For the past month, Hanna’s been following a diagnostic diet prescribed by her nutritionist in hopes that they’ll be able to identify, without more intrusive testing, the source of some persistent symptoms she’s been having. We suspect gluten, but the diet starts with no assumptions. So we’ve had to temporarily eliminate lactose and legumes and soy as well as certain fruits and vegetables (and we’re already functionally vegetarians, so no meat, poultry, or fish per usual). Worst of all is avoiding chocolate (!). But we’ve been making do — and even making some fun alternate food discoveries.
A few observations.
- Of the non-dairy “cheese” options available, we’ve enjoyed the almond-based ones over tapioca or rice.
- Who knew there were so many awesome non-wheat flours? Even if you’re not required by dietary restrictions to use them, you should definitely try spelt, rice, oat, and quinoa flours. Oat flour is particularly tasty for cookies, and quinoa flour gives baked goods a delicious nutty flavor (I’ve
- Coconut-based ice cream is very tasty, regardless of whether you need to avoid lactose. Particularly when you live a five-minute bike ride away from FoMu.
- Likewise, coconut milk makes delicious home-made custard.
- Omelets make good substantive meals morning, noon, and night! (Even if they turn into egg scramble because you fumble the flipping).
- Pancakes, particularly Joy the Baker’s cornmeal-molasses cakes, can be easily modified to be “allergy-free”; we substituted maple syrup or sorghum syrup for the molasses and rice flour plus a tablespoon of cornstarch for the all purpose flour. Voila!
- Most gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free alternatives are more expensive than the more popular ingredients and products. This probably goes without saying, but I think it’s worth highlighting here. Hanna and I are, luckily, in a position to follow this diet without a great deal of inconvenience: We live in a location with multiple Whole Foods and local co-op options for these alternative ingredients. e can switch to buying rice or quinoa flour at $2-plus per pound instead of wheat flour. We can buy more eggs to bolster our protein intake. We can buy maple syrup instead of honey or molasses. We can (occasionally!) buy a loaf of store-made gluten-free bread at $6.99/loaf rather than wheat bread at half that price. When we don’t want to cook after a long day at work, we can order $40.00 worth of vegetarian sushi or Thai food (no wheat or dairy products) instead of a $12 pizza or a burger at McDonald’s. If it turns out we have to dig in and figure out how to let go of one or more class of food for the long haul, we will hopefully find ways to make it more affordable. But in the meantime, we don’t have to worry about penny-pinching. Not everyone with food allergies is so fortunate.
- Gluten-free cookbooks, magazines, and blogs are prone to preachy-ness. It’s trendy right now to go gluten-free, and while we’re finding it undeniably useful to be able to take advantage of the products, restaurants, and ingredients available because of this … it’s not exactly an inviting atmosphere when you’re not convinced that going gluten-free will solve all your health problems, the world’s political problems, plus make you live forever.
IMPROMPTU MAPLE-MUSTARD RICE SALAD
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 persian cucumbers, diced
1 cup English peas
1 large sweet potato, diced, sauteed in olive oil and fresh thyme
1.5 cups cooked rice (we used a wild rice mix)
Toss thoroughly with dressing:
1 part olive oil
1 part maple syrup
1 part dijon mustard
2 parts balsamic vinegar
salt, to taste