Life Beyond Lemons: Cooking & Food Allergies

How do you bake without wheat flour? How do you forgo milk and cheese and chicken and turkey and almonds and pineapple and papaya and avocado and heavens! green beans?

Food blogging has opened my eyes to the challenges and successes of cooking gluten-free. But when our very own Gluten-Free Goddess Karina learned that she faces a whole host of food allergies -- oh my, what a list -- it took me aback.

It's one thing to choose to give up meat and dairy. It's another thing entirely to be forced to give up foods from which you've drawn both sustenance and comfort, in order to regain your well-being, your very life.

Gluten-Free GoddessYes, it must be done. But. Really. Now. How do you live without the brightness of lemon?

For whatever reason, it's Karina's allergy to lemons that has got me thinking the hardest. I keep a half dozen lemons on the counter at the ready at all times. Now, thanks to Karina, each time I pick one up, I caress the waxy skin, I breathe in the lemon scent, I take a moment to be thankful for the lowly lemon, to appreciate what it does to food, to wonder at its goodness.

But surely, truly, there can be life without lemons? Easy for me to say, of course, but there can, surely, if only because there must.

Inspired by the gracious Gluten-Free by the Bay, food bloggers everywhere are Cooking for Karina, collecting recipes for foods to inspire Karina, someone with so many food allergies.

Fruity GazpachoI scoured the Kitchen Parade archives, honestly expecting to find only one or two or maybe at best three recipes for someone with Karina's food allergies. I did think my Fruity Gazapcho might make you smile, Karina, and know personally that the avocado, which you can't eat, is entirely dispensable.

Instead -- perhaps because Kitchen Parade recipes tend to be spare, simple and made from 'whole' foods our grandmothers would recognize? I don't know, it's a puzzle to me -- I found a whole collection of recipes missing the verboten ingredients or with known, easy substitutions. Much to my surprise, many of the recipes are also full of color, a dimension that will appeal to Karina's artist's soul.

And so here, as much to inspire my own life as to offer inspiration and sustenance and rainbows of color to Karina, is what shall forevermore be called:

Cooking for Karina:

Life Beyond Lemons with Buckets of Lemonade

Vegetarian Main Courses
RatatouilleRatatouille - Karina my friend, the movie will make you smile throughout and laugh out loud often, then yes, you can eat ratatouille safely, too, just skip the Parmesan

Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries - skip the nuts, you won't miss them

(scroll to the end if you think you may return to meat and fish)

Vegetables Are Your Friends!
Red & Yellow Pepper RelishRed, Yellow Pepper Relish - full of color and flavor and vegetable goodness

Caraway Cabbage - this could be a main dish, too

Trio of Vegetables - roasted cauliflower, honey carrots & lemon asparagus

Pair of Shredded Vegetables - beet roesti, the Swiss classic done in beets vs potatoes and shredded zucchini with thyme

Mashed Potatoes & Carrots - oh you're going to love these, color and taste!

Lavender Potatoes - skip the steak, just pile on the potatoes, oh-so-good!

Pair of Refrigerator Pickles - peppers, cucumber, all in the frig!

Grilled Pepper Salad - more color! those pine nuts are dispensable, too if needed

Laura's Carrot SoupLaura's Carrot Soup - this will be delicious with coconut milk as a substitute for cow's milk

Scandinavian Pea Soup - thick and hearty, winter fare on the High Desert

Low-Fat Vegetable Soup - I practically live on this during the winter

Karelian Borscht - another hearty soup, beautiful color for the artist in you

Lentil Soup Vincent - yes, one more hearty soup, this one with lentils

Sausage & Kale Split Pea Soup - skip the sausage with no trouble

Very Very Green Green-Pea Soup - you'll love the color here, too!

Summer's Tomato Soup - coconut and tomato? it speaks to me!

Creamy Wild Rice Soup - I'll send you Minnesota wild rice, the very best!

Quick Cauliflower Soup & Quick Broccoli Soup - two mainstays, just broth and vegetables and eat!

Confetti Potato Salad - again, color, color, color

My Favorite Salad Dressing - oh the salads you'll make! and with this dressing, no two will taste the same

Alice Waters' Coleslaw - light and fresh and lovely tasting!

Bloody Mary Salad - you'll use xanthum instead of gelatin, yes? but after that it's packed with good veggies and great crunch

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad - hearty enough for a supper salad, too
Panzanella - just skip the bread or use a favorite gluten-free bread, panzanella is all about the tomatoes anyway!

Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Salad - and Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Soup too, yes, this is your lucky year, Karina, you'll soon be well again

Olivada - the lovely olive 'pesto', though you'll likely skip the pine nuts, yes? it would be delicious on pasta too

Peacherry BluesPeacherry Blues - perfect for high summer!

Winter Fruit Salad - skip the pineapple, use lime zest if you can or add cinnamon or even a dash of fresh pepper! for a little oomph

Rhubarb Sorbet - again, this will please your color-hungry eyes!

Fruity Gazpacho - yes, here it is again, it's worth repeating!

Apple Cider Indian Pudding - this could be amazing with coconut milk!

Cranberry Pudding - made with a gluten-free flour and coconut milk in the sauce (yes, it's an eggless cake!), plus do you see that cranberry applesauce? it'll have you singing!

Strawberry Banana Chocolate Crumble - made with gluten-free flour

Main Courses with Meat Protein
(should by chance you decide to eat meat or fish again ...)

Quick Supper: Cornmeal Catfish with Warm Potato SaladCornmeal Catfish with Warm Potato Salad - getting hungry here!

Asian (No Chicken) Salad - a supper salad I make with chicken but shrimp or pork would be delicious, slices of beef, too, full of veggies (the dressing includes soy sauce so you'll want to use your soy-free substitute

Kitchen Stir-Fry - needs a tofu substitute, also soy sauce, but this is an eminently variable recipe, based on taste, season, preferences and yes, food allergies too

Beef & Mushroom Stew - filling, flavorful, a long-time favorite recipe

Roasted Salmon & Asparagus - use a lovely-scented vinegar as a lemon substitute

Berry Baby Backs - baked or grilled in a gingery raspberry sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Cranberry Sauce - a quick supper!

Salmon Chowder - with coconut milk, how good would that be?

Pepper Steak & Mushrooms - winter food, another quick supper too

Two-Way Lentil Skillet - skip the tofu, but if you return to shrimp, this is a real winner!

And so, dear Karina, thank you for sharing the difficulties and frustrations and someday soon, the successes, of your struggle with food allergies. And for you I wish this ... that food once again becomes a joy, a creative outlet that feeds your soul as well as your body. With your spirit and determination, there will, yes, for you, be life beyond lemons.

How to eat more vegetables? A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and the best source of free vegetable recipes with 700+ quick and easy favorite vegetable recipes, the Alphabet of Vegetables, Weight Watchers low-point recipes and microwave vegetable recipes.

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. That might be much for one meal!
    Alanna you are fantastic. Really that is so beautiful, incredible.

  2. AnonymousJuly 07, 2007

    It's amazing to see the "family" of food bloggers protecting one of their own. Very nice!

  3. What a wonderful collection of recipes for Karina to try, and how lovely of you to find them all!

  4. That is a most excellent tribute to someone who has helped many.


  5. What a collection! I'm bookmarking this for future use. Thanks for the information.

  6. You are a true friend Alanna. We are all blessed to know you.

  7. AnonymousJuly 08, 2007

    Oh my goodness! I am overwhelmed. What a thoughtful, empathetic post - and such an eye-catching array of yummy recipes! After tossing my sixth egg-free baking attempt into the trash this morning [and feeling rather gloomy] you have seriously CHEERED me up!

    Mucho HUGS and gartitude galore xoxo

  8. Tanna ~ One meal? Oops, then yes I went overboard.

    80K ~ You've put your finger right on the feeling, yes.

    Kalyn ~ :-)

    Slacker Mom ~ Thank you, that means a lot, coming from someone in Karina's (old) shoes.

    Kelly ~ "Anyone can cook"! : -) (Have you seen the movie yet?)

    Cynthia ~ blush ...

    Karina ~ Beat this too, baby!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna