Kitchen experiments

October 2017 Posted in Food & Drink

By Melissa Wagoner

As the wife of an Italian, a devoted gardener of tomatoes and the daughter of a dessert enthusiast I was confounded recently to learn that my youngest daughter shows an allergy to wheat and tomatoes (among other things) and a mouth full of cavities in need of repair.

Luckily I am an avid cook and am nothing if not resourceful in the kitchen. I continually substitute ingredients and ignore instructions when it suits me. In other words, I enjoy a challenge.

Over the years I have taken several nutrition courses, read hundreds of cookbooks and devoted hours in the kitchen experimenting and feeding my family of five. What I have learned is that nutritionists, food writers and doctors are all over the board when it comes to what we should put in our mouths. The closest I can find to a cohesive theme are the recommendations to avoid sugar and highly processed foods, that whatever you eat (whether it is animal or vegetable) should come from a healthy source and that most of us do not get enough of the things that nourish us (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etcetera) and too much of the things that do us harm (hydrogenated fats, chemicals, sugars, and so on).

Although I do not envision our family making the change to a gluten-free, tomato-free, sugar-free diet permanently, I have noticed this way of eating has made me more mindful of everything I cook and everything my children eat. I’ve observed our intake of fruits and vegetables has increased many fold because, in finding substitutes for ingredients, I am often adding fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts and seeds and I am forced to eliminate processed foods altogether due to their high content of sugars and processed grains.

So far I have found making these changes to be relatively easy living in the Willamette Valley where food grows in abundance and organic, locally grown options are easily obtained from the farmer’s market and several local stores. I am excited to share this month’s gluten-free, but high in vegetables, recipe along with future recipes I’ve adapted in the hopes they will inspire others to expand their own cooking repertoire and to try new ingredients. Enjoy!

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