Meal Ideas for Multiple Food Allergies

After I wrote about my family’s multiple food allergies, I heard from numerous readers of both this blog and my email newsletter, Simple Times.  There were a lot of great ideas and rather than trying to compile them into my own words, I thought I’d share their own words here for everyone to benefit from.

Thanks so much, everyone, for your input!

Hi Debi,

Have you tried  ? I tried it with asking for corn, but no wheat beef or egg and withbean as a keyword and it gaveme a bunch, one of which I sent you. I’m sure you can fine tune over what I did:


Debi’s Note:  This particular recipe sounds great and is perfect for our of our food-related needs:


Dear Deborah,

I didn’t know whether you had ever seen this blog as her family seems to have almost as many food challenges as yours does.  She has some really great recipes in her archive as well as some helpful thoughts for how to eat “cheaply” when you have food challenges.


Since I have some gluten/wheat issues, I, too, have been looking around.  This pasta dish works for me:
rice pasta – cook re directions.  Combine with can of tuna, canned tomatoes or Italian sauce, sauteed onion & garlic, black olives and capers if you wish.  Parmesan would be nice atop this but I also don’t do dairy.  Serve hot or as cold salad.



I just read your newest newsletter & had to let you know about my favorite allergy-friendly website:

It’s written by a mom with a nutritionist husband & several food allergies/sensitivities in her family. There are a lot of awesome recipes & I’ve loved every one I’ve tried. There is a fabulous flatbread recipe ( ) that you could make with maple syrup instead of sugar, yummy crunchy crackers ( ), & a lot of other great stuff.

Thought you might find some relief there … I find that making such things at home is cheaper than buying pre-made GF items. But my best tips for cheaper ingredients would be get things like quinoa (if you haven’t tried it yet, you should. It’s high in protein, tastes good, cheap in bulk, & can be used like rice for a side/pilaf or as a breakfast cereal) in bulk at places like Whole Foods or Sprouts & Amazon has good prices on grocery supplies too.

Best of luck,


Hi Debi,

Your food restrictions list looks a lot like the one we were on for some time when the kids were younger – and no corn, soy or dairy either.  It can be done!

First thing I recommend is write up a Can Do List (I would tell you what we call it, but I’m saving it for a book I’m working on, tee hee).  So many times we focus on what we can’t do and we get overwhelmed with menu planning, shopping (oi vay, shopping!) and cooking.

So, start out with what you can do.  Our list started with things like:  A cucumber.  My kids can eat a cucumber.  That’s it.  Just a cucumber.  (this is where whining and pouting entered)  Then I added an orange, or some such fruit.  Ok, that’s two things.   Cucumber sticks and orange slices.

Then take your foods you can do and look for combos:  Cucumber and orange segment salad with fresh squeeze orange juice dressing.  And cucumber circles with orange circles.

The more foods you can add to the list (and there are LOTS when you start listing them) the more combos you will begin to see. :-)

Hope this helps!  You can do it!

Suzanne Broadhurst
Jacksonville FL (but at Ronald McDonald House in Colorado for the summer)



We too are a multiple food allergy household. Together we can’t eat wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat, black, green or white tea, pork and green peppers. We focus on what we can eat.

A few things I’ve learned are:

1-Rotate what you eat. If you eat a particular food every day, you are more likely to develop an allergy to it.
2-Include a wide range of fruit, vegetables and beans in your diet.
3-Cultured dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium.
4-Try game meats and the wide variety of seafood available.
5-Cook simply, so that if there is a problem you can find the problem ingredient quickly
6-Don’t become overdependent on rice. Use bean flours and gluten free baking blends.
7-Try stevia for sweetening.
8-Check out health food stores and farmer’s markets for good, recognizable foods and tips on vegetarian eating.
9-Read ingredient lists on meat substitutes (soy hot dogs are usually disgusting)
10-Iced herb teas can be very refreshing

A simple meal might be baked fish (drizzle with olive oil and herbs before baking), salad with homemade dressing, steamed broccoli and seasoned oven fries.

You can buy quinoa in packets to be be cooked as a hot breakfast cereal with fruit on the side, or Greek yogurt (2x the protein) with rice bread toast with butter or a nut spread like cashew, sunflower or almond butters.

Making your own soups allows you to control ingredients.

In general, eating whole foods (once you can recognize immediately even after cooking) is the best way to go.

We also have found after eating clean for a period of time, you may be able to reintroduce a food, as long as the problem isn’t a true allergy.

Good Luck!

Jennifer Burns
Kenosha WI


Hi Deb,

I was relieved that you can have dairy and potatoes (if I remember correctly). Woo-hoo!

Can your son eat eggs? If so, that opens up a wide range of choices, including an easy brown rice pizza crust (brown rice and an egg to hold it together). Google it for the details.

If eggs are out, I’m not sure what the vegan substitute is, but you might want to check.

A couple of suggestions–

Think of a potato, rice or other carb dish as, ahem, The Main Dish, and surround it with 2 or 3 veggies.

Taco rice is a favorite of mine. I serve black beans on top rather than mixing it in the rice.

People are often surprised that “Mock Chicken Tofu” doesn’t have chicken in it. Please Google it for the ratio of ingredients, but I’ve found some modifications that make it easier to make:

1. Freeze a block or 2 of hard or extra-hard tofu. Then thaw it.
2. Slit the cover on each end. Then press and squeeze out the fluid. (The recipe doesn’t call for freezing it, but freezing lets you squeeze out more liquid, giving the tofu a more meaty texture.)
3. Slice it like a loaf of bread. (The recipe says to dice it, but I find it too much work to turn and brown all those little blocks, versus slices.)
4. Spray with Bragg Liquid Aminos (health food store, I’ve been using my bottle for a year).
5. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast (also using for a year and have lots left). I use way less than the recipe calls for.

I steam brown rice, stir fry or steam the veggies, and add them to the tofu pan to absorb any leftover yeast.

Not in the original recipe, but I add raw or cooked nuts (can’t remember if your family can’t have any nuts, or just can’t have peanuts, but walnuts or almonds are good with this, too.)

There are a lot of good vegan and vegetarian cookbooks out there. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy the recipes.

I’m more “budgetarian” and “transitarian” (experimenting with vegetarian choices). My hangup was not feeling like I had eaten if meat wasn’t on my plate. I’ve actually gotten over that–but I know change can be a hurdle, especially for kids.

No, I take that back — especially for adults. I recently heard that it takes up to 15 “tastes” of a new food for the taste to seem familiar. Until then, you don’t really know if like something. The need for familiarity is an instinct that protects us from accidental poisoning. Some people have a stronger instinct for this than others (“picky eaters”). The first few tastes can be as simple as touching your tongue to the food without swallowing any. The take-home message is don’t give up on new foods without giving yourself multiple exposures to give your taste buds a chance.

I’ve been reading the Simple Times for many years — 10 or more? Yours was one of the first ezines I subscribed to and the only one I kept from back then.

Happy trails,



I feel for you!  We have a son who can’t eat anything with any kind of nuts, lentils/legumes, avocado, strawberry, any pitted fruits (esp. the fuzzy skin ones), must be careful of dairy and more.  We’ve only just been able to give him tomato as he seems to have outgrown that one.  At 3, it is so hard for him.
And our little one can’t have a few of those either (and doesn’t get most as he’s at high risk for similar allergies)

Have you found the great lines of rice products – cheese, milk etc.?  They work well for us, but don’t melt like regular cheese.

My suggestion is to use the rice pastas to make a casserole of things you can all eat.  Make one with chicken and a smaller one without for your son who can’t do the meat part.  This would be something you can freeze ahead, too. which would be nice if you hit on a combination  you all like.

Can you do a version of lasagna using things like eggplant for the noodles?  Again, you could do one with ground chicken or turkey and a smaller one vegetarian.

My blogs:


Try this website, not sure if it will work but it is a grocery in the northeast

The new has information designed especially for you to choose the right foods for your specific health care concerns  Need some menu suggestions for a gluten-free diet? Want healthy advice for diabetes? Gearing up to run a marathon? can help with all that and more. Visit our ” health + nutrition” section and explore our in-depth nutrition advice, recipes and meal-planning ideas for the following health concerns:

Eating for a healthy heart
Eating to manage blood sugars
Eating for digestive health
Celiac/gluten free
Eating for weight management
Helpful tips for a healthy pregnancy
Feeding your baby or toddler
You are what you eat (superfoods, vitamins & more)
Feeding the athlete

Each section provides useful information that helps you select foods that have the most nutritional benefits for your specific concern or condition as well as information about which foods to avoid.

Have a nutrition question you need answered? can help with that, too. Ask our registered and licensed dietitian, Kris Lindsey. You can post a confidential question to Kris, right on the site, and she’ll answer you right away. Kris is eager to help you with your food dilemmas. As a working mom, Kris knows firsthand how hard it is to put a meal on the table quickly that is both tasty and healthy. She also knows how important it is to shop healthy on a budget.

Food allergies in your family? We know that living with food allergies is very difficult. It means reading each and every label and constantly monitoring what goes into your recipes. makes that a little easier, too.

Register on, and set your food preferences, including food allergies like peanuts, dairy and gluten. Then, when you browse for products, you’ll be alerted if a food might pose a health risk for you.



Re the food allergies, you might want to Google David Wolfe.  He is a raw foodie.  On first blush, what he says seems really out there but I think he has a lot of ideas about healthy eating. Following some of his suggestions has improved my energy level drastically.

You know that a lot of foods, e.g. non-organic canola oil, cottonseed oil, a lot of the sugars, some squash and other foods are now genetically modified.  I think that that plays a part cuz apparently, the foods have a gene inserted into them to make them able to be sprayed with Roundup and still survive.  And it is said by some people I respect that that stuff lives in your gut bacteria and can cause allergies and some of these new problems that we are seeing like crazy that never were there before.

Also, we go to this really great heart surgeon named Dr. Gundry, author of Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution.  My daughter has allergies.  He told her to begin with 4 fish oil capsules a day and work her way up to 8 and she’d likely have relief from her allergies.  He said we are eating so many foods that are not what our bodies are evolutionarily designed to eat…That’s why there’s so much disease and allergies and such.  I believe that the food supply has changed and that we have to be super vigilant consumers because of it.  I have written, called and e-mailed companies like Campbell’s saying I want to eat your products but they’ve changed so much and have so much crap in them, please reformulate back to like it was when I was growing up…

Anyway, good luck.

Patti Lerner


Hi Deb,

I really enjoy your newsletter, and get some great ideas – thank you so much!

When I read about your food allergy issues, I had to share some information with you.  I found a website about six months ago that has changed my life (and no it’s not my product I am selling).  J  Sherry Brescia is a natural health researcher who has discovered that the way foods are combined can often cause digestive issues, and came up with the “no pain” eating plan.  What a difference it makes!  My 10-year-old daughter was having stomach/abdominal pain after nearly every meal – even she can follow this plan, and her pain is gone.  Sherry has a free four-day plan on her website – check it out.   She also has a cookbook that I bought which has great recipes, many of which are vegetarian.  I hope it helps your family as it has mine.  Here’s her link:

Learn the exact same diet strategies Sherry Brescia used to stop 20 yrs of digestive disorders, migraine headaches and allergies all while eating gourmet quality food every day.  –



Hi Debi,

My heart goes out to you in trying to prepare allergy free foods for your family. Here is a tip…  Add, MSG to the list of ingredients to avoid!

It took years to learn the causes of my awful migraine headaches.  No doctor ever asked, “What did you have for supper the night before?”   A book and then googling “MSG migraines” educated me.  If it is indigested at supper, then a burning neck will awaken me around 1 to 2am.  That is the start of a migraine that will last all the next day.  I now avoid canned soups, sausage, any item made with broth unless I make the broth myself, many salad dressings, taco mixes, stuffing mixes, batter mixes, frozen prepared entries, etc., and am headache free! (One must choose very carefully when eating away from home.)  Also… I had a positive reaction 4 nights in a row from Jergen’s body lotion 3 years ago.  That particular bottle had “Hydrolyzed Soy Protein” on the label like it was something special.  According to research, any “hydrolyzed” protein contains enough MSG to give a sensitive person a positive reaction.” (It comes about in the manufacturing process.)

One last item to mention, for what it is worth… I’ve taken Synthroid for 25 years, but not anymore!!!  My tests are in the normal range this last two years!  Come to find out, MSG affects our thyroids.  It is a neurotoxin.

Thank you for a wonderful newsletter and may God bless,



Dear Debi

I have enjoyed receiving your newsletters and your books. I have been impressed with your strength and you have helped me carry on with more than just the cooking in my own life. I read your latest menu challenge and my immediate thoughts were about beans! You are probably getting lots of advice already and I am just going to add my little bit.

a) chili can be a very good, very economical multi-meal solution, and there are endless varieties. I make mine with at least 3 or 4 kinds of beans, tomato and some hot pepper – you can vary the heat with the peppers you use. Depending of how it smells and how I feel😉 I add a variety of herbs and spices too
b) multi bean soups are kind of fun with all the different shapes and colors
c) red beans and rice – though not my favorite is something a lot of people like
d) rice based casseroles – I also avoid gluten and have found I can substitute rice for the wheat noodles in a lot of casserole recipes
e) veggie tacos – corn tortillas and all the goodies, just not meat
f) amazing salads – not just a bowl of greens – add in other veggies, beans again, canned fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese
g) look for rice wrappers like they use to make spring rolls, they soften up in hot water and you can fill them with veggies and hummus for a nice packet meal
h) look to Asian-Indian food for inspired curries, lots of vegetarian recipes with beans, peas, lentils, and FLAVOR!

thank you for sharing


First thing comes to mind is a shepherd’s pie-you can use any combination of veggies and a mashed potato (or sweet potato!) topping and your choice of cheeses!

You can also do cornbread crust pizzas, veggie toppings

There’s lotsa rice pasta recipes too

Cindy Durham (peanut gluten and dairy free mom)


CURRY! Cheap, allergy free (for most) and tasty. The Mung Bean Curry costs about $4.00 and makes a lot of food! Serve with rice and perhaps a tomato and onion side salad?

Mung Bean Curry

8oz Dried Mung Beans
half onion (thinly sliced)
tablesoon of olive oil
2  large fresh tomatoes (peeled and quartered) OR 3 canned tomatoes
Approximately 1 rounded tablespoon Pataks Curry Paste (medium) *
A little water as required.
Cooked Rice

1.Cook mung beans until soft.
2.Fry onion in olive oil until slighty golden. Add tomatoes and cook until soft.
3.Add curry paste and stir to cook about 2 minutes.
4.Add a approx 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to prevent sticking (or tomato juice if using canned tomatoes)
5.Add mung beans and simmer for about 10 minutes to combine flavours.
6.Taste and adjust curry paste if not hot enough.*

Tomato and Onion Side Salad

2 fresh diced tomatoes
1/2 small sweet onion, finely diced)
salt (about half a teaspoon)
teaspoon of lime juice
teaspoon olive oil

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Leave to one side for about 20 minutes to infuse flavours. This is not really Indian – we call it “sorta salsa” in our house but it makes a nice side dish.

Make a vegetable curry the same way using pre-cooked veggies (cauliflower, mushrooms, greenbeans, squash – or whatever you have in the bottom of the fridge). Don’t know if you can use dairy (we can’t) but you can add a little plain yogurt to the mix right before serving to make a creamy (and milder) curry.

You can curry just about anything and it is even better the next day…or the day after that:)

My daughters LOVE Indian food and it meets my food budget requirements. We are vegetarians by choice (but my youngest daughter is allergic to pork, beef, chicken etc). The girls can not eat dairy (totally allergic) or peanuts. My youngest doesn’t fair well with bread but is not allergic to gluten so I am not sure what that is about. We use Quorn meat alternatives where possible (some have milk and wheat) and we use Ancient Grains pasta (excellent – and gluten free). We eat a lot of potatoes and rice as you can imagine.

Serve with rice



I googled just that subject and got many, many responses. You might get help with actual menu plans from some of the larger clinics or perhaps some of the magazines that offer lots of recipes for their readers.
Best to you and your family.




I have never written to you before but I have read your books and followed you online for years.  The simple living book, A Simple Choice, was especially helpful.  Also,  I tried many of the recipes in your bulk cooking books.

Anyway, you were asking about meal ideas.  Looks like mainly vegetarian, raw foods is what your looking at.  I have been spending a lot of time looking at minimalist blogs lately (seems to be the new trend after “simple” living and I’ve come across a couple that me be of help.  My favorite so far is she has a free e-cookbook that I have really enjoyed.  Several salad and veggie ideas.  And they are all quick and simple!  Her blog is good too.

Another thing I noticed on these sites is the heavy focus on marketing.  I don’t have a blog or anything to sell so it doesn’t really apply to me but its still interesting to see what these people are doing. and have some great ideas on minimal living and cutting expenses and marketing your website.  They are selling e-books and using affiliate links.  I find them very motivating even if I can’t do all they suggest.



Wow!  That is quite a list of criteria!  The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is Beans and Rice, but you probably have done every permutation of THAT combination.

Here are few recipes that I pulled from my Palm’s recipe database:
Barley Risotto with Corn & Basil – Everyday Foods
Chinese Noodle Salad
Cinnamon Yam Mash – Bahama Breeze
Herbed Tomatoes
Honey Garlic Pasta
Oven Fried Eggplant
Pasta Caprese – America’s Test Kitchen
Penne a la Vodka
Pasta with Spinach Sauce
Put me on a Pedestal Purple Cabbage
Quick Orzo Veggie Risotto
Quinoa & Mango Salad
Rockin’ Moroccan Stew –
Southwest Pasta Salad
Spaghetti Squash with Garlic – Everyday Foods
Zucchini & Parmesan Tart –
Zucchini Orzo –

If I have an online source for the recipe, I listed it.

“Do right, risk consequences.”  – Sam Houston


Here are my suggestions for a few “allergy” type meals.  I realize I’m telling you your own business, but I find your new project just too interesting!

There is an old gardening/cookbook that will give you many ideas for meals that leave out the ingredients you specified below.  Try to find Grow Your Own Chinese Vegetables by Geri Harrington, Collier Books, 1978.  She has also written The Wood Burning Stove Book, The Salad Book, Summer Garden, Winter Kitchen, and The College Cookbook.  I haven’t read any these, but the Chinese Vegetables one is so smart, the other ones might be useful as well.

She includes growing information and recipes for yard-long beans, edamame, mung beans, fava beans and adzuki beans.  Also, of course, every other Asian vegetable under the sun.

While you already have many rice and bean recipes in your file, I would say the “Grow” cookbook has interesting ways to cook Asian beans (so your son won’t have to eat something else).

I personally can fill up my son by making vegetable and bean soups that I thicken with corn starch (also adding some cream at times).  But the beans have to be in there to make it filling enough for a growing child!

Even if you can’t digest meat, you should be able to use necks and backs for chicken broth to enhance the flavor or soups and stews.

If you can’t eat carrots, you obviously need to be using a lot of sweet potato–the best thing is baked and split open with butter and salt.  I make a collard soup that is filling by first making plain collard soup with a ham hock (take it out after cooking) and onion, and then adding right at the point of serving, chunks of separately cooked sweet potato and a can or two of black-eyed peas.  These taste great together if combined and served fresh; however, after sitting in the fridge, the sweet potatoes turn greenish from the soup color, and the peas also lose their separate identity.


Hi Debi,

You might want to check out for great ideas.  You can search it by what ingredients you don’t want as well as ingredients you do want.  Best regards,

David Miretti


I don’t have the list of “don’ts” that you have, but I do have Celiacs, and diabetes, so there is a lot of restrictions to deal with in my house too!  I try to go for low glycemic, sugar free (sweeteners are okay once in awhile, but….) and unprocessed foods. It pays off.

Corn pasta is wonderful. I used to hate all things pasta, and now I love it, for the simple reason that I no longer get sick from it! Simple and quick supper, and you could use tofu in the sauce with no one being the wiser.

Have you tried aguave syrup as a sweetener?

Beans of all types are wonderful, and in lieu of bread, serve to give a nice “backbone” to a meal. Sometimes you just need something substantial. Canned beans are cheap and easy too – quick to scatter on a salad, or spice up for a side dish.

As a rule? Canned food is generally out of my reality – why on earth do they put gluten in everything? Since everything seems to have flour in it, when I find an enjoyable food that doesn’t (pea soup for instance) I always make sure I have some on hand for “emergency” meals.

Basically, everyone in our household eats a lot of fruit and vegetables.(there is only the two of us, but company meals follow the same guidelines)  I don’t keep a thing in the house that I can not eat. That makes menu planning a lot easier, because I can just go to the kitchen and “rustle up” whatever is there when the mood strikes without agonizing over labels. The combinations you can come up with using simple ingredients is astounding. We rarely eat the same thing one month to the next, let alone one day to the next!  I vary the cooking method from stir fried, oven roasted, steamed and boiled.  Nuts are a good thing too, but too many might create problems that you haven’t yet uncovered. Peanuts aren’t all that great but maybe on your list of okay foods….if so, there is always peanut butter and celery for a bit of quick easy protein.

Quinoa is a good change up from rice. Also, the different varieties of rice such as brown Basmati, or jasmine make life interesting!  I am not a great fan of tofu, but the other day, I had some “obvious” tofu in a Vietnamese soup … it was wonderful, so I guess I had better change my opinion of it!  The world of alternate grains is opening up for me, but without sugar, baking is difficult at the best of times, so I really haven’t bothered going in that direction. There is oatmeal that is gluten free now, as the main problem with it, was cross contamination in the facilities. Worth every penny for my occassional bowl of porridge!

I also have found that eating Bison is totally okay with me, whereas beef gives me digestive problems. Perhaps it has something to do with the diet of the animal? Dairy products are not a problem with me, but my son recquired goat’s milk for awhile, and that has lead to a lifelong love of all products goat and sheep related!  Feta, chevre, Peccorino Romano for instance.

Old books that I have used for years are “Diet for a Small Planet” and “Recipes for a Small Planet”. Back in the day,they were what every card carrying hippy had on their kitchen shelf! The recipes are pretty cost effective and quite tasty. Although some were not to my taste, they were at least always interesting! As in “sure won’t bother making that again” interesting!

A simple version of my favourite recipe from that book is for a “Greek Spinach Pie”  or some such thing … Basically, you take vegetables and chop them into enough small dice to fill your pan, then add tons of spinach – TONS! I always used a cast iron skillet, and getting the pan into the oven was a challenge, as the spinach would be so high! Anyway, mix an egg with a container of cottage cheese and some grated cheese, mix in with the vegetables,top with a little more cheese and bake. It squishes down to a pie and is sooooooo good. And the bonus is, that it is good cold and travels well.

I find veggie burgers, tofu weiners and in general processed imitations of meat disgusting. I always wondered why vegetarians would want to eat “beef flavoured” or “chicken flavoured” if they were so against the real thing? I prefer honest to goodness, close to the earth flavours. A grilled portabella mushroom? MMM good!

This is generally what I have discovered that works for me. I wish you well because it really sounds like you will have an interesting period of adjustment getting used to all the new “rules”. AND!!! Thank you for an interesting newsletter that I have been enjoying thoroughly for quite a while now!

Linda Phillips
Winnipeg, Manitoba

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