End November, 2018
I'm finding it a difficult time of year right now. With plants like our Star Jasmine flowering profusely along with glorious Gardenias and many other beautiful highly scented garden specimens, resulting in unhappy making sinus issues. Symptoms include a persistent mild headache, blocked ears, sniffy nose, tight finger joints, slightly sore throat, raised throat glands and generally feeling off colour. It's the same when the olive trees thickly cover our deck with mini whitish flowers and pine trees, the needles a problem in themselves all year, also release clouds of yellow pollen
in many places we are visiting.
What is helping me is continuing with a morning NeilMed Sinus Rinse while also taking a Telfast Hayfever allergy relief tablet and using Fixonase Nasal Spray.
Another issue, while watching food salicylate levels, is trying to keep a good balance with vitamin intake. I find our restrictive diet is hard on good nail growth and take Bio Zinc to help keep them strong.
With Vitamin C a very important one for us all, I've found a very good list linked to the RPAH elimination diet. It gives The Vitamin C content of some low salicylate foods (mg per 100g) from USDA, giving daily requirements of 30mg for infants and 45mg for adults.
Brussels sprouts 85.0
Red cabbage 57.5
Green peas 40.0
Green beans 16.3
Mungbean sprouts 4.8
I don't have the figure for Pumpkin/Squash, but read this versatile vegetable not only is a good source of Vitamin C, but it's low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
We've been enjoying pumpkin in absolutely yummy Pumpkin and Quinoa Patties, as well as a superb creamy pumpkin/squash mash. Here are the recipes to make them.
Pumpkin and Quinoa Patties
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups grated pumpkin/squash
1 stalk celery, very finely diced
1 cup red/green or savoy cabbage (just one or a combination)
1 leek, white part finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
150 gms feta, crumbled (we use goat's feta for flavour)
Rock salt to taste (don't need too much if using goat's feta)
1 cup flour (white, brown rice or semolina flour)
Touch of salt for quinoa cooking water
Rice bran for cooking
Put the cup of quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and a little salt. Bring to boil, cover and cook about 10 minutes before stirring in grated pumpkin/squash. Leave lid off and cook another few minutes till all water is absorbed.
While this cools, in a large bowl, combine prepared celery, cabbage, leek, garlic and feta with oats, citric acid and lightly beaten eggs. Add flour stir well, then cooled quinoa and pumpkin/squash combination. To cook, heat oil in frying pan and mold a tablespoon or so at a time of mixture into patties. Cook in batches, frying on each side till golden, crisp and cooked through, just a few minutes. Drain on paper towels. These freeze well too.
Yummy with our safe mayo or with creamy pumpkin/squash mash.
Creamy pumpkin/squash mash
500 gms pumpkin/squash
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
Tablespoon of cream cheese or grated cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon rock salt
Clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
In small saucepan, heat oil and butter and gently sauté minced garlic till lightly golden.
Remove seeds and cut pumpkin/squash into smallish chunks. It's fine to leave skin on at this stage and makes life a lot easier. Cook in microwave, steam or bake in oven till tender. Cool slightly and remove skin.
Mash pumpkin/squash until smooth, add the cheese, garlic with oil and butter it was cooked in, plus rock salt and continue to mash until cheese has melted and you have a smooth creamy texture.
The colour is gorgeous and the flavour is scrumptious.
End September, 2018
A photographic assignment took us away for just over a week recently, traveling with beloved Tammy, our miniature wire-haired Daxxie, with our furthest destination over 600 kms south of Auckland.
Road trips for us require much planning and organisation. When it comes to what we are going to eat, it’s not just a matter of pop in for prepared food or eat at any café or restaurant. I cook and freeze in the days preceding our departure as much as I can and look up eating spots near wherever we are going to be around lunch time, scouring menus to make sure there are safe dishes to eat.
We have freezer capability in our California Campervan, but it’s limited, so I choose all in one options as much as possible. Before going, I cook diced chicken breast in a little rice bran oil with a touch of finely chopped garlic and the white of a leek. Choosing in-season vegetables like carrot cubes (moderate), celery chunks, roughly chopped Brussels sprouts, cabbage or Bok Choy, I poach these in a small pot with a cup or so of my home-made chicken stock. (I don’t know what I would do without this). The two lots of cooking are then stirred together, sometimes with a cup of cooked finely broken noodles and or cashews. I thicken the sauce with some cornflour and a touch of whiskey and we have one of our favourites.
Macaroni cheese freezes well as does chicken pie.
We also eat mashed potatoes, with homemade chicken balls or pan-fried chicken breast. We’ll buy fish and have this with my ‘safe’ mayonnaise and crispy potatoes (boiled till just soft and then tossed in rocksalt, semolina or flour and finally rice bran or Canola oil, then roasted in a hot oven, turned over once or twice for 40 or so minutes.
We do buy salad items, like cucumber (which we eat peeled), iceberg lettuce, asparagus (to blanch), spring onions (finely chopping the white part), some feta or tasty cheese (to add in chunks), cashews and a suitable bread to make croutons with. Salad dressing is made in advance at home and kept in a bottle, I also make mayonnaise with citric acid instead of lemons. I’ll cook an egg or two and some nitrite free bacon to go with whatever combination of salad items we’ve chosen.
We make a coleslaw of finely chopped red and green cabbage, celery, a peeled pear, some chopped roasted cashews and our ‘safe’ Mayonnaise.
If I'm smart (and I was this time), I leave a yummy dinner option in our home freezer to have after our journey home.
Winter has now morphed into spring, with however, cold harsh winds most days and very little sun at this stage. We left Auckland's dull days behind us a couple of times over the last few months, to visit our Victoria, Australia, based daughter and her husband, adding a week in Queensland at Sunshine Beach to one of our stays. Victoria was bleak and deeply chilly in contrast to the gently warm conditions of Sunshine Beach. Our trips involved flying, of course with airline food once again, presenting a significant food challenge for the salicylate intolerant. Flights on our national airline offer pre-order non-dairy, vegetarian, gluten free to Australia with a wider pre-order list for further away destinations, but nothing that would help us. We flew premium economy which gives a little more choice. I eat the little package of cheese with the dry crackers served and pick away at perhaps a little mashed potato, chicken with any sauce scraped off with any real food coming as a bread roll from the bread tray. There always seem to be, dishes served with lots of herbs; curries; salmon with lemon sauce; brocolli, caulifower or broccoline; capsicum somewhere; chicken with walnut pesto or a tomato salsa; salad with balsamic dressing and puddings with coconut, cherry filled centres or passionfruit sauce. Breakfast yoghurt is always with berries, the jam is strawberry, with honey the other option for toast or croissants.
While, as mentioned above, there are pre-order menus on-line for gluten intolerant, vegetarians, diabetics along with various methods of cooking to meet other requirements on longer haul flights, there is no opportunity here either for choices we could make. There is a mention that you can bring your own meals with you, but that this must comply with liquids, pastes and gels regulations. Further reading suggests waiting to buy things like sandwiches after customs screening. I'm not sure how that would work.
So I always arrive with the happy anticipation of sitting down with family to something beautifully and safely prepared.
It's nearly the end of May, winter in the southern hemisphere, bringing some days of heavy rain but fairly mild weather to date. Suddenly there's been a sharp drop in Auckland temperatures. The sun is shining but it's definitely thick jumper and boot wearing time.
It's also time to enjoy yummy warming food. While we love our salads, either as substantial stand alone dishes or as a fresh accompaniments, I'm looking to cook as many fresh vegetable options available that are suitable for us.
We have a delicious firm favourite with Brussels Sprouts and beans, but you could add asparagus too.
Cup of halved Brussels sprouts
Cup of beans, flat or round, ends cut off and chopped into about 4cm/1 1/2 inch pieces
Clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of chopped cashews, browned in oven
1/4 cup small cubes of bacon
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
2 tablespoons safe mayonnaise (recipe below under October (late) 2016
Steam vegetables till just cooked.
Heat oil. Add bacon cubes and garlic and cook till nearly golden. Pour in cooked vegetables and toss well in oil mixture, leaving on heat 3 or 4 minutes, continuing to toss till glossy and some are lightly browned. Stir in prepared cashews and mayonnaise.
It's now ready to serve and absolutely delicious with any meat, chicken or fish options.
I’ve been looking through my notes gathered over the years since learning I am salicylate intolerant.
Some points stand out as clear reminders of what this means. I’ve put a few below. They may help you too.
Aspirin is threatening to people with salicylate sensitivity.
Aspirin originally came from the willow, but is now made synthetically.
Salicylates are believed to be produced by plants for use as their own natural protection from diseases, insects, fungi and harmful bacteria.
Studies have shown the amount of salicylate plants make not only varies greatly between difference species but also from plant to plant.
Salicylate sensitivity is a food intolerance and not an allergy.
Salicylate intolerance is dose-related. The amount and type that can be tolerated varies from person to person and can have a cumulative effect in the body over time.
Salicylate sensitivity/intolerance is a negative reaction to normal levels of salicylate, characterised by physical, mental or behavioural symptoms.
Salicylates first stimulate the central nervous system and then depress it.
An allergy test cannot diagnose the sensitivity.
Treatment requires a life-long diet with reduced salicylate levels and desensitisation.
Since salicylates are so common, it is neither practical nor beneficial to completely eradicate them.
Slowly add salicylates back into the diet, making sure you never take enough to trigger your intolerance symptoms.
This chemical occurs naturally in many fruit, vegetables, and other foods, as well as in many medicines, household and body products.
CROWS is the easy way to remember which seeds or grains are salicylate-free: corn, rice, rye, oats, wheat, soy.
Happy New Year to you all and wishing you and your families a healthy 2018.
Our Christmas was a very happy one with a family lunch featuring lots of options minimising salicylates. We started with mini blinis (small pancakes) topped with cream cheese and salmon, chive pesto with wedges of Camembert and Proscuitto on pear chutney. To follow, we enjoyed ham on the bone beautifully bbq'd by our son-in-law; a delicious prawn/fresh pea/iceberg lettuce/freshly sliced pear salad, dressed with a safe vinegrette; crispy roast potatoes (boiled till cooked, drained, then tossed in semolina, rock salt and rice bran oil before baking in hot oven); steamed French beans sprinkled with roughly chopped cashews lightly sauteed in butter and a warm French baguette. I also pan fried some brown and white button mushrooms in garlic and parsley, plus a dash of cream. NOT for me, of course, but they looked and smelt fabulous.
Much talking later, coffee was served (a de-caf for me) with a platter of my daughter's melt in the mouth homemade chocolate brownie, caramel fudge, shortbread hearts and for the salicylate unchallanged, gorgeous sweet local cherries.
We froze slices of ham left after Christmas day and I defrosted a bag yesterday to make yummy club sandwiches. The finely buttered bread slices (4 for each sandwich) were filled from the bottom with layers of shredded lettuce and tiny cubes of celery in safe mayonnaise; next slices of tasty cheese and finally cubes of ham. I often omit the cheese slice and pop a little grated cheese in the with lettuce mixture and instead use an egg mixture (hard boiled eggs, finely mashed with a fork with safe mayo, rock salt and finely chopped chives). Prepare sandwiches, by removing crusts, before carefully cutting each one into 3 fingers.
Our July/August time in Australia was split between warm Sunshine Beach, next to Noosa in Queensland and meeting up with family in much cooler Melbourne in Victoria.
We ate splendidly in both locations. With a fabulous choice of fresh seafood just a few minutes drive away from our apartment at Sunshine Beach, we bought handfuls of fresh Maloolooba prawns most days. We ate the prawns with crunchy French bread, along with a tossed salad of iceberg lettuce/peeled cucumber/diced celery and shaved parmesan or a slaw of finely sliced red & green cabbage/fresh peeled cubed pear and grated carrot, both sprinkled with lightly toasted cashews. Using a malt vinegar/maple syrup/soy sauce/rice bran oil dressing for the two, I added a tablespoon of sour cream to the slaw dressing.
The local surf club served very good local fish, grilled with chips and our favourite Le Monde in Hastings Street, Noosa was the perfect place for a bucket of chilled prawns. On Saturday we drove the 10 minutes to Perigian Beach, which is a favourite place for locals to shop and meet up. Our visit started with a French flavour, a pain au chocolat and coffee, a long black decaf for me at the cute Le Bon Delice Patisserie. The morning was spent enjoying the boutiques of home goods, clothing, books and a new pet shop. We lunched at The Pitchfork, where the kitchen went out of its way to give me a perfect dish of beautifully grilled fish, shoe-string potato chips and plain lettuce. We finished sharing a dish of scoops of vanilla and salted caramel icecream.
With our daughter and her husband, we enjoyed delicious safe cooking in the apartment we shared and carefully chosen options eating out.
More recently we spent three happy weeks traveling from our home in Auckland to the South Island, visiting as far south as The Catlins. We stay in accommodation with cooking facilities, taking our own mostly pre-prepared evening meals to avoid salicylate issues. Lunch is usually out and it’s easy to often have poached eggs on safe toast, or chicken, plain in a toasted sandwich, or with cheese fillings, baguette with butter.
We coped beautifully with food. However, I did become most unwell.
This time the problem came from the huge variety of strong smelling products, already in place in some of the accommodation we were staying in and restaurant and café restrooms. So many were flower and vegetable enhanced, from liquid and mini soaps in bathroom and kitchens, foaming handwash, air freshner sprays, plug in fragrance defusers, toilet bowl deordorisers and incense sticks to fresh flower perfumes, naturally scented detergents and washing powder, candles, scented toilet paper and tissues– in almost every instance these chemical free ‘made from natural ingredients’ items were loaded with one or more additives like verbena, aloe vera, gardenia, lavender, citrus with Jojoba oil, chamomile, grapefruit and mint, lemon grass and lime, Manuka and honey, Frangipani, lemon , olive oil, avocado, coconut, rosemary and tea tree. And these are just the ones I remember.
It was a nightmare. I sneezed, my eyes ran, fluid gathered under my eyes, I coughed, my glands were swollen, throat sore, I suffered some headache pain, a touch of vertigo and generally was blocked up with my nose running non-stop.
All symptoms I remember clearly from pre-salicylate awareness days.
Thankfully I’m improving slowly, now we are home in our own environment. It’s a hard one though, knowing that although I travel with my own goat’s milk soap, sal free toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, handcream and make-up on holidays, today’s practices can mean having to eat and sleep in an environment already impregnated with fragrances.
With that in mind, the first thing we did on arriving back was to order an artificial Christmas tree. The misery caused to my health from having to live with a real pine one for a month as we did last year, is also a very real memory.
From the start, what a battle it's been to find salicylate free toothpaste. Initially, I was able to buy some locally through an Auckland agent who specialised in salicylate free products for people with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, this option isn't available any more.
With a daughter living in Australia, I was delighted to find Soul Pattinson Chemists stocked Plain Toothpaste, which was salicylate free. I phoned a Melbourne CBD branch and arranged to collect several tubes over the time I was visiting my daughter. The store was also happy to post an order to keep me going. Now, however, this isn't so easy, as the businesses have been franchised and run independently.
It's possible to purchase salicylate free toothpaste from two very good online suppliers of make-up, health and beauty products in the States, Andrea Rose and Cleure, but postage costs are a very real factor as we live in New Zealand.
Recently, looking online again, closer to home I was totally delighted to find an Australian website www.allergymedicalstore.com.au with not only Plain but a Sensitive and Whitening salicylate free range made for Oral Hygiene Solutions. Very exciting. My order arrived and I was about to promote this product on our website, but on checking was concerned to find that of the 8 tubes, 6 had existing expiry dates covered over with stick-on labels. These tubes showed manufacture in 2012 and original expiry dates of 2016. The new stick-on labels were for expiry in 2019. The other two were manufactured in 2013 and expire shortly in October this year.
With health issues I am very careful about what I use (and recommend to others) and expiry dates are there for a reason. It could just have been misprinting on the tubes, it may be fine to extend the shelf-life or perhaps some other reason. I asked the company to explain. Sadly, I have not had a response. It's very disappointing and this again becomes the end of a supply option.
Happily, more research online brought up Priceline as a salicylate free Plain Toothpaste retail product in Australia. A good option tying in with visits to our Australian based daughter. To ensure I would be able to purchase a few tubes, I very recently phoned a Priceline store in South Yarra near to where we would be staying and they arranged to have 10 tubes waiting for me. I see you can also order online.
A chance visit to LiveLife Pharmacy Noosa Heads, Queensland, saw me find 3 tubes of Plain Toothpaste made by Pharmacy Health.
Amazingly, they were pay for 2 get 3. A bargain for such sought after product was the icing on the cake. This is their website
although it doesn't look as if you can order online, you can find the location of their chemist shops in Australia.
In between trying these different brands, I found Alfree Toothpaste from Amcal.
This is salicylate but also fluoride free. It may be a total co-incidence, but I have used fluoride toothpaste all my life and after using this brand for a couple of months, I developed sporadic and quite severe toothache in my back molars. The pain moved around and a visit to the dentist, with a thorough examination including x-rays, showed no cavities, tooth or gum damage. The reason for the nerve pain was not clear, however, to be on the safe side, I stopped using this toothpaste and whatever the cause, the pain gradually went away.
I wasn't feeling very well yesterday. From the time I woke and got up in the morning, I was tired with little energy, my nose was blocked, the left ear felt clogged up, my throat scratchy sore and eyes sticky running. Was I getting the flu? The answer is no, as today I'm much better and looking back over the previous couple of days, I know it was food causing the symptoms. I do introduce small amounts of different fresh fruit and vegetables to my diet from time to time to try to keep eating as wide a range of food as possible. Sometimes, I don't have a problem, but this time I've struck another no-no - the beautiful little plate of garden fresh persimmon squares, along with four slices of orange, belonging on the high salicylate list, which I'd eaten for breakfast.
I'm so pleased today I know what is responsible for this ill health. I look back now to two completely separate instances several years ago, well before knowing I was salicylate sensitive, when health professionals delivered 'light bulb moments'.
One happened in Provence, during our travels around France by car. I had been full of cold, for several days. It was so bad, I could hardly breathe and when we struck windy, dusty Provence, it was almost unbearable. I felt like I was suffocating and that's no exaggeration. We called in to one of the many local drugstores for help and a charming assistant said quite quickly - "You know, this is probably not a cold at all".
The other occasion was close to home in Auckland, visiting an organic food/natural medicine store. I was chatting symptoms with the dispensing person in charge. Her comment was, "you may well have to be very careful with what you use on your body...for example not be able to ever use perfume".
How right they both were.
A few beautiful fine Autumn days, made it just perfect for sitting outside on the terrace recently catching up with friends. Thinking of making a few tasty treats to have with drinks, I remembered the moorish flavour of little cheese biscuits I used to make. That was in the days of not knowing about salicylate intolerance and using cayenne pepper and lemon juice to flavour them. I made a few very successful adjustments and as I remember they were addictive.
Mini cheese biscuits
115gms/4ozs softened butter
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 190C/375F or 180C fan bake.
Cream butter and both cheeses together until well mixed. I did this in a food processor. Add flour and soy sauce and process again until the mixture clumps into a ball. Take out and roll into a long tube about 4cm/just over an inch wide. Cover in glad-wrap and put in fridge for half an hour or more. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. Uncover cheese roll and slice into about 40 rounds. The cuts will be every 5mm/1/4 inch.
Place slices on trays and cook about 15 minutes, till slightly golden. Cool on wire racks.
A late but very Happy New Year. It's been a busy few months for the family. Looking back, I'm reminded of the challenge it is to keep well through the many celebrations the festival seasons brings.
The up side is, when I'm doing the cooking, it's a time to create great tastes with the ingredients that work for us.
One of the best results came when we planned a lakeside picnic with chicken sandwiches (recipe below October/later). We had no mayonnaise to use and sadly were not near to shops to buy safe ingredients. I had an idea. I combined 1/2 cup of my salad dressing (recipe in "Clever Cooking for Salicylate Intolerance") with 2 heaped tablespoons of thick plain Greek yoghurt. It tasted fabulous, we thought with a bit more kick than standard mayonnaise.
Sometimes, I yearn for delicious subtle Asian flavours. This was particularly the case when surrounded by the cooking aromas my eldest daughter was creating as she prepared the family's evening dinner.
I'm happy to say, I re-created a very yummy salicylate safe version at home a day or two later. It tasted really good. The main ingredient is chicken mince combined with ingredients that gave just the right taste and texture.
Asian chicken with noodles and vegetables
1/2 kilo chicken mince
1 rounded teaspoon cornflour
1 clove garlic
1 dessertspoon each of soy sauce, golden syrup, pure maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1 - 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley or coriander (omit if you don't want to use - listed as moderate or as high)*
1/2 box flat noodles broken up and cooked (100 - 125 gms, I used a gluten free, Quinoa and rice variety)
10 green beans, chopped into small pieces and just cooked
2 spring onions, white part finely chopped
pinch rock salt
1/3 cup cashews lightly roasted
Heat bran oil, add chopped garlic and spring onions together with parsley or coriander, if using)
Cook together till lightly golden. Add chicken mince, breaking it up and stirring for few minutes till well cooked. Sprinkle over rock salt. Stir in cooked noodles and beans. Mix together water and cornflour in medium size jug, add soy sauce, golden syrup and pure maple syrup. Add to chicken mince mixture, combining well and bringing back to the boil. Just before serving, add cashews.
* I don't have a problem with these, especially with such small quantities.
It's 22 December and count down time to the big day, especially for all the little people in our lives.
This isn't an easy time for us with all the usual sweet food goodies associated with Christmas being laden with salicylates. However, although we mightn't be able to eat Christmas cake, Christmas mince tarts or Christmas pudding, I have been baking the most delicious sweet treat to give as a gift or to enjoy at any time of the festive season.
Salted Caramel Cookies
2 cups flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
250gms/8ozs butter, softened and cut in smallish cubes
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cold water
icing sugar for sprinkling on rolling out surface and rolling pin
1 tablespoon lightly crushed seasalt
Heat oven to 180C/350F
Sift flours and baking powder together.
Cream butter and sugars together in food processor till well mixed. Add egg and water. Gradually on slow speed add flour mixture till a soft dough forms. Take out and divide into 2 equal dough balls. Wrap each in glad-wrap and refrigerate at least half an hour or until ready to use.
Sprinkle icing sugar on rolling out surface and also rub on rolling pin. Roll each dough ball out to about a thickness of 1/2cm or about 1/4 inch, working as quickly as you can, especially in hot weather, so dough remains reasonably firm and therefore is easier to handle. Cut out about 25 rounds with cookie cutter from each flattened dough ball. Transfer carefully to tray lined with baking paper. I did this in 4 batches. Sprinkle a pinch of crushed seasalt on top of each cookie and lightly press into cookie surface. Bake each batch for just under 10 minutes until cookies have started to brown a little around the edges. Remove from oven, let cool slightly before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.
A lovely gift to take when visiting friends or as a thank you.
Makes about 50 medium sized round cookies.