Cooking for Your Diet
In our busy, hectic lives it is hard to find enough time to cook for a special diet. We have to make it easier on ourselves in every way we can. Using commercially prepared foods that will fit your allergy diet is a great time-saver. Shop at a large health food store, if possible, for crackers, pastas, canned goods, soups, breads, and cereals that you can eat. Also, see the chapter called “Using Commercially Prepared Foods” in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide. This chapter contains an extensive list of foods with ingredient lists and the addresses, phone numbers, and websites of the companies that make them. You can mail order these foods directly or have your health food store get them for you.
A Gallup poll estimated that in 2005, one-third of Americans would not know how to cook. Some of the most desperate people I talk to on the phone are those who were just diagnosed with food allergies and grew up in busy families where “dinner” was something Mom picked up from the deli on her way home from work and pizza or Chinese food was ordered in often. The only “cooking” they have ever done is microwaving a frozen dinner, and suddenly they find that they can’t eat frozen dinners any more. What I tell them is “Don’t panic!” You CAN do it! Cooking is not as hard as you think it is, and you will feel much better on your new allergy diet. Once you learn how to cook and get used to doing it, you will see great advantages, both in terms of health and economy. For those of you who have just been thrown into cooking because of a special diet, see Easy Cooking for Special Diets.
If you have food allergies, cooking for yourself is the best – and sometimes only – way to really control every component of what you eat. If you have cooked before, simple main dishes and vegetables (discussed on the main dish page of this website) may not pose major problems, but baking “from scratch” is something many people have little experience with and which can be time consuming. See Easy Breadmaking for Special Diets for information about making baking easier and How to Cope with Food Allergies When You’re Short on Time for main dish and meal tips as well as information about making baking easier and time-saving recipes. For easy main dish and side dish recipes see Easy Cooking for Special Diets. For more main and side dish recipes as well as those made with the least allergenic, most “exotic” foods see The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide.
Modern technology and appliances can help us cope with cooking for a special diet. Three such appliances are crock pots, bread machines, and electric tortilla makers. Visit the bread page of this website to read more about baking breads (both yeast-free breads and yeast breads) and here to read about making tortillas. How to save time making main dishes, side dishes, and meals (including by using your crock pot) is discussed here.
With a little organization, a freezer can help you minimize the work of cooking for your special diet, even if it’s just the small one on the top of your refrigerator. Prepare large batches of baked goods and main dishes once you are sure you can tolerate all of the ingredients and freeze them (labeled with ALL of the ingredients they contain for purposes of food rotation) for future use. (This may not be advisable with children who get tired of foods unless someone else will eat the foods they no longer enjoy). You can get by with only one week's supply of frozen vegetables, juices, etc. stored in the freezer section of your refrigerator and use the rest of the space for your specially prepared foods. Try to keep your freezer organized (for example, assign foods from each rotation day a certain location in the freezer) so you can find your special foods quickly. If you are hungry and it is too hard to find something, you may get frustrated and eat something to which you are allergic instead.
The most important thing to remember about cooking for a special diet is this: Staying on your diet is essential for your health. If you faithfully follow your diet and whatever other instructions your doctor gives you, you should begin to feel better. Then it will seem like you have twice (or several times!) as much time. You may be able to do things you have wanted to do for a long while but have not had time for in spite of the extra time you spend cooking.
The information on this page is abridged from
Easy Breadmaking for Special Diets ($19.95 eBook $10) © 2007
The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide ($24.95, eBook $13) © 2007
Allergy Cooking with Ease ($19.95, eBook $10) © 2007
Easy Cooking for Special Diets ($24.95 eBook $13) © 2007
The Low Dose Immunotherapy Handbooks ($9.95 eBook $6) © 2003
How to Cope with Food Allergies when You’re Short on Time ($4.95 eBook $3) © 2006
For more information about these books, click on the book's title above.
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