Aloha from the Toothless Wahine! I live in a suburb of Denver with my hubby and our two huskies. We love to travel, see movies, hang out with friends, and just enjoy the Rocky Mountains. Another detail about me is that I have a ton of food allergies. The first one was discovered at the tender age of 6 months old with the introduction of formula. Apparently I still owe my parents a set of curtains for that experience. It turns out that I am severely allergic to several proteins. My allergies include milk protein (whey), soy protein, seafood, tree nuts (peanuts are my friends), poultry, and other odd items including celery, pineapple, buckwheat, peas, spinach and rhubarb.
I am lucky that most of these allergies were discovered when I was little, so I have never been able to eat (and don’t miss) things like chocolate, cheese or ice cream. I grew up bringing my own cake to friends’ birthday parties, packing my lunch for school, and asking to read ingredient labels at all restaurants. If there was ever a question whether I could eat something, I always said no thank you and passed. In a way I am lucky, I don’t have to worry about a big scary reaction that requires an epi-pen or other drastic measures. My body takes care of eliminating any offensive ingredients pretty quickly. Even with how careful we were over the years I have still had my fair share of experiences in the ER with a puke bucket and IV rehydration.
Growing up with these dietary restrictions has also given me some great insight into dealing with food allergies. I never felt like I was missing out with the way my parents handled my food allergies, and for that I am very grateful. I have had the opportunity to work with groups of kids in several different venues and I have seen kiddos with food allergies and watched their families struggle with feeding them. I think I have collected some great recipes, tips, tricks and suggestions for folks dealing with one or more of my allergies, which is why I have considered this blog for years. My parents never made me a different or unique dinner, we all ate the same thing, just with some variations. Through The Toothless Wahine I am hoping to be able to share my hard earned knowledge with others who may just be starting the food allergy lifestyle.
Oh, and I bet you are wondering about how I came up with the name: Toothless Wahine. At this point in my life, I am also finding myself learning how to cook all over again, as I am suddenly completely toothless. 2010 brought an unexpected diagnosis of oral cancer as well as an aggressive surgery, weeks of radiation, radiation burns and one fancy skin graft. The worse side effect here has been that I am now toothless (and pretty numb in the mouth). Good news is that I am completely cancer free and loving life! Bad news is that my nutrition has suffered with my inability to chew. Implants or dentures are not an option at this time due to radiation damage. And did I mention I still have food allergies? The medical community likes to tell me to drink Ensure (dairy protein) or to use a blender (yum, baby food through a straw) or that I am just not trying hard enough. I am choosing to invent new cooking methods that allow me to still eat actual food that isn’t mush.
Everyone out there with jaw or tooth issues who have been told to submit to your blender, this blog is for you! To avoid being joined at the hip with a blender for the rest of my life I am learning how to cook meals that are still food allergy friendly, as well as that are for a soft/no chew diet. I have met and talked to others who have some of the same problems I have with cooking and I am really hoping that this blog can be useful to those who are dealing with food allergies or dental complications (or both). I intend Toothless Wahine to look at all these issues with a good sense of wit, practicality and a healthy dose of humor. Be ready for the humor ☺ I hope everyone finds this useful in their own way!