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Two Interviews with Author
Linda Marienhoff Coss


Linda Talks about Her Cookbooks
Linda Talks about Her Parenting Book



Linda Coss Talks about Her Food Allergy Cookbooks


Q. Why did you write What's to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook and What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook?

A. For many years my oldest son, Jason, was severely allergic to milk products, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts (he has since outgrown the milk allergy), so I know what a challenge it is to cook for someone who has multiple food allergies. When Jason was first diagnosed, few resources were available for food allergies. Although "milk, egg, and nuts" is a fairly common allergy combination among those who have multiple food allergies, I could not find a cookbook that addressed our needs. The cookbooks available either only eliminated one ingredient, or they eliminated more ingredients than necessary for my son's diet. I was also quite frustrated with my low success rate with the recipes that I did find.

I have always enjoyed cooking, and I felt that if I could create a book full of delicious milk-, egg-, and nut-free recipes, it would be of great benefit to thousands of families. What's to Eat? was written to fill this need.

I wrote my second cookbook, What Else is to Eat?, in response to an overwhelming number of requests from many of the thousands of people who purchased and loved the first book.

Q. Are these recipes good for people who do not have food allergies?

A. Yes! My guiding philosophy has always been to create recipes for delicious food that just does not happen to contain any milk, egg, or nut ingredients. These recipes do not taste like "special diet" foods that are only palatable to a person who has never eaten "regular"food. These are recipes that any one can enjoy. In fact, some of my recipes have even won prizes in national recipe contests, competing against chefs who are not trying to accommodate any special dietary needs.

Q. Are the ingredients for these recipes available at regular grocery stores, or do they use specialty products?

A. The vast majority of these recipes use commonly available ingredients. I understand that people do not have time to run all over town looking for specialty items.

Q. Can you provide balanced meals with these recipes?

A. Yes. Both books include a full range of recipes for healthy, balanced meals. These books also include menu suggestions for parties, special occasions, and everyday meals.

However, those on a milk-free diet must be sure to consume an adequate amount of calcium. Most people do this either by drinking calcium-fortified soy or rice beverages or by taking appropriate dietary supplements.

Q. What about desserts? Do these desserts taste as good as "regular" desserts?

A. These desserts have been served to children and adults, at social gatherings, parties, classroom celebrations, etc. No one ever suspects that they are "special diet" recipes. They look and taste like "regular" desserts.

Q. What makes these cookbooks different from other food allergy cookbooks?

A. These books focus exclusively on milk-, egg-, and nut-free cooking -- and every recipe included is completely free of all of these ingredients. Also, many of the food allergy cookbooks that I have seen have a strong focus on what I call "substitution cooking" --recipes for eggless soufflé or cheeseless cheesecake. Only 2 or 3 of my recipes (between both books) are of this genre.

The recipe instructions are all written with the understanding that many of my readers are cooking out of necessity, and may not be experienced cooks. Although both books are comprehensive cookbooks with recipes for desserts and all meals, What Else is to Eat? has a particular emphasis on fast and easy dishes for today's busy lifestyles.

Q. What do you use in these recipes instead of the "forbidden" ingredients?

A. Throughout the books I use dairy-free margarine instead of butter. In my baked goods recipes, I often use a combination of vegetable oil, baking powder and water as an egg substitute. Otherwise, for the most part, I do not need to use substitutions. I simply focus on recipes that do not require milk products, eggs, or nuts.

Q. How long did it take you to create all these recipes?

A. Recipe development for each book took 3 to 4 years. Often I would cook something a few times, making slight changes to the recipe with each rendition, before I was satisfied with the results.

Q. What are your family’s favorite recipes from the books?

A. Favorites from What's to Eat? include Orange Teriyaki Marinated Flank Steak, Mediterranean Chicken, Fruited Carrot Salad, Whole Grain-Style Waffles, Always Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Peach Upside Down Cake.

Favorites from What Else is to Eat? include Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetable Soup, Jason's Four-Star Brisket, Linda's Signature Grilled Chicken, Farmer's Market Pasta, Grilled Asparagus with Rosemary, Apricot Oatmeal Chews, and Fudge-Filled Banana Muffins.

Q. Have you written any other books?

A. Yes. I have also written How To Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips For Everyday Life, which is an easy-to-use reference manual of the practical, detailed information that parents need.

Q. Where can people buy your books?

A. My books are available at www.FoodAllergyBooks.com, Amazon.com, and various other online and bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Q. Are these cookbooks available in e-book form?

A. Yes! The cookbooks are available in both e-book and print form. The e-books are available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo.com, and most other major e-book retailers.


Linda Coss Talks about Her Parenting Book

Q. What inspired you to write How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies?

A. Each year thousands of children are diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies, and thousands of parents are suddenly faced with figuring out how to care for a child who can literally "drop dead"after eating a tiny amount of the wrong thing. I wrote this book because I wanted to share my in-depth knowledge of food allergy management with these other parents. How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies is a convenient reference manual of the practical, detailed information that parents need.

Q. What makes you an expert on food allergy management?

A. My son was first diagnosed with severe, life-threatening food allergies in 1991. I have many years of first-hand experience, plus over 13 years of experience as the leader of a support group for parents of children with potentially fatal food allergies.

Q. Who is the intended audience for How to Manage?

A. This book is primarily targeted at parents of children who have life-threatening food allergies. However, other adults who care for or interact with these children -- including relatives, teachers, caregivers, neighbors, Scout leaders, and sports coaches -- would also benefit from reading How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies as well.

Q. What makes this book different from other books about life-threatening food allergies that are available today?

A. How to Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies differs in its focus, style, and level of detail. This book's focus is almost entirely on the practical issues of food allergy management, with little mention of "medical"or emotional issues. This is the type of information that can really only come from a fellow parent who has "been there."

I teach parents how to handle common situations, such as shopping for groceries or taking a preschooler to a birthday party, and warn them of dangers they may not have thought of, such as food residue on their guests' hands. The book is written as a series of short, easy-to-read tips, illustrated with numerous checklists, real-life anecdotes, and sample forms.

One of the main differences between this book and others on the market is its level of detail. For example, whereas other books might have a paragraph or two reminding parents to meet with school personnel to discuss creating a safe school environment, How to Manage provides a 6-1/2-page checklist of issues to address at that meeting -- as part of a 25-page chapter on School and Day Care.

Q. What are the most common issues that parents face in caring for a child with life-threatening food allergies?

A. A diagnosis of life-threatening food allergies affects almost every aspect of the family's life. After the parents have learned the basics of how to keep their child safe, one of the biggest challenges is often that of getting all the other adults in the child's life (such as relatives, friends, and caretakers) on board the food allergy management team. Many people refuse to believe the seriousness of the diagnosis, and may even do things that are potentially harmful, such as offer the child allergenic food.

Other issues depend on the child's age. The biggest challenges in caring for a severely food-allergic toddler usually revolve around a toddler's innate need to put everything within reach into his mouth. As the child gets older the parents must gain the cooperation of school personnel in creating a safe school environment. For teenagers, the biggest issues tend to be with social and peer group issues. Regardless of the child's age, parents face challenges in their family's home and social life, and ability to dine in restaurants and travel.

Q. Should children read this book with their parents?

A. No. This is not a children's book, and it is not appropriate for children. There are a number of excellent books available which explain food allergies to young children.

Q. Have you ever been in a life-threatening allergic reaction situation with one of your children?

A. Aside from the reaction that my son had as a baby which eventually led to his diagnosis, his most severe reaction has been in a test situation at the doctor's office. In that situation, my son's throat began to close up within 3 minutes of ingesting the equivalent of a tiny fraction of an egg! Knowing just how extraordinarily sensitive my son is, we have been extremely careful all of his life. By following the advice which I present here in this book, we have avoided most accidental exposures to allergens.

Q. Have you written any other books for the food allergy market?

A. Yes. I have also written two cookbooks What's to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook, and What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook.

Q. Where can people buy your books?

A. My books are available at www.FoodAllergyBooks.com, Amazon.com, and various other online and bricks-and-mortar retailers.

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