3 May 2012
Maybe you’re like me, a foodie at heart, most comfortable in your kitchen, working, experimenting, wrapping your heart into your food. I have always taken great pleasure in whipping up simple meals, with real ingredients, with my own two hands. With so many amazing ingredients within my grasp, the sky was the limit as to what I could create. My culinary wonderland was about to be turned upside down with two small words: Food Allergy.
Several members of my family, including myself, had been experiencing varying degrees of health related issues, prompting our family to find a new physician. Upon our first visit, a comprehensive work-up was completed on each of us, including detailed allergy testing. I truly didn’t expect the doctors to find anything significant, but I was quite wrong! As I sat down at our follow-up visit, the crushing news literally took my breath away. Not only did my three boys and I have allergies to wheat and dairy, but I was told that I was also allergic to eggs. As I drove home, I kept asking myself, “What in the world will we eat? How am I going to cook?”
That evening my husband and I systematically cleared out our pantry and refrigerator, ridding our home of any item containing anything on our new “no-no” list. As I stared out at the vacated shelves I felt a bit overwhelmed. During the weeks that followed, I worked diligently to stock our shelves with friendly items. Not only was this incredibly expensive, but rather frustrating. As I read food labels, I noticed that many seemingly friendly items contained many ingredients that were not nutritionally sound. Before food allergies arrived, I would have never fed my children these items. Then I realized that I had gotten myself so worked up that I had neglected the real reason for food. I was feeding my family, but not nourishing them. There is a big difference. From that day, I pulled myself together, focused my attention on real, pure foods, and stocked my pantry only with items that contained small, wholesome ingredient lists.
We had made great progress. Within a few months many of our health woes had been diminished and in some cases, completely eliminated. We were eating tons of fresh vegetables, fruit, and healthy proteins. But, I will admit that each of us longed for some of our favorite dishes like crab cakes and chicken fingers. I had not successfully reinvented these dishes because of one missing ingredient: breadcrumbs. That was, until one day, when I made an awesome discovery. I took a box of Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice cereal from the pantry and begin crushing the cereal in my food grinder. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, basil, and parsley, then, breaded and cooked up some chicken. I took a bite and with that, I believe I heard a choir of angels in the background singing the Hallelujah Chorus! Finally, crispy, delicious, wholesome chicken fingers. They were absolutely wonderful. It may sound kind of silly, but that afternoon, a box of cereal provided me with some hope that I could feed my family safe, wholesome food that was also delicious.
Kim Van Dunk, an Erewhon cereal customer and fan won our Cooking Challenge Recipe Contest in 2011 with her Fresh Salmon Cakes with Sauteed Veggies recipe and her Italian-Style Gluten Free Breadcrumbs recipe. She wanted to share her story about learning to cook and appreciate cooking with food allergies in mind. We are so happy to share her story with you.