Back in the grain-free days of February, I learned the art of de-graining menus. At first I tried to find or think up new recipes that didn’t include any “forbidden” ingredients. That’s tiring and, as I came to understand, unnecessary when most dishes can be made grain-free without too much effort. Please note I said most. Let me give you a few examples.
Sometimes the grain/starch can be simply subsituted for a grain-free alternative. For example:
- Dehydrator granola is even better when nuts and seeds are used in place of oats.
- Vegetable flax crackers make a wonderful substitution for regular wheat crackers as a snack with pesto or avocado.
- Winter squashes and root vegetables like carrots and turnips fill the gap left by eliminating potatoes nicely in stews and soups.
- And while we’re on the topic of potatoes, kale chips are so much better than potato chips. Honestly.
Other dishes require a dose of creativity to be made grain-free. Mostly it involves soup-or-salad-ify-ing them. For example:
- Spaghetti and meatballs can be transformed into a vegetable-ground beef hash with all the same flavours.
- Eating julienned cabbage, peppers, carrots and cabbage smothered in spicy peanut sauce is a crispier version of one my favourite picnic meal: spicy peanut pasta salad.
- Broth can be added to curry dishes to make them into stews, rather than serving them with basmati rice.
- Tacos or fajitas can be turned into a salad, with all the flavour, but none of the corn.
Let’s stop right there and talk taco salad. It’s amazing what you can create with vegetables, spices and a bit of protein (for us right now that means animal products, but there are plenty of vegan alternatives). Here’s a fabulous lunch I whipped up one Saturday, and which quickly became a go-to meal during the grain-free time in our lives.
I simply layered vegetables that go with tacos: lettuce, cilantro, chives, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado. Then I sauteed a quarter of an onion, added some lamb which I’d recovered off the bones after making broth, and seasoned it with cumin and cayenne pepper. The whole thing was topped with a simple homemade vinagrette. It was very tasty and surprisingly satisfying.
Sure, it lacks the crunch of a taco, but it was easy, healthy and most of all, delicious. Which is my kind of lunch.
Taco-less Taco Salad
1 Tsp. olive oil
1/4 red or yellow onion
leftover lamb, beef or chicken
cumin, cayenne pepper and salt to taste
Instructions: Cut veggies and combine in a bowl. Saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add meat and spices, and cook for a few minutes. Place on top of salad. Top with vinagrette. Enjoy!
Simple Vinagrette Dressing
4 parts EVOO
2 parts apple cider vinegar
1 part honey
garlic, grated to taste (I use 1 clove)
oregano and basil to taste (1/2 part? I just sprinkled some in)
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Combine, shake and serve. Keeps for weeks in the fridge.