I’ve grouched a lot lately, in person and on media, about not eating. Of course, I’m not starving. And I’m not at risk of anaphylaxis if I goof up and eat something I shouldn’t. In fact, I’m amazingly fortunate in that I can whip up dinner for everyone while I’m working from home with a lovely variety of fresh foods available every day.
I guess what I’m really grouching about is the loss of so many recipes we’d built over a decade and the relative normalcy that they brought us. Now I’m asea in the kitchen again, with recipe gains in bits and spurts… And a distinct lack of fun, for now.
But dinners and lunches still have to happen and that’s still on me. In the spirit of just getting things done then, here are five 5-minute (seriously) meals to feed your family on your busiest days. All are free from the traditional top 8, most are free from seeds and soy, and some are completely vegan /meat free.
Masarepa (right) is precooked corn flour. Sort of like premade dried pasta.
My deli wraps (left) come with a side of upside-down Eeyore and pepperjack.
Truly, lunch on the go at its most basic. Inspired in part by the bologna-ketchup rolls of my youth (don’t judge). Layer one piece of deli-style meat (kudos if you made it at home), one piece of cheese/cheese-type product, one pile of greens (I’m a fan of spinach leaves here). Repeat for thicker or neater wraps (I add another piece of meat on top for the protein and to rein in the leaves). Roll as if it had a tortilla around it. Slice it, or just start eating. Bonus points if you actually rolled this out on a board or plate, too.
Arepas to slice and stuff or scoop
Not a bun, not a tortilla. Technically requiring a specific (but very low cost!) ingredient. Mix 1 cup masarepa flour (order it here, for example) with 1 cup water. Let it sit while you turn on the broiler or toaster oven. Pull off chunks of the thickened dough, roll into balls, smoosh flat. Bake as many as you want to make under the broiler for a few minutes on both sides. If you have more than 5 minutes, go ahead and turn off the broiler and keep the patties in the oven with the door closed to make sure the insides get fully cooked and sliceable. Possibilities here are endless: slice and toast and slather; pile salsa or leftovers on top and use it like a taco shell (or slice it genteelly, if you prefer); just walk away from the kitchen with it in your hand on the go.
Quickest tomato broth gravy
I love days when the house smells like long-simmering tomato gravy. It takes me right back to happy childhood memories. Sometimes that just won’t happen, but the meal I can pull off for everyone still requires some kind of sauce. This is my latest answer. Mix 1 can/box/whatever of tomatoes with a really good splash or two of vegetable broth (maybe 1/2 cup? hard to say….). Add a spoonful (really, a dinner-size spoonful, so maybe a Tablespoon) of cornstarch (or tapioca or arrowroot if you can’t use corn). Whisk is together in a pan over medium-high heat until it gets bubbling. Simmer it for as many minutes as you have available. Add whatever flavors you like (we vary between traditional Italian and a Tex-Mex version). Toss the cooked meat or beans or other protein in if it’s available. Toss in veggies if you want. Really, just throw anything you want to have flavored into the pot, then eat it. Maybe pour it over the arepas if you’ve really got your timing down!
Stir-fried veggies mix
This one is a much less sarcastic approach to fast homecooked meals. We’ve been enjoying our Washington Green Grocer deliveries so much. It’s a small source of joy in another otherwise-crazy food year. All of the fresh veggies means that we rarely rely on frozen steamed options, which are healthy and easy, but sometimes not as flavorful. If you have fresh veggies, greens, and roots on hand, try this quick stir-fry. Add some protein and you have yourself a (possibly vegan) meal. Coarsely chop (in the interest of time, go ahead, tear it instead if you have to) greens---we like baby bok choy, green onions, leeks, Also some carrots, maybe celery if we have it. I’ve shaved in turnips, tossed in teeny dices of eggplant (so the kids won’t notice). Anything goes. My favorite seasoning right now is a mix of Green Goddess, ginger, orange peel, and basil at the end. But chili powder and cumin with a bit of cocoa and paprika would be nice, too, perhaps. Gotta try a lot of flavors to make the same food every day taste different, right?
One-bowl salmon saute
An indulgent but easy lunch/dinner meal that I miss a lot is chicken salad made from leftover rotisserie shreds. Mix in a little mustard, mayo (if you can), dill, thyme, etc, and you have a *great* sandwich started. I never understood tuna salad, frankly, when you could have this instead. Now that I’ve found pouch salmon, though (check the no-metal box and the healthy-fats box), I’m gradually missing my chicken salad a bit less. Because the pouch salmon is already cooked, you really don’t even have to do this in a saute pan, if you’re that short on time. I like to mix in a small skillet some olive oil, the salmon, something crunchy like onions or celery, some carrots and/or peppers, and maybe a few dark greens to wilt. Sometimes I just toss in leftover veggies from stir fry night, actually. Mix it all together to warm, and add in whatever seasonings you like. Since this can’t be a sandwich in my world, but I often require something crunchy to make a meal worthwhile, I like to crush rice crackers or even rice cereal into the salmon mixture. You can eat it with a spoon as is, or you can add it to something else that’s safe for you, like leftover rice, or corn pasta, or a gluten-free tortilla. Either way, it checks off the protein/carb/veggie boxes for at least one meal. And it’s pretty tasty.
And a bonus (like a baker's dozen, but not-quite-halved):
Rice paper rolls
This is my youngest daughter’s new favorite recipe. She’s become my sous chef of sorts, which I love. We saw a Craftsy video that showed viewers how to roll lettuce and stuffing into round rice paper. Egg rolls without the egg?! Spring rolls without the wheat?! I’m in. I ordered these papers, which are unbelievably affordable, and which store well. With some of the WGG Bibb lettuce, some leftover salmon one day and pork another, and a bunch of veggies on hand, we got started. I used my tea kettle to heat water, poured the water into a bowl, and ran the rice paper through the water until it was pliable and see through. On a dinner-sized plate, we layered the rice paper, some lettuce leaves, and a pile of veggies and meat/fish in the middle of it all. Then we rolled, tucked, and rolled some more. Remarkably easy. And delicious. And surprisingly filling. We ate them at room temp one day dipped in a vinaigrette, after refrigeration another day dipped in BBQ sauce. New favorite, indeed. They’re packable, portable, not too messy, all around great. And if you have leftovers in your fridge, they only take as long as it takes you to boil water and spoon in the filling. Enjoy! 😊
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
I made the 2017 Top-40 Food Allergy blogs!
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy