Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, Psychotherapist; Specialist in Food Allergy Management, Speaking At Mylan Specialty / EpiPen Event (© Noel Malcolm 2013)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dining at Work Events

I was invited last minute to a last minute media event. Normally, last minute is not good for this allergic girl; no time to plan, talk to chef, go over menu, etc.. If I don’t have time for all of that, I’ll still go but I’ll just eat beforehand, especially for a cocktail event. However, this past week the California Fig Advisory Board invited me for a very intimate sit-down multi-course dinner. Still, I thought, I’ll go, have a drink and move on to my next event (another dinner) that evening. Then I looked at the restaurant that was hosting: Rouge Tomate.

I wrote about Rouge Tomate a few years back and have been a few times since, all with wonderful results. They had put all of my allergies into their computerized system in the past and I was betting that they still had all of that information stored. In coordinating with the California Fig Advisory Board, they checked with Rouge Tomate who said yes, they had all of my allergies and were happy to make the necessary accommodations to the menu.

Upon arrival, I did my usual routine: introduced myself to Rouge Tomate General Manager, Sean, explained who I was (he was waiting for me) and he took me to see the Rouge Tomate Special Events Manager, Matthew. Matt was warm, welcoming, knowledgeable and professional. He was also a former server, now in management, who had served my table before and who remembered me, fondly. He greeted me with major hugs and laughs and then got down to business going over the menu, the accommodations they had already made and we discussed further tiny adjustments.

The first course was a salad with hazelnuts, second monkfish, third squab and fourth dessert. We worked out that I’d have the salad without hazelnuts and I asked if they could push the third course to the second for me as I’d have to leave early, and couldn't eat the monkfish anyway. All those adjustments were made swiftly and graciously. Our Rouge Tomate server Jessica, who was taking care of everyone at this sit-down dinner in their Walnut Room (no joke), was informed of the special meal (moi) and introduced herself to me in case I had any questions (so lovely).

The salad arrived – here is a picture that does not do it justice – and well, I punked out. I had gotten spooked when Matt told me that the salad came with hazelnut oil and hazelnuts, and that they would be making mine without of course, but I was already nervous. When it arrived dry and nut-free, I still couldn’t bring myself to tuck in. Kind of like that beet salad moment I talked about in Allergic Girl.

Rouge Tomate did their part text-book perfect to ensure my meal was allergen-free: I just couldn’t bring myself eat it.

Sigh. It happens: getting spooked. In the moment, I do my best not to feel self-conscious about it, it being a totally irrational food allergy moment, and try to enjoy myself regardless. But I don’t force myself to eat something that I don’t feel right about. And I move on. The next course arrived, the squab, all happy and glistening in its perfection. Our server Jessica went over all ingredients and I tucked in and it was delish (and completely safe). Here’s a picture.

So what’s the upshot? I talk about food allergy confidence in my book and during touring with the book. My basics steps to food allergy confidence are:

Understanding your diagnosis
Knowing how to communicate it clearly
Forming positive and supportive relationships
And being patient with yourself

The top three all happened without a hitch. It was the last one that's the lesson here. Sometimes getting spooked is part of a food allergic life. Being patient with yourself means, for me, that I accept this part of myself. And if when I can, and if I feel up to it, and it's safe, I try the next course.

A big thank you to the Rouge Tomate team: Chef, Matt and Jessica for taking such excellent care of me, yet again. I look forward to returning soon.

Rouge Tomate
10 E 60TH ST
NEW YORK, NY 10022
TEL: 646-237-8977

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

California Figs, 2011

California Fig Advisory Board)

California Fig Advisory Board CEO, Karla Stockli invited me to a lovely dinner at Rouge Tomate the other night. Here’s the menu, featuring the figgiest figs.

California Fig Advisory Board and Rouge Tomate)

I was only able to stay for half of the event as I had other events to attend but I found it really interesting to know more about figs. I’m a fig fan, both dried and fresh. I carry dried figs with me throughout the year as a quick, allergy-safe, super healthy snack; I carry a box of them when I travel as well. Dried figs are the base of my mom’s delicious Tzimmes for the Jewish New year Holiday’s in the fall (here’s just one example of a tzimmes recipe from and something we all look forward to every year.

However, fresh figs: wow. They are seriously tops in the sexy fruit department and so deliciously, totally different than dried. Fresh fig season is happening right now. Run don’t walk whilst these beauties are in your market. The California Fig Advisory Board website has some recipes (not allergen-free but very easily adaptable) like this one below. (Tip: I’d sub the blue cheese for goat and ditch the pine nuts and there you have it - fresh fig salad perfection.)

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs and Arugula Salad
©California Fig Advisory Board

Fig Vinaigrette
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh California figs
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons sherry, raspberry or white balsamic vinegar
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper; to taste

Arugula Salad
• 8 fresh, small California figs
• 2 ounces top quality blue cheese, divided - SUB SPANISH MANCHEGO or FRENCH GOAT
• 8 strips prosciutto (about 4 inches long by 1 inch wide)
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 4 cups baby arugula
• 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted -OPTIONAL

Fig Vinaigrette
Combine figs, olive oil, vinegar and garlic in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Arugula Salad
Divide and arrange arugula on 4 salad plates. Starting at stem end, cut figs in half nearly through but leaving blossom end in tact. Press 1/2 tablespoon cheese in center of each and press halves together. Wrap each fig with prosciutto and secure with toothpicks. Grill over high heat, 5 minutes, turning frequently, and basting with balsamic vinegar. As soon as prosciutto is crisp, remove from grill and arrange 2 figs on each plate. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and pine nuts.

Serve dressing in small bowl to drizzle on.

Serves: 4


Some figgy fun facts ©California Fig Advisory Board:

In California, there are five primary varieties of figs.
• Black Mission (dried/fresh)
• Calimyrna (dried/fresh)
• Kadota (dried/fresh)
• Brown Turkey (fresh)
• Sierra Figs (fresh)

California Figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Just 3 to 5 – dried or fresh – provide 5 grams of dietary fiber or 20% of the Daily Value.

Figs were regarded with such esteem that laws were created forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Sychophant derives from the Greek word (derived by sykos, "fig", and φανης fanēs, "to show") meant one who informed against another for exporting figs or for stealing the fruit of the sacred fig trees. Hence, the word came to mean a person who tries to win favor by flattering.


If you have any question about fruit allergies, please see your local board certified allergist or a knowledgeable RD ( about what is right for you. Meanwhile I have some fig swag in my kitchen right now and that’s what I’m having for an afternoon snack with some honey and yogurt – yum!

(©California Fig Advisory Board)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cocktail Week, NYC, 2011

Last week the New York Times dining section (my bible) was all about summer cocktails and three ingredient cocktails; even Clean Plate colleague Jared posted about getting "clean" cocktails in NYC here.

I’m not much of a drinker, A. B, mixed drinks have some non-allergy friendly aspects to them. (I’ve written about secret egg whites in some drinks before.) Like bitters? What’s in bitters? No one will exactly tell you and I only go for full transparency in anything I’m consuming.

However, recently I was at Morandi and the bartender wanted to make me a special drink. Before creating it, and knowing I’m an allergic girl, he asked: “Are you okay with egg whites? Are you allergic?” So sweet and no, I’m not. He made me a whiskey sour (my first ever) and it was delish and safe for me.

Bartenders are the best people to tell you what’s going into your drink. Communicate to them about your food allergies and I bet they will make a special drink just for you, even during cocktail week like we’re having in NYC right now.

Any further concerns about allergens, and drinking talk with your board certified allergist about the risks for you. Find qualified allergists at or

Friday, June 24, 2011

MTV, I'm Allergic to Everything

**UPDATED with online show link.**

MTV’s True Life series decided to cover food allergies. [Disclosure: they came to me in October last year asking if I could recommend any teens with food allergies for this show; I sent them to FAAN’s Teen program.] The show aired last night. You will be able to watch it online now.

First off, many thanks to the brave Raelyn and Zeke –these are the high schoolers MTV followed. They and their families were generous enough to allow us in to their lives, their struggles, their concerns and their hopes. Thank you again. Secondly, as a reality show, this program pulls for the extremes and they picked two atypical examples of food allergic disease: Zeke has Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Raelyn has idiopathic anahylaxis.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis or EE (or EoE) is, accrording to the University of Michigan: "a chronic disorder of the digestive system in which large numbers of a particular type of white blood cell called eosinophils are present in the esophagus. the esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Eosinophils are an important part of the immune system and play a role in fighting infection. This condition is characterized by vomiting, stomach or chest pain, failure to thrive (particularly in children), and difficulty swallowing."

Eosinophilic Esophagitis is a serious condition that is under the rubric of allergic disease but not a classic food allergy. However, Zeke’s segments follow a relatively typical medically approved path: visits to his board certified allergist in the hospital for scratch and skin testing (and resultant reactions), food challenges in the hospital and under supervision, endoscopy and biopsy of the esophagus, and more food trails after the all clear sign. We see him being bullied and we see him struggling to have a normal life and diet but we also see him following a well-worn and safe medical path to determine how to take small safe steps forward.

Raelyn is given a diagnosis of idiopathic anaphylaxis and in the world of food allergy that is a true gray zone. Idiopathic means that no cause can be determined for anaphylactic reactions. Raelyn’s struggle with this vague diagnosis is very real, as it her anxiety and her wish to be normal. In her segments, we see Raelyn meeting with one of the best allergists in the country: Dr Robert Wood. He tells her that her immune system is going haywire, her anaphylaxis reactions are not coming from an outside source but from within and then he mentions something about her stress levels and trying to control those. (These details are from memory, so they may be faulty.) We do not see her given a clear path toward management. And without a clear answer from the western medical community, Raelyn and her family do what many desperate patients do and turn to alternative methods and practitioners who claim to have the cure.

Bottom line: Right now, there is no cure for food allergies.

What follows is a typical scene of alternative treatment. Raelyn visits a chiropractor who says he can cure her of all of her food allergies. After a month of sessions, he tells her she can reintroduce foods to her diet. She attempts food challenges at home without medical supervision that go dramatically wrong, necessitating a call to 911 and hospital visit. It was disturbing to watch and no, she is not cured.

Did the show raise awareness about food allergies and what our community's families and teens deal with on a daily basis? Will it? I don’t know.

What is clear is that these two teenagers are working valiantly to have normal lives.

My wish? I wish Raelyn would have been given a clear direction from Dr. Wood about how proceed. (As this is a highly contrived reality show, we have no idea if there was medical follow up with Dr. Wood or any other board certified medical provider.) And I wish both teenagers and their families had more support around issues of anxiety and their diagnosis.

Did you see it? Tell me what you thought.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Emporio, NYC

My dear safe friend (also a wonderful artist, see her work for sale here) Kate called me a few Fridays ago saying: Emporio, the restaurant down the street from me is now offering gluten-free pasta and pizza. Do want to try it?”

Now, you know how I feel about GF menus: they’re great for the GF community but they don’t necessarily, or usually, translate into food allergy friendliness. However, a hot Lower East Side eatery doing GF intrigued me enough to check it out and I’m glad that I did.

In the last few years, New York City’s Lower East Side has completely transformed itself. When I was a grade schooler, it was still part of the former Jewish ghetto. My mom and I would shop for wholesale bedding (read: toilet seats) as well as blue corduroys for my school uniform; completely unhip. To my complete and utter typical New Yorker surprise, in the last ten years, Orchard Street, and the streets around it, have become the hottest of the hot for bars and restaurants. But still, not great for dining food allergy friendly; “hot” doesn’t usually translate to food allergy friendly. (But even that depends. See Pastis) But here we are now, 2011 and Emporio is doing GF.

I looked at the Emporio menu online and they looked like they had several menu items that should/could be allergy friendly. I didn’t have a chance to call ahead (busy day) but when I arrived, I spoke with Emporio's GM Marcus who walked me through the entire menu, ingredient by ingredient.

The pizza they make in house using Italian milled bean flours, so they chef told me. However, the GM Marcus made it very clear that they bake them in the same oven with wheat-based pizzas. He said: “This gluten-free pizza will not be appropriate for anyone with a gluten or wheat allergy, only if you have an intolerance.” I was impressed with this level of knowledge about the difference between an allergy and intolerance and his complete transparency about cooking methods and ingredients. Well done, Emporio's staff!

When I asked about what GF pasta they were using, he brought over the bag to show me an Italian rice only brand I hadn’t heard of nor seen in the stores here, it looked yummy. And again, I was impressed that he took the guesswork out of our conversation by disclosing the brand.

Last minute, I changed my order to the steak, instead of GF pasta, which brought me into direct contact with the chef, Jared. He was expediting orders in the open kitchen and so he showed me the grill (where they grill octopus, i.e. not for me) and the clean pan they would use for me and my dish. Additionally, he walked me through all the steps they would take to ensure my meal was as safe as possible. I thanked Jared for his assistance with my food allergy needs. He said: “It’s not an issue. It’s easy to do and we’re happy to do it.”

Exactly what you want to hear. My dinner was super delicious and I’m ready to go back and with Chef Jared and GM Marcus at the helm, I bet it will be great.

231 Mott Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212.966.1234

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bill's Bar and Burger, NYC

*UPDATE March 2012*

Chef Pedro made lunch

I have dined multiple times now at the midtown outpost of Bill's Bar and Burger and every single time, minus twice when the chef personally handled my order because of a mistake already made, my lunch order has come out wrong. I don't know what is going with Bill's. They have the same excellent protocol across the BR Guest Hospitality restaurant group, and I dine at Dos Caminos regularly for work meetings without issue. 

But because of these consistent errors, over multiple visits, over multiple months, with different chefs and different management in place, I have no choice but to take Bill's Bar and Burger off my recommended list for the time being.


My re-done lunch on my fourth visit

Part of the BR Guest group of restaurants, Bill’s Burger opened last year in the heart of midtown by Rockefeller plaza. (Disclosure: Worry-Free Dinners' partner Dos Caminos is also in the BR Guest group of restaurants but I had no prior relationship with the staff, managers or chefs of Bill’s Burger.) This is a perfect spot for a burger joint for me as I often have meetings midtown and unless it’s super upscale or a chain like Chipotle there hasn’t been anything with a mid-range price in this part of town for a work lunch. So, yay.

However, Bill’s Burger is still having some growing pains for food allergy orders. I have been to Bill’s Burger four times now, and three out of four, I had issues with my order. Nothing life threatening but, for example, the first time, our server didn't know what food allergies were (he must have missed training day) and my food arrived without the famous food allergy sticker.

This shouldn’t have happened, not with the strict BRGuest food allergy protocols that I know are in place, company-wide.

And I have my own protocols, as you know. When I dine out, I have a food allergy script that I use with all servers and I don’t deviate. It contains the same pertinent information in a concise, assertive and polite manner. However, here the information was misunderstood, misconstrued or just not delivered to the correct parties in the Bill’s Burger kitchen.

Will I go back? Yes. I trust the system BR Guest Hospitality employs. However, the next time I go in, I will interact directly with the manager on duty and bypass all servers until they are all up to speed.

Keep working on it Bill’s Burger and you’ll keep my business.

Bill’s Bar & Burger Rockefeller Center
16 West 51st Street at 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
T: 212.705.8510

Monday, June 20, 2011

U.S. Food Allergy Guidelines Summary for Patients

From a NIH press release: Available Now! The U.S. Food Allergy Guidelines Summary for Patients

NIAID has issued the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Summary for Patients, Families, and Caregivers. Use the summary to start a conversation with your doctor about the following:
• What food allergy is and what it isn’t
• How doctors should diagnose and manage food allergy
• The best way to treat anaphylaxis
Download your free copy today at the NIAID Web site.
Also visit NIAID’s Food Allergy page and Food Allergy Guidelines page for more information.

From the NIH website about why you WANT this document:
What's in It for Patients
What the Guidelines Summary Tells You
The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Summary for Patients, Families, and Cargivers summarizes the most important information from the Guidelines and provides a starting point for patient-doctor conversations about food allergy. We hope that this information will empower patients, families, and caregivers with the knowledge they need to manage the disorder and, in turn, experience a better quality of life.

Check it out here:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Morandi, NYC

Recently, I saw Suzanne Vega perform in a one-woman show theater piece and as it ended early, my friend and colleague Marlene (a fellow MSW and excellent psychotherapist) decided to drop into the nearby Morandi for a post-theater bite cocktail.

I remember when this Keith McNally Italian eatery opened a few years back - his first, he had stuck to Frenchy-world before then. The New York Times review was not particularly kind; as I was happy with Pastis and am rarely in the West Village, I didn't check it out until this past month.

I’ve sat at the bar a few times now, for hours, watching the restaurant turn over tables once, twice, then three times with everyone dining, drinking, laughing and enjoying. Business is booming and from what I’ve seen, with good reason: the food is yum, the atmosphere fun and convivial, and in my case, dinner can be made or adjusted to be allergen-free very easily.

(So take that New York Times review. Can't always believe what you read and/or places change over time, with new chefs, different economy, and new staff. Note to self: Most places are worth a second look.)

I did not dine on that first visit to the bar but did ask Peter, the seriously attractive bartender (if you go in, feel free to drop my name if you’re dining allergen-friendly) about food allergies and the kitchen. (Remember my strategy about dining at the bar that I talked about on The Cooking Channel - it works!) He said: “We take food allergies very seriously here. You tell me what you need and I will talk directly with the kitchen and I’m sure they will accommodate you.” Then he said the magic words: “You should come back on Saturday, we have a lamb chop special that is really great.” I went back to the bar twice more on Saturday for the those lamb chops. Cooked to medium perfection, seasoned perfectly, and prepared simply but expertly – this is my new favorite dish. They are plated with seasonal vegetables: one week olives and tomatoes, the next roasted summer squash. And the chops were prepared in a clean pan for me, away from the fishy grill.

Full disclosure, I haven’t tried anything else on the Morandi menu, yet, but since this is a McNally group I bet they will take equal care with other dishes I may want to try and I look forward to the challenge.

211 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014-2737
tel: (212) 627-7575

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Ask the Expert" for FAAN Members

Below is a fun way to engage the experts for members of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Here's a press release from FAAN:

We know you have questions. And we can get you answers. FAAN members can send their questions to (shhh!!! this is just for members). Each month we’ll post answers from a special guest in the Members Only section of Check out the impressive list of upcoming featured experts:

Allergist and author, Scott Sicherer, M.D.

International food allergy expert and researcher, Hugh Sampson, M.D.

Pediatric allergist and author, Robert Wood, M.D.

Allergist and researcher, Wesley Burks, M.D.

Pediatric allergist and food allergy parent, Todd Mahr, M.D.

Child psychiatrist and food allergy expert, Eyal Shemesh, M.D.

FAAN CEO, Maria Acebal, J.D.

FAAN Vice President of Education and Outreach, Eleanor Garrow

FAAN Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations, Christopher Weiss, Ph.D.

AllergyMoms’ founder and life coach, Gina Clowes

FAAN Ambassador Who Cares, allergy-free cookbook author, and food allergy parent, Cybele Pascal

Food allergy musician and advocate, Kyle Dine

Food allergy coach and author, Sloane Miller, L.M.S.W.

International advocate, Sara Shannon

Teen advocate, Kendall Hollinger

Teen advocate, Morgan Smith

Social worker and food allergy parent, Kristen Kauke, L.C.S.W.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dining, The Spa at Norwich Inn

Recently I went to The Spa at Norwich Inn for a few days of rest and pampering after a long wonderful book launch and tour. On the website there was a tab that couldn’t have made me happier: a direct line to the Executive Chef.

I sent an email asking if the chef felt comfortable handling food allergies. Chef Daniel Chong replied and said yes, he was happy to make any accommodations. I sent him my list of cans and can'ts and he replied, cc’ing everyone of his kitchen staff so they were aware of me, my needs and my arrival. He also asked that I contact him when I arrived on the property.

After I checked into my room, he met me in the lobby wherein we sat down for thirty minutes and created a menu for my every meal. He created a closed plastic bin with my name on it in the kitchen where he stored separate salt, pepper, olive oil, tongs and new pans just for me. (I know, wow!) He thanked me for letting them know my needs before my visit; he said it makes all the difference. He also gave me his cell number to call him anytime if there were any questions or issues and he wasn't on site. (I know, double wow!) Every meal was done to safe perfection whether he was on site or not (he was only around during certain shifts).

It was completely four-star treatment. I was thrilled, and most importantly, relaxed on my spa trip because of his efforts. Traveling with food allergies is stressful. I’m always wondering where my next safe meal is going to be and I eat small meals five times a day. Dining safely anywhere you go, especially when you travel, is the ideal. And you can make it happen with a few food allergy easy steps. I talk about this more extensively in my book but here are some beginning steps.


--Understand your diagnosis i.e. know what you can and cannot eat, have an allergy action plan, know when and how to use your medications, have your medications on you at all times

--Contact your hotel ahead of time – a week or so ahead of travel

--Ask to contact the executive chef directly if possible

--When you speak with the chef, ask how they feel handling handle food allergies

--If they say they are happy to accommodate you, discuss or better yet, email your CAN list along with your CANNOT list

--Check in with the chef when you are site

--Use your pleases and thank yous and smile lots

--Go over your menu plans

--When you dine reiterate your needs to the chef or server

--Use a chef card if you have one (I like Jim’s Selectwisely – chefs love them)


Any of you traveling this summer? If so, have you reached out to the chefs yet? Do it – they want to hear from you!

Thank you again Chef Daniel Chong at The Spa at Norwich Inn for making my stay such a plesant and safe one.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New York Times: “Allergic to Peanuts, Even in Donated Blood”

Did you read this story? One of my favorite bartenders (Hey Frank!) at Otto Enotecca even read this story and mentioned it to me the other night as it freaked him out too and he’s not even allergic.

New York Times: “Allergic to Peanuts, Even in Donated Blood”
“Doctors in the Netherlands said that a 6-year-old boy with an allergy to peanuts went into anaphylactic shock after receiving a blood transfusion from donors who had been snacking on them.”

A scary story to read and something I never even considered and I’m sure you haven’t either. I asked allergist friend and colleague Clifford W. Bassett, MD and here’s what he said via email:

"This is only a history of a single patient and thus the exact cause would need to be carefully determined, however, peanut allergen proteins can be present in the bloodstream. It is therefore somewhat premature to draw any firm conclusions, just yet. In any event, if you suspect you have a food allergy to peanut, nuts or other foods see an experienced allergist/immunologist for an appropriate evaluation and plan ("

If you have further questions, talk with your board certified allergist for more.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Yogurt Cheese Pierogi With Shaved Beets and Orange Salad and Double Dip Dairy Ice Cream

Allergen-Friendly Recipes For Redwood Hill Farms
Copyright Chef Billy Brigtsen

Episode 3: Yogurt Cheese Pierogi With Shaved Beets and Orange Salad and Double Dip Dairy Ice Cream


Yogurt Cheese Pierogi with shaved beets & orange salad in sherry vinaigrette

Ingredients & Directions:

For the yogurt cheese:

4 c. G.V.O. yogurt

To make the yogurt cheese:

Wrap the yogurt in a double layer of cheesecloth. Tie both ends of cheesecloth and hang over a small bowl in refrigerator overnight to drain.

For the pierogi dough:

2 c. all purpose gluten-free flour
4 TB water
2 TB G.V.O. sour cream
2 eggs
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp. salt

To make the pierogi:

Place flour in a large bowl, making a well in the center. Blend the rest of the wet ingredients together and pour them into the well. Gradually incorporate flour into wet ingredients until formed into a dough. Knead gently with your hands for a few minutes. Wrap and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Lightly flour flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out rounds. Brush a bit of water around the perimeter of rounds. Place scant tablespoon of G.V.O. yogurt cheese in center of each. Fold over, making a half moon shape. Boil in salted water for approximately 5 minutes.

Set cooked pierogi atop the following salad:

1 beet, raw, peeled and very thinly sliced using a knife or a mandolin
1 orange, segments removed
1 TB scallions

Toss the beets, orange segments, and scallions with vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette:

1 TB sherry vinegar
2 TB olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
sea salt

Mix until forms an emulsion.


Double Dip Dairy Yogurt Ice Cream

2 pints G.V.O. yogurt
1 pint Redwood Hills Farm kefir
¼ c. maple syrup

Follow the instructions of your home-model ice cream machine.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Sabayon with Butterscotch Bananas and Sweet and Salty Chai Lassi

Allergen-Friendly Recipes For Redwood Hill Farms
Copyright Chef Billy Brigtsen

Episode 2: Sabayon with Butterscotch Bananas and Sweet and Salty Chai Lassi


Sweet & Salty Chai Lassi
Yield: two 8-oz. glasses

Ingredients & Directions:

5 green cardamom pods, crushed
5 black peppercorns
5 cloves
2 whole allspice berries
1 TB grated ginger
2 c. water

Place all ingredients in a small pot. Simmer until water in reduced to ¼ cup. Cool, then mix well with:

16 oz. Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Kefir
4 TB maple syrup

Wet rim of glass into kefir then dip into Himalayan pink salt. Pour in Lassi and serve.


Kefir Sabayon & Butterscotch Bananas

Ingredients & Directions:

For the sabayon:

4 egg yolks
4 TB maple syrup
Juice of ½ lemon (approx. 2 TB)

To make the sabayon:
Place the bowl over a small pot of water at a low heat and whisk the yolks, juice, and maple until it is aerated. Cool slightly and mix with 4 oz. G.V.O. goat milk kefir.

For the butterscotch bananas:

½ c. brown sugar
½ c. G.V.O. goat milk kefir
½ tsp. salt
2 bananas, cut in bite-sized pieces - 8 oz. total when peeled

To make the butterscotch:

Bring the brown sugar, kefir and salt to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool for one minute and then add two bananas that have been cut into bite-sized pieces, coat in the sauce. To assemble, layer the sabayon with the butterscotch bananas in a glass as you would a parfait.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Apricot and Habanero Rice Fritters with Sour Cream Escarole and a Caramel Sour Cream Upside Down Cake

Allergen-Friendly Recipes For Redwood Hill Farms
Copyright Chef Billy Brigtsen

Episode 1: Apricot and Habanero Rice Fritters with Sour Cream Escarole and a Caramel Sour Cream Upside Down Cake


Apricot & Habanero rice fritters with G.V.O. sour cream escarole
Yield: approximately 12 fritters

Ingredients & Directions:

For the fritters:

½ c. brown rice, raw
2 c. water
3 tsp. salt
8 dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 c. diced sweet potato
4TB G.V.O. sour cream
¼ tsp. fresh Habanero pepper, minced
1 egg plus 1 egg white, beaten together
1 c. all purpose gluten-free flour (King Arthur is top 8 Free)
1 tsp. baking powder

To make the fritter batter:
Put rice, water, salt, apricots and sweet potato into a medium sized pot . Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is soft, about 20 minutes. Pour rice into a large bowl. Add sour cream, beaten egg, and Habanero. Sift in flour and baking powder. Let batter rest 5 minutes.

Form fritter batter into small ovals, using your hands or two-tablespoon measures. Fry in a heavy pan in oil until uniformly crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and place on plate topped with a dollop of the G.V.O. sour cream escarole.

For the G.V.O. sour cream escarole:

½ c. water
1 clove of garlic, crushed
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. red chili flakes
1 head of escarole, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces (enough for ½ cup of cooked)
2 TB G.V.O. sour cream
2 TB olive oil

To make the G.V.O. sour cream escarole:
Place water, garlic, chili, salt, and escarole into a small pot and cover. Steam escarole until soft and bright green. Drain water from pot, place greens into a bowl and blend in sour cream and olive oil.


Caramel Sour Cream Upside Down Cake
Yield: Four 6 oz. servings

Ingredients & Directions:

1 TB canola oil
¼ c. light brown sugar

¼ c. light brown sugar
2 TB olive oil
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. orange zest
1 egg
2 TB G.V.O. sour cream
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ c. all purpose gluten-free flour (King Arthur is top 8 Free)
½ tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place first two ingredients in a small pot or pan over low heat and slowly melt the sugar. Pour into four 6-oz. ramekin dishes. Blend together remaining ingredients in order listed and spoon into ramekin dishes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Cool cake in dish for a few minutes. Remove onto a plate or into bowl. Top with a dollop of G.V.O. sour cream.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Lactose-Free Cooking with Allergic Girl

I'm lactose intolerant. A few years ago, somewhere in 2004-5 to be exact, my stomach said: "No more cow dairy for me, Ma!" So I cut dairy out entirely on an elimination diet that I’m still on. (I also cut out soy and wheat since my stomach was going generally haywire.)

Over the intervening six years I’ve tried to reintroduce dairy, just to see what happened. It wasn’t good. Then last year I met the Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics people at the Natural Products Expo East. Redwood Hill Farm makes goat’s milk products (naturally lower in the milk sugars that we lactose-free people can’t digest) and they were introducing a new line of cow’s dairy that was organic and lactose-free by Green Valley Organics. Both products were totally delicious and urp-free for me - here’s what I wrote about them in January, 2011.

I loved the products so much that I used them during my Chef Billy Brigtsen catered birthday dinner. (The video of which you can see here and here.) The chef and I had so much fun, and RHF/GVO loved the videos as much as we did, that we decided to do a sponsored series together of three videos showcasing Chef Billy’s cooking (for example, Chef made me gluten-free Pierogi from scratch!) together with these delicious lower lactose and lactose-free products.

I’m thrilled to showcase these three videos today. Below is an official press release about the videos. Recipes will be posted separately under a separate cover. I hope you love these products and recipes as much as I do.

And here’s my final testimonial: we were filming all night, and I was eating for the camera all night and not one tummy gurgle or ‘urp. Not one.



Easy-to-digest Goat Dairy and Lactose Free Cow Dairy Star in Recipes that Deliver Creamy, Richness of Dairy Without the Tummy Trouble

SEBASTOPOL, Calif. (June 6, 2011) – Just in time for National Dairy Month (June), Cooking With Allergic Girl debuts the first of a three-part video recipe series with cooking ideas for the lactose intolerant. Featuring Sloane Miller, author of the recently released book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well With Food Allergies, each installment features one savory and one sweet, gluten-free, allergy-friendly recipe. The recipes were developed by New York-based Chef Billy Brigtsen, who specializes in creating menus that are free of allergens. In this series, Brigtsen uses easy-to-digest goat milk products from and lactose free cow dairy products from to create recipes with all of the deliciousness, but none of the tummy of trouble that traditional dairy can create for the estimated one in 10 people living with lactose intolerance. The videos are available for viewing at Green Valley Organics,, iFood.TV, and YouTube (Green Valley Organics and Redwood Hill Farm).
For the lactose-intolerant Miller, traditional cow dairy presented a dietary dilemma. She realized that without dairy in her diet she was missing out on important health benefits not to mention the creamy, richness that only real dairy added to her favorite dishes.
“The message of my book is that just because you may have a restricted diet does not mean you have to have a restricted life. Viewers will experience this first-hand after enjoying the array of delectably unique and easy-to-prepare allergen-friendly recipes featured in this latest ‘Cooking With Allergic Girl’ video series,” said Miller.

Episode 1: Apricot and Habanero Rice Fritters with Sour Cream Escarole and a Caramel Sour Cream Upside Down Cake

Episode 2: Sabayon with Butterscotch Bananas and Sweet and Salty Chai Lassi

Episode 3: Yogurt Cheese Pierogi With Shaved Beets and Orange Salad and Double Dip Dairy Ice Cream

Jennifer Bice is the owner of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., which makes award-winning, all-natural goat milk yogurts, kefirs, and artisan cheeses under the Redwood Hill Farm® brand name, and is parent company to the Green Valley Organics® Lactose Free line of yogurts, kefirs, and new sour cream made from Certified Humane® low fat cow milk. Bice explained, “Goat milk is naturally more easily digested than cow milk and is a great tasting alternative for many people who are sensitive to traditional dairy. They get the good nutrition of dairy without experiencing the unpleasant side effects. We receive calls every day from consumers who are looking for ways to enjoy all the health benefits of dairy without the tummy troubles many experience after eating it. Although our goat milk products continue to grow in popularity, there are those who still prefer cow milk, which is why we decided to offer two great-tasting, all-natural options: our traditional Redwood Hill Farm goat dairy products and our new Green Valley Organics Lactose Free cow dairy line – together we call it ‘dairy’s dynamic duo!’”

Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics yogurts and kefirs are available nationwide at grocery, specialty, and natural food retail chains and stores including Whole Foods Markets. Green Valley Organics Lactose Free sour cream is currently available in select markets, and will be available nationwide by late summer. Redwood Hill Farm’s artisan cheeses are available throughout the Western United States and available for online purchase at for information and pricing. For information about Green Valley Organics, visit