Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Allergy-Free Donuts

By Kelley Lindberg

A couple of weeks ago, I tried a recipe from Allergymoms.com’s Facebook page for cake donuts. The first time I tried the recipe, the donuts tore up when I tried to get them out of the pan, and the chocolate glaze was a granular mess. So Michelle Fogg, fearless leader of the Utah Food AllergyNetwork (UFAN), told me how to get the donuts out of the pan without falling apart. That made all the difference! So the recipe was basically sound (thank you, Allergymoms!,) but some of the instructions just needed a little tweaking. Then I experimented with some different glazes, different cake mixes, and different flavors. I finally came up with some good variations that were easy to make and met with rave reviews from the group I made them for (teens, tweens, and adults).

So here is my adapted recipe. The main differences from the original Allergymoms.com recipe is that you absolutely must FLOUR the greased pan, and let the donuts cool completely in the pan (instead of the one minute the original recipe called for), and instead of using melted chocolate chips to make the glaze, just add a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder to the powdered sugar glaze. And you’ll need more powdered sugar to glaze a dozen donuts than the 1 cup called for in the original, so make sure you have at least half a bag on hand.

As a bonus, I tried freezing the donuts (because I was taking them on a camping trip and they had to stay good for 2 days), and they freeze and thaw really well, even with the glaze on them.

I tried both Cherrybrook Kitchen and Duncan Hines cake mixes (several DH flavors are nut-free, egg-free, and milk-free, but read the label carefully because not all flavors are safe). I prefer Duncan Hines – the cake was lighter and softer, but held together well through the glazing process. I made them nut-free, milk-free, and egg-free, but I did NOT use the gluten-free variety of either brand so I can’t vouch for the gluten-free version (although I have used Duncan Hines gluten-free cake mix in the past to make other recipes, and it has worked great). If you use the Duncan Hines cake mix, just substitute a safe egg replacer for the eggs called for on the box. See “Replacing Eggs in Recipes” for egg replacement ideas.

Another trick: when the cake mix calls for water, I use rice milk instead. It makes the cake a little richer and more moist. This works great when making cupcakes, too.

Okay, here’s the corrected recipe, with variations:

Easy Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree-Nut-Free Donuts

(Original recipe credit to Allergymoms.com, adapted by Kelley J. P. Lindberg, FoodAllergyFeast.com)

1 box of safe cake mix (plus ingredients called for on the box)
Rice milk (optional – use instead of water in the cake mix)
3 c. safe powdered sugar
Few tablespoons water
Safe margarine or shortening for greasing pan
Few tablespoons of safe flour for flouring greased pan

For optional variations:
Safe chocolate chips
Safe cocoa (powder)
Maple syrup or other flavoring extracts
Safe sprinkles
Safe food coloring

Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box, with the following substitutions: try using rice milk instead of the water, and if using Duncan Hines cake mix, use an egg replacer to substitute for the eggs called for on the box. If you’re at high altitude (like in Utah), be sure you follow the high-altitude directions on the Duncan Hines mix (there aren’t any on the Cherrybrook Kitchen mix).

Grease and flour a non-stick donut baking pan. (Be sure you grease AND flour it – otherwise the donuts may tear up when you try to get them out of the pan.) Then pour the batter into the pan, filling each donut mold about 2/3 full.

Bake 10 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees until the top of the donut springs back when you touch it gently with a fingertip.

Let the donuts cool completely in the pan (10 minutes).

To glaze: In a cereal-sized bowl, mix about 1 1/2 c. safe powdered sugar with a small amount of water (start with a tablespoon or two, then add a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency, which should be thin enough to drizzle from a spoon, but not watery). Then dip one side of a cooled donut into the glaze, then set it on a rack (glazed side up) and immediately top with sprinkles (if using). If the glaze is too thick, it may be hard to dunk the donut and then get it back out of the glaze without tearing, so you may have to add a little water to thin it. Conversely, if the glaze seems too thin, just add a little more sugar. When you’ve used up that glaze, make more. Repeat until you’ve glazed all of your donuts.

Eat immediately (best!) or freeze in a single layer in an airtight container. To thaw, let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Duncan Hines mix makes about 2 dozen donuts. Cherrybook Kitchen mix makes about one dozen donuts.


Yellow cake donuts: Use a yellow cake mix, glaze with white powdered sugar glaze, then immediately top with sprinkles while the glaze is still warm. Alternatively, you can glaze the donuts with white glaze, then make another bowl of glaze, adding food coloring to this batch. Then use a spoon to drizzle the colored glaze in a zig-zag pattern over the glazed donuts.

Chocolate cake donuts: Use a chocolate cake mix and prepare according to the instructions, but add 1 c. safe chocolate chips to the batter. To make a chocolate glaze, add a teaspoon of safe cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s cocoa) to the white powdered sugar, then mix with a small amount of water. Taste the glaze – add more cocoa if necessary to achieve your desired taste. Top donuts with sprinkles or Enjoy Life Foods mini chocolate chips if desired.

Maple-Spice cake donuts: Use a Duncan Hines spice cake mix. To make a maple-flavored glaze, add 3-4 tablespoons of maple syrup to the powdered sugar first, then add a small amount of water to thin the mixture to glaze consistency. You may add more maple syrup to taste (if it gets too thin, just add more sugar!).

Blueberry cake donuts: Start with a yellow cake mix. Drain 1 can of blueberries and rinse well (or use 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh blueberries). Add to cake batter and bake as usual. When glazing, dip in white glaze first. Then color a second bowl of glaze with blue food coloring and drizzle the blue glaze over the glazed donuts in a zig-zag pattern. The blueberries will make these donuts more moist and sticky, so they may be a little gooier when eaten.

Chocolate chip cake donuts: Use a yellow cake mix, and add 1 c. safe chocolate chips to the batter. Glaze with white glaze, then add a small amount of cocoa powder to the remaining glaze, and drizzle the chocolate glaze over the glazed donuts in a zig-zag pattern.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Allergy-Free Olive Tapenade

By Kelley Lindberg

I’m always looking for something safe, different, and delicious to take to parties. Something everyone will eat. Something tantalizing. Something fun. And it’s a bonus if it’s something that’s allergy-free to begin with, and I don’t even have to make substitutions. That way, when someone asks for the recipe, I know it will be safe even if THEY make it. And they don’t turn up their nose at it, saying, “Oh, well, if it’s allergy-free, it probably tastes lousy.”

So when I wanted to find something French to make for an international food tasting event at my son’s school during the last week of school, I hit on the idea of making an olive tapenade.

Olive tapenade (olive spread) is a very common food in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. It’s a spread, so you can serve it on toasted slices of safe French or Italian bread, or on safe crackers.

I tried a few versions before I hit on the combinations of olives that work best. I tried using all black olives (too muddy-tasting) and all green olives (too sharp-tasting). Finally, I came up with this combination. It’s super easy – throw it all in a food processor or blender, and Voila!

So the next time you have to take something to a party, take this classy snack. Americans might look at it a little funny at first, but since most people love olives, it won’t take them long to fall in love with it! I’ve taken it to 2 events already, and it’s been popular. Bon appétit!

Kelley’s Olive Tapenade

3 c. pitted Kalamata olives, drained

1/2 c. pitted black olives, drained

1/2 c. pitted green manzanilla olives, drained

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp capers, drained

1/4 c. olive oil

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 T fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried basil or Italian seasonings)

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender, pulse about 10 times, using spatula to push down off sides if necessary. Let rest 1 hour at room temperature to let flavors “blossom.” Will keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve on safe French bread that’s been sliced, brushed with oil, and toasted. Or serve on safe crackers.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Egg-free, Milk-free, Nut-free Crepes

By Kelley Lindberg

I got brave this morning and decided to try making egg-free, milk-free, and nut-free crepes for breakfast. So I found several egg-free recipes online that were all identical (that’s always a good sign that the recipe will work), made my substitutions to eliminate dairy products, threw out the first couple of crepes which were too oily and became sacrificial train-wrecks, and finally—Voila! I hit on the right formula.

I used all-purpose flour, so if gluten is your enemy, you can try using your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour instead. I also used a small non-stick skillet, so I did NOT need to add oil to the skillet (when I did, trust me, it was ugly). So if you use a non-stick skillet, do not add oil to the skillet. If your skillet is NOT non-stick, you’ll have to use a little oil.

Also, the original recipe I used said to refrigerate the batter for 2 hours. Yeah, right, like I ever plan ahead enough to do that. So I didn’t. They worked just fine.

Here is my recipe. Bon appétit!

Allergy-Friendly Crepes

1/2 c. rice or soy milk
2/3 c. water
1/4 c. safe margarine, melted
2 T. safe vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. vegetable oil

Strawberry filling:
1 – 2 c. sliced strawberries
1 – 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white sugar

Additional white sugar or powdered sugar to taste
Safe chocolate or other syrup (optional)

1. Heat oven to 150 degrees, then turn off. You will store the crepes in the oven on a heat-proof plate until you’ve made enough to serve everyone.
2. In a small bowl, toss sliced strawberries with lemon juice and 1 tsp. white sugar. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together rice/soy milk, water, melted margarine, and vanilla.
4. In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt.
5. Whisk flour mixture into liquid mixture until smooth. (You don’t need to use a mixer. A hand whisk is easy. It only takes a minute.)
6. Warm a small skillet over medium heat. If skillet is NOT non-stick, coat bottom of skillet with a small amount of oil.
7. Pour about 3 T of crepe batter into the skillet, and swirl it around until it spreads out thinly. You’ll have to experiment with the amount, depending on the size of skillet you use.
8. Cook until the edges are crispy and golden (about 1 minute and 15 seconds). Slide spatula around the edge to gently loosen. Then lift the edge slightly to look at it – the bottom should be turning golden. Then flip the crepe to cook the other side until lightly browned (about 1 minute more). If you try to flip them too soon, you’ll have a rubbery mess. Wait until the bottom is definitely golden/toasted-looking.
9. Slide onto the heat-proof plate and keep in warm oven while you make more.
10. Repeat with remaining batter, adding each cooked crepe to the warm plate in the oven.
11. When ready to serve, place crepe on an individual plate, spoon a few slices of strawberry onto the crepe, roll up, then sprinkle with powdered or white sugar. You can also drizzle chocolate syrup over the rolled crepe (optional).

This recipe made 10 6-inch crepes, but I had to throw away 2, so I only got 8 out of this recipe. Alter quantities to suit your family! (The original recipe I started with said it made 16 6-inch crepes. It lied.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Food Allergies in the Food Handler’s Permit Course!

By Kelley Lindberg

In a few weeks, my son will be finishing ninth grade. For his class, it’s not just the end of the school year, but it’s also the end of junior high, and the end of being the “big guys/gals on campus.”

To end the year in style, the school has filled the next few weeks with activities, including an evening program during the last week, at which there will be food.

My son’s best bud since babyhood also has food allergies, and the two of them have been in the same school together since kindergarten. They’ve shared the food allergy table for ten years, they’ve watched out for each other, and they’ve weathered the same food-allergy issues in their classes. The friend’s mom, Kim, is also one of my best friends, and together Kim and I have chaperoned every field trip and party, bought treats for every dance, found safe substitutes for every food-based art project you can think of, and supported each other through thick and thin.

Now we have one more food-oriented school event to get through together.

So Kim and I find ourselves taking the state food handler’s permit test this week. It’s not the first time, either. Back when the boys were in third grade, there was a big school event where we had to cook paella and gazpacho for 300 people. So that year we dutifully volunteered to help make the food so that we could ensure it was safe for our food-allergic boys, which meant we had to get our food handler’s permits. But the permits only last for 3 years, so now we need to get a permit once more.

So I took the course and test online last night, and I was surprised to find that the course for a Utah food handler’s permit has a big change from the last time we took the test 6 years ago. Now there is an entire section of the course devoted to explaining the seriousness of food allergies!

I was thrilled to see that they spent so much time explaining the symptoms, describing how to avoid cross-contamination, explaining that contact with allergens can be fatal, and even warning servers and cooks that customers who have food allergy reactions in their restaurant may not even be aware they have allergies until that first reaction.

While including food allergy information in the food handler’s permit course doesn’t make every cook and server an expert on food allergies (face it, even those of us living with food allergies feel like we learn new things about them every day), it at least ensures that they’ve been exposed to the idea. That’s a significant jump from six years ago, when I don’t recall anything about food allergies in that course at all!

So I’m sending a big shout-out to the state of Utah for recognizing that food handlers are an important first line of defense for those of us in the community with food allergies. Thank you!

(And in case you’re waiting in suspense, wondering how it all turned out… Yes, I did pass the test. I’ll even show you the certificate sometime if you want to see it!)