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{pesto recipe} Dedicated to My New Friend

September 19, 2010

This is dedicated to K, a new friend.

Well, the word “friend” seems too casual in this situation. Maybe soul sister. Or soul mate. Or partner in crime. You see, K’s 2 1/2 year old son, X, has multiple food allergies.  All the same foods but one; Miles has soy whereas X has eggs. What’s been extremely hard to find in the local food allergic community is emotional connection and support. In my experience “support groups” end up talking about the new epi pen carrying case or the latest allergen-free frozen chicken nugget. I got blogs and books and a subscription to FAAN for that information. I want to vent, cry, scream, laugh, and commiserate. I would also love to swap recipes, but that doesn’t happen either. Ugh, that’s another story for another time. You see, from the moment I met K I knew she was different. K is EXTREMELY honest about the loneliness and anxiety-ridden lifestyle we, as food allergic families, lead. Ahhhhhhhh relief. I could let my hair down and not pretend that I have everything under control.

I met K through another K, a member of a mom’s group Miles & I attend on Tuesdays afternoons. K thought we needed to become friends. Oh yes we did. We spoke for a few days via email and it was an instant connection. A human connection. An understanding and a willingness to be honest that I didn’t find in others. I didn’t get the “everything’s fine” standard retort. Hello kindred spirit.

We met for drinks a few nights later and we chatted through the evening. We traded “how did you find out about his food allergies” stories, local allergists, what to do on vacations, day traps and playdates, nasal and breathing symptoms, hives, various medications, weight, feeding and nutrition issues, RAST numbers, the weight on our shoulders to keep our boys safe around the clock and the “day to day” ins & outs of our lives with our kids. K’s about a year ahead of us in all things parenthood, not just food allergies, so it was also nice to chat about whats its like with a conversational child. We also daydreamed about the exciting prospect of future playdates where the boys could play together knowing that our toys were safe for one another and we might be able to relax. Letting your guard down is not an option at a playdate. ever.

I wanted to cry about 100 times that night but I was afraid I’d never stop. Like a busted faucet. Relief of finding a kindred spirit.

When I told her that I’m obsessed with all-things-food,  she asked if I have a great pesto recipe. I didn’t. Well sort of. This was our first summer dairy & nut free, so I had no clue. Well, I refined it all summer and came up with a winner. I posted it on my food club’s blog a few days ago, with a slightly different story, but now its time to dedicate this pesto recipe to K and her family.

{the magic is in the nutritional yeast/sesame seed/chunky sea salt mix}

Pesto is tricky due to Miles’ anaphylaxis to dairy and nuts. I’ve been mixing and matching ingredients all summer to make the perfect balance of basil flavor, meaty-nuttiness of pine nuts and umami of parmesan cheese. The answer: a blend of nutritional yeast, sea salt and toasted sesame seeds to substitute the cheese and sunflower seeds for the pine nuts. I should also say up front that I am not a fan of a strong garlic flavor in a pesto. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE me some garlic but in my pesto I want a clean herby, nutty flavor without the bolt of garlic. I should also note that I freeze all of my pesto in ice cube trays. When I’m ready to use, I just throw a cube or two in about 5 minutes from serving. If I’m making pizza, gluten-free of course, I just throw the cubes in a microwave for 30 seconds to achieve a spreadable consistency.

based on every pesto recipe I’ve ever tried
2 heaping cups of basil
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 T nutritional yeast, flakes
2 t toasted sesame seeds
1 t sea salt
1/2 olive oil
pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, optional

Equipment needed: food processor and ice cube trays

Add basil and sunflower seeds in your food processor and loosely chop. Add nutritional yeast flakes, sea salt and sesame seeds and a few grinds of black pepper; process until everything is incorporated. While the processor is on, stream in the olive oil. Blend just until oil is incorporated, do not over blend. Taste, add salt and pepper if needed. Spoon pesto into ice cube trays and place in freezer on a flat surface so you don’t end up with oil in your freezer drawer. Once frozen, put cubes in freezer bag and date the bag. I also put the name on the bag because I have various flavors in the freezer, like ramp and spinach-mint pesto.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dianna Goodwin permalink
    September 20, 2010 6:13 am

    Even though we eat everything, I am going to try this because 1) I want you to be able to eat at my house too and B) I loved toasted sesame seeds.

    I promise never again to tell you that everything will be ok, even though from the level of having three twenty-something kids, I am pretty sure that in the global scheme of things, it will be. Global, I understand, is not always the most useful perspective. I am really glad you found someone to share this with – sounds like the beginning of a long friendship.

  2. October 4, 2010 4:30 pm

    When my son was diagnosed nearly seven years ago, I developed a long-distance relationship (New Hampshire / NYC) with a cousin’s friend. It was invaluable for the same as yours reasons. The connection – same ages, similar allergies, and as mother’s similar concerns, attitudes and needs. But I would have far prefered to have talk in person. You are so right to praise what you found.

  3. kate permalink
    November 21, 2010 11:31 am

    I tried to send this to your e-mail with no luck, so I’ll post here. Hey! I am so excited to have found a fellow mom going on this crazy journey! I found your website while searching for an allergy support group in Saratoga. A little bit about my situation…I am a mom to an amazing 3 year old kid who was just diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy. I am a worrier to begin with, so needless to say I am pretty much freaking out! I’m having a really hard time finding the balance between keeping my little guy safe and letting him have a “normal” childhood. I pretty much worry about everything all of the time and I could really use some help and support. I would love to hear about your experiences and how you handle the day to day stuff. I also just saw that you have a food club. I would also love to hear more about that. I wonder if we have ever crossed paths. We too are part of a CSA and frequented the Farmer’s Market in Saratoga. Hope to hear from you soon! Kate

  4. Kim M. permalink
    January 15, 2011 9:29 am

    Somehow I just stumbled on this post now (Jan. 2011) and it brought tears to my eyes. I feel very lucky to have such strong people like you out there.

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