Your parents might have scolded you for playing with your food as a kid, but I’m going to encourage it. I’m not talking about pushing food you don’t want to eat around on your plate and wishing it were something else. What I’m talking about is throwing different foods together to see what happens (how does it look, taste, and feel?), exploring new foods with the mindset that you might really like them, and using your imagination to satisfy your tastes.
There really aren’t a lot of grains at our house. Matt has oats for breakfast a few mornings each week and I bake the occasional loaf of gluten-free bread every few months—but other than that, grains aren’t part of our regular meals.
I like variety. Not only is it the spice of life, it is a really great way to make sure that you are getting a mix of nutrients from your food. Now that I have taken back over the shopping, my goal is to buy one thing each week that we have never had before.
While shopping in the gluten-free section last week, I saw a product called Say Cheez made by Namaste Foods. It was dairy, casein, soy, gluten, oat, and egg free so both of us could eat it. With the exception of the cashew ‘cheese’ dip we made a while back, we hadn’t tried anything dairy-free that tasted anywhere close to cheese. I wasn’t expecting the seasonings to be spectacular, but the brown rice and hulled hemp seed pasta would be doable with sauce even if the seasonings were awful.
I made it last night…and it was quite good! (It tastes nothing like Mac ‘n’ Cheese, but it did taste like a really great pasta salad with parmesan in it.) I used walnut oil and warm water to mix the seasonings together, but didn’t heat it the way the directions said (I wanted the full benefit of the oil). It said it makes 2-4 servings, but I used less than the recommended amount so it is going to be a few more servings. I mixed some beef in with it and served it with a side of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes splashed with Bragg’s apple cider vinegar.
Just as I had scooped a spoonful of cucumber and tomato to bring to my mouth, my dog laid down against my chair, rocking me and it, and causing the veggies to fall into the pasta and meat. Deciding to be adventurous, I tried them all together and the mix was yummy. I think that next time I’ll leave the Bragg’s out, dice some red pepper to add in, and probably try it with chicken, but there will be a next time.
Having multiple food allergies is challenging at times but it has caused us to try foods we never thought of before. Socializing with that many food allergies is especially challenging. Tell someone that you can’t have dairy, casein, soy, egg, gluten (wheat, barley, rye), or oats and most likely they will wonder what it is you do eat. If they don’t immediately think that, they will look at the labels on their food and quickly get there. But I would have no qualms about making a pasta salad out of the Say Cheez and the other ingredients mentioned to take to a get-together. There would be something safe for us to eat (that has good meat and raw veggies!), and it is tasty enough that no one there would know it was allergen-free.
As a kid, playing opened up as many new worlds as our imagination could conceive of. As an adult, it still enriches our lives. Have an adventure with your food from time to time. Have a back-up plan just in case it is really awful (and sometimes it will be), but sometimes it will be really great and you will be rewarded for opening yourself to greater variety.
Until next time, may your choices and actions today create a healthier ‘you’ tomorrow!