Last weekend, I have brought a friend shopping. She has just moved back here from the other side of the planet, and doesn’t have a car yet, so I brought her to show her some of my favourite shops. This friend has two lovely children, who are unfortunately suffering from multiple food allergies (yes, allergies, not mere intolerances). Among forbidden elements are gluten (even small amounts), beef protein and soya. I know that she has been feeding her family (and herself as she was breastfeeding her kids) for the last few years with a lot of alternative foods, and I was looking forward to learning something new.
After our day hitting the supermarket, organic grocery shops and other such establishments, I was amazed to see how much they actually CAN eat. And yes, I was inspired.
Here are a few things I have been intrigued by:
- GRAINS: despite the fact that I pay attention to diversifying our diet (certainly more than my parents), we mainly consume wheat or other gluten rich cereals at home… in pasta, couscous, bread… We do like quinoa and rice, but don’t eat much else, whereas there is a wealth of choice I have never considered: buckwheat/kasha, millet, teff (I am only used to eating teff as injera – the traditionnal pancake/sour bread when we go to Ethiopian restaurants ..). I am now looking for buckwheat recipes and will try to use millet in my favourite tabouleh recipe for a change. Also, I was intrigued by chestnut flour and would not say no to trying a nice cake /muffin recipe with that.
- COW MILK: First of all, I have to say that none of us at home has lactose allergy or intolerance, although I have personally always disliked drinking milk and have only ever started eating cheese and yoghurt under the beneficial influence of my lovely french husband. Also, we don’t limit ourselves to cow cheese, but enjoy a good selection of goat and sheep cheese. Sometimes though, I can put a splash of milk in my tea and I make porridge with milk some mornings and my daughter loves milk products. However, there are alternatives to cow milk which I have not been entirely aware of. Shopping in the organic store, I have been tempted to buy almond milk, when my friend told me that she makes it at home because it’s easier and she knows what goes into it (which is my usual argument). So I did (http://wellnessmama.com/366/organic-almond-milk/) and made myself a lovely almond milk chai last night as tyhe temperatures have dropped and it made also for a very tasty porridge this morning which my daughter and my husband appreciated a lot. Conclusion: We will not go all “lactose free”, but it makes a nice change and it’s fun to do… so experience will be repeated especially as I have a big bag of organic almonds just waiting to be put ot good use.
- LIVE CULTURES: I have already had inklings that I need to eat more live cultures – yoghurt, sourdough bread, non-sterilised pickles… I have already bought a big glass jar for making pickled cabbage. My friend has encouraged me to try new combinations.
- SPICES and HERBS: I have become a little bit boring with my usual spice mixes – with either cinammon, cumin and coriander all the time. Since my daughter was born, I have not planted any herbs or salads on my balcony and was mostly using the dried stuff sold in little packets. After shopping with my friend, and seeing the variety of fresh herbs she uses, I am in the mood for a bit of pinenut, parmiggiano and parsley pesto and other more adventurous creations.
- OILS: thanks to our shopping expedition, I realised I should try new types of oil rather than our usual olive one. I already enjoy the lin seed oil for salads, but there are many more to taste !
In conclusion, from time to time it’s nice to go shopping with a friend who has different (and healthier) eating habits, as it challenges your food shopping and cooking routine !