Sunday, May 12, 2013

Adventures in Food Analoging

For the first bit after finding out I was allergic to sooo many foods, grocery shopping was an overwhelming excursion.  Every single stupid label had to be read before being placed in my trolley and even then quite often, just to double triple check, that I hadn't missed some ingredient, the label was re-read.  Quite often finding something I'd missed on the first round or two.  Some missteps were made as I would forget things I couldn't eat, like buckwheat.  Why I'm allergic to buckwheat is anyone's guess, tis a gluten free grain, but nope, I've tried and it makes me feel like crud.

One day while in the grocery store picking up some orange juice and rice milk, I had an epiphany of sorts, the vast majority of the items in the store I'm allergic to.  Even in the gluten free section, I'm not freed from my label reading tasks, as much of it contains dairy or egg, or tree nuts.  This made me a very sad camper for quite a while. 

After "The Mussel Incident" I realized this isnt temporary, this is a permanent.  This is the way I'll have to eat for the rest of my life.  In that moment, for some unknown reason, my sadness evaporated and I began to deal in a happier more productive way.

Who knows what is rattling around inside of our heads, but lately I've been dying for a taste of my grandmother's "Scotch Eggs".  No, not these

but her version, ran through the lens of Indiana, where food quite often takes an odd shift.  Her Scotch Eggs was an dinner to clean up some of the leftovers.  So, bits of ham, hard boiled eggs.  She would dice the ham, use the whites from the hard boiled eggs ( the yolks were used for a different dish) make a white sauce using up some of the left over spring onions, and this would be poured over toast, or yeast rolls or warmed up leftover mashed potatoes.  Thrifty cook, yeah? 

After trial and error I found a way to make tofu taste like egg whites.  Maybe not for someone that has recently had an egg, but its been 2 years since my last egg.  The trick is to cut it around 1/2 inch thick, wrap in paper towels, and press most of the liquid out.  Then salt, pepper and onion salt both sides and let sit while the Earth Balance vegan butter has a chance to melt and the onion and ham has a chance to "frizzle up" a bit.  Then i carefully added the tofu "egg" and gently cooked it until barely golden brown on most sides.  Stirred in the gluten free flour, added the rice milk, along with more salt, pepper and onion powder, when the sauce became thick and creamy looking, I poured it over some rice and carefully, hopefully took a bite.....TA-DAH!  It was all that I had been hoping for!

A few days later, I made some gluten free biscuits (from a mix) did my egg trick, and whipped up a batch of italian sausage.  Making my own from ground pork doesnt take all that long and I think it does taste better, less sodium and no scary chemical additives.  Built my breakfast sandwich, poured a cup of coffee, and quite fearfully took my first bite.  OH MY SWEET STARS!  My tongue thought it had died and gone to breakfast restaurant heaven.  The biscuits while a bit crumbly, have a good flavor, and the tofu "egg" came thru like a champ again! 

I've been reading all of the vegan cookbooks the library houses. Vegan's have already figured out how to do a work around eggs and dairy, so while should I re-invent the wheel?  I'm excited to try using tofu as a substitute for paneer in Indian cooking.

A friend came over the other day for a quick bite before we headed out, and I had made a pan of gluten free brownies (from a mix) she loved them so much she wanted two servings!  They are good, moist and very tasty, which if you ask me is some sort of miracle seeing how they have no gluten nor egg.  Nestled in my freezer are slices of brownie, and when I want a sweet, it's off to the fridge for a tall cold glass of rice milk and a piece of frozen brownie.  After trying many different plant based milks, my all time favorite is the rice.  Unfortunately, rice milk is falling out of favor and almond and to a lesser extent soy are becoming the top plant based milks.  While I can drink soy, its a total no go zone for the almond, due to my tree nut allergy.   I can make my own rice milk, but have no way to fortify it, and really would much rather buy it ready to drink.


  1. I'm so happy you're finding good food to eat! I think one of my fears in trying to lost weight was giving up "good" food. Like you, I'm discovering that doesn't have to be the case, and also like your experience, I'm discovering that making your own is almost always a lot healthier. Thanks for being a role model! Knowing you can do it makes it easier for me!
    Peace <3

  2. I'm glad you're doing something like this on your blog. If I were in a similar situation, I'd probably go nuts trying to figure out what I can and can't eat.

  3. Being on a diet, I can relate at about 1 percent of what you are going through, when it comes to having to read labels. That 1pc is such an annoyance, I can't imagine what it must be like to live that constantly.

    But fair play to you being so optimistic about it now. I love Scotch Eggs!

  4. I would hazard to call your reaction to certain foods as "allergies" so much as they are "sensitivities." Allergic reactions tend to be not as subtle (which is why I feel like the allergy/immunology skin tests are voodoo - they can maybe tell you if you have a reaction, but not what KIND of reaction).

    All that said, do what makes you feel good. Tofu is probably a pretty good substitute in paneer, actually.

  5. Glad that you are finding things that you can eat, and those dishes you talked about sounded very good.