There’s no food in that food.

Tis the season to be grateful. Falalalala la la la la!

I am indeed grateful for many things in my life, but this season, I am particularly and surprisingly grateful that some of the food we buy is not…really food.

Sometimes, as an allergy parent, a near or complete lack of natural food products is a big old win. If there’s nothing real, there’s nothing to trigger a reaction.  If it’s good and processed, it might be processed enough that the body doesn’t even recognize it anymore.  I’m not saying it’s good all the time. I know carnauba wax is NOT something one should consume in any great quantity.  But…sometimes…it’ll do the trick.

You see, my five-year-old was PUMPED to make a gingerbread house. My two-year-old, fuelled by her brother’s enthusiasm, also had visions of candy construction dancing in her head. But…I am not a gifted or patient baker. Life is currently pretty full of life-type stuff, and I had no idea how to make vegan icing harden enough to be used as adhesive. I do have a vague memory of my mother fusing gingerbread together with some kind of melted sugar concoction, but a significant part of that memory is actually her swearing as she burnt the crap out of her fingers while the pieces slid apart. In my memory, whatever she used was the candy equivalent of hot glue…my crafting arch nemesis.

I was determined to find a solution that was safe for my daughter, without being a huge pain the ass. There had to be something.

And there was! Was there ever!

After a month or so of calling around natural grocery stores, pestering alternative bakeries, and scouring the depths of Pinterest for a vegan gingerbread house that I could and would actually make, the clouds parted and a miracle occurred.

On a windy, miserable day at ToysRUs, as I debated between Thomas the Tank Engine and Paw Patrol advent calendars (three days into December…because I’m cheap and they’re on sale if you buy them late), I glanced to the left and found this magical answer to my problem:

cof

It was peanut free, dairy free, egg free, the icing and candy balls were pretty much just sugar with some weird binders and oil, and it totally blew my five-year-old’s mind.

I don’t know if the kit was strictly vegan and it’s definitely not advertised as such, but a good close look through the ingredient list confirmed it. There was little to no food in that “food.” Juuust unnatural enough not to be a threat. Score!

The results (sneak peak in the lower right corner there) were a little more abstract than the box, but it was super fun!  Got a pile of safe candy from the grocery store, some old stale marshmallows (for snow on Hoth that turned into clouds on Takodana), and went to town.

img_20171210_125634.jpg
Fully assembled.
Ready to get started.
Ready to get started.
Tada!
Tada!

Happy holidays everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

The Game of Scones

Ok, this is more bread/muffin-related, but the pun really works better with scones. Let’s just call it a brilliant play on baked good words and move on.

There’s a game I play, as a parent of an allergic kid.  When I pull a recipe, I skip right to the ingredients list.  If I have to substitute any more than three ingredients to make it edible, it’s exiled.

If it’s really good and there are maybe four substitutions, but I KNOW they’re going to work, I’m willing to negotiate.

Let’s just say that in the past couple years, my kingdom has become very exclusive.

However, there’s a thing in my family with this cookbook. Some of you may be familiar with it. It’s called “The New Purity Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking.” (Insert joke about Canadians and maple syrup/poutine/blah blah blah…)

Purity Cookbook Cover

The version we’ve always worked from is from 1945. I’m not sure where exactly it came from or what made it so influential in my family, but my Grandma had it and now I have it, and there are so many things I love about it.

It features awful gelatin-based monstrosities and pineapple glazed things that ought not be pineapple glazed. Typical stuff for the era. I have major issues with the texture of things and there are a lot of recipes that both repulse and fascinate me in there.

However, it also features kick-ass cakes, muffins, and quick breads (SCONES!) from a time before people thought butter and lard were bad. Short story…it’s always been my goto for baked goods, waffles, etc.

Unfortunately, the winds have shifted and these days, that shit generally doesn’t fly. The oldies I know and love have to be remixed like dub-hop or trip-metal, or whatever the kids are listening to these days.

Most goods CAN be adapted but often they’re pretty terrible alternatives, or a huge pain in the ass.

The average person without dietary restrictions tends to take this kind of thing for granted, but this is a good one.  It freezes well, and everyone likes it.

This my friends, is how I take an old favourite and bend it to my will.

The Original: Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

The Non-Deadly Remix:

Three essential substitutions, the quantities are the same, and there’s nothing weird or hard to find.

  • (Optional) Whole grain or wheat flour subs in for all purpose. (Fibre! Fibre!)
  • (Optional) Maple syrup takes the place of sugar. (Ok…Canadian stereotype validated.)
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips replace the nuts. (Who wants nuts in banana bread anyway…really?)
  • Skip the egg and use a flax egg. (The key is to remember to do this before everything else. Logistics! It has to sit a few minutes to hit a good goopy consistency.)
  • Soy milk knocks out the dairy. (Oat milk is good here too, but soy has a closer nutritional profile to dairy so that’s why I use it.)
  • (Optional) Extra banana. (Why? Because my baker sister said to always add more. She’s right! Makes a big difference in texture. Texture can be an issue when you mess with baking ingredients, because chemistry.)

The Result: Nutless Banana Nut Bread

  • 1 flax egg (make 5 min early)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup soy milk
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas
  • As many dairy free chocolate chips as you like. I won’t judge you.  (Enjoy Life is the brand I find most often)

I dump all the dry in one bowl and mix and then add all the wet in the same bowl and mix. Then I dump that in a glass baking dish with parchment paper in it so I don’t have to work too hard to clean it.  Bake at 350ºF for about 45 minutes (depends how big the dish is). Same mix makes muffins, just bake for shorter time…more like 20 minutes.

Winter is coming…banana bread up bitches!

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