Archive | January, 2012

Pureed Wedding Cake?!?!

29 Jan

Just a few hours ago, I got engaged!  We decided to get married this fall.  Naturally, I started calling friends and family to announce my news.  Along with the typical “How did he do propose?!”  “What does your ring look like?!” & “When are you getting married?!”, the most common additional question I received was “What will your diet be?!”  To which I replied “I don’t know.  Won’t this be interesting…”

Not Quite Time for that Celebratory Bloody Mary

27 Jan

This post is crazy long and informative.  Bear with me…

Wednesday morning was a very exciting day for me, but only for about 5 minutes.  I woke up eager to learn about the restrictions of my next diet.  With a smile, I reached into the container of scribbled fates, and with a frown I read my destiny.  It’s already here…the yeast allergy + candida diet.  Translation: still no chocolate, still no alcohol, and now NO SUGAR, COFFEE or PEANUT BUTTER?!?!  I know that this diet will be good for me, but my inner food addict is bitter towards this verdict.  You already know from my rants that I love my sugar, but what you may not know is that peanut butter is another obsession of mine.  I put peanut butter on pancakes, in smoothies, on apples and bananas, in my oatmeal, in treats (Who doesn’t love peanut butter cups?  I mean really…)  Is anybody else having a Forrest Gump flashback?  Peanut butter stew, peanut butter gumbo, peanut butter kabobs ;-)…I’ve also been known to eat a disgusting amount of peanut butter by the spoonful.  I think I almost ate an entire jar within a week once.  See?  Disgusting was not an exaggeration.

This diet was tricky to plan and will be a bit complicated to explain as I am combining 2 different concepts into 1 menu of restricted foods.

The first component of the diet is related to those with yeast/mold allergies or more generally, a sensitivity to foods from/infected by the Fungi kingdom.

The second part of the diet relates to the elusive (or illusive depending on your source) condition known as systemic Candida overgrowth.  This is based on the premise of a yeast infection existing throughout the entire body.  It is believed by many natural practitioners to be the cause of a number of wide-ranging ailments.

Here are just a few of the symptoms/conditions attributed to yeast overgrowth: IBS (irritable bowel syndrome or for those with a distaste for medical terminology and a sense of humor – irritable butt syndrome), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, brain fog,  sinusitis, depression, anxiety, the list goes on and on…

There is not much scientific evidence to sufficiently support this systemic yeast theory.  There are, however, many people who appear to respond well to a yeast-free sugar-free diet regardless.  The basis for this recovery is an area of debate amongst conventional and alternative docs, but in the meantime, let’s just give a little credit where credit is due.  I strongly believe in the merit of peer-reviewed scientific studies, but I also can’t ignore the anecdotal testimonies of large groups of people.  Science is constantly evolving, but so is nature.  In my opinion, nature knows more than man ever will.  Sorry man, in this case, seniority rules.  A temporary yeast-free sugar-free diet is harmless at worst (if carefully planned & executed) and helpful at best.  It is in this spirit that I present to you the limitations of my February eating habits:

Off the Menu: (All bold items are those that I currently eat on a regular basis and will be the hardest for me not to eat!)

*Dairy products: all except for unsalted butter & ghee (clarified butter)

*Grains: flours/grains enriched with vitamins <These vitamins may be derived from yeast>, any yeast/sourdough risen breads, corn (popcorn, chips, tortillas, etc), white rice <very high GI (glycemic index) = SUGAR!>, & pasta (except for brown rice & spelt).  I can have pasta twice a week.  [Wheat and/or gluten in general are often avoided on this type of diet due to blood sugar & sensitivity concerns.  My attitude towards this concept is: overkill!  I cannot say for certain whether or not I have a wheat/gluten sensitivity, but I do know that I won’t be eating much wheat/gluten anyway as breads and starches are overtly restricted]

*Vegetables: corn, mushrooms, and peas.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, & yams are limited to three servings/week.

*Fruits: all dried fruits (I’ve been eating figs as they are a good source of calcium), fruit juices, and all other fruits excluding sour green apples, avocados, berries, coconut, grapefruits (yuck!), & lemons/limes.  The restrictions on fruit are one serving per day.  Fruits are limited due to their high sugar content (theorized to “feed” the yeast).  I’m allowed to eat avocado and use lemon/lime juice to flavor meals in addition to this one fruit per day rule.  I will make up for the lack of fruit in my diet by eating more vegetables (as boring as that may sound).  Fruits and vegetables have similar nutritional profiles: antioxidants + phytochemicals = kicking cancer’s ass since cancer’s ass existed!

*Meat, poultry, eggs & fish: bacon (except uncured organic turkey bacon), canned tuna, hotdogs (drat! – [Sarcasm ;-)], processed & packaged meats, sausages (except uncured organic chicken or turkey sausages without added sugar)

*Legumes/beans:  peas, miso (fermented soybean paste), tempeh (fermented soybean curd) – I haven’t been eating these, because I haven’t been able to.  I really WANT to eat them though.  So many awesome vegan recipes, but I digress…peanuts** & peanut butter** (legumes NOT nuts, mind you)  **Aflatoxin – a per-va-sive car-cin-ogen from fun-gi in our food supply [Read that statement like a rap.  It wasn’t my original intention, but damn that phrase flows! :-)]  Again with the digression…this common toxin is especially known for infecting peanuts & is not destroyed by peanut butter processing – more on this in a later post!  Legumes are limited due to their carbohydrate components.  Protein-rich legumes, such as adzuki & mung beans, can be eaten in slightly larger portions.

*Nuts/Seeds: pistachios & cashews

*Spices & herbs: Limited amounts of dried herbs/spices.  [One source recommended avoiding all dried herbs/spices as they could be contaminated with yeast.  Many plant foods have this potential.  Therefore, I’m going to call total restriction a bit overzealous and shoot for moderation!]

*Condiments: soy sauce, tamari, vinegars & all dressings/sauces made with vinegar such as mustard & ketchup, & nutritional yeast flakes (Since experimenting with a vegan diet, this has been my go-to source of vitamin B12.  It is recommended that B12 supplements be taken in a sublingual lozenge or chewable tablet for better absorption.  Any chewable tablet I find is bound to have sugar or some other restricted ingredient in it.  Just a spoonful of  ?  helps the medicine go down.  I may have to incorporate some animal foods or bite the disgusting non- “chewable” bullet to ensure I am consuming a constant reliable source of vitamin B12 :-/

*Oils: canola, corn, cottonseed, peanut, soy, & processed/partially hydrogenated oils (Like I want that crap in my body anyway!)

*Fun Stuff: oh boy here we go…chocolate/cocoa, all diet & regular sodas, alcohol, coffee, non-herbal teas, any/all sweeteners such as refined white sugar, honey, agave nectar, corn syrup, maple syrup, & molasses, & any/all artificial sweeteners such as Splenda & Aspartame

[Caffeine causes stored sugar to be dumped into the bloodstream…ever notice how a few hours after your morning coffee you are not just hungry but rather STARVING?!  That’s why.  Despite popular conventional wisdom, artificial sweeteners have the potential to increase blood glucose levels as well.  For this reason (and the fact that they are just plain weird and untrustworthy in my book), they are off-limits on this diet.  Stevia is technically allowed, but I don’t really agree with this.  Stevia is a popular natural non-nutritive sweetener.  “Natural” does not always = healthy (case in point: arsenic, mercury, lead…you get the idea).  A lot of Stevia products are just as processed as artifical sweeteners and plain sugar.  For this reason, I will not be using Stevia unless it is in its pure leaf form.  I have yet to see this in stores and am likely too lazy and poor to seek it out online.  In the interest of not having an entirely sweet-less Sweetheart’s Day, I may use powdered Stevia for ONE dessert recipe.

*Other: any vitamins/minerals derived from brewer’s/baker’s yeast

Items back on the menu that are especially noteworthy: TOMATOES (woot woot…I don’t need your stupid sugar with my deliciously sweet tomatoes by my side), lemon/lime juice (and I don’t need your stinking vinegar with my citrus fruits here to provide some pizzazz), cinnamon & nutmeg (recommended for increasing the sweet taste in foods), berries (yay!), curry powder, avocados, red beans, soy, tofu, & soymilk (in small quantities)

And I still have my carob powder! (though I’m not sure how exciting carob can be without added sugar…)

The light at the end of the tunnel is that there are only 29 days in February this year 😉 Wish me luck, and as always, I welcome any comments, questions, joys, or concerns! 🙂

My (main) sources:

Bennett, C. w/Sinatra, S. (2007) Sugar Shock! Pgs. 246-247.

Bock, K. & Stauth, C. (2007) Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, & Allergies.  Pgs. 232-237.

Boroch, A. (2009) The Candida Cure: Yeast, Fungus, & Your Health.  Pgs. 45-79.

Brostoff, J. & Gamlin, L. (2000) Food Allergies & Food Intolerance. Pgs 235-251.

Buckley, J. (2010) Healing our Autistic Children. Pgs. 79-97.

Vickerstaff Joneja, J. (2003) Dealing with Food Allergies. Pgs 209-214.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002429.htm

http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/aflatoxin.php

http://www.topnews.in/health/diet-sodas-artificial-sweeteners-increase-waist-size-blood-sugar-levels-212629

Family Dinner (Low-Histamine Style)

24 Jan

For my birthday, my boyfriend (Derek)’s mom (Diane) (got all that? ;-)) hosted a family dinner for me.  As luck would have it, his family is currently following a fruit and vegetable centered diet, so meshing my restrictions with theirs was less complicated than I had anticipated.  There is a clear list I have been following as to the fruits that are acceptable, and only a small handful of veggies that are off-limits.  Derek’s brother (Brad) and I share the passion (perhaps more appropriately labeled – obsession :)) of seeking out and watching documentaries about diet and health.  The movie that was recently viewed to have inspired this fruit and veg binge is called “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead”.  It stars a man who undertakes a juice fast in an attempt to heal his chronic urticaria (hives).  How ironic!  Many people with chronic hives are encouraged to try a low-histamine diet to see if their symptoms improve.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s a film I recommend if you enjoy watching major self-improvement transformations take place.  Personally, I’m addicted to these types of shows.

Family Dinner (Low-Histamine Style) Menu – simple but delicious: a baked potato (which I ate with olive oil, salt, and pepper) topped with black beans and chickpeas (substance!), cooked broccoli, salad (romaine lettuce, raw onion, green pepper, celery, olive oil), and fruit salad (apple, kiwi, and coconut pieces)

After learning which fruits and vegetables I couldn’t have, Diane suggested we put those extra toppings in separate bowls.  So for those not chained to low-histamine/vegan principles, there was chopped tomato, fresh grapes, butter, and sour cream (for the taters of course).  There were also more exciting salad dressings available (vs the plain olive oil I was stuck with).  I helped to prepare the fruits and veggies and envisioned eating a slice of tomato as I cut it.  I had to make a mental note that the tomatoes were not for me and pouted a bit.  Tomatoes MAKE the salad!  Oh well.  To my surprise, the salad was still tasty without the tomatoes or any vinegar to compliment the oil.  The trick was to blend the regular salad with the fruit salad.  End result: added sweetness, texture, flavor diversity, and tang that the tomatoes and vinegar would have imparted.

The best part about this family dinner?  Derek’s awesome family making me feel welcome and not like the burden I expected to feel like.  The second best part?  The presents I received afterwards…duh! 😉

Normally when we have dinner at his parents’ place, there is some tempting dessert lurking around the corner. This delicious treat would surely mock me in my limitations!  However, since his entire immediate family is on the fruit and vegetable kick, dessert was the fruit salad prepared with low-histamine friendly fruits and coconut.  Translation = I got to have dessert with everyone!  Family Dinner (Low-Histamine Style) success!

SOPA & PIPA bills

19 Jan

Superimposing     Pricks

Our                            In

Personal                  Politics

Agendas!                Alert!

As far as I’m concerned, these acronym interpretations are a more accurate description of these bills.  This will probably be the only post on this site that isn’t relevant to food.  It is, however, relevant to this blog and the entire internet community as we understand and appreciate it.  This is a quick shout out to my fellow caring citizens in regards to our RIGHT to FREE SPEECH.    If you haven’t already, I urge you to read up on these bills and contact your state representatives ASAP as these proposals are scheduled to be disputed SOON!  If you enjoy reading this blog and agree with the premise of  LIBERTY FOR ALL, please take action today!  Useful information + petitions and letters of concern found at these sites:

http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/#utm_source=googlesem&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=signup

https://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8173

I want to thank you in advance for helping to protect our personal freedom.  What an awesome birthday present!

❤ The Hungry Guinea Pig

Low-Histamine Recipe #3 ~ The Idea of Pizza

17 Jan

I’m on a roll with another low-histamine recipe to share!  I took the premise of a tomato-less cheese-less pizza as a challenge that needed to be tackled.  A pizza without tomatoes or cheese?  I suppose you think it can’t be done!  Well yes and no.  Every food has its own distinct flavor that other foods can only mimic to a certain extent.  The bad news: this recipe yielded something that didn’t really taste like pizza.  The good news: it looked pretty and was tasty regardless!  This was my first attempt at a “nomato” sauce, and I have no doubt that there are ways of increasing the pizza flavor.  I need more time to experiment to get it right, but here’s a rough idea of what I did.  If you are up for something different but enjoy the look of the familiar, give this recipe a go!

Basic “Nomato” Pizza Sauce from: http://www.food.com/recipe/basic-nomato-sauce-tomato-free-tomato-sauce-359835 with a few personal additions

6 carrots, peeled and diced

1 small beet, peeled and diced

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced (feel free to add more if you’re a garlic whore like me…)

3 celery ribs, diced

1 bay leaf, whole

1 1/2 cups water

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 jalapeno, diced (optional – may add more if you like spice!)

Fresh/dried herbs of your choice ( I used fresh basil, thyme, and oregano.  I’m spoiled, because I inherited 2 Aerogardens when my boyfriend moved in :)) – If you use fresh, use a LOT.  Dried herbs have much more concentrated flavors.

Splash of molasses/maple syrup for added sweetness (optional)

Salt & pepper

Heat oil in a large pot.  Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes.  Add the remainder of the ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are soft.  Take out bay leaf and blend well until smooth.

I also made hummus and blended that into the “nomato” sauce for added flavor, protein, and thickness.  Hummus is traditionally made with lemon juice, but citrus fruits are not allowed on the low-histamine diet.  I got around this restriction with a magic ingredient: lemon basil! Lemon balm would work too.  I can’t give the exact hummus recipe (because I didn’t follow one), but the ingredients I used consisted of cooked chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed butter), olive oil, garlic, lemon basil, and salt.

Finally, I made a rye pizza crust (because I’m awesome, and from scratch is how I roll 😉 ).  I had intentions of making a vegan cheese sauce, but after chopping a million herbs and vegetables I got lazy.

Here’s how I assembled my “Idea of Pizza”:

I spread the crust with olive oil first, then the “nomato” hummus sauce, followed by chopped onion and arugula (spicy lettuce), chopped yellow, orange, and red bell pepper, radish coins/ “pepperonis”, artichoke hearts, and lobster mushrooms (for a meaty texture).  On top of all this, I sprinked dried kale (I have a dehydrator…like I said, I’m spoiled :-)), nutritional yeast flakes (mix beforehand with ground flax seed and tahini for a cheesy sauce), and dried red pepper flakes.  I put it in the oven at 400 degrees until I decided it was done.  No browning melted cheese to use as a gauge, so I let the crispness of the crust be my guide (along with my impatience to try my new creation).  I topped it off with more nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes before eating.

Obviously, any favorite pizza veggies of your choice would work great.  I think a simple crust with “nomato” hummus and some vegan cheese sauce would probably be delicious all on it’s own, but I love me veggies and am always looking for ways to include as many as possible into my meals.  You should too! That’s my RD lecture for the day 😉


Low-Histamine Recipe #2! ~ Carob Brownies

16 Jan

During my experiment, I have made it a goal to bake/create some sort of dessert every month for a number of reasons:

#1: Baking is a hobby of mine, and I think it will add to the experience if I am forced to learn how to make substitutions.

#2: I want to prove that even though a person may be on a restricted diet, there’s still room for tasty treats.

#3: I enjoy the cheesy custom of baking for special occasions.  This month’s special occasion: my birthday on the 19th!

#4: I am a sugar fiend and want some sweets dammit!

On the histamine restricted diet, chocolate is a no-no.  This is very bad news for someone such as myself who has a weakness for the stuff.  Gummy bears, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids…I couldn’t care less about these candies.  I generally want chocolatey goodness if I’m going to poison myself with garbage food.  Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.  I had heard about carob as a chocolate substitute and have tried some sort of carob candy in the past.  Obviously it’s no chocolate if I can’t remember what it was…carob covered almonds perhaps?  Anyway, I wasn’t incredibly impressed.  However, with chocolate as a non-option, I decided to reconsider my snap judgment of carob.  I found this recipe: http://www.naturallyvegetarianrecipes.com/evas-incredible-carob-brownies.htm and tweaked it just slightly.  I expected to be disappointed, but they actually turned out delicious!  So delicious that I kept rationalizing why I could bring smaller portions to work so that I could eat more (well you know carob is a bit exotic so people might not want to try them and we’re doing a weight loss challenge so it’s unfair to add extra temptation into the equation)  See how I can make myself out to be the good guy? 😉  These brownies remind me of Cocoa Pebbles (a personal childhood favorite).  I have made a mental note to make them again sometime (since they’re almost gone!) and eat one mashed up in a bowl of ice cold almond milk. YUM!

Low-Histamine Vegan Carob Brownies

Makes as many brownies as you want!  48 very tiny brownies, 1 very large awesome brownie 😉 or ~12 reasonably sized brownies for people with self-control 🙂

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (the original recipe calls for whole wheat – I ran out when I made those muffins, so I just used what I had on hand)

1/2 cup carob powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup REAL maple syrup

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1/2 cup coconut oil (the original recipe calls for vegetable oil – any neutral or nutty tasting oil should be fine)

1 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean – I can’t have alcohol, so I’m avoiding extract just to be safe) FYI: There’s a method to using vanilla bean in place of extract so if you go that route, I’d suggest doing your homework 😉

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, carob powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, blend the maple syrup, molasses, oil, and vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well blended.  If necessary, you can add splashes of water for a more consistent batter.  Spread the batter evenly into a greased pan (original recipe calls for a rectangular 9X13″ cake pan – I used a 7X11″ glass dish).  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Let them cool slightly and slice while they are still warm.


“The Diets” Update

11 Jan

I have decided (after more careful consideration) to knock off a couple more diets from my original experiment list.  I arrived at the conclusion that the diets I was most interested in pursuing are those in which a person has certain limitations not influenced by choice.  Therefore, the current list is more representative of my overall goal of the project.  This is still subject to change, but I feel more confident in the current list than I did the previous.  I merged a few of these diet concepts into larger diet concepts.  For example, while following the religious vegan diet, I will do a mini raw foods experiment rather than dedicating an entire 3 weeks to eating raw foods.  I am leaving the macrobiotic diet on this list, because it excludes nightshades.  Some people with arthritis find it necessary to limit this group of foods.  Instead of just avoiding a few vegetables for a month (which I can’t imagine sounds too exciting for ye blog followers), I will follow the macrobiotic approach to eating as a whole.  That should make for a more interesting spin on things.  I am also keeping the locavore diet as some people only have the option of eating what’s grown nearby.  For now, I am aiming to follow each diet for 1 month instead of 3 weeks.  A longer time line should allow me to get into the swing of each diet better.  Originally, I was going to spend the last 3 weeks of the year following a self-designed diet based on the findings of my research.  Instead, I am going to follow whatever diet I have left on my list!  I think it would be cheating to get to make my own decisions during the holidays, don’t you? 😉 There is more appreciation and empathy to be gained during this time than at any other time of the year!  Any suggestions or comments about these changes are welcome.