Support the Work

If you have found the information on this blog useful, enjoyable, candid, or inspirational ... help keep it reader supported, journalistically driven, available to all, and advertiser-free. If you are able and inspired to do so, please consider a subscription to this blog. You can drop a dime or two every month, every year, or whenever you feel moved.

It will keep me writing, gathering facts, and interviewing the experts.




Parent / Sponsor



Join The Email List

Get Tastiness to Your Inbox

* indicates required

A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in wheat-free (5)


RECIPE: Not Your Mama's Chocolate Mousse Tart (super allergen-free)

"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." ~James Beard

A Healthy yet Naughty Tart.  Really.

About two months ago I saw a recipe for Banana Cream Pie from Chef Jenny Brewer.  I am not a fan of banana cream (nor of pie), but many Tender Foodies are.  Plus, the pie was touted as being "better than chocolate cake" and chocolate cake is in my wheel house.  So I posted the recipe on social media for gluten- and dairy-free pie lovers everywhere.

Since a great number of Tender Foodies have developed multiple food allergies, the response I received was, "I wish it were free of {insert allergen here}.  I began to wonder:  Could you make a PIE that is free of the Big 8, plus make it oat-free, corn-free, coconut-free, and sesame-free?  And could that pie be GOOD?  I asked Chef Jenny if she could do it, and she accepted this challenge. 

Chef Brewer specializes in healthy food, dessert included.  So when I tested the recipe myself, I kept thinking, "This pie is really good for me.  How will it taste?  How will it taste?  How will it taste?"  Part of me agrees with the James Beard quote above.  Dessert is supposed to be decadent, shameful, indulgent.  Naughty.   Since this pie is actually a tart, the naughtiness is in its name, without one ounce of naughty in the pie.  Until you taste it.

What is the difference between a pie and a tart?  The short answer is that a pie has sides, but a tart does not.  I like this post from The Kitchn that explains this more in depth.

No one will know that the "cream" in the mousse is actually avocado.  When I finished my first slice, I felt nourished and satisfied, so did my fellow testers.  This is a great quality in a dessert (and a great quality in a saucy little tart, too, I would imagine).

Chef Jenny made a video that demonstrates the finer points of making the tart (see below).  So give this recipe a try and let us know if you like this recipe as much as I do.


8' Spring Form Pan (the crust is really sticky, and this pan works great)

Food Processor


Medium-sized skillet

Toasting the Sunflower Seeds in a Swirling, Dry Pan.

The Crust

1 cup pumpkin seeds, sprouted and/or toasted* (toasting gives great depth of flavor)
(*to toast pumpkin seeds, place them in a dry skillet over medium high heat, stirring until brown, about 5-7 minutes, being very careful not to burn. Alternatively, place in a 375 degree oven and roast for about 5 minutes, or until browned.)

½ cup popped millet**
(**to pop millet, place in a dry, hot skillet over medium heat and stir constantly -don't let them burn- until you hear consistent popping.  See video below for more)

½ cup raisins

1/3 cup dates, pitted

2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 4 Tablespoons water and left to gel for 3-5 minutes            

pinch of salt

In a food processor bowl, pulse pumpkin seeds and millet until seeds are ground. Add raisins, dates and pinch of salt and chop until everything is ground together.  Add in flax mixture and pulse until sticky. Wet your fingers and press the mixture into 8-inch pie pan and keep refrigerated while you prepare the filling.

The Chocolate Mousse Filling

2 large ripe Haas Avocados
(if your avocados are small, add another avocado and adjust the ingredients.  Avocados vary quite a bit in size.)

1/2 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

3-4 Tablespoons maple syrup or agave 
(or more or less to taste, depending on size of avocados)

1 TBS vanilla extract
(depending upon the size of your avocados, you may want to start with 1/2 TBS and add more to taste)

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. 

Spread into crust and chill until ready to serve.

Note: taste it and add more cocoa and maple syrup if desired.  I used a 10" springform pan so that the crust was very thin, then doubled the filling.  If you would like more naughtiness, you can double the filling with an 8" springform pan, too.  It will give you a more voluptuous tart.

Watch the Video Demonstration


Where to find the ingredients:

I used raw cacao powder, processed wtih no preservatives or additives (no alkaline). From Harvest Health.

The pumpkin seeds I used were sprouted and salted from Go Raw, so I cut back the pinch of salt to accommodate.

The whole grain millet is from Eden Organic.  They process their millet in a gluten-free factory and test their millet to 5ppm (the proposed law requires 20ppm).  Thanks to Saffron's A Gluten-free Market for sourcing this for me.  Please note that even though millet is inherently gluten-free, not all brands source, process or test millet as a gluten-free product.  Look for the gluten-free label and check any brand's web site.  Eden's whole grain millet is what I recommend.

Saffrons has an online store, as well.  So if you can't find it, give them a shout, or let us know that you would like them to carry this online and we'll tell them.


Avocado provides Vitamins C&K, B6, folate, and copper, potassium and dietary fiber.  It also provides anti-inflammatory and digestive support and being researched as a blood sugar regulating food.

Pumpkin Seeds are protein and Omega-3 rich. They are one of the healthiest seeds around providing manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin K and zinc.  Pumpkin Seeds are also thought to be anti-inflammatory, good for prostate health and may have cholesterol lowering benefits.

Whole Grain Millet has manganese, tryptophan, magnesium and phosphorus and is thought to be heart-healthy like oats.

Organic Raw Cacao contains flavanols and flavanoids that have been studied for cardiovascular health.  The benefits are all in how the cacao is processed, so organic and the less processing the better.




Recipe: Old Beau Steaks


The Sum of Experiences - Culinary and Otherwise

I've been thinking about the past, lately.  There are times when all but the super human wish that we could change something, take a different path, or erase that drunken rant that showed up on your best friend's wedding dvd.  There are, after all, such things called "mistakes".  If we only hadn't done, said, chosen "this" we would be SO much better off.  Earlier in my life, when well-meaning people would say, "Oh, you wouldn't be who you are today if life were perfect", a tiny, wry part of my mind would reply, "exactly".   

But lately, that self-admonishing voice has quieted.  Perhaps, after spurring me to seek and find whatever "better" is, it has done its job.  I'm not only OK with where I am as a human, I am grateful.  

When a wise and wonderful part of my past-hopefully-turned-present recently said, "Perfection is over-rated," I realized that perfection is more about controlling life than it is about living it.  Staring at "what WAS" keeps us from the crazy Pandora's box chock full of "what IFs".  So in that slightly messy, not-so-perfect expanse of choices that lay ahead of me, I now see the beauty of possibility.  And when I can, I try only to reach back to grab the good stuff.  Leaping into the unknown with a little experience under your belt can be a great thing.

This recipe is called Old Beau Steaks, because I learned it from a former boyfriend many, many years ago.   While that particular beau will remain happily and safely in the past, this marinade has become a wonderful part of the sum of my experiences.    It's a dairy-free, wheat-free marinade.  Good for most food allergies.  It's easy, a non-vegetarian man-pleaser and with the right steaks it can be like sex on a plate.


2 high quality, grass fed rib eye steaks
(or New York Strips or Porterhouse)

1 cup of good, dry red wine
(A cabernet, or even a red table wine will work.  Don't use a "cooking" wine.  Use one that you enjoy drinking)

1/3 cup of wheat-free Tamari sauce (or Bragg's Liquid Aminos, or Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos)

3 -4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
(depending upon the size of the cloves and your love of garlic)

Place the steaks into a 9x9 shallow baking dish.  The dish should be just big enough to hold the steaks so that the marinade covers most of the meat.  Whisk together the red wine, the wheat-free tamari and the garlic.  Pour over the steaks.  Place into the refrigerator for 45 minutes (warm) to 3 hours (cold). Turn once halfway through the marinating process.  Its best to marinate the steaks in the refrigerator if it is longer than 45 minutes or the wine may leach out the juices from the steak. Before grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator for 15 minutes so that the steak can come to room temperature.

Grill to perfection.

Learn how to grill the perfect steak from Adam Perry Lang, as he cooks with Le Cense Beef.


Learn More About Grass Fed Meat and How to Cook it

Click to Buy Book in Our Store





There is divine beauty in learning, just as there is human beauty in tolerance. To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you. - Elie Wiesel



The Cost of Food Allergies is $500 million in U.S.










The Big 8 Have a Big Price Tag

Food allergies are expensive.  If you needed more confirmation than your hospital and doctor bills (and lost work days) are pricey, then this study is for you.  It costs Americans $500 million dollars to be allergic to food. 

Total medical costs ranged from $225 million to $307 million, (depending on the type of calculation the researchers performed) and 52% of the medical costs were for doctors' visits alone. 

The researchers used information from several databases to find the total cost of emergency room care, hospitalizations, and visits to the physician's office for allergic reactions.  Those numbers were used to estimate the nationwide cost of treatment.  Researchers then published their results in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Four out of every 100 people have food allergies -- that's 12 milion people with a classic IgE reaction that can cause anything from itching, hives, anaphylaxis (closing of the airways) and death.  An estimated 90% of those allergies are from eight main food sources (called "The Big 8").  These are peanuts, treenuts, wheat/gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish/seafood. 

Another 3 million people suffer from celiac disease - a severe autoimmune disease where even a crumb of wheat or gluten can be damaging.  18 million people (a new study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine) have a slow onset reaction or intolerance to wheat. It appears that the study focused on classic food allergies (IgE responses) and not slow onset reactions (IgG immune responses), and it would be interesting if they would have also included grocery bills and other lifestyle expenses in the mix as well.  But this information is a great help in diagnosing the breadth and depth of a big part of the food allergy puzzle.

The researchers were surprised to find that emergency room visits were not the bulk of the costs.  The large price tag on doctors visits were assumed to be more preventative and managed care. 




Let's Go Out To Eat! Tender Tapas at San Chez Bistro. (May 17, 2011)

Tuesay, May 17, 2011 from 5:00-7:00pm at San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI

One of the biggest difficulties for people with food allergies is eating out and being treated well when doing so. The good news is that there are restaurants popping up all over the country who are serving Tender Foodies with passion and responsibility. The even better news is that we have several right here in Grand Rapids. So let's eat out! You can help me review these restaurants, too, by adding your comments to my upcoming review on (I'll post a note right here when its up).

RSVP:  on the Facebook Event Page or at
PRICE: order from the menu & self-pay
DRESS:  whatever floats your boat

Stop by San Chez Bistro on Tuesday, May 17 anytime between 5:00pm & 7:30pm. We are gathering in the bar area (The Fishbowl). Come for just a cocktail or add a small plate or six. Or grab a table and have dinner! San Chez is one of the pioneers in serving people with food allergies; they might even be the first Tender Friendly restaurant in Grand Rapids.

Check out their food allergy menus here:

They have nut-, treenut-, lactose-, gluten-, soy-, capsicum- (peppers), garlic-, citric-acid, seed-, seafood- free menus. They also have a Vegan menu (right on). As for gluten-free alcohol, they have Redbridge Beer, as well as Chopin Potato Vodka (Chopin grows their potatoes without chemicals or pesticides).

PLEASE NOTE: make SURE that you are clear and responsible with your servers about your food allergies, so they can serve you well. Speak up!

I'll tell you a secret, it's also my birthday. What a way to celebrate by meeting Tender Foodies & Friends!


Review: Indie Candy


Allergen-Free Sweets for Your Valentine

Having a tough time finding the perfect sweet for your favorite Tender Sweetie? You can pull out all of the stops and make your own, or order from a professional like Indie Candy. Most of their sweets contain none of the “Big 8” allergens. Plus, they cater to special diet protocols (like Feingold, Kosher and Vegan). You would think this is a recipe for crappy candy, but it’s not. It’s tasty. I sampled a few of their Valentine-themed products for you. You don’t have to thank me. No really. Here are my choices.


Dark Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are love. Truffles are sensuous. “Truffle” even sounds romantic. So when you bite into one, you long to hear that naughty little voice in your head say, “Ohhhh. (pause) “Ohhh Yeah.” And these truffles do not disappoint. What I like the most is the initial snap as you bite into the hard chocolate shell and the caramel-like consistency of the center. Yum. Are they as fluffy as the dairy-packed confections that I remember? Not quite. But they don’t have to be. They are the “real thing” and they are very, very good.


Sweet Hearts Gummies

These gummies are yummy. And pretty. Indie Candy uses no artificial dyes or flavors so the wild cherry and watermelon flavors pop genuinely. The texture is satisfying and sexy, too. Might make your gluten-free Valentine’s imagination run wild.


Other products that I sampled were the Pineapple “Love Heart” which was not a favorite (it just tasted like sugar).  But the “Beary Sweet” dark chocolate sucker used high quality chocolate and would please adult and child alike. The packaging of each product is not highly designed, but sweet and down-to-earth.


Sweetheart GummiesThe Company

Before I took my first bite, I wanted to understand the company and its practices. I spoke with the President/CEO, Hanson Watkins. I was sincerely impressed with her knowledge and passion for both confections and health. She emphasized their goal of making things truly delicious, not just allergen-free – a goal that the Tender Foodie requires. Indie Candy carefully sources each ingredient right down to the factory where it is processed and to the seed that is sown. The majority of their ingredients are organic and they do their best to use non-GMO foodstuff. They sell their own in-house artisan candies (no Big 8 allergen is allowed in their kitchen) as well as those from other independent confectioners who cater to more narrow allergen-free markets. The Indie site clearly directs you by allergen, diet and confection and includes the ingredients, so read them.

If you are a Tender Foodie (or a Tender Valentine) and you give Indie Candy a try, let me know what you think!