Sloane Miller, of the popular blog Please Don't Pass the Nuts and the book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies, is a leading voice for adults with food allergies. Sloane has had food allergies her entire life (anaphylactic to tree nuts and salmon) and still lives a full, good-food filled life. The motto of her blog is straight forward: Just because you have a restricted diet, doesn't mean you have a restricted life. Sloane is committed to helping other people with food allergies get more out of life.
Sloane spices up her go-to lentil soup with what she terms "summer-in-a-bottle," Lucini® Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil, resulting in a dish that is hearty enough for a cool fall evening, while savoring bright summer flavors. This recipe is "Top 8 Allergen" free, meaning it is free of the eight most common allergens: eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish; making it ideal for those with or without food allergies.
"I love a hearty lentil soup for a zillion reasons but the top ones being: it’s inexpensive to make, it cooks up quickly (unlike other dried beans, lentils need no soaking time,) it can be made from items in your pantry and it’s endlessly versatile.
An added big bonus: my version is vegan and gluten-free and free of the top eight most common allergens. You can, of course, use whatever is best for your family, for example, use vegan mozzarella or dairy-full mozzarella!"
Where do you look for inspiration in the kitchen?
As I have severe life threatening allergies to nuts and fish I’m always on the look out for recipes that are free from my allergens or can be made easily without my allergens. Very often, I’ll shop at my local weekly farmer’s market and what’s fresh and looks good will inspire me. Sometimes I’ll want to recreate a dish I’ve had at a restaurant and do a home-style version. In addition, I read the New York Times dining sections weekly and food websites like Food52.com daily to see what others are cooking in season right now and what looks delicious to me.
Friends just informed you they will be over for dinner in an hour – what is your go-to dish?
I always keep a stocked pantry which means at the minimum I have these items on hand: spices, oils, garlic, onions, capers, mustards, dried and canned beans, canned, dried and fresh fruit, jarred tomatoes, dried gluten-free pasta, frozen veggies in the freezer and the makings of a yummy salad (lettuce, carrots, cucumbers). With an hour’s notice and doing no additional shopping, I’d probably make a tomato sauce to go over pasta and peas, with a green salad and chocolate cupcakes with white buttercream frosting for dessert, all from my pantry!
Describe the best dish you ever ate.
Dishes made with love always taste the best to me!
Do you cook every night?
I cook or prepare fresh food every day. Some weeks I’ll cook all-day Sunday for the week: soups, stews, roasted veggies and cut up veggies for salads. Other weeks, I’ll throw something together when I walk through the door like a quick pasta or roasted veggies with rosemary garlic pan seared lamb chops.
What is one skill that is essential for every home cook to know?
If you have severe life threatening food allergies like me, understanding what you can eat, as well as what you must avoid, is essential.
For a home cook, this means, all of the forms your allergen can come in (e.g. dairy is in milk, butter, cheese, yogurt) or be called (dairy protein is casein and can be called whey or calcium caseinate, for example), knowing how to read labels, knowing how to prevent cross contact between allergenic and non-allergenic foods, knowing what to do in an emergency and having your emergency medication on you at all time, even in the kitchen, is a must.
Knowing what you like to eat and need to avoid will help when you look at recipes online or in books. You’ll be able to tell if the dish will taste good and be safe for you.
Sloane Miller, food allergy counselor and author, is founder and President of Allergic Girl Resources, Inc., a consultancy devoted to food allergy awareness. For more information, please visit Allergic Girl Resources, Inc. on the Internet at www.allergicgirl.com
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