With the happy, busy, family time celebrating Christmas having passed, more recent holiday days have meant a little extra time in the kitchen, having some cooking fun.
I’ve been making fabulous, tasty and moist chicken balls, easy to do a big batch, so there’s enough to keep to eat next day or freeze to have later. Best of all, these are cooked in the oven.
Here’s my list of ingredients and the recipe.
400 to 500gms top quality chicken mince
½ cup finely crumbled feta cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 rounded teaspoon miso paste
1 tablespo0on finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon rock salt
1 flat clove finely chopped garlic
1 medium stick very finely cubed celery
Generous splash soy sauce & maple syrup
Canola or rice bran oil to spray
Heat oven to 180°C fan bake
Put all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Shape mixture into walnut sized balls. It’s a great help to wet your hands and continue keeping them wet as you go. Place balls onto a large flat tray lined with baking paper, then spray over with canola or rice bran oil.
Bake around 40 minutes till golden.
I've also been cooking beautiful bright and tasty beetroot, a moderate salicylate, eaten hot or cold, these have great taste and colour.
An easy and successful way to cook beetroot is to top and tail them, then quarter large ones, half the mediums and leave small ones whole. Wrap each piece just as they are in foil and bake in the oven around ¾ of an hour till when poked with a small sharp knife, they feel cooked and tender. Peel when cool and cut into smaller pieces if you like.
Superb with any safe salad dressing as they are, or tossed lightly with fresh greens or other cooked root vegetables.
From pantry to fridge and freezer, there are several ingredients with negligible to moderate salicylate levels that are my must haves.
I’ll share them with you, as having these on hand makes cooking easier and much more fun.
Here we go –
In the pantry –
rice bran and canola oil, rolled oats, rock salt, soy sauce, malt vinegar, brown/white/icing and castor sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup, semolina, white/brown rice flour, baking powder, citric acid, baking soda, gelatin, saffron, cornflour, cashews (marvellous replacing most nuts in recipes), porridge, bran flakes, (could have special K plain, Allbran, puffed wheat and rice bubbles), poppy seeds, dark chocolate, cocoa, pure vanilla essence and vanilla beans, decaf coffee beans (we grind and make our own espressos), pasta, safe bread/ crackers and top quality plain chips cooked in sunflower/rice bran oil, bagel and pita crisps, quinoa, brown and white rice, homemade goodies like breadcrumbs and biscuits (usually my Anzacs without coconut), tinned tuna, bananas, kumera (sweet potato), old season potatoes, garlic, whisky/gin/vodka to sparkle up savoury sauces with
In the fridge –
pears, finely grated parmesan cheese, cheeses – tasty/cheddar/camembert/brie/Havarti/Feta, miso, nitrite free bacon, eggs, garlic, leek, celery, mung bean sprouts, iceberg lettuce, red/green cabbage, spring onions, butter, carrots, safe ham, salmon, fresh white fish, safe hummus, my pear savoury sauce, cashew butter, milk, cream, sour cream, plain yoghurt, my own salad dressing,
In season – beans, Bok choy, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, squash/pumpkin, beetroot, zucchini (need peeling), parsnips, Lemonade apples (need peeling), cucumber (needs peeling), chives, snow peas
In the freezer –
homemade chicken stock, turkey, chicken, (we don’t eat much meat but little of this too – lamb, veal, pork), prawns, frozen peas, my fried rice, pastry slices both savoury flaky and short-sweet and savoury, vanilla/caramel/chocolate/maple icecream (made without coconut cream), crumpets, pita bread, sliced sourdough bread, my savoury fried rice
The weather is cooling as we say goodbye to summer in New Zealand. It's been a fabulous one this year, perfect for combining all sorts of fresh ingredients to create fabulous healthy dishes. Many evenings we've enjoyed all sorts of salad combinations. With iceberg lettuce or shredded red or green cabbage as a base, we fill small dishes with a variety of ingredients to add. It can be chopped celery, cooked eggs, cashews, mung beans, blanched green beans or sugar snaps, crushed crispy bacon, small cubes of fried bread, grated carrot, cucumber peeled and finely sliced, feta crumbled or grated tasty cheddar, cooked quinoa, brown rice cooked in stock for flavour, chopped white of spring onions, or may-be steamed fresh beetroot or asparagus.
Always yummy too are slices of tender cooked chicken, turkey or lamb, or chopped grilled salmon or prawns. A great way to use these if you have some left over.
Then for a quick and easy dressing, in a jar, I combine a 1/3 of a cup of malt vinegar, 1/3 of a cup of rice bran oil, a crushed small clove of garlic, touch of rock salt, splash of soy sauce, and pinch of citric acid, along with dessert spoon of maple syrup. All it now needs is to pop the lid on and give the mixture a good shake.
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.