As a personal chef I cook for all kinds of clients on all kinds of diets. Balanced and healthy, allergy restrictive, diet specific (Weight Watchers, HCG, etc.) orders from a doctor or naturopath or trainer, etc. I even have clients that want yummy comfort food, no holds barred on the fat, sugar, etc. I chef for parties that are healthy as well as indulgent wine tasting events, Southern-style barbecue throw downs with all of the fixings and everything in between. I can cook Italian like an Italian Grandma, pot-pie and desserts that even Paula Deen would be proud of and bake delicious bread and pastries that give you the experience of a bakery right in your own home.
For myself and the recipes I share, I stick to low-glycemic, no preservatives, all natural, balanced food. As a chef though I prepare food that fits in with my clients needs.
One of my favorite clients is a family that has extensive food allergies. There are 6 people in the family, most of them with their own different restrictions. So for them to come together and eat as a family the list of meals they can all enjoy together is very restrictive. The mom, bless her, cooks all of the meals and snacks – with these kinds of allergies there are no convenience options. It is easy to get burned out and stuck in a rut, preparing the same safe things over and over. This client hired me so she can take a much needed break in the kitchen as well as enjoy some new meals.
When I create meals for families or individuals that have had a limited diet and pretty much eat the same things over and over, they are thrilled! I stay inspired and create new recipes for each one of them, not just fall back on recipes you may find in a cookbook.
Here are my tips for creating meals with allergy/sensitivities/specific diets:
- Make a list of ingredients you CAN have (not can’t have): This is very important. This family for example has a list of around 20 items that are safe for them to eat that I create the meals from. Sounds restrictive? It isn’t! Maybe a bit more of a challenge but there are still THOUSANDS of recipes I can create from these 20 ingredients.
- Get creative: Look through restaurant menus online, think of your favorite meals that may contain the items you are restricted from eating. Can they be created making a few swaps or changes?
- Get inspired: This goes along with the tip above. Look at restaurant menus, cookbooks, cooking magazines, websites. Find new recipes that look exciting and give them a try!
- Keep it fresh: Don’t get stuck in a meal rut, having the same thing over and over again. When I create menus I make sure we are getting a good mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables through the week. Not chicken. Chicken. Rice. Rice. Chicken. One night I like to do a slow cooker meal, the next night a soup, one night a casserole, another night an entree salad. Make yourself a little checklist. Got the soup? Good – onto the next idea. Casserole? Done. That helps narrow down your choices and not get overwhelmed.
- Menu plan: This is ALWAYS one of my top tips! Sitting down for a few minutes once a week helps you get organized for the week. You write down what you are having, plan your grocery list (or use Menus by Mesa de Vida and the work is done for you!) and be ready every single day of the week. This really is a great habit to get into.
I hope this helps.
These are the latest round of recipes for my clients. 20 items: the sky is the limit!
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