There’s always at least one, and they throw the menu plan off balance. This one is vegetarian, but eats eggs. That one is vegetarian but doesn’t eat eggs, so nothing with eggs in it - not even a little bit. Another one is vegan which means NO animal products at all. Then one is gluten-free and another is lactose intolerant and her skin comes out in bumps if there is so much as tip of a knife of butter in the food. Is there sugar in it? Then forget it and if they are on the Banting diet, things get complicated…..
When dealing with the weirdos the best thing is to focus on what they DO eat: this makes life a lot simpler. And make things that are part of your normal repertoire, but watch the ingredients. Here are some easy ideas to make yummy acceptable meals for those folk who make life difficult.
Lacto Veggie with Egg: These vegetarians will eat quiche with vegetables, salad with hardboiled egg in it, mayo with egg, cakes with eggs, all veggies, all nuts, all grains, all pulses. Quiche with steamed veggies, mixed bean salad, followed by your usual desserts (as long as they don’t have gelatine in them) is an ideal meal.
Lacto Veggie, no Egg: Buy pasta which has no egg in it and make any one of your veg sauces. Steam or bake baby potatoes and top with sour cream, chopped chives and serve with a salad. Place olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar on the table and let the vegetarian dress her own salad. Brown rice with veggie curry, beans on toast, bread and cheese (vegetable rennet - check the pack.) No gelatine and no cakes or biscuits with egg, so keep the puds simple. Fruit salad, compote, egg-free biscuits are available from most stores.
Vegan: Eek! NO animal products at all, which, of course, includes eggs and honey. These guys love hummus and tahini paste and tofu. They will eat raw or cooked vegetables, but don’t use butter or cream or cheese. They will eat any curry & rice dish that is cooked in oil, not ghee. Steam veggies and pass the olive oil. Get a can of chick peas or red beans, drain and then sauté them in coconut oil (you’ll score extra points for coconut oil) with nice spices. Don’t stress about puddings. Just serve a bowl of fresh or canned fruit with coconut cream. Or have a bowl of dates and nuts to nibble. They will be happy...seriously.
Vegetarian AND Gluten-Intolerant: Very common and as gluten makes them sick, so you need to read labels. Otherwise stick to simple options…rice noodles with stir-fry veggies and tofu, steamed veggies, any salads. Go easy on beans and other pulse as they are farinaceous. Breads can be bought gluten-free. Fruit purees, ice creams without eggs, soft and hard cheeses (no animal rennet, so NO parmesan on the gluten-free pasta), gluten-free crackers, fresh fruit.
Lactose Intolerant: Ask your friend if she prefers almond, rice or soya milk and buy some. Procure coconut water, bananas and raw cocoa powder and blend up a yummy pudding. Keep food simple – salads without mayo, pasta without cheesy toppings, potatoes or steamed veggies served with olive oil, garlic and chopped parsley rather than creamy sauces. Avocado is always welcome. Tahini, hummus, tofu are all acceptable.
Sugar Free: Stevia is the popular substitute, but check and see how strict your friend is, as even stevia can be a problem if not pure. Avoid all bought sauces, chutneys and condiments. Most canned food like beans, tomatoes, have sugar in them. In fact, all processed food has sugar in it. So go for the basics – fresh veggies, pulses, grains, unsweetened yoghurt.
Banting: Just buy a litre of cream! Actually, steamed broccoli or cauliflower with a cheesy creamy topping is fabulous. Steam whole courgettes until just cooked, then mash with butter. Sprinkle nut and seed powders on everything (grind them in your own little grinder, much cheaper!) Salads go down well…make the dressing with full cream yoghurt or cream and lemon juice. Pulses in moderation. Grains not at all. Whipped cream on fruit salad for pudding. Coffee - and cream, of course.
Note to self: Avoid trying new recipes that call for expensive ingredients, especially if you are in a rush. Keep it simple but respectful.