cooking

Sneaking in Veggies… Still So Delicious

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Who disliked vegetables in their youth? Many of you? I didn’t. But I’ve always had a stronger craving for carbs and sweets. Sometimes, in recent years, I didn’t even eat enough fiber.

But then I discovered that you can sneak in vegetables into your favorite meals, including sweets. Yes, you read that right.

Now I chop vegetables pretty small and put them in pasta dishes, mac and cheese, eggs, and more. I have also tried putting beets in brownies, which can actually work. But that one didn’t turn out good.

Anyway, if you’re going to sneak in vegetables into your food, whether it’s savory or sweet, here are some tips.

1: If you find chunks distracting in some dishes (which I do), you can chop them fine. But not too much—otherwise, they make the texture of your meal grainy. For instance, if you put overly finely-chopped veggies in mac and cheese, your cheese sauce becomes rough instead of smooth. I’ve used a blender, but unless you don’t mind the change of texture to your food, I would not recommend this. Honestly, you are better off chopping them on a cutting board. I know—it’s old-school. Yet, it gives you more satisfying results (this varies).

2: If you are making a dessert, be aware that some veggies work and others don’t. For example, while beets are okay in brownies, I would recommend against putting spinach or broccoli in desserts. They don’t mix well. You can use sweet potatoes or carrots, though.

3: Depending on your tastes, you can microwave, steam, or sauté your vegetables before you add them to your favorite foods. Like them firmer? Skip this step.

So, there you have it. You can still enjoy your favorite carbs and sweets (in moderation, of course) and sneak in veggies, whether it is for you, your kids, or anybody else. They may not notice at times.

cooking

Cooking for Those with Dietary Restrictions

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Do you enjoy cooking? I most definitely do. However, I know a few people with dietary restrictions. One has a peanut allergy. The other has a dairy allergy.

Although I’ve never had to cook for the person with the dairy allergy, the person with the peanut allergy has come to my parties in recent years. So I had to be very, very careful with what food I served and their ingredients. I ended up doing a lot of cooking from scratch as many commercial-made products are not safe for those with peanut allergies.

Sometimes, I’ve contacted companies for a definitive answer on, whether or not, the products were safe for those with peanut allergies. The one with dairy allergies ended up not being able to come to any of my parties. But I did go to one of his. His mom had baked him a special, dairy-free cake from scratch. I ended up not having it since I wasn’t feeling well. I left early.

Although it may seem like a bummer that you can’t serve something you enjoy because a guest has a certain food allergy, you can still figure out other ways and be creative. It worked out very well that I learned to cook from scratch when I was twelve. Otherwise, I would’ve had to travel far for a peanut-free cake (the bakeries near me are not safe for those with peanut allergies) or would’ve had to have my mom bake the cake. That would’ve meant giving up control.

Aside from cake, I’ve also learned to make ice cream from scratch as well as whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and much more. I, myself, have a mild tomato allergy. So my mom has come up with alternatives for certain recipes traditionally made with tomatoes. For example, she replaced tomato sauce with canned pumpkin. It still came out delicious.

Whether you have to accommodate for those with dietary restrictions or not, there is always room for creativity, like for health reasons. It can work.

cooking

Food, Wonderful Food, & Great Dietary Accommodations

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Nearly one year ago, about a month after graduating from college, I had developed an “allergy” toward tomatoes. Now why do I put the word, allergy, into quotation marks, you might ask? Well, although anything with tomatoes would cause my face to break out or my lips to tingle, I got tested for that, and it turned out to be an intolerance. So if somebody else consumes tomatoes around me, I’m fine. However, if I ate tomato products, it would lead to a problem.

For the next few months, I was let down on how I couldn’t have all those goodies I used to be able to enjoy, like marinara sauce, ketchup, salsa, barbecue sauce, and more. I would only be able to eat pasta with pesto, alfredo, or garlic and oil.  I would also have to ask about dish ingredients in restaurants.

However, in September, I found a new solution to my tomato intolerance. That was red bell peppers, which my body could still tolerate. I would make nearly everything I’d listed above (except barbecue sauce) with peppers. I would broil them, let them sit in brown paper bags, peel them, and prepare them like tomatoes. They taste a little similar, but not really close to alike.

Bu a few months ago, or so, I mixed carrots with peppers to make marinara sauce. And guess what? It really made a difference. The carrots made the sauce taste more like tomatoes than ever. And I didn’t receive an allergic reaction.

So if you ever develop an allergy or intolerance to certain foods, you can experiment with substitutions. I actually have a couple friends with dietary restrictions. One has come to my past parties in recent years. She is allergic to peanuts, which are in so many different products. I had to make a lot of my party food from scratch. Not only that, I would have to check ingredients and research them. I have even contacted companies to confirm, whether or not, the products had nuts.

You can always substitute ingredients for cooking, whether it’s for you or someone else. You would be surprised how easy it is and how much you can learn.