Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What To Eat When You Can't Eat Anything Series: Replacing Forbidden Favorites

I think I might have The Peanut Butter and Jelly Blues.

I absolutely love how much better I feel when I whole-heartedly stick to my gluten free, sugar free, allergen free diet. It's really not at all as depressing as it sounds. I enjoy a great big bowl of oven roasted veggies, I've discovered a love for all things coconuty, and I've even acquired a taste for eccentric grains like amaranth and teff. My diet has allowed me to explore a whole world of food that I never knew existed, and it has showed me that it's possible to take back that reigns in my own battle for health. It's sort of been empowering, and has acted as a creative outlet as I embark on a journey to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to eat.

Once I overcame the initial cravings and made the life altering commitment to remain 100% gluten and sugar free (without slip-ups, cheat days, or "little nibbles"), I no longer experienced those gripping cravings or that overwhelming desire to devour a loaf of french bread. Magically, previously unrelenting symptoms began to significantly improve. But sometimes, just occasionally...for a few moments...

I really just want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I start to remember what the peanut butter looked like as it united with the bread, filling the nooks and crannies with its gooey texture as I spread it with my knife. I remember that first, soft bite into the fresh, fluffy bread, the sweetness of the jam mixing ever-so perfectly with the saltiness of the peanut butter. I remember that notorious sticky feeling left behind on your fingers after you finished devouring its delightfulness, and licking it off before washing it all down with a glass of milk.

Then I do a mental head slap. As much as I might miss a good PB&J, I don't miss the way I felt after eating one. The weeks of digestive upset after taking just one bite, the terrible headaches, the alarming tachycardia, the listlessness and feeling as though I were walking around with bricks in my pockets and lead in my shoes. Most of all, I really don't want to have to stick an epi-pen in my thigh as my throat begins to close after a hint of peanut hits my tongue. The detriment is just not worth the few moments of bliss. Plus, I'm not sure what I would tell the doctor upon arriving for medical aid. "What seems to have happened here?"...."Umm, I had a run-in with.....a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

When it comes down to it, I will always choose health over instant gratification. So, instead of indulging and hindering my plight to wellness, I figure out a replacement to satisfy my culinary wishes and snack-time desires. Instead of a PB&J, I reach for a bag of Lundberg Wild Rice Cakes, Organic Sunbutter (the consistency is satisfyingly reminiscent of peanut butter), and a few raspberries to go on top. Because I made it over the "hump" and don't truly crave anything anymore, it does the trick.

This past weekend on the Infectiously Optimistic facebook page, a handful of patients expressed their struggle and frustration with sticking to their prescribed diets. They had fallen off the wagon or had mulled over quitting in entirety, and had become caught in the notorious cycle of cheating, reigniting cravings, sparking inflammation, and enkindling discouragement. This spoke to me, and I was overcome with a desire to help. I feel so strongly about the amazing things that maintaining a healthy, allergen free, anti-inflammatory diet has done for me, and I want others to reap the same benefits too. I want each of you to know what it's like to realize that something that you have employed and done for yourself has positively affected your health and your journey to wellness. I want you to experience the empowerment that comes with that, and I want you to know that cutting something detrimental out of your lifestyle isn't a loss, especially when you experience consequential physical gains. Improvement can't take place without consequential change.

So, I took to my facebook page to ask you a question:
Now that you have gone gluten, sugar and allergen free, what do you miss or crave the most? 

And then I set out to find replacements for your "forbidden favorites".

Devi: Almond Roca

Replacement: Elana's Pantry's Almond Joy Bark

You can make it even diet-friendlier by using Homemade Carob Chips instead of using unsweetened dark chocolate.

-Or, for a chocolate-free version, try Healthy Pursuit's Coconut Almond Bark.



 Replacement: Sketch Free Vegan Eating's Raw Cheesecake  (contains nuts)

Nikki: Crusty Bread (with a soft center)

Replacement: Affairs of Living Quinoa Millet Sorghum Sourdough Bread

-For an even crustier exterior and "whiter" center, try Nourished Kitchen's Coconut Flour Bread and remember that if you are allergic to eggs, you can replace them with "Flax Eggs" or 2 Tbsp of Chia Seeds per egg.


Tomato Sauces and Products (for those who are nightshade free)

Replacement: Affairs of Living Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce

 -If you are sensitive to onion and garlic (like me!), you can replace them with veggies like shredded zucchini, or for more flavor you could add apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar (only if tolerated).

Hannah: Pizza

Replacement:  Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen's Buckwheat Pizza Crust
(Quinoa Crust if you are allergic to buckwheat)


Replacement: You could use Affairs of Living's Socca as a crust

-Toppings for pizza are hard when you are dairy free and tomato (nightshade) free. It isn't impossible though; it just takes a little creativity! Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce, Dairy Free Almond Feta, or Avocado Alfredo are just a few of the many options. Your pizza may end up resembling Sketch Free Vegan's Green Pea Alfredo Socca Pizza.

Renee: Whipped Cream

Replacement: Gluten Free Cat's Coconut Whipped Cream

-Scroll down to the bottom of the post to find the delicious whipped cream recipe. You get a bonus Pumpkin Dessert Recipe along with it (dessert recipe contains nuts and eggs, but coconut whipped cream does not).

Multiple Emailers: Milkshake and French Fries

Replacement: Healthy Blender Recipe's Raw Vegan Avocado Smoothie

 Replacement: Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen's Strawberry Almond Smoothie

-For those who are allergic to strawberries (like me!), raspberries work great.

Replacement: Elana's Pantry's Squash French Fries


Replacement: The Functional Foodie's Rutabaga Fries 

Lisa: Macaroni and Cheese

Scroll to the bottom of the page for a nut free, dairy free, soy free "cheezy" recipe.

-For those of you who are yeast free (like me!) or sticking to a paleo diet, try  Hope For Healing's Savory Squash Rissoto. The dish captures the gooey, comforting nature of macaroni and cheese, without the grains and dairy. You can even eliminate the garlic and onions (and replace them with carrot or zucchini shavings) and it's still quite delicious.

-Or, try Whole New Mom's yeast-free "Almond Feta".

Shandy's request: Portuguese Bread 

Replacement: Gluten Free, Paleo Irish Soda Bread

We're mixing ethnicities here, but hey, that's okay.

I would bake this recipe sans the raisins. And remember, if you are allergic to eggs, you can replace each egg with "Flax Eggs" or 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds per egg.

-For a more moist texture, sweeter flavor and a yellow color that's reminiscent of the inside of some sweet portuguese breads, try Affairs of Living's Golden Coconut Snack Cake.

Happy not-so-sinful eating.


  1. WOW!!!!!!! Such great recipes for us...THANK YOU SO MUCH. I can hardly wait to try the whipping cream and other things here.
    I still struggle with major stomach/digestion issues and after tests say nothing is wrong with my tummy I am still struggling with gas, bloating, pain....and sometimse acid reflux. I tried regular whipping cream over Christmas and it has been awful since. I did not realize the result could last so long....the bugs are in my tummy to adding to the mix. SO, I am thinking I need to really get serious about my diet to help out my poor stomach before I cannot eat anything! THANKS for giving me more incentive...I have beengluten free for a logn time and sugar free but not dairy free always and probably have other allergens or intolerances adding to the stomach. Ugh. So, like I said, time to get serious and find out what I am reacting to. You are a dear to do this for us.

  2. Wow! You really did your homework for this one! Thanks for all the good ideas!

  3. Renee, I'm so sorry that your reaction is lasting this long, but you aren't alone. Nutritionist Donna Gates and Dr. Thomas O'Bryan report that consumption of a gluten containing product as small as the size of 1/8 of your fingernail can result in an inflammatory effect in the body for up to 6 months after consumption.

    For a brief article on the topic (written by Donna): http://bodyecology.com/articles/gluten-sensitive.php

    To listen to the whole interview with Dr. O'Bryan: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/show.aspx?userurl=undergroundwellness&year=2010&month=07&day=08&url=gluten-sensitivity-and-celiac-disease-with-dr-thom.

    I'm so glad that I could be of some help to you. Let me know if there's anything else I can do. I know you can do it! Feel better soon.

  4. I think you are amazing. really.

  5. Such a great post! I need to get back on the bandwagon of good eating - like you said I feel so much better when I do and I should always choose health over immediate satisfaction. Thanks for the options & motivation :)

  6. Hi again Candance
    Thanks for the articles and dr. info. I have had stomach issues for a year, they were better but now worse with stress and with eating dairy at Christmas like I said. My LLMD saYs Lyme and Bart for sure in stomach. Anyway, I am serious this time around, although struggling with feeling a bit sorry for myself. I have been wheat, yeast and sugar free since 1985 and dairy free much of that time....I eat way to many rice products on my limited diet, so am happy to find almond flours to use. Thanks again.

  7. Wow! What a wonderful resource! I too am a peanut butter and jelly girl, so you had me hooked with your first sentence! I do not have as many restrictions as you do, but I still consider almond butter and fruit puree spread on a slice of lightly toasted Rudi's gluten-free bread to be a safer version of my comfort food. (I think I just gave myself a craving!) Thanks for mentioning Gluten-Free Cat and my whipped cream recipe.

  8. Hi Candice,
    Excellent information! I appreciate it in part because I blog for SunButter, so I'm always looking for good resources. Plus, I love to cook and bake and I'm eager to try these recipes. You've truly captured some of the 'forbidden' creations with great adaptations. And of course I'm happy we could kinda help with your PBJ blues! Take good care.