Thursday, August 23, 2012

A quick review - what I avoid

I’ve shared my blog with a few new readers lately, so I’m going to quickly review the foods that I avoid so you understand what is and is not in the recipes I post. My list of sensitivities are the result of a blood test done under the supervision of a doctor in January 2012. And before I get started, GF = Gluten Free and V = vegan. 

Gluten – wheat, barley, malt, rye, spelt, regular oats (I buy GF oats). I also avoid maltodextrin and monosodium glutamate as much as I can. This means I have to carefully check anything with seasoning – sausages, seasoned chips and crackers, spice mixes, marinades, boxed meals and soups. I stocked up on almond flour, oat flour, quinoa and rice pasta to replace many of the gluten-full items in my pantry. We eat a lot of rice (mostly brown) as well. 

Casein – I am more sensitive to mozzarella cheese than other dairy products, but casein and swiss cheese are also on the second tier of sensitivities. On the third tier (not as bad) sensitivities are yogurt and cottage cheese.  So as a result, I avoid all dairy products. I’m really struggling with not being able to use plain greek-style yogurt in cooking Mediterranean and Asian foods, so I may consider trying to add that back in sparingly. I’ve also considered adding in butter on occasion because I’m not a fan of using margarine. I only use one brand of margarine – BestLife. The rest of the time I use coconut oil or olive oil depending on what I’m making. I use almond milk or coconut milk in place of dairy milk in most recipes. Coconut milk will whip up nicely for mousse or whipped cream topping. Be careful with cheese substitutes (soy cheese, etc) – they usually have casein in them. 

Eggs – I am sensitive to egg whites, so many gluten-free products on the market (eggs, baked goods, etc) are not an option for me. I often buy GF/vegan products for that reason. 

Yeast – I am sensitive to both kinds of yeast – bakers and brewers – so even if GF breads are vegan, I still have to make sure they don’t have yeast in them. Yeast is also used as a seasoning in many items. 

Peanuts – My daughter and I are both sensitive to peanuts so we have a lot of cashews, pecans, walnuts and almonds around instead. I’ve tried various PB substitutes (sunbutter, soynut butter and almond butter) and almond butter is my favorite. I also like sunbutter as the occasionally snack on crackers (soooo good with honey), but its harder to find. 

Peppermint, oysters, and kidney beans – on my list, but not too difficult to avoid. 

The most time-consuming thing for me was figuring out how to make my own seasonings and sauces. I stocked up on:
  •  vinegars (red wine, white wine, rice, apple cider)
  •  oils (coconut, sesame, olive, walnut, grapeseed)
  •  juices (lemon, lime, orange, pomegranate)
  •  spices/herbs (cumin, cilantro, garlic, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, parsley, dill, curry)
Once I had the seasonings down, it was just an issue of adding those to basic vegetable, meat, grain dishes. 

In the last several months, I’ve also drastically reduced the amount of meat we eat at home. I’ve replaced a lot of that meat with quinoa, nuts and beans so you will see vegan recipes on my site as well.

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