WARNING: the foods we cook for Abby are safe for her, but not necessarily for everyone. Please confirm any ingredients are safe for you before using in your diet. Food Allergies can kill and the best policy is complete avoidance. Read this post for more info.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vietnamese Market

As we have worked through changing our foods in our house, we have also become more curious.

Learning to eat and cook gluten free really opened me to trying flours I had never even heard of before. Besan flour(chickpea),Teff flour, sweet rice flour, sweet potato flour, taro flour, Jerusalem artichoke flour, millet, buckwheat...

We have really learned to love these new foods in our diet and also found many recipes that are used in different cultures. It has been really fun to try new foods and surprising that many other cultures don't use wheat,corn, and dairy in the majority of their cooking.

Yesterday we wandered into a Vietnamese Market over by Greenspoint(locally know as Gunspoint! Not the safest part of the town) in Houston. The Grocery was beyond amazing, terrific and nearly corn-free!

First thing we noticed(besides being the only white lady in there!)was each product contains very few ingredients. If you buy a can of coconut milk- that is it in the can- just water and coconut milk. No guar gum, xanthan, citric acid, asorbic,sulfites.no natural flavors or colors. etc.. their rice was all unfortified, the produce so fresh I felt like they might just have a garden right behind the grocery.

Their food in general is clean of corn and dairy. I did find a few items that used corn or dairy but rare and clearly marked. Of course Soy is a popular food but it seemed that they did a good job of keeping it separate.

So I filled my cart! Rice flours, potato starch, taro flours, coconut sugars, rice, agar agar, tea's, fresh ginger root, mung sprouts..

IT was HEAVEN! :-)

Now the scary part- having Abby try it all. If there is even a trace of anything she is allergic to her body will tell us pretty fast. Fingers crossed.

The best part, it was cheap, really really and affordable.

If you haven't shopped an Asian market before a few things can overwhelm you. First the smells. We sterilize everything in our markets and if we smell "food" in the store we all assume that is a bad thing.. not so! The asian markets smell very strongly of the earth, fish, and vegetation. We have always enjoyed Asian markets where ever we have lived so we know and expect the smell, and it doesn't bother us at all. Another thing that can overwhelm you is that nothing is familiar. It can seem very overwhelming to see rows and rows of food that you have never seen before! We started in the flours and sugar aisle because I knew what I wanted there. Then we slowly wandered the store. The produce and fish counter are always very very busy in most Asian markets and this Vietnamese Market was no different. Next time we go in we will buy fish- seriously fresh, you can even buy a lot of fish/shellfish live! You won't find a "butcher counter" in most, though if they have beef and pork it will be near the fish counter. No dairy or butter or yogurt aisle. Usually no bakery, but some fresh "breads/pastries" are usually in the front of the store. This particular market had a "deli" which Derek looked longingly at the menu looked great and the food we saw coming out looked delicious- maybe next time!

I found a bag of taro flour that I could not resist. Taro is a very interesting root vegetable that has a really great nutrition profile. It is not safe to eat raw, but soaking and cooking or soaking,drying and processing make it safe. Very popular in Polynesian foods(Poi anyone?) but also popular in many types of Asian cooking. No idea how to use it, but I am sure going to have fun trying!

In Houston we have a large Vietnamese population and you can find these markets all around town. We don't have much as far as Japanese goes which we miss from Seattle. We find though that as far as Abby's dietary needs go, Vietnamese is cleaner then Japanese packaged foods so we are glad to explore their food.

I almost bought a durian fruit- they are a delicacy, but the kicker is that they stink, I mean really stink! They stink so badly that many airlines have banned them from folks carrying on board.. They also are supposed to have a unique texture- that being said, you either love it or hate! I suspect we won't like it, but still curiosity makes me want to experience if for myself- maybe next time!


Kristy Williams said...

We have an asian grocer that I walked into a few years ago when starting this alternative eatinf with son. It was overwhelming and I ended up being too chicken to try. My sis-in-law is chinese and will be seeing her over the holidays. Hoping she can educate me enough to brave trying some stuff! I can't wait to hear how Abby's trials go. Good luck!

Diane said...

:-) It is a very different experience! Now I enjoy it once I get past the stares, I always wonder what they are thinking about me in their store- hoping they are wishing more of us would shop with them! :-)

we have found at least in Houston, the chinese imports and japanese imports have MSG and blend more products. At this grocery there were HUGE bags of MSG on the shelves- made me a touch nervous about cross contamination... this morning she ate the glutenous rice thai waffles I made with no issue at all! So hoping at least the basics are clean- I suspect if I bought cookies or other premade foods with them they would be contaminated - pre made anything is just out these days :-) Let me know what your sister in law shares, I am just tickled with my treasure I found!

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