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Shirley Plant

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Menu planning when dealing with food allergies

As someone who has had food allergies most of my life, I know too well how difficult it can be to plan nutritious, tasty meals. If you are like me, and have to avoid an array of foods, it can be overwhelming at times.

My first rule of thumb is to clean out your pantry and fridge. Get rid of the items that you can no longer eat, so you won’t be tempted. If you are part of a family and they can still eat these items then you are going to have to be pretty strong in your resolve. For me, it just wasn’t worth cheating as it made me feel to unwell.

It may take you a while to enjoy some of your new foods, as your taste buds have been accustomed to the same foods for years, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

The first thing to realize is that it is about what you can eat, not what you cannot eat. Perhaps dedicate a shelf or a cupboard just for you, filled with all the foods that you can eat.

Next, figure out what your favourite foods are that you can eat. Have them on hand, so you don’t feel deprived with you new diet.

Visit a health food store and ask them about all the allergy-free items that they offer. You will be amazed at how many foods you can eat.

Purchase a cookbook that contains recipes that you can enjoy.

Many big bulk stores are featuring allergy-free items like gluten-free grains and pastas at a much lower cost than health food stores, so you may want to check them out as well. Try the healthy natural food aisle at your local grocery store for allergy-free options.

Once you start to eat foods that agree with your body, you will notice how much better you feel physically and emotionally, and this will then encourage you to continue on with your healthy eating regime.

Remember that pre-packaged allergy free foods usually contain a lot of sugar and do not have a lot of nutrients in them, so if you can start to make more of your meals and treats from scratch, it will benefit you in the long run.

Many people say to me that they don’t have time to cook, but they soon realize if they give up one television program and get into the kitchen they can whip up a soup and a couple dozen muffins to freeze for the coming work week.

It’s important to have food in your freezer for those busy evenings or when you are on the run.

Making smoothies is another fast option for quick mornings or evening snacks. Try to have lots of fresh produce in your fridge, so at a moment’s notice you can whip up a shake or smoothie for yourself. Frozen fruit is great to keep in your freezer and avocados are indispensible to me and I always have at least seven or eight in my house for veggie shakes.

My daily vegetable shake base is a mixture of celery, cucumber, spinach, avocado, cilantro, water, sea salt, and lemon juice. Sometimes I will add a tomato or a small green onion. Blend and you have a salad in a glass, full of nutrients.

My favourite mid day smoothie is a simple, nutritious mixture of unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, a banana, and hempseed.

 

For more allergy -free recipes and healthy ideas, please visit my website.

Avocados: the super fruit

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to try some recipes with Mexican avocadoes. I love avocadoes. I probably eat at least two avocados a day, maybe more. But if you had asked me 20 years ago if I liked avocados I would have said, “I have never tasted one.”

Yes, I am one of those who ate meat and potatoes and a little seasonal fruit most days. Foods like cilantro, avocados, arugula, and anything else that was green, except frozen peas, were probably not high on my list, nor was it served at our supper table.

Then my life became all about food allergies and what the heck was there left to eat. Avocados were on the ‘Can Eat’ list. So I tried one and, well, I loved them. They are so smooth and creamy and I can’t imagine how I had lived without them.

I first tried avocados in a local vegetarian restaurant where they had made them into an avocado and onion salad with lemon juice, uembushi vinegar, olive oil and salt. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Since that day I have never looked back and every time I go grocery shopping, which is fairly often, I pick up at least six avocados.

My significant other was like me, and when we met a few years ago I tried to get him to eat avocados. He would always say “I don’t really care for them”, and I would say,” have you ever tried them?”

Now he eats more avocados than I do. His favourite way to eat them is sliced on toast or with a chicken sandwich. He also loves them with his eggs on the weekend, or on homemade flax crackers.

My girlfriend always carries an avocado in her purse when she goes out for dinner, just in case there is nothing on the menu that she can eat. She will ask the waitress to bring her some olive oil and lemon and voila she has a healthy snack.

I put sliced avocado into all my salads. Whether it is a green lettuce salad, a cabbage salad or kale salad, avocado always makes it taste so much better.

Avocados are full of healthy fats and help keep the body alkaline, which helps us to keep disease away. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, folate, and more potassium than a banana. Avocados can help lower cholesterol, so why not pick up a few avocados at your local supermarket.

It is best to buy avocados that are green and firm. You know they are ready to eat when the skin changes from green to almost black and is slightly soft to the touch.

What about avocados for dessert?

Last night I decided to make an avocado pudding.

 

2 avocados
1 banana
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup coconut milk

 

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and enjoy.

I found this a little sweet, but my husband loves sweet things (guess that is why he loves me). If I were making this just for me, I would put in less sweetener, but I have to say the fresh maple syrup that we just picked up at the sugar bush last month makes this a delicious and healthy avocado-banana pudding.

 

Want to try more of Shirley’s recipes? Enter our contest to win her cookbook, Finally…Food I Can Eat.