As I kicked off my diet, faithfully so on March 1st, I started with conviction and determination. Just one week into my newfound diet it was already becoming apparent that this challenge was no small feat. Here are some of the amazing things I found myself dealing with as I avoided gluten, dairy and soy.
Curious about the Allergy Challenge? Read more about it here.
One of the first things you realize is how difficult shopping becomes when you are avoiding such common western ingredients as gluten, dairy and soy.. we eat a lot of it! I found myself reading the packaging on all of the items I was buying at the supermarket. Some stores such as Trader Joe’s are exceptionally good at marking packages to indicate allergens. Talk about a life-saver!
Some of the items I buy most frequently as part of my diet are the following:
I found that of all of the non-soy/non-dairy alternatives, almond milk tastes the best. I even tried hazelnut milk (I love hazelnuts), but found that it had a bitter aftertaste which the almond milk did not have. My favorite almond milk is made by Pacific Foods, though others like Almond Breeze were not bad either. I’m not a huge fan of rice milk, so I stayed away from it.
Nature’s Path Corn Flakes
In terms of breakfast, I used to eat various types of bread and thought an obvious replacement would be to eat some type of gluten free corn flakes. I ended up trying a few, but the corn flakes I liked most where those from Nature’s Path.
In terms of snacks I like to eat nuts, chocolate, fruits, etc. Most of these were not a problem as most nuts and fruits are gluten, dairy and soy free. Chocolate is of course a different story, I just stopped eating milk chocolate; dark chocolate is ok to eat.. just be aware that unless you buy dark chocolate that clearly states it is made in an allergen free facility, that it was probably made using equipment which processes dairy. Favorite fruits: clemantines, pears, oranges.. all good for you!
Most unprocessed meats are going to be ok for you to eat (cooked of course!); but do be careful. I found that a lot of prepared meats, such as sausages contained soy. I also avoid store-marinated meats, opting instead to do this myself (it’s so easy).
Cooking: My Diet
Ah, cooking. You know, it actually wasn’t that hard of a shift to start cooking dairy, gluten and soy free. It did mean that there are a number of foods which I just didn’t even try to make (a cheese sauce which contains butter, milk and cheese… yea, that was out). On the other hand, dishes consisting of a meat, and vegetables are all easy to make and still taste great. The best thing to do is to get rid of all of the dairy products in your house.. otherwise it is too easy to grab for them and use them as I almost did on the second or third night when I grabbed for some butter to grease up that trusty old frying-pan.
Here are some of the dishes we (my supportive fiancee and I) made:
Chicken Caesar Salad
Now, this recipe is actually already available on basiltime. Go find it here. Just be sure to cut out the cheese and replace any butter with extra virgin olive oil! Delicious! Do check your Worcestershire sauce ingredients; most brands do not contain soy and therefore are ok to eat.
Chicken Ceasar Salad
This salad is perfect for a cool summer evening, when you want a refreshing crispy salad and you have the chicken to warm you up. But most of all, the dressing will leave such a lasting impression, your guests will remember you by it.
Broiled Steak, Fries and a Vinaigrette Salad
We actually had some guests over, I figured I’d make something tasty. Broiled steak is easy to make in the oven, or on the grill. Oven: turn your oven on Broil (or as hot as it will go); use a cast-iron pan and put it in the oven with 2-3 spoonfuls of vegetable oil in it as it heats up. In the mean-time, coat both sides of your steak with salt, pepper and nutmeg (don’t use too much nutmeg). Once your oven is up to temperature, take out the cast iron pan (careful not to burn your hands!), throw the steak on there and let it sear on one side for about 1 minute on your stove top, then flip it over and put it into the oven. 4-6 minutes on each side and you’re done. Best cuts to use: Chateaubriand or NY Strip; about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Note, do not use olive oil in your frying pan as it will smoke quite a bit at high temperature. Follow these links for notes on how to make the fries and salad:
Best Homemade Vinaigrette Salad Dressing.. Ever
If you love a good salad with your meals read on, this vinaigrette is the best you’ll make and has always been a huge hit with all of our guests. It’s so easy, and you can pretty much always find what you need in your cupboard!
Belgian Fries (aka French Fries)
Yes, those delicious golden fries are really Belgian. Dating back as far as 1680 Belgians have been enjoying fries which are deep-fried twice to give them a soft core and golden-crisp outside. In Belgium, fries can be bought at fry-stands and are eaten out of a conical paper-bag â€“ often accompanied by a variety of sauces. Alternatively, fries are eaten as a side with steak, stews, and mussels. Remember, you canâ€™t make a good fry out of just any potato, the best potatoes to make Belgian fries are Bintjes but Russet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes make a fine alternative. Follow the simple steps below to make those perfect, delicious fries every time!
Whole Chicken and Rice
A surprisingly simple dish to make, though you need a little bit of patience to make it. Here’s how simple it is: buy a whole chicken, sprinkle it with salt, then put it into a pot of boiling water and let it simmer for about 1-1.5 hours. Once the chicken is fully cooked (check the internal temperature of the meat, should be 180F/82C), take it out and save the chicken broth to make rice. Serve chicken and rice with a side of salad – yumm! Leftovers are great for lunch the next day.
The Spaghetti Chronicles
It’s hard for me to live without my pasta. So… I decided to give different gluten-free pasta types a try to see how they fare. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, but here are my results to get us started:
Stay away from this as a pasta alternative at all costs. The consistency is nothing like semolina based noodles, and the flavor.. well, it’s not something to write about.
The brand I tried is called “De Boles” and would rather not eat this ever again. I like rice, but not this.
With corn spaghetti, you’re getting a lot closer in terms of consistency, but the corn flavor comes out quite strong. Even while eating spaghetti, I kept having an image of a corn tortilla in my mind. But, given the right consistency, I was already much happier twirling corn noodles onto my fork than during the rice fiasco.
The brand I tried is from “Mrs. Leeper’s“, given a choice between rice and corn, I would go with corn.
This last try involved a noodle based on a quinoa-corn mixture. It had the right consistency, like the corn pasta, and in terms of flavor was pretty darn good. I enjoyed this dish of bolognese with quinoa spaghetti. I highly recommend this one to anyone not in a position to eat semolina based noodles.
The brand I tried is from “Quinoa – Ancient Harvest” and definitely gets two thumbs up from me. Thank you Ancient Harvest for this great noodle!