Sunday, April 17, 2011

Specialty Diets: EE

A good friend of mine is moving today, so she and her family are on my mind. To that end, I'm blogging in her honor today, sort of dedicating this post.

Her middle son has recently been diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EE). In layman's terms, he must live on a severely restricted diet. There are over 27 foods, including almost all grains, corn, soy, dairy and nuts, that he cannot have even in trace amounts.

As you can imagine, this poses problems in a family of 5. What 4 can have, 1 cannot, but why should all of them restrict their diets for the sake of 1? Mom ends up cooking at least two meals each mealtime: 1 for 4 and 1 for 1. This means much of her day is spent cooking (and cleaning), not to mention studying labels, meal planning, shopping at many different stores, and researching online.

EE is not the only specialty diet that puts mothers and other kitchen commandos into tail spins. Gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free are common among today's families, the cause of which I'll show great restraint in keeping out of this post. Regardless of cause, the fact remains: specialty diets are here, are real, and are necessary.

To see what a week walking in her shoes is like, I'm going to create this week's menu for her. Like my gluten-free post a few weeks ago, my goal is to make a week's worth of dinners that will feed her whole family: cook once, feed all*.

*there may be some side dishes served that aren't EE friendly...the idea is that these asterisk foods are optional.

Sunday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Breakfast Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans

Buy unmarinated pork tenderloin for EE. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Grill on med about 15-20 min until internal temperature reads 145. Slice into thin slices and serve fanned on a plate. YUM!

To roast the green beans, heat oven to 450. Choose either fresh or frozen whole green beans. (if frozen, thaw first in a colander under cold running water.) Place green beans in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1-2 T. olive oil. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Spread evenly in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 450 for about 20 min. Serve. It's just that easy.

Monday: Grilled Steaks, French Fries, Glazed Carrots

Again, avoid marinating the steaks. Instead, season with kosher salt and black pepper and grill to desired doneness.

The carrots recipe calls for butter, which is not EE friendly (dairy). Substitute olive oil for the butter.

As for the french fries, Alexia Foods' crinkle fries MIGHT be EE friendly. It's a situation where the phrase "and/or" is used in the ingredients list. I've called the company for a better understanding of ingredients, and they are closed on the weekends. Obviously for a busy mom, the frozen fries would be simpler than homemade, but by home-making allows us the opportunity to control the contents.

Tuesday: (Vegetarian) Quinoa and Black Beans

This recipe calls for corn, which can easily be omitted or for which a substitute can be used. I suggest peas as an alternative.

Wednesday: Grilled Pork Chops, Potato Chips, salad

Thursday: Hobo Packets

1 bell pepper, any color, cored, membranes removed, and sliced into strips
1 t. bottled minced garlic
1 lb lean ground beef
4 med potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 med. carrots, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
seasoned salt

Cut 4 12" pieces of heavy duty foil. Place equal amounts pepper strips on each piece of foil. In a med. bowl, combine 1/4 cup water, garlic, and ground beef; mix well. Shape 4 hamburger patties. Set 1 hamburger patty on top the peppers on each foil. Arrange potato and carrot slices on top of each patty. Season with salt, pepper, and seasoned salt to taste. Wrap foil in a tent pack around each serving.

Note: even if you don't like peppers, use them in the packets because they are needed for moisture.

The Tent Pack (as directed at

The tent pack provides a pocket of air that allows for greater steaming. Thus, it’s best for foods you want steamed more than browned like fruits, vegetables, and meat/vegetable combos.

1. Tear off a sheet of foil just as you would for the flat pack.

2. Place the food in the middle of the foil.

3. Bring the long sides together in the center and tightly fold them together towards the food. This time, stop folding a few inches before you get to the food, leaving a pocket of space and creating a “tent.”

4. Tightly roll up the shorter sides, again leaving an inch or so of space between the end of the fold and the food.

Preheat oven to 350. Place foil packets on a baking sheet. Bake 20-30 min or until vegetables are tender and meat is fully cooked.

Friday: Ham and Bean Soup

(omit the onions)

Saturday: Gingered Beef and Vegetables, Rice*

omit onions, use wheat-free soy sauce, and use tapioca starch instead of cornstarch.

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