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Mar 17, 2011 05:33 PM

Very restricted diet - help me embrace the challenge!

I am successfully nailing down some food sensitivities by cutting out almost (but not quite) everything. I am having a lot of fun trying to cook dinners for my family without them really noticing the change. It's been a month and I'm running out of ideas - but feel so much better for the first time in years that I am inclined to keep going for a few more months at least.

The list of no's is long, but there is lots of good stuff in the list of yes's.

Yes: Most veggies, many fruits, essentially all meat, brown rice, coconut in all its lovely forms, olive oil, avocado, sweet potato, squashes. (I put all spices into the yes column and that seems ok so far)

No: Diary, eggs, all grains except rice, high sugar fruits, nightshades (tomato, eggplant, peppers, potatoes), nuts, beans - including soy, oils other than olive and coconut, all seeds, alcohol, sugar and all sweeteners.

Of course there is an endless variety of meat with veggie plates, but I love to cook and be creative in the kitchen. Hits so far have included: lots of curries, fish tacos (I just skip the taco), sausage and greens, stuffed acorn squash, spinach stuffed chicken, sweet potato soup.

Some of you must have favorite recipes that fit this. Low-carb recipes perhaps (without any dairy or nuts and including sweet potato or rice or squash). Paleo recipes (without nuts or nightshades). Any great ideas out there?


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  1. How about sushi, summer rolls, fried rice, or rice and beans? Maybe fish and chips with sweet potato fries?

    1. How about Ramen or Udon soups? You can use flat rice noodles and ad almost anything on your Yes list. I would start by making your own stock. Prefect it and use it as the base for a lot of your new dishes. Squash Soup, Gravies for your meat and so on.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Woodfireguy


        I'm really hoping for recipes that could fit this framework. I love sushi and noodle soups, but have never seen brown rice noodles and I'm not sure how either would go without soy sauce. I do make stock and that's a great base, though the boxes are sure easy and convenient.

        1. re: theotherone

          I've bought brown rice noodles at trader joe's, although I found them disgusting-- much more disgusting than whole wheat pasta.. I think I've seen them at whole foods also.

      2. I think I could eat pho every single day of the week! In fact, lots of Asian soups might be up your alley, so long as you omit the sugar that is often added for flavor balance and use the right starch for you. Tom yum, laksa, and my favorite....pho.

        This pho recipe is close to fitting what you need, minus the rock sugar and (white rice) noodles. You could easily make the broth minus sugar (will still be very tasty, even if it doesn't have the traditional balance of flavor), and try out brown rice pasta instead of the traditional pho noodles. (or just make the brown rice noodles for yourself while everyone else gets the more traditional noodle option.)

        Also, just wondering- is soy sauce/tamari off limits for you because it is made with soybeans?

        In a completely different about chicken baked over chunks of apple and butternut squash that are tossed with thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper?

        Or....a chicken, seafood, or vegetable tagine made with preserved lemons, olives, and saffron? Serve with brown rice....I have no good recipe, as I usually just come up with recipes on the fly....but so long as you avoid any added nuts, you'll probably be OK!

        I'm glad you're embracing this, and wish you much success!

        3 Replies
        1. re: 4Snisl

          That is THE best pho recipe ever! I just bought a 20 qt. stockpot so I can double or triple the stock part and have plenty to freeze. Then it's a breeze to make.

          Here's the recipe for the Zuni roast chicken with bread salad. That's a whole delicious meal.

          1. re: 4Snisl

            Agreed that pho is a great option, but I'm wondering why you'd use anything other than the traditional noodles. Looking at a package of banh pho from my pantry, the only ingredients are rice and water, neither of which is a problem.

            You might be able to make a great soup with brown rice noodles (emphasis on "might" - I've never had any that were anything but terrible). But IMO if you use anything other than banh pho, that soup might be delicious, but it ain't pho.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I thought OP may restrict anything except brown rice. A little unclear between the yes list ("brown rice") and no list ("all grains except rice") so I offered a conservative option. :)

              Given the distaste for brown rice pasta, it's probably just as well to put some blanched vegetables into the pho broth with some thin slices of meat and call it a meal (even if it can't be called pho)!

          2. Marinating meats in different kinds of vinegars and making reductions of those vinegars might be an interesting twist. I make homemade tarragon vinegar by sticking a few sprigs in a small bottle of white vinegar and letting it sit for a week or two. That's great on salads, chicken and fish. Porkchops marinated in cider vinegar with some cayenne and salt are delicous served with squash.

            Can you substitute maple syrup for sugar as a sweetner? (your body breaks down maple syrup differently than sugar)

            How about making balsalmic vinegar reductions - it turns sweet the more you reduce it.

            1. Thanks guys. This is great. I'd LOVE a good tangine recipe as that sounds amazing and isn't something I've experimented with before. And the roast chicken looks great.

              I just bought pork chops today - I'll try marinating them in vinegar as that sounds interesting. Wish I had some tarragon.

              I'm with you guys on the brown rice noodles. Sounds like a good way to ruin a good bowl of pho. I've been gluten free for 10 years and have come to the conclusion that it is better to skip noodles altogether than eat mush. That's why I am hoping for appropriate recipes here - rather than substitutions. Technically white rice isn't on the list, but I know I don't react to it so will make the original pho recipe. My family will love it and I'll try not to have too many noodles.

              It's supposed to be relatively low -glycemic. Thus, the white rice, some fruits, and most sweeteners are out. But I do use some agave and maple syrup is a good idea.

              1 Reply
              1. re: theotherone

                This is a terrific, flavorful tagine recipe that doesn't have anything on your "no" list, adapted from a recipe that was in Bon Appetit in 2001, from a Paris restaurant:

                Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives (4 servings)

                Finely chop in food processor:

                16 peeled garlic cloves
                3/4 cup chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
                3/4 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

                Combine in large, nonreactive and oven-proof pot with a lid (e.g., Dutch oven):

                2 cups chopped onions
                1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
                1/2 cup olive oil
                2 T paprika
                4 tsp grated lemon zest
                2 tsp ground cumin
                1 1/2 tsp salt
                1/2 tsp ground black pepper
                1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
                1/4 tsp saffron threads

                Mix well and add and toss:

                1 3 1/2-lb. chicken, in serving pieces, skin removed if desired
                3/4 cup green olives or oil-cured black olives
                1 1/2 preserved lemons, rinsed and chopped, or fresh lemons, thinly sliced

                Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Preheat oven to 450 F. Add 1 1/2 cups water to pot, cover, and bake 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.