Thursday, 8 May 2014

What Can I Eat?

I know this has been a long time in coming, but I am thinking it will be a fairly long post so hopefully it will make up for all those posts I should have written but haven't yet.  :P

Recently a friend rang my Lady Mother asking about dietary options for her son who has been rather ill for quite sometime.  She decided to take him off wheat but she wasn't sure where to start.  "What do I give him for breakfast?"  she asked.  "What about snacks?"

If you are in that place now, please know I can relate and sympathize with you sincerely.  For the first couple of weeks, it feels like all you are faced with is what you can't eat, not what you can eat, and it is a rather dismal place to be.  When I started I would drool over the pasta and fresh bread that my siblings were eating.  Pasta is still a sore point for me as it has always been my favourite dishes.  (Having said that, I am working on a recipe for wheat-free pasta... hopefully it won't be too long until I can share it with you!)

Starting with the easiest meal to figure out and ending with the hardest, I have outlined some tips and ideas that we have found really work and taste great... I hope you find inspiration to keep going with your wheat-free life-style and that you never give up on yourself - you are doing great, no matter what stage of the journey you are on!

Dinner - I think this is the easiest meal to prepare for on a wheat-free basis because (in my house anyway) dinner usually consists of meat and three to four vegetables.  No fuss - same for all!  :D   However, there are nights when spaghetti bolognese is on the menu and I have to come up with another option.  Usually, my Lady Mother and I use SlendierSlim pasta which is make from the konjac plant (glucomannan).  (In the USA, these can be bought from Miracle Noodle.  We get ours from the health section in the supermarket, so have a look and see what you find, just make sure you read the labels to ensure you aren't buying frauds.  :P)  The konjac noodles are packed in saline and have to be rinsed really well before they are served.  Trust me - I tried one un-rinsed before and it reminded me distinctly of a piece of squid.  Blegh!  :P
The other alternative we have found really works is to dish the bolognese meat sauce over steamed or baked cauliflower.  This is one of my favourite dishes now, because the cauliflower is just so yummy served like this!
The other tricky dish that jumps to mind is lasagna.  It is my opinion that lasagna is the best dish on the planet.  Giving it up was really hard.  But, as with most things, there are alternatives.  One is to use konjac lasagna sheets.  I haven't tried this as I am not sure our supermarket stocks every type of pasta that SlendierSlim puts out, but I am confident it would work.  When my Lady Mother and I have lasagna, we slice a zucchini very thinly length-wise and use it in direct replacement of the pasta.  There is no need to cook it before hand as zucchini does not take long to cook.  As for the white sauce, heat 600 millimeters (20.5 oz) of cream in a saucepan and add 1 cup of grated cheese to thicken.  Voila!  White sauce!  :D

Lunch - Lunch is a little harder to prepare, especially if you are out and 1) have to eat what is provided, or 2) have to BYO.  I have had to do both recently and it is a little awkward, but doable.  I did not have a good experience when I ate what was provided (sub sandwiches) but when I had to provide my own lunch, I just made a really nice salad in a lunch container and took it and a fork with me.  So that is one tip I highly recommend: invest in a couple of good lunch containers.  Glass is preferable to plastic, especially if you are sticking them in the microwave.
When you are at home, it only takes a bit of creativity to make a yummy lunch.  My Lady Mother and I have enjoyed left overs several times (left overs always taste so much better the day after you cook the food!)  If you get into the habit of it, it is only a simple thing to make a little extra each night for lunch the next day.  That said, salad is also an excellent lunch as it is extremely healthy and it takes care of much of your vegetable intake for the day!  :P  Salads are versatile things and you can surprise yourself with what you can come up with.  You might add some roast pumpkin and dukkah one day and some feta and olives the next... the options are infinite.  You might even set yourself a different international salad a day for a month!  (Hmmm... that sounds like fun actually... :P)

Snacks - One of the things my Lady Mother always told me growing up was if you are hungry, have a drink of water first, because then you don't need so much at snack time.  I always hated this advice as when I was hungry, I wanted to eat, not drink, but it does actually work and it is sound advice that I would pass onto you.  It also works in reverse: the more you eat, the less you want to have a drink of water, and we all know what happens when we don't get enough water... :)  There are times though when a snack is inevitable.  That time for me is coffee time (10:30 am) and in the afternoon (about 4:00).  Fruit should always be first on the agenda at snack time, but I don't condemn you if it isn't, because it's not my first choice either - it just doesn't go well with coffee!  :P  :D  There are a number of healthy snacks you can have, even if you haven't baked in a while.  I really like the Ryvita crackers with butter and Vegemite (yes - I'm a true blue Aussie girl!  :P)  Vegemite is made from yeast extract from yeast that was grown on wheat.  I don't know if this is good or not, but I haven't experienced any adverse reactions as yet, so I eat it... :)  Nuts make an excellent snack, and so does popcorn.  My family goes through so much popcorn it is just sad.  We have an air-popper, so no oils are used and we coat it with butter and salt.  Yum!

Breakfast - As I have mentioned, this is a tricky one.  Most breakfast cereals are either made on wheat, or the sugar content is through the roof.  Half the time, both issues can apply to just one box of cereal.  Rice Bubbles are a no-go, as are cornflakes.   Once you get into the swing of making breakfast every morning, it isn't such a big deal.  Bacon and eggs are really easy and quite frankly are among some of the most awesome victuals ever.  If you want to shake it up a bit, scramble the eggs, or throw some onion and mushrooms on to saute.  You can also grill tomato and zucchini to add to the plate.
Fruit salad is a really good breakfast, or even just pear in natural yogurt, or something like that... We really enjoy porridge and baked oatmeal and pancakes too (made with different flours, of course).  You can check out some of the recipes I have tried here.  I will hopefully be adding new recipes soon.  :)

Dessert - This is really hard and it is dessert time that I most often nearly break the rules.  Fortunately, puddings are rather un-fussy things and you can make them virtually anyway you feel like.  They are almost (but not quite!  :P) completely fail-proof.  I like berry fool (I will post the recipe soon) but as we in Australia are coming into winter, it isn't always what you want on a chilly night.  I haven't tried much with desserts as yet but I will let you know when I do.  I did try an apple pie with a wheat-free pastry, but the pastry was really soft and crumbly so that you could hardly touch it, let alone lift it once it was cooked!  As I said, it's a working progress.

When finding something to eat, the closer to the natural form the food is, the healthier it is going to be for you.  Just keep that is mind, and to wrap up on a light note, have a giggle over this video and good luck with your what-free journey.  :D

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