Way back when I was a vegetarian, in the 70’s, a lot of vegetarian food tasted like sawdust glued together and if restaurants offered anything other than a salad that you could eat it was amazing. Personally it was the endless avocado and cream cheese sandwiches with sprouts that did me in. One day in a restaurant where that was again my only choice the waitress arrived and—to the shock of the vegetarians seated with me—I firmly ordered, “cheeseburger.”
Zoom ahead 12 more years or so when I was told to quit eating wheat and dairy products. In those days there were very few substitutes available – no gluten free pasta or bread or wheat substitute bread, almond milk too expensive to use (if you could find it) and the soy cheese was horrible. I cried a lot. It wiped out virtually my entire store of menus at a time when chronic fatigue left me with barely enough energy to stand up (thus a lot of grocery shopping and cooking new stuff wasn’t happening) so for a long time I ate a lot of wheat and dairy.
By the last 10 years it became a lot easier to find substitute ingredients and I felt better so I started watching the Food Network with an eye to recipes that looked not only yummy but for which it would be easy to substitute an ingredient or two and still have something really good. I’ve reached a point where I have lots of good recipes and I am able to enjoy lots of delicious meals that don’t have wheat or dairy and usually are low in fat and cholesterol.
I’m not sure where America got the idea that being into healthy food or vegetarian equates with preferring your food completely bland and tasteless but I’ve been happy to see that changing in restaurants and health food store buffets and I’ve been proving to myself that I can make anything I might want to eat and do it with fresh, healthy ingredients that sidestep wheat and cow products.
I keep running into people who’ve discovered they’re supposed to stay away from wheat or dairy but (a) don’t realize how many foods contain one or the other or both, and (b) don’t know anything about how to change their cooking to accommodate the new rules. So I’m going to start using this blog some of the time to offer some recipes, substitution suggestions and advice on cooking healthy and still loving your meals.
My first suggestion for getting lots of fresh fruits and veggies if you’re not used to including lots of them in your diet is to get into smoothies that use both and don’t have any dairy in them. I posted this smoothie recipe a long time ago on Bluegrass Notes:
LEIGH’s RAINBOW SMOOTHIE
1-1/2-2 cups apple juice or cider (fresh pressed if possible)
1/2 cup orange juice
7-10 strawberries (depending on size and taste)
big fistful of raspberries
big fistful of blueberries
fistful of broccoli slaw (dry from the package, not dressed )
big fistful of shredded carrots
a few pieces of pineapple
optional: fistful of greens (see green smoothie) and/or add almond milk
Throw it all in blender and liquefy. For two to three people it’s enough for one day, for one person it’s enough for two days.
Recently I’ve sometimes added fresh beets in which case I switch the ratio of orange juice to apple cider (1 ½ c. oj to ½ c. apple cider).