Monday, November 29, 2010

Rewriting recipes for allergies, avoiding micro contaminants

Sorry for my silence, I've had a series of surgeries since July. Most recently November 16th I was in surgery for 8 hours. All went well, and I'm healing up nicely. It's more challenging than expected, but I have wonderful support in Patch, Carlie, Jenn, and friends like Milo and Henry stopping by to keep me company and give Patch and Carlie breaks. Doctor Heather Miracle Maven even stopped by for a home visit right after surgery.

Since Jenn helped me type up my allergies to put on the fridge and take to the nutritionist at the surgical center, I have been doing much better about avoiding allergens. Nothing I have intentionally put into my mouth has made me sick. 3 things have given me allergic reactions: Magnesium Citrate used for surgical prep. They gave me Lemon/Lime, and it turns out I had instant hives. Some pain med in the hospital (have to find out which one, Jenn wrote it down) and a roasted almond that crept onto a plate of "ants on a log" I'd made for Thanksgiving appetizers.  

I also was diagnosed as prediabetic, although I have gotten my numbers down over the last couple of months through exercise and dietary changes. Just paying attention to portion sizes and trying to get the omega 3, calcium, fruits and vegetables, fiber and protein seem to be enough of a change for me to really see significant changes. I lost 40 pounds before surgery, making my surgeon VERY happy.

One thing I've been doing since I've been laid up is to read a recipe in a diabetes magazine, or some other health magazine, and rewrite it so that the person cooking for me can make it. The hardest thing to avoid seems to be sugars. I'm not allowed to have AT ALL  the following items until after at least 2 months (I decided on February in order to give myself and those who sometimes cook for me time to get used to avoiding the nono list) and one of them (yeast) did sneak in on Thanksgiving in the form of a roasted almond (why they put yeast in the powder on the almond I do not know) but I think that's OK, because I'll still be allergin free for 2 months. It was scary and itchy with the swelling up of the lips and throat, but I never had a problem breathing, the benedril was enough and the EPI Pen never had to be used. After February I may start adding certain things back SLOWLY into my diet such as corn, beef, and bananas. But that is a whole process of one item a week, so VERY slowly adding them back into the diet and seeing home my body responds. For now, we are being HYPER careful to avoid the things on the Prohibited Foods List:

Here's the Prohibited Foods list for the next 2 months:
Apple, Banana, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Pineapple, Plum, Watermelon

Hops, Millet, White Flour

Nuts and Seeds:
Pecan, Sesame
Baker's Yeast, Black tea, Brewer's Yeast, Cilantro, Ginger, Green Tea, Lavendar, Mustard, Vanilla, Chocolate, drinking Alcohol, Soy
Beef, Chicken, Codfish, Salmon, Crab, Eggs, Lamb (shoot, glad I typed this up, was gonna have Carlie cook up some lamb stew in the crock pot for tonight)

Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Corn, Cucumber, White potatoes, Mushroom, Squash
Maple Syrup
Cane Sugar (or ANY Processed sugars)
High Fructose Corn Syrup


Some of these foods are harder to avoid than others. For example carrots show up in many packaged foods that don't have sugar, apples or bananas are a common replacement for sweetener or eggs when baking, and generally avoiding beef and chicken means it is virtually impossible to eat out. 

Now that i'm getting used to the list tho, we are doing a lot of cooking from whole foods at home which means we know EXACTLY what is in everything, and we are doing a lot of vigilant label reading. I do find it difficult when other people are cooking for me to stand strong on things that in miniscule amounts. For example Carlie made turkey chili, and she always uses the same kind of pinto beans. So she read the ingredients to me and there wasn't anything until the very end when it said ingredients that are in such small amounts we couldn't measure them and included sugar. Now I'm not actually allergic to sugars, but it triggers inflamation and itching in my body. So last night and today I have been incredibly itchy, and the only thing I ate that could have caused it was that chili. Still, I love her turkey chili and that she made it for me. It's an altered recipe already because it's turkey not beef. It is really hard to stand firm and say no, not even a miniscule amount of sugar. If I wasn't laid up postoperatively it would be easier because I could just put pinto beans in the crock pot with some spices and veggie stock and they'd be ready for her when she got home from work to make the turkey chili she wanted to make. Instead, I felt a bit like don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I don't want to make her care taking any more difficult on her than it has to be, and I honestly didn't think it would really cause a difference.

So far tho, since I started avoiding the things I'm intolerant of I have noticed that tiny bits of them really do have more severe consequences than before. I wonder why?

Well I will leave you with thought. If you can't have honey, and you want to replace it with something thick and syrupy but have been told maple syrup and agave are also out of the question what do you replace it with? So far most people use apples. I am currently highly intolerant of apple, and it's on the prohibited food list. However peaches, berries, and pear aren't, so I've been using them as sweeteners. I love watching the cooking channel, and remembered learning once that if I cook down pears they create their own sort of carmelization and become a thick honey like substance. So here's my recent attempt at a honey substitute.

1 can pears packed in their own juice and water, blended, cooked on medium until lightly carmelized and thickened to slightly more runny than honey consistency. As it cools it thickens. I am going to put it in an air tight container and try saving some to see how it turns out. I will be using this in an attempt to make my own granola. Will let you know how it turns out. If it's any good, I will share the recipe!

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