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Friday, February 24, 2017

Wild Rice and Carrots from The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver
Recipe photography copyright 2016 by Laura Bashar

I know a thing or two about changing your diet for health reasons. As I've written before, when I changed to a vegan diet, my life-long asthma dramatically improved, my high cholesterol came into normal ranges, and I overall felt better. My son has had to change his diet to accommodate his food allergies.

Wild Rice and Carrots from The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver
Recipe photography copyright 2016 by Laura Bashar

My friend, Stephanie Weaver, has also had to change her diet to accommodate her health issues, too. She has researched -- very thoroughly -- the best diet to provide relief for symptoms related to migraine, vertigo and Meniere's disease.

Stephanie has written a thoroughly researched guidebook to help people living with these ailments feel better. This is a holistic approach to symptom relief. She has tips, plans, research, recipes and advice all geared toward living a life with fewer headaches.

I love that this book isn't just focused on eating, but really looks at all aspects of your life. She talks about meditation, sleep, stress, and self-care. Stephanie also helps you prepare to "fail." We all know that mistakes happen, and she urges a proactive approach so that you're ready when you slip up on the diet.

If you or someone you love lives with migraines (or the related issues), I urge you to check out this book. Stephanie's book is not vegan, but is definitely adaptable for a a plant-based diet.

Stephanie generously shares her recipe for Wild Rice with Carrots with us. I had this for lunch today, and it was delicious! 

Reprinted with permission from The Migraine Relief Plan, copyright 2016 Stephanie Weaver. Published by Surrey Books, an imprint of Agate Publishing, Inc. 

Wild Rice and Carrots
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutesCooking time: 55 minutesPassive time: 10 minutes
Many people haven’t tried wild rice, which is a nutritious grass that grows only in North America. It’s harvested by hand using canoes, and often its purchase supports the Native American cooperatives who produce it. It has an earthy, hearty flavor. If you’re not sure you’ll like it, bring a measuring cup to a natural foods store and buy just 1 cup from the bulk bin to make this recipe. I think I’ll make you a fan. One tester called this “hearty, unique, and easy.”

2 cups (500 mL) filtered water or vegetable stock
1 cup (150g) wild rice, rinsed and drained
2 large carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 ribs celery, finely minced
1 handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Budget friendly: Very

1. In a medium saucepan set over high heat, combine the filtered water and rice. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cover on for at least 10 minutes.
2. In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the rice, parsley, and black pepper. Cook 1 minute more until everything is warmed through.
3. Serve right away or refrigerate, covered, for up to 5 days.
Cooks’ Note: Wild rice is only grown in North America and may not be available overseas. You could substitute a hearty brown rice instead. I wash the parsley, then roll it up in a clean kitchen towel to help absorb extra moisture. Finely chop just before adding to the recipe.
Per serving: 6g protein, 35g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 54mg sodium, 381mg potassium, 4g fiber

Stephanie’s Spice Star: Freshly ground black peppercorns

If you’re used to ground black pepper in the shaker, you’re probably used to stale black pepper. Try buying a pepper grinder and a small amount of whole black peppercorns. You’ll be amazed at the zippy kick it adds to dishes. In addition, fresh spices are more likely to include beneficial phytonutrients, which add additional nutrition to your meal.

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)
is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Super Seeds and Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Passing a Nut Food Allergy Challenge - Welcoming Kitchen

For years, my son had to avoid all tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and dairy. We spent so much time telling him how to be safe. How to avoid his allergens. What could happen if he was exposed to something he's allergic to. What he should do.
Then he passed his peanut challenge. Over the next few years, he has passed challenges for almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts.

He failed his challenge for walnuts. Luckily we were in the doctor's office where they quickly administered Benadryl, prednisone and epinepherine. Needless to say, it was very scary.

So .... it's complicated. Like a lot of doctors, our allergist recommends eating those nuts that he passed every week to ensure that he remains not allergic. He also has to strictly avoid walnuts and pecans.

When you've told your child over and over that he can't eat nuts, and then you need him to eat them regularly, what do you do?

For some kids, they are happy to start eating peanut butter or nuts, but for lots of kids, it's more complicated. They often don't like the taste or texture of these foods that they've never had before. 

Here are some tips that might help keep the peace while you find a new way forward in the kitchen.

  1. Find companies that give clear allergen information. For our family, So Delicious Dairy Free is a game changer. They have a lengthy, informative allergen statement on every product. They make delicious cashew and almond-based milks, ice creams and treats. I know that my son is getting the nuts he needs to eat and not the ones he can't.
  2. Talk to your doctor about how nuts need to be labeled for safe consumption in your family. For us, if there's not a warning that says made with other tree nuts, our allergist has given the go ahead. We are able to get cashews, almonds and hazelnuts that don't have a mixed tree nut warning on them. I then bake them into granola, cookies or other treats. I also make my own non-dairy milk or cream by soaking them and blending them. (Almond milk needs to be strained through cheesecloth, a nut bag or through a coffee filter. Cashew milk is fine to use unstrained.)
  3. We buy nut butters that have a clear label on them about what nuts are included, and I bake and cook with them.
  4. I buy cereal and snack bars that list the specific nuts that are included in the allergy warning.
  5. My son likes peanut butter-filled pretzels, even though he doesn't like peanuts.
In short, try a wide variety of options. For example, adding some cashew milk to a cream soup gives your child the cashew exposure he might need without making him have to eat nuts that make him nervous. 

As always, the most important thing to do is communicate clearly with your doctor about what is the best strategy for your family.

What have you done after a successful food allergy challenge? Please join the conversation in the comments.

Hey ... Welcoming Kitchen was listed as a Top 40 Food Allergy Blog by Feedspot. That's nice.

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Super Seeds and Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Vegan Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie (glutenfree, food allergy friendly)

Have you ever seen such a vibrant smoothie?! What gives it this glorious hue?

Purple Sweet Potatoes!

I love to add veggies to my smoothies -- some of my favorites are spinach, kale and carrots. When I spied purple sweet potatoes at Trader Joe's the other day, I knew I'd love them. I baked a bunch up so I could have a healthy snack whenever I wanted.

This morning, I took one of those baked sweet potatoes that I've been keeping in my fridge and blended it up with some frozen berries for a breakfast that everyone loved.

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free, food allergy friendly) -

I chose frozen blueberries and a frozen berry blend to keep the color rich. 

Vegan Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie (glutenfree, food allergy friendly)

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie
Vegan, Gluten-free, Food Allergy Friendly, Sugar-free

  • Baked and peeled sweet potato
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Frozen berry blend
  • Apple juice
  • Non-dairy milk

  1. Blend together equal parts sweet potato, blueberries and berry blend (mine was blueberries, blackberries and strawberries) with enough apple juice and non-dairy milk to achieve the consistency you prefer.
  2.  You can save extra smoothie in a lidded jar in the refrigerator for one day. Blend with a couple ice cubes to bring it back to smoothie goodness. You can also freeze extra smoothie in ice pop molds for a yummy frozen treat. 
Happy Cooking!


My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Super Seeds and Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Food Allergy Kids and School Inclusion -

I wrote the post below 5 years ago when Casey was in 3rd grade. Now he's in 8th grade and all I can say is, "The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It definitely gets easier when your child is older. They aren't doing arts and crafts using food, and he is better able to negotiate food-related situations. There is the occasional issue of food-allergy teasing or bullying, but overall it's better.

It's not better for little kids who have food allergies and other intolerances, like celiac, though. Recently some friends were talking on Facebook about how difficult it is for their little ones when adults offer them food in school or there is food in the classroom for a class activity or reward. 

I thought it was time to give this conversation a kickstart again. What are your thoughts about inclusion in school? I'd love for you to join the conversation in the comments below or on the Welcoming Kitchen Facebook page. 


In the context of school what does it mean?

I have been thinking about this for quite a while (probably since my 3rd grader started kindergarten), but especially this week.  This week our school is having an Inclusion Week.  My children are fortunate to attend a public school that is committed to trying to create a welcoming environment for children with all kinds of strengths and challenges.

Food Allergy Kids and School Inclusion -
For Inclusion Week, children made squares indicating what makes them unique; then they were joined into classroom quilts.

I applaud the efforts of the parent volunteers of our Inclusion Committee and our school leaders to focus attention on how we can create an inclusive school community.

How does all of this work when the challenge your child faces is food allergies?

I have written here about concerns about food in the classroom and safety.  Inclusion is a slightly different matter.

If a child is allergic to dairy or is gluten-intolerant, how does he or she feel when a classroom reward for good behavior or achieving a fund-raising goal is a pizza party?  How different would they feel if it was a movie day or extra gym time or playground time?

If children fundraise by having bake sales or selling candy, how does that make the child feel for whom those foods are dangerous?  How might they feel if they were selling non-food items instead?

Why not make a log cabin out of craft sticks and glue instead of pretzels and frosting? 

Every time a family of a food-allergic child has to decide whether to speak up that an activity puts their child at risk or has to bring an alternative when there is food in class highlights the child's challenges and can make that child feel different (maybe not quite so included).

If the family does speak up and request an alternate activity, how does that make the child and his classmates feel when the other classes are enjoying a "treat" that they are denied?  Will the other children in class hope not to be with the food-allergic child in the future, so that they can still have the "treat?"

With food-allergy rates for children around 1 in 12 children, or 2 per classroom, I urge school communities to rethink inclusion as it impacts children with food allergies.  Sometimes food is a necessary part of education.  When it's not, or when there's an easy alternative, we can create a more-inclusive environment for many of our children by sticking with something else.  

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Super Seeds and Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Airfryer Crispy Smoky Polenta Snacks from Kim's Welcoming Kitchen, vegan, gluten-free, food allergy safe

One of my favorite gifts this year was an AIR FRYER. I LOVE fried food, but never deep-fry anything -- too messy, too bad for you, etc. A kitchen gadget that could give me the feeling of fried food without frying?! Count me in!

I have been having a blast playing with it. I have had some really good successes that I'm excited to share with you (onion rings, cheese sticks, breaded eggplant) and some other attempts that need improvement.

I thought I'd start out the Air Fryer love with a delicious, easy and totally resolution-safe snack. These polenta snacks are crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside and really flavorful. I like them plain or with a cup of soup. My son likes to dip them in ketchup.

The proportions here are for one serving. I like to keep the extra polenta in the fridge, so I can cook up a small batch over a few days and enjoy a delicious, hot, fresh treat right when I want it. If you want to cook the whole tube of polenta, just multiply the ingredients by 4.

Airfryer Crispy Smoky Polenta Snacks -

AIR FRYER CRISPY POLENTA SNACKS (vegan, gluten-free, top 8 allergen free)
Makes 1 serving


  • 1/4 tube of polenta
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Cut the polenta in 4 equal wedges, and then slice each wedge into approximately 1-inch pieces.
  3. In a lidded container or in a zip-top bag, shake together spices.
  4. Add the polenta slices, and shake to coat.
  5. Cook in the air fryer for 10-12 minutes, shaking once halfway through.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Decadent Chocolate Brownies - vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free -

My kids always ask me what my favorite foods are. When it comes to treats, brownies top the list for me. I have brownie recipes in every book I write, because you can never have enough brownie options in my opinion. 

These brownies are probably my favorites, though. I make them again and again, and I always get rave reviews. The melted chocolate chips really give a pure chocolate flavor to these very moist brownies. 

Decadent Chocolate Brownies - vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free -

It's a breeze to cut these soft, extra-rich brownies if you refrigerate them first.

Decadent Chocolate Brownies (vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, food allergy friendly)

Makes 12 Brownies

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral tasting oil (canola, safflower, or sunflower)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, divided (I like Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • non-stick cooking spray

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square pan.
  2. Combine sugar, oil, and water in a microwave safe bowl or small saucepan. If using a microwave, heat on high for 1 minute. If using a saucepan, heat over medium heat, stirring until hot, but not boiling (about 2 minutes). Stir half of the chocolate chips and the vanilla into the sugar mixture until the chips are melted. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour ,baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Combine apple sauce and baking powder. Add the apple sauce mixture to the chocolate. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the flour mixture, one half at a time. Add the remaining chocolate chips. Spread in prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

One of the best parts of being a member of the allergy community over the past several years has been meeting (virtually and in person) so many smart, caring, interesting people who I am proud to now call my friends. One of these friends is Lisa Cantkier. Lisa is a holistic nutritionist and a dynamo in the gluten-free and natural foods world.

Lisa has teamed up with another holistic nutritionist, Jill Hillhouse, to write a new book, The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution. They asked me to review it and share a recipe.

This book is full of information about Type 2 Diabetes and their approach to address it through a paleo diet. As a vegan, I don't agree with some aspects of a paleo diet -- eating animal products like meat, fish and eggs -- but other aspects of the paleo approach work with my food philosophy. Lisa and Jill advise focusing on unprocessed whole foods, while steering clear of preservatives and trans fats. That I agree with!

I also know the need to adjust your eating to maximize your health, and I support anything that works for you. 

Even with a vegan diet, there was a lot I could enjoy or adapt in this book, though to be honest, there were several recipes that did not work for me. Some recipes that I'm looking forward to trying are: 

  • Beets in Mustard Sauce
  • Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
  • Avocado Mint Sauce
  • Coconut Banana Soft Serve
Lisa and Jill have generously offered to share the recipe for Kale and Sweet Potato Saute with us. I think you will really enjoy this dish!

Kale and Sweet Potato Saute

Kale and Sweet Potato Saute
Credit for recipe + image:
Courtesy of The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution by Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Kale and Sweet Potato Sauté, page 161
Makes 4 servings
If the sweet potato cubes are larger than 12 inch (1 cm), they may take longer to cook.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (approx.), divided 30 mL
  • 112 lbs sweet potatoes (2 medium), peeled and cut into 12-inch (1 cm) cubes 750 g

  • 412 tsp ground cumin, divided 22 mL
  • 3 tsp chili powder, divided 15 mL
  • 34 tsp sea salt (approx.), divided 3 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 2
  • 1 bunch curly or Lacinato kale (about 10 oz/300 g), center ribs and tough 
stems removed, leaves shredded 1
  • 1 tbsp filtered water 15 mL
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Stir in 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin, 2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder and 12 tsp (2 mL) salt. Add more oil if the pan seems dry. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are golden brown and tender. Transfer sweet potatoes to a bowl.
2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil and garlic over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle (do not let it brown), add kale, a little at a time, until it all fits in the pan. Turn kale with tongs to coat with oil. Add the remaining cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir in water and cook for about 5 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender.
3. Return sweet potatoes to the pan and toss together. Cook for about 2 minutes or until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)is available now! Super Seeds, is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Vegan Lentil Soup - Welcoming Kitchen (Allergen-free and Gluten-free)

It's soup time! 
Soup is my go-to dinner in fall and winter. I eat the leftovers for lunch and send soup with my husband in a Thermos for his lunch at work. This Lentil Soup is just what I like -- filling and hearty. Since it's food-allergy friendly, gluten-free and vegan, you can serve it as a meal for company without any special-diet worries.
If you use a food processor to dice the vegetables in this easy recipe for lentil soup, it can be prepared in minutes. You can either use 7 1/2 cups of homemade or prepared vegetable stock or 3 vegan bouillon cubes mixed with 7 1/2 cups of water.  Adjust salt to taste, especially if the vegetable broth is low-salt or salt-free.

Lentil Soup (vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, food allergy friendly)
From Welcoming Kitchen
Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 7 1/2 vegetable broth (or 7 1/2 cups of water and 3 vegan bullion cubes)
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes with liquid (either fresh or canned)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add water and remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)is available now! Super Seeds, is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.