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Saturday, September 18

Cooking for Special Diets or Illnesses

For those who don't know, my hubby and I share our home with another couple.  They are both incredible people, and I can honestly say that I would move heaven and hell for either of them if needed.  We all consider ourselves a family, and function as if we've been together all our lives!!

One of the roomies suffers from Crohn's disease.  I have to admit, it can present a REAL challenge when planning meals, because those who have this illness are sooo limited in what they can or can't eat.  I don't always succeed, either...there are times when I make something without thinking, and poor Traci ends up spending the rest of the day...well, we won't go into detail.  Suffice it to say it's not pretty.  Even I have times when certain foods can cause me issues (thankfully, nowhere near as drastically as my friend).

So, how do you handle working with people who have specific dietary needs?  Well, for some illnesses, just simple research will take care of it.  Information on the dietary needs of diabetics, for instance, abounds online.  Got the flu?  Easy to find solutions.  But for those of you who have rather tricky illnesses, it can be much tougher.  For example, sufferers of Crohns typically can't handle alcohol, fats (butter, mayo, etc), coffee, tea, raw fruits or veggies, whole grains, red meat, dairy products...yeah, it's a REALLY long list. 

My roomie typically will eat whatever is made, even when she knows she'll suffer for it later.  It makes me feel bad though...knowing that something I cooked is going to make her sick.  Yet, the majority of recipes call for at least 1 of the items I listed, making it almost impossible NOT to inflict some sort of problem.  So, we day I will cook something that contains an item from the list, and then for a day or two, we avoid those things like the plague.  We make it work.

Well, last night, I made a dish that seemed to work (we put it in the keeper catagory).  Surprisingly, it's very light and filling......and has TONS of flavor.  It has no added salt or fat, yet tastes just as decadent as much richer dishes!!  The dish is called Italian Sausage w/Pasta:

1 pkg (5 links) sweet Italian sausage
1 lg onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
8 oz pkg of pasta (noodles, shells, rigatoni...your choice)
Parmesan cheese

In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, OMITTING salt.  Drain well, and set aside.

While water is heating for pasta, you can start on the second part.  In a large skillet, remove casings of sausage and brown, breaking up the pieces.  No need to drain...there will be virtually NO grease from this...italian sausage is VERY lean.  Add onion, and cook until softened (about 5 minutes), then add garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.  Drain tomatoes, reserving juice, then add tomatoes to mixture and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add reserved juice and remaining spices, and simmer for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Yes, there isn't alot of liquid to this, but it will be plenty.

Pour "sauce" over drained pasta, and stir to mix well.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes for the flavors to meld.  Top with Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Total cook time for this recipe?  30 minutes.  From start to finish.  NO JOKE!!  We practically devoured this in one setting, too.  DEFINITELY a keeper!!  And as I stated, no added salt or fat!!  Win-win for everyone.

Yes, it will take time to hunt down recipes like this one.  But, since that's what the internet is supposed to be for, why not let it do it's job?  There are ways to make it easier, of course...using websites like or All Recipes actually allow you to input what ingredients you have on hand to find recipes that will work.  Point is, living with an illness doesn't always mean going without what you love.

If you have a particular illness and would like more info specific for you, please email me.  I'd be more than happy to help you with researching.  Until later...ENJOY!!!   

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