Fresh Raw Applesauce

 

IMG_8325 - Copy

I have not been a lifelong supporter of applesauce.

At a young age I showed great sensitivity to textures.The first “solid” food placed in my mouth as a baby was a piece of banana. I refused to retract my tongue. Instead I sat there, tongue extended, banana precariously balanced, looking confused and displeased at this thing that was happening entirely without my consent. This has been my relationship with bananas, and other mushy slimy textured things (LOOKING AT YOU, AVOCADOS) ever since. Applesauce, for a long time, resided in my Food Hall Of Shame alongside bananas. There would be no BRAT diet for my winter cold, thankyouverymuch.

IMG_8308

But when allergies come into your life, a few things can happen that wipe away some of your previous food preferences –

1) You realize that you feel really, really dumb voluntarily going without a food just because it was weird That One Time You Tried It when you were 8.

2) You realize that specific food serves as an Important Substitute in the allergy world, so you better just buckle down and fake it ’til you make it.

3) Your poor deprived brain starts shooting off random cravings for things you don’t even like, once it realizes you’re not giving into its normal Pizza Craving, Doughnut Craving, Ice Cream Craving, or Doritos Craving. I have had the weirdest cravings the last year or so, since my brain finally gave up. I have wandered restlessly around, irritable, as though full of pregnancy rage, because my mouth desires CHICKPEAS but the chickpeas are GONE and NOTHING ELSE WILL DO.

IMG_8315

All those three things happened to me regarding applesauce. Now, I really love it. I can even eat it cold, and eating things cold with a spoon reeeeally grosses me out any other time.

Those three things did NOT change my feelings toward bananas and avocado, which leads me to believe I was simply born to hate them. It is my place in the world. Someone, somewhere, has to do it.

IMG_8319

Apples are a great source of quercetin, a component that helps calm allergic reactions. On days I’ve accidentally stepped in it allergy wise, part of my recovery practice is to eat an apple or shovel down some of this delicious raw applesauce to combat the coming pain.
Raw applesauce is also great with my Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie recipe!

IMG_8322

Let me know your weird taste or texture aversion, or tell your intense craving story in the comments below!

I’m participating in a Gluten-Free Wednesday linkup co-hosted by three lovely bloggers at Gluten Free HomemakerLynn’s Kitchen Adventures, and GFE Gluten Free Easily! Make sure to check out their blogs and give some love to all the linked up recipes!

 

Fresh Raw Applesauce

Sugar-free, Corn-free-possible. Clearly gluten, egg, dairy, nut, etc. etc. free. 

Makes roughly 1 1/2 cups applesauce

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large organic apples (any kind will do – I prefer Galas or Fujis)
  • Optional – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom

Directions

  1. (Optional) Peel apples.
  2. Core apples and chop into pieces (no more than two inches in size, so as to avoid gumming up the blades of your blender)
  3. Dump apples into blender, and blend on low until most of the large chunks are broken down. Increase speed to medium or high, depending on your blender. Keep processing until you reach desired texture (I like the stage right before everything turns completely smooth – tiny, uniform lump textures. I’m making this sound very appealing, aren’t I?)
    *Note here that your applesauce will begin to brown. This is just the oxidation process, and is normal. 
  4. Pour into “storage” container. Devour.

 

Allergy Notes

Corn AllergiesYou will probably want to peel your apples, even if they are organic, unless you picked them out of your own apple tree and can guarantee nobody doused them in plant-based wax on their way to your kitchen (In which case who are you? Where do you live? Can I buy your quaint little house with the fruit trees out  back?) Plant-based waxes are always full of corn derivatives, and cause many corn allergics to react. Peeling is a safer way to go, though it is important to note that NOT ALL CORN ALLERGICS ARE SAFE EVEN WHEN ORGANIC PRODUCE IS PEELED. You and your allergy are unique. Use safe-for-you-ingredients. Be cautious, remain alive. 

Stay safe, allergy friends!

-B

Simple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies (Vegan, Multi-Allergen free)

titlepic2

I have a story to tell about baking today, and along the way I’ll share some photos of one of the first Brenna-allergy-free recipes I created — that I can still use today! Go ahead and skip to the end of the post if you just want the recipe and none of my anecdotal shenanigans. =)

But first – a note about the recipe! These oatmeal breakfast cookies are perfect for taking along with me when I have a day out and won’t be near a microwave that could heat up my veggies, rice, or proteins. Paired with berries or applesauce, they make a delicious dessert that reminds me of pie or fruit crumbles in the Summertime. Paired with honey or nut butter they’re a great breakfast, comparable to eating a bowl of oatmeal but with the bonus serving of fruit!

Ok, let’s get started….

 IMG_8286
(See? Told you it was simple – only 7 unprocessed ingredients!)

 Baking was one of my favorite things pre-allergy diagnosis. My family has never done desserts regularly (we’re talking only on birthdays and major holidays, here) so there was always a huge feeling of indulgence and freedom that came with creaming the butter and sugar, rolling soft cookie dough between my hands, or panicking because I’d licked a beater that had incorporated egg and knowing I WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE as a result.

IMG_8293
  (Every corn-free individual is unique – my unique allergy is ok with this raw, organic clover honey from a local business, Bee Kings! You can visit them HERE. This is not a sponsored post, I just love their honey.)

I loved kitchen creation so much, there were times I considered a future as a chef or a baker – but that dream has long since sailed. I have a hunch Le Cordon Bleu isn’t interested in training a chef who can’t taste her own food, never mind breathe in too hard around it.

IMG_8300(Dry ingredients all cozy in a large bowl)

For a while after my initial diagnosis, I thought I would be able to bake gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, corn-free and cane-free. But over time I learned these things:
1) I react to beet sugar even though I’m not allergic to beets. (Beet sugar is completely GMO in the USA, and GMOs hurt me),
2) Bob’s Red Mill brand is barely corn-light, and far from corn-free (they do great work as a dedicated gluten-free facility, but corn allergics beware!)
3) Xanthan gum (essential component in the quest to mimic gluten textures) is always grown on either corn or cane sugars. No dice. Guar gum is a passable substitution, but finding a corn-safe guar gum has me stumped.

IMG_8301
(Getting handsy with the oats)

These realizations were painful, and I ran from them for a long time. This is a pattern I think all of us with allergies can relate to – even when we are dedicated to cutting out all our allergens, we have moments of denial. I thought “maybe my gut is just having an unrelated bad day”, or “surely I just ate something else that triggered this reaction…”

Nope. I was lying to myself. It was the baking.

IMG_8328(Add the oil)

IMG_8331(Add the gorgeous honey)

So I had to stop. I stopped baking for months, and it felt like years. I did more research, and was pretty discouraged by what I found – so many corn allergics like me, who had given up on cakes, muffins, cookies, and bread. They sustained themselves mainly on limited safe grains, veggies, and lean grass fed non-FDA-compliant-butchered meats. WAS THIS MY FUTURE? (Answer: Yes. Yes it was.)

IMG_8336
(Everyone gets acquainted)

Depression set in hard. I know for sure I was miserable to be around as I processed all this new limitation. Losing even more freedom of ingestion is like a pet dying (at least it has been for me). The cat I had since I was 8 years old died a month ago, and I know I cried for him just as long as I cried when I found out about my allergies.

IMG_8337
 (Now one big happy oatmeal family)

But the thing about allergies is… your allergy-cat keeps dying. Every time you find something you’ve loved since childhood has an allergen in it, every time your sensitivity changes, every time you smell someone else’s normal food, it dies inside you because no matter what some [REALLY REALLY WRONG] people may tell you… your taste buds do NOT forget what any of that tastes like. I remember with painful clarity what pizza is like, guys. The memory brings neither joy, nor satisfaction.

IMG_8342 (REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE ALL OF THIS, GUYS!)

IMG_8344 (It’s like when kids finally have hair and can string together sentences, and generally start to seem human!
The cookie version of that.)

Until eventually, after all the obsessive browsing on Pinterest, when all the techniques absorbed as I searched for the perfect-fit Brenna-safe baking recipe to appear…. an idea clicked together in my mind. I’m sure there are recipes out there that inspired this one, but I don’t have a way to track them down, and I sussed out the amounts on my own with my safe ingredients.

IMG_8345 (Does that make baking time… cookie puberty?)

And so the Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie was born. Essentially, they are a bowl of oatmeal that allows you to look like an adult while you eat it out of your hands! I throw them in my purse for long outings along with some fruit, and it saves me some jealous hunger pangs when my friends stop for coffee or burgers.

As of yet, these are the ONLY thing I bake. I am working on some variations using this base recipe (anyone up for a berry crumble recipe?), and also brainstorming some flatbread ideas. I’m really excited to be starting this blogging experience, and can’t wait to share more with you.

Titlephoto3

 I hope you enjoy! Comment below to let me know if you try them (pictures encouraged!),  if you come up with any substitutions to fit YOUR unique allergy/restriction combination, or if you have your own tale of baking woe to share.

Make sure to check below the recipe for important notes about specific allergens.

 

Simple Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

(Vegan option, Dairy-free, Egg free, Nut-free, Sugar free, Gluten-free option, Corn-free possible)
Makes roughly 8 cookies, depending on size.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 c flaked oats (or normal oatmeal, pulsed a couple times in a blender)
  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon (optional spice additions: nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, etc.)
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 c of my unsweetened raw applesauce recipe (you could also use pre-made applesauce – but use a bit less, because pre-made tends to be more liquidy than the raw.)
  • 1/2 c coconut oil, melted (other oils may work – let me know if you try!)
  • 1/4 c honey (agave, maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener for Vegan option)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2.  Combine dry ingredients by hand in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine applesauce, oil, and sweetener with a whisk or fork. Don’t stress about this step – it will not fully combine.
  4. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients, and immediately mix with a large spoon until fully incorporated. If it seems very dry, add a little more applesauce. If it seems too goopy, add small amounts of oat flour and oats until it begins to hold together more.
  5. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, allowing it to soak in the moisture and bind together.
  6. Once the mixture is a bit more set up, use your large spoon to scoop the mixture in 1/4 cup portions (or less, depending on your desired cookie size.) Roll into balls, and flatten on cookie sheet until they’re about 1/2 inch tall (exactness here is not necessary. Just make sure they’re not too thick to heat through). These cookies do not spread, so don’t worry about spacing either.
  7. Bake in the center of your preheated oven for around 15 minutes, watching carefully near the end –
    * For softer, more crumbly cookie, pull from the oven when  just beginning to become golden (patches of pasty color is fine).
    * For a drier, more firm cookie, pull from the oven when the tops are a definite golden.
  8. Let cool on the cookie sheet, or eat immediately with some of your leftover applesauce. 😉

 

ALLERGY NOTES:

Gluten Free – As I’m sure you know, oats are only gluten free if they come from a dedicated gluten-free facility. There can also be cross-contamination issues in the fields the grains are grown in. I understand Bob’s Red Mill is known for being good to GF individuals, and I’ve had luck with Einstein brand and Cream Hill Estates (I buy in bulk through Azure). Always research and use safe-for-you ingredients.

Tree-Nut Free – I’m sorry if you do react to coconuts (my understanding is, some tree nut allergics do, and some do not.) Consider trying another oil comparable in weight/density, such as grapeseed or canola.

Corn Free – It’s hard to know what to tell you. I know your crazy-limited-ingredient pain. Use your safe-for-your-sensitivity, heavily researched ingredients. Substitute as necessary. Feel free to email me if you have questions (FAQ time -I use Azure cinnamon, Karlin’s baking soda, Einstein’s oats, Bee Kings honey, and peeled organic apples). The ingredients I use *should* be safe for a broad number of corn allergics (I’m on the sensitive side), but we are all unique and have to be individually cautious.

Godspeed, allergy friends. Be safe!

-B

Cold Turkey | An Introduction

As soon as I walked out of my naturopath’s office, Flaming Hot Cheetos were dead to me.

If I had realized this before making my decision, maybe I would have gone on one last raid of the junk food aisle. It’s hard to tell. The shock of understanding my test results was strong and fresh, and perhaps the resolve it brought would have been strong enough to resist an orange cheesy binge.

When I look back on the first week knowing about my shiny new food allergies and intolerances, I’m surprised at myself — in a good way. The anger, the depression, the frustration… just a few days before, it all would have driven me to eat my feelings via tortilla chips or pasta or a large glass of chocolate milk. But the little paper booklet that held my test results wielded enormous power. The power to convince my animal brain, unchangably, that my food friends were no longer so amicable. My diagnosis was over 30 food allergies, and an inflamed and underperforming GI tract. First-world life was killing me.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.00.32 AM (My last home-cooking instagram picture before allergy diagnosis)

The night after recieving the results, I Skyped with my long-distance boyfriend. He asked if I had a strategy, if I would weed out the allergies one by one, or go cold turkey. “It’s poison, to me,” I told him, “I’m not really interested in suicide.”

There is no stronger motivation for change than being destroyed from the inside out.

It has been 1 1/2 years since that fateful day in 2012. I won’t lie to you and tell you it has been easy (it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done), or that I’m glad it happened (I think I’d give a foot for a normal digestive system.) But I’ve learned the lesson marathon runners do when they push themselves and push themselves and push themselves hundreds of times past the moment their body tells them they’ve had enough. If only that lesson were more complicated – maybe I could get a book deal out of it, or start some sort of motivational speaking cult. But no. It is just this:

You are capable of doing ALL unpleasant things, if you will only place enough value on the results they will give you.

This is simple to say, simple in theory, and agonizing – but just as simple – in practice. I obey the limitations that have been imposed on me by my body, because I have placed the value of my life on it. And so, my life goes on – without Cheetos, without cake on my birthday, without sharing thanksgiving dinner. Because growing old and being free of pain are of higher value than Ben&Jerry’s. The lesson wasn’t easy, and I don’t like what it demands. But it made my decisions clear, and I am grateful for the results.

And that, in the end, is what really matters.

-B