What is the most common vehicle for flavors in the standard American diet?
I suppose the answers could be nearly as varied as the number of people answering them, for we are a melting pot society. But if I were to take a quick look at foods that are most definitely common American items (check out the kids' menu at any local restaurant if you want a good gauge), I see an awful lot of wheat and dairy. Most favorite American dishes hinge off of these two major components.
--Think of Pizza. What brings you the rich flavors of oregano herbed tomatoes and seasoned meats? The wheat dough is the vehicle, and cheese comes along for the ride.
--Think of Mac n' Cheese. The glutinous noodles are the vehicle to the ooey-gooey cheese.
--Hamburgers aren't what we all think of if we don't see them flipped off the grill and plopped onto a bun, with high chances that a slice of cheese is melting into the cracks.
--Sausage Gravy just doesn't do much if it can't be with its biscuit...or its gravy, for that matter.
These are all things that I actually stopped to think about when food intolerances became a factor over here.
Pull wheat and dairy out of those foods and you are left with:
Pizza = marinara sauce with meat, veggies if that's how you roll...
Mac n' Cheese = ummm, air?...
Hamburgers = hello, meat patty...
Sausage Gravy = ground cooked sausage and probably just a good seasoning of black pepper.
Those of us who were used to these foods and learned first how to cook with wheat and dairy were a little befuddled at meal planning when we pulled those two out of our diets. Because well, that second list just didn't have the same appeal as the first one.
So what to do?
I always suggest to not look for a replacement for your favorite food, like say, pizza, when initially starting a new elimination diet. Why? Because nothing will ever taste the same as your memory recalls a pizza should taste. So, just don't set yourself up for disappointments. Not yet. Not right at the beginning. Give yourself some time to explore some other foods. Probably some simpler foods. Look for all the veggies you can try. We realize that protein is a much broader category than just cheese and burgers when we start looking. And fruits really are like dessert. Options are still broad. They are simply different.
Sometimes, just a simple tweak will still bring you some pretty familiar flavors. All you need to do is change the vehicle on which you serve a favorite flavor. Do you like fajitas? How about topping a salad or a bowl of beans and rice with your favorite fajita meat, peppers, and onions? Maybe you'll discover how fun it is to take that hamburger patty and top it with some thing new, say guacamole and pico de gallo? Change up the foundation from the predictable, and see what kind of new things you can create.
For instance check out this new vehicle we used for chicken:
Sweet potatoes, roasted with olive oil and chipotle peppers, became the broad shoulders to carry chipotle spiced chicken and spinach in a way more delicious than you were expecting. Way more. It was phenomenal. Adding cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a fresh avocado slice and it was taste-bud heaven. It was worth the risk to test drive a new vehicle.
**Notes from the Pickle's Chef: I obviously left off the cheese, but I also reduced the chipotle pepper usage to about one. I would have rather enjoyed the extra kick of all three, but little Pickles are more sensitive. Delicious, just the same!**