Mary Beth Eversole is slaying her food demons on YouTube, one ingredient substitution at a time.
When she was diagnosed with “seven allergies and a myriad of sensitivities,” she stood in front of her kitchen pantry with a sense of hopelessness.
“I just started to cry. It brought up a lot of things, because I’m a recovered anorexic,” Eversole said recently while sipping some green organic tea and taste-testing a raw, unbaked, gluten-free brownie at Unbakery & Juicery at 634 E. 63rd St.
Eversole, 34, was home to visit family. She graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is an actress and voice teacher in Los Angeles, where she has landed roles on Lifetime’s “My Crazy Ex” and the short film “Over? Over!” (a Cannes Film Festival winner) and is a stand-in for “American Horror Story.”
But her most delicious role so far may be as the host of “Allergy Actress Cooking,” her year-old cooking show. In the weekly half-hour episodes, Eversole helps others who have food allergies figure out safe, clean-eating strategies. Episodes include “Superbowl Survival!” and “Kid-Friendly Allergy-Friendly Pizza.”
Eversole’s own diet — which adheres closely to what is popularly known as the paleo diet — eliminates meat, fish, shellfish, most dairy, soy, corn and wheat, which, to non-allergy sufferers may sound like a bare cupboard. Yet Eversole insists her recipes are hearty and delicious enough for even the pickiest eaters.
Although Eversole is not a professional cook or baker, she became “a master at substitutions,” she says. To prove her point, she hands me three allergy-free macarons. “I combined six recipes over the weekend. It took four tries, but I got it.”
Almond flour — a traditional base for French macarons — is naturally gluten-free. But she uses a special brand of powdered sugar with tapioca rather than cornstarch, an additive often used to keep the sugar from clumping. She used pure cane sugar for the batch, but coconut sugar can also be used. Instead of synthetic dyes, she uses natural food coloring made from beets.
When Eversole was finally diagnosed with food allergies 15 years ago, she began recalling how she had been self-eliminating foods as early as age 5. By the time she was 8, she quit eating meat because it made her stomach hurt. Her food eliminations eventually became so extreme, anorexia nearly killed her.
She was recovered and thriving until one day, when dining out with her husband and in-laws, she ordered a gluten-free pasta dish served at a national chain restaurant. It was a dish she had eaten before, but a few bites in, she realized something was different. The server told her the pasta dish contained no wheat — just semolina.
Semolina is a coarsely ground wheat flour.
Eversole had an anaphylactic reaction. Luckily, hers are not immediately life-threatening, though they are extremely debilitating: “Each food is different. Each reaction is different,” she says.
Still, she wound up in the emergency room. The restaurant manager offered her a free dessert. “I could have pursued suing them, but I’d rather educate them to keep this from happening again,” she says.
Eversole’s goal is to “bring joy to a diagnosis that can be debilitating,” and despite its lack of technical sophistication (she just held an Indiegogo campaign to raise…