Friday, October 9, 2009

New Territory and Ratatouille

Last week life was easier. I thought I was doing good things when I gave my daughter a slice of the homemade multi-grain bread I make. Now I am not so sure.
I took my 11 month old baby in to see the allergist last week because I believed she had an allergy to nuts and I wanted to have that confirmed and see what other precautions we should be taking. Well, there are more than I expected. She had a basic skin test done and sure enough she won't be having any lentil-walnut burgers, peanut butter sandwiches or chocolate pecan pies, most likely ever. I was feeling so sorry for her; but it didn't end there. She tested borderline for milk and wheat. That wasn't supposed to happen. Yes, I know that we can't judge for certain until she gets her blood test back and even then we will do a food challenge to know for sure. However, until we know we are playing like she most definitely does. Goodbye simple, mindless cooking. Hello label reading.
I admit I felt frustrated. I try so hard to adhere to the word of wisdom, feeding my family the whole grains, fruits and vegetables outlined as the prescription for health and strength for our bodies. It just seems like a conundrum when suddenly many of those good things might be bad. I thought about our food storage, all those cans of wheat and powdered milk were now not good for my daughter. I may have to learn to cook and store food differently now.
Now I enjoy a good challenge, but I never enjoy being told what to do. And it didn't help that my baby has been on hunger strike for two weeks due to teething, so the challenge was even harder.
But it has been a week and she hasn't starved yet. I have made her crackers, soups, and meals all without yogurt, butter and wheat flour (unfortunately some of my most common ingredients). She rejected lots of things but finally she started eating again. And then two nights ago I made ratatouille, a french country dish of layered vegetables, herbs and olive oil. She couldn't get enough. She popped open her little mouth expectantly as fast as we could fill it. And when her bowl of the pureed version was empty she polished off all of my unprocessed fare. I was in awe- she hadn't done that in so long. She was finally eating like the girl I know and I was so relieved. Maybe, just maybe we might make it, and then it again maybe the test results will come back negative. We'll just keep learning until then.

This one is for Lucy.

adapted from Mark Bittman

5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds total, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 red or yellow bell peppers sliced into 3 or 4 pieces each
4 ripe red tomatoes cut into thick slices
11/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or basil for garnish
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a casserole, make a layer of onion, followed by one of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper and garlic cloves. Repeat. Drizzle the ratatouille with oil and place it in the oven. Bake for about an hour, pressing down on the vegetables occasionally, until they are all completely tender.Garnish, sprinkle with vinegar and serve, hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4.


  1. Looks tasty. Don't worry too much about the allergies, you get used to it. I have a friend whose daughter is allergic to dairy and eggs. My youngest son is allergic to peanuts and tested as being allergic to egg whites but has never had a reaction of any kind so the allergist said to keep giving him egg whites. Sometimes even though they test positive, they can still eat it. Good Luck.

  2. darn it Sandra. I am so sorry. I have recently been reading up on this because I have been so curious as to why so many kids have allergies these days. I found an interesting forum about it if you want a link... Maybe you have enough resources of your own. So many opinions out there! I asked my pediatrician once about it... he had an interesting answer.

    IT is so crazy huh?

    Missed you today --- sorry I couldn't make the meeting. We need to get together soon!

  3. Not sure if this is the right thing to say or not, but my sisters and I had the skin tests done when we were little and we tested allergic to EVERYTHING. Horses, cats, all kinds of grasses, dogs, cigarette smoke (who's not allergic) and potentially a myriad of foods. Okay, once in a while I scratch my legs after sitting in the grass and I can't tolerate the smell of cigarette smoke (who can?) but we all had allergy shots as pre-teenagers and those skin-prick tests are thankfully a distant cobweb of a memory. For any huge life-changing medical revelation, from a $1000 dental crown on a 29 year-old to a doctor's recommendation regarding numbers of babies, to allergies that will affect you on an enormous level each day, I say, get a 2nd opinion, no a 3rd opinion. Try a completely different age, gender, medical school background with each doctor and keep being your fabulous mommy self. You're incredible. Love, M

    PS - Sorry this comment is delayed by about 9 months. I just saw your link to Ratatouille and thought, hmm... I would love to try making that; Read this post for the first time today.

  4. Melissa- thanks for your thoughts. We did challenge the wheat and milk and are in the clear and she hasn't had a problem with those.

    But the nuts are still a no-go. Thanks for the lovely compliments. You generous with them. I hope your ratatouille is fabulous.


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