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May, 2016

  1. Ingredient Spotlight: Rancho Gordo beans

    May 22, 2016 by Dan

    We’d like to highlight beans from Rancho Gordo

    IMG_20150301_153007In our experience it’s difficult to come by beans (and other legumes) that aren’t cross-contaminated with gluten. The same equipment is generally used to process and store legumes and grains up and down the production and distribution chain. This requires us to buy directly from growers or smaller distributors that have a reputation as not having gluten cross-contamination. Rancho Gordo fits into the latter category.

    Rancho Gordo sells a variety of high quality, gourmet, heirloom beans it sources from farmers across the US and Mexico. These aren’t cheap at $6 a pound (about two dried cups worth) but the peace of mind preparing from a source we’ve vetted and quality level make them worth the cost. If you like to eat well, these beans are for you.

    Here are a few varieties we heavily rely upon and that I don’t think you can go wrong using.

    Yellow Eyed Peas – These are equivalent to, and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for black eyed peas. These are so good that I take a bag or two of yellow eyed peas when we travel with Sprout.


    My most common use is to put the following in a slow cooker on low: one cup yellow eyed peas, three cups water, and an onion. They’re soft and creamy in eight hours. Yum! I also drop a handful into soups that I would otherwise put in peanuts or where these just seem to fit the bill.


    Rio Zape – A rich, flavorful bean that can be used in any recipe that calls for pintos and in place of kidney beans in chili.


    Royal Corona Beans – Gigantic white runner beans that can be used in any recipe that calls for cassoulet or gigante beans. They take about 12 hours in my slow cooker to become creamy. Our best luck has been with a 1-2 lb chunk of stewing meat like pork shoulder or beef chuck.

    Are they gluten free?

    Note that Rancho Gordo doesn’t guarantee that its products won’t be cross-contaminated. From its FAQ:

    Are your beans gluten free?

    All of our products (which are indigenous to the Americas) are naturally gluten free. You can enjoy them with a reckless abandon. We make no special efforts, however, to keep things gluten free and it’s possible that there can be some cross-contact in the fields and cleaning facilities. Dried beans need to be rinsed (and well!) so any potential danger should go right down the sink.

    Unlike legumes from other sources, we — knock on wood — haven’t had any issues to-date. This may be due to luck but I think may stem from fewer parties handling the beans in the distribution chain. Rancho Gordo appears to work directly with farmers without middlemen. It could be the long and winding distribution chain (with greater chance of cross-contamination) that has caused us problems in the past. Either way, we do rinse beans twice before using.

    Where to buy

    Prices are generally best when buying directly from Rancho Gordo via its website — — or at its store front in the San Francisco Ferry Building (when we’re there). Right now, it offers free shipping over $75, which really isn’t hard to do. Its website has a store locator with local distributors if you want to try some beans first before dropping $75+. The list isn’t complete as I recently purchased beans from a Whole Foods in south Denver that isn’t listed. The price was still $6 per bag.

    And because these are heirloom varieties you can use some of the beans to seed plants in your garden to harvest yourself. It’s a great project for kids. Sprout had fun growing his own food and took on an added appreciation for farm work.

  2. Who ever said allergy-free food can’t be fun?

    May 18, 2016 by Dan


    Rice,  beet disks, and roast chicken drumsticks as art.

  3. Delayed

    May 16, 2016 by Dan

    It’s been difficult returning. A month turned into two, then a year, a second, and, voila, three years.

    I recently winced inside – and hopefully not visibly – when I saw a baby at the local Target store. His face was red, peeling, and crusty around the edges, and he looked very much like our son at the same age (about 1 year old). At first, I didn’t think the mother would want anyone to make a spectacle of her child. But thinking back to our journey, I decided having something to grasp onto in explaining her baby’s condition may be helpful and, assuming food allergies are the culprit, she may appreciate seeing that things can get better. So, I said “excuse me,” asked if her baby has food allergies, and – pointing to my son – said my son looked like hers at that age because of allergic reactions to food.

    The mother instinctively said yes and rattled off a number of allergens – “milk, wheat, peanuts, shrimp, …” She also threw in “eczema,” the catch-all-phrase doctors use when they don’t know the answer to skin reactions. Needless to say, she has her work cut out for her. Hopefully we can help others like her in the same boat traveling through Allergyland.

  4. In Our Cart: 5/13

    May 13, 2016 by Dan


    We avoid most food products at Costco (and other grocery stores) due to allergies. In case it helps someone else,  here are the things we got in our latest trip. All we’ve verified “safe” for Sprout.

    In our cart:
    1) case Green Giant whole kernel sweet corn
    2) Sun-Maid raisins
    3) Wild Planet, Pacific Sardines in olive oil
    4) Foster Farms organic chicken

  5. Ingredient Spotlight: Laura Soybeans

    May 1, 2016 by Dan

    Today’s spotlight is on Laura Soybeans, grown and sold by the Chambers Family Farm in Iowa.


    We consume a lot of soy. It’s provides a complete protein, is a healthy substitute for meat, and is very versatile as an ingredient. Most importantly for us, soy was one of the first things we cleared in Sprout’s diet seven years ago. Although he reacted a bit through the skin prick and IgE blood tests, the reactions were relatively small compared to other allergens, and his food challenge was negative. Not that it wasn’t already in our diet before his allergy diagnoses, but it has become much more important since then.

    In our experience it’s difficult to come by beans (and other legumes) that aren’t cross-contaminated with gluten. The same equipment is generally used to process and store legumes and grains up and down the production and distribution chain. Based on past experience washing in water doesn’t remove all gluten, though we’ve tried at various times. This requires us to buy directly from growers, such as Chambers Family Farm, or smaller distributors that have a reputation as not having gluten cross-contamination, or (usually) larger companies that certify their products gluten-free.

    At first we bought a lot of soy milk in boxes (please note that we had to clear that soy milk when first giving to Sprout). In fact we’d buy a case of plain, organic soy milk every week or two from Whole Foods (10% off when you buy a case). Eventually, Brett stumbled across the Chambers Family Farm website for Laura Soybeans. Their legumes are non-GMO and don’t share facilities with gluten. As their website says, Laura  Soybeans “are grown, harvested, processed and packaged right here on our 5th generation family farm.”


    We generally use about twenty pounds of dried soy beans per year. Most goes into soy milk but we sometimes add the dried beans into soups or stews. I also adding them to the slow cooker with caramelized onions to use as a side dish. One day we’ll try making our own tofu. We also use the okara – the bits of solid left behind after making soy milk – in place of breadcrumbs when dried, or as a filler or base for a snack when wet.  

    Soy milk can be used in place of dairy milk in most recipes. For example, we use fresh soy milk in mashed potatoes, pancakes, bread, non-dairy ice cream, and many more things.   

    Where to buy

    Buy from directly from the grower, Chambers Family Farm at