Garlic, Garlic Everywhere!

Posted by Wendy Neal Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Bookmark and Share

A couple weeks ago we found out that my son has food allergies just like me. It was no surprise to learn that he is allergic to dairy, gluten, wheat, and egg whites. But what was surprising is that he's allergic to garlic as well. Which seems silly because garlic is so healthy for most people.

What was even more surprising to me, downright shocking actually, is that garlic is used in so many products, and that according to law, it DOESN'T NEED TO BE LABELED on the food ingredients! It can legally be included as part of "spice" and "natural flavor" without needing to be listed separately in the ingredient list. And did you also know that garlic is prevalent in almost all tomato products, including ketchup, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc.? And also in most salad dressings? And chicken broth? And gravy mixes? And bread mixes (even the gluten-free kind)? And just about all other processed food? I didn't.

For the first week of my son's new diet, I thought I was doing good to avoid all his food allergens. The dairy, gluten, and egg whites were easy because I'm on the exact same diet. I thought I was avoiding garlic as well until I started researching online about garlic allergies, just to see how common it really was. I was surprised to find A LOT of people are allergic to garlic, yet garlic isn't recognized as a common food allergen, and therefore doesn't need to be labeled as such.

Being armed with this new information, last week's trip to the grocery store was extremely discouraging and disappointing. I checked countless ingredient labels, and time and time again, I was cursing under my breath when I came across the words garlic, spice, or natural flavor.

This was to be expected at the regular grocery store; however, things weren't much better at the health food store. I found a gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free frozen pizza and I was really excited that we could finally have pizza, until I noticed that garlic was in it. Then I found a gluten-free pizza crust mix, but that's right, it had garlic in it. Nearly everything I picked up that was gluten- and dairy-free also had garlic in it. Very frustrating!

I was determined that we were going to have pizza for supper. And when I'm determined, ain't nothing gonna stop me. I finally found a gluten-free bread mix that I adapted to make a pizza crust, which was garlic free. And after checking countless tomato sauces, I did find ONE that did not have garlic or "spice" or "natural flavor" listed in the ingredients. Hallelujah! Hold on though, it was $8.69 for a 28-ounce jar. What?!!!! I ended up buying it because we were having the pizza that evening for supper (it was now almost 5:00 p.m.), and I didn't have time to experiment with making my own sauce. Going forward though, it looks like I'll be making my own spaghetti/pizza/marinara sauce.

More of the same when I was looking for salad dressings and salsa. Garlic in every one of them. On Sunday I made homemade salsa and it tasted delicious! My next feat will be to make some homemade salad dressing. I bought an allergy-friendly recipe book which contains a recipe for dairy-free ranch dressing, so I'm eager to try that out. I think it contains garlic, so I'll substitute that with truffle oil or truffle salt. It has a striking resemblance to garlic in both smell and taste (something else I learned during my research).

Oh I did find one brand of organic ketchup that does not contain garlic, so I bought that. I know I've become a Suzy Homemaker and all since our food allergies diagnosis, but I think making homemade ketchup is where I draw the line. It is becoming almost a full time job just cooking for my son and I, since all three of our meals need to be made from scratch in order to avoid all our food allergens. But it is definitely worth it if it means we are healthy!

I'd really like the other three in my family - my two daughters and husband - to eat the same way that my son and I do, but at the same time I fear that if they do decide to get on the healthy bandwagon, that I'd either have to go part-time with work or hire a cook! I'm exhausted just thinking about it...

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