Trail Mix: Food Allergy Awareness Week Celebration!
May 18th, 2013 by Alice

From Alice Enevoldsen

2013_05_13 Trail mix 020-800

Raisin Mix

  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup currants
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins (the ones I’ve found have sulfites)
  • 14-30 bite-size/petite dried prunes
  • (2/3 cup dried cherries — as soon as I find a safe source)

That makes 6 one-third-cup servings. (The currants end up packing in between the other fruits). That’s the recipe I used for my toddler

For adults (and other people who are good at chewing before swallowing) I’m adding:

Add this last, preferably at the very last minute before you head out the door. If you add it earlier these crunch bits will get soft.

  • 2/3 cup Divvie’s caramel corn or NoNuttin’s Vanilla Caramel Granola or home-made granola (rolled oats+honey+cinnamon on a baking sheet)


Mix everything but the prunes and the corn or granola

Divide into 1/3-cup sealed serving bags (for toddlers) or 2/3-cup sealed serving bags (for adults). Be sure to toss the mixture as you’re bagging to get currants in every bag (they sink to the bottom).

Divide the prunes evenly among the bags.

Put in your pantry for snack emergencies or go hiking. It’ll keep at least a little while, depending on your climate, the temperature in your pantry, and how well the bags seal.

For people who chew

For people who chew

I may increase the ratio of soybeans and caramel corn/granola in the adult version. I’m happy with the ratio in the toddler “raisin mix.”

Battling the Parfum* Dragon, or How I Finally Removed Fragrances from New Laundry
May 30th, 2011 by Alice

I bet some of you out there have fragrance and perfume allergies as well. I wanted to share a laundry solution I finally found: Borax.

I just add it to my washer with any load that has a chemical fragrance (like new clothes or “new” clothes from the secondhand store). I wash them twice like this and they come out with no scent!


Now for the epic story of the quest to find a laundry solution that removed “fragrance” and “parfum.” Stop reading if you’re not interested – the whole solution is above.

The Anti-Parfum Quest

I like to shop for clothes secondhand. The selection is more varied, it is waaay cheaper, and sometimes you find treasures. A few years ago Value Village switched detergents, to something that makes me itch and sneeze.

I washed those clothes a dozen times with my detergent, All Free&Clear to no avail. I washed them with a box of baking soda, soaked them for days in vinegar, soaked them for days in baking soda (both wet and dry), and hung them outside in the Sun. (All tried & true methods according to the housewife wisdom on the internet.) Still stinky. One thing did work: wearing the clothes for a day and then washing them. Something about the sweat and skin oils worked into the perfume and it got washed away. But, as this was incredibly uncomfortable, this was not a long-term solution. Strike 1. (On one notable occasion I had a friend wear a shirt for me, and then washed it.)

“There must be an answer,” I thought. “We live in the future.” So I started looking into odor and scent removers. Sadly, they’re mostly about pet smells, and other organic residue. They’re often enzyme-based, so those little enzyme buggers love to eat the organic smell-causing molecules.

This led me on a chase to find out what kind of molecule “parfum” is – probably an alcohol or an oil – not what the enzyme buggies are bred to eat. Strike 2.

“There must be an answer,” I thought. “People have been washing clothes for thousands of years, and washing out perfumes since at least the middle-ages.”

And then I had a baby. First of all – everything is (uhg) baby-scented, which doesn’t smell anything like actual baby. Secondly, thoughtful friends and relatives would pre-wash gifts for us, with their nicely-perfumed detergent or dry it with their softly-scented dryer sheets. Things had gotten desperate, especially if we wanted to enjoy these incredibly useful gifts.

“What’s the oldest form of laundry detergent?” I asked. “What is the unadvertised, no-additives, little non-descript box hiding on the shelves behind all the colorful jars?”

‘Clean-Clean washes cleaner!’
‘Keep you brights brighter with Bright-It-All!’
‘NEW! Organic lavender-lemon-patchouli scent is better for Mother Earth and better for Mother You!’

All of which have fragrance or “parfum” as one of the middle ingredients.

What have people been using for decades, without mentioning it, without bragging, but with so much success the brand doesn’t need to advertise? Like baking soda or baking powder or salt – those boxes and cans have looked identical since at least 1909.

What is the not-so-secret but forgotten laundry fix-all?


I took some home (it only comes in large boxes from the brand 20 Mule Team), followed the suggested directions on the back. My blankets came out bright, clean, and completely “parfum”-free. Finally.

Sometimes with new laundry it takes two borax-washes, because I haven’t already been battling the Parfum Dragon with Sun, baking soda, vinegar, fresh air and wash after wash of free & clear detergent.

Still, it is nice to have clean clothes that don’t make me sneeze, and baby clothes that smell like actual baby when they have a baby in them. Home Run!


*On ingredients labels I repeatedly see “fragrance (parfum)” or the other way around listed. I think it is a funnier word than “perfume” which is why I use it here.

UPDATE: Dial Corporation makes the MSDS of Borax available here. This pdf is the copy of the Borax MSDS I downloaded May 31, 2011. In short, don’t eat it or get it in your eyes and you’ll be fine. A quote from the MSDS: “The use of this product by consumers is safe under normal and reasonable foreseen use.”

Chicken Nuggets
Apr 2nd, 2011 by Alice

From Alice Enevoldsen

Chicken Nuggets
Image © 2011 Jason Gift Enevoldsen

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 egg substitutes (to make the breading stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon water (in addition to any water you used making your egg substitute)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (run 2-3 slices of your favorite safe bread through a blender or food processor)
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablepoon canola oil


Preheat oven to 425F, and prep a (nonstick) cookie sheet. Cut chicken into nugget-sized pieces.

Mix fake eggs with water, and add the chicken. Let it sit.

Chop up the spices, mix with bread crumbs and wheat germ. Mix in the oil well.  Dip each chicken piece in the seasoning and coat well.  Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for 5 more minutes.

I have also made the seasoning ahead of time and refrigerated it or frozen it so all I have to do is chop the chicken and coat it. If you do this I would add the oil at the time of coating, not before you freeze or fridge the topping.

I always thought chicken nuggets were an insanely processed, always cross-contaminated product of the fast-food industry. The above recipe is for whole pieces of chicken, baked, and a super-yummy mode of transport for your favorite dipping sauces. So I suppose they’re just as healthy as your dipping sauces.

Earth’s Best Kidz Baked Chicken Nuggets

I have also just found that (as of April 2011) Earth’s Best Kidz Baked Chicken Nuggets are safe for us, though they contain wheat and soy. And they’re not as healthy as the above home-baked ones which you have complete control over the ingredients for. But they’re frozen, cook up quick, and are a healthier vehicle for dipping sauces than french fries.


Dear Jelly Belly, You’re making my day!
Sep 21st, 2010 by Alice

Okay, this has to come with the warning to DO YOUR OWN research if you have allergies, but, after many many years of not eating Jelly Bellys because of cross-contamination with the peanut butter flavored beans, I just heard that that flavor was discontinued, and all Jelly Belly flavors are now safe for vegtarians, peanut-allergic individuals, and dairy-allergic individuals. Not to mention that they’re Kosher. Their non-Jelly Belly candy is made on different equipment. They still make licorice – one of my allergens – but cross contamination is less of an issue with that one for me. They do use cornstarch.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY I CAN EAT JELLY BELLYS AGAIN! Well, probably, I’ll be trying them carefully at first. I’ll let you know how it goes.

This is also true of their candy corn. I have been craving mallowcreme for a DECADE.

CAVEAT: Check the package of Jelly Bellys for cross-contamination warnings. As Jelly Belly’s have a long shelf-life, the store you bought them from might have some of the old peanut-contaminated batches.

Thank you Jelly Belly. Thank you!

Egg Substitute – Egg Replacer
May 14th, 2010 by Alice

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this yet. My go-to actually-for-real-egg-free egg substitute is Ener-G Egg Replacer. It is currently carried by Amazon.

Ener-G Egg Replacer

Their listed ingredients (but check your own box to be sure) are: Potato Starch, tapioca starch flour, leavening (calcium lactate [not derived from dairy], calcium carbonate, citric acid), sodium carboxymethylcellulose, methylcellulose.

I follow the directions on the back of the box. I always use it in baked goods, and have had luck in things like chicken nuggets as well which I wasn’t expecting.

When that’s not an option I use this recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon water (or other liquid)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network keeps a good list of substitutes on hand as well.

Seven Oceans Food Ration
Apr 10th, 2010 by Alice

CONTAINS WHEAT AND SOY, and I don’t know the source of “sugars” so that might be corn or it might not. They do produce some foods that look to contain nuts, and I don’t know their factory practices preventing cross-contamination.

It seems that Washington State has declared April Disaster Preparedness month, which got me thinking again about the problem of emergency rations for us food-allergic folks.

I finally found and tried a ration that is safe for both my husband and I, but it contains wheat and soy – so if those are your allergies (and I know there are many of you) don’t get your hopes up. I’m sorry. :(
Seven Oceans 2500 Calorie Food Ration is made in Norway and carried by Prepare Smart in Redmond (link to purchase).

The ingredients are appropriately simple:

  • Wheat flour
  • Vegetable soya fat
  • Sugars
  • Malt
  • Vitamins C, B1, B6

It tastes like a dry undersweetened piece of shortbread. I may start taking some to work to keep in a drawer for those days when the lunch I pack doesn’t go quite far enough.

We tried them last night and today, no reactions even with our super-anaphylactic reactions to milk, eggs, nuts, peanuts, and most legumes (beans and peas).

For those of you who haven’t found an appropriate emergency supply yet – I have been trying to keep enough boxed/canned soups and beef jerky on hand to get us through the worst of a situation. I have to rotate those more often though, so usually my supply dwindles.

I haven’t actually put my kit together yet, I’ve been slowly adding to a pile of stuff over the last few years. Crank flashlight and an out-of-state emergency contact was all I had in the “disaster kit” for the longest time. Maybe this year I’ll actually put it together.

Mayonnaise Substitute – Zesty French Dressing
Jun 27th, 2009 by Alice

Brianna’s Zesty French Dressing is almost creamy enough to pass for an herbed mayonnaise. It is slightly spicy, but not overly vinegary. It is more runny than mayo, so be sure to figure that in when substituting.

Brianna's Zesty French

Brianna's Zesty French

Beware! Brianna’s labels often picture foods that are not actually contained within the dressing. The most famous kerfuffle involves their Dijon Honey Mustard – which not only pictures an avocado, but is the exact same shade of green. There are no avocados in the Honey Mustard.

I wouldn’t use it in a chocolate-mayonnaise cake*, but in a case where you’re using mayo and don’t mind some spice and flavor, it works out quite well.

As of 6/2009 Brianna’s is available on Amazon.

*Yes, chocolate-mayonnaise cake. If you haven’t tried it, and you can have both chocolate and mayonnaise I recommend it.

I Think They’re Confused
Jun 6th, 2009 by Alice

My mother bought some cookies. She didn’t buy them for me. I would never eat this type of cookie anyway. And I don’t live with her, so they aren’t contaminating my living space. But I think the people who design their label are a little confused about the meaning of the word “nut.” Observe:

Jennies Almond (flavored) Macaroons

Notice that these are made in a “TREE NUT AND PEANUT FREE FACILITY.” Hmm … this could be somewhat true – maybe they’re artificially flavored (not that I’d trust fake almond anyway). Oh, I guess not, since it says “No Artificial Flavor.” If it is real almond, then your facility isn’t tree nut free. If it isn’t real almond then there are artificial flavors. Also notice that right under the ingredients it claims “NO NUTS ARE USED IN THIS PRODUCT.” Well, almond extract and flavoring are still made from nuts. (If you can’t read the label, click the picture to enlarge) More claims about what isn’t in this product.

It gets better.

Jennies Coconut Macaroons

Notice that these are only made in a “PEANUT FREE FACILITY.” I wonder why? Oh! It’s because they consider coconut a tree nut (as defined by the FDA). I wonder why they don’t consider almond a tree nut. And I wonder how their facility is tree nut free for the Almond Macaroons. They clearly must have two facilities. More claims about what isn’t in this product.

I’m going to take this as proof that you shouldn’t blindly trust labeling. Also, I didn’t know the FDA considered coconut a tree nut, I hadn’t heard that. I always have to clarify for people that coconut, although not normally considered a nut, is still problematic for me – though less so than other nuts.

Milk Replacement – Oat Milk
Jun 6th, 2009 by Alice

If you’ve ended up without milk in your life, cooking and baking can sometimes be difficult. Luckily there’s Soy Milk. Unfortunately, if you’re also non-soy you’re left with Rice Milk. The consistency of Rice Milk is often incorrect for baking. It is about as good a substitute for milk as water mixed with a little sugar.

Enter upon the scene: Oat Milk!!

Pacific brand Oat Milk

Pacific brand Oat Milk

The consistency and sweetness of oat milk are much more like regular 2% milk than any other non-milk substitute I’ve ever tasted. I use it one for one in recipes calling for milk – even puddings! I discovered oat milk about 4 years ago, and I love it … but I’m also worried about how long it will be around. There’s only one brand sold in Washington State, so I do my best to buy as much of their product as I can to keep them alive.

My milk-drinking friends even like the taste of it, (though it doesn’t taste like milk.)

Go Dairy Free has a good review of what oat milk is all about, and they point out that if you’re gluten-intolerant, this probably isn’t the milk solution for you.

I buy Pacific Natural Foods brand. Bear in mind THEY ALSO MAKE NUT MILKS. So judge the safety of this ingredient for yourself. They do not list nuts as a cross-contaminant, and the milk is also marked Kosher Pareve. Their website has full side-of-the-box nutritional information for your edification. If you’re bean-sensitive, this brand also has carob bean gum in it. THIS IS LISTED AS GLUTEN CROSS-CONTAMINATED on their awesome food-sensitivities guide.

Butter or Shortening Replacement – Palm Oil
Jun 2nd, 2009 by Alice

With a milk allergy and a soy allergy I used to cringe every time I saw “butter” or “shortening” listed in a recipe. Even the phrase “milk-free, soy-free margarine” made me laugh out loud. I couldn’t find a single instance of that ephemeral substance in all of Seattle. I made do with canola oil* until I found this:

Spectrum Shortening (Palm Oil)

Spectrum Shortening (Palm Oil)

Palm Oil. I buy Spectrum brand. It’s a solid fat that has neither milk nor soy. Yes! Also, I don’t have to adapt the amounts.

*When using canola or olive oil instead of a solid fat you need to reduce the amount of oil or you food gets … oily. I usually start with about 3/4 oil for every 1 cup of butter/margarine/shortening called for.

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