Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chips. Lowbrow Taco Salad. Fried Whale Meat.

One of the ironies of being soy-allergic is that it forces you to avoid processed foods (very healthy!) but you become hyper-aware of those you can eat.

Which brings us to chips. I am not much of a potato chip fan, but once in a while. . . .
Here's a list of those without soy I have found:
-- Lays plain
-- Lays Ruffles
-- Lays Reduced Fat (NOT Fat-free, those have soy-based Olestra)
-- Utz plain
-- Utz Barbecue Flavor (NOT Carolina-style Barbecue)
-- some of the chips in the health-food aisle

Corn based:
-- Fritos
-- Doritos Natural
-- Bugles
-- Baked Tostitos (if you can find them)
-- again, some of the varieties on the health-food aisle

Cheese Curls:
-- Cheetos Natural
-- Utz

And while we are at it, let's talk about that standard football-game fare, onion dip. All--or darn near all--the premade ones have soy, and so do most of the onion soup mixes. I buy Kosher for Passover onion soup mix in the run-up to Passover and keep it throughout the year. I can make Daube de boeuf a la Provencale, and Boeuf Bourgignon, but sometimes plain old pot-roast-with-onion-soup-mix-made-in-the-crockpot (known in our house as Fried Whale meat) fits the bill.

Finally, if you can find those Baked Tostitos, or some high-end soy-free tortilla chips, you might like to make our:

Lowbrow Taco Salad

2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 lb lean ground beef (93%)
chopped tomatoes
grated cheese
diced avocado
hot sauce
sour cream
crushed tortilla chips

1. Mix the flour, chili powder, salt, paprika, bouillon powder, sugar, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
2. Brown ground beef with the onion and garlic. You might need a little olive oil if the beef is very lean. Add seasonings, stir, then add a cup of water and stir again. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Serve over lettuce, with the chopped tomato, grated cheese, avocado, salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream. Sprinkle the tortilla chips over.

And now that it's getting to be fall, you might be interested in the pot roast:

(Fried Whale Meat)

1 onion (optional)
1 large piece of bottom round
1 8-oz can sliced mushrooms
1 packet of onion soup mix (3 tbsp from a bulk container)

Slice the onion into rings and put in the bottom of the crockpot (optional). Brown the meat in a skillet in a little oil in a skillet on the stove (optional). Put the bottom round on top of the onion, or just in the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the onion soup mix on top of the meat, then arrange the mushrooms on top of the soup mix. Add 1/4 cup water to the pot, cover, and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chewing Gum

Not long ago I got an email from Rachel in New York, asking if I knew of any soy-free chewing gum. I don't chew gum much, but my daughters do, so I funded them to go out looking for soy-free gum.

They didn't find any.

I went online and managed to find two: Chiclets and
Dubble Bubble, but Dubble Bubble gumballs "may contain lecithin."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Two Useful Sites

Here's a useful site that lists a lot of soy-free (and soy-laden) products and offerings by commercial food outlets:

Soy Product Information

and here's an online store where you can shop by allergy:

(and they have chocolate chips!)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Salad Dressing, and the best Salad I Ever Had

Most of the commercial salad dressings in the U.S. have soy oil in them, or are labeled something like "canola and/or soy oil." So we make our own. Besides, it's cheaper (I'm from New England, remember?)

Good Seasons packets have no soy--I called and asked--and, if you make it with pure extra-virgin olive oil and red-wine vinegar, it's pretty good. So that's our staple. Here's another good one that I learned from my landlady when I lived in France:

French vinaigrette

1 Tbs red-wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs (approximately) grainy mustard
salt and pepper

Whisk in the bottom of the salad bowl and put the salad on top. Mix.

The best salad I ever had was just Belgian endive, walnuts, bleu cheese, and vinaigrette. They serv it as an appetizer. But I add romaine to the mix and serve it as a regular salad.

Belgian Endive Salad

1 small head romaine, in bite-sized pieces
2 Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2" - 3/4" strips
2 oz crumbled bleu cheese (or more)
a couple of handfuls of walnut pieces (1/2 cup?)
French vinaigrette, above

Follow directions for the French vinaigrette, making the dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl first.

Serves 4

Pita and Hummus

We are having the traditional end-of-summer cookout on Labor Day weekend and we are going vaguely Mediterranean. One of the appetizers (mezze?) is going to be pita and hummus. The nice thing about both of them is that, even if you buy them, they usually don't have soy in them (read every label, every time.) We buy whole-wheat pita, but we make our hummus. It's just too cheap when you make it, and too darned expensive when you buy it.

Here's a hummus recipe I use. It is sort of a mix of several I have seen. The best hummus I ever ate was in Israel, and I have been seeking that flavor ever since.

Hummus bi Tahini
2 cups cooked chickpeas (cook a bunch ahead of time and freeze them in 2-cup lots, or use canned, but fresh is better)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (can use more, up to 3/4 cup)
1/2-3/4 cup tahini
3 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne
water or chickpea cooking water
olive oil for serving
paprika, zaatar*, or chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Combine all ingredients in the blender. Add enough water to process (1/4 cup or slightly more). You can make the hummus a little soupy because it is going to stiffen up as it sets. I like it when it is made a day ahead.

In Israel, I had it smeared on a plate, with a circular ditch in it. They put a little olive oil in the ditch, then sprinkled half with paprika and half with zaatar. Most cookbooks tell you to sprinkle it with chopped fresh parsley, and sometimes they say sprinkle with a few reserved chickpeas.

*Zaatar is a dried herb/sesame seed blend. You can probably get it in Mediterranean markets, and Penzey's carries it.

For anyone who is interested, here's the whole Labor Day menu:

Grilled chicken
Orzo salad***
Romaine salad with:
Mayo Caesar dressing
Basbousa (semolina and coconut cake)
Pistachio shortbread
Apricot sweetmeats
Stuffed dates
Mint Iced Tea

**Labne is yogurt cheese. You make it by draining whole-milk yogurt overnight in a sieve through cheesecloth or coffee filters. Serve it with pita the same as the hummus--olive oil and paprika or zaatar. One time we found goat-milk yogurt at Trader Joe's and made labne from that--it was really good.

***I highly recommend the Orzo salad from It calls for 12 oz of orzo, but I just throw in the whole 16-oz box. I don't much like capers (see the post on Tartar sauce) but they seem to work in this recipe. I also recommend cutting back on the oil, almost by half.