I recently received this email from one of my readers. It’s a heart-warming story describing what some of us are going through when we have medical issues that are related to something we often take for granted: eating food.

Please read and let me know your thoughts.

“My name is Rodney. I have purchased your Eat More, Burn More cookbook. It looks interesting with many good and tasty looking recipes. I am hoping that you can help me (and my wife) with possible suggestions for IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) and food allergies.

My wonderful wife has been diagnosed with IBS and is specifically very allergic to Onion and Garlic in ANY form. Tonight I am planning on making the “Old-Fashioned Meatloaf” recipe, minus the onion, from the cookbook. The Worcestershire sauce (French’s brand) does have ‘dehydrated garlic powder,’ however, I’m taking the chance that with it being the second to last ingredient in it, and only 2 teaspoons for the sauce, that it might just be small enough not to bother her.

Question – Do you have any recommendations for substitutes for onion and garlic to give taste to recipes that call for them in some form?

I primarily do the cooking for us, and am working on doing most of the shopping. (We were just recently married.) She does enjoy the things I make. I just want to do everything I can to help her minimize and avoid things that irritate, inflame, and cause pain in the “gut,” stomach through colon.

ANY help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for any help and suggestions you may be able to offer.” – Rodney

Hi Rodney. Thanks so much for your question, and for being a part of the Eat More Burn More family. I’m touched by your story, and how you are stepping up to cook for your wife in spite of such a restrictive disease. You have all my respect and support.

Some of your questions may be above the scope of my knowledge. IBS requires expert guidance and I am not qualified to deliver that guidance (I’m just a chef!). It’s best if you consult your doctor or nutritionist regarding IBS and food allergies.

Having said that, I can help in finding substitutes.

Regarding the meatloaf, yes, please avoid the onion and leave out the Worcestershire sauce. That’s not a problem; you probably won’t taste the difference.

Do not hesitate in avoiding the minor ingredients in my recipes.

There is no real replacement for onions and garlic (they are so unique in taste). However, here is a Mediterranean trick: use anchovies (I did not see it on the “forbidden” food list for IBS but please double check for me). Anchovies can be cooked in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil to give a lot of taste to a dish. They melt (yes!) so you won’t find them in the dish, and the taste is actually very subtle. Use them as you would use onion or garlic. For instance, you can cook them in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil to start the dish you’re making, then proceed with your recipe.

I hope this helps.

Gui Alinat

Gui Alinat is a Tampa, Fla.-based American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef, published food writer, and the owner of Artisan Boutique Catering. He is the author of "The Chef's Repertoire," and "Eat More, Burn More." Born, raised and classically trained as a chef on the Mediterranean coast of France, he traveled extensively, working in restaurants around the world. Chef Gui promotes an active lifestyle, sound nutrition, and believes that fresh and tasty food is resolutely compatible with fat loss and bodybuilding alike. He lives in Florida with his wife Carissa and their five children.

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