Food allergies suck. Most food that is easily accessible is unsuitable for anyone with the big 8 allergens. It’s even worse for those of us who have more than one. And forget about dining out at most restaurants! Comfort food can be hard to come by once you start cutting allergens out of your diet. Often it’s your favorite meals that are what’s causing trouble for you. On occasion though, I get lucky with a staple dish or easy meal that doesn’t take much to adjust. For me, the meal that’s been through a thousand iterations and always remained simple has been Lemon Pepper Beef.
Overcoming Cooking Hurdles
Over the last few years, since we started Homesteading, we’ve had the time to suss out what agrees with our taste buds and our bodies. But we are still discovering things, like Kelsey’s allergy to walnuts we found out last month. And, even though I love cooking, some days my chronic pain saps my energy or my drive and I just don’t want to. Other days I hyperfocus on a project and forget to take a break to eat, drink water, or stretch. By the time I snap out of it, I’ve used up all my spoons. This is when super simple recipes comes in handy.
A lot of the time, dealing with food allergies means trying to imitate a flavor or texture that just doesn’t seem to work right. Cooking is equal parts science and art. Many chemical reactions only take place between specific ingredients or at certain temperatures. Wanting to know why certain things happen means I spend significant time perusing cookbooks like Allergy Cooking with Ease: The No Wheat, Milk, Eggs, Corn, Soy, Yeast, Sugar, Grain, and Gluten Cookbook by Nicolette M Dumke. Unfortunately though, some favorite meals just have to be removed all together because it’s too complicated to adjust their recipes.
The Humble Beginnings of Lemon Pepper Beef
It started as a last minute “pantry raid” meal when I was in college with basic ingredients: white rice, lemon pepper seasoning, and the only thing in my fridge at the time, ground beef. It was quick and easy. Just steam the rice, cook the ground beef, throw them together on a plate, and top with lemon pepper seasoning.
I started adding chopped scallions (aka green onions) on top as a fancy garnish and a dash of soy sauce (before I knew I had a soy intolerance). On occasion I’d throw in mushrooms, garlic, ginger, bean sprouts, or whatever I happened to have on hand that sounded good at the time.
Then we started raising sheep and I needed to learn how to cook lamb in more than one way. As much as I love kofta, I can’t eat it everyday. So I subbed in ground lamb instead of ground beef and we liked it better!
After we learned I couldn’t handle gluten we switched to tamari instead of soy sauce. Then we discovered I couldn’t have soy, so we tried coconut aminos. Eventually I just added sea salt for the salty taste I was after and called it good.
But that still presented a problem with the lemon pepper seasoning, since the anti-caking agent usually had one of my allergens. So we switched to grinding our own black peppercorn and tried adding dried lemon peel, fresh lemon juice, or my homemade lemon extract. They all have their own merits and I use whichever one I have on hand at the time.
Current Lemon Pepper Beef Version
Now I make it with brown rice cooked in our own homemade chicken stock or herbal bone broth, homegrown garlic chives or re-grown green onions, and a homemade Lemon Pepper seasoning. Usually this consists of dried lemon peel and home-ground black peppercorns. Sometimes I’ll also have mung bean sprouts I’ve grown recently to top it all off.