Over the next few months I’m going to talk about my personal enemy number one, the kryptonite to my Super(wo)man, the Mojo Jojo to my Bubbles: Yeast.
Yeast is really where my food allergy story starts (kinda funny since yeast isn’t a food). While I’ve had several food allergies since a young age, my entire outlook and behavior towards them changed dramatically in 2012 when my allergist finally solved my health puzzle.
After more than a year worth of increasingly horrible stomach pains, gastro issues, lethargy, joint pains and general discomfort, I made appointments to see my primary care doctor and my allergist. In my mind, I had one of two problems: I was slowly dying of some horrible disease or I had developed new food allergies. (I’m not dramatic at all…….)
My primary care doctor did some blood work and sent me to the GI who insisted I have a colonoscopy to check for issues like ulcerative colitis, bleeding, tumors, etc. I set it up for the following week, drank the massive jug of nastiness they give you to clear out your system (only a few months later a much better tasting and easier drink came out and I’m still angry about it), quickly nodded off as an unexpectedly handsome doctor was gearing up to examine my colon, and woke up an hour later loopy as hell to be told I have a beautiful colon with no problems. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was a ploy to make more $$. Anyway, with that done and no issues, I knew that allergies had to be the problem.
My allergist did the standard skin prick test on my back as a starting point, knowing that whatever was going on would probably require more testing. I hadn’t had my allergies tested in at least 5 years so there was a good chance they had changed and I was unknowingly eating something(s) my body was rejecting. While I don’t find allergy skin tests to be painful, I do find them to be extremely annoying. The little pricks almost tickle in some places and the burning, itching sensation that immediately follows and gets progressively worse as you sit there, unmoving for 15-20 minutes, really gnaws at your psyche.
Body: ITCHY BACK, ITCHY BACK, IT’S ON FIRE, ITCH IT
Mind: Don’t move a muscle or this test could get screwed up and you’ll have to do it again.
Body: JUST ITCH IT ALREADY OR I’M GOING TO HAVE A MELTDOWN
Mind: Deep breaths, only a few minutes left.
Mind: OH F*$@K, 13 more minutes to wait.
And so it goes on until finally the doctor comes back in and, if your allergies are as severe as mine, calmly states how badly you’ve reacted to basically everything and that after measuring all 72 pricks they will apply some steroid cream to help lessen the itch. But the issue is, that cream really does nothing if you have reactions like mine, so your best bet is to hurry home, take a Benadryl and pass out until the next day. THIS is what I’m talking about…
For most people, the hives will go away within a few hours. For me, they last anywhere from 3-7 days, depending on the severity. It’s amazing. I digress.
After examining the results, my allergist decided to do a more intense panel on molds, which I had reacted to the worst. Because this was a custom skin test, not a standard prick test, full blown needles were used. Now, I don’t have any issue with needles or shots, but this involved getting 18 “shots” in an extremely short period of time, and any sane person would start to sweat at that idea. I had two control shots in my right arm and 16 different types of mold and fungus shots in my left arm. While I reacted to all of them pretty badly, my worst was to yeast. (Lucky for you guys, I can’t find the lovely picture of this test.)
I was sent home 45 minutes later, after an observation period to ensure I wouldn’t go into anaphylaxis, with a new diet regime that excluded yeast from my diet entirely and limited the amount of sugar and carbs I could eat. I had mixed feelings: I was happy to have the answer to my health problems and I was entirely defeated by the intensity of this new diet that removed pretty much all of the foods I loved.
So, it’s been five years since I had a slice of real pizza, a sandwich, a freshly baked croissant, truffles shaved on top of my pasta, beef bourguignon (or any other delicious dish that uses mushrooms in the base), a hamburger with bun like a normal person, and so many other things. At first it was really difficult. Watching people eat bread from the bread basket at dinner or strangers eating a slice of pizza on the street made me want to cry with jealousy. I was still at a point where I could taste what they were eating even though I wasn’t eating it. But now I can smell the yeast in bread and pizza and it grosses me out. The whiff of a truffle being shaved at the table three tables down from mine makes me want to gag. I not only have forgotten what these things taste like entirely, but the smell of them doesn’t even appeal to me.
That’s not to say I don’t miss these foods, though. I miss the convenience and ease of pizza or a sandwich on the go. I miss the accessibility of food options when I’m traveling or at an event. I miss not having to constantly worry about what I’m going to eat and if I should eat before I go to brunch.
Whenever I’m in a particularly nostalgic mood or just craving carbs, I’ll make my yeast-free flatbread. Before my dairy allergy popped up last year, this recipe was not vegan and I never would have thought to change it. With a few easy substitutions, it is now dairy-free and vegan. Honestly, I think it tastes better than it did before!
Sometimes I’ll eat it plain while it’s still warm. Other times I’ll dress it up with hummus and veggies, almond butter and jelly, mayo-free chicken salad, or banana and honey with chia seeds sprinkled on top. It’s really the perfect base for any number of toppings. Best of all, it’s extremely easy to make and only has a four ingredients: flour, salt, olive oil and non-dairy milk.
To start, mix together the flour and salt, then add in the oil and non-dairy milk. Stir everything together until well combined and a dough forms.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour then knead the dough roughly 10 times, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
If you’d like larger flatbreads (as pictured here), cut the dough into four even pieces. For smaller flatbreads, cut the dough into eight even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then roll them out on a floured surface until they are roughly 1/8in thick. The shape really doesn’t matter unless you really want circles or squares for something specific. Just make sure that the shape and size will fit into whatever pan you plan to use.
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Once hot, place a flatbread in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until air pockets start to form and the base turns golden brown.
Transfer each flatbread directly to a clean tea towel and wrap up to keep warm and to keep from becoming hardened. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days. I’d recommend reheating the flatbread before eating to get the best flavor.
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ tsp salt
- 3½ Tbsp olive oil
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk
- oil for cooking
- Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add in olive oil and non-dairy milk then stir to combine until a dough forms.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead 10 times, adding more flour if the dough is sticky. Then wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Unwrap the dough and cut into 4 even pieces for large flatbreads or 8 even pieces for small flatbreads. Roll each into a ball then, using a rolling pin, roll out into circles approximately ⅛in thick.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in one flatbread and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until air pockets form and the bottom is browned.
- Remove from skillet and wrap in a clean tea towel to help maintain warmth and to keep soft while you cook the rest. Serve immediately or store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe! Comment below or post a photo to instagram with the tag #champagneandfrites.