Hello Blogoshpere Family,
I am hoping all of you cooks and food bloggers out there can put on your collective hats and help me help a friend. She has end stage liver disease and is on the donor list awaiting transplant. Given that the doctors told her she would die almost 2 years ago, and there is no way to know if or when a donor liver will become available, she is striving to live every day to its fullest. I very much want to help her in whatever small way I can since knowing her has been such a blessing and inspiration to me. She is very positive, loving, and accepting of her circumstances, and is truly kind and helpful to others she meets. The best way I know to help her, other than being her friend, is to try to help solve her food dilemma. Feeding people is, after all, among my most polished skills. The limitations of her diet are challenging my creativity, and I could use some help.
This is where you come in. I need any and every recipe idea you might have for vegetarian dishes that are salt, sugar, and dairy free – with an emphasis on flavor but not too much spice. Citrus is OK in limited amounts – zest is better than juice. Carbs such as pasta and breads are OK as long as they are salt and sugar free – so I am baking breads and making pizza crusts for her. She can’t eat large portions of anything, so I am hoping to come up with a few tasty items that she likes that she can freeze in portion size and just heat and eat when desired. Most fruits and veggies are good, though the fruits have to be limited because of the sugars. Also, it is best that she eat all veggies cooked (at least heated to 160F) because of the risk of bacterial infection from raw food – so ideas for poached dishes would be great. As you can imagine, she suffers some malnutrition as a result of her condition and is trying to retain what muscle mass she has left through diet and walking.
You can look up liver disease diets online and you will find lists of do’s and don’ts. But every person is different in what they can tolerate and what they can’t. She has added to the basic list of don’ts with experimentation. She has become an unwilling vegetarian just because the animal meats don’t agree with her. She is limited to about 30 grams of protein a day. Eggs are still OK, as are most plant proteins. Because of the salt content, cheese is pretty much out, as is tofu (packaged foods are just too high in sodium – period). Canned anything is also out for the same reason. Beans are great as long as dried beans are used (again, the sodium is a problem in canned beans). Her fluid intake is also very restricted, so soups and stews are not a viable option, though a nice sauce to be drizzled on her foods would be welcome (especially if it can be frozen in an ice cube tray and defrosted one cube at a time). Pizza was one of her favorite things. She can’t have traditional pizza, but I am formulating a special sauce and crust for her. I am looking for more topping ideas, as cheese is also not a viable option. She has a big sweet tooth, so recipes for sweets using sugar substitutes would also be helpful. Again, anything that can be cut into portions and frozen, or prepared in small amounts, would be very helpful.
It is my hope to provide an improved quality of life for my friend by providing her with a collection of recipes and preparing some foods for her that she can truly enjoy without the very uncomfortable and potentially hazardous consequences of “cheating” on her diet. She likes to cook but sometimes doesn’t have the strength. She loves food and misses many of the flavors and textures that she enjoyed so much in the past. I would like to give her the gift of good eating, as good as it can be within her restrictions. Your help is very much appreciated, and your name and blog information will be provided to her with the recipes I give her, along with any notes or well-wishes you may care to include. Please share this with as many cooks as you can – any and all ideas are appreciated!
If you have recipes in plain text or PDF documents that you would like to contribute, feel free to send them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m calling this project “Cooking for M” and have added a menu category for it – I will post all recipes I receive to my blog under that category so that everyone can access them. Maybe you know someone who could benefit from them as well.
Thank you for your help in advance. I know my friend will very much appreciate it too!