Open Menu for a Friend

I have a friend who just found out she has food sensitivities to wheat, casein, soy, egg white and yolk, and baker’s yeast. Ugh. Those foods show up in a lot of places! But when she e-mailed me I thought “A fun challenge! Come up with a week menu for her.” (Because I’m weird and find fun in odd things. Yes, I do need to get out more, yadda yadda.)

So here are some ideas for my friend, taking into account her new restrictions. I’ve included one snack option per day as well, because she’s a breastfeeding mama who needs her regular calorie intake, and as such, these are not necessarily low-calorie options! As a breastfeeding mom myself, I usually have more like two snacks per day, but she can always recycle ideas a second time, or finish up leftovers from a previous meal. There are a few specialty items listed which she may or may not be able to get at local stores, so she can always, for example, double up on breakfast suggestions for the week, if she can’t find buckwheat near her.

Day 1:
Breakfast gluten-free rolled oats, made into regular ole oatmeal. Optional soaking the night before.
Topping options: coconut or almond milk, honey, chopped nuts, grated coconut, 1 tablespoon coconut oil (quality fats with high-carb meals help stabilize blood sugar). 
Lunch canned salmon, raisins, and shredded carrots over a lettuce salad, drizzled with olive oil
Snack sliced apple with peanut butter
Dinner Marinated crockpot chicken, green beans, corn

Day 2:
Breakfast grain-free granola (made with coconut oil, not butter) with almond or coconut milk
Lunch southwest quinoa salad
Snack peanut butter “spoon candy” – mix approx. equal parts peanut butter, and coconut oil together in a very small dish, honey to sweeten, and add raisins or shredded coconut for texture. Eat with spoon.
Dinner easy white fish fillets (using coconut oil instead of butter), rice with coconut oil and a sprinkling of salt, steamed broccoli with olive oil salt and pepper

Day 3:
Breakfast fruit smoothie (made with coconut milk)
Lunch cooked and chopped chicken (or canned chicken – but most canned has soy) over a lettuce-based salad, with diced avocado and tomato and sunflower seeds, drizzled with olive oil and lime (or lemon) juice
Snack diced apple in bowl with walnuts and maple syrup (or honey) drizzled over all
Dinner taco skillet dinner! (Fry up a pound of ground beef, add a sliced onion and a few chopped green peppers saute until tender, then add some frozen corn and a can of tomato paste. Season all with taco seasoning.)

Day 4:
Breakfast grain-free Muesli (I mix equal parts nuts, shredded coconut, seeds – sunflower or sesame, raisins) with almond or coconut milk
Lunch creamy chicken soup (subbing coconut oil for butter and using homemade broth or a brand that doesn’t use soy, etc.) 
Snack
sliced banana in bowl, dotted with peanut butter, and honey drizzled over all
Dinner roasted chicken with baked potatoes and green peas

Day 5:
Breakfast sausage served over a baked potato
Lunch nut butter smoothie: blend 1 banana (preferably chopped and frozen) with 1 cup coconut milk and 1/4 cup peanut butter, honey to taste and some vanilla
Snack almonds and raisins (or prunes if you can get them) – one of my favorite and simplest snacks
Dinner bun-less hamburgers spread with ketchup (watch those ingredients! Try your own ketchup: mix together 1 cup tomato paste, 2 T honey, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t allspice, a pinch of ground cloves. Mix and thin with more vinegar to proper consistency), oven-fried fries drizzled with olive oil and salt, green leafy salad

Day 6:
Breakfast sliced banana heavily sprinkled with muesli
Lunch chicken chili 
Snack ants on a log! (celery sticks with peanut butter, dotted with raisins)
Dinner beef with tomato and zucchini, with rice served on the side

Day 7:
Breakfast buckwheat porridge (buy whole buckwheat and prepare as for oatmeal but cook longer, as here, though I haven’t tried this precise recipe). See topping suggestions for oatmeal, Day 1.
Lunch Italian black bean salad 
Snack carrot sticks dipped in guacamole (mash avocado with 1-2 minced garlic cloves, salt/pepper, 1-2 T olive oil, 1-2 T lime juice – diced tomato or cilantro optional)
Dinner chicken legs roasted in the oven with sticky chicken seasoning, with diced potato and cubed carrot roasted in the same pan

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Scallops with Sausage and Apples

(There’s actually more sausage than scallops in this recipe, but “Sausage with Scallops and Apples” didn’t have the right ring to it.)

I’ve been trying to incorporate more seafood into our diet, and a few weeks ago I bought a 1 lb. bag of frozen scallops. Today I finally pulled it out to thaw and decided that we WERE having them for dinner tonight, barring unforseen circumstances. I just didn’t have a foggy clue how to prepare them (minor detail). So I did some googling and discovered that the vast majority of scallop recipes use either bacon or pasta or both, and I certainly can’t have pasta, and sugar-free AND nitrite-free bacon is awfully hard (and $$$) to come by. . . so I was going to have to improvise. A friend on Facebook pointed me to this recipe for scallops, which granted had plenty of GAPS-unfriendly items, but I thought I could at least use it for a springboard, so here is what I made:

 

Scallops with Sausage and Apples

1 lb. sausage (I used a mild homemade turkey sausage)
2 small onions, chopped (or 1 large – this isn’t rocket science)
1 medium apple, chopped (I used Golden delicious)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 lb. frozen scallops, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Saute sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. When the sausage is about halfway done, add the onions, followed in a few minutes by the apples (this gives the meat a headstart in cooking – I made up this technique, but I think it does help in making these sorts of preparations). After sausage is cooked through, add thyme and cook and stir to blend flavors. Then add scallops and cook, stirring frequently, just until done, 3-5 minutes. Scallops, so says google, do not like to be overdone, so I was careful to pull the skillet off the heat as soon as the scallops were opaque, and we got a decent texture.

 

I served this along side green peas for me, and Adrian and Hans ate it with peas and baked potatoes. Potatoes probably aren’t a standard paring, but we have potatoes that need eating, and they didn’t complain ;-). All in all, the dish had a nice pleasing flavor, the sausage and the scallops melded well, and the apple was a subtle background flavor, with thyme a bit stronger, but nice. Adrian thinks that that the ratio of scallops to sausage could be increased (this had more sausage than scallops, by volume), but I liked it as is just fine (so did he; just a preference for the other). Next time I might try two bags of scallops per 1 lb. sausage, though, because I do think that would work well.

Grain-Free Meatloaf

Mmmm. (Okay, pretend I got a better picture, and imagine a nice piece on your plate, smothered in homemade ketchup. Work with me here, please?)

Regardless of whether you’re grain-free or not, this recipe is still a winner. This meatloaf packs extra eggs, almonds (in the form of flour), even butternut squash. And you really, truly can’t tell. Even my dad ate it (and he hates squash, like REALLY hates squash). Making meatloaf is an art, not a science. You need some meat (duh!), some sort of dry grain-like substance (flour, oatmeal, etc.), some sort of wet binder (tomatoes, usually), eggs, and seasoning. Everything else is optional, and ratios can be flexible. Katie at Kitchen Stewardship had a great post giving basic suggestions for ingredients and ratios. Very helpful! I used her suggestions to create my own GAPS-friendly meatloaf. You’ll note that my recipe uses more eggs than usual. . . this is because (a) they’re really good for you, and (b) I used some coconut flour as part of my flour in the recipe, and coconut flour soaks up a lot of egg for very little flour. Here’s what I created:

Line up of all the ingredients (ignoring all the extra kitchen appliances that are cluttering the picture :-P) . . .

And everything plopped in the bowl, with the pans awaiting stuffing. . .

Grain-Free Meatloaf

5-6 lbs ground beef (or other ground meat)
2/3 cup coconut flour
1- 1/2 cups almond flour
2 cups squash
6-12 oz. tomato paste
10 eggs
2 cups diced onion
8 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 t powder)
4 teaspoons salt
4-5 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Mix all. Press/form into pans (can make meatloaf or meatballs) and bake at 350 degrees until done – approximately 1 hour, 20-30 minutes for meatballs. With this amount of mixture, I can fill a 9×13 casserole, an 8×11 casserole, a large loaf pan, and still have enough left to get about 25 meatballs in a 9×9 square casserole.

I like to slice up the extras into squares, and flash freeze on cookie sheets, then pop them off and throw them in ziplocs. Makes for easy leftovers on I-am-too-exhausted-or-busy-to-make-supper nights :-).

Encouragement comes in many forms.

It’s been awhile.  I must say that the past several weeks have had ups and downs, mostly downs in regards to enthusiasm for the diet and spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  Maybe mostly from being around gatherings and parties and baking desserts and just feeling… different.  And worn out.  And weird with my separate foods.  And it’s been hard at times not to succumb and eat even just a little.

It’s also been discouraging looking for answers to my problems and seemingly running down one rabbit trail after another, chasing after one good sounding idea after the next.  Trying doctors again and not finding help.  But finding less money in the bank account nonetheless.

The past few days have found me much more encouraged.  Here are a few reasons, to name a few:

-school year finishing up
-upcoming visit to Seattle next week
-starting SIL courses with Wycliffe in just a couple weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-watching some good ol’ Gaither Homecoming with mommy and daddy
– finding (I think) some promising answers more pertinent to my specific problems (we’ll see)
-Cookies!

It’s amazing how uplifting cookies can be.  AND how discouraging they can be if one over-indulges.  That’s why I’ve exercised self-control and stopped at cookie number 6 (or 7?).  Ok, I should have stopped at cookie number 3, actually.  But I really WANTED to eat the entire batch.  Cooked or uncooked!

These were very uplifting cookies.  Maybe a little too good since I found them SO very tempting warm out of the oven.  Once completely cooled, they were very good, but not necessarily amazing.  Soft, warm, and slightly gooey after cooling JUST a minute…  they completely held me captive.

Warning – I just kinda threw these together, so the recipe needs tweaked.  And I’m not positive I’m remembering everything I threw in.  Look below for “thoughts for changes.”

PB Banana Cookies!

¾ c raisins
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 c almond flour/meal/ground
1 c peanut butter
½ c honey
dash cinnamon
¾ t each baking powder and baking soda (opt for GAPS-approved?)
1 banana, chopped in chunks

Beat 2 eggs with vanilla; add raisins and let sit overnight in fridge.  Purée with immersion blender before adding.
Combine everything.  Chill in the freezer ‘till it will hold shape on the pan (maybe an hour?).  Drop by spoonfulls onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for…  10 minutes or so?

And if you’re skeptical about the banana chunks (like a certain long blond-haired sister I have), TRY IT.  WOW it’s good.  Or go for chunks of apple maybe?  But I really like the pockets of gooey sweetness.  Kinda-sorta like the effect I remember chocolate chips having in cookies, back oh-so-very long ago when I had one last.  *sigh*

THOUGHTS FOR CHANGES:

-more raisins, to help firm them up and hold together
-less honey (These were quite sweet, addictingly so.  I kept tasting the raw batter, which isn’t really like me.  But it was SO good.)
-maybe ½ c more almond flour, at least (batter too runny)
-maybe a T or 2 of coconut flour?
-allow plenty of time to freeze before cooking, so it holds shape in oven

Because every cooking blog needs duplicate recipes. . .

So Hannah already posted what looks to be a fabulous recipe (she sure thought so!) for salmon patties recently. So why would I post another one? Well, first off, it’s just plain fun to try new things. Second, I can’t have lentil flour. Third, I never have green onions on hand, nor was I sure about onion in salmon patties. . . and fourth, a blog I subscribe to posted another recipe, which inspired me to try with almond flour :-). I did some very minor tweaks of her recipe for tonight’s dinner, and we all enjoyed it!

Salmon Patties

14.7 oz. can wild salmon
2 eggs
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice

In a medium sized mixing bowl (I used my Pyrex 4-cup measure), mix together all ingredients. Heat cast iron skillet and add some sort of cooking oil. I used palm shortening. Coconut oil was suggested in the original recipe, but I save coconut oil for more dessert-y recipes, going for understated palm shortening for this type of task. I used a serving-size spoon to scoop the mixture onto the pan, patting down to 1/4″ thick or so. I got 9 patties from the recipe, and I felt like if I’d made the patties bigger they would have held together well. These were perfect sizes. Cook until lightly brown (3-4 minutes), then flip and cook on the other side. Remove to a plate and enjoy! We had these with lacto-fermented ketchup on top. Yum!

Ratatouille

What a fun experiment :-). Adrian and I (especially Adrian!) love the movie Ratatouille, so we thought it would be nice to actually try the dish of the same name. In The Flavor Thesaurus, the author gives a rough sketch of how to make ratatouille, so I gave it a whirl! It was yummy. Not the most jaw-dropping amazing dish ever, but definitely something I would make again. It wasn’t hard and the flavors really went well together. I think it could definitely be done in the crockpot, but I did the oven this time. (My goal in the summer is to use the oven as little as possible, so I convert a LOT of recipes to the crockpot.)

Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 small zucchini, quartered and sliced (so you end up with bite-sized wedges)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
8 garlic cloves
4 teaspoons dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
red wine vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine eggplant, bell pepper, onion, zucchini, and tomato products, honey and water in a large casserole dish. Thinly slice the garlic cloves and add to casserole with the thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Bake for approximately one hour, uncovered, stirring once. After removing from oven, add a splash or two of red wine vinegar and mix.


I actually used this casserole AND a smaller one to bake the ratatouille, then it baked down quite a bit and I was able to combine both dishes into one for serving.

Chicken Eggplant Wraps

My friend Mary passed this recipe onto me, at least the recipe that I based my version off of – I changed quite a bit :-). I’d only had eggplant once or twice before, so this was a fun experiment. I’m also hoping to try Ratatouille (another eggplant recipe) soon.

Adrian and I both took a few bites to get used to the flavor and texture of the dish, but we liked it more and with each additional bite, and even ended up having seconds. Hans devoured it! I never know what that kid will love and what he won’t. He is getting tired of soup (lots of soups on GAPS!), so anything that isn’t soup already at least interests him ;-). He pretty much assumes that we will be having soup or squash (or both) at every meal, though that is a bit stretching it ;-).

This was not a quick dish to make, but worth a fun change, and the closest thing to enchiladas I can have right now ;-). . . well, the Italian version of them, anyway. I would consider adding 1/2 cup of white wine to the tomato sauce if I made these again, but it is also good as it is. If I try different things, I’ll update.

Chicken Eggplant Wraps

roll-ups:
2 whole eggplants, sliced lengthwise thinly (1/4″, approximately)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 T schmaltz (or other cooking fat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 cups of cooked and diced chicken
sauce:
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tsp. salt

In a small pot, combine all the sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and place flat on 2 cookie sheets in single layer (should just about perfectly cover all). Bake until eggplant slices turn golden brown – 8 or 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for roll-ups, saute green pepper and onion with schmaltz in a skillet. Add spices, garlic, and chicken and saute until all is warm and incorporated. Let mixture cool some before proceeding.

Thinly coat bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce. Then add the roll-ups: to assemble, take an eggplant slice and place a few tablespoons of filling in the center and roll up. Place seam-side down in dish. Repeat, filling dish with eggplant roll-ups. Then top all with the remaining sauce.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly.


Roll-ups ready for sauce.


Out of the oven and enjoyed :-).

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