In an effort to discover the cause of Noah’s eczema, I’ve gone on a restricted diet and am very close to becoming a vegan as I joke to Nil. It’s not easy as I have never gone on a diet like this in my entire life!!!! Basically, my diet is to have none of the following:
It’s pretty miserable because just about everything here has either wheat, dairy or eggs and the yummy alternatives (like yogurt and cream and most milks) are made out of nuts or soy. I can forget about pizza because of the cheese – it won’t be the same without mozzarella! And no no no soya sauce, dark or light as a seasoning!
The odd one out like chocolate is still okay but that means I have to scrutinize the label for any presence of dairy, nuts, etc and it also limits it to dark chocolate (the higher the percentage, the better) BUT any higher than 85% and it’s awfully bitter.
So I scouted the Internet for more info, looked around my organic store for alternatives and came up with some of the following substitutes for my pantry:
- Oat milk
- Quinoa & rice breakfast cereal
- Buckwheat (not a wheat or cereal but in fact more closely related to rhubarb)
- Rice cakes in place of toast for breakfast
In place of my breakfast jam (we make ours from scratch) which are berry-based, I have gone back to honey. For butter, it’s organic margarine spread. If I need to use milk in my foods, I’d have to sub with either coconut milk or coconut cream. I found some barley grits at the supermarket the other day and thought about making a tajine. Normally, I would make tajine with couscous but that’s made from wheat (just like pasta).
The resulting meal was surprisingly yummy and very filling not to mention easy to cook. I just prepared the barley grits as how I would with couscous. Eva had no complaints and ate a lot of the barley – she wasn’t a big fan of couscous so it was a good thing!
NOTE: You can substitute the lamb with meat like beef or mutton.
Lamb-chickpea tajine with barley grits
Slightly under 1 kg lamb (I use the cuts from the leg and neck)
500gms chickpeas (canned) – drain and wash
1/2 cup barley grits/barley couscous (Saksou Al Balboula brand) OR couscous
1 tbsp tajine spice mix (contains turmeric, coriander, cumin, etc)
1 large onion – diced
A pinch saffron
A pinch paprika
Some olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
- Sweat the onions in the olive oil before browning the meat in the pressure cooker or a large pot.
- Toss in the spice mix, saffron and paprika. Stir well and season to taste before adding in the water.
- (Pressure cooker) Allow the water to come to a boil first before covering the top and sealing it. Cook under pressure for at least 30 minutes. When ready, release the pressure and add in the chickpeas.
- (Regular pot) Simmer for an hour or until the meat is tender before adding in the chickpeas.
- Simmer for another 10-15 mins. Prepare the couscous as per instructions.
- Once ready, serve both dishes together. You may add some toasted flaked almonds or pine nuts and raisins to your couscous for more flavour and crunch.