The Jewish holiday of Passover is coming up. For Jews around the world this translates into a week free of leavened products. No bread, pastas, cereals- the list goes on.
While for some this sounds like torture, for many this is reality no different than that of the other 51 weeks of the year.
With the number of food allergies and intolerances on the rise, many people find themselves avoiding foods known as most common allergens (wheat, milk, eggs, soy, fish, nuts, tree nuts, shellfish).
In order to maintain a well balanced diet with these food restrictions, its often necessary to come up with innovative and delicious replacements for foods that need to be avoided or eliminated. So, the next couple of blog posts will revolve around healthy, easy alternatives to the most common allergens!
In honour of the passover holiday, today we will be focusing on the replacements for cereal grain products.
The best thing about these grains (in my opinion) is their convenience. You really can’t argue with packing a sandwich for lunch or pouring a bowl of cereal for breakfast in terms of speedy eating. Both take minimal amounts of time and effort, and when done right can provide quick and nutritious options. Avoiding these foods can require slightly more effort but is well worth it in the end!
1. When you’re in the mood for a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs- why not try spaghetti squash. It has a similar consistency to regular noodles, but provides an added boost of fiber and potassium to your dish. To prepare: puncture some holes in the squash and roast at 350F for 30 minutes to an hour (until you can squeeze the squash easily). Then simply pair with your favorite meat sauce or meat ball recipe.
2. Looking for something to pair with your favorite dips? When crackers aren’t an option, why not try seed crackers like these http://ohsheglows.com/2012/01/31/endurance-crackers/ ? The power of fiber and protein from the seeds will make your snack that much more satisfying.
3. What recipe for meatballs or meatload doesn’t call for both breadcrumbs and eggs? The pair combine as a binding agent in the recipe, meaning they prevent the meat from falling apart. So for a two in one deal look no further than your pantry. That can of pumpkin puree that you’ve been wondering what to do with? use it in place of both the eggs AND breadcrumbs in any meat recipe (OR check out my recipe for salmon patties using canned pumpkin). It doesn’t alter the taste of the recipe but it DOES improve the nutrient profile, and is a great way of increasing your daily intake of vegetables.
4. Everything tastes better in a wrap! When flour tortillas aren’t an option- try corn or bean flour wraps instead. Or both nappa cabbage and collard greens make fantastic options instead. Their texture is firm enough to hold together when filled (who doesn’t hate when your wrap turns into a pile of mush on your plate!!) but soft enough to bite into without it really feeling like a vegetable!
You’re going to want to buy the cabbage a few days in advance to allow it to get a little bit softer (this makes it easier to peel back the layers). Alternately microwave the cabbage for a 1-2 minutes to soften the leaves.
Lastly- I’ve said it before and it’s true now- batch preparing is always your best bet. Each of these ideas takes slightly more time than it does to slice a loaf of bread when you’re in the mood. But sometimes that little added effort can seem SOO impossible on a busy weeknight. So prepare a large ziploc bag of cabbage leaves on Sunday for a week’s worth of wraps, check your weekly menu so you have the squash prepared when spaghetti night comes around. That way you are sure to have a healthy, allergen free alternative whenever you need it.