Barbara from Mommy’s Two Monkeys recently asked me, with all of the diet restrictions we have going on, what dinner in our house looks like on any given night. A good question, and one you all might be wondering about. Honestly, at first, meals felt like rocket science, but now, it’s not so hard. First let me go over the restrictions:
Isaac’s allergy tests showed he was allergic to:
We have since learned that he is also allergic or intolerant to grapes. The good news is that we have recently been doing some food challenges and found that Isaac can have chicken, beef, corn, and almonds (we were never sure that he had a problem with almonds, but stayed away because of the peanut connection) with no noticeable symptoms. We still plan to use these ingredients very sparingly, but a little here and there seem to be okay.
Currently, we have Matthew on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. We wonder if some of his fogginess/inattention could be food-related, so this is something we are testing out. So add wheat and dairy to the list of restrictions.
And then comes me. I did a few weeks of no wheat, dairy, meat, or caffeine. As I added back in some of these foods, my headaches returned and seemed to correspond to anytime I had wheat. And I also realized that I was enjoying a more vegetable based diet. So while I am once again enjoying dairy and caffeine very sparingly, I am avoiding meat and wheat.
My saint of a husband eats anything you put in front of him. As if I needed one more reason to love him!
So what about dinner???? I will have to tell you that I rely heavily on Pinterest, allrecipes.com, and cookbooks borrowed from the library.
Sunday night, I made meatballs (made with ground pork and no bread crumbs) and marinara sauce, served over polenta. We had roasted asparagus with that. (I had everything but the meatballs)
Last night, there were plenty of meatballs left over, so I made pasta for Isaac and Jason to go with them. For Matthew and I, I made brown rice. So Matthew had brown rice, meatballs and green beans. I had brown rice with salsa spooned over it, topped with black beans, and sour cream and guacamole. Yum!
For the rest of the week, my meal plan includes skillet poached huevos rancheros (which Isaac won’t be able to eat because of the eggs). I will probably make him a grilled cheese or else give him one of the super expensive, all natural, organic all beef hot dogs.
Also on the menu, a honey lime tilapia recipe (I am still eating seafood, just not meat), lentil burgers, and one night we will do chicken quesadillas for Jason and Isaac. Matthew will have the same seasoned chicken, but served with tortilla chips, and I will probably have tortilla chips with black beans, cheese, and an avocado.
Other meals, I can think of off the top of my head are sloppy joes made with lentils instead of meat. Yum. Matthew and I eat those with tortilla chips instead of a bun. Even tacos made with lentils instead of the meat are really delicious. Even my husband thinks so! Other recipes we’ve recently had are spaghetti squash with marinara, ginger fried rice (served with an egg on top), baked falafel, pork chops (prepared many different ways), ginger plum stir fried eggplant, and Korean steamed eggs. We love wild salmon, so we try to have that about once a week. These turkey burgers were a huge hit. As was this quinoa recipe (although next time I make it, I will use corn instead of tomatoes. I want to like tomatoes, but I can only handle them in certain situations). Some nights we like to have breakfast for dinner, so in that case, I would make pancakes for Isaac and Jason (I use applesauce instead of an egg in the recipe), eggs for Matthew and I, bacon for everyone but me, fruit, and possibly some hash browns.
I also love to try new side dishes and this week on my meal plan, I have down to try crispy sweet potato cakes, roasted chickpeas, mahogany mushrooms, and asparagus.
So it’s not quite as bad as you may think. I actually think we eat more of a variety now than we did before when we were stuck in the ground chuck, boneless skinless chicken breast endless rotation! I enjoy finding new recipes, and I especially enjoy it when the kids really like something. Frankly I consider it a victory if Isaac says, “it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be”.
This food journey has made my kids very aware of food and how it affects your body. Isaac often asks me what ingredients are in food and if there is protein to help his muscles get stronger. I like that they are learning how important it is to take care of themselves by what they eat.
Lastly, I like that these dietary needs affect not only what we eat, but how we eat. I know that many families are so involved with activities or rushing around, that dinner is often eaten on the go, and not together. Because it is hard for us to be able to eat “on the fly”, we sit down at our dinner table 7 nights a week as a family. We pray together and eat together, and try to fit in a devotional after dinner every night. Even if some of us outgrow our food intolerances and we get some more flexibility with our diets, these are the things that I hope we always remember.