I’m currently reading Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes. It’s a fantasy where the protagonist is Autumn Rain, a 30 year old woman who can read memories left on objects. Autumn is also a strict organic eater, and her diet comes up often in the book. I was glad to have an example of how diet could be a character quirk used in fiction, if I am ever to accomplish writing a character with a food allergy.
Unfortunately, it fell flat for me for one main reason – she made everyone she was with eat the same as her when she was around them, and there was no blowback. At one point, a romantic interest brings by donuts and coffee for two for breakfast, and she refuses, offering to make him a real breakfast instead. Admittedly, eggs and whatever else she served would be more filling than donuts, however, there was no hint of resentment that the guy had just wasted his money. No mention of what happened to that food either, if it was thrown out and wasted or if they donated it to a homeless guy, so there was no guilt or embarrassment on Autumn’s side either.
Another reviewer also found the quirk interesting, but thought it was mentioned way too often, which I can definitely understand. Of course, people with allergies have to be scanning constantly for it, but Autumn’s thoughts weren’t so much “is this organic” as they were dwelling on the virtues of organic food and the emptiness of processed food.
Have you read any books where the character’s diet is a character quirk? How was it handled?
Like almost everyone, I’m sometimes at a loss for what to make for dinner. So, I was looking through Pinterest for some dinner ideas and stumbled across this one pan dish on Real Simple that looked nice. Bonus – it was already Joseph-safe. So I decided to give it a try.
Several reviewers said that it was bitter, due to the lemon rinds, so I just omitted those. Also, my husband hates green beans, so I substituted those for broccoli.
In a bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, and spices. Add broccoli and stir until coated. Remove with a slotted spoon into a 13″ x 9″ pan. Cut potato into bite-size pieces and add to the remaining lemon juice mixture. Stir to combine, then remove with a slotted spoon into a 13″ x 9″ pan.
Roast at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Layer chicken on top, then pour remaining lemon juice mixture on top. Roast for another 30 minutes or until chicken is done and potatoes are tender.
Pan Roasted Chicken with Garlic-Lemon Broccoli
Adapted from Real Simple
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 3 russet potatoes
- 7 chicken tenders
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add broccoli and stir to coat. Remove with a slotted spoon to a 13″ x 9″ pan. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces, then add to the bowl with the lemon juice mixture. Stir to coat, then remove to a slotted spoon to the 13″ x 9″ pan with the broccoli. Roast at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and layer chicken on top. Pour remaining lemon juice mixture on top of chicken. Return to oven for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done and potatoes are tender. Serve warm.
Makes 4 servings
What I Thought
The chicken was very under flavored whereas the broccoli was extremely flavored. To fix this, I would baste the chicken with the remaining juice instead of pouring it over the chicken and having half of it drop down to the vegetables. Also, I would have coated the potatoes before the broccoli. Since I added the broccoli to the lemon juice mixture while it was still frozen, the broccoli probably froze some of the lemon juice to itself, leaving very little left for the rest of the food. Still, I thought it tasted nice. My husband thought it was all right. My kids were only interested in eating the chicken, though Joseph was persuaded to eat a potato.
I’ll admit, I’ve gotten a bit lazy at reading ingredients. I’ve figured what Joseph can and can’t eat, so I can identify at a glance whether or not Joseph can eat it.
I’d forgotten that even though I buy Joseph-safe hotdogs, there are still many brands of hot dogs that have casein – a milk protein.
This Saturday, we went to a church barbeque where the bishopric was providing all the hotdogs for everybody. I didn’t read the ingredients. Joseph happily ate his bunless hotdog. But the next day, Joseph would not stop rubbing his eye, and it was all red. Thankfully Benadryl calmed it.
Now, I’ll admit, it could have been pollen that he reacted to. But it still pays to be careful.
My favorite fruit pie is strawberry rhubarb, so I had been planning on attempting to make a Joseph-safe one this summer, much as I am daunted by the thought of making pies. Then I spotted a gluten-free recipe for strawberry-rhubarb crisp at Hope’s Kitchen and I knew that I had a much better chance of that turning out than a pie. So, that’s what I made this week.
Since Joseph is tolerating baked milk, I left the butter as-is in the recipe. The rest of it was already safe for him. I just cut it in half since I was only feeding four people. Although I didn’t take care to get GF oats, since Joseph has such a small reaction to it.
Combine rhubarb, strawberries, cornstarch, sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon in a bowl until fruit is well coated. Pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan.
In another bowl, stir together GF flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until the topping resembles pea-sized crumbs. Spread topping over fruit.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, or until crisp is bubbly. Let sit for 20 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Cooking Light
- 3 cups rhubarb, sliced
- 1 1/4 cups strawberries, halved
- 3/8 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup brown rice flour blend
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- dash of salt
- 3 Tablespoons butter, chilled
In a bowl, combine ingredients for filling (rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, and cinnamon) and stir until fruit is well coated. Pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan.
In another bowl, combine topping ingredients except for butter (brown rice flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt). Cut in butter until the topping resembles pea-sized crumbs. Pour topping over filling.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, until crisp is bubbly. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Makes 4-5 servings
What I Thought
This was tarter than I expected, but I shouldn’t have been that surprised due to the amount of rhubarb. I quite liked it, and happily had some for breakfast the next morning. My husband called it “soupy but good.” Sadly, the kids only picked at the topping. Ah well, more for me!
This week, my daughter got her very first bicycle. But before we would let her ride it, we told her that we would have to get her a helmet first. As soon as we said that, Joseph started talking about how he wanted a helmet too, a blue one. We hadn’t planned on giving him a helmet, as the tricycle he would be riding now wouldn’t go that fast, but we figured, why not? It’ll teach him good safety habits.
Joseph also likes to insist on pink & purple bowls, and princess plates at dinner. My belief is he does this because I always gave his sister first shot at these “girly” items, and he wanted a chance to have them too. He also plays with dolls and play food with his sister, though his favorite toys are still cars, trains, and balls.
With all this imitation he’s doing, I’m a bit surprised that he doesn’t complain more when his food doesn’t look like his sister’s. Or maybe he imitates her more because he understands he’s allergic to her food. I’m no psychologist. But I do know that if he recognizes that she has something that he CAN eat, he will often ask for some too. Or he’ll ask for his Joseph-safe equivalent.
Part of it must come from the fact that he’s always had these rules of what he can and can’t eat, and he’s accepted that we don’t bend on those things. Though now that I’m interested in giving him cheese to see if he can tolerate it now that he’s older, he won’t touch it because “I’m allergic” Still, I guess that’s the better problem to have than to have to take all these foods away from him after he’s developed a taste for them.
Now if I could only get him potty trained, just like his sister.
I recently saw Gluten Free Easily’s recipe for a dairy-free chocolate milkshake and have been wanting to make one ever since. So this week I whipped up a batch.
I actually changed a fair amount in this recipe. Instead of measuring the coconut milk, I just used the entire can. And I omitted the dates because we don’t have them normally, and omitted the almond butter, since Joseph is allergic.
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Taste, and add sugar as desired. Pour and serve immediately.
Chocolate Coconut Milkshake
Adapted from Gluten-free Easily
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free
- 1 13.6 ounce can coconut milk
- 2 ripe frozen bananas
- 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
Put all ingredients in a blender, and puree until smooth.
Makes 3 servings
What I Thought
This shake had a nice mouth-feel, but I felt the taste was a bit too rich. My husband thought the coconut taste was too strong, but he gladly had seconds. My kids said they liked it, but they were extremely slow in eating. Perhaps they were just having more fun playing with the straws. If I were to redo it, I’d experiment with using So Delicious coconut milk, or ice-cream.
This week it will have been two years since I started this blog, and almost exactly three years since we first ventured into the food allergy world. I’ve learned lots about the research into allergies, and how to cook without foods most people take for granted. I’ve learned about blog promotion, and enjoyed each of your comments. So, I thought it would be nice to go through the past year and pick out the favorite recipes I’ve made.
Here’s to another year!