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Ticket to Paradise

by Linda Marienhoff Coss


Close your eyes and come with me on an imaginary journey. Set aside your everyday responsibilities and take a trip to a lush tropical paradise.



The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The palm trees are swaying gently in the breeze. You are on a beautiful white sand beach looking at the waves in the crystal clear water. Relax and let your cares melt away. 


Mental health professionals will tell you that taking “imaginary journeys” like this can be a great way to relax and relieve stress – and for those of us who are living life in the “food allergy lane,” stress relief can be especially important! Finding ways to have fun with our families can also be a great stress reducer.


This week, why not get ready for summer with a terrific tropical-themed meal? Spread out a beach towel as a tablecloth, pass out the flower leis, put on your sunglasses and have fun!



Chicken and Rice Luau

Fresh Green Salad

Tropical Pineapple Glazed Cake



Chicken and Rice Luau


This Hawaiian-themed entrée will be ready to serve in just a half hour!


Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes


3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

2-1/2 cups water

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thinly into rounds

1-1/4 cup long-grain white rice

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

2 green onions, chopped

1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks packed in juice, drained


To make sauce, place balsamic vinegar, honey and soy sauce in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside.


Place water in 2-1/2 or 3-quart pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add prepared carrots and rice; stir. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed by rice. Remove from heat.


While rice and carrots are cooking, prepare chicken. Cut chicken into 3/4-inch chunks. Heat canola oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and 2 tablespoons sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through. Add chopped green onions and sauté for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat.


Place cooked rice and carrot mixture in serving bowl. Add cooked chicken and green onion mixture, drained pineapple chunks, and remaining sauce; mix well. Serve hot.


Reprinted with permission from What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Marienhoff Coss, available at



Tropical Pineapple-Glazed Cake


This makes a great finale for your special meal!


Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes



1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/4 cup pineapple juice from the canned pineapple that will be used in glaze

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained, reserve juice

1/2 cup apricot preserves or low-sugar apricot spreadable fruit

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round cake pan.


Place flour, sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, water, vegetable oil, pineapple juice, vinegar, baking soda, and vanilla in mixing bowl; mix until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter.


To make glaze, place drained pineapple, apricot preserves and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until preserves are melted and bubbly. Slowly spoon the glaze evenly over the cooked cake. Allow to cool completely before serving.


Reprinted with permission from What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Marienhoff Coss, available at


Pineapple cake, sauce




Pineapple cake 04Photos courtesy of Laura Giletti



About the Author


 Known as one of the “pioneers” in the food allergy world, Linda Coss is the author of three popular food allergy books: “How to Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies,” “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.” All three books are available at

A former food allergy support group leader, Linda is the mother of a son, soon to be a college graduate, who has multiple life-threatening food allergies. Linda lives in Southern California, where she works as a freelance marketing writer.



Images (3)
  • tropical-beach
  • Glaze for Linda Coss' Tropical Pineapple-Glazed Cake
  • Linda Coss' Tropical Pineapple-Glazed Cake

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Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
1235 South Clark Street Suite 305, Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
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