Yummy-as-can-be
January 20, 2015

They are all around you: the gluten-free, the low-salt crew, the egg-free, the nut-free, and don’t forget the diabetics. What do you do when your dinner guests have more allergies or food intolerances than letters in the alphabet? You have to adjust your cooking style so that your food comes out not only delicious but also healthy and safe for your guests, too. Here’s how to do it.

Mushroom Risotto and Caramelized Onions

Even the most allergic people tend to tolerate mushrooms and rice well, and this risotto is the perfect meal for a cold winter’s night. Most people shy away from risotto, because they are not familiar enough with rice-cooking.

It is a labor-intensive dish, for sure, but almost nothing beats a good creamy risotto, and this one adds a deep mushroom and onion flavor that will make it fit for those with gluten and dairy allergies, because there’s not actually any thickeners or cream in a risotto. The creaminess comes from the constant whipping of the rice until the starch gives up and comes seeping out of the grain.

Dal Palak

Dal Palak is sort of like a stew that has gone “solid” – solid enough that you can plate it instead of pour it into a bowl. It’s got lentils, which are an excellent vegan and vegetarian source of protein, as well as garlic for that often missed “bite” in foods these days.

Traditionally, this dish is served with bread, but some people may not be able to do gluten. For those people, you have a few options. You can either forego the bread altogether, have Bread Srsly ship you some of their old-fashioned gluten-free sourdough bread (one of the few real sourdough breads in the world which is naturally gluten-free), or try your luck with the tapioca starch and potato and rice flour creations being tried all over the country. 

Braised Coconut Spinach With Lemon

Not everyone can eat coconut, but the dairy-free crowd loves it because it’s creamy, and it mimics milk in important ways. The dish is spicy and tangy, and some recipes call for chickpeas, which you’ll have to leave out for those with serious nut allergies, but it won’t detract from the overall taste or feel of the dish.

Traditional recipes also call for a sweet potato (the dish is served with or over a baked potato). Basically, you cook up the spinach in ghee (or, if you are nervous about flecks of milk remaining in the ghee, go with something certified dairy-free or skip it altogether), with a small onion, some garlic, and some lemon. Dump in a 14-oz can of coconut milk, and add a dash of ginger and salt for taste. The heat comes from one dried hot pepper. 

Mixed Berry, Apple, and Ginger Crisp

LifeScan Canada Ltd. has a lot of great diabetic recipes, but one of the best out there is the mixed berry apple ginger crisp. This one will please almost everyone, and it has a uniquely American feel to it without being overly pretentious. The only objectionable ingredient is the oats – which gluten-free folks might not be able to tolerate as oats have a protein similar to flour gluten proteins.

Other than that, you make the crisp as you would any other, but you substitute the brown sugar with a sugar-free alternative. Molasses might be an OK addition to the recipe, depending on the specific restrictions of the individual (it is low in sugar, despite being highly refined sugar).

Joe Kee has a large family with all kinds of medical issues. An avid blogger, he likes to help others by posting his insights and discoveries online. You can read his informative articles on a variety of the current top blogs and websites.

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