Updated: May 10
One of my main focuses is preparing meals for clients who have dietary restrictions or specific diet plans. It really excites me to be able to help people who have chosen or been forced to make dietary changes and who still want to eat delicious meals. A majority of these clients come to me for weekly meal menus that I can provide in an easy to prepare fashion, and which cater to their specific dietary needs (ketogenic, Paleolithic, low fat, low carb, Dukan, vegan and vegetarian). Like my clients, you may have a goal of weight loss, workout routine diets, or tracking macronutrients. Perhaps, you have a specific health issue that requires a customized, restricted diet.
I believe that any diet or chosen eating lifestyle naturally inspires creativity. What I love most about being a personal chef to clients with restricted diets, health issues, health goals and eating lifestyle choices is that I get to think outside the box when it comes to flavor, texture, ingredients (such as Ayurvedic cookery for thyroid issues), anti-inflammatory, and healthy digestion. The creative element for me as a chef is not to just about maintaining rigid guidelines for dietary needs, but also utilizing alternative food options so that food can be enjoyed in addition meeting specific health needs.
Many of the diets mentioned above require clients to avoid carbs or gluten, both of which can be found in many, many ingredients and recipes due to a traditional reliance on flour and wheat, and people find it difficult to cook for themselves without these ingredients. Because this is my main area of specialization, I have done the research and worked out innumerable recipes that cater to these needs. For instance, you can work with almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, sunflower or pumpkin seed meal and even pork rinds in place of breadcrumbs; cauliflower in place of rice and mashed potatoes; spaghetti squash, zucchini or butternut squash spirals or cabbage in place of noodles; and lettuce leaves in place of buns and wraps. Another good tip is that vegetables grown above ground have a lower carbohydrate level than those grown below ground, though I do use jicama, a root vegetable, as a substitution for potatoes because it is lower in carbohydrates.
It's important to take the time to discuss personal likes and dislikes, dietary needs, portion sizes, and health goals with your family before you take all of this information to plan weekly menus. Next, plan to do your grocery shopping once a week to get the freshest ingredients and prep the ingredients for your meals all at once. This makes mealtime cooking easy, and you won’t be tempted to get restaurant carryout.
When cooking for a special diet, remember your dietary needs, allergens, flavor preferences, macronutrient intakes, and alternative food options, so they fit your family’s needs and your taste buds. The last key ingredient is cooking from the heart. With constant thought toward what you and your family want and need, you will be cooking “Food with Love,” just as I do.