Friday, August 13, 2010

Taco Pasta Salad

With a heat advisory everyday this week, who wants to cook? I'm happy to toss together a salad and call it a meal, but my children are still suspicious of salads. They love pasta though. The solution? Pasta salad. Win-win.

With flavors inspired by taco salad, this easy pasta salad is quick to throw together and customize to the taste buds that live at your house.

Taco Pasta Salad

1 8 oz box quinoa spiral pasta (or your favorite pasta)
1 c kidney beans (black or pinto would also be good), optional
1 c sweet corn
1/4 sweet red pepper, diced
2 tbsp onion, diced
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 hass avocado, diced
juice of 1/2 lime
sea salt to taste
cumin to taste
olive oil

Cook quinoa pasta in salted water according to package directions. While that's boiling, chop your veggies. Feel free to add a few more, whatever you like in your taco salad. I kept mine simple. When your pasta is done, drain. Place in large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the pasta. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and cumin to taste. Add veggies, beans, and cilantro. Stir until well mingled. Optional: line bowl or plate with romaine leaf, scoop pasta salad into the center and serve. (My theory is that if lettuce is on their plate often enough, eventually the suspicion will pass and acceptance will set in. My 7 year old opted to tear up her romaine and stir it it! Small victories.)

Loaded with cool summer flavor, this salad can be gluten free, nut free, dairy free, top-8 free, and still delicious.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Preparing for absence

I know that many parents cooking for allergic families have recipe substitutions mastered. They pull out their favorite cookbook, flip to a favorite recipe, and automatically substitute with the safe ingredients in their house. It's second nature now.

Or, if you are like me, you have seven hundred and eighty two bookmarks on your computer, of which seven hundred and eighty are for recipes that you either use or want to use. In addition to the thirty seven cookbooks you have, each with three recipes that you love.

Think for just a minute about the possibility that you might not come home on time one day. Your plane is stranded and you'll be out of town an extra day or two. You are in a car accident and rushed to the hospital, where you will stay for a few days. Whatever the emergency, imagine that you can not come home. And can not call the person who has stepped up to care for your allergic family.

Can that person find the recipes you use? Do they know how to prepare things safely?

If you have not already started scribbling in cookbooks, do it now. Any time you get out a cookbook, make sure to scratch out ingredients you do not use, pencil in the actual ingredient and amounts you do use. Write differences in preparation or cooking. Make notes in the margin about who loves or hates the recipe. Highlight the index so it's easy to find recipes you use.

The recipes you have on your computer? Print them out, or write them down, and put them in a three ring binder. In a sheet protector. Make notes on those too!

In the front of your three ring binder, put a sample menu of food that your family would typically eat over the course of a few days.

Simple steps that you can take now to make unexpected emergencies easier on your family, and the person who steps up to care for them.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Allergy Friendly Tartar Sauce

Last week my husband created the most amazing fish nuggets this allergy friendly household has ever had. The crunch as you bit into them could be heard across the table, and the inside was tender and moist flaky yumminess!

Typically, batter fried foods at our house leave a thick slurry of rebellious batter particles at the bottom of the pan used for frying. The resulting menu item emerges from its hot oil bath with a scraggly coating of batter, patchy bald spots, and a slight crunch. Not anymore my friend, not anymore.

This fish nugget had body! It had a luscious thick coating that was golden and bubbly in a way that you would expect to find at pub known for it's fish and chips. The oil? Clean. No fallout. One bite made me think: Oh. My. If only I could give the kids some tartar sauce to dip in for the full experience. (Maybe, if I ask nicely, I can get the hubster to share his masterful recipe.)

The problem? No mayo. I have yet to find a store bought mayo that we can have, and have yet to create a home made version worth repeating. Until now. A simple search turned up this gem of a recipe, simple and delicious. Absolutely worth trying. In fact, I think I see chicken salad in our future. It is that good.

A simple tweak: add a pinch of paprika, as a nod to my husband who prefers Miracle Whip over real mayonnaise. Then to turn it to tartar sauce... a healthy dash of pickle relish. Really. Just a heaping spoonful of relish added to this mayo yields simple yet tasty tartar sauce.

I know, I know. It's not really a recipe. Just an excuse to share this wonderful mayonnaise recipe. Hope you like it as much as we did. My allergic daughter loved it, even dips her carrots in it now.

With care, this recipe can be dairy free, egg free, soy free, gluten free, nut free, sugar free, and still fabulous! (PS- We used coconut milk at our house. But you knew that.)