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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in food allergies (40)


Where in the World is Elisabeth, the Tender Foodie?



A Note from a Tender Friend

Hi There!

My name is Sue Chaitin, a friend of the Tender Foodie, Elisabeth Veltman. Some of you know her as "Beth." You may have noticed that there haven't been many posts on this blog for awhile, and there is a reason for that. The video above is a clip from Elisabeth's past life as an opera singer. It was her last concert. The story below is about what has happened to her since then, and why we all need to become more educated about it. 

The Tender Foodie, was the start of a larger, unique business plan to help people navigate the increasingly complex road of food and disease - starting with celiac disease and multiple food allergies, and then expanding into other un-researched, but growing health issues which seem to inter-relate. Behind the blog was a business plan for "The Tender Palate" to help us more quickly get the information we need about health, exercise and the immune system, and food (like this recipe for Old Beau Steaks), and to speed up the healing journey so we all can thrive. She had to stop these plans for health reasons of her own, and before this vision was realized. She also hadn't made her personal story public, because she wanted this blog to be about the rare and wonderful experts in each area, not her specific issues alone.  She also wanted to do it without advertising, so the focus could be as objective as possible.

But now she needs our help. Here is Elisabeth's story, as written on a Go Fund Me page that I set up for her. It also has a video of her singing in her last concert. This was the first time I heard her sing, and I was absolutely floored.

I hope you will find the story helpful, and if you are able and moved by it, or have appreciated the information in this blog over the past few years, help her with some overwhelming medical expenses -- and bring her back to life.

She has told me that she will start blogging about her experience and what she is learning soon, to help thank those who are being so generous to help her. Since she can't possibly pay it back, she is determined to pay it forward as best she can.




Read the original story & updates directly on Go Fund Me


Elisabeth's Story, told by Sue "Chef" Chaitin

This is my friend Beth. I met her 4 years ago through work.  At the time I didn’t know much about her.  All I really knew was that she had an amazing career as an opera singer in New York City and is now a successful writer.  She struck me right away as an honest, smart and fun person with whom I knew I would get along. She is superbly intelligent and witty. I love being with her because she never judges, she is warm, gregarious, curious, loving, and the best friend anyone could ask for.

 As time went on, I noticed some peculiar absences in our communication and I wondered why. We would call or text regularly, and then she would just drop of the face of the earth for weeks. As time went on and as she and I became closer, I learned that Beth was keeping a secret. Many of you reading this, who know Beth, may not realize the secret, because she is very good at disguising it.

My friend Beth has suffered from complications from Lyme disease for over 20 years. In fact it was so severe she could no longer perform and had to abandon the years of hard work, study and practice; and end her accomplished singing career.

Beth has been reluctant to tell her story for fear of being judged or labeled! You see, not much is understood about Lyme disease, and her story started out with many misdiagnoses: from M.S. to tumours, to the flu, to "its all in your head, sweetheart." It took enormous will and courage for Beth to fight back against the medical apathy she encountered and to continue to hunt for the reasons why her body was failing her. She went from doctor to doctor, getting sicker and sicker, until a friend encouraged her to go directly to an immunologist / infectious disease specialist.  She was so ill, she could hardly walk and almost didn't make it to the cab, let alone her appointment.  The immunologist was the first to understand the severity of her condition, and knew what to test for. The physician asked her to sit down because there would be bad news. Beth found out that she had an infection in the central nervous system which could kill her within a couple of weeks. She might survive if she took some immediate steps.  She took those steps, fought to stay on this planet, and had to radically change her life to do so. We now know that this infection is often related to Lyme Disease - the two diseases can work in tandem by suppressing the immune system, and the CNS infection most likely opened the door for the Lyme. She had loved to hike, and at some point must have been bitten by a tick, but didn't know it. This frustrating medical journey has led to long debilitating periods where she could hardly lift her head, and which still rob Beth of the ability to function on a daily basis in a way that we all take for granted.

As I have educated myself about Lyme Disease, I cannot imagine how Beth continues to soldier on as she does. While many can recover from Lyme with immediate intervention, some people end up with a chronic, devastating illness, with sometimes invisible, but far reaching complications.

If you want to get a good feel for what it’s like to live with chronic Lyme disease I suggest you watch the following video journal of another person who suffered in a similar way:

The fact is, Lyme disease is as serious as cancer or heart disease, but it is not taken seriously by much of the medical community nor by insurance companies.

Beth’s complications continue to worsen. She is reacting to most foods, and can't be in the room with even a trace of certain perfumes, air fresheners or detergents because she has developed serious allergies to chemicals in them. Right now, she is getting necessary IV and supplemental treatment that is helping her function until she can get more comprehensive testing and accurately targeted treatment. Without any treatment, or if she has to skip them because of lack of funds,  she has episodes where she cannot get out of bed for weeks with terrifying symptoms. She has been temporarily and partially blind and paralyzed; has had weakness in the muscles that difficult or impossible to walk, and can get muscle spasms so terrible it stops her breathing; her heart and lungs get distressed, she has tremors, palpitations, nausea, fever, fatigue, body aches and pains that make even rolling over or normal movement feel impossible. It has cost Beth between $20,000 and $40,000, depending upon the severity, just for out-of-pocket medical expenses every year. This has been financially and emotionally, as well as physically devastating. Beth is not a victim. This has been a convergence of very difficult circumstances that are simply overwhelming.

You can read more about some of the complications of misdiagnosis here:

There is good news, however. There has been advancement in treatment for Lyme Disease and its companion infections, thanks to a rare group of physicians who have the right mix of skills and passion to help this overlooked community of patients. With the right medical testing and treatment, she can go into remission, help her immune system heal, and become strong and fully herself again. With the help of an expert physician in this complex disease, Beth still has a chance to have a very full life, and with proper management, never have to suffer like this again. However, she cannot let this disease progress any further and needs this help as soon as possible.

Insurance will not cover any of Beth’s medical bills because they consider Lyme to be difficult to catch, but easy to treat. As a result, they will only cover 30 days of Lyme Disease treatment (antibiotics), which will not work for someone who has been misdiagnosed for as long as she has been. There are multiple co-infections and complications from a missed Lyme diagnosis that can be life threatening, especially as the immune system breaks down. And her immune system is breaking down. I would hate for Beth to die because of lack of money and the humiliation she feels from this disease.  Therefore I have encouraged her to allow me to tell her story and to ask for your help.

I'm afraid if Beth continues in this way and does not get the medical attention that she needs, she will die.

 Although she has had help from a couple of wonderful physicians in the past, there are very few physicians with the training and knowlege for difficult Lyme cases. They are quite rare. Physicians need to be experts in infectious disease, as well as Lyme, and understand how antibiotics/drugs work with each type of infection - and how they don't work, and what to do about it. They need to understand how the delicate immune system is altered and how to bring it back into balance. They need to know exactly what to test for and how to read the symptoms for each co-infection, and there are a lot of those to choose from. The physician needs experience to know that the infections, some of which are similar to malaria, can get into every system in the body, including muscles, nerves,  joints, organs, heart, brain and gut - if left unchecked. Beth hasn't been able to find one of these experts local to her in Michigan. But, after much research and evaluation, she has found a physician/M.D. who can help. The medical facility is in Albany, New York, and is called the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine. It specializes in Lyme Disease and has proven to be a success with patients with long-term, complex issues who have suffered like Beth. Treatment is expected to be $32,000 over a two-four month period. Adding in her travel and temporary housing expenses, Beth will need $50,000 to make it feasible. Anything over that amount will be put toward future maintenance treatments that are  out-of-pocket for her. She had enough funding to make her first appointment on May 31, and is very positive about the help she will be receiving there.

Note: She originally had an appointment with another great doctor in Florida, but since the campaign began, heard many success stories about the protocol that this center was using so when an appointment with Dr Stram, M.D. opened up, she grabbed it. For updates on her progress, visit her GofundMe page.

Beth tends to focus on the needs of others, rather than her own. She also has a lot of pride, and does not want to ask for your money.  So I will! Please give whatever you can . . . if you can, to help Beth. Please help save a kind, loving, and talented woman who has so much to give.




Recipe: Nourishing Bone Broth 

Here is my own personal recipe for a deeply nourishing bone broth, which can be used as a rich base for any soup or for any recipe that calls for broth or stock.  It is a perfect start to the GAPS Diet (see an introduction to GAPS).  Make sure to use the highest quality ingredients available. 

If you are new to making bone broths, I recommend trying it at least once from the perspective that you are making medicine for you and your family. This is much more than a food, this truly is powerful medicine!



2 lbs. organic chicken or grass fed beef bones
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Filtered water, to cover
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
Sea salt, to taste


2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped



  1. Add the bones to the pressure cooker and add the vinegar or lemon juice and enough water to cover the bones completely.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and put on lid and lock in place. Turn heat to high and wait for it to pressurize.
  3. When pot pressurizes, turn heat down to medium and cook for 1-1 ½ hours.
  4. Depressurize cooker, and remove all bones and bay leaf from pot, making sure that all marrow and soft tissues are off the bones before you discard them.
  5. Blend broth with an immersion blender, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any bits of bone.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The broth is now ready to be made into a soup/stew, or to be used as is. Store in freezer in an airtight container for up to one month.


SLOW COOKER Directions


Place everything in a large slow cooker / crock pot and cover with filtered water. Cook for 4-6 hours before using, starting on high for 1 hour, then reducing the heat to low. You can keep this going for 3-5 days if you continually scoop out the broth and replace what you take with filtered water. This method allows the bones to really cook down.


• This recipe can also be made without a pressure cooker, in a regular stock pot. Cook several hours, until marrow and soft tissues release from bones.
• Can also use lamb bones or fish bones.
• Use high collagen joints like knuckles, necks, and feet.
• Use as a soup base, cooking liquid for grains or beans, or to make sauces like gravies (thicken with a roux).
• Season the bone broth and serve as a first course to enhance digestion.
• Other herbs, spices, or vegetables can be added to the broth depending on the desired flavor.
• Season with salt and sip throughout the day if you need a boost in energy or are not feeling well. The broth is both energizing and calming.


About Brooke

Brooke Kaufman is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant who creates customized meal plans for her clients with multiple food allergies and intolerances, and for those who are on the GAPS diet. She enjoys helping people eat nourishing food that is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. She believes that having food allergies and intolerances can be a positive challenge that inspires creativity, and brings a higher level of awareness when it comes to what you put in your body. Brooke believes that when we deeply nourish ourselves inside and out, we can attain optimal health…which includes healing our damaged and inflamed digestive systems.

Brooke received her nutrition education at Bauman College, and has learned through her own personal experience with food intolerances, she also works as a cleanse coach for Cleanse Organic, a 28-day, guided whole food based cleansing program.


Find her at:  Balance Within Nutrition


Healing the Gut with GAPS – An Introduction

What is the GAPS diet?

The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet is a gut-healing protocol developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to help heal her son’s autism, and later to help hundreds of other children with multiple food allergies and many overlapping psychological and immune disorders.

She discovered the SCD Diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and changed it slightly to fit the needs of her patients. It was actually her patients who coined the term “GAP Syndrome” or simply “GAPS”. The diet that she prescribed for them became known as the GAPS Diet.

More Than One Condition - Always

In her book titled “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Dr. Campbell-McBride describes how after years of working with children in her Cambridge clinic, she hardly ever met a child who presented with only one condition.

“Every child has two, three or more of these health problems at once. For example, a child would present with allergies; at the same time the parents would describe a couple of asthmatic episodes and eczema and then would talk about their child’s extreme clumsiness (dyspraxia) and learning problems.…many autistic children have severe allergies, asthma, eczema, dyspraxia and dyslexia.”

Gut First

She further illustrates how the underlying condition of all of these disorders lies in the digestive system. She feels that the gut must be healed if any of the symptoms are going to be fully addressed.

Here’s the thing: knowledge about the connection between gut health and brain health is still not in the mainstream. Interesting, huh?

Does Insanity Lie In the Gut?

In 1807, the Father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel concluded:

“The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

Dr. Pinel had been working with mental patients for many years, yet his knowledge has been virtually ignored by modern psychiatry. Dr. Campbell-McBride refers to Pinel’s work when she discusses that digestive symptoms begin at the time of weaning and when formula is introduced at infancy. Symptoms then increase as more and more foods are introduced to the already compromised digestive system.

As a nutritionist, and as someone who has used this diet to heal her own gut, this is very interesting to me. The success of this diet shows us how much more education is needed around how to care for our own health and the health of our children. What did our ancestor’s diets look like before modern “conveniences” existed like infant formula, pasteurized dairy or refined grains? Every traditional diet contains fermented foods…what are the fermented foods that your ancestors used to maintain good health year round?

The Purpose: Heal & Seal

The purpose of the GAPS protocol is to “heal and seal” the inflamed and irritated digestive system. There is an intro phase to the GAPS protocol that can last as long as one needs in order heal the gut. Fermented foods and a probiotic supplement aid in the colonization of good bacteria in the gut; while vegetable juice is used to help the body to eliminate toxins. The second phase of the GAPS protocol is a systematic re-introduction of foods that are on the list of GAPS approved foods, which includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, gluten-free grains, and fermented dairy products. If there are symptoms present when a food is reintroduced, then you go back to the intro diet until symptoms subside and another food can be “tested”.

Six-Stage Protocol (to Follow Diligently)

There are six stages of the GAPS diet. This is not a quick-fix, by any means. The diet takes time and dedication. If you don’t follow the healing protocol carefully and diligently then you won’t get the full benefit. You must remove all starches and grains, and purchase a very high quality probiotic supplement. You must also maintain a constant supply of bone broth/soup, which is time consuming (much less time consuming if you have a pressure cooker!) but which is a key ingredient for success. It can also take a good amount of time to heal the gut, since in many cases the damage has been done over a period of many years, although immediate improvement in many symptoms may be noticed on the GAPS diet.

What You Can Eat & Why

In the GAPS intro diet meats and fish, eggs and non-starchy vegetables are allowed. Bone, meat and fish stock soups are the staple of the intro part of the diet. They are soothing and healing for the inflamed gut lining and help aid in digestion. Probiotic foods are also very important during the intro and full GAPS diet, such as raw sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. Raw egg yolks can be added to soup if no egg allergy exists.  This provides excellent nourishment and protein.

After the intro phase of the diet, fermented dairy like homemade kefir and whey, yogurt and sour cream are gradually added if there is no adverse reaction and you are not allergic to dairy. Homemade ghee is also gradually added into the diet, again, if not allergic to dairy.  We can find alternatives for dairy allergies.

What to Avoid

  • All grains and anything made from these grains (both gluten-containing and gluten-free grains): wheat, rye, rice, oats, corn, barley, millet, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.
  • All starchy vegetables and anything made out of them: potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cassava, arrowroot, etc.
  • Sugar and anything that contains sugar.
  • Starchy beans and peas: soybeans, mung beans, garbanzo beans, bean sprouts, fava beans.
  • Lactose and anything that contains it: milk, dried milk of any type, commercially produced yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream, processed foods with added lactose.

There is a cookbook that goes along with the informational book that is excellent if you are going to be taking on the GAPS diet and are determined to heal your and/or you child’s gut. The intro diet is pretty straight-forward (though challenging!), but as you begin to heal the gut and are able to introduce more foods back into the diet, you may want to get the cookbook which I personally found to be a valuable resource.

Get Started with Bone Broth

If you aren’t ready to dive into the full diet, get started by changing a few habits (like giving up soda, or better, all processed sugar) and adding foods from the allowed list.

Here is my own personal recipe for a deeply nourishing bone broth, which can be used as a rich base for any soup. Bone broth is a key part of the GAPS diet. Give it a try, and enjoy!


To learn more about Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and the GAPS diet, please visit the official GAPS website.

For a full list of foods to avoid, see the book:  Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride


About Brooke

Brooke Kaufman is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant who creates customized meal plans for her clients with multiple food allergies and intolerances, and for those who are on the GAPS diet. She enjoys helping people eat nourishing food that is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. She believes that having food allergies and intolerances can be a positive challenge that inspires creativity, and brings a higher level of awareness when it comes to what you put in your body. Brooke believes that when we deeply nourish ourselves inside and out, we can attain optimal health…which includes healing our damaged and inflamed digestive systems.

Brooke received her nutrition education at Bauman College, and has learned through her own personal experience with food intolerances, she also works as a cleanse coach for Cleanse Organic, a 28-day, guided whole food based cleansing program.

Find her at:  Balance Within Nutrition


Hidden Allergens Abound in Supplements & Medication

updated 9/30/2013

Your doctor tells you to get a digestive enzyme, vitamin/mineral or a probiotic at your local health food store.  You pick one up, take it and have an allergic reaction.  Oddly, many supplements, even digestive enzymes are made or processed with top allergens like wheat, soy or dairy (even egg and yeast).   Corn syrup is another highly allergic substance that is in many cough syrups and other medications.  Corn can also be processed with wheat, so those with celiac and gluten allergies need to be aware of this.  Even supplement companies that label their products as “free” of the top allergens may not be taking proper precautions during processing.  Trace amounts can affect you, especially if you are highly sensitive / allergic to a food or have celiac disease.

Those of us who need supplementation to combat malabsorption need to be especially careful.  For me personally, supplementation has been one of the most difficult areas of cross-contamination to uncover.

Take these steps to help uncover hidden allergens that may affect you:

  1. Ask your doctor if the supplement contains your allergens.  Make sure you have a complete list of allergens and that you review it with your doctor EVERY time your physician prescribes something for you. 
  2. Review the ingredient list on the bottle yourself. Look for trigger words like "starch" which can be derived from corn and rice (which could be cross-contaminated with gluten), wheat (contains gluten) as well as gluten-free items like potato, tapioca.
  3. Before you purchase, call the company to see if the supplement was processed with your particular allergen(s). 
  4. If a medication, have the pharmacist keep a list of your allergens on file and review it with them prior to ordering the prescription. 
  5. If the medication is new, ask the pharmacist to get a statement from the medication company that none of your allergens are processed in their facility.
  6. Contact your doctor if your research shows that the supplement or medication may contain an allergen on your list and ask your doctor to work with you to find something that will work for you.
  7. Even medical grade supplements can pose a problem.  If you have a reaction to a particular supplement, contact your doctor immediately to let them know.  The only way to help solve this problem is by partnering with your prescribing physician, communicating through them how medications and supplements are affecting you, and finding dedicatrd facilities. 

There are supplement companies who produce their supplements in a dedicated facility.  Klaire Labs, for instance, is a dedicated dairy-free & gluten-free facility and one of the only places that I’ve found to get a dairy-free probiotic, and supplements that consistently work safely.  Their probiotics are very pricey, but their other supplements are quite reasonable and effective.



Also, here is a fantastic article from a pharmacist that breaks down the different ingredients in medicatons that could affect people who are allergic to gluten and who have celiac disease. it also breaks down some of the fillers, what they are made of and why, including other allergens like corn, soy, tapioca, and dairy, as well as substances that are derived from tar and chemicals.  The one thing this article does not address is the cross contamination of normally considered gluten-free items like corn and rice. Sometimes these grains can be processed with gluten-based grains, and there are people who are allergic / sensitive to them.

I've been hearing rumors of studies that have been done on the amount of gluten in specific supplements, but I have not found links to these studies yet, nor studies on other allergens in medication.  We'll post when we do, and if you find any, please share them with The Tender Foodie - I'll check them out and give a shout out to the community if they are viable.



Recipe: Chimichurri Steak Salad


Our House

Our house in not air-conditioned, so during the sweltering days of summer, I resist spending hours cooking over a hot stove. This is a very fast recipe that can be made indoors or out, over the grill. It came to me out of convenience: I had a few chimichurri-marinated steak kabobs and a sliced vegetable pack from my local market and simply put it all together. Much of the flavor of the dish comes from the chimichurri sauce, and the balsamic-glazed grilled vegetables add a nice piquancy. If you can find the vegetable pre-sliced (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s), and marinated steak kabobs, by all means take the shortcut. Dinner will be ready that much sooner! If you want to make the dish from scratch, it doesn’t take much longer, and it tastes elegant enough to serve to company. Best of all, it’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, grain-free and nut-free and perfect for your TenderFoodie!

© Kyra Bussanich, 2012

Serves 2 hungry TenderFoodies!


Chimichurri sauce (recipe to follow)
8 ounces steak bits
8 ounces washed lettuce or salad mix
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
½ red onion, sliced
4 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
½ bunch (about 12 spears) baby asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

Chimichurri sauce (recipe from

1/2 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt


Put it Together


Add all ingredients to a food processor bowl fitted with a blade. Puree until uniform in texture (should not be a paste, but rather have some lumps and texture to it).

Place the chimichurri and the steak bits in a plastic bag, seal the end and squish the meat around to coat it with the chimichurri sauce. Meanwhile, wash and slice the vegetables and divide the salad between 2 plates. Set the salad aside. On the stove top or grill, heat a large sauté pan with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the mushrooms and red onion slices, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat until the edges of the mushrooms and onions start to caramelize and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and the balsamic vinegar and sauté until the asparagus is tender, about 3 more minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Pour the chimichurri sauce and steak bits into the pan and sauté until the steak is done to your tastes, about 2 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the steak and toss to coat the veggies in the remnants of the chimichurri sauce, and divide the contents of the pan over the two salad plates.



About Kyra

Kyra Bussanich is the owner of Crave Bake Shop, and the first gluten-free winner of the Food Network's Famed, "Cupcakes Wars".  Kyra graduated with honors from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program, which gave her a solid foundation of knowledge about classical French baking techniques which she was able to apply toward baking gluten-free.  Kyra was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder when she was 20 years old. Part of staying healthy meant switching to a gluten-free diet, avoiding all wheat and overly processed foods. Whenever possible, she uses local ingredients, and serves customers with multiple allergies, as well.