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Help with Restricted Diet?


So I'm hoping to get some ideas on how to vary my limited list of bland "tolerated" foods. I have a digestive disorder and other chronic health problems which have slowly weeded out many of the delicious foods I used to enjoy. I'm starting supplemental IV feeding soon so I'm not worried about well-balanced meals. I just want to enjoy eating again.

I'm fine for breakfast (oatmeal) and don't eat lunch, so it's dinner that gets me. I tend to eat the same two or three things every night on rotate. I'm not supposed to eat raw fruits or veggies due to immuno-suppression from my meds. So I know this leaves limited options, but any help would be greatly GREATLY appreciated. I'm 25 and have been sick more of my life than not at this point, but food is one thing I really wish it didn't affect.

Anyway, I hope this doesn't sound silly. Was just hoping someone out there could help with some new ideas or recipes to vary the following foods. Thanks in advance!

Foods I can eat:

No meat, tofu, or "fake" meat products, but I do use chicken stock for soups

Produce (must be cooked): Potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, peas, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, avocados, corn, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, cauliflower

Rice, pasta, and bread (or "bread-like" things--crackers, panko, cornmeal, pita, flatbread, tortillas, etc.)

Small amounts of seeds or certain nuts (almonds/peanuts)

Very small amounts of harder cheeses

Olive oil, garlic, and cooked herbs (parsley, oregano, basil, bay, etc.), lemon juice, pepper and salt.
Definitely nothing rich or heavy like cream, wine, or butter, and no spices like curry or turmeric.

Thank you (times a million) in advance!

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  1. search the home cooking board for the recipe for chickpea cutlets. They are very good and will fit into your foods profile. I like to do them in a parmigiana style, so you can make a very tasty tomato-veg sauce within your guidelines and then garnish with a little bit of good parmesan on top. Serve with roasted broccoli and a good chewy Italian bread on the side.

    You can make a lot of nice stir fry style dishes, but you may need to steam your veggies first to just barely cook through before adding them to the stir fry to make sure the cellulose is broken down enough for digestion.

    6 Replies
    1. re: weezycom

      Sorry to hear that.

      I love these oven sweet potato fries:


      which just use olive oil and a bit of Parmesan.

      It sounds like fresh baked bread would be a great thing for you. This is my easy beginner bread:

      1 pkg yeast _ 1 _ cup lukewarm water _ Pinch sugar _
      3 1/2 cups regular or bread flour _ 2 1/4 tsp salt

      Put water in a small bowl. Stir in sugar and sprinkle yeast on top. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. After 10 min, add liquid to flour mixture and combine thoroughly with your hands. If mixture is so sticky that chunks stick to your hands, add more flour. If it's so dry that it won't form a ball or it's hard to knead, add more water. Knead for 8 minutes, let the dough sit for 8 minutes, then knead another 8 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and put it on a cookie sheet. Let rise to double its size. Sit the pan on a heating pad on low if you're in a rush. Preheat oven to 450. When you put the bread in the oven, throw 1/4 cup of water onto the bottom of the oven. Bake at 450 for about 30 minutes, until it looks done.

      Once you get how the dough is supposed to feel, there are about a million exciting options for bread.

      Tomatoes are great roasted. You could make a killer guac with avocado, sauteed garlic, and roasted tomatoes. If the fat in chips bothers you, quarter some corn tortillas, spray or brush with oil, and bake. I believe I do 350 degrees for about 7 minutes, then flip the chips, and another 7 minutes. Just until they're a little bit brownish.

      Nuts are also great roasted-- 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

      Sounds like you could also do an awesome vegetable soup. I like to sautee garlic and onions and then drain off the oil-- saves calories-- if your body is sensitive to fat you might want to too. The sauteed onions and garlic makes a great base for pretty much any soup. Add whatever veg you can get your hands on (I'd add beans, too, if you can eat those) along with pasta or potatoes. I like a splash of marsala if you keep any in the house.

      1. re: jvanderh

        thanks jvanderh! i have been wanting to make some homemade bread but have instead been lazy and picking up from la brea bakery here in LA. having some dough on hand would be great for making a variety of dishes.

        your roasted tomatoes sound awesome too. i could use them for all sorts of things.

        i love veggie soup. it's one of my favorite meals. easy on the tummy and comforting. i'm going to look into some more recipes. garlic and onion is a great flavorful base, hadn't thought of marsala.

        thanks for your help!

        1. re: jvanderh

          I like to saute onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and potatoes when I'm making soup. I use barely a tablespoon of oil, and scrape up the brown bits with water if it starts to get dry. Very simple meal and great flavor. I like to top it with a bit of parmesan or a splash of soy sauce.

            1. re: nothingswrong

              I do that sometimes too, in a pinch, although I much prefer the taste of slow-sauteed garlic/onions that have been completely covered in oil-- hence the draining.

        2. re: weezycom

          thank you! someone else mentioned the chickpea cutlets and i am going to look into some recipes. would be great for making veggie burgers too. i avoid all processed/frozen foods too as they don't sit well for whatever reason.

          the stir fry is a great idea. i'm thinking of getting a nice cast iron wok. thanks!

        3. can you do a roasted medley of veggies, then toss them in with pasta - i'll always keep about 1/4 cup of the pasta liq to add back to the mix. I roast often with just olive oil, s&p and it's excellent.

          one of my fav meals is stir fry veggies (cabbage, cauliflower, brocolli, carrots, mushrooms, peppers) in Braggs Liq Amino (check out the link) over brown rice - then top with whatever cheese you can do or not. Its so good!


          I could also make a meal of just grilled veggies and grilled polenta squares. or graines like quinoa or couscous.

          Can you do fish, seafood? I could live off that alone.

          3 Replies
          1. re: lexpatti

            thanks lexpatti. i love roasted veggies. can't wait for all the fresh summer produce.

            i hadn't heard of braggs liquid amino, but will definitely be picking up a bottle for stir fries.

            i have actually never eaten polenta but will look into that too.

            i don't eat seafood. never have, even when i was a kid. i never liked the smell. can't get past it. but thank you regardless!

            1. re: nothingswrong

              I definitely second the polenta suggestion. I have GI issues as well and that's one of my go-to comfort foods when mine are flaring up. Polenta's also good because it goes with so many different meals.

            2. re: lexpatti

              Another condiment in addition to Bragg's that works for some people with immune issues is Nama Shoyu. It's a traditionally made soy sauce that isn't pasteurized, so you'd have to store it in the refrigerator. It adds a lot of flavor used sparingly, and because it's aged for more than four years, rather than made with the newer quick processes that utilize autolyzed yeasts, many people tolerate it better than other soy sauce. Your mileage may vary, of course, but most places that sell it are good about returns if it doesn't work out for you.

            3. Carrot or winter squash soup - pureed with a bit of peanut butter in it, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, garlic and a bit of ginger. Doesn't need cream at all. You can adjust the spices as desired or leave them out. If you cook the squash in chicken stock you will get additional flavor.

              Quinoa salad is great, again, you can add cooked peas, avocado, cauliflower, broccoli, as you would like. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

              Second the idea for polenta grilled with a simple veggie based tomato sauce on top. If you can eat eggs, you can put an egg on top for a full meal (although i realize you are not worried about that). Small amount of hard cheese is a nice addition too.

              I bet you could tolerate Asian rice noodles. Look at a "fake pho" broth - chicken broth simmered with ginger, anise, etc. It isn't spicey or particularly heavy, add the rice noodles in and it is what I eat when I am recovering from the tummy flu.

              Pureed peas spread on bread or crackers.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jsaimd

                oh i used to love pho before the stomach went bad and i stopped eating out. growing up in west LA, we frequented all of the restaurants in the sawtelle area. we ate lots of pho! i think it would be a great alternative to my "american" veggie soups and the rice noodles are delicious and easy on the stomach. thank you for the suggestion!

              2. Based on the list, I'd suggest you study the art of "strata". Built on a foundation of bread, a variety of strata can be prepared using most (if not all) of the items you listed. Depending on how you mix the ingredients, the bread can satisfy some of the desire for "meaty" textures in your food and meat flavors (using stock) are also possible.

                1. If it's the actual meat and meat proteins that are the problem, check out most of the boullion cubes. They typically don't actually contain real meat products, just flavors. While normally this would not be a good thing, in your case, it might. You could add meaty flavor to things through the use of these cubes. But if sodium is also an issues be cautious!

                  1. work with herbs for flavor is my first suggestion.

                    don't know about seafood (it's not meat...), but i made a great scallops with leeks saute sliced leeks with garlic in olive oil spray, then continue to deglaze with veggie broth til limp. if you want seafood (can have it), scooch, the veggies to one side of the pan, then add scallops or whatever, and cook then toss with a dash of lemon juice and lemon zest and some fresh tarragon. feel free to omit the seafood, and serve over steamed spaghetti squash or pasta.

                    fried rice would be easy (as suggested use bragg's amino acids)

                    crepes filled with roasted fruits or veggies

                    polenta stackers - cook polenta with some broth and nutritional yeast or parm. let cool then cut into rounds, and pan-fry in PAM, stack with roasted cooked veggies and marinara. bake.

                    Pita with hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush

                    variation on eggplant parm... slice eggplant, dip in egg (white), then in panko/cornmeal crust stack with other sliced veggies like zucchini and tomato... bake til soft, then top with some parmesan or nutritional yeast

                    french onion soup with just a tad of whatever cheese you can tolerate - just start the onions in Pam with some broth

                    spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and parsley and a dash of lemon if desired is yum

                    pancakes and waffles can easily be made without butter or anything rich

                    burritos filled with cooked sweet potatoes, black beans, onions and salsa

                    for sweet things, maybe bake or grill fruit. or meringues.

                    if you can clarify a bit more, i'm sure i (and the rest of the board) will have a few more ideas... eggs? seafood?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Emme

                      i don't eat seafood or eggs. i use eggs in baking, but i can't tolerate them by themselves. more of a personal preference than a dietary one. i've never liked them.

                      but thank you for those ideas! i eat my spaghetti like you mentioned often. it's one of the "only" meals i cook. but it's the only one of the few meals that i never get sick of. i might make some right now. thanks for the others, i appreciate it very much!

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        Have you tried an alternative of spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese? The cheese is very finely grated so it would be a good alternative to the normal spaghetti with a marinara sauce. Also a "meatless" tetrazzini might work. Or a risotto using chicken stock and adding some sort of cooked vegetable you might like.

                    2. Someone suggested chickpea (garbanzo) cutlets---if you can have garbanzos and onions and olive oil plus just a bit of tahini, hummos might be an option. If you can have avocados and lemon juice and onions, maybe tomatoes too, guacamole might be possible. On crackers...A big baked sweet potato with brown sugar (butter?)...You didn't mention dairy---is milk out? Also, can you have Ensure or Boost? I am wondering where you get your protein.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Querencia

                        yes, milk is out. i love rice milk though and usually sub that. i have been lactose intolerant since i was a kid but i do eat very small pieces of certain cheeses every now and then. not enough to make me sick. i hate vegan cheeses.

                        boost has milk in it, so that's out. i drank ensure for years to gain weight but have developed an aversion to it. it really does taste bad. like ground up vitamins. i don't know where my protein comes from, but i just had my blood drawn and my doc and i are both surprised that my protein levels are totally normal. he says it must just come from everything else i eat. all the small amounts add up from the oatmeal, whole grains, potatoes, veggies, etc.

                        i used to have these great chickpea cutlets from a restaurant around here. thank you for the suggestion, hadn't thought of this!

                        1. re: nothingswrong

                          Have you tried almond milks? They give you another milk option. I adore and can tolerate custards and use a lactose free high protein milk. I do use an artificial sweetener as I have medical issues with sugar. But I adore eggnogs and custards so making them lowfat and sugar free helps me keep my protein intake up. If sugar isn't an issue for you or you prefer honey or agave srup, or truvia or whatever, using those items will not affect the baked or stirred custard outcome. I prefer baked custard. I cut off the over about 10 minutes shy of the time and let it coast to done in the waterbath. By that time the water has cooled off so I can safely remove the custards and then let the water finish cooling down before I try to remove the waterbath pan. Scalds are not fun.

                      2. Sorry, I missed the part about "cooked". Scratch guacamole.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Querencia

                          In that case, also scratch the suggestion of guacamole that I made yesterday.

                          1. re: jvanderh

                            i sneak some guacamole every now and then. just not supposed to be "exposed" to possible germs in fresh produce. it's very difficult but i guess is not worth the risk with my immune system. i do wash everything with dish soap before cutting though which is supposed to help.

                        2. You could make a spread out of sweet peas, here's a recipe that could be modified (not use the red pepper and leave out the cream)


                          Maybe a nice fried rice with vegetables?
                          Roasted Potatoes & Veggies
                          Baked potatoes topped with cooked veggies

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: delong99

                            those all sound great, thank you! i am a sucker for potatoes especially. i sometimes eat them twice a day.

                          2. Yeah, I definitely second the hummus recommendation other posters have made-- Assuming sesame is one of the seeds you're allowed to eat? Tahini is expensive but sooo good. I would try using it in soups or other things to add creaminess and richness. Once I made a soup out of a failed batch of hummus (the chickpeas hadn't been cooked enough). It was AMAZING.

                            Hummus in a pita pocket is a great vehicle for veggies--I've mostly had it with sprouts and cukes but I'm sure it would be tasty with other assorted cooked vegetables.

                            Since you can use chicken stock, maybe it would be a good thing to add to dishes that normally have butter or wine in them. I've seen chicken stock plus lemon juice listed as an acceptable substitute for white wine in cooking. You can also use it instead of water to cook rice or other grains, to make them a bit less bland.

                            Can you have soy sauce, or does that fall under the same category as tofu? Adding a splash of soy sauce when you're near the end of sauteing some veggies makes them truly wonderful-- they get really savory and almost caramelized.

                            Oh, and what about mushrooms? Are they ok or verboten?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: sonia darrow

                              yes, the hummus is a great recommendation. i am greek so the hummus and tahini are things i grew up on and love. the sesame comment is funny--we had to clear our home of all nuts and sesame suddenly when i was a teen because my younger brother was deathly allergic. so i've just gotten used to not eating them. i will definitely start eating them again though.

                              and i love hummus with pita and veggies but haven't thought of that in a while. great suggestion!

                              i do use chicken stock in place of water when i cook rice. it is so much better. i hadn't thought of soy sauce either. would be great with veggies and rice in a stir-fry. and taste different than my "usual" rice-veggie combo.

                              don't eat mushrooms. have never liked them. i have always been a picky eater and that makes things harder now that i *can't* eat many things. so i've been trying new things the last few years and i like some of them. i had never eaten a cucumber, zucchini, mushroom, tomato, onion, cooked carrot, or asparagus until i was an adult. now i eat many of them on a regular basis. unfortunately, mushrooms didn't pass the test!


                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                Hmm. What kind of mushrooms did you try? How were they cooked? They can be a little weird or they can be wonderful. (Or I guess they can just be something you're not into)

                                1. re: sonia darrow

                                  i have no idea what kind of mushrooms they were! a good friend of mine came over once to cook them for me. they smelled great, looked great, and probably would have tasted great if they weren't mushrooms. i think it's the texture that bothers me. i'm very sensitive to food textures for some reason, always have been. if it feels weird in my mouth, i can't eat it.

                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                    many people don't like mushrooms - more for me. :-) Since you like hummus have you ever done an edamame hummus? I've done a sandwich before with steamed brocolli and hummus and loved it. That combo is great.

                                    has someone mentioned grits? we had some tonight with a lil fresh parm, s&p

                                    1. re: lexpatti

                                      steamed broccoli and hummus sandwich? how does that work?

                                      i've never had edamame hummus. soy is iffy on my stomach. i'm okay in moderation but had to stop drinking soy milk a while back and switch to rice milk.

                                      you know, i've never eaten grits. or polenta or half of the other things people are suggesting. but why not try! i'm pretty good with most grains and bland-tasting foods, so i might as well expand my options beyond bread, rice, and pasta. thanks :)

                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                        works better in a pocket but just chop some cooked broccoli, slather on hummus - I really like the flavors together.

                            2. What about beans and lentils? Eggplant?

                              You could do stuffed peppers with a mix of rice, lentils, onion, herbs and baked in a simple tomato sauce. Serve with garlic bread. You can stuff tomatoes, onions, zucchini, or eggplants, too.

                              Cauliflower is great with a little lemon, ginger, and/or garlic. Something like this recipe looks really flavorful and tasty: http://www.recipes5000.com/2009/12/is...

                              Ratatouille is a simple veggie stew made with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes.

                              You could make French Onion Soup. To serve, put your homemade crouton on top and just grate a little Gruyere (whatever amount you are comfortable with) on top.

                              1. Would you mind if I asked what you have? I'm not trying to be nosy, I have a digestive disorder as well! (Ulcerative colitis...which can make eating...difficult sometimes.) I think one of your options could be a quesadilla of roasted veggies with roasted veggie salsa. (I know I do better with most veggies cooked, so I have found a lot of ways to make them)
                                -Roasted greenbeans are great, as are roasted chickpeas and asparagus
                                --Homemade applesauce (can you do cooked fruits?)
                                -If you can do cooked fruits, you can grill peaches, pineapple, etc
                                -You could make a pizza (use a simple crust and put on some garlic olive oil, tomatoes, etc and bake)
                                -A stirfry (have you tried seitan? it's a good replacement for meat) made with lots of veggies, some seitan and rice
                                -Vegan pancakes (http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/Fluf...
                                )-Vegetarian ratatouille (often made in the crockpot)
                                -Homemade veggie burgers (that way you can control what is in them!)

                                I find that vegan recipes often work very well, because they use no butter or milk or cream and no cheese. Here are some that might work for you!

                                I tried to be careful to not include any rich or heavy or spicy (hot) foods. Hopefully some of these will at the very least give you ideas. I have found that even if a recipe has an ingredient or two I cannot have, I can find a decent substitution. I recommend checking out some Vegan cookbooks. Vegans have a bad rep for being boring, but I have found much of the food to be very flavorful (and will often fit your requirements!


                                Good luck :) I understand how difficult it can be to have such a limited diet. Hopefully things will improve for you!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: milkyway4679

                                  hi, thanks so much for your suggestions. that exact pancake recipe is the one i use already. and the other recipes and suggestions sound good. i could use a roasted veggie queasadilla. and applesauce, mmm. not too big a fan of seitan though. i'll eat it occasionally, but i honestly don't like the texture or flavor of "fake meats" and tofu.

                                  i don't mind you asking about the health stuff. let's see... have had stomach issues since childhood and a slew of diagnoses but none stick. now they "really believe" i have pelvic floor dyssynergia (lower GI), still waiting for conclusive testing. then they say GERD for the upper GI stuff but no meds or diet changes help it. i've lost 38 pounds in the last few years, putting me at my current 87 pounds. i also have a chronic autoimmune thyroid disease which is why i've been on immuno-suppressant therapy for 11 years. plus heart and blood pressure complications and chronic tonsillitis. those last three are from the thyroid or the meds. i take beta-blockers, faint constantly from the blood pressure thing and have had tonsillitis every day for almost 6 years now but they won't take them out until i gain 20 pounds. it's all just a big stupid redundant mess.

                                  anyway, rambling. sorry. thank you again for your suggestions. it's nice to hear someone who has found foods they can tolerate. i will assume you're faring relatively well? was it a process getting diagnosed or did you just go in for a colonoscopy or something?

                                  and i have a library of vegan cook books. i eat vegan about 95% of the time. but i do love that chicken stock!

                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                    Feel free to ramble. I understand how much of an emotional struggle it can be to not only have to deal with doctors, medications and off the wall emotions, but also trying to find food to eat. I was diagnosed about two years ago, but recently experienced a very severe flare-up. (AKA bathroom all the time haha) I was diagnosed because there was blood in my stool and diarrhea, with a colonoscopy. This all happened when I was 18, and now I am almost 21. With the recent flare up, I noticed that many foods affected my uh...bathroom habits. So, I started seeing where the problems lay. Fried foods are not my friends. My body tolerates some milk well. I still don't know 100% what is what. But, I am learning. Vitamins help a lot. Malnutrition is a concern with colitis, because nutrients aren't getting absorbed, so I eat a lot haha. I have a friend who saw a natural doctor with great results. Look for someone who can give you a bio meridian test. It is similar to an allergy test, but they may be able to help you figure out what's going on. It sounds weird, but when she is in remission and needs no medication, you know it must work for people. (Now, it doesn't work for everyone...sadly her sister is worse even with the diet changes. But, they are all healthier as a whole. So, something to consider.

                                    But. I have always faced difficulties with diagnoses. Just keep getting those second opinions! It is never easy to face a life long disease, but knowing that you can keep fighting and searching for ways to help you feel better is what keeps you going. Also, know you have Chow's support, and mine! :)

                                    Vegan is a great way to go. Have you ever been to the site foodgawker.com? It's fantastic, and at the bottom, there is an option to view just vegan recipes. They are all made by bloggers, and the photos are gorgeous (and the food looks delicious!). Good luck :)

                                    1. re: milkyway4679

                                      Hi folks, The medical aspects of this problem are really off topic here, so we'd like to request that the focus remain on food and cooking. Thanks so much!

                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                        apologies chow... will do.

                                        and milkyway--thank you for sharing! i will look into everything you mentioned. good luck :)

                                2. since you can have beans, perhaps you'd like to experiment with papadum - flatbreads made from garbanzo flour - you can bake or microwave rather than fry then eat with cooked veggies -- obviously the traditional indian preps won't work for you due to spice, but they're a fun flavorful alternative...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Emme

                                    sounds very interesting. i'll look into it, thanks!

                                    1. re: Emme

                                      Yes. Garbanzo flour is awesome. I had forgotten all about it till I randomly got some yesterday.

                                      It's easiest to find in Indian stores and may be labeled "Gram Flour".