Her food allergies nearly killed her, so KC native is helping others with cooking show

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…

SPECIAL REPORT: The Supplier View – 2017 Food Trends

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03 Jan 2017 — Clean label is the new standard and 2016 was full of announcements around reformulation strategies, specifically sugar and sodium reduction. Last year, Mars announced that it will remove all artificial colors from its human food products as part of a commitment to meet evolving consumer preferences. By expanding the scope of the effort to its entire human food portfolio, Mars says it is making a commitment of significant depth and breadth.

But we have gone beyond clean label alone, as consumer demand for authenticity and transparency is fueled by the demand for clear label launches. This marketing term, coined by Innova Market Insights in 2014, has been jumped upon by the industry and has been an iconic description ever since.

Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insight, told FoodIngredientsFirst: “The running theme through our trends list is naturalness and clean label, which has now pretty much become the standard.”

“It has become somewhat of a running theme through our trends forecasts in recent years. In 2008, ‘Go Natural’ led our trends list, and since then the theme has featured each year in different forms, such as ‘Processed is Out’ in 2011, ‘From Clean to Clear Label’ in 2015 and ‘Organic Growth for Clear Label’ in 2016. This year, clean & clear is a theme weaving throughout the entire list,” explains Williams.

The trend is already leading to challenges on the supply side, with difficulty in sourcing enough natural products to deal with the surge in demand. Suppliers are already having to look beyond their base and grow in diverse regions of the world. This will be one of the key issues for the food industry going forward and present a future challenge should the ongoing trend to clean & clear label continue for years to come.

Innova Market Insights tipped “Clean Supreme” as the top trend to watch out for in 2017. Growing calls for transparency throughout the supply chain are taking clean & clear label to a new and supreme level. This comes as the inherent benefits of plant-based products are being actively marketed to a more health conscious consumer. The demand for total transparency now incorporates the entire supply chain, as a clean label positioning becomes more holistic.

Looking forward into 2017, FoodIngredientsFirst explores the food industry trends to watch for the coming year. What will be the key consumer trends driving the food industry in 2017 and how are they impacting supplier R&D development? Key suppliers offer their thoughts on key food industry trends to watch.

Phil a’Becket, Tic Gums Market Research Analyst certainly agrees that the demand for clean label is not slowing down. He explains: “There are several trends that will continue through 2017 particularly clean label and the overall sensory experience. With the shift to clean label, formulators are removing ingredients which can also impact important textural attributes in their applications. Many find they are unable to clearly define these textural changes and are challenged to understand the complete functionality of the ingredients they are replacing. When considering the textural needs of the consumer, manufacturers must look towards new technologies to balance clean label demands with their own formulation objectives.”

“TIC Gums has developed a lexicon of terms called the Food Texture Terminology, as a way to standardize texture descriptions. This enables us to work closely with formulators, streamline the process and formulate accordingly. To help manufacturers navigate through the available clean label hydrocolloids, TIC Gums has developed a clean label chart to explain their source and status such as organic compliant, non-GMO and retailer-approved. Additionally, TIC Gums has also established an internal definition of ‘natural.’ However, we are finding that the term is often replaced with more specific terms such as ‘GMO-free,’ ‘100% organic’ and ‘made with organic.’ We can work with manufacturers’ exact specifications and help them determine the texture and stability solution that best fits their needs,” he says.

“Reformulating foods to achieve a clean label claim can present technical and formulation challenges,” notes Ellis Brouns, Rousselot Global Marketing Manager. “To overcome these challenges, formulators should partner with experienced suppliers and used thoroughly-tested ingredients, such as gelatin or hydrolyzed gelatin, proven to offer multiple functional and nutritional benefits while complying to the requirements of clean label claims.”

Director of International Sales and Marketing, GNT Group, Paul Collins spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst: “With clean and clear label, it is really important that it is not just surface deep and that it actually flows through the entire supply chain. It is important that it is a really robust proposition for the consumer and not something that has unexpected or undesirable elements which would cause adverse consumer reaction.”

“At GNT we process our coloring foods in a very natural way and use water as the process media. We are not using organic solvents, because while they would not appear on the label necessarily, they would also not fit within consumer sentiment. You see very many finished products, including household names, where they disclose their supply chain and topics like sustainability, the environment and GMO-free all need to be taken care of. For us, one of our platforms is “full control of the supply chain,” which is fundamentally important in ensuring authenticity and traceability to ensure that the supply chain is secure,” explains Collins, “So that links to the topic of the “power of plants.” What we see is a number of functionalities being plant derived and of course we are currently specialized in the area of colors. But there are also plant proteins and many flavors that…