Food puzzle
November 27, 2011 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Food allergics and creative cooks: processed foods, snacks, and simple meal ideas that don't include common allergens?

I need to eliminate these foods from my diet for at least a couple of weeks, but I'm coming up blank when it comes to grocery shopping, snacking, and meal planning.


Any ideas? We have a baby at home so the easier the better. I love processed food and junk food so those suggestions are welcome too!

Things we've tried that don't work:

dried fruit, too often has wheat flour on it
vegan food/fake meat is full of soy
fast food is all horrible and full of dairy (chicken mcnuggets! WTF!)
posted by the young rope-rider to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Carl's Jr. Six Dollar Burger is 100% meat. I get mine "Low Carb" which means it's wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. I can't have the fries because they're fried in the same oil as the breaded stuff. You'll probably have to check the ingredients in their condiments, but at least that's one option for you.

You might want to check out your local Health Foods store. There are lots of brands that will specifically state that they contain none of the top allergens. I'm partial to the EnviroKids brand, it's marketed for kids but that Gorilla Munch tastes just like Capt'n Crunch.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:10 PM on November 27, 2011

I roast chick peas all the time to eat as snacks. Super easy and delicious with no allergens.
posted by Maisie at 6:15 PM on November 27, 2011

Hummus. Guacamole. Rice noodles.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:17 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite] has wonderful recipes, most contain substitutes for common allergens. All recipes are wheat-free. There are some good cook books for folks with multiple allergies - check out Amazon for the highest rated reviewed ones and see what other folks recommend.

I wouldn't recommend any fast foods whatsoever - too much possibility for cross-contamination. A great substitute for junk food is baked kale chips. Rinse kale and cut stems off, chop in chip-size pieces, top with a sprinkle of olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees until edges are brown but not burned.

I often use to find recipes without allergens. You can search by ingredients you don't want, which can be helpful. Also do a search on google for butter and egg substitutes - these are the most common in my experience. I love Earth Balance Butter as a dairy substitute.

Good luck! PM me if you'd like and I'd be happy to help. I've been gluten free for 3 years and that was tough - I can imagine what it's like to try to go cold turkey from all 8 allergens in one go.
posted by luciddream928 at 6:21 PM on November 27, 2011

Thanks--so far specific brand recommendations are the most helpful!
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:27 PM on November 27, 2011

Meat, vegetables, fruit. Learn to stop thinking of whole foods as being components of meals and treat individual foods as things to eat. For example, you can eat ground beef with veggies -- it doesn't have to be shaped into patties and served on a bun with a slice of cheese, or wedged in between layers of pasta.

Roast chicken, seared beef, roast vegetables, berries with coconut milk, banana or apple slices with almond butter. Olive oil or coconut oil for the cooking oil when needed. Lots of fresh herbs.
posted by telegraph at 6:27 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Corn tortillas
posted by hortense at 6:31 PM on November 27, 2011

Find out if there is a gluten free store in town-they'll have a lot of advice on cooking for multiple allergies and many products they carry will be free of all typical food allergies.
posted by inukshabbi at 6:51 PM on November 27, 2011

Snack idea: You can use those long, plastic-wrapped cucumbers (I think they're called European Cucumbers at the chain grocery store), sliced a few ticks above thin, for chips, with dip or salsa.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:59 PM on November 27, 2011

When I was on one of these elimination diets, I ate a lot of chips 'n' salsa... probably way too much chips 'n' salsa...
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:00 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Off-the-shelf Chex mix will meet your needs. Tostito tortilla chips and Frito-Lay bean dip will both meet your needs.

For home prepared meals, any combination of grilled/roasted meat, a basic starch, and a green vegetable will do you just fine.

Tomorrow, for breakfast, we plan to grits and greens with a poached egg on top. Omit the egg and replace it with another protein, (say, ham or bacon) and you're in good shape.
posted by Gilbert at 7:08 PM on November 27, 2011

We did this recently and it was super delicious.
posted by brilliantine at 7:27 PM on November 27, 2011

Sweet potato or regular potato oven fries.
posted by lakeroon at 7:28 PM on November 27, 2011

Sunbutter! Peanut free, gluten free sunflower seed butter. It's the closest thing to peanut butter that I've found yet.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:32 PM on November 27, 2011

I have a similar set of dietary limitations (I also don't eat any form of meat). I don't eat much processed food at all. If any. And I pretty much have to cook or prepare everything I eat because eating out is severely limited and horrible.

For fairly quick/easy/snacky stuff:
Onigiri--just the rice or you can fill with whatever you want. I like to mix some frozen mixed vegetables (the cubes of carrots and peas and corn) in my rice at the end of the cooking time of the rice and make the onigiri with it. I love them fried in a little sesame oil and eaten with sriracha, but they are a blank canvas upon which much can be painted. They are really good dipped in vegan aioli. I have had some success with finding gluten free/meat/fish free furikake too. You can also make your own out of sesame seeds/sea salt.

Brad's Raw Leafy Kale is disturbingly amazingly delicious. It is also very pricey, at 8 bucks a box here.

Socca (also called farinata) is easy to make and delicious.

I also love to make date/nut balls for on the go snacking. It is also INFINITELY flexible. You can use raisins or prunes as part of the date mixture. Whole fresh medjool dates are free of wheat flour. This recipe is a knock off of the Lara Bar, which is really overpriced and something I personally would never buy since I can make my own but these may be an option for you.

I kind of use rice cakes as bread replacement. I eat chickpea salad on them. And nutella. I really prefer Lundberg brand rice cakes, but again, they are kind of pricey.

This breakfast bar recipe works wonders for snack bars. Again, easily customizable to your limitations. Substitute the 2 cups of bananas with canned pumpkin and add cinnamon and you have an amazingly delicious breakfast. Breakfast is really, really hard on this diet. Chilaquiles with avocado (no cheese) is an excellent breakfast, too.
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:36 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Healthy Indulgences is a blog with a ton of tasty allergen-free desserts. The recipes are sugar-free, but you can substitute sugar - the recipes seem to be flexible. There are eggs in many of the baked recipes, but not all (these honey nut cookies are awesome lower carb snacks, and these wraps are great for sandwiches). I keep these bars in the fridge for a sweet treat, or pack them with an ice pack for lunch - recipe here. Chia seeds + water make a good egg substitute in many of the baked treats. Google that sub for the portion of water you should use.
posted by sunnychef88 at 8:11 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gluten free household here. We eat lots of Mexican food - don't have to include cheese after all! Slow cooked meat with spices and onions, beans (cook dry or plain canned - many canned refried ones now have wheat). Indian food - last night's dinner was a chicken curry and vegetable biryani - saute lots of veggies with ginger, garlic, mustard seed, coriander, cinnamon stick, onions - add rice and water. Tonight will be gluten free pasta (we like Tinkyada and Trader Joe's brands) with a tomato sauce and homemade meatballs using gf breadcrumbs. Without cheese you're good on something like that. Trader Joe's is great for people with food allergies - you can download lists of what they carry that's gluten free, dairy free etc - make shopping a lot easier.

Gluten free girl is a good source for meal ideas. She does eat dairy but talks about how to adjust recipes for lots of allergies.

Cook a pot of beans and you've got a great quick protein source to add to salad, wrap in a tortilla, saute with veggies and serve over rice. I try to have lots of ingredients planned and partially assembled so when it's late and we're all tired there are meals that are fast and easy to assemble ready to go. This time of year I'll often take a couple hours and make several dishes - a soup or stew, pot of beans, etc and then freeze in meal sized amounts. Do this for several weeks and you've got a great stash of meals you can rotate.
posted by leslies at 4:55 AM on November 28, 2011

Doesn't chex mix have gluten??? Make sure you're getting "gluten free" chex mix.... I think the rice, corn, and some other varieties are gluten free, but chex mix generally has wheat.

I love Living Without magazine... it's for people with multiple allergies/sensitivities. Lots of basic substitutions listed in a handy guide at the back of the magazine; a couple of issues will get you thinking outside the box. Reviews of gluten-free products, too. You can find the magazine at Whole Foods, and in certain doctor's offices.

Fresh lean meats and veggies, as mentioned above, are your friends. Buy your produce and prep as much of it as you can when you come home from the store, so you're not starving and dead on your feet with exhaustion at the same time. You get used to eating this way, but those first few weeks are tricky... go to Whole Foods and talk to somebody there; invest in a few convenience foods to get yourself past the learning curve. Also: Boards Head meats are gluten-free. I like their low-sodium chicken; we buy it and roll it into wraps with lettuce. This can be packed in a cooler "to go" pretty easily with some carrot sticks and celery, and can all be eaten out of hand for homemade "fast food".

I remember the new mom days of "put something in my face before I collapse". Criteria: fast, inexpensive, allergen-free, components largely able to be stored indefinitely. My allergen-free go-to-when-exhausted still: multi-version pasta e fagiole without the pasta. Version A: a little olive oil in a heavy pan. Garlic powder and a pinch of salt; stir. Dump in a can of drained Progresso (or other fav brand) cannellini beans. These white beans are mild, tender, and respond well to flavors you add. Even people who don't normally like beans usually find them inoffensive. Toss in some fresh basil if you've got it. Version B: More time, and want more protein? Saute some ground beef with your fav italian herbs in the pan first; drain, then proceed as above. More time, and want more vitamins/fiber mixed in? Cool. Thin slice some celery and onion; while it's getting tender on low in a little olive oil, grate in a little carrot. Proceed as for A or B above, and add either some chopped fresh tomato or a squirt of tomato puree.

Variations: Add a gluten-free broth and you have soup. If you want to skip the beef, you can use shredded leftover chicken or turkey for the protein. If you've got non-allergic guests with bigger appetites, you can always cook some small pasta (dittalini etc) in a separate pan. Drain pasta, return to pot; spoon bean mixture over until it's the texture you like.

Another version: do the garlic/cannellini beans mix, and add some cooked frozen kale, or spinach, or some wilted-over-heat-with-oil fresh escarole. Fast, refreshing, and you can keep frozen kale or spinach on hand indefinitely.
posted by theplotchickens at 4:58 AM on November 28, 2011

Thank you all so much, I am very appreciative (and so are the cook in the family and the little guy!)

I will mark best answers when I have had time to try a lot of different things out.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:05 PM on December 12, 2011

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