Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Take Your Power Back From Food Allergies

Ever felt powerless at the entrance of a grocery store when you realize you don't know what you can eat? You find that the food that you had been purchasing for years is now making you, or your family member ill.  Especially when it is your child that is ill, you become an avid, somewhat obsessive, label reader.

After several bouts of "food Russian Roulette" you or a family member have been diagnosed with food allergies.  

Me, well, I found avoiding soy, eggs, kelp, gluten, and dairy is challenging.  So that means no store bought breads, cheese, soups, snacks and more.  At age 11, my daughter seems to have outgrown most of her allergies/intolerances yet she still must avoid pepper, red dye and almonds. 

I make most of my foods, snacks, hair and body products from scratch, thereby avoiding or lessening the "break-down" at the entrance of the grocery store.  Besides, I now have more knowledge to search and find the ingredients to confidently eat in safety.  I am still working on a few baking projects, for instance, making bread that doesn't collapse since I cannot use an egg in gluten-free recipes.  I will eventually search for and purchase a gluten, soy and egg free recipe book, but it's more enjoyable experimenting. 

I recently made my own granola snack and can't get enough of it. I will forever love the granola from "Bakery on Main" (their granola make my neurons happy) but making it myself is truly fun and economical. 

I first Googled "how to make your own granola"  and found this link..., a blog post from the gluten-free goddess.  Below is my version

"I'm Not Powerless Anymore"
I first used gluten-free rolled oats and black mission figs from Trader Joe's and also found organic oats from Angelo Caputo's Fresh Markets.  I found the Gluten-free Crunchy Rice Cereal at ALDI's.   I like Hadley Pitted Deglet Noor Dates. I get these from Jon's Marketplace in the San Fernando Valley in California or you can find them here

Like Karen at the Gluten Free Goddess I found this recipe can be vegan-friendly or not.  However, "friendly" is determined by which sweetener you choose. So far in my granola recipe I've used raw honey, maple syrup, molasses and organic raw cane sugar as sweeteners or combinations. 

Choose whichever sweetener suits you. However, this version is tailored to be soy-free and gluten-free.  Can I say, I don't always measure so you don't have to be exact. 

Janet's Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

  • 4 cups organic gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup or so of Chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of Flax seeds or Hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-free crunchy Rice cereal
  • 2/3 cup rough-chopped organic pecans or nuts of choice (I need to avoid almonds for my daughter's sake)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4-1/2 of chopped dried figs 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup pure organic maple syrup or use a combo of raw honey and maple syrup, raw honey and molasses.  Molasses by itself may be too bitter.  So it needs another sweetener to lighten the taste.  My next batch will be a combo of organic raw sugar and molasses. 
  • 2/3 cup coconut or olive oil (be careful, contrary to the bottle label, not all olive oil is soy free.) As with the volume of ingredients you choose you may need to add a bit more to coat not saturate. It depends on your quantities of ingredients.  I made a larger batch this last time...

Add-in after baking: 

1 cup dried cranberries and blueberries (less dried blueberries than, cranberries) after your original granola has cooked. 

I stir the cranberry/blueberry combo into the glass container I mixed the syrup and oil in and marinate until I am ready to use.


Preheat the oven to 325ยบ. Find a baking dish large enough to hold the granola mix.  (I don't like Teflon anymore, but that is me.) You may need to use two baking dishes depending on the sizes you have on hand.  You want the granola not to stacked.  Set baking dishes aside for now.  Coat bottom with a small amount of oil. 

In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, chopped dates and figs, pecans, crunch rice cereal, chia and flax seeds and stir.
In a glass measuring cup, combine the your sweetener of choice, along with oil, and vanilla. Mix well with a fork. 

Then, drizzle the syrup/oil mixture over the oats, and stir as you go. Gently keep stirring until all the oats are coated with the syrup/oil blend.

Spread the granola mixture onto your baking dish. Bake in the center of the oven for roughly 25-30 minutes until golden and toasty. Stirring half way through is recommended.  

Remove the baked granola from the oven and allow the pan to cool a bit. I add the dried berry combo (that has been marinating in the left over oil/syrup mixture) shortly after removing from the oven mixing into the already baked granola.  I do this when it is still hot, however, not necessarily hot enough to cook the berries.  Since my baking dish has a cover I usually keep it in that container, however, it is important to stir so your baked granola before it completely cools so as not to stick to the bottom of the pan.  

You can pour the cooled granola into an airtight container and maybe if you are like me, it is gone is a few days... so my original container works fine.

Update:  cold molasses, raw sugar and coconut oil do not mix well... oops!

When you try this recipe, let me know what you think.  

Don't let the food allergies and food intolerances overtake you, your power and well being.  
Get your power back too!  Become that avid, somewhat obsessive, label reader and feel better.  Have fun with it and as always be savvy and scent free!