipes with me as well. So while I can’t vouch for all of the recipes I’ve bookmarked, in case anyone is interested, I have hundreds of allergy-friendly, mostly vegetarian* recipes (*Note: some still contain fish and shellfish) saved in a public link on Evernote.
As for this Crunchy Broccoli Apple Salad, its tahini dressing is the key. Tahini has been my best friend through all of this. Unfortunately, most tahini is a no-go for me since it’s processed on equipment that processes tree nuts (who knew he’d be so sensitive, it’s crazy!). However, I found organic Kevala tahini on Amazon Prime, which is reasonably priced and processed in a factory that only processes sesame.
It would be great for picnics or lunches as it keeps quite well.
More allergy-free recipes to come!
Crunchy Broccoli Apple Salad
adapted from Broccoli Crunch Salad, Pamela Salzman
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small bite-size florets and stems diced
- 1 crisp apple, cored and diced
- 1/3 C. dried cranberries
- 1/8 C. sunflower seeds
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4-5 Tb. tahini
- 4 Tb. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tb. olive oil
- dash water
- salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan with a steamer insert, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Place the broccoli on the steamer basket and cover with the lid. Steam for 1 minute. Transfer broccoli to a large plate in a single layer and allow to cool. Finely chop broccoli. Lightly toast the sunflower seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and starting to brown. In a large bowl toss together broccoli, apples, cranberries, seeds, and onion.
In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients: tahini, vinegar, water, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more water or vinegar if too thick. Pour over broccoli mixture and toss until broccoli is well coated.