Thai Green Curry
Over the past few weeks I have been focused on food, more than usual. I am sure most parents will empathise with me at my teenagers lament 'it would be nice to have something different for dinner instead of stir- fry or pasta'. I remember accusing my parents of a similar crime but with mince dishes and stewed apples; a case of history repeating itself but I was on the other end of it. Of course, as a teenager, I didn’t stop to think about the whole process of planning, shopping and cooking alongside working and running around after four children, that my parents had to cope with. So, when my daughter expressed very politely similar thoughts I could understand the sentiment behind them. Those moments often throw flashbacks that spark a belated sense of respect for my parents and remorse for my teenage behaviour. My dad would confirm that I have apologised many years later for my past offenses.
However, my excuses for producing a small number of safe meals are different to those of my parents who both worked full-time. I have more time but am faced with the complication of a vegetarian son, a daughter who doesn’t eat red meat and my own very irritating problems with milk, egg and fish products.
This experience has re-ignited my interest in cooking for the family, which had waned after my food allergies were diagnosed as I was unable to eat my favourite foods. Don't get me wrong, it is not a sob story. I have always been interested in eating and have found many vegan substitutes and have never gone hungry.
However, it has been fun and rewarding reconnecting with food. Hopefully, now I am off the starting line I will continue to find interesting and new recipes to try out on the family.
My burning question : 'Is it too soon to do a pasta or stir-fry meal ?!'
Meal Plan for the first week
Monday: Vegetable biryani (with chicken added after plating up my son's vegetarian meal)
Tuesday: Stuffed peppers (vegetarian stuffing with beans, pulses onions, mushrooms and grated cheese on top of the children's)
Wednesday:Thai green curry (chicken added after)
Thursday: Fish with lemon and herbs with roasted vegetables (grilled chicken for me) - sorry no photo!
Friday : Fajita's (mixture of fillings to suit all requirements)
Saturday: Chicken tray bake (quorn fillets for my son)
The outcome has been a very happy daughter who hopefully no longer wants to move to her friend's house, where the mum ‘always cooks something new each week’. She even asked if I could do the stuffed peppers again but I was careful to use a different filling and use a different colour pepper! The beauty of stuffed vegetables is that there are a variety that are suitable to be stuffed and the abundance of different fillings to stuff them with; and it is all about variety!
I am planning stuffed aubergine soon.
Food Fact : The foods that most commonly cause allergy are milk and eggs, nuts (including peanuts) and seeds, shellfish, fish, wheat, soya and some fruits such as citrus and kiwi.
Nice to know I'm common!
I have a difficult relationship with food. I love food but have to be very careful about what I eat. Unfortunately, I have developed allergies to milk, egg and fish and therefore have to meticulously scan food labels, flag up my allergies to hosts and research restaurant menus before eating out. It also has made cooking more complicated and hence a bit less enjoyable. I had blood tests that confirmed a ridiculously high number of antibodies to milk and egg proteins when I was diagnosed with a wide-spread B-cell lymphoma (the B-cells are the part of the immune system that produce anti-bodies). I therefore surmised that the cancer was likely to be triggered by my food allergies and stopped products containing them immediately. Some of my bad abdominal symptoms also improved drastically. I often get asked whether it is a proper allergy or merely that I don't like those foods. Well, as cheese and chocolate lover I can honestly say I wouldn't avoid them if I didn't have to!
Back to the dilemma of a boring menu!
On the whole, time permitting, I enjoy finding solutions to the problems that people present to me. It is a whole lot more helpful than wasting my time worrying about the problem.This is one trait I am hoping will rub off on my children as it has definitely focused my mind and enabled me to cope with some major difficulties.
I had been set a food challenge and would throw myself into it wholeheartedly. I decided I would research some new main meals that I could adapt to cover all of our disparate dietary requirements. I then devised a meal plan and a shopping list. My usual method of approaching meals for the family was to let my husband do the weekly food shop as he enjoys pottering around Tesco for a few hours on a Sunday morning, sporting his headphones. When the children were very small we used to argue about whose turn it was to go shopping. I felt it should always be my turn as I had to look after the kids most of the week. Now that they are self-sufficient I haven’t argued to go shopping for years and have happily let him do it. But then I would randomly cook up whatever was in the fridge or cupboards, namely stir-fry and pasta. In my defense it was a variety of different pasta and stir-fry meals.
So armed with my new meal plan and list I too went to Tesco on a Sunday morning. It was quite fun to have some quality couple time treasure hunting around Tesco for specific ingredients.
Yellow Stuffed Peppers
Red Stuffed Peppers