I’d say I’ve been pretty lucky in the food-allergy department; in fact, I’d say that I’ve enjoyed being able to experience whatever foods were on the table for most of my life. I’m not sure if it’s because more people have food allergies or if I’m simply more aware – but the statistics of folks with some sort of food restriction is staggering: 15 million people suffer with various food allergies, an estimated 30 percent of our overall population are gluten-intolerant and I am in the 1 in 100 category who navigates the world of celiac disease.
When I discovered I had problems with wheat a year ago, I think I probably felt like everyone else when getting this type of diagnosis: what am I going to eat? How am I going to eat? How will I take care of my body? The short answer is that I had a few days of trying to get the hang of the new boundaries. I’m fortunate to have access to the best in the business when it comes to ‘specialized’ food plans – and I was somewhat familiar with celiac because my younger sister had been diagnosed with the disease four years prior – so I already knew it meant ‘no wheat’ but I still had much to learn – then I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
I’m fortunate that I came from a family who cooked most meals at home; eating out was something reserved for a special occasion and I also come from a family who expected me and my sisters to participate in helping in the kitchen to get dinner on the table each night. Yep, there were times we had casserole dinners from a box of Hamburger Helper, jello was considered both a salad and a dessert, macaroni and cheese came from a blue box and the ‘good’ cheese was single slices wrapped in cellophane; you know what? Know one died. But my mother also established menus of made-from-scratch soups, spaghetti with meat sauce, ham and beans, cornbread, pot roast, meat loaf, green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes and chocolate pot de creme (we just called it ‘chocolate pudding). I am very, very grateful I learned to cook and that being in the kitchen has always been a joy.
I was sent a review copy of Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking – 30-minute meals without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and seasame; at first I was intimated because the title alone looks like a pretty big a mountain to climb. But then I opened the book, perused the recipes and realized that the dishes represented are entirely doable – even for the novice cook. If you’ve never cooked allergy-free, you’ll need to make a run to the grocery store to restock your pantry for some of the essentials – but then you’re in for quite a treat. Restaurant favorites like Mu Shu Pork, Chicken Nuggets and Sweet Potato Fries, Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Mini Meatloafs with Quick and Easy Barbecue Sauce, Homemade Gnocchi, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese and this stunning, full-of-flavor, Mexican chicken soup, Sopa de Lima – are just a sampling of the recipes included in the book.
Hailing from the Yucatan, diced chicken, minced jalapenos, diced tomatoes, fresh limes, garlic, a few spices with avocado and cilantro added for garnish, this incredibly flavorful soup can be on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking free of charge; however, all reviews and opinions are strictly my own.
The only swaps I made to the original recipe is fire roasted tomatoes and poblano chilis – they’re perfect here!
SOPA de LIMA
Slightly adapted from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking, Cybel Pascal
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 pinch of ground allspice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1-1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
- 1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced, seeded poblano chilis (more if you want spicier)
- 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 lime, sliced length-wise then thinly sliced into half-moons
- salt to taste
- 1 avocado diced
- Cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Tortilla chips or strips for garnish (optional)
- Additional poblano for garnish (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes or until slightly softened.
- Add the oregano, cumin, peppercorns and allspice; cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, tomatoes, minced poblano, lime juice, 1 lime slice and a pinch of salt. Stir, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with avocado, a couple of slices of lime, cilantro and tortilla chips, if using. Add a little more poblano if you like it spicy