Current unsafe foods: (updated 5/1/2017)
Fish and shellfish
sugar cane
pineapple (cooked is ok)
most processed foods (starches, syrups, powders, mixes, juices, you name it)
some nuts
some legumes
garlic, and maybe some of the others in the allium family
most of the brassica family, with a few exceptions in small amounts

I'm a homeschooling mom of two whose diet has changed significantly since 2009, at the behest of my doctors and my body's proclivities toward freaking out at seemingly innocuous foods. I list them at the top for anyone who might come here, so you can get an idea if the foods here may be of any use for you from here on out (fair warning, though, in the past the list might have been different, and it changes periodically depending on what my body is currently having trouble with).

I was coping with these losses with a fair amount of bitching and moaning dignity when I found out that both I and my daughter won something extra in the body lottery: a mast cell activation disorder (MCAD).

MCAD is a rare type of disorder that makes your body have what amounts to an allergic reaction to things that it shouldn't. It's a terribly exciting disorder, kind of like waking up to a scorpion on your face is exciting.  So I don't actually have a lot of food allergies; I have a lot of allergy-like reactions to foods (and whatever else my body thinks is secretly plotting to kill me). My daughter's reactions are to far fewer things, thankfully.

You've heard of the spoon theory? Yeah, I'm all over that, these days.

So why does this matter here? Mostly because it has completely altered the way I cook. My ingredients are different, my recipes are different, and even my cooking techniques are different. It's been such a roller coaster ride, honestly.

Don't get me wrong; changing one's diet is always a challenge, no matter how motivated we are. I've lost weight through counting calories before; I know this. But I never realized how significantly it would impact me to have to change my diet all at once.

Before, when it was just calories (or eating less fat or sugary foods) I didn't have to be as strict. I could cheat a little in calories if I was starving or having a bad day or too tired to cook and it wasn't a big deal. There was little to no consequence. I could eat with 'moderation,' as so many people advise today. A healthy diet is about moderation, not deprivation - I hear that all the time

As someone with severe reactions to food, part of me wants to say, 'oh screw you' whenever I see that in print. Because my body doesn't freaking care if I feel deprived or not; my healthy diet is about strict adherence to a severe diet. Moderation is not healthy for me anymore. I still struggle to adhere to my diet in all the ways that I should, honestly, but I only feel very well when I am basically an absolutist when it comes to my food.

Okay, I say that, but, well, I'm human. After five years of struggling, I had a pretty good handle on what I could eat and whether I'd have a bad reaction from it. Which means that while I will avoid things like gluten 100%, no exceptions, I know that on good days, I'll only have, oh, a really bad headache if I eat X food, or feel brain fogged and achy for a few hours if I have Y food. And when your diet gets REALLY limited, and you're having a terrible day, and it's been so long since you tasted something even a little bit sweet...even a reaction is not always enough to stave off temptation.

And with that mindset, in the past few years, I have eaten a few more 'bad' foods that aren't 'too' bad, and a few more, and then I have bad reactions that are unexpected, or 'mild' reactions that build up over time and cause inflammation and pain and misery, and I suffer from my own poor choices until I can work my way back to the 'good' diet again.

However, that's now. When all this started, I was having severe reactions to everything. I still remember looking hopelessly at my diet of five foods, six if you counted the salt, and crying. I was hungry all the time, and even then, I was so sick of the same foods for every meal. I was sick of every meal being made up of the same recipes (if anything back then was even complicated enough to be called a recipe), day after day.

I had no appetite. I had no interest in food.

When I was so fed up it was beginning to affect my calorie intake, I tried to improve things. I spent hours on the internet, looking at recipes and hoping to find something that at least used one of the ingredients I had. I had to hunt down how ingredients tasted that I'd never had, and how to cook them without ingredients I was used to.  It took months and months of searching, to find these.

And one of the more disheartening things for me was how seldom I found a recipe that had flavor that wasn't from ingredients I had to exclude.

Which brings me to this blog. I'm posting here recipes I've cobbled together, using the ingredients I (or my children) can actually eat. I'm trying to note down how I came up with recipes, showing where I got ideas, so people can get ideas on what they can do to substitute for some of these things. I may not have the best recipes (Okay, I know I don't), but again, I'm more putting these down as a sort of inspiration for anyone who is in the same situation as me - needing food, unable to eat a lot of food, and possibly...not the best cook in the world without your usual ingredients so it's a daunting task.

And because frankly, it helps me to look back and see how far I've come, and remember some of these ideas.

I hope that some folks who are in the same position as I was can get some help from it. Here's wishing you well in navigating whatever food minefields you have to get through.


  1. This is about where I'm beginning.

    1. So sorry I missed this! How are you doing right now, Karen?

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