Two amateur cooks explore the world of cooking for a Crohn's and Colitis diet

Archive for December, 2011

The IBD Guide to Eating Out

While Marnina and I really enjoy cooking, we never turn down the opportunity to occasionally have someone else cook for us.  We do not eat out very often, maybe once a week, often on Saturday nights.  We relish these occasions because it represents one meal we do not have to plan, and we also enjoy trying new restaurants and cuisines.  We have our pick of any cuisine (the Washington, D.C. area offers every cuisine you can imagine), and believe me, we do our research before we head out.  There have been nights where we have debated for nearly an hour about which cuisine to eat, and then when we do finally choose a cuisine, we spend an additional 20-30 minutes looking online for restaurants that are well-reviewed, within our price range, within our driving range, and of course, that offer IBD-friendly food.  Over time (after visiting hundreds of restaurants together over the course of 5+ years), certain cuisines have stood out as more IBD-friendly than others.

We have assembled this IBD restaurant guide partly because we have yet to find one online.  The average American eats out several times a week, and those with IBD often have a more difficult time choosing IBD-safe foods at restaurants or even finding a restaurant that meets their dietary needs.  In creating the guide, we wanted to provide the “average” IBDer with some practical knowledge of each cuisine, and to give tips on how to navigate a menu and order food when dining and exploring various cuisines.  We hope the guide will become a tool for those with IBD to allow them to make smarter choices.  We also hope to expand it to include additional information (by no means is this guide an exhaustive review of each cuisine!), and in the future we hope to add lesser-known cuisines, such as Korean, Afghan, and El Salvadorian.  Feel free to add your own thoughts about the guide, which cuisine you prefer, IBD-friendly restaurants that you recommend, or even certain dishes that you always order because they are “safe” for you.

The guide includes a range of grades ranging from A+ to an F for each of the cuisines.  We based our grading system on the following 5 factors:

1) The food itself
2) The variety of food offered that is generally IBD-friendly
3) The willingness of the chefs to modify dishes to meet certain needs
4) The knowledge of the serving staff
5) The nutritional benefits of the cuisine
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Roasted Parsnip Soup with Mushrooms


Parsnips are an anomaly.  When roasted, they are sweet and slightly spicy.  They are just as versatile as carrots.  And after comparing their nutritional makeup using nutritiondata.com, they are richer in vitamins and minerals than carrots. So why aren’t they as ubiqutous as their close relative, the carrot? We have no idea, and unfortunately, parsnips often languish in produce sections in favor of their more popular and brighter relative.

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Fake Mac’n Cheese

Marnina and I enjoy taking traditional, everyday foods and turning them into unconventional creations (see Fake-Sausage Cacciatore and Shepherd’s Pie recipes).  Marnina’s dietary needs and my interest in eating healthy foods have produced some unusual combinations of food.  Just this past week, we made a spaghetti and tomato sauce dish, except we substituted your typical spaghetti pasta for spaghetti squash, which is more tender than it is chewy. (more…)

IBD Stew + Soup = STOUP!

An inflammatory bowel disease “attack” can be frustrating and exhausting, and sometimes even embarrassing (if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and don’t have immediate access to a bathroom).  Recently, Marnina had an attack that caused her to use the bathroom about 5 times within a 3 hour span.  She attributed the attack to not going to the bathroom the previous day, and then running 5 miles the next morning.  Her intestines literally went into hyper-drive after running, and she nearly ran another 5 miler going to and from the bathroom!   She decided to eat light the rest of the day because her stomach was on “the edge” as she says.  If she challenged herself with something mildly fibrous, difficult to digest, or something entirely new, she would fall over that edge and risk the onset of stomach pain, or possibly another attack.

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