Wednesday, February 18, 2015

{Mastering Your Menus} Pirates 101: Food Allergies and Restrictions

Pirates 101: Dealing with Food Allergies & Restrictions 

Hello everyone!  Before we get started on the menu challenge in earnest, I thought I'd give you a little "behind the scenes look" in case you don’t know our story.   A number of years ago my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and we began to navigate the interesting and somewhat overwhelming world of food allergies and intolerances.  Between myself and my two girls we need to avoid wheat, barley, tapioca, eggs, potatoes, oats, butter, soy, canola, olive oil, corn… and the list goes on.  I’m thankful that we don’t all have problems with the same ingredients, some struggle with certain things, and others with others, but as we have pinpointed more of these problem foods, my previous Captain’s Log, with its menu plans and shopping lists, has become obsolete.  I’m excited to take this challenge with you!!

Here are a couple of things I've learned when working with food allergies or intolerances. First, find as many things to eat as you can that are not “specialized” food (i.e. specially packaged gluten free, peanut free, dairy free foods). By that, I mean to try to find food that is naturally free of your allergen such as fresh vegetables, meats and fruits. If you can base your main meals on “real foods”, you can fill in with the more expensive specialty foods, and still keep your budget in check. 

Next, learn to stretch your dollars. You can make your own flour mix to save a few pennies, and make chicken nuggets by coating chicken breasts with crushed Lay’s potato chips, rather than buying the GF (gluten free) frozen chicken nuggets that are outrageously expensive. Try using a store brand spaghetti sauce with your gluten free spaghetti, or eating name brand GF cereal such as Rice Chex and Kix, rather than buying special GF cereal.   Do I ever splurge? Of course! Just tonight I picked up some wonderful GF wafer cookies and a box of chocolate covered GF shortbread cookies, but at $4-$5 a box we try to make them last for awhile!

Food allergies and intolerances can seem overwhelming at times. It seems that sometimes feeling better doesn’t outweigh the sense of loss we feel for some of our comfort foods. The girls and I have found that having some chocolate, coffee or ice cream around the house helps us deal with the “poor me” feeling we sometimes get when the guys bring home a deep dish pizza...  : )   It helps us to realize how much we *can* still eat, rather than focusing on what we can no longer enjoy.

CHALLENGE: Your challenge as you work on Mastering our Menus over the next few months is to have a good attitude. We all have dietary restrictions to work with, although they aren’t all food allergy related. Perhaps for you it will be budget restrictions, time issues or a special diet that needs to be followed for weight or health reasons. If you strive to look at this as an adventure, rather than a chore, I know the Lord will bless you as you work willingly to plan ahead for your family.

I'll see you back here Wednesday, March 4th.  Be sure you have your notebook handy because we are going to start making some lists!! : )



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