My personal chef business has evolved through the years. I still cook for families and elevate little palates while bringing peace to their parents at dinnertime. But I cook for a lot of special needs clients now. They are not disabled the way those descriptives might imply. They just need to pay extra attention to what goes into their bodies to provide optimum health. And they need someone else to be in charge of meeting their dietary needs. That's me!
I was the transition between hospital and home for a very young eating disordered girl. That job stretched off and on for two years. Usually, it's a shorter period of time where someone is recovering from a surgery and has certain restrictions. Many throat surgeries and cosmetic neck surgeries have required a menu of soups and purées. I've also partnered with trainers and nutritionists to keep their clients on track with their prescribed food plans.
My services are often paid for by friends and family when their loved ones are going through chemotherapy or as they start their cancer treatments. Such generous gestures. I make recovering patients lives a little bit easier as they start their journey of healing. I'm often 'gifted' to expectant or new mothers as they go through the transition of becoming a mother. Their plates are already so full. It feels so good to be of service during someone else's time of need.
A few weeks ago an incredibly generous woman contacted me about cooking for her friend's husband. He just had tumors removed and was placed on a low residue diet. God bless Google because I had to look that one up.
It turns out that when we ingest fiber (raw vegetables, grains, etc) it requires a little more work from our digestive systems AND it leaves a residue. Dairy is often problematic with a low residue diet too so it's good to avoid that too. Smooth food, easily digestible dishes: enriched pastas, puddings, vegetable purées, soups. Comfort food that literally brings comfort to the gut as it processes. Basically, my cuisinart food processor and I do all the fine chopping and mashing, so my new client's digestive system can get all the fuel and nutrients it needs with less effort.
I have loved these few weeks cooking for this family. I love my little culinary assignments. I love that I am adding ease and love to someone's life since they've been thrown a curve.
Low residue. I've thought so much about those words. Am I living a low residue life? Not my diet, but in my relationships. My work. My spiritual life. Are there things I do or say that are hard for others to digest? Am I getting the spiritual, emotional, nutritional fuel I need that helps me run the most efficiently?
A low residue life plays into minimalism, carbon footprint, monitoring waste and recyclables. I could do better. How are your residue levels? Food for thought.
One of the low residue nondairy items I made this special couple was a vegan Mac and Cheese. You read that right. It seems almost sacrilege to even put the V word next to Mac and C! This recipe ensures that no one is denied some cheesy elbows.
My secret is making a carrot bechamel. No flour, no butter, no dairy. It's kind of food magic. You can even use gluten free pasta and gluten free breadcrumbs and appeal to an even broader special food needs audience!
Vegan Macaroni And Cheese
Steam or roast a pound of carrots until they are super soft. Put them in the food processor with 2 tablespoons coconut oil, a cup of daiya cheese or your favorite non dairy cheese, salt, pepper, and cracked red pepper. Boil the elbows in salted water, drained but kept 1/4 cup water. Mix the carrot with reserved water and pasta. Nonstick spray a casserole dish and fill. Melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil or Earth Balance (my favorite nondairy butter.). Stir in enough bread crumbs to absorb the 'butter' or oil. Let cool a teeny bit and stir in another cup of the shredded non dairy cheese. That's your topping. Spread it out on top of the carrot bechamel and noodle mixture.. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. If you want the pasta cheesier than the topping, add more to that mixture and less to breadcrumb.