Do you remember that I've gone through some pretty major diet changes lately? I think I first talked about it in October.
I cannot believe what a difference these changes have made to my overall health. What I also cannot believe is how often I am asked about going free. Free of... anything! Dairy, gluten... maybe two or three things. Seems there are SO many people out there battling food issues, and figuring out where to begin can be a very daunting task.
While I LOVE to have one-on-one conversations with everyone who asks, I also think a 'starting point' might be helpful. So my plan is to create a short series of posts filled with useful, but easily understood, information.
To start? The most common topic... what I eat.
These things are all free of gluten, dairy and soy. Many of them are also vegan.
Most important? Fruit! Veggies!! It hasn't been easy, because I've got a terrible sweet tooth, but I try to always reach for some sort of fruit or a vegetable when I'm looking for a snack. Do I even need to explain why??
I also eat a ton of rice, and we go through potatoes like crazy. I realize it may not be *the* healthiest thing out there, but almost every morning I make home-cooked breakfast potatoes and scrambled eggs. They're filling, yummy, and they make the little guy happier than his favorite cartoon on repeat play.
Easy-to-find stuff... Rice Chex, tortilla chips (check the label! vegetable oil is made from soy!) with salsa, pico de gallo or hummus (check the label if not homemade!), air-pop popcorn.
More specific items...
Breads, pastas, etc:
Udi's Brand sandwich read, bagels, pizza crusts, muffins and granola. I LOVE all of these products, and you don't have to look far to find them in our kitchen. Their granola is more like 'regular' granola than any other I've found.
Ancient Harvest Quinoa pastas. Their polenta is great too, though I've found that I prefer to make homemade polenta these days.
Enjoy Life cookies, snack bars (love these! I have them stashed in my purse, car, etc.. My favorite is the sunbutter crunch variety.) and chocolate chips. Their chocolate bars are a yummy treat too!
Milk, 'cheese,' and other 'dairy' items:
So Delicious! coconut milk yogurt. This is a great snack... I like to mix in Udi's granola. (Side note, not all So Delicious! products are soy free, so it's important to read their labels...)
Daiya Cheddar and Mozzerella Style Shreds. The first time I tried this product, I had been 'dairy free' for all of 48 hours. I was horrified at the taste. I tried them again recently, and hey! my tastes have changed! (Side note about this... at the bottom of my post.)
Almond Breeze milk. Original is my favorite, but Vanilla is also a yummy treat.
Coconut Bliss 'ice cream.' Yum, yum, yummmm! My favorite is Cappucino. (Side note here, the package recommends letting your ice cream sit out for about ten minutes before digging in. Do it. It changes the flavor somehow, and makes it that much tastier.)
Sauces, baking items, etc.
Worth noting... I make my own spaghetti sauce and sloppy joe 'sauce,' because the jarred and canned varieties typically contain soy as a stabilizer. The book, "Cooking for Isaiah" features a great, simple sloppy joe recipe as well as a TON of other yummy stuff.
Also worth noting... worcestershire sauce is a great thing to have on hand, but read the label first. Many varieties contain soy. Lea & Perrins does no.
Coconut Aminos, made by Coconut Secret. This is my 'soy' sauce. It tastes different... almost a combination between soy and teriyaki sauce. But it's great in stiry-fry, and I love it on a bowl of rice.
Spectrum Organic Shortening is helpful to have on hand for baking.
Natural Jif Peanut Butter is safe, but I've also had fun trying things like Sunbutter and almond butter.
Earth Balance spread. Love, love, love this stuff! It's similar in taste to margarine which was a bit of a change for me. I was a BUTTER girl. But I'm happy to have this product available to me. Look for the red soy-free carton if need be!
Now... that side-note I mentioned. When I started on this adventure, my main goal after feeling better was to find an exact replacement for each food I felt I was 'giving up.' I now know that not only is that not possible, it's not practical either. In order to be happy and content with what is out there, I've found that it is best not to seek a replacement. Instead, try to keep an open mind... just like you would if you were trying a new cut of meat, or a new flavor of ice-cream. I don't expect my package of Daiya Cheddar Shreds to taste like freshly grated Tillamook. But they do make a yummy toasted sandwich!
Whew! Are you tired of reading yet? Because I feel a bit overwhelmed and these are things I routinely shop for. I've undoubtedly left items out, so if you're looking for something specific or have any questions please leave a comment and ask me. Or--do you have a product you want to suggest? I'd love to hear your ideas :)