This week I’m writing my blog from Cape Cod. Usually I pen it from Los Angeles, where food allergy shopping is a much easier task, given the plentitude of Whole Foods Markets. So I set about my Food Allergy Recipe Challenge this week with the following parameters: The recipe I attempted needed to be seasonal, and it needed to be simple for all of us who might be on vacation and out of our usual shopping comfort zones.
I settled on a request from a couple of weeks ago for Allergen-free Blueberry Bread Pudding (thank you, Mary and Alex!). I knew this recipe could be made, even with limited access to allergen-free groceries. Better yet, it’s nutritious, and last--but certainly not least--it’s really easy to throw together, which is a blessing on these hot summer days when most of us prefer to stay out of the kitchen.
The challenge of converting this dessert from allergen-full to allergen-free with limited shopping ability was in finding proper substitutes for dairy, gluten, and eggs. Thankfully, most major supermarket chains, such as Stop & Shop, now carry at least one kind of gluten-free bread. That took care of replacing the gluten part of bread pudding (and by the way, gluten-free bread is GREAT in bread pudding). Additionally, most supermarkets also carry rice milk, which I use in place of cow’s milk, and all carry canola oil, which I used in place of butter. But perhaps the most surprisingly easy-to-find allergy-friendly ingredient was flaxseed meal, which I’m happy to report is now available not only at most major supermarkets but also at Wal-Mart’s all across the country! And if you can’t find flaxseed meal, you can make your own by grinding whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder or mini chop.
What allergen-free ingredients are most difficult for you to find? Let me know in the comments section below, and leave me your summertime recipe challenges!
Gluten-Free Vegan Blueberry Bread Pudding
Makes 8 Servings
Blueberry Bread Pudding is a great way to make a decadent, yet nutritious dessert out of summertime blues. In addition to the antioxidant properties of blueberries, this treat is packed full of fiber, omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids, and is cholesterol-free! But no dinner guest would ever know it was “healthy” and “allergen-free” if you didn’t tell them. It’s “scrumtrulescent” (quote from my 8-year-old son Lennon).
- 14 slices stale gluten-free bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (7 cups)
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups rice milk
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal combined with 6 tablespoons hot water (“flax eggs”)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed limejuice
- ¼ cup light brown sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for sprinkling on top
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening (or Earth Balance dairy-free, soy-free “Buttery” spread, or coconut oil, or canola oil in a pinch)
- Blueberry Sauce (recipe follows)
- fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
- If your gluten-free bread is not already stale, cube it and lay it out in a single layer, overnight. Alternately, you can help dry it out by heating it in a 200°F oven, on a baking tray, in a single layer for about 15-20 minutes, then letting it cool to room temperature.
- Combine canola oil and light brown sugar in a heavy saucepan, stirring well to combine. Cook, stirring, over low heat, 3 minutes. Add the rice milk, stirring well to combine. Heat over medium-high heat, until it comes to a boil. Pour over bread cubes in a shallow bowl, toss gently, and let soak for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Add the “flax eggs” and salt to the bread mixture and toss very gently.
- Combine blueberries with confectioner’s sugar, tossing well to coat all the berries.
- Pour half the bread mixture into the baking dish. Top with two-thirds of the blueberries. Sprinkle with half of the limejuice. Cover with remaining bread mixture. Top with the remaining third of the blueberries, and drizzle with the remaining limejuice. Sprinkle the light brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the top. Dot with the shortening.
- Bake for 1 hour, until golden and caramelized on top. Let rest until warm, but no longer hot. Serve warm, drizzling a little Blueberry Sauce over each serving. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. For a really awesome finish, add a scoop of dairy-free vanilla ice “cream” on the side. Store leftovers tightly covered at room temperature.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- ½ cup blueberry jam or preserves
- 1 tablespoon water
1. Combine blueberries, jam, and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring gently. Heat over medium-high heat until starting to boil. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, and blueberries have softened slightly. Remove from heat.
Gluten-Free Vegan Blueberry Bread Pudding recipe Copyright © 2010 by Cybele Pascal
(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)
SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.
Cybele Pascal is the award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook." She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam, sons Lennon and Monte, and their dogs, Izzie and Carly (who also has food allergies). Please visit her website at CybelePascal.com.