With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

03 April 2009

Meet the Food Allergy Mama

Have you visited the Food Allergy Mama blog? Kelly Rudnicki is the Food Allergy Mama and on her blog, she shares recipes and other helpful information about life with food allergies. Kelly also is an author and her new book, The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book: Great Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Treats for the Whole Family is available for pre-order now through Amazon.com, here. The official release date is October 1. I am always amazed and impressed by how much people accomplish--it's so inspiring! So, I thought we'd end the week here on Food Allergy Buzz with a bit of inspiration by getting to know Kelly, Food Allergy Mama, a little better.

Thank you, Kelly, for doing the Q & A and for the excellent recipe you share here too. Kelly's Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe follows the Q & A. (My mouth is watering just thinking about it!)

For those readers who may not be familiar with Food Allergy Mama, please tell us what your connection to food allergies is and how long your family has been living with food allergies.

My 6 ½ year old son John is severely allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, peas and legumes. He outgrew his egg allergy at age 3. He was diagnosed in 2003 after a reaction to a Gerber Veggie Wheel, his very first “finger food” snack. The snack was coated with cheese. He also was diagnosed with asthma the same year.

How did you decide to take the extra step and publish a food allergy cookbook? What distinguishes your book from others?
When John was first diagnosed with life threatening food allergies I felt alone, scared and helpless. At the time I didn’t know anyone who had food allergies and it was terrifying to know that my young son could die from a reaction to food. When it was John’s first birthday and I had to bake a cake, I quickly realized there weren’t a lot of options to choose from. Many of the recipes I tried didn’t work out that well and I was determined to bake recipes that were like the real deal. I wanted John to know what a REAL doughnut, chocolate chip cookie or carrot cake tastes like. Over the years I’ve developed amazing and simple dairy, egg and nut free recipes that are delicious. Many of my son’s friends (as well as mine) can’t tell my treats are food allergy friendly.

My book “The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book” offers timeless and wonderful treats for the whole family, not just the food allergic. All the recipes were developed with the “busy mama” in mind. As a mom of four young children I understand the financial and time limitations we all face. It was my hope that all of these recipes could be whipped up quickly and simply.

What I am most proud of in publishing this book is that it gives all of us a chance to give back to raise awareness and funding for food allergy research. A portion of my proceeds from book sales will go directly to the Food Allergy Initative Chicago (FAI).

What else are you working on in the food allergy area?
I’m also passionate about raising food allergy awareness and increasing funding for research. This year I am co chairing the auction for the Food Allergy Initiative Chicago’s 2009 Benefit in October. Last year this amazing organization raised an unprecedented $1.2 million dollars in food allergy research funding. I am always working to educate others about food allergies and getting the word out. Schools have really come around in becoming more aware of the dangers of food allergies, but so much more work needs to be done.

What is your favorite recipe in the book?
There are so many favorites that it would be very hard to pinpoint just one. But I will say the recipe I turn to every single week is my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It is simple, fast and never fails to please.

What did you do before life with food allergies?
Let me count the ways! I was a bakery addict, going every weekend to a fabulous bakery in Chicago for chocolate frosted doughnuts. I have a serious addiction to doughnuts. I lived freely and carelessly, never ever once checking a label, or thinking twice about serving food at play dates. My oldest daughter Chloe doesn’t have food allergies, and I have fond memories of walking to our local candy/ice cream shop just about every other day in the summer for treats. I never worried or thought about food.

What's next for Food Allergy Mama?
I am already working on a second dairy, egg and nut free cookbook with even more treats and sweets. I love doughnuts and breakfast foods, as well as party cakes. So it will be interesting to see what direction the next book takes me….

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from “The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book”

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

2/3 cup dairy-free shortening (I use Crisco)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon best-quality vanilla extract
13/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, sugars, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375ºF, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a cookie scooper to place batter onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheet.
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