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Your Individual Taste

 What to cook for your low carbohydrate, vegetarian, vegan, and allergic family members, hopefully without breaking the bank.

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Welcome to a flexible method of cooking.

Using this blog you will be able to plan meals for your entire family, even if every member seems to be on a different diet.

“People just don’t cook anymore.” That’s what my friend said when I told her I was thinking of writing a food blog. But if you are visiting, you know better. If any members of your family are on a special diet, because of food allergies or diabetes, or a commitment to vegetarianism, you know you have to cook. Possibly you have to prepare two or even three separate meals at every mealtime, especially if some members have special diets and the rest do not.

How did I discover this world of special diets? It all started with a trip to the emergency room when my son was nine months old. He had eaten a few cheese-flavored crackers and was having difficulty breathing. We found out he had an anaphylactic reaction to dairy products. “Go to an allergist,’ the emergency room physician said.

The allergist had even more bad news. The only way to treat food allergies is to avoid the allergens completely. After testing my son, the allergist said “No dairy, no wheat, no eggs, no peanuts.” We had to jump into the mystifying world of food restrictions.

The first thing that frustrated me, and I have since heard many others say the same thing, was that every time I found a so-called allergy cookbook the palette of ingredients the author used did not match ours. Many used milk and eggs. Others avoided things we could use, like soy and corn. One problem with food allergies is that it seems that no two cases are exactly alike.

Yes, you can substitute ingredients, but how well will they work? Both rice milk and soymilk will substitute for cows’ milk. But have you ever had mashed potatoes with vanilla soymilk? Too sweet for my taste! I found a powdered egg replacer that worked well in some baked goods, such as pancakes, but not as well in others. My food budget went out of control, and I had to throw away many failures.

Another thing that frustrated me was that the foods were bland. Maybe that was because they were largely designed for children. My husband loves spicy foods, like Mexican and Indian. He wasn’t happy with boring and bland. And I won’t even mention the soggy rice spaghetti noodles.

Finally, I was overwhelmed with the bewildering array of alternative flours. Spelt, soy, barley, garbanzo bean, oat, rice, amaranth. If you can name it, we had a bag of it somewhere in the dark recesses of the pantry. Which ones would work for us? Which ones would taste good? My son was happy, but my husband cringed every time I said that I had baked.

Up to that point I had been trying to prepare one meal appropriate for all of us. But it became obvious that my husband wasn’t happy with the restricted diet, so then I had to make two separate meals. Over time, my son outgrew some of his allergies (and added a few new ones), but then my husband got into low carbohydrate. Our typical breakfast would be eggs and cheese for my husband and non-egg, non-dairy pancakes for my son. How would we ever find a middle ground?

The good news is that there can be a middle ground. But you may have to break some rules and use some creativity and imagination. If you are an experienced cook, that probably won’t be too hard. If not, well, every journey starts with one step, as the saying goes.

 

If you need to contact us, try yourindividualtaste (at) gmail. com

2 comments

  1. Merri Lewis says:

    My son has food allergies as well. Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Latex and previously Bananas. We have been through the ordeal you mention above trying to find recipes, substitutions , etc. and had flopped cupcakes and muffins, disgusting brownies (I didn’t even know that could happen!) and may “not the same” blah recipes. We also have cross contamination issues b/c of the severity of his allergies–even at age 9! We can’t have any eggs or nuts in the house at all.

    • admin says:

      Reading through your posts, I think we have a lot in common in other issues, too. I just signed up to get your posts via e-mail.

      Just FYI, the allergenic proteins in bananas can be very similar to ones found in celery. Sometimes they can cause hives the next day, too.

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