Cheri Redgrave 3rd Interview with Dr Otto

Dr Otto and Cheri

Cheri’s third interview with Dr David Otto discussing food allergies, anti-bodies, and endorphins. Dave is a chiropractor, allergy sufferer and a source of knowledge on allergies. please enjoy his insights into living with food allergies.

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Allergy Eats

Salad

Since my food allergy diagnosis, my husband and I rarely eat out. When we do, it’s usually something far away from the foods I used to eat. Indian curries are great, and Thai foods offer many choices. Chinese food can be good, but I’ve had some bad reactions even though they offer gluten-free versions. I’m sure that it is a matter of cross contamination.

I love Japanese food, but soy sauce has wheat in it. I can make it myself substituting Tamari, but they usually don’t offer that in a restaurant. Tamari is soy sauce without the wheat. It tastes great, and I wish that more places offered it as an option. Surprisingly, authentic Mexican foods (not American Mexican) are very safe for me. Just hold the cheese of course! 

We recently took a trip to North Carolina. I was pleased to discover there were more places where I could find food then what I normally find. One of the biggest surprises was Denny’s. I normally think of the big chains as being very ridged, but there was one great option. The Grand Slam. You order three items. I was able to order meat, hash browns, and apples. It filled me up and I didn’t feel deprived. 

On the fancier side, in the Seattle airport we found a sport’s bar that had lovely salads (although as you know airport food can be a bit spendy. The price of this salad had us thinking that we should check our credit limit! )

Finally, on the way home, there was a restaurant in the Salt Lake City named Squatters. They had all kinds of great options, and our server, Kole, was extremely knowledgeable. We had great food there, and the prices were a bit more reasonable than Seattle.

Besides those meals, I also enjoyed salmon, bbq pork, and wings at various other establishments. When not out and about, I was able to buy most of my allergy friendly staples at the local markets so I still had good eats. The Carolinas boast some great eats.

So fear not. Even with multiple food allergies, with a little planning and care you can have a wonderful trip too.

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Cheri Redgrave 2nd Interview with Dr Otto

Dr Otto and Cheri 2

Cheri’s second interview with Dr David Otto covering a range of allergy related topics. Dave is a chiropractor, allergy sufferer and a source of knowledge on allergies. please enjoy his insights into living with food allergies.

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Whats on the Menu

I was overwhelmed when I was first diagnosed with food allergies. All my life I had enjoyed all food had to offer. I loved going to restaurants. So much so that any vacation included plans on where to eat. Las Vegas was always a favorite. So many celebrity chefs have restaurants there, and it was such a treat to choose. Likewise when we traveled to Disney World they had their international food fare. It is with great fondness that I still remember the escargot in a garlic butter sauce – so fabulous. Now it seems like another world ago. So what is on the menu?

At first, I floundered. For every success there was a failure. It was expensive and frustrating to create a good gluten-free flour. You can’t just substitute one ingredient, there needs to be a combination of various flours in order to get a decent result. I’m not sure how I discovered gfJules, but she makes a wonderful one-to-one substitute flour. From that point on, I began looking for substitutes.

Of course, egg is the biggest issue. You practically need a degree in food chemistry to figure out egg substitutions. It all has to do with how the egg is used in the recipe. Eggs and egg whites are so versatile that I have at least 6 different substitutes. Plus the experts say to limit your eggs to only two in a recipe. If you need more than two eggs, then you need to make multiple ingredient substitutions. I make a delicious lemon cake. My recipe has two egg substitutes. I use a two egg portion of an egg replacer, such as Neat Egg or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer, and then use applesauce for the third egg. It works great and is one of the most requested recipes that I make.

Butter is not a problem, and I’ve even found butter flavored oil. Cheese is interesting. There are many choices for soft cheese. I believe many of the best ones are made from cashews. Cheese shred products are just okay. They are supposed to easily melt, but that has not been my experience. Most companies’ hard cheeses are still a work in progress. The exception is parmesan; there are several good ones that act and cook like the original.

I don’t know anyone else that has a pea allergy, but it’s pretty simple to watch for. The biggest thing to watch for on the ingredient label is pea protein. Most of the meat substitutes use pea protein. If my recipe calls for peas and it’s a color thing – think fried rice – then I can substitute green onions or edamame.

My process for reverse engineering a meal is simple. I pick something that I want to eat. Last night it was meatballs. I found a recipe that looked wonderful, so now I needed to make my substitutions. I print off the recipe so I can write comments on it, plus I note each ingredient that I substitute.

For the meatballs, the recipe called for ground beef, chopped onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Now for the modifications. For breadcrumbs I used Kikkoman gluten-free panko. I needed one egg, so it was Bob’s Red Mill egg substitute. Four ounces of Follow Your Heart parmesan cheese. Milk, of course I use my own Cheri’s HazelCream. Formed into balls, they bake in the oven.

Meanwhile I fixed gluten-free spaghetti according to package instructions. Pasta sauce was the final piece of the puzzle. When I served it to my husband, he said it took him back to his childhood, that it was a genuine comfort food dish.

And that’s my goal. An allergy friendly meal that the entire family will enjoy.

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Cheri Redgrave Extended interview with Val Nichols

Image of Val and Cheri

As part of my allergy summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I had the opportunity to interview Val Nichols, founder of Val Nichols Consulting, a marketing consulting and coaching company. Her story of sulfite allergies is instructive and insightful. I hope you enjoy it.

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Cheri Redgrave Extended interview with Dave Otto

Dr Otto and Cheri 2

As part of my allergy summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I had the opportunity to interview Dave Otto, a chiropractor, allergy sufferer and a source of knowledge on allergies. His training and life’s journey has provided him with insights into living with food allergies. I hope you enjoy it.

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The Blessed and Cursed

Who am I speaking of? Restaurant servers.

In the last month, I have been at two chain restaurants. As I looked at the menu, I sadly realized that there was no menu item that I could order and eat safely. There are several things you need to be concerned about when  

eating out. The first is how the food is prepared. One of the first questions I ask a server is “What do the cooks use on the grill?” If it’s some type of oil that’s a good thing. But if it’s butter then it’s a no go.

It was breakfast. The best I can usually hope for in a chain restaurant is a side of some kind of meat and some kind of potatoes. Perhaps some fruit. But if the grill is butter based, then even that is in question. My server informed me that the cooks use butter. I was hoping for some type of sausage. I have to be careful, because many sausages contain wheat. But the server checked the ingredients and asked the cook to use a clean grill. 

I couldn’t have the potatoes, but I was able to get some fruit. Not the kind of breakfast I would serve at home, and certainly not a grand feast, but at least I could eat something while everyone else was eating. 

The next meal was lunch, on a different day at a different location. Again, nothing on the menu for me. I told the server my dilemma and she said she would make me a custom salad with just lettuce, tomato, and olives. She looked at the labels on the salad dressings and found one that was vinegar based with some flavorings. She also verified that the french fries had no coatings. Just potatoes. Yes! So a rather bland lunch of salad and fries. But again, I was able to participate in the meal. 

Both servers got big tips!

For those of you who serve, I know it can be a thankless job. I’m sure there are people that treat you poorly. Just know that when you make an effort to provide an eating option for those with allergies it will be appreciated immensely. 

So that’s why I’m asking you to know how the food is prepared. Are there coatings or sauces that may cause a reaction? Is there a way to make an ingredient substitution? You are the liaison between a hungry suffering guest and a cranky chef. But I know you are up for the challenge. 

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Food Fails

It all started with bread. 

After the initial shock of being diagnosed with multiple food allergies, one of the first baking projects I tried was bread. The first surprise was learning that I couldn’t just substitute one kind of non-wheat flour for regular flour. 

I spent much money buying rice flour, oat flour, and several different flours just to try to make some bread. I put everything in my bread maker and pressed the start button. The machine fired up and I was excited to taste my new bread.

The result was devastating. I opened the bread maker and was greeted with a bowl full of crumbs. Further research gave me the knowledge that most bread machines punch down the bread, and in order for the punch down to work your bread needs gluten. There are newer bread machines created for gluten free breads, but I don’t have one of those.

My frustration level was extremely high, I needed to find good substitutes for the foods that I could no longer use.

My first discovery was gfJules gluten free flour. It is a one-to-one flour replacement. My first bread using this flour was a success. The key to making it work is that you weigh the flour rather than just scoop it into a measuring cup. Scooping compresses the flour and you end up using too much.

I still have a pantry full of various flours that I almost never use. I just hate to get rid of them. Hopefully I will eventually use them up.

With that first victory under my belt, I began building a foundation of food, one recipe at a time. Taking one recipe at a time, I began reinventing my favorite recipes. There were successes and failures. My first Thanksgiving cooking with allergies had both. The gluten free dressing mix (you know, the bread cubes) was awful. When I opened up the package the smell almost knocked me out with that rancid smell. I ended up using it, but it tasted as bad as it smelled. 

For subsequent turkey stuffing, I now make my own cornbread, dry it a little, and then cube it. It’s wonderful, but I’ve lost the convenience of being able to open a box and go. I need to begin at least a day – or two – ahead of time.

The second fail of that festive meal was dessert. I wanted to make a pumpkin pie. I made my own gluten free pie crust, and then followed the instructions on the side of the pumpkin pie can. To this day I’m not sure which of my substitute ingredients caused the fail.

If you closed your eyes and took a bite, it tasted like pumpkin pie. But when you looked at the pie, it didn’t resemble pumpkin. It looked like goose poop. Trust me when I say that no one wants to eat goose poop pie.

Gravy was a failure for a long time. It was something that I really missed. Every time I tried to make gravy; it was a complete fail. Then one day my husband looked at the ingredient label on the almond milk I was using and explained that I was adding water to my gravy, not milk.

That realization began my journey creating my own non-dairy milk substitute, Cheri’s HazelCream. I approached a friend who is a fourth-generation hazelnut farmer and a chef and begged for help. She suggested trying Hazelnuts as a base.  I am fortunate to be married to an engineer and over time, together we were he was able to figure out the formula for a great tasting hazelnut milk. The important part is that it is great for cooking. Today, I am able to make everything from soups to ice cream. 

So what’s left? Deviled eggs are one of my next challenges. I can make a substitute for the filling, it’s delicious. The problem is the egg white part that the yellow filling sits in.

Eggs are hard to substitute because you need to be a food chemist. The way the egg interacts in the recipe determines what you use as a substitute. If the recipe calls for more than two eggs, then you should either find a different recipe or use multiple egg substitute. I make a killer lemon cake that uses two different egg substitutes. I use a product called “Neat Egg”, combined with applesauce. But while those work well for liquid eggs, a firm egg white is out of the question, so far. 

I’ve tried finger potatoes – but they taste like potatoes. The next experiment was with button mushrooms. Still not good. My next attempt will be with firm tofu. I’m hoping to be able to shape it into something that looks like an egg.

One of these days, I will come up with something wonderful. So keep trying new ideas and one day you will make something wonderful too. 

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Come Share Our Table

I love to entertain, to feed my friends. I love the discussions that happen during mealtime,

to hear people’s stories. In my past life – prior to my allergy diagnosis – I created meals without any consideration for allergies or dietary considerations. I didn’t know anyone that had an allergy, at least that had admitted it to me, and it wasn’t even part of my thought process. My biggest concern at that time was that I enjoyed food that is spicy, some might say down right ‘hot’, and I didn’t want the food to be so hot that it wasn’t enjoyable.

Now I do my research before meal planning. There are more than allergy considerations. A person may be on a restrictive diet, whether doctor ordered or self-imposed. They may have restrictions due to religious disciplines or cultural norms. Somechoose a plant-based diet, others prefer to be vegan. They may have a food sensitivity, which is different from an allergy. Some people just don’t like certain foods. My husband had an unfortunate tuna experience as a child, and now he won’t eat fish. If there are no restrictions except for my own, then I don’t talk about the fact that the meal they are eating is gluten, dairy, egg, and pea free.

What I don’t appreciate is when someone doesn’t tell me there is a problem until they arrive. Or worse, until we are ready to eat. The last time that happened is when someone told me that they wanted to avoid refined sugar. I had made a desert to share with everyone. Fortunately, I had some fresh fruit in the fridge. It was a small and simple gesture, but my guest was very appreciative. I was just lucky that I had something so that they could enjoy desert with everyone.

Considering my past behavior, I’m not sure why I’m surprised when the tables are turned and I’m not asked about my food issues. What bothers me the most is when we’re asked to dinner, they know about my allergies, and then completely ignore what that means. It puts me on the defensive. I am forced to ask about every single food item. I ask to look at food labels, sometimes being reduced to going through the trash can. I ask what ingredients were used in a recipe.

People may know about my allergies, but what does that mean? Was mayonnaise used? What about cheese? Soy sauce contains wheat, so if soy sauce is an ingredient in the product – such as teriyaki – then I need to know that. Plus people just forget. The corn on the cob was grilled in foil, with butter. Oops. The steak has been dusted with a seasoning combination – did you look at the ingredient list? I remember the first time that someone told me that they needed to be gluten-free. They

were coming to dinner and I didn’t know what that meant. I really struggled with the menu. Looking back, I was lucky that it was just gluten. I took the safe route and prepared fresh meat and vegetables. I found a gluten-free desert mix (I kept the box to prove that) and even found some gluten-free beer.

Having experienced that, I hesitate having people cook for me. It’s just too much of a

burden for most. Please don’t think that I think that I’m better than everyone else. I just take the

opportunity to ask and then make the adjustments necessary. Of course, I’m happiest when I’m able to use my creative process to design a delicious meal. And I’m gratified when the meal is enjoyed, without thinking about the substitutions that were necessary.

And I get to enjoy their stories.

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Becoming a Hunter Gather

fruit

When I plan my food shopping morning, it gets complicated. It used to be easy. Go to any major chain and buy some food, take it home, and make dinner. Then if you want to go out for dinner, the sky’s the limit. Anything goes.

Not so with food allergies. Plus with multiple allergies, it’s extremely rare that we eat out. And it’s not as easy to shop. I live in a community large enough to have multiple grocery outlets, so here is my usual routine.

I begin my morning at the big box store. You know the one. It’s great for large items and household items, such as paper towels and, yes, toilet paper. And I love their rotisserie chickens. I consider them to be a guilty pleasure. If I’m making a chicken pot pie, I just cut off a breast and add it to the pie. Stir fry is easy, and I also enjoy a great chicken curry. Additionally, I get my frozen vegetables

there. They come in a very large bag, but it’s easy enough to grab a handful. I usually steam them, but sometimes they go right into to the pan, such as when I’m preparing my curry.

My next stop is the regular grocery. I have two that I choose from. This is where I get my fresh produce. Also the smaller sized processed foods, such as salad dressing, canned beans, and salsas. Part of my decision in choosing a store is whether or not I need non-dairy butter. One store has it in stick form, while the other has tubs. When I asked one of the stockers their response was: “It’s all the

same product.” While this is true, it’s simply easier to measure sticks when baking.

Additionally, one of the two stores has become a big winner as they carry a large selection of locally produced foods. Everything from jelly to artisan breads, to gluten-free mixes. They also stock many varieties of allergy free foods. I have taken the time to personally thank the store manager for stocking so many great choices for allergy sufferers.

I visit both the big box store and the local grocery once a week. My other shopping is on an as-needed basis.

I use a restaurant supply store a few times a year, that’s where I buy my meat. It comes in giant pieces, so I need to schedule time to do some butchering and then then they go into Food Saver bags. They last for many months in the freezer. I also buy a giant tub of minced garlic there, as well as some snack items – such as nuts.

There is one other trick to be found at the restaurant supply. I buy sleeves of to-go coffee containers. For the price of two cups of coffee on the road, we can buy fifty empty cups and lids and enjoy our own coffee with our preferred milk substitute.

We are a large enough community that we can support small specialty grocers where I purchase many varieties of non-dairy cheeses. Most are local or regional, and they are delicious. So far, the hard cheeses need some improvement, but the soft cheeses offer wonderful combinations of flavors and possibilities. This is also where I get my gluten-free pie crusts, seriously one of my guilty pleasures.

Finally, there are a few items that I must order online. When I compare when I started this adventure to now, this has been the biggest change. I used to order so many products online, now it is very few. Please don’t misunderstand me, I love the freedom of online shopping. But it’s also wonderful to be able to get most the special things I need locally.

It’s all about time. When I know I can go into the store and be back in an hour it is easy. Online is an entirely different process that requires more planning since I order now but it comes in a week.

There are so many wonderful products available to experiment with and enjoy. Gluten-free flours and grains, egg-free breads, dairy-free delights. Don’t be afraid to try new products, but when you find a perfect product, embrace it!

So when I’m asked where I shop, I have to respond: It’s complicated.  

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