Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wheatless Waffles

     All three of my children have had food allergies. Mostly the usual – milk, eggs, tree nuts, fish, shellfish; but also things like corn, beef, yeast and even rice (seriously?).  After the first two (Olivia and Andrew), I was reluctant to have more babies because I was afraid one would be allergic to wheat and peanuts and then we’d have nothing quick and easy left to eat. Many years went by but the desire for more children never waned so 11 years later, Elena was born and low and behold, she’s allergic to wheat! She is also allergic or sensitive or intolerant to milk, eggs, tree nuts, corn, soy, and we’re just assuming shellfish too. And let me tell you, it’s a bummer sometimes because for as long as I am nursing, I can’t eat those foods either. In addition, I have nursed them each for a long, long time because I have to be their main source of calcium and other nutrients I worry they’re missing out on.

      I can live without shellfish, beef, and nuts. Not having eggs isn’t bad either once you learn how to bake without them. No dairy hurts though. That’s a painful one to give up - especially cheese. I still dream of cheese - especially an aged, New York white cheddar, mmmm. Mexican food isn’t the same without cheese. Asian food isn’t Asian food without soy, teriyaki, miso, etc. But wheat, losing wheat was the toughest. one. ever.

     It is quite an adjustment to eliminate wheat. I felt hungry all the time for the first couple of months. I went through some kind of withdrawal, both physical and psychological. You just have to go all in. Just do it. No looking back. No halfway.

     Goodbye sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, Italian sausage sandwiches, pizza (which isn’t the same without the cheese anyway so I was already over that). Goodbye garlic bread, crackers, birthday cakes … ok, you get the idea.

      But a strange thing happens when I cut out these foods, especially the wheat and the dairy. I feel better. My mood is better. My energy is way better. My weight drops. After Olivia and Andrew weaned, I slowly added everything back over a few years time. The weight came back with it. The mood swings too. Giving them up again for Elena has shown me that I really am better off without them and I don’t think I’m ever going back -even though the pressure to just eat normal is huge from a social standpoint.

      People always ask, “So what do you eat?” You’d be surprised how many awesome foods are still available when you don’t rely on wheat and dairy to be your staples. I currently eat all kinds of meat and fish (but not shellfish), beans, peanuts (thank you Lord!), all fruits and vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, rice, quinoa, oats, and a little bit of barley. Did you even know that rice comes not only in white or brown, but also red and black varieties? Quinoa also comes in white, red and black. So instead of seeing it as limiting, I try to see it as expanding my horizons. A whole world of foods opens up when you put down the bag of pretzels and explore new options.

      Just please remember that I am not a doctor or nutritionist. I am just a mom with a lot of experience, and I know what has worked for my family. There are many great sources of info on food allergies. I joined FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) for a year way back in the beginning and learned a lot there. But mostly I read cookbooks and magazines and modify recipes to fit our needs.

      So whether you want to eliminate wheat (who wants to eat it anyway after reading “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD?) or if you have to give it or other foods up for health reasons, I am here to help and I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions as well.

      My saving grace is waffles. I make a batch and it usually lasts Elena and me close to a week. I put half of them in a bag in the fridge and the other half in a bag in the freezer. When I cook them in the waffle iron, I go about 4 minutes on the hottest temp to get them light brown but crispy. When we eat them, I toast them on a pretty light setting in the toaster oven. We like them with peanut butter or sunflower seed butter and some sliced fruit with or without maple syrup. We also use them for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to pack in our bag when on the go.

      This recipe is not only wheat free, but also egg and dairy free. You can modify it in so many ways to fit your needs. This is how I do it:

Wheatless Waffles

 Mix the following dry ingredients together well in a large pitcher. I use an 8 cup plastic measuring cup.

 2 c. oat flour
½ c. brown rice flour
¼ c. arrowroot powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. ground flax seed (This is the egg substitute. It will act as a binder)

 Then add the wet ingredients.

 ¼ c. canola oil
2 c. milk substitute (I use Silk coconut milk)

You may need to add up to another half cup or so of water to thin it down a bit. You’ll have to eyeball it. It should be the consistency of normal waffle batter. It’s ok if it seems thin at first because it thickens up after a few minutes.

That’s all there is to it. Let me know how you like them.

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