HOW TO MODIFY A RECIPE TO FIT YOUR DIETARY NEEDS
By Janice Carlin, PhD, CNHP, CHNP
Copyright © 2019 Janice Carlin
Copyright © 2019 Janice Carlin
There is not one special diet that is best suited for every person’s needs. Likewise, attempting to follow the guidelines of particular diets can feel frustrating and difficult when you have food allergies, sensitivities, and/or histamine, oxalate or sulfur intolerances. So, what can you do to avoid feeling limited and frustrated when you’re looking for recipes to make for meals and snacks yourself and your family? Keeping the following in mind can really help:
- Put yourself and your family first. Your needs and your children’s needs come before the strict guidelines of a particular way of eating. No matter what is “allowed” on a specific special diet, if you are allergic or sensitive to that food, it is not allowed for you.
- Make it a priority to eat a clean diet (no herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, GMOs) of organic food. Some dietary guidelines do NOT include this at all. Without removing chemicals, you are limiting your body in being able to heal and to thrive. If you are going to make the effort to follow a special diet, make sure you get the most benefit from it by eating clean food and drinking clean water.
- Know that recipes can be modified.
Here are some substitutions for common ingredients:
- Eggs – Use ground flax or chia seeds mixed with water. A spoonful of chia or flaxseed meal mixed with enough water to form a gel is about equal to one egg. You can also use coconut oil in place of eggs in certain baked goods recipes. The coconut oil will solidify when it is cool.
- Sugar – Use natural stevia (watch out for additives in some brands). It can take some time for some people to get used to the taste of stevia. Once you do, your taste buds won’t even notice that you aren’t eating sugar. If you choose to use sugar alcohols like erythritol, know that they can be difficult for some people to digest easily. Coconut sugar and agave nectar raise blood sugar and insulin demands and are best not used at all.
- Flour – Use almond flour or coconut flour for baking and breading. You can even make crackers or tortillas out of chia seeds mixed with flax or hemp seeds if nuts or coconuts are an issue. Additionally, you have to know how to bake with flours that are not gluten-containing ad grain free. The best part about baking with almond flour is how simple it is to make great tasting foods. I recommend the following blogs and accompanying cookbooks for foolproof grain-free recipes: Elanaspantry.com and AgainstAllGrain.com You can also make breads out of almond butter, which I think tastes better than almond flour bread, cashew butter, and even peanut butter (another of my son's favorites!)
- Milk – Use coconut or almond milk. If these are an issue, you can try cashew milk, rice milk, or organic soy milk (only use organic soy to avoid toxic GMOs).
- Chocolate – Use carob. You can also modify baked goods that call for chocolate by using cinnamon or vanilla instead.
Remember that just because a recipe calls for a certain ingredient you can’t have doesn't mean that you can’t use the recipe at all. Be creative. Here’s an example of a recipe that I modified recently for my son of a very popular low-carb dough called Fathead. You can easily find Fathead dough recipes on the Internet. However, they contain too much dairy for my son, and he doesn’t do well on a very low-carb diet. So I changed the recipe into what he simply calls his favorite buns:
2 cups organic almond flour
¼ cup organic tapioca starch
1 tblspn organic apple cider vinegar
1 tsp aluminum free baking soda
1 packet of organic stevia
Few sprinkles of sea salt
4 organic, pastured eggs
2/3 of a stick of Woolwich Dairy mozzarella goat cheese shredded
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients together.
In another bowl mix the wet ingredients (no cheese yet) together.
Mix all together and then add the cheese.
Use a spoon to place large spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased with coconut oil.
Wet your hands to flatten them somewhat and shape the sides. They will rise when baked.
Bake for 20 minutes or until they start to brown.
If you don’t tolerate carbs, leave out the tapioca. If you don’t tolerate dairy, leave it out and make plain, almond flour buns like this: https://www.sweetashoney.co/keto-bread-rolls-vegan-no-eggs/ or like this: https://healinggourmet.com/healthy-recipes/grain-free-burger-buns/ or even more simply, this: https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/paleo-almond-flour-biscuits-low-carb-gluten-free/
You see, there are so many ways to make what you want and like to eat. Be brave and try new ideas. You may come up with something that you or your children absolutely love, like my son’s favorite bread buns! I have used applesauce, bananas, or dates as sweeteners in baked goods. Always know that there is a way to change the recipe to meet your and your children’s dietary needs.