Yes – this is another post about food!
I love food – have you gathered that yet? Most of my posts the last few months have been about food, and I am still very much into exploring the seemingly endless possibilities this ‘restricted diet’ has revealed to me. The Real Food Challenge with Nourished Kitchen has also re-kindled an interest in the quality of the food I eat and it has all come at a really good time for me: pregnancy is a great time to become really conscious of the food you eat!!
There are quite a few items I can’t eat at the moment: wheat, rye, spelt and barley cause minor pain associated with digestive problems, also I suspect they contribute to my asthma. Cow’s milk dairy is a definite contributor to my asthma – an instant response! Some nightshades, particularly potato cause itchy hands, face, throat and instant pain in my stomach, back and neck. I’m not convinced tomato is that bad for me, but for now I am avoiding all nightshades (tomato, potato, capsicum, eggplant, chillies). There is also shellfish and soy, which (as Melissa put it so well) is not my friend, and a list of fruits that are testing as toxic for me at the moment too. These are all good, nourishing foods – just not good for me. I also cannot tolerate any amount of preservative (without dissolving into a sea of snot and sneezes) and life is much better and happier for me without any additives at all actually.
I don’t know how long I’m going to have to avoid those foods. I think for gluten, dairy and potatoes … maybe forever. With the others it might be just until the end of my pregnancy. So with a list like that you’d think it doesn’t leave much for me to eat. And that is the question I get asked most often …. what CAN I eat?
Well, if I step outside of my home then the answer is … not much. I don’t leave home without snacks any more because the world just isn’t ready for people who need to live life without the ‘usual’ ingredients. Our society is so reliant on wheat and dairy! I never realized it before. Sure gluten-free is coming in strong now – it is even trendy – and you may be lucky to be offered at least one gluten-free option in a cafe, but I can’t even buy the usual gluten-free products because they usually contain soy and potato flour as an alternative (I never realized how common soy is as an ingredient!). Restaurants are more likely to offer you the same foods as everyone else, but without the gluten or dairy – or any other alternative. My worst experience so far was being served a lunch at a restaurant that provided me with allergy-friendly dips, but nothing to dip in them. After this came a delicious salmon made flavourless because it was served without the sauce it is usually offered with (it contained dairy). No dessert. That was chocolate mud cake for everyone else. Nothing like watching other people eat dessert when all you’ve had to eat is a bit of dry salmon and about 4 green beans! I went home hungry and cranky that day. You’d think chefs would get excited about a food challenge, but no, I think they get pissed off. Another fussy eater. Sushi is about my limit in terms of eating out.
Inside my home, however, my kitchen is a busy place. I think that my kitchen sighs in relief at the end of the day. Here, there is PLENTY to eat, and this is the most fun I’ve had with food since …EVER! Nothing like being told you CAN’T do something is there? I think these are the times when the Universe is trying to shake and wake us up a bit. See if we can rise to a challenge.
In the last two months I have learned there is life beyond the usual foods. I’ve been forced to become creative – not to view my diet as a bunch of things I can’t have … but as an opportunity to look at how many other foods there are to eat. For example, while I put onion and garlic in almost everything, I never realised how reliant I was on tamari for flavour in my foods … a sprinkle of tamari would go in everything! Now I’m back into using a few teaspoons of selected spice, fresh herbs, vegetables like fennel and spring onions, home-made chicken or beef stock. Back to raw and basic ingredients.
I’ve been inspired by the Real Food Challenge, through cookbooks like Nourishing Traditions and Recipes to the Rescue, and also have discovered the wide and thrilling world of food blogs! Now I have in my kitchen all I need for making ALL of my own food. I’ve never bought packet mixes or pre-made sauces. I like to cook my own cookies and cakes. My parents taught me to cook from scratch and I continued to do so, but in the last three months I have learned how to do away with everything else I would buy that are considered ‘staple foods’ in a kitchen: I can make my own sourdough bread, crackers (no more tasteless and nutritionally void rice or corn crackers!), cream cheese, fermented vegetables, yogurt, pate (liver!), ghee, stock, pasta, sprouted flour, sprouted legumes, grains and seeds, oat milk, almond milk, nut butter, coconut butter …. EVERY meal is made from scratch using fresh ingredients and using them in a way that preserves or enhances their nutritional potential. I have even conquered pizza – that glorious tribute to wheat, tomato and cheese!
It takes a bit of planning, and a bit of preparation. I’m still not much good at menu planning, but there is always something soaking, drying, boiling and some days there are three of four meals going at once – in various stages of preparation. It is an exciting place to be … and it is lucky I like cooking!
So when I get the questions about my adventurous eating, and using foods that aren’t commonplace in most households any more (whoever heard of beetroot and carrot pasta sauce or fermented carrots? Who in their right mind would voluntarily eat offal? Why bother sprouting rice before you eat it? How could you contemplate sheep’s cheese?) I can’t help thinking of a few lines from the end of the Dr Seuss Book Green Eggs and Ham:
You do not like them,
So you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may!
Try them and you may, I say!