What Meals Can I Cook Without Garlic, Onion, or Spices?

updated May 2, 2019
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Q: I have a friend that I’ll be cooking for once a week or so for the next several months, and I need some help. You see, he has a garlic/onion allergy, and terrible acid reflux. So — no garlic, onion, peppers (even bell), spicy foods, cream-based sauces, tomato-based sauces. No acidic or overly greasy food of any kind. Oh — plus, just to make it extra fun, he hates all seafood.

My normal recipes are a mix of Italian, Mexican, Thai, and Middle Eastern — garlic, onion, acid, and spice galore. Anyone have any recipes to share that are high in flavor but within my friend’s tolerance level?

Sent by Erica

Editor: Erica, wow! That is indeed a tall order. But it’s not as hard as you might think. There are other ways to build flavor, apart from garlic and onions. There are many whole grains (quinoa, spelt, barley) that are actually quite nutty and flavorful on their own, without spices or savory additions, especially when they are toasted before cooking. Also, look for Jain recipes, which also do not call for onions or garlic (although they do call for spices, so you’ll have to adapt). Look for simple, elemental French and Italian recipes that are built out of just a few whole foods: Poached tender chicken in broth with a salad and brown rice, good pasta tossed with a few vegetables, or a baked dish of potatoes and chicken broth. Also look for IBS-friendly recipes, as these will probably be very suited to your friend’s dietary needs.

Here is one other post on this topic, with some good ideas:

Readers, what suggestions do you have for Erica?

(Image: Emma Christensen)