Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a silent disease that does not get a lot of press because of the unpleasant nature of the disease, and what it does to the people that are afflicted with it. Many people are uncomfortable talking about their disease, while others are entirely open to sharing their story and experiences. Marnina falls into the latter category. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease (one of the two diseases that falls under IBD) at the age of 15. Her story will be available to read soon. In short, Crohn’s Disease sufferers have inflammation in some part of their GI tract, which can cause diarrhea, intestinal discomfort/pain, weight loss and other unpleasant symptoms. Often, the symptoms can be so severe that patients require hospitalization and surgery. Some IBD sufferers are tube-fed because their body cannot absorb nutrients from regular food, some follow a restricted diet and others can eat almost anything until their Crohn’s “flares.” Marnina falls somewhere in the middle.
Following a ‘Crohn’s friendly’ diet can be a real challenge. There is no set diet that is recommended for individuals with Crohn’s, so it is often up to the patient to determine what works best through trial and error. However there are some generalities that most Crohn’s sufferers follow. In general, high fiber foods are difficult to digest and cause more inflammation. Marnina avoids all food that has high fiber. Raw fruits and vegetables, seeds and whole grains often cause increased inflammation too. Fried, fatty and sugary foods also tend to be problematic. While Marnina’s Crohn’s diet may seem limiting, she really does still have a lot of flexibility when cooking!
While there are many recipes that are geared towards individuals with Crohn’s Disease, many of these recipes are bland and unexciting. We have made it our goal to find and share Crohn’s friendly recipes that are already delicious, or find recipes to jazz up and make “Crohn’s friendly.” Most of the dishes we make are our own creations, are found online, are recipes that were provided by friends and family members, or were taken from our favorite cookbooks.
Our blog’s inaugural dish is a twist on a quintessentially American food: burgers. This dish is a vegetarian’s (and vegan’s!) dream because it is loaded with veggies, but still provides the thick, filling satiety of a meat burger. The burger also incorporates a Middle Eastern flare with the addition of cumin, as well as hummus, which is used to help all the diced veggies stick together. You will notice that we love to add Middle Eastern spices to the dishes because Marnina has an unwavering love for the Middle East.
To understand why we picked this dish, Marnina and I had been on a veggie-spree lately, and few veggies have evaded our sights (and our stomachs). However, there was one veggie that had successfully escaped our kitchen blades, and that was the eggplant. I had purposefully been trying to avoid cooking with eggplant because I have never had success with it, but after much debate, we decided it was time to buy one of those purple bad-boys.
As a rule, Marnina is very careful when eating eggplant because the seeds can be problematic for her Crohn’s. She avoids the vegetable when she is feeling sick. This recipe is very Crohn’s-friendly because the contents are pureed in a food processor, making them easy to digest. Also note that the recipe includes cannellini beans which are high fiber. By pureeing the beans and then cooking them, they become less fibrous.
The burgers are incredibly easy to make, especially if you have a food processor or an immersion blender. We also made a tahini sauce to top the burger. We ate the burgers in homemade onion rosemary focaccia but they can be eaten in any type of bun.
The burger and tahini sauce recipes can be found below, after the pictures:
(Disclaimer: These pictures were taken with a smartphone and are therefore not great quality. Marnina and I will be investing in a new camera, so we promise these pictures will be more ‘eye-catching’ soon enough!)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 14 ounce can cannellini beans
- ¼ cup diced pepper (any color)
- ½ an eggplant (should equal about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts (we omitted this because Marnina cannot eat nuts)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup classic hummus (or your favorite flavor hummus)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- tomato, sliced for topping (optional) (we roasted a sliced tomato with balsamic vinegar)
- lettuce, for topping (optional) (omitted because Marnina cannot eat raw vegetables)
Tahini Sauce ingredients:
- 1/3 cup sesame tahini
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roast the eggplant by cutting it into about 1/4″ slices and brushing each side with olive oil.
- Bake for 10 minutes on one side, then flip the slices and bake for another 5 minutes.
- While the eggplant is roasting, place the diced red onion and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions soften (watch the onions so that they do not burn).
- Once the eggplant is done and you remove it from the oven, turn the oven down to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the eggplant, onion, beans, bell pepper, parsley, pine nuts, garlic, sea salt and cumin into a large bowl.
- Add the hummus and stir.
- Place the mixture into a food processor and blend everything together. It should only take about 15 seconds.
- Pour the mixture back into a bowl, stir in the breadcrumbs, and use your hands to make four large patties.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Place the patties on the foil and bake for 45 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
- While the burgers are baking, make the tahini sauce by tossing all of the ingredients into a food processor and blending until fully combined.
- Remove the burgers from the oven and eat!
Adapted from: www.thetolerantvegan.com