Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities – Calcium

See previous… Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities

(Update: please also see my further thoughts on this issue here.)

Calcium intake in our diet is a major concern of ours since most of the dietary guidelines push a form of dairy as the primary source of calcium. However, the dietary guidelines do not provide a sufficient variety of foods for those of us with food allergies. Witness Appendix 11 of the recently updated USDA dietary guidelines, published late last year, on the Food Sources of Calcium. I’ve highlighted in pink the foods that we cannot consume.

Appendix 11. Food Sources of Calcium - 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines - cropped highlighted
(Click on the picture to enlarge)

That leaves us with the following 5 items from the list, with my comments following each item:

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals – many of which we cannot eat due to our wheat, peanut and treenut, and dairy allergies
  • Orange juice, calcium fortified – we would have to purchase this, as whole oranges are not at the top of this list
  • Sardines, canned in oil, drained – okay; though some are packed in soy oil, and so we tend to stay away from these products
  • Mustard spinach (tendergreen), raw – I don’t see this in our grocery stores
  • Rice drink – this is suitable; however, many rice drink producers also manufacture almond and/or soy drinks on the same production line, and so we tend to stay away from these products

There are some good resources out there that list calcium-rich foods to incorporate into your diet:

National Institute of Health – Calcium in Diet
National Osteoporosis Foundation – A Guide to Calcium-Rich Food
Dietitians of Canada –Food Sources of Calcium

Also, the USDA provides a great food-nutrient database from which you can search based on nutrient, categories of food, and even through some popular processed foods (Click on Nutrients List in the header).

Here’s a search based on Fruits, legumes and vegetables. (A lot of it is soy-based, which we can’t have, but we can’t remove soy from the search results.)

Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities

While our son has the majority of the allergies and food sensitivities, we are still nursing him and thus his mother also has to stay away from the many of the same foods. I have no food restrictions, but we plan and cook our meals as a family and we want the food at our table to be all-inclusive. Thus in the interest of creating a safe food space for our son, we’ve decided to restrict our foods within the home such that all (or almost all) of the food we eat is safe and healthy for everyone to eat.

With the food restrictions, we have constantly been concerned with nutrition – how do we ensure that we are all getting a nutritious diet? One guidance document is Canada’s Food Guide published by Health Canada.

Overall the guide seems to be quite reasonable – focus on vegetables, fruit and grain products, some milk and alternatives, and some meat. Limit your oils and fats. However, looking at the page on serving size examples, a lot of it is restricted for us. What I see is illustrated below.

GFAF Canada Food Guide Suggested Foods Serving Restricted

I know that this figure is an example of serving size, and not an example of the foods that are possible in that category. But when I look at that, I see limitations and not possibilities, and it’s very disheartening. What I want to find are possibilities for new or different recipes and foods that we may enjoy, and be healthful.

For example, Dairy and Alternatives is a category unto itself in Canada’s Food Guide; however, with our restriction on soy and milk, what can we do? I think calcium and vitamin D are the main nutrients being promoted with dairy, but how can we get that otherwise? What about grain? Our diet is mainly rice since bulgur and quinoa is difficult to source without contamination.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to explore this more and try to answer some questions we have about nutrition and health in light of our food restrictions. I will also look into food guides around the world to see what they have to say about it.

Food Recalls

In light of yesterday’s post, here are screenshots of the current food recalls taken from the respective Canadian and US agencies:

CFIA Food Recalls - 2016 02 10
CFIA Food Recalls – 2016 02 10
FDA Food Recalls - 2016 02 10
FDA Food Recalls – 2016 02 10

Undeclared egg, mustard, wheat, sesame, fish, milk, peanuts, sulfites, almonds and pistachios. All in the past month. Not to mention the salmonella, listeria, and E. coli occurrences.


Canadian Food Inspection Agency
US Food and Drug Administration


Cast Iron Seasoning

Greg Blonder – Cast Iron Seasoning:

Cast iron pots are heavy. They can rust. The dark black seasoning will not stand up to hours of simmering if the liquid is acidic, like tomato sauce or sauerkraut. And once the seasoning layer is broached, excess iron can leak out of the pot into your food, risking iron overload disease. Thermal conductivity is eight times lower than copper, which is why cast iron fry pans are notorious for hot spots. The surface is mildly non-stick, but requires a bit of oil or fat to reach its full potential. Cast iron can be cleaned, but not aggressively. And I never use my cast iron pots to cook caramel or make crepes or to scrape off a tasty “fond”.

Thus starts an in-depth analysis and recommended method of cast iron seasoning.

As for myself, I don’t bother with fancy oils and use plain old canola/rapeseed oil. It has worked well for the past several years.

A few months ago, I reseasoned my Lodge 10.25″ cast iron pan for the first time (and seasoned a new 12″ seasoned steel pan) in order to remove any potential allergens from our pre-allergen-free cooking days. We had gone on for over a year without using these pans due to our concern with lingering allergens in the pan, which was pretty painful. I didn’t do the piranha etching, but built a large fire in our Weber grill and placed the pan directly on top of the fire for about an hour. The vents were wide open on the grill, and the high heat burned off all of the old seasoning. After three sessions of wiping on a thin layer of canola oil and putting the pans in a 450°F oven for an hour, a suitable seasoning was achieved.

While over time the seasonings have taken a beating, I’m not going to bother with reseasoning since it is still reasonably non-stick, and anything that does stick will scrape off easily after burning it off and scraping with a spatula.

Lodge cast iron skillet
Lodge cast iron skillet
Lodge seasoned steel pan
Lodge seasoned steel pan