I’m Jessica: the cooker, taster, writer, recipe developer, photographer and posting monitor for this here blog. Welcome!
Little about me: I grew up in New York and currently live in sunny Southern California suburbia with my husband and four sons – the youngest are identical twins. #busyisanunderstatement
My recipe critics are my guys and whoever volunteers to be my tasting guinea pig. I do love food so there are definitely a bunch of crave-worthy indulgences among the healthier recipes. You will also find food that is simple, super tasty (or it doesn’t make the cut) and always without gluten, dairy, soy, tomato, pineapple, pistachio – my family’s allergens. Many are also paleo, grain free, plant based, corn free, and night shade free to meet our evolving dietary needs.
Such as discovering (last year) my oldest sons’ allergy to egg, almond and turkey. So when you find a recipe without those ingredients it’s because we were lucky enough to have him join us at the table. He’s 23 and apparently has a life of his own, which I don’t understand one bit. #alwaysmybaby
Creating tasty allergen-free recipes can be a challenge but it doesn’t have to be! All my recipes are tested and re-tested because they make it here. I started with blog on a whim. My family would get a kick out of how I would re-create gluten and dairy recipes that were actually good enough to crave so they started taking photos of favorites to keep in a “from Jessica’s kitchen” file on my laptop. Early posts, circa 2014, were taken with an iphone 4 and 5, by my sons with love and pride. They’re the best.
So, I figured, heck, why not share a recipe or two (or hundreds) with those who want good food without the hassle or frustration of allergen-free cooking. Life is hectic enough, right?!
On the health side of things …
My own health issues were: fibromyalgia, early onset arthritis, and joint pain. Gone since 2012 after changing my diet (took 4 years), exercise, and losing 60 pounds.
Husband: cardiovascular issues and inflammation. We discovered a 7.8 c-reactive protein level (NOT good, at all) due to major inflammation in his body, and a mess of bacteria and yeast in his gut that took 18 months to regulate. Change in diet (no beef, lamb, eggs, sugar, yeast, fruit, vinegar) and heavy doses of probiotics, grape seed extract, and omega 3 did the trick.
Oldest son: allergies we thought were to dust and pollen, now know are almonds, dairy, and (chicken) eggs, he’s okay with quail or duck eggs. Go figure. Histamine imbalance, gut inflammation, and high oxalate intolerance. Watching what he eats and rotating foods have been helpful in reducing the inflammation.
Teenage son: was ADHD. Removing gluten, dairy, tomato (later learned is a strong intolerance), soy, food dyes, and artificial anything took that diagnosis away after 2 years on this new ‘diet’. It was really bad by 5th grade because he was eating gluten and dairy out despite our change in the home that they wanted to put him on a 504 plan (for learning or developmental delay students). You can imagine my thrill when his grades improved dramatically by 7th grade and he didn’t act like a stoner anymore (major brain fog). Currently going into the 10th grade (2016) and a B+ average!
But all of our health issues we pretty much ignored and were ignorant about until an autism diagnosis in 2007. Both of my twin boys were diagnosed with autism at 3 years old (they turned twelve in June 2016). That turned everything upside down. Admittedly, autism is a bitch most times, but it also opened my eyes to just how much we are what we eat and was the catalyst to our overall health. (Autism is a neurological disorder and not only affected by food. Environmental factors, numerous heavy-metal vaccinations given at once, and genetics can also contribute to this epidemic.)
Shortly after diagnosed (more about that here) I went straight to google university, researching my ass off about gut-health, neurological health, BioMed health, EVERYTHING health. My basic nutrition background was nothing compared to what I learned from countless hours of research on the effects of diet and supplements on the gut and brain. Happy to say many, MANY health issues have been resolved due to our diet and eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Amen to that.
Also a firm believer of organic, GMO-free foods that are mostly seasonal and not into pesticides, heavy metals, PFOA’s and other “environmental stuff”. So I won’t be recommending non-stick teflon pans for cooking or searing tuna here either. Oh, and sorry but no brightly colored sprinkles either, but will pull out the dye-free ones on occasion.
I hope to inspire you with my simple recipes that are as good as they are good for you. Allergen-free can delicious, no matter what they say!
See you in the kitchen!
And here are some FAQ’s to satisfy any curiosities …
Why gluten free, dairy free AND soy free?
With research, and the help of a DAN doctor we learned that a gluten, casein (a protein found in dairy), soy free diet has helped over 60% of children with autism improved. I completely removed gluten, dairy, and soy from our home in 2008, simultaneously adding in probiotics, digestive enzymes, B 12 shots, vitamins, and minerals and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). We have been gluten, dairy, soy free (among other foods) since. To read more about our journey click here.
How are your boys doing?
Better and better every day! I never thought that I would use my nutrition background so intently on my own children. Thankfully, it has come in handy. We watch for behaviors that indicate yeast overgrowth and bacteria like clostridia among other things and I keep a food journal to watch for any new food intolerances. Limiting some other foods such as potatoes, tomatoes, pistachios, eggplant, bell peppers, and mushrooms have been helpful. Here’s an article talking more about how a gluten and casein-free diet helps kids on the spectrum … http://www.totalhealthmagazine.com/articles/allergies-asthma/ditching-dairy-gluten-found-effective-for-autism.html
Where did you get your culinary training?
I do not have any formal food training, my background and education originally in fashion design then switched to nutrition. Culinary training was as formal as watching my grandmother cook when I was young, more out of a fascination of creating something than actually learning to cook. I began cooking in my mid-twenties when my oldest son was born. I did run a kosher commercial kitchen, as a volunteer, for a year, if that counts for culinary training. Cooking, lots of cooking is my training.
Your photography training?
No formal lessons in photography either (as you can see in my earlier haven’t-a-clue-in-photography posts). All my photos from 2012 to late 2014 have been taken on my iPhone, step by step photos are still usually taken with my iphone because it’s not physically possible for me to cook and hold that expensive camera at the same time since my photos are all in real-time. I haven’t figured out that trick yet. I am tempted to update old photos with new prettier-more-respectable-food-blogger photos but decided to keep them as-is to remind me how far my taking photos has come. I received my first somewhat fancy camera, (a DSLR, A Canon Rebel T5i) in December 2014 and have been playing around with it since.
Are you available to develop recipes or do sponsorships for my brand?
I would love to collaborate with you! Please get in touch with me to discuss.
Can I send a free product to review and / or advertise?
I’d always consider product reviewing if it’s something I think my readers would appreciate.
Can I use your photos or recipe on my site or magazine?
If you would like to feature a recipe in your story, site, or print publication please contact me at fromjessicaskitchen (at) gmail (dot) com – Thank you in advance!
Can I link to your blog?
You certainly can, and thank you for sharing, I’m honored! 🙂
Random “about me” stuff:
– Favorite foods are french macarons, Thai food, pie, pomegranates, figs, and fried chicken though not all together.
– Speak fluent Russian (born in Russia, left when I was 2 years old)-when the heck will I share Russian recipes? I don’t know.
– Love spinning and morning runs to loud music.
– Very into astrology.
– Favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.
– Don’t celebrate Halloween (the whole evil spirit thing irks me).
– Love to reading non-fiction books on nutrition, biographies, and poetry.
– Have a minor obsession for Williams-Sonoma
– Usually playing music when I cook. Coldplay is my favorite for cooking.
– An iced four-shot espresso is my morning go-to
– But not before taking probiotics (you do take probiotics, right? if not then you need to read this)
– Afternoon go-to is a cup of tea (chamomile or lavender) with tons of lemon or green matcha on ice in the summer. Yum.
– I may have a daily thing for Justin’s peanut butter cups. Maybe.