It’s Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! We are all writing on the requested topic of “quick dinner ideas”. This topic idea came at a fitting time for me. You’ll read below, but I am basically on an everything free elimination diet starting TODAY! I’ve been experimenting over the last couple of weeks with recipes and figuring out how I can make good, quick meals throughout this process. You’ll find my suggestions below! At the end of this post you’ll also find a list of all of the other Babywise Friendly Blog Network posts, and their take on the “quick dinner ideas” topic! Enjoy!
There are so many people nowadays that are aware of their food sensitivities. We’ve made a ton of progress in the medical world acknowledging these sensitivities and allergies. Most stores even have specialized gluten free aisles now! Pretty amazing, really!
Over the next couple of months I am doing what’s called an Elimination Diet. I am essentially trying to figure out if I have any food sensitivities that might be causing pain and fatigue. This is such a daunting process. I’ve always eaten anything I wanted and never worried about diets. As a result, I am pretty unaware of ingredient lists in general LOL! I’m learning, however, that being gluten, dairy, egg and soy free is hard to do “quickly”. You have to make things from scratch to succeed at your meal being free of all of these ingredients. I am also doing nightshade free (potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers). It is pretty eye opening to start reading labels and learning what’s in a lot of the things I eat.
Last week was my trial week. I gave myself a trial week to figure out some recipes that work. I need some go to recipes that I can make in a pinch (instead of going out or making a quesadilla)! I know that in order to be successful, I need a plan going in. This diet is something that I’m doing with a Naturopathic doctor, and she’s recommended several resources:
The Elimination Diet is an amazing read! It goes into the science of how foods are interacting with your body, and what foods are likely to cause specific issues such as joint pain, fatigue, etc. The book outlines exactly how to do the diet, and how to reintroduce foods to see if you have an allergy or sensitivity. At the back of the book there are TONS of recipes. It lists exactly what phase of the diet you can use them for and is simply a great resource.
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook is another book that is jam packed with meals that are free of most allergens.
Nourishing Meals is my favorite book so far. It has symbols on each recipe indicating what allergen it is free of. It is extremely easy to use as a reference guide.
These books have recipes that I tend to think of as long term diet recipes. If I find through this diet that I need to be gluten free or dairy free, these are going to be great resources. What’s difficult in the beginning is the entire new pantry that you need in order to cook. Each recipe I read seems to have one ingredient that is different and I’d need to buy. I’ve invested in a few key ingredients to get me by (mostly for breakfast items that I’ll prepare ahead of time), but I don’t plan on buying too many more until I know for sure that this is long term for me. So, while these are great cookbooks, this week I am in search of quick, cost effective meals that I can make easily, as I start to transform my understanding of the foods I eat.
Dinners are actually proving to be the easiest meals for me to plan. As long as the food groups are cooked separately, it’s pretty easy to get a handle on- meaning casseroles and quick bake dishes are out for now!
Our dinners are going to be pretty basic and straightforward from now on. Here’s what we are doing to make Quick Dinners:
Meat/Seafood: Meat and seafood can be easy go to meals. Grill or bake with simple seasonings such as lemon, garlic, salt and pepper and these will be on the ok list! Buy them in bulk and keep frozen so you always have them on hand.
Vegetables: This is another easy part of the meal. We always have frozen vegetables on hand. You can steam these relatively quickly and you are well on your way to a crowd pleasing meal. We like to rotate in fresh vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash, and even artichokes. The zucchini/squash we just put in a pan with olive oil and some garlic and it turns out delicious.
Fruit: We always try to have fruit with our meal. Something as simple as apples cut up, or a cantaloupe…whatever we can find for the season.
Side item: This is where I am struggling with our meals, but I think I found a relatively good solution! We’d usually make a side dish such as mac n’ cheese, or a packaged rice dish, or potatoes. I can no longer have any of those items! Many grains are gluten free, however, so it is just a matter of using the right grain and making something from scratch, so it doesn’t have any of the unnecessary additives. Salads are also difficult with a toddler…she won’t be eating it, so we’d still need a side that she’d eat. Beans are also on the ok list, but they can’t be re-fried! So here’s what I’ve come up with for quick and easy sides:
- Gluten free grain cooked up with vegetables: Rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff are all gluten free. They even make rice pasta now! It tastes pretty much the same as regular pasta. So, cook your grain. While it’s cooking, grab a couple of vegetables (literally doesn’t matter what it is), and cook in olive oil and garlic. Add the grain to the frying pan when it’s done cooking, and mix. Add lemon juice, spices, and even ground up nuts for extra flavor. Cook for a few extra minutes and you have a pretty good side dish that your toddler will even eat! You can also make this ahead of time with balsamic vinegar over it and serve cold.
- Beans: Beans are always a good side dish. The trick for me is what to add. Since I am doing nightshade free, I can’t add bell peppers for flavor. Onions and non pepper spices are ok, however, so I’ll probably be using onion, oregano and garlic. Again, I might make cold bean salad to serve.
The key for me is going to be making enough so that we have leftovers. That way we can have re-heat meals and I’m not cooking every day. None of the above is that complicated, however, so I know we can make quick and easy meals and get used to this new way of eating for the time being.
Babywise Friendly Blog Network posts on Quick Dinner Ideas
Valerie: Favorite Fall Recipes
Carrie: Our Favorite Quick Dinners
Emily: Why I Love My Slow Cooker