Introduction: Free and Easy for All
This book is for all of you out there who might not feel like cooking tonight. I know: I’ve been there, time and time again. For many people, when you don’t feel like making dinner, you just order takeout. Or you go out. Or you defrost something from the freezer. But what about those of us living with food allergies or food intolerances? Just picking up the phone and ordering Chinese food is not an option. So, most often, we have to cook, even when we really don’t feel like it. This book, comrades, is for you. It’s a collection of seventy- five allergy-free but flavor-full meals that can be whipped up in thirty minutes or less, to help simplify your complicated life. As a working mother, I know that most nights the last thing I want to do is spend an hour or more preparing dinner. I just don’t have the time, energy, or inspiration. But like it or not, I’ve got a food-allergic household, and something safe, healthy, and delicious has got to land on that table.
I’ve often thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone came up with a guidebook for day-to-day allergy-free cooking?” I’ve also spent many years asking my readers what recipes they miss most. This book is that guidebook, and a collection of those recipes, all designed to answer the most frequent request of all: “Make it fast, make it simple!” These seventy-five completely allergy-free meals will take the guesswork out of meal planning for you. These are the foods you love. Comfort foods. Not weird food, just good food that is also allergy-free; every recipe is free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and sesame, so you don’t have to make substitutions. And all without the slightest sacrifice of taste or texture. In fact, I’ve been told by those with no food restrictions that these recipes are better than the “originals.” So, whatever your allergies or intolerances, there’s something in here for you. And all cooked up in thirty minutes or less.
In this book, I share my favorite secrets for turning allergenic recipes into allergy-free cuisine. There is an alchemy to allergy-free cooking; I’ve spent ten years refining my understanding of it, and here, I teach you the magic behind the mystery. I’ll teach you how to take rice milk and brown rice flour and transform it into a cream sauce. How to take olive oil and rice milk and transform it into an egg. I know most of you can make a salad allergy-free, but wouldn’t you love to be able to make creamy mac ’n’ cheese without wheat, gluten, dairy, or soy? My last book, the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook, taught people how to bake without wheat, eggs, and dairy, the three mainstays of traditional baking. This book will teach you how to make grilled cheese without cheese, pizza without wheat, and pesto without nuts, just to name a few. With these recipes, you’ll be eating all your family favorites again in no time.
This collection of beloved recipe classics is for the fifteen million Americans living with food allergies. In the United States, one out of every thirteen kids under the age of eighteen has a food allergy. This book is also for the estimated 30 percent of Americans living with gluten intolerance, and the one in a hundred living with celiac disease. We have a lot of mouths to feed safely.
I wrote this book for you, and for me. Because like you, my circumstances dictate that I must cook something safe and healthy, whether I feel like it or not.
My son Lennon was diagnosed with severe multiple food allergies at four months old. He outgrew his dairy and soy allergies by the time he was six. However, he was then diagnosed with shellfish, tree nut, and kiwi allergies, which I’m assuming are for life. My other son, Monte, has allergic asthma and must avoid dairy when it flares; he was also diagnosed with a shellfish allergy last year. I myself have fish, shellfish, tree nut, wheat, and a variety of fruit allergies. My husband is dairy-allergic and gluten-intolerant. And so, we continue to eat allergy-free.
Now, I’m a foodie, but as my kids have grown older, and the homework load has gotten intense, and I am working around the clock, and my husband is often somewhere else, working just as hard, I don’t have time to cook the way I used to. I will not be making slow-braised short ribs, or lamb that has to marinate for two days. Like you, I want quick and easy recipes that taste good. And of course I need them to be healthy and allergy-free, too. So I wrote the book I needed but couldn’t find.
Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking is for those learning to cook and those who love to cook. It’s also for you if you hate to cook but have to: hopefully, it will help you like it a little better.
SunButter Dan Dan Noodles
When my kids were very small, we lived in Westchester County, New York. My husband and I used to go on date night to a Chinese restaurant in Yonkers called Hunan Village. It was owned by a regal Chinese man named Paul. He was the most impressive host. He liked to order for our table, and it was thanks to him that I first tried dan dan noodles. I’ve eaten them many times at restaurants since, and none compares to the ones at Hunan Village. They had the best darn dan dan noodles I’ve ever tasted. Funny thing about that restaurant was my husband had been going to it ever since he was a kid, and Paul was the owner, all the way back then. I’ve heard Paul left Hunan Village a few years ago, and that sadly their food has declined. In honor of Paul, I devised this scrumptious, addictive, allergy-friendly dan dan noodle recipe, because the traditional is chock-full of allergens (wheat, soy, peanuts). I hope my version does justice to Paul. For the linguine, I like corn-quinoa noodles that mimic the yellow hue of the traditional egg noodles.
8 ounces gluten-free linguine
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
2 tablespoons finely minced or grated ginger
2 tablespoons coconut amino acids
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha or Thai Chile Sauce (page 94)
1/3 cup smooth SunButter
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds, plus more for garnish
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, quartered, and diced, for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
In a large bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, coconut amino acids, oil, sugar, vinegar, and chile sauce. Mix well. Add the SunButter, chicken broth, and salt, and stir until smooth.
Drain the pasta and combine with the sauce, tossing to coat. Mix in the green onions, cilantro, and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds.
Serve garnished with the diced cucumber and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds.