{pulling back the curtain} What Jillian Really Eats

I can honestly say that our household diet wouldn’t be as healthy if my child didn’t have food allergies. I like to cook and I enjoy making things at home because I enjoy the creative process and the outcome (the flavor!) is usually much better than foods that are not made from scratch. However I have two young children and there are days when cooking is the last thing I want to do. Because I have to feed my daughter food that is safe and healthy, I push myself to cook far more often than I otherwise would.

Abby is allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and almost all fresh fruits and vegetables. There was a time when the entire family ate what she could eat. Did I mention that we don’t eat much meat? I have many, many vegan cookbooks that have served me well these past few years. Lately we have been adding more and more dairy into the adult meal. I am not a vegan at the moment. Neither is my husband or my other child. Abby’s diet, with the exception of her food therapy diet, is vegan.

Breakfast is easy in our house. The girls eat granola (made by me in the fall, winter and spring), cereal (whatever natural brand is on sale that week – cereal is expensive!), or toast (I make my own bread in the fall, winter and spring. It’s too hot in the summer, so I purchase Freihofer’s brand because it doesn’t contain dairy). When I make bread from scratch, which I do about twice a week (often using Liz’s recipe), I always use a recipe with eggs because it’s part of Abby’s egg immunotherapy – she eats baked goods to build up her tolerance for eggs. It’s working.

My husband makes a juice for breakfast and I will have one 50% of the time. Somedays I hold off until mid-morning and eat one brunchy meal instead of breakfast and lunch. If I do eat breakfast, it’s a zucchini muffin that I’ve made or a piece of toast.

Lunch is also easy, because I hate to make lunch, I hate to eat lunch, I hate to break for lunch. I dislike everything about lunch. That’s why I often make one mid-morning meal for myself. My brunch meal may be leftovers from dinner the night before, like the bruschetta and greek salad I had yesterday. Or it might be eggs, fresh from my hens, scrambled with shredded zucchini from my garden. I still have onions left from the 40 pound box I bought last year from a local farmer, and I have been adding them to most of my dishes. Yes, they’re very shriveled at this point.

I homeschool my girls and we’re often home at lunch time. They eat soynut butter sandwiches or spread soynut butter on crackers (usually Wheat Thins because they don’t have dairy and they don’t use high fructose corn syrup) but lately Abby has been obsessed with Ritz. Ritz do taste very buttery, without the dairy, and I love that she has a chance to experience that taste. Abby usually has a type of cooked fruit – either canned mandarin oranges or dried fruit snacks, with water to drink. Heather, who is not allergic to anything, prefers a piece of fresh fruit with her meal. This week I’m buying peaches from the farm down the street. I buy bananas pretty regularly, understanding that every time I do I’m supporting wicked environmental and political practices with my wallet. I have to at least admit it to myself.

Sometimes we’re out and about at lunchtime and we need to eat on the run. Where does someone take kids with food allergies for lunch? We go to the grocery store. Yes, we eat at the grocery store, and we love it! They have tables and everything – perfect for us. We all get something different: I have sushi rolls made with brown rice and seaweed salad as the filling. Abby eats hummus with pita chips, and Heather has pizza. Grocery store lunches are my favorite.

Here’s a scary photo – at least my mother would think so. I grew up in a house with a super-organized fridge. What happened to me? Here is what it looked like as I was writing this post – no culling, rearranging, or anything. This is my fridge.

Before I know it, it’s time to prep for dinner. Where does the afternoon go? Now the fun of planning three separate meals begins. Lately, I’ve played “Mix & Match” for the girls’ dinner:

One of these
Boca Chickn Burger (Abby eats hers on bread with tofutti cream cheese spread; Heather eats hers cut in pieces with ketchup. I buy organic)
Pasta (Abby gets Earth Balance margarine on hers, and sometimes pureed summer squash to thicken it; Heather likes Annie’s shells and cheese)
Roasted chickpeas (seasoned with chopped rosemary)

One of these
Carrots (cooked for Abby, raw for Heather)

One of these
Brown rice
Grain mix (last night I served a boxed Quinoa with Rosemary. Sometimes I make my own mixes.)

The girls drink rice milk with dinner, and will sometimes ask for dessert. It might be homemade coconut milk ice cream, other times it’s a lollipop, sometimes it’s a cupcake I make as part of Abby’s egg immunotherapy. I use boxed mixes for my cupcakes and cakes. I haven’t figured out how to make a good from-scratch cake yet. I use Duncan Hines because there’s no dairy in the mix.

Our adult dinner is a little more involved. I like dinner, it’s my favorite meal of the day. It always includes seasonal produce. Every night is different, but I do have a few staples that are in the rotation.

Stir fry is easy to adapt to whatever produce I have on hand. I use brown rice as a base. At this time of year I would use onions, garlic, carrots, cabbage and zucchini for the vegetables. Tofu or shrimp fills the dish out, and sometimes I scramble two eggs into the dish at the end. In the winter I serve this with bok choy salad. In the summer I serve it as is. It’s so full of veggies that I don’t feel guilty about not having a side salad.

Pasta with homemade pesto is another staple. In the summer I make a lot of pesto and freeze it in 4 oz. portions. It goes beautifully over pasta! In the summer I chop up tomatoes and add them, or roast zucchini slices and mix them into the dish. Pasta with pesto goes great with a simple side salad – lettuce with fresh herbs sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Warm crusty bread with olive oil is good too, but we try to eat that in moderation.

In the fall and winter, we eat soup – tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches are a sinful treat. I preserve tomato soup during the summer so we can enjoy it in the winter. I make my grilled cheese sandwiches with thick slices of homemade bread, using a filling of shredded cheese and cream cheese. Then I bake them until they’re golden on both sides, flipping once. Yum. If I don’t make tomato soup, I make a basic vegetable and bean soup. White beans and carrots often show up in our soups. I don’t use homemade stock. I never quite got the hang of making it. I buy Better than Bouillon, the organic vegetable stock. I also don’t cook my own beans, although I would like to learn how this year. I buy organic canned beans at the grocery store. If I buy the store brand, they’re generally less expensive than the name brand organic label.

My favorite meal that I keep in the every-other-week rotation is “appetizer dinner.” I love appetizer dinner! It generally consists of a few plates: crackers or bread with my homemade jam and goat cheese or quark from Argyle Cheese Farmer (this year I made fruit jams with cardamom and I love the way they taste with the soft cheese); grilled bread with either pesto and chopped tomatoes or grilled shrimp and radishes; and greek salad. This is the time of year to eat greek salad, because the peppers are local. I generally do not buy peppers from the grocery store during the off-season.

Did I mention that cheap white wine goes well with all of my dinner plates?


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim F says:

    Jillian-would you mind sharing the tomatoe soup recipe that you use for canning. I would love to try that with my current over abundance of tomatoes.

  2. Jillian says:

    HI Kim, My tomato soup recipe is very basic. You can either can diced tomatoes and make the soup in the winter from those, or make the soup now and can it.
    Here is the basic idea for making soup from fresh tomatoes: Roast the tomatoes and onion on a baking sheet, then add them, and stock, to the blender. Season with salt and pepper.
    Get a large sheet pan ready for the oven, and preheat to 375. If you have parchment paper, put a sheet on the pan. Slice the tomatoes thickly (as many as you can fit on the baking sheet, and don’t bother to peel them). Dice a large onion. Put both vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Roast at 375 until they are soft, maybe 20 minutes.
    Get your broth/stock ready. In general, use half as much stock as the amount of puree you get from the tomatoes. Have about 2 cups ready and you can add it to taste. If you are using a regular blender, put in the tomatoes/onions and some broth, and blend until it’s smooth. If you’re using an imersion blender, add everything to a big stock pot and blend until smooth.
    Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Here is something else you can do that makes canning work easier now and cooking better in the winter – you can slow roast a bunch of tomatoes now, run them through a food mill to get rid of the skins and seeds, and can them. Then when you’re ready to make soup in the winter just cook up an onion and add the canned roasted tomatoes.
    Or you can freeze the roasted tomatoes now, don’t even bother canning.
    Or just freeze the tomatoes whole and make the soup in the winter.
    I have all of those things going on right now and more!

    1. altaf wazir says:

      please mam send me the different videos sexing in chicks///
      i am a dvm student and i want to study this in detail.i also have some my way of sexing in chicks….

  3. amiabnormal says:

    do you make pasta from scratch or do you eat shop stuff?
    Also do you know how to ‘dry’ fresh pasta?

    1. Jillian says:

      Hi ami – I don’t make my own, but I love it when other people make some for me! I don’t have a press, and I think that would help with the process. Years ago I lived near a pasta shop and they sold the fresh stuff for cheap. Yum. I buy starchy brands, like De Cecco and Barilla. My favorite line is the old Price Chopper/Central Market pasta, but I think they’re fazing it out.

  4. Appetizer dinners are my favorite too!

    And making stock is easy peasy- requires basically no effort. If you can toss stuff in a pot and add water and do nothing while it simmers itself silly, you are golden.


    1. Jillian says:

      Oh KK, is it really that easy? Then what – freeze big containers of it, or use it right away?

  5. Jennifer H says:

    Jillian -Thanks for sharing…especially the frig photo…I admit I like to see others’ refrigerators the way some people like to peek in medicine cabinets 😉

    Would you share your granola recipe(s)? My husband is allergic to tree nuts (not peanuts) and it’s difficult to find nut-free granola in stores. Even when I find one that doesn’t list nuts I don’t trust it 100%.

    Cooking beans is easy! I have always cooked them in the crockpot (set it and forget it) but there was a recent FSC post about a no-soak crockpot method. I switched to that and it is awesome because you don’t have to preplan (except buying the beans!). I buy canned beans as backup, but I think home-cooked beans are better. And you can add spices in the cooking water for extra flavor.

    1. Jillian says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      You would think that after I posted that photo I would clean up my fridge, but no, I took my kids to the playground instead. 🙂
      Thanks for the beans tip!

      Here is my granola recipe – the boiling water partially cooks the rolled oats and makes the granola easier to eat. You can cook it a long time and crunch it up, and when you eat it, it breaks up nicely. Or you can cook it a shorter time and have soft granola. Both have their place. The rice flour adds a nice sweetness that nuts will usually give it.

      Preheat the oven to 325.

      Mix together:

      7 cups rolled oats
      1/2 cup ground flaxseed
      1/2 cup rice flour

      Mix together:

      1 cup honey
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 teaspoon vanilla OR pumpkin pie spice
      scant 1/2 cup boiling water

      Combine the wet and dry ingredients and bake for 20-30 minutes, checking and stirring a few times during the cooking time.

      1. Jennifer H says:

        Playground is more fun than frig cleaning any day. Thanks for the granola recipe – I will try it as soon!

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