So, it turns out that food limitations are really hard. I’m sure that will come as a surprise. Ha. I knew going in to this that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I don’t think I fully grasped just how much more complicated eating becomes when you have to avoid some of the basic building blocks of the food we commonly eat in this country. Coupled with my insanely busy schedule this time of year and a maybe not so great attitude about these limitations and I’ve not had a lot to share here. That’s not to say we haven’t been eating, but popcorn has turned into dinner on more nights than I care to admit and there have been tears on more than one occasion.
But, a month in I’ve basically gotten the hang of things at home. Eating out, eating at other people’s houses, or the worst, eating at conferences, is a completely different story. I’ve learned not to go anywhere without a snack in my bag in case there’s nothing I can eat. I’ve also figured out a few places I can eat pretty much anything on the menu and suggest those whenever I have lunch or dinner plans. Cooking at home has been much easier, though I’m not going to lie – I still wish I could have cheese pretty much every single day. So what am I eating now?
There have been a lot of salads. Instead of gyros? Greek salad with grilled lamb. Instead of burritos? Taco salads. The only thing I can eat on many restaurant menus (and at the conference I attended)? Salad. And there have been a fair number of meat and potatoes dinners: coq au vin with mashed potatoes; grilled sausages, mashed potatoes and broccolette; steak, roasted potatoes and asparagus; roast chicken, potatoes, carrots and sauteed pea vines.
But what we’ve been eating the most of is dinners from the wok. My wok, already one of my favorite kitchen tools, has become indispensable. I don’t think I’ve put it away once in the last month. The meals I’ve been happiest with have pretty much all come from the wok – like that stir fry above, with ground pork from Heritage meats, tofu from Vashon Island, Washington asparagus, shallots from my in-laws’ garden, red Thai basil, and a dash of oyster sauce. Or a particularly good rendition of pad Thai, with the genius (if I do say so myself) swapping of Korean rice cakes for the rice noodles. Try it. Here’s a good recipe to get you started.
The most disappointing meals have been substitutions for bread or dairy, and, after a particularly bad experience with vegan cheese – which, by its very nature, pretty much goes against everything I believe about food and now after tasting it makes me shudder every time I think about it – I’ve been hesitant to include many substitute products in my diet. Sure, I’ve made wheat free bread a few times, never entirely successfully (likely due to user error/inability-to-exactly-follow-a-recipe and not a weakness in the recipe), but good enough to stand in for toast with eggs. Hazelnut milk is a fine replacement for cow’s milk on bowls of granola; So Delicious brand coconut creamer, while maybe not entirely true to the brand name, isn’t a bad substitute for half and half in my morning coffee. Bionaturae pasta, while insanely expensive, is actually quite good. But the bulk of what I’ve been eating has been real food, as it was intended, not substitutes for something else.
I’m lucky: this is likely just a temporary period of complete elimination, and I’ll probably be able to reintroduce both dairy and wheat into my diet on a more limited basis in the future. So many people face serious, life-threatening food allergies; evidence thus far suggests I’m probably not one of those people. Yes, I do feel better after a month with no dairy or cheese, but I don’t think the change has been so drastic that I won’t be able to have small amounts of both sometime in the future. But unfortunately I’m only one month in to three months of this adventure, so the days of small amounts of dairy and wheat are still in the future. July 15, to be exact. Not like I’m counting.
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