Sunday, December 1, 2013

Super easy grain-free chicken strips

Every once in a while I come up with a dinner creation that both works and was incredibly simple (see first part of sentence where I came up with it). A few weeks back I had such luck with chicken. To temper expectations, I cook for two (what I would consider relatively) picky eaters who have a healthy fear of flavour. As always, you can certainly add flavour to this recipe with your choice of spices, etc.

Ingredients
(Note: These measurements are rough estimates after the fact, but you really can't go too wrong here.)

  • Chicken (I used two breasts, which are not overly flavourful on their own), sliced into good sized strips
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1/2 C almond flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil of your choosing (I use coconut oil when frying like this)
Yes, there's *gasp* some white rice on this plate. I served it up with rice, sweet potato and parsnip fries.

Instructions

  • Put a large pan over medium heat and add a good dollop of coconut oil (I probably used about 2 tablespoons all said and done).
  • Whisk egg and lemon juice in a bowl (I admittedly don't know why I added lemon here, or if it made any difference whatsoever to the recipe. I would omit for lower possible histamine results.)
  • Mix almond flour, salt, pepper, and any other spices you like, in another bowl (or plate with a decent edge to it).
  • Using a few pieces of chicken at a time (so as not to overflow the bowl), dip and cover chicken in egg, followed by a roll in the almond flour mixture.
  • Toss in the pan and fry for a couple minutes on each side, it should get a bit brown and crispy.
  • Serve with your favourite dip, unless you're low histamine, in which case most dips are probably (and very sadly) off limits.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Miracle (but temporary) cure for histamine intolerance

My mom, who is a dietician and first "discovered" histamine intolerance in our family, recently attended an educational session with Dr. Janice Joneja. From what I can tell, Dr. Joneja is THE expert on histamine intolerance (among other mostly food allergy-related topics). During this session, Dr. Joneja confirmed my suspicion that I was indeed experiencing some kind of pregnancy-related relief from HIT symptoms.

This is an excerpt from an earlier article of Dr. Joneja's (this article includes a good food list to avoid - which promises to be both helpful and depressing):

"[...] many women with both allergies and histamine intolerance find significant relief of their symptoms during pregnancy; this is because the placenta makes a great deal of DAO, the enzyme that breaks down histamine. The result is that the level of histamine no longer exceeds the woman’s tolerance threshold, and she remains blissfully free from her symptoms throughout her pregnancy."

Now I ask you: is there anything the placenta can't do? What a fabulous vacation from food bland-ville this has been. In fact, I may decide to simply keep having children until my body refuses. 

As I enter into my last six or so weeks of pregnancy, I am already lamenting the fate that awaits me. As, according to Dr. Joneja, "[...] the symptoms tend to recur once the DAO from the placenta is no longer available after the birth of her child."

For now, I intend to savour my food freedom. Let the bacon, avocado, and condiments flow (for a few more weeks)!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A diet evolving

[Note: This post was originally drafted in April, so I've back-dated it accordingly. I did this because at that point I wasn't publicly pregnant. At just over half way, I figure I'm at least safer now.]

The last several weeks (let's say about 5 weeks) have been exceptional. I find the inside of the fridge off putting, my body must be fed at least every 3 hours, and the mere idea of cooking my regular fare is stomach turning. You see, I'm currently about nine weeks pregnant. And if you've ever been pregnant, you can appreciate it can throw your relationship with food into a bit of a tailspin.

So here's we we stand:

- I have resorted to adding gluten-free bread to my diet. This is due in part to convenience (need to snack seemingly constantly or suffer a ride on the queasy train) and, more importantly, to wonky food aversions and cravings. I'm cutting myself some slack here.
- If I'm to be fully honest here, I've also had more gluten these past weeks than I probably have the two full years prior. Certainly not an everyday occurrence, but I am guilty of enjoying the naan bread with my recent trip for Churchill Arms curry.
- Related to my comment above re cooking, I have no appetite whatsoever for the food I usually eat. The last thing I want first thing in the morning is eggs, and I can't stomach the thought of beef and cooked veggies (least of all sweet potato).
- My intake of fruit has increased, which wasn't a lot to start with and doesn't concern me to a large extent at this point.

Anyhow, I've been thinking a lot about this (temporary) new state and the following have been my observations...

Pros:
- My skin (i.e. eczema) has actually been great. I've been using Aloette Nutri Mist daily, and have reduced my beef intake fairly dramatically. I suspect these are both factors.
- I'm not actually puking (except for one particularly wretched 12-24 hour period the other week when I went too long without eating and the result was the subsequent expulsion of all ingested food/drink items).
- I'm pregnant - yay! We're very excited to give little Molly-Pop a sibling. Note: Molly will not be getting the "twin babies" (boy AND girl) she's been requesting.

Cons:
- My belly is popping out, and popping out quickly. I need to not get carried away here on the "I'm pregnant and am going to eat whatever comes to mind" train. This may prove a bit challenging.
- My energy level is generally taking a nose dive. I'm hopeful trimester two will be better in this regard. Also hoping, of course, that food preferences will balance back to a better neighbourhood.
- My mouth feels yucky, not all the time, but certainly enough. I suspect this is linked to an increase in sugars (natural and otherwise).

So, we'll see how it all turns out.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Cauli-chicken risotto

Risotto is delicious. Even with cauliflower. On its own, cauliflower can be a bland. Even gross. But in fact there are many great things to be made from cauliflower, including "rice". The recipe below is based on a recipe the google told me about on Cynthia Underground. That's usually how I come up with stuff - google x + paleo and boom: endless inspiration.

So here it is, with my modifications...

Ingredients


  • 1 head cauliflower, riced
  • 1/2 to taste olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion (diced)
  • handful of fresh cilantro, diced
  • 1 C zucchini, diced (I gave it a whirl through the food processor, since it was already out for the cauliflower)
  • 1-2 C cooked chicken, cubed*
  • 1/4 C goat cheese**
  • 1/4 C canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 C chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


The ol' iPad doesn't take the best pics.

Instructions:


  • Make cauliflower “rice” using a food processor.
  • Steam or microwave rice for 5 minutes. Set aside (drain/press out any excess liquid)
  • Use a strainer if necessary to press out any addition liquid. Set Aside.
  • Sautee onion, zucchini, and cilantro in the olive in a large frying pan.
  • Add rice, salt, pepper, milk, and broth.
  • Cook until it starts to reduce, about 10 min, add goat cheese, stir.
  • Add pre-cooked chicken, stir.
*I used meat from a BBQ chicken I picked up at the grocery store the day before. In consideration of the increased histamine content from the meat being left over, I popped a diamine oxidase supplement to be safe.
**I've been indulging in (not aged/old) cheese here and there. 1) It doesn't seem to bother me; and 2) I consider it to be a reasonable consolation for my histamine intolerance.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brussels Sprout Chips

I definitely make better vegetables now than I ever did pre-paleo. Once you embrace the (good) fat, there are some delicious things you can do with veggies. For the most part, I roast 'em in the oven with evoo with some salt and pepper. Current favourites include broccoli, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. So simple, so good.

I noticed a while back that when roasting brussels sprouts that the BEST part are the few leaves that manage to separate from their sprout. These orphan leaves become crispy and delicious. Chip-like you might say. And let's be honest - is there anyone who doesn't like the odd chip-like experience? I don't think so.

So this is hardly a recipe at all, but just a quick and easy suggestion of what to do with your brussels sprouts. The ones I cooked the other night were beautiful (though it didn't occur to me to take a pre-pic), and although they themselves were not locally grown, I did purchase them from Riverview Country Market.

I probably should have left these in a bit longer, but you get the idea.


Ingredients:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Olive oil (or coconut oil, or whatever fat you like)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pull leaves off sprouts
  3. Toss 'em with some oil
  4. Lay them out on a lined baking sheet (preferably allowing each his/her own space)
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching pretty carefully after the 10 minute mark
I find that whenever making chip-like veggies (sweet potato, kale, etc.), it often pays to leave them in longer that you think (and/or want) to. This gives them more opportunity to crisp-en. For your brussels sprouts, you want to see a good number of brown/black bits before taking them out.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Low histamine for the long run / salad dressing discovery

If I'm to be completely truthful, my diet has been less than great lately. It's not only the weight gain that tells me so, but other cues like skin issues, lower energy level, and less *ahem* regularity. If you will allow me, I'll play the low histamine complainer card for just a moment... Oh, to be simply paleo!

In more specific terms, here's my assessment of the problem:
- Working too much, so other (real) life needs going unmet (such as CrossFit)
- Getting bitter about low histamine restrictions
- Getting tired of limited options

As a result of the factors above, I'm:
- Snacking instead of eating proper meals (with few well balanced low histamine + paleo options)
- Not working out enough
- Eating out more than usual (which still isn't a whole lot as compared to pre-paleo, but more than necessary due to depleted lunch stocks in the freezer)
- Letting gluten-free crap (i.e. bread, cookies) creep into diet to make up for missed traditional paleo options (a reaction to the bitterness referenced above)

So what am I going to do about it? I've been tossing around a few approaches in my brain:
  1. Go strict low histamine paleo for 30 days to reset
  2. Re-prioritize where I use my "willing to take my chances eating this high histamine food" credits (e.g. from chocolate to avocado)
  3. Revert some meals (e.g. quick dinners, weekend lunches) to regular ol' paleo (e.g. left over meat, tomatoes, bacon, whatever) with the help of a DAO supplement

For the past two days, I've been taking a combo of approaches 2 and 3. I already feel better and eczema-wise, my skin is (knock on wood) in pretty good shape. One of the "indulgences" as I revert back to some of my pre-low histamine paleo foods includes salad (which may actually seem sad). A salad without vinegar of some kind doesn't do a lot for me. That, coupled with the typical histamine-prone salad additions like less-than-fresh meat, tomatoes, avocado, vinegar, bacon, cheese, etc., had reduced my salad eating to periodic treats while eating out (and accompanied by a DAO pill).

President's Choice makes this delicious lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil. The grape tomatoes are another shouldn't have treat, but I live on the edge sometimes.

I was intrigued when I recently discovered lemon infused extra virgin olive oil. I wondered if this would give my salad enough taste and liquid, more than I'd get from choking down a green salad with only olive oil to dress it. This oil is simply evoo with lemon extract. I realize citrus is (yet another) item on the histamine hit list, but I figure a bit of lemon extract will surely have less impact on my histamine threshold than a good serving of balsamic vinegar. Well it turns out it absolutely does the trick. It's now worth having salads again. It's now worth buying greens again.

And so, having had enough symptoms of deteriorating health to alert me, I'm getting back on track. For now, I don't have a strict 30 in the plans, but you never know. Now that I know it's the histamine intolerance that's causing my eczema, it's actually harder to go really strict low histamine. Rather, I tend to maintain a small amount of rash that is a price worth paying for the most part.

For those of you in the histamine intolerance camp - how have you managed to regulate your diet in a sustainable way? Or perhaps you are more sensitive than I, where any symptoms are too many symptoms and strict is the only way to go.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Finally histamine intolerance talk in Paleo community


If you've been paleo for any length of time, you're probably familiar with Chris Kresser, and his site The Healthy Skeptic. Chris recently published an article about histamine intolerance in those who have switched to a clean diet. 


From time to time I reflect on why I continue to follow a paleo/primal approach to eating after it "gave me" a histamine intolerance. Here's why:

  1. I still feel better this way.
  2. I'm proud of my grocery cart.
  3. I want to maintain the same high standard of food I insist for my daughter. In other words, if I wouldn't let her have something, I probably shouldn't be eating it either.
  4. Pandora's box is open. I'm pretty sure there's only one way out of this predicament, and that's a low histamine diet. Re-introducing grains, etc. will do nothing to save me at this point.

Anyhow, the article is not lengthly, but worth the read. It's also interesting to read through the comments on a site like his, which no doubt gets a whole lot of traffic. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

How I treat coffee

I've been reflecting on coffee today. You see, up until about a year and a half ago, I was not a partaker. I eventually started drinking coffee for a few (not compelling) reasons: the social element, reduced sleep-in ops that come with parenthood (i.e. slow to warm-up in the morning), and the neat Keurig machine at my new office at the time. Coffee also seemed to have a bit of a paleo feel/acceptance, as there seemed to be a number of folks who regularly enjoyed a heavy cream/coconut milk/almond milk version.

For the last year and a half, I've been drinking coffee with whipping(!) cream about five days per week (Monday to Friday). With the odd exception when breakfasting or brunching out, I don't drink coffee on weekends. I feel this approach keeps my coffee drinking "in check" (like sugar, I try to keep some discipline over addictive foods). What's interesting about this intermittent approach is that I observe the impact of coffee fairly regularly. For example, some Saturdays I find I have a dull headache for a good part of the day, or my energy level isn't what it should be. I generally take this scenario to mean I've had too much coffee through the week (note to self: keep it at one cup a day).

Regular coffee with a  good helping of whipping cream.

On the flip side, my Monday re-introduction to caffeine often results in the jitters - especially those odd Monday mornings when I tell myself I need that second cup. On a related note, I've been on an enviable stretch of post-Christmas leave from work this week. As a result, I've only had one coffee Monday morning with a friend, and another coffee date this morning (Friday). This morning I enjoyed a real chai latte (not that syrup crap), plus a regular coffee (which was absolutely not necessary). Since the coffee, I've been buzzing like hummingbird. It's a weird feeling I'm not sure I like. On the upside, I've done quite a few chores around the house.

So, with these considerations and observations in mind, I'm formalizing my personal rules guidelines for coffee consumption:
  • Limit coffee days to no more than five days per week
  • Limit individual servings on any coffee day to one
  • Do not drink any coffee concoctions with sweetener (especially that syrup nonsense)
  • Resist the temptation to by a fancy coffee maker for home
  • Do not let these (perfectly reasonable) guidelines make you batty about coffee drinking

Anyone else out there conscious about coffee consumption? 

Note: I don't find coffee to bother me from a histamine perspective. My brother suggests it does negatively affect his eczema, despite it being "allowed" according to the International Chronic Urticaria Society.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm not one to take pills, BUT...

I want to be clear here - I was raised in a home where you more or less had to have an arm hanging off before there was a visit to the doctor, let alone taking medications of any kind. I'm not inclined to 'take stuff' aside from, say, vitamins. However, I also cannot accept a life without tomatoes, wine, chocolate, condiments, etc.

Much to my relief, there is a 'supplement' for histamine intolerance. It's essentially the diamine oxidase enzyme (DAO) sourced from pigs (porcine kidney) in capsule form. You take one or two capsules with your food and the idea is your body then has the DAO to balance out the histamine.

So does it work?
Yes, I think it helps. Of course, nothing beats a low histamine diet, which should be the first defence. But we're all human, and every now and again it's nice to indulge in beef jerky or aged cheese. I believe taking DAO with my histamine-filled holiday meals did help reduce my symptoms (eczema) from bad to something fairly manageable.

Where to get it
My first DAO experience was with Histame, but they are expensive. To my pre-Christmas delight, I found a better source in Swanson Health Products. I've only ordered from them once so far, but it was a good experience - reasonable shipping to Canada, and the package arrived within only a week or so if I recall (my Histame seemed to take forever).