Our family is no stranger to food restrictions. My husband’s father has several food allergies, so does his sister, his cousins have food allergies, and members of my family have food restrictions as well, even though they aren’t allergy derived. We have family members who can’t eat sugar, some who can’t eat dairy, can’t have tomatoes, can’t eat gluten, can’t eat garlic, the list goes on. When we all get together it is going to be one well organized Thanksgiving to keep everything straight and safe for everyone to fit their various food restrictions, and I have no doubt that it will all taste awesome.
Though now it seems I can add myself into the mix as well. You see, I’ve gotten rather used to the idea of giving up dairy these past couple months. It turns out baby girl is not a happy camper when I eat dairy, so since the beginning of the Summer I’ve said goodbye to cheese, butter, cream, milk, and yogurt. It’s funny, Ryan and I always used to say to each other, “At least it’s just gluten and not dairy, that would be impossible!” And now here I am, dairy free – and you know what? It’s actually not been that huge of a deal. I find it almost a bit sad how little I have missed dairy actually – I mean after all I do live in the land of yogurt, croissants au beurre, double crème, fondue, and raclette. But I’ve surprisingly been anything but nostalgic and sentimental for giving up of my favorite food groups.
Maybe it’s because our family already has experience dealing with one food issue and we are accustomed to handling various dietary restrictions that adding in another doesn’t add that much extra stress – we already cook most everything from scratch and hardly ever eat out (thanks to the expensive prices here in Switzerland and a young baby, eating out is a very very rare event). We full well know that the simpler “free of” meals are often the most satisfying and easiest to make on a regular basis, so I haven’t really looked into using dairy substitutes yet. I’m just eating naturally dairy free dishes (though I may have to use some rice milk and break down and make pancakes sometime !). Or maybe it’s that I know that this is surely a temporary thing (either until she outgrows it or me) and I can draw strength in knowing how resolved Ryan is about his avoidance of gluten, which is a lifetime commitment for him. Or maybe it’s not a big deal for me because I know it’s for baby girl, and I want to do everything I can to make her happy. Whatever the reason, I’ve mainly viewed it as just an extra challenge on dinner, and as motivation to look for new things to make.
I’ve always said that eating naturally GF is the easiest way to go, and so I’ve mainly taken the same approach to me being dairy free. Options may be a little more limited right now with needing to be cognizant of two food restrictions now during our dinner planning, but the key is to just view it as an opportunity to be a bit creative. We’ve always looked to what we can eat rather than dwelling on what we can’t.
And then we found this recipe – the only thing needed to make it gluten free was using a GF soy sauce, and it was naturally dairy free. Score! Chicken fried and glazed in a sweet and sour fruity sauce served over rice, I don’t think we have gotten tired of it yet and I’ve been making this around 2-3 times per month. Since the first time I’ve made it I’ve added in a few more veggies, but that’s about it. We still both love it. In fact, I think I’ll make it again tomorrow
Crispy Pineapple Chicken
Adapted from Epicurious
Prep Time: 15 min to cut and dredge the chicken, 5-10 min to prep veggies and pineapple
Total Time: 1 hr
For the Sauce:
- 2 tbsp. water
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 4 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cup pineapple juice
- 4 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
- 4 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 tsp. GF soy sauce or GF tamari
For the Chicken:
- 1 kg (2 lb) chicken breast or tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup cornstarch
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 red chillies (adjust depending on the heat you like), chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 sweet red bell peppers, sliced
- 1 pineapple, chopped
- 1 scallion, sliced
- Dissolve the cornstarch in the water, and then add the rest of the sauce ingredients together into a small bowl, stirring to blend them.
- Coat each piece of chicken thoroughly in cornstarch. In a large (I use a 13″) skillet, add enough oil to have about 1/4″ in the skillet, and heat the oil on medium high heat. When hot enough to fry (I usually test it with a wooden spoon – if bubbles form around the spoon, it’s good to go), add in the chicken and fry a few minutes on each side until cooked through. You likely will have to do this in batches (you don’t want to crowd the chicken when frying them), adding more oil to the pan as needed. When chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pan and set it on a plate lined with some paper towels to help soak up any excess oil.
- Once all the chicken are cooked, empty out the remaining oil and wash the skillet before returning it back to the stove again on medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. oil to the skillet, and add in the chillies, garlic and onion and sauté until soft. Then pour in the sauce, and let come to a boil until the sauce is thick and becomes translucent.
- Then add in the bell peppers and pineapple and let cook, for a minute or so, tossing in the sauce as you do so, just enough really to heat the peppers and pineapple. Remove from heat, and add in the chicken, mixing to get the sauce coating everything well. Garnish with scallions, serve on top of rice if desired, and enjoy!
Also linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday