I often get asked questions like, “I’m allergic to sulfa drugs – do I need to avoid sulfur in supplements and/or food?” There is a lot of understandable confusion about the difference between sulfa drugs, sulfites, sulfates and sulfur. Many people are allergic to sulfa drugs and/or sulfites and thus assume that they have to avoid sulfates and sulfur, also. This article should help explain the difference between these four substances and clear some of the confusion. (more…)
Vitamin A doesn’t get a lot of press these days, at least not as much as the other fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. However, Vitamin A is vital for many bodily functions, and research is showing that it isn’t quite as easy to get adequate amounts through the diet as we once thought. (more…)
Food sensitivities can create many undesirable symptoms in the body, such as tissue swelling (hands, ankles and/or feet), bloating (abdomen, puffy face or double chin), watery eyes, running nose (especially right after eating), nasal congestion, heartburn, headaches, achy or stiff joints and cravings for certain types of foods. These symptoms oftentimes don’t appear right away, making it more difficult for the sufferer to correlate a certain food with a reaction.
Last week we talked about the Corn Refiner’s Association marketing campaign of “corn sugar”. The cornerstone of their campaign is that “sugar is sugar”. That high fructose corn syrup is no different than regular sugar. This is false. (more…)
Dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free… cooking allergen free, especially baking, can get a little confusing. We’re here to help. Here are some substitutions you can make for some of those common allergen-containing ingredients.
For 1 cup of butter, you can substitute 1 cup nondairy, non-hydrogenated butter spread OR 1 cup coconut oil OR 3/4 cup vegetable shortening.
For 1 cup of milk, you can substitute 1 cup nondairy milk (almond, coconut, hemp, rice, soy, etc)
For 1 cup of heavy cream, you can substitute 1 cup soy creamer OR 1 cup full-fat unsweetened coconut milk or coconut cream.
For 1 egg used for binding purposes (cakes, cookies), use 2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch whisked with 2 tablespoons water OR 2 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed meal whisked with 3 tablespoons warm water OR 1/4 cup blended silken tofu OR 1/4 cup applesauce, pumpkin or other fruit/vegetable puree.
For 1 egg used for leavening purposes (fluffy cakes, muffins, quick breads), you can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer powder whisked with 2 tablespoons warm water OR 1/4 cup yogurt.
For 1 cup brown or white sugar, you can substitute 2/3 cup liquid sweetener (agave nectar, barley malt, brown rice syrup or molasses). Decrease other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup.
For 1 cup powdered sugar, you can substitute 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice ground to a fine powder in a very dry blender or food processor.
How to use stevia and xylitol:
2 teaspoons of white sugar is equal to…
1/2 teaspoon stevia or xylitol bulk blends
1/4 teaspoon clear liquid stevia
a pinch of pure stevia powder
2 teaspoons of pure xylitol
Source: Taste for Life. Dec 2011.
I haven’t heard much about MSG in a while. Actually, the first time I heard about MSG was when I was working at Flat Top Grill during college. We had to specially label all of our stir fry sauces that contained MSG to differentiate them, and customers would often come in and tell me they were allergic to MSG. This was back when I was still an early childhood education major, not a nutritional sciences major, so I didn’t really have any idea what they were talking about. I just assured them that we had everything labeled and that there wouldn’t be any MSG cross contamination.
When I got more involved in the nutritional world, I learned why those customers were avoiding MSG. MSG is a flavor additive and it can be found in a wide variety of foods, but is most common in Asian cuisines (which explains why people were asking about it so often at Flat Top). Concerns about MSG have been around for many years; people complain of a smorgasbord of reactions after consuming MSG and many nutritional and scientific experts believe that MSG has dangerous addictive effects. There are studies to bak up these concerns, but currently, MSG has Generally Recognized as Safe status as a food additive. So it can be found in many processed foods, and it can hide in labels under different names.
Even more interesting, or alarming, is that new research suggests that MSG causes weight gain no matter how many calories you eat. A study conduced by the University of North Carolina and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who ate 5 grams of MSG per day on average were 33% more likely to be overweight than those people who ate less than .5 grams per day on average.
This link held true when confounding factors of age, physical activity, calorie intake and other lifestyle factors were removed.
Many professionals and experts had already come to the conclusion that MSG had something to do with weight gain, but they believed that the weight gain arose from people eating more because MSG makes it tastes better. This study shows that weight gain happens independent of calorie intake, so that theory is false. More research is needed, but the idea now is that MSG may cause disruptions in appetite regulation.
So go check the labels your canned soup and bagged chips. I don’t advocate eating anything that has these sorts of additives that were made off in a lab somewhere. If you’re reading a food label and you don’t recognize an ingredient as a food, don’t put it into your body.
Also, for some great take-out meals sans MSG, check out our Take-out Fake-out cooking class recipes.
Gray, Nathan. “MSG linked with weight gain: Study” foodnavigator.com. May 31, 2011.