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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Tomato Labneh Salad

When life gives you soured yogurt. . . make labneh!

When our power was out for a day due to Hurricane Irene, I opted to put more perishable food items in a cooler with ice packs, but left my raw milk yogurt in the fridge (realizing it would come to room temperature). This is because yogurt has a “keeping” quality that allows it to be at room temp for limited time (a day or two) without spoilage, even if the yogurt is made from pasteurized milk. Mine was made from raw milk, though, and while it certainly didn’t *spoil*, it did sour, much like regular raw milk sours at room temperature (or “clabbers”) due to the enzymes and lactobacilli, I believe. Perfectly and safely edible, just puckery. No amount of honey mixed in would help matters.

So I made labneh with it, or “yogurt cheese.” Basically you drain out the whey via this method, and you have left a cream cheese type of consistency that can be spread on fruit or veggies or crackers.  Whey is sour-tasting, and I figured that whey in a soured product would be even more sour, so I drained it out to make the yogurt less potent. It was still a sour product, but much more edible, especially as a topping instead of by the bowl-full.

A few days ago for lunch I threw together this salad with ingredients I had on hand, and it was delicious! The flavors meshed well together. I think a drizzle of toasted sesame oil would also work really well, or sunflower seeds would be a nice addition for “crunch.”

Tomato Labneh Salad

1 large tomato
sea salt
labneh (yogurt cheese)
a handful of raisins
olive oil
raw honey

Directions: Roughly chop tomato and place in bowl. Lightly salt tomato pieces; then add chunks  of labneh. Throw on a handful of raisins, then drizzle with olive oil and raw honey. Eat.

And just some shameless progeny-promotion –  my lunchmate:

Grain-free Clafoutis

Oh yum. Last year I discovered clafoutis via my friend Jessica. In typical Jessica-fashion, her recipe to me ran something along the lines of “a dash of this, a handful of this,” so I tried to translate that as best I could into general measurements (I rarely measure when I cook, but I almost always measure when I bake!) for a recipe, which became a hit with our family last year.

Then I went off grains in January and my recipe sat collecting proverbial dust while I pined away for clafoutis. Thankfully I realized a few weeks ago that DUH I could try making a grain-free version, so I bought some frozen blueberries (my favorite fruit for clafoutis) that then sat in my freezer until today. We’re bracing for Irene here in Hartford, and I’m looking at all the food in my fridge and freezer and trying to frantically use up as much as I can. Not only do the blueberries need using, but I also had 7 dozen eggs as of yesterday (more like 3 dozen now – some eaten, some baked into breads and frozen) and 2 gallons of kefir that I’ve been trying to eat or bake into things. Voila! Perfect time for clafoutis! Here is the recipe I created, which we all enjoyed. I plan to make another one tomorrow, as the first is almost gone, and the second one I’ll refrigerate and we can always pull it out to eat if the power goes.

Grain-free Clafoutis

1/2 stick butter (to melt in pan)
3/4 cup almond flour
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups kefir (or milk or cream or yogurt or probably even coconut milk)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups (approximately) of frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a 10″ cast iron skillet in the oven while it heats.

Meanwhile  place almond flour in bowl and break up clumps (almond flour tends to clump). Whisk in eggs to flour, followed by kefir. Then add honey, salt, and vanilla and incorporate. Remove cast iron skillet from oven and melt 1/2 stick butter in skillet, swirling around to coat bottom. Add frozen blueberries and spread to a single layer. Pour batter over berries and bake for approximately 1 hour, until set in middle.

Herbed Nuts (with a little kick)

My friend Anna posted this recipe to Facebook a while back and I saved it in the hopes I’d eventually try making it. Today I finally got around to it, as I was trying to find an idea to round out a birthday gift. They were delicious. Adrian thought they were fantastic. The original recipe called for pecans and walnuts, but I substituted almonds for pecans (since I had the former and not the latter) and they went well.

Herbed Nuts

Yield: 4 cups

4 cups nuts (I used 2 cups almonds, 2 cups walnuts)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sage
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and spread on a large ungreased cookie sheet with sides. Bake for ~20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container.

Salmon Egg Salad

We’ve been eating more fish around here lately, and one of my favorite fish options is canned salmon. I can get canned wild salmon at my local store for $2/can (14.75 oz.), which is a great price! One of my favorite uses for canned salmon is salmon patties, but there are plenty of other good options! One option is to make a salmon egg salad, in a similar vein to a chicken salad, a tuna salad, or egg salad. Salmon Egg Salad is yummy to serve over a bed of lettuce, between slices of bread for a sandwich (if you are able), or rolled up in a crepe. Like any salad of this kind, exact measurements are not necessary, and I didn’t do any measuring when I did this one. Follow along with my very basic directions, and tweak to your own taste and available ingredients:

I started with a 14.75 oz. can of wild Alaskan salmon. The kind I buy has skin and bones included. All is supposed to be edible, but I admit to removing the skin. The bones crush up easily and are quite edible.

Next I pulled out my salad spinner from the fridge and fished around in leftover salad for miscellaneous chopped vegetables.

I found some chopped celery and carrots, and added that to my salmon.

I hardboiled a pot of eggs to use, making extras for snacking.

I ended up using 5 of the eggs in the salad. Here they are chopped up:

Then I added a sprinkling of salt and pepper and some raisins. I love the way raisins go with salmon.

And finally, I added just enough kefir to coat everything. Yogurt also works well. Neither has an untoward flavor in this combination, in my opinion, as there are plenty of other strong flavors to overcome the non-mayo effect :-).A dab of mustard would also work well, but I didn’t bother this time around.

Yum!

Dessert for Dinner

Cookies and Ice Cream. Sunday supper :-). Sounds terribly imbalanced, but really not all that bad, nutritionally. The ice cream was 3 cups of kefir mixed with 1/2 cup honey and a bit of vanilla, with chopped up strawberries. Sounds more like health food to me! And I’ve already posted the cookie recipe. Hardly bad for you ;-). If I’d had farm fresh eggs on hand, I would have added a few yolks to the ice cream for added nutrition and texture, but alas, I was out and only had store eggs, which I don’t trust raw.

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.

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