Sunday, April 12, 2009

Introduction to our Food Issues

I love to cook and I love to try out new recipes. When my now three-year old daughter started showing signs of food allergies and sensitivities, you would think I’d have had an easy time adjusting to dietary changes. Not so. I was overwhelmed by all the sudden restrictions that were placed on not only my daughter's diet, but our whole household as well.

We became militant label-readers. We had to avoid all sugars, yeast, dairy, and eggs, and limit wheat. After a few stressful trips to the grocery store ("There's sugar in THAT?"), I finally decided that fresh vegetables and homemade snacks were the only way to go. I started baking with different types of flour, using natural sugar alternatives, and playing with egg substitutes.

The hardest meal I found dealing with was breakfast. Have you read the labels on breakfast cereals lately? I can't even pronounce most of what's on there. And, even in the "healthy" cereal options, sugar is most often the second ingredient. The days of toast and jam or a bowl of boxed cereal were over. I began serving steel-cut oats, teff, and buckwheat pancakes, rice pudding made with coconut milk, and millet porridge.

For snacks, I puree roasted peppers or add dried herbs to olive oil and lemon juice to create healthy dips to make veggies more enticing. My daughter also likes roasted, spiced chickpeas or rice cakes with sunflower butter.

When living with food intolerances, there are options out there, you just have to be open to a little experimentation and imagination! For us, things got easier, a routine was developed. And, within 2 months of changing the way we ate, my daughter's condition improved dramatically, and we all felt a lot healthier.

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