Food alternatives

I had an interesting conversation this week – anyone that knows me knows that I am allergic to EVERYTHING, and then because of some different medical issues, have to limit my diet even more…the recipes are some of my favourites, but, many of them I can no longer eat.
It is frustrating to say the least. There are times when I even take the risk of eating something that I am allergic to just because I miss the flavour so much. It is something that I regret each time…seriously regret.
So, this week I went in search of alternatives – they aren’t perfect – but they do somewhat work.

Potato Alternative
If one more person tells me to eat sweet potatoes i am going to scream. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, but at the same time – they taste NOTHING like potatoes. I have yet to find a good alternative to whole potatoes, but i have something that will work for mashed. It is a combination of white beans, and parsnip. So, you need to cook the parsnips (boil them) until they are really soft. The rinse and drain a can of white beans, add in the parsnips, milk, butter, and anything else you like putting in mashed potatoes (chives, sour cream, garlic) and then mash (or use a hand mixer. It isn’t perfect, but it works.

Tomato Sauce Alternative
Again, can’t really use it as fresh tomatoes on salad, but if you are looking for tomato sauce for pasta, lasagna etc this will work. Hubbard squash – kinda looks like a pumpkin – but a very dark orange. So, what you need to do (and it is a bit of a pain) is peel, seed and cut it up into about one inch chunks. Then you need to place it in a pot and cover with water and boil it until it is pretty much falling apart. But, there is the whole issue of flavour. So, while it is boiling you need to add in oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, and a little salt (or add in italian herb/spice mix) you will need a good palmful of it. Another really important thing to add in is the rind from a piece of parmesan (if you have the fresh stuff, the rind works great in things like this, or soup, just to add flavour) if you don’t have the fresh stuff, then just add in about 1/4 of the grated stuff near the end. Once the squash is really really cooked, drain most of the liquid and begin blending it. Add in a little red wine (or beef stock) until it is about the right consistency. After you have the basic sauce done, you can add in other veggies or meat like you would regular tomato sauce.

Sausage Alternative.
This was one of my great finds. Because a lot of times I use to use sausage without the casing, I thought, “what if i could make ground turkey or chicken taste the same?”. It is actually WAY easier than you would think. Basically, you brown up the turkey/chicken and add in the same spices you would find in sausage (fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and anything else that you think would taste “sausage like”). It works great especially if you are cooking with it, and not just wanting a grilled sausage. But even if you do want a grilled sausage – think sausage like hamburger instead.

So, as angry and frustrated as I get, and as much as I know that these are not the same – they do work as reasonable alternatives.

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