Tuesday, October 26, 2010


There is more to storing sugars than just storing sugar when you think about it! We have a sugar sensitivity, and so have explored many options when it comes to replacing “sugar” in many recipes. Here are some of the things we store and therefore use in our house, instead of sugar.
Maple Sugar and Syrup. I think these two sugars get overlooked way too much. I use them a lot in baking, they really add that rich flavor that we enjoy.
Agave Nectar has grown widely popular in cooking lately. It’s got a syrup consistency with a mild honey flavor. Very tasty in my humble opinion. We use this and maple syrup in our pancakes.
Honey is something you can either have or you can’t. Luckily, in our household, we can have it. And if you can, there are lots of health benefits from eating it. I could go into a whole section on just honey, but I think I’ll just say that ripe or “raw” honey (honey that has been removed from the hive by a beekeeper) has a very long shelf life and will not ferment if properly sealed. Also, it’s said to be a lot healthier for you, since it hasn’t been heated.
Xylitol. Aside from honey, this sweetener has probably the most benefits out of all popular sugar substitutes. There are a lot of myths about it out there, so I’ll give a basic outline of what it is, and what it’s been proven to do. Xylitol is actually a sugar alcohol. Basically, they take any fibrous plant like corn, birch, plums and extract the naturally occurring sugars. They have done many studies and found that it helps in dental care, osteoporosis, infection, safe for those with diabetes and hyperglycemia too. Now, the main drawback for most people is the taste. And of course the wonderful laxative affect. When trying it out, be sure to mix it with your current sugars gradually.
Stevia is just one of those cool foods. It’s actually a plant that you can grow yourself. With 300 times the sweetness as sugar, and it’s health benefits for hypertension and obesity, you may want to try it. You’ve probably already seen adds for Truvia, the name brand. I’ve tried it in my coffee, but haven’t baked with it yet.
Brown Sugar is of course one of those things that make oatmeal and certain baked goods so tasty. It’s always a good idea to have some of it on hand. Especially if you like to eat hot oatmeal or in our case quinoa, on chilly mornings.
Sugar: Raw, Beet, Cane Long story short, they say that raw sugar is much better for you. But for some reason, at least where I shop, it seems to be  more expensive. Go figure. If you can have refined sugar, be it cane or beet, make sure that you always have some on hand. It’s inexpensive and you can always just cut back on it as long as you don’t have an allergy to it.
Rice Syrup is in just about every gluten free bar I’ve ever run across. Since we have a rice allergy in our house, I have never used it. But, a lot of people who bake with rice syrup swear by it! You can find it all over anymore and it will store for a long time.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fats and Oils

What an exciting subject, lol! For most of you who already cook with allergy friendly alternatives, this section you may already have a handle on. For those of you who are new to food allergies, these are the things I use, or friends use. Hopefully you find something new! As I find new things, I’ll update this post as well.

Cooking and Baking Oils.
I’ve read that an oil allergy is one of the most uncommon allergies of them all. However, I do know some people who don’t use certain oils, either because they aren’t that healthy or they contain a food allergen. For example, we don’t use vegetable oil or soybean oil because we have a soy allergy in our house. When storing foods for either short or long term storage, it’s never a bad idea to keep in mind nutrition. If you cruise the internet, there are a multitude of conflicting stories on what to and not to use, so. Here are my personal favorites and those of others I know.

Olive Oil is probably the best oil to cook with. And at least for us, it’s the most used oil in our cabinet. Also, I read in a survival manual a long time ago, that you could survive on like a tablespoon of olive oil, until you could find food. And on top of that, it is great (I know from experience) for making oil lamps out of in a lights out situation!
Canola Oil is probably number two. Now, I have heard from some of my friends that they are highly sensitive to canola oil. So, it’s not right for everyone, but if you can have it it available everywhere and more affordable than other alternatives. 
Coconut Oil for some reason seems to have come under fire recently as unhealthy. It’s true that most of time when it’s been refined, it loses most of it’s health benefits, but why should we write off something that, in my humble opinion, is a life saver! Coconut oil can add a a wonderful flavor to all kinds of dishes and I use it to replace butter in many of my baking recipes. And now, I’ve seen it on the shelves of my local Meijer and Wal-Mart. Spectrum offers a wonderful range of coconut oil products.
Shortening is something I’ve had to learn to bake without (no soy in this house! UNTIL, I found this wonderful product from Spectrum, it’s made with palm oil and works wonderfully!

When I was making my own list of foods to store, I thought that this section was kind of interesting. I had never really thought of these as “fats”. I considered most of these either condiments or like peanut or any kind of nut butter as a protein. But, since these usually fall in a category titled fats, I will include these here.
Mayonnaise, if you have a dairy or egg allergy, is usually something you just don’t have anymore. And, since we couldn’t eat bread, I really hadn’t pursued any recipes or alternatives. But, I have since found some great recipes for making your own. And, as long as you keep these things on hand, you can make it fresh anytime you need to! Also, there is product made from grape seed oil called Vegenaise. I have read some good reviews on it, but have never personally tasted it. You can find it in the refrigerated section of your local whole foods store or ask for it at a health food store near you. Since it is refrigerated though, it’s not exactly the best option for storing large quantities.

Here is one recipe for making your own mayonnaise :
Mock Mayonnaise
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
Dash paprika
Dash cayenne
1 tablespoon apple- cider vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup water
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash onion powder
Dash of other spices, if you wish
Blend together until mayonnaise consistency. Store in refrigerator. Looks, smells and tastes like the real thing! Use for pasta and bean salads and lots more.
Salad dressing. I usually make our own salad dressing for the boys from extra virgin olive oil and spices I have on hand. But, keeping a couple of brands you know are safe, aren’t a bad idea either!
Peanut Butter. Now, if you have a peanut allergy, you obviously know of alternatives and what not. But, if you can have either peanuts or another nut or sunflower butter, these are great in a pinch! When there is a storm or you need to have a quick snack, a scoop of “peanut butter” will usually hold you over until you can either make a meal or power is restored. Just make sure you rotate them so that they don’t go rancid. And make sure, as with all of your food storage, that you store them properly!
If there is anything that you don’t see here, that you or you’re family uses, please feel free to share!