Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Dealing with food hypersensitivities 

Many people avoid a food due to a food hypersensitivity (this includes both food allergies and food intolerances). I am one of those people and maybe you are too!  It can be very frustrating to feel ill after eating. The pain, exhaustion, and physical toll of a reaction can lead to sick days at work and missed social events. Here are a few strategies to help you stay ahead of your food hypersensitivity:

  1. Read every food label: Get in the habit of reading labels three times—once at the grocery store, once when you’re putting the food away at home, and then when you use the food. Remember, companies can change their ingredients at any time, so don’t assume a food that was safe last week is still safe this week.
  2. Plan ahead: Having a food hypersensitivity can mean that you need to cook from scratch more often; processed foods tend to include the most common food hypersensitivities. Cook double portions and freeze leftovers so you have quick meals available when time or energy is wanting.
  3. Ask a lot of questions: Don’t be shy—when you eat out, phone ahead to see if the restaurant can accommodate food allergies and intolerances. When you’re at the restaurant, keep asking questions about how the food is prepared. Is there a possibility that your food has been cross-contaminated in the preparation area? For example, if you order french fries, were they deep fried in the same oil as the breaded fish? If you’re intolerant to wheat or gluten you’ll react when you eat the french fries.
  4. Become informed: This is likely the most important aspect of living well with a food hypersensitivity. Check out these resources:
    • Food Allergy Canada: this website contains important information especially for those with anaphylactic reactions to food.
    • Health Canada: You’ll find handouts on the 10 most common food allergies: eggs, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and other cereal grains containing gluten, seafood, sulphites, sesame, and mustard. Did you know that casein is a part of milk, and those with egg sensitivities need to avoid albumin? These handouts help you learn the many different names of common food hypersensitivities.
    • Health Link Allergy Dietitian: Did you know that you can call 8-1-1 or email HealthLinkBC to connect with an allergy dietitian? You could also ask your family doctor for a referral to a local dietitian. A dietitian will have access to more helpful resources and be able to get answers to your questions.

What if I can’t figure out my food hypersensitivity?

There are no definitive tests to diagnosis food allergies or food intolerances. The best way to figure out food hypersensitivities is to eliminate the suspect food or foods for a period of 4-6 weeks to see if symptoms improve. This is a difficult task: it involves keeping detailed food records, and a symptom diary to track possible food reactions. There are many people who can’t figure out which foods are bothering them and they spend years avoiding more and more foods. Food is part of life, celebration, and enjoyment; when we can’t freely eat most foods, life can become very stressful and isolating. If this is you, consider reaching out to gain support and learn how to add foods back into your diet. As allergy dietitian Wendy Busse says, “We sometimes have to move beyond the search for a cure or perfect diet.”

Today’s recipe is a happy combination of sweet, chocolaty flavours which avoid the top 10 food allergens. Enjoy!

Thumbprint cookies (adapted from Food Allergy Recipe Box)

chocolate thumbprint cookies

These chocolaty cookies have an ingredient list free from the top 10 food allergens.

Yield:  35-40 cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350C
  2. Combine No nut butter, vanilla, applesauce, and sugar in a microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 30–40 seconds until mixture is creamy and soft.
  3. In a second bowl combine dry ingredients: rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a fork until all ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix with a fork or your hands until you can form a cookie dough and no dry flour remains.  If mixture is still dry mix in 1–3 tablespoons of water.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease with oil. Roll dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on cookie sheet.
  6. Finally, place a chocolate chip on top of each cookie and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Note: The approximate cost is $6.50 for the whole recipe.  Special flour, No nut butter, and allergen-free chocolate are pricey, but still less expensive than store-bought allergen-free cookies.

Judy April

About Judy April

Judy works in Dawson Creek at the Dawson Creek and District Hospital as a dietitian. A true northerner, she grew up just 75 km away in Fort St. John. Judy loves gardening herbs because of the great aroma they bring to her home and the meals cooked there. She even brings the herbs indoors to flourish on her windowsills in the winter.

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Foodie Friday: Spicy bean wraps

A well-stocked pantry can help with last minute, healthy meals.

A well-stocked pantry can help with last minute, healthy meals.

It’s 5 o’clock… do you know what you’re having for dinner? If you’re anything like me, you have no idea!  You may think, “I might as well go out to eat or get some take-out on the way home,” a decision that takes a toll on the pocket book and may not agree with your health either.  But what if you could look into your cupboards and create simple, satisfying, and healthy meals in a hurry?

Here are a few convenient items I keep stocked in my pantry, fridge, and freezer for quick meals:

  • Canned beans and lentils (chickpeas, black beans, pinto) – I just drain, rinse, and add them to a salad, soup, or wraps. There are more recipes at Pulse Canada.
  • Cheese – simple to shred and always a great addition to a pasta dish or a wrap.
  • Eggs – so quick and versatile to make omelettes, frittatas or an egg salad sandwich. Eggs.ca has many more recipes.
  • Frozen vegetables – some of my favourites include colourful vegetables that inspire the appetite, like red peppers, baby carrots and Brussels sprouts. I microwave them and sometimes add a bit of chili flakes, honey and lemon juice for a zesty flavour. In my opinion, this is the ultimate veggie recipe site!
  • Frozen whole wheat tortilla wraps – always an easy meal – stuffed with your favourite ingredients, which for me includes bananas and peanut butter!

Try this chili-flavoured bean wrap and see how quickly you can get dinner on the table tonight!

Spicy bean wraps
Makes 3 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp canola oil

½ small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or ½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 – 14 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

Dash of salt and pepper

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Shredded cheese, if desired

Instructions:

  1. HEAT canola oil in large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
  2. STIR in garlic and chili powder and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in beans and chicken broth and cook until beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  3. MASH beans with a potato masher or the back of the wooden spoon, adding more broth if needed.
  4. SEASON mixture with salt and pepper and stir in cilantro.
  5. Top with shredded cheese if desired and serve with corn or flour tortillas.

Variations on the recipe:

  1. Dairy free: use Daiya non-dairy cheese as a topper
  2. Want more meat? Replace half the mashed beans with cooked ground chicken or beef.
  3. Other beans? Black beans or Romano beans would work well in this recipe.

Source:  Pulse Canada

Judy April

About Judy April

Judy works in Dawson Creek at the Dawson Creek and District Hospital as a dietitian. A true northerner, she grew up just 75 km away in Fort St. John. Judy loves gardening herbs because of the great aroma they bring to her home and the meals cooked there. She even brings the herbs indoors to flourish on her windowsills in the winter.

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