Monday, July 01, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake

These past five years have been difficult, to say the least. I not only have had to learn to live with countless new food allergies, I have had debilitating migraines. When they first began I was getting multiple migraines a day. Since then I have changed many things in my life and gathered a team of professionals to help (a neurologist, a naturopath, a chiropractor, a holistic allergist) and in doing this, I've managed to reduce my migraines to 2-3/week.

I know this sounds silly...but recently I have been avoiding you on purpose. My health has drastically improved (HURRAH!) but I haven't wanted to jinx it.

At the end of March, I went to a new dentist because I had extreme jaw pain. She quickly told me that one of my wisdom teeth, which I had been told countless times would never come in, was pushing a molar out of my jaw. Gross. Painful. Yes. And yes.

She said she would have to remove my molar. It was a dumb tooth anyway. I didn't want it anymore. It had caused me so much grief already, with countless attempts to fill a cavity, and eventually a root canal (because my then-dentist didn't get my entire cavity from the get-go). So, my new dentist pulled my molar. Then something amazing happened. My. Migraines. Stopped.

They just stopped. I had a migraine the morning my tooth was pulled, and I haven't had one since. I've been resisting dreading writing about it because what if writing on this blog forever ruins my migraine-free streak? Well, that's just dumb. So, here I am. Finally, writing it for all the world to see. My. Migraines. Stopped.

There, I said it again.

I haven't just been avoiding you because I (foolishly) didn't want to jinx my good-fortune. I've been living my life! I've been gardening like mad and I can't wait to show you my masterpiece-of-food-growing. I've been getting healthier by exercising and making my body stronger. And, what I'm most excited about: I've been singing and getting my voice back into shape. And oh, how I've missed that part of my life. My life is suddenly full of possibilities that I thought had all but disappeared. So, Sheena. What shall we do now?

For today, I will celebrate Canada Day, and the summer bounty of strawberries, with this beautiful recipe for Strawberry Shortcake. This is a substantial shortcake, not sponge cake that is quite often seen posing as shortcake. They are actually my tea biscuit recipe and if you're not into strawberry shortcake they go splendidly with some butter/vegan butter and jam. Yum.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians around the world! Sorry I didn't post this sooner for you to make it this weekend. And happy (early) Independence Day to those of you in the US.

Make this dough ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge for an hour, or over night. They can also be cut into biscuits and frozen, then baked, but you will need to increase the time a minute or two or defrost them before baking. 

Strawberry Shortcake

Shortcake/Tea Biscuits

2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups sorghum flour
6 tbsps tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsps xantham gum
3 tsps baking powder*
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan butter (I prefer Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Flavoured Spread) **
1/2 cup coconut oil **
1 1/4 cup milk***

Measure vegan butter and coconut oil. Freeze until firm. Mix dry ingredients. Add small chunks of firm vegan butter and coconut butter. Mix until crumbly, but you want some small chunks of butter and oil to still be visible. Slowly add milk and mix just until combined - if using a mixer wait just until dough starts to pull away from sides of bowl. Cover and refrigerate dough until chilled or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°/190°Remove dough from fridge and allow to warm up a bit so it's not too solid to work with - but you don't want it warm. Handle the dough as little as possible, to avoid a tough final result. Roll between two pieces of parchment or two silicone baking pads (If you do not have either of those items, you may want to use a bit of tapioca flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Try not to use too much.). Roll until about 2 1/2 - 3 cms / approximately 1 - 1.18" thick.  Dust the top of the dough with icing sugar (if you desire a sweet biscuit). Cut with desired cookie cutters. Dust underside with icing sugar. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie cutters, or until cooked through and golden brown on the bottom.

If you prefer to make drop-biscuits add a bit more milk to your dough so it is more of a batter. Drop by spoonful onto your prepared sheet. Dust with icing sugar, bake following above directions.

To Make Shortcake

Slice or mash strawberries and arrange on top of a biscuit. Top strawberries with whipped cream, whipped coconut milk, ice cream, or non-dairy ice cream. Top with another biscuit. Or, instead of using two biscuits per dessert, you could slice the biscuits in half.

Coconut Whipped Cream

I have made coconut whipped cream before and it turned out great. But when I went to do it for this photo shoot it was an epic fail. Here is a great post from Oh Lady Cakes on Coconut Whipped Cream. It seems like she has it all figured out! I now know my whipped cream results were so drastically different because initially I used Thai Kitchen coconut milk, but this time it was an inexpensive kind that I realize was made with coconut extract and water. Gross. Because of this, my photos are with coconut ice cream.


* If you are allergic to corn and cannot find a corn-free baking powder you can make your own. Just follow this ratio: 1 part baking soda, 1 part starch (like rice, arrowroot, or tapioca starch/flour), and 2 parts cream of tartar.

** While I prefer the ratio of half vegan butter/half coconut butter, you can use:

- 1 cup vegan butter, or
- 1 cup coconut oil, or
- 1 cup butter

*** Use any dairy or non-dairy milk. These are particularly excellent with a high-fat milk, such as coconut milk, or 3.5% dairy.

A Note on Strawberries And Allergies:

I have noticed in the past that I sometimes have a reaction from strawberries. I have pinpointed the problematic strawberries to ones that have been imported, either from the US or from Argentina. I seem to have no issue with local, Ontario strawberries. My holistic allergist told me that strawberries contain a high amount of histamine, the natural chemical produced in your body during an allergic reaction. When a fruit or vegetable ages, it produces more histamine. I thought this was perhaps the reason imported strawberries were not great for me - they have most-likely been picked long before I consume them. I recently learned something else about strawberries from a farmer at the local farmer's market. She said that many strawberry farms inject their berries with shrimp extract (GROSS!), which gives their berries a brighter colour. She told me that many kiwi farmers do this as well, and she has heard a lot of people who have shellfish and shrimp allergies (like me) have had issues with both of these fruits. 

I am not sure what it is about imported strawberries that affect me, so I will stick with the strawberry farms that I know I have no issue with. If you are concerned about your strawberry allergies talk your local farmer about their farm practices. Always make sure you speak to your doctor before introducing a potential allergen. 

*Please Note* These recipes are part of my personal allergy diet. Please remember that everyone's allergies are different.  If you are unsure about any ingredients listed in these recipes please check with your doctor before introducing. I am not a doctor, these stories are from my personal experiences.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Carrot Cupcakes

I'm embarrassed that I've been away from this space for so long. Too long. Recently my friends have started to ask me if I am still blogging, because they have noticed my absence. I told them that I have indeed  wanted to, but I have been lacking inspiration. I'm glad to say that I feel the spark of inspiration yet again, so here I am! 

I've been spending my time wisely, mind you. During my hibernation, I've been developing and refining recipes that I will post shortly. I've also been seeing a chiropractor, doing exercises that he assigned, and eating healthier. My chiropractor has me walking every day, which drastically helps prevent my migraines. But because of the snow this winter, walking was a little difficult...until I discovered snowshoeing. I tried it for the first time this winter and fell in love. Even with the falling-down part, as you can see here:

But enough about winter. Let's welcome SPRING! And what better way to start this spring anew than with a delicious, healthy carrot cupcake recipe. I brought these cupcakes to my Mom's house for a big family dinner yesterday and everyone loved them. Personally, they are my favourite recipe I've created so far. As you can see, my nephew enjoyed them too :) 

I was browsing blogs for a delicious carrot cake recipe but had a difficult time finding one that met my allergy-restrictions. After a few attempts, I finally created my own recipe that fit my allergy-restrictions, and satisfied my healthy-side and my dessert-obsessed side. These cupcakes are free of all of the allergens I  avoid: dairy, fish, egg, gluten, peanuts, sesame, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. They also happen to be vegan, sugar free (accept the icing), and packed with goodness from carrots, and apple sauce. I hope you enjoy them as much as my nephew and I do :)

Carrot Cupcakes

1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp baking powder *if allergic to corn please see alteration below*
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup water or non-dairy milk
1/4 cup oil of your choice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup shredded carrots

Preheat oven to 375°/190°. Line a cupcake tin with liners.

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, set aside. Combine liquid ingredients in a small bowl. Add liquid ingredients to dry and mix just until combined. Fold in grated carrot.
Spoon into cupcake tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in tin on racks for a few minutes, then remove from tin and cool completely before icing with my Vegan Buttercream (tastes like cream cheese icing!).

Yield 12 cupcakes

*note* I have not yet made this into a cake, but I am sure it would work out fine. I would suggest a 9"/23 cm round cake pan, lined with parchment, and bake it for about 20-30 minutes. Make sure to keep a careful eye on the cake after about 15 minutes just in case my guess is off. If you want to make a layered cake, you will have to double the recipe.


- If you are allergic to corn and cannot find a corn-free baking powder you can make your own. Just follow this ratio: 1 part baking soda, 1 part starch (like rice, arrowroot, or tapioca starch/flour), and 2 parts cream of tartar.

- If you are allergic to any of the flours listed try substituting your own gluten-free flour blend.

- If you are allergic to apples, try substituting another fruit puree.

-If you are allergic to any of the spices try experimenting with your own spice blend.

- If you are allergic to sugar, or you are sugar-free and cannot eat the icing recipe, these would be delicious as muffins with some dairy-free margarine like Earth Balance. Or try topping them with a cinnamon butter. Combine to taste: margarine, cinnamon, and maple or coconut sugar. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Apple Spice Cake

I have been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time now but the photos I took aren't great. At the time the camera was running out of batteries, and I couldn't get my lighting right, so all my shots were blurry and dark. The ones I have here are the best that I managed to get and, believe me, they do not do this cake justice. I keep making this cake to take places, but then by the time it is finished I have to leave, and if there are any leftovers they do not last long enough for me to photograph....and I take almost all of the blame for that. Why don't I just bake a cake for myself and take photos? Because I can't put that kind of temptation in front of me! This is the kind of cake that I will eat for every meal until it is gone. What is wrong with me? Or rather, what is so right about this cake?

I recently took this cake to a summer BBQ where one of my friends said he could eat it all day. Even more recent, I took it to a party at another friend's house. My friend is Italian, and this party was full of her Italian family and other Italian friends. I figured it would be a tough crowd to convince that my gluten-free-vegan cake was actually good and they should try it out. But I didn't have to convince them at all. I have never, ever, received such wonderful and plentiful compliments for my cooking, and it made me blush.

The flavour of this cake is reminiscent of carrot cake, which I think is why it pairs so nicely with my Vegan Buttercream, which slightly resembles cream cheese icing. On the other hand, my husband is not a fan of carrot cake and yet loves this cake. It is an excellent cake for this time of year when you want to take advantage of apple season, but are looking for something different than a pie or a crisp.

It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I am going to make this cake for one, or more, of my celebrations. Perhaps then I can get a better photo. (That is, if there is time before it is all gobbled up!) I hope you can wow some of your family and friends with this cake. I promise you, not many people can tell that it is either gluten-free, or vegan. Maybe don't even tell them...

Apple Spice Cake

2 1/2  cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
4 tbsps tapioca flour/starch
4 tsps baking soda
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp xantham gum

3 1/2 cups apple sauce
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil, or other light tasting oil

Preheat oven to 325° F / 167° C. Grease two 9" / 23 cm round cake pans, if your pans generally stick a little, you may want to line them with parchment paper as well.

In a medium bowl mix wet ingredients (including brown sugar), set aside. In a large bowl sift dry ingredients together. Add wet to dry and stir just until combined. Divide batter into pans, and bake on second-from-top rack for 38-45 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in in pans on a rack for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely before icing.

Ice cake with my Vegan Buttercream icing and dust with ground cinnamon.

This can also be made into cupcakes, it will yield about 24. Bake at the same temperature for 20-25 minutes. I have not made these cupcakes in a while, so please keep an eye on them in case they end up cooking quicker than I have noted.

Please Note: This cake is gluten-free, free of all top allergens, and vegan. If you are baking for a vegan, check to see if they eat refined sugar because many do not, do to how it is processed. You can always look on packaging to see if something is certified vegan, or contact the company. I, personally, am not vegan, but am allergic to eggs (and until recently, dairy) which is why all of my baking is vegan, or close to it.

*Please Note* These recipes are part of my personal allergy diet. Please remember that everyone's allergies are different.  If you are unsure about any ingredients listed in these recipes please check with your doctor before introducing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rapini with Garlic Scapes

Rapini with garlic scapes and cloves of garlic

In keeping with my garden theme, I've decided to post a recipe using my fresh garden rapini. Rapini, also known as broccoli raab, is part of the brassicaceae, or mustard family. It has a delicate broccoli flavour, with small florettes, and leaves that are similar to kale. The entire plant is edible, including its flowers.

Rapini is a cool-weather crop. This means that when temperatures get very hot, it will bolt and produce tall, skinny stems and flower quickly - this is the plant getting ready to produce seeds. Once the rapini flowers bloom, the plant becomes bitter and tough. You can still eat it, but it will need to be cooked in salted water for a longer period of time than usual. This summer has been hot, and I was lucky enough to get my rapini planted in the spring, before the weather got too hot. Because of this, it grew into quite a substantial crop and I got a nice harvest out of it. However, because of the high heat over the past month or so, it has started to bolt. 

My garden rapini, in the early summer

If you find your rapini bolting, trim the skinny, flowered stems. When the temperatures become hot, check your rapini every day for flowering buds, they produce very quickly. If you notice any buds that begin to flower, pinch them off.  Don't throw them away! You can add these raw buds, as well as the bolting stems, to salads, if tender enough.

Harvest rapini when it forms buds, but before they flower. You can cut the leaves at any time. I read on Canadian Gardening that each leaf node (where the leaves grow out of the stem ) will produce another bud. To harvest your plants while still leaving enough of the plant to grow into a second crop, cut stems approximately10-15 centimeters (about 4-6 inches) above the bottom, coarse leaves.

I was lucky enough to harvest my rapini while it was still young and very tender. I was actually able to eat a raw leaf, and it was delicious - not bitter at all! If you ever have the chance to grow rapini, or purchase fresh rapini at a farmer's market, jump on it. Freshness makes all the difference when it comes to rapini.

Garlic scapes are the tips of the garlic plant. They grow into curly, green stems and have a mild garlic taste. You will probably be able to find these at your farmer's market when in season. I keep reading that they are usually in season in early spring, but I was able to find some well into the summer. If you do not have garlic scapes available, you may simply make this recipe with cloves of garlic and it will still taste delicious.

Rapini with garlic scapes and cloves of garlic

Rapini with Garlic Scapes

One bunch of rapini (about two or three good handfulls)
3-4 garlic scapes
3 cloves of garlic (omit if you only want the mild garlic flavour from the garlic scapes)
Olive oil, or oil of your choice
Salt and pepper

If your rapini is not fresh from the garden, or it is bitter, or tough, I suggest coking it in boiling, salted water for at about one minute, or until tender. Drain, and set aside. You can test to see if your rapini is fresh and tender enough by eating a piece of it raw. If you can do this successfully and you enjoy its raw flavour then you do not need to pre-cook it in water and you will simply saute it in the pan. (see directions below)

Roughly chop garlic. Add garlic and a generous amount of oil to a frying pan, preheated on medium/medium-high heat.  Saute until lightly golden. Roughly chop garlic scapes - I prefer pieces about 2.5 cms, approximately 1 inch.  

If the rapini has already been cooked in water: add garlic scapes and saute about one minute. Add rapini, salt, and pepper to your pan. Sautee about another minute.  

If you are adding raw rapini to your pan: add garlic scapes, rapini, salt, and pepper and saute until the thickest pieces of rapini are fork-tender.

Serves about four people as a side-dish

Note: If you have leftovers, they are delicious, even cold! One of my friends is Italian, and her mom makes her sandwiches of leftover rapini. So very delicious!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Garden, and Sheena Cucina Anniversary!

Here I am with my sunflowers in last year's garden. They grew to over twelve feet tall! 

Okay, I'm not even going to talk about how long it has been since I last posted a recipe. In my defence, I have not been cooking that much due to the heat. I have also been socializing when I feel well, actually going out in public to restaurants, bars, parties! (Oh my!) My life looks a lot different than it did a few months ago. I could get used to this!

Today is a special day for me, it is the anniversary of my first post for Sheena Cucina! To celebrate, I am going to try to get my butt in gear and start posting more recipes! Speaking of my life looking different...the difference between my life a year ago, and my life today is astonishing. If this is the kind of progress my health has made in a year, I can't even imagine what it will look like in the years to come.

Something that has changed for me a lot since developing allergies is my view of food and the food industry. I do not eat anything artificial; no preservatives, additives, or colouring. I try to eat as many vegetables as possible, and try to make as many of them local and organic as I can afford. I am a huge fan of the back-yard food movement, and over the past couple of years have developed quite a large vegetable garden. The idea of being self-sufficient and providing my own food is extremely appealing to me. I have learned that food is medicine, plain and simply. So I try to grow as much of it myself.

Golden Detroit Beets

In keeping with a local mindset, I purchase most of my seeds from an Ontario seed company called The Cottage Gardener. They have a wonderful variety of heirloom seeds to choose from, and I have had great success with these seeds. I can (and have) spent hours looking over their catalogue. Check them out, or try to find a local seed distributor in your area.

I started out small, and over the past few years I have increased the size of my garden. This year I am going to preserve some food for the winter by canning and freezing. I am also going to try to put some of my produce like squash, beets, and radishes into cold-storage in our basement.

Some of my veggies are a little late this year, I wasn't feeling great at the beginning of the summer so I couldn't get them in the ground as early as usual.  However, this year for the first time I am planting a second crop of some quickly-growing and cold-hearty veggies! In this crop there will be things like beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes and Swiss chard. What do you have growing in your garden this year?

Ronde de Nice Summer Squash
In my garden this year:

Beets: Golden Detroit, Chioggia, Bull's Blood, Cylindra
Beans: Contender Snap Bean
Carrots: Yellow, Purple, Red, White
Cucumber: Double Yield Cucumber
Fennel: Florence Fennel "Zefa Fino"
Kale: Black Tuscan Palm Tree, Russian Red, True Siberian
Lettuce: Buttercrunch
Onions: Green
Parsnips: Harris Model Parsnip
Peas: Mammoth Melting Sugar Pea
Pumpkin: Small Sugar Pumpkin
Purslane: Golden
Radishes: Black Spanish Round Radish, Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, Plum Purple, Ruby Red, White Icicle
Summer Squash: Black Beauty Summer Squash, Yellow Crookneck, Ronde De Nice Zucchini, Benning's Green Tint Bush Squash (a patty pan)
Spinach: Bloomsdale, New Zealand, Strawberry Spinach
Winged Pea/Asparagus Pea (not actually related to peas or asparagus)
Winter Squash: Buttercup, Waltham Butternut, Golden Hubbard

Mint: Peppermint, Mojito

Golden Purslane. Many consider it a weed, but it is delicious as a salad green!

Monday, May 28, 2012

My BIE Story

I have thought about this post more than any other. I have re-written passages in my head about fifty times, and have sat down to write it more times that I can remember. So, what's my problem? Well...I seem to all of a sudden not have allergies anymore. You'd think that I would be happy to share this news with you, but, as it turns out, this is very difficult to write about.

My allergies have been cleared by BIE. This is so difficult to write about because I don't fully understand the process of BIE. I have been seeing a holistic allergist and undergoing BIE allergy elimination treatments since last August. Faithfully, every two weeks. I have been skeptical this whole time, because I had tried BIE with my naturopath before and it hadn't helped me. With my new allergist I was seeing some improvement, but it was slow. Since I started to see my allergist I have not taken an Epi-Pen (which I had been taking a LOT last year), I had seen an improvement in my migraines, and my mood, and I had been able to re-introduce some foods that had been giving me problems. Not bad, but that's sort of as far as I expected to go.

I was still taking Benadryl frequently, making all of my food myself, staying at home a lot, unable to go to the grocery store or restaurants. But now, all of this has changed!

In my last post I mentioned how my allergist cleared me for wheat and the smell of wheat, and since then I had begun to feel different. I had more energy, my sleeping habits were improving, and overall I felt more like myself again. I actually started to feel like I didn't have allergies any more. I couldn't explain what the feeling was, exactly...just that I was sure that simply being around food would not harm me.

My husband and I went to visit a friend in Toronto who lives in Little Italy, and accidentally took the route that forced us to walk past countless restaurants. I was terrified. I expected to take Benadryl, but I never needed to. During that trip a few things happened that would normally give me a reaction - I was on the subway and people were carrying food close to me, I walked by a restaurant and got a mouth-full of their exhaust air....nothing happened. I felt so positive on the way home that I decided to go to the local grocery store. I smelled food cooking, and something baking, and still, nothing happened. Since then, I have gradually been testing the waters, and am happy to say that I can now go to grocery stores, I can now go to restaurants, and I have even eaten at a few restaurants (although I order very carefully).

I am not crazy. I am not brainwashed. I assure you that this is not a "mind over matter" thing - you cannot simply think your way out of allergies. I don't know how BIE works, but I am telling you it does.

I have read so many allergy message boards where people bash the idea of BIE. They say they will stick with what is recommended by their conventional allergists. Basically it sounds like they are afraid of BIE. The thing that people seem afraid of is that they don't want to re-introduce foods that are potentially life threatening. That is a legitimate fear! Here is what my allergist has told me about that; if I am concerned about a food then wait six months after she has cleared it, and have blood tests and scratch tests done again. If my doctor or I are still uncertain, then I can introduce the food in a safe setting, like an oral challenge.

Something else that people seem concerned about is that if BIE can rid your body of allergies, then why hasn't conventional medicine caught on to it? Why are people all over the place suffering with, and dying from allergies? I don't know. The only reason that know of is that it takes time for things like that to happen. My allergist uses the comparison of acupuncture, or massage therapy - it was not too long ago that conventional doctors sneered at the mention of them, and now they are commonplace.

I realized that I didn't have to be scared of BIE. The actual treatment couldn't hurt me - all I had to lose was money (which is a huge deal for us, but if I could get well enough that I could work again then the money we spent would be worth it).  So I did it. But, it has taken a long time. When I first met my allergist, I asked her if she had ever treated anyone who was allergic to as many things as me. She had, but it took about a year before this person could eat everything. I have heard stories where people just go once and their anaphylactic allergies are gone! This wasn't the case for me, perhaps because I had so many allergies and health issues that were affecting each other. It was like peeling back the layers of my health and fixing them one-by-one.

Aside from the money and time, this process hasn't been easy on me. For about the first four months I felt really crappy after my treatments, and went through "healing crises". This is essentially a detox that your body undergoes, as it is "reprogramming" your cells to not attack your allergens. If you've ever done a detox then you know the feeling that I'm talking about. As my body got used to the process, my healing crises got easier to handle. Now, I maybe feel a little sick for a day or two, but other than that I'm fine. If you are having issues with healing crises, then try to help your body detox faster by; drinking lemon in warm water first thing in the morning, drinking a lot of water throughout the day, having hot epsom salt baths or a sauna, and eating foods that aid your body in detoxification like turmeric, beets, onions, garlic, and anything from the cabbage family.

I have been trying to explain BIE to my family and friends, and keep getting strange looks. This is partially because it sounds ridiculous, and partially because I do not fully understand it and so I'm bad at explaining it. Because of this, I'm not going to try to explain BIE to you. All I can say is that it worked for me, and that is all the proof that I need. It sounds like I'm part of an infomercial - that I'm trying to sell you something. But, I'm just a person with allergies, trying to get better, and I have found that THIS WORKS! I thought I would be spending the rest of my life cooped up, unable to go places and socialize, changing my dreams and plans to revolve around my allergies. I'm telling you, just think about it. What if your allergies and sensitivities don't have to be forever? That one day, you could be allergy-free? It sounds impossible, but what if allergies didn't have to be your life anymore? WHAT IF?

I still have many foods to re-introduce, and I haven't decided if I am going to do some of them on my own, or with a doctor. I do know that I am no longer allergic to many foods that I ingest, and I am no longer allergic to airborne foods. For now, this will do, and I will start to live my life again!

*Please Note* The information on this blog is from my personal experience and is not intended to diagnose or treat. If you have questions about information on this blog, and how it pertains to you, please contact your doctor.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Veggie Soup

I know, I've been away from here for far too long. I haven't forgotten about this space, or the people who stop by here, I've been thinking of it all very often. But I've been unable to make myself write anything recently, and I blame this on benadryl. I've been on benadryl every day for more than a month, but I'm delighted to say that I'm back and feeling much more like myself again. I owe this recovery to my holistic allergist. I know I said before that I was sceptical about the BIE allergy treatments I've been having...but I think I'm proof that they work!

My allergist has been clearing me for a lot of different foods, but most importantly, she has been clearing me for different emotions. She has a theory that many allergies are caused by emotional issues; your body creates allergies as a response to things it cannot properly deal with. (I know, it sounds crazy...but it actually works!) She helps my emotional issues by clearing them with BIE, and using something called Neuro Emotional Technique (NET). For me, the big emotions are stress and anxiety, and I can tell that it's working!

She has also begun clearing me for bread crumbs and the smell of wheat baking, since I have allergic reactions to airborne wheat. Since this clearing I have smelled the bread baking for Subway sandwiches while standing in a store adjacent to it, without a reaction. I started sneezing and thought that I was going to have a reaction, but it stopped. It stopped! A-mazing.

I will post more about BIE another time, but for now I have a recipe I have been excited to share. I created this soup when we had a fridge full of veggies and needed something for dinner. It was perfect the first time, and I have been able to re-create it a few times since. I call this my Spring Veggie Soup because it takes advantage of delicate asparagus, and deliciously sweet peas. It is too early in the year for those to be harvested here yet, but they are readily available in grocery stores. I tend to always have frozen peas in the house, I agree with Jamie Oliver and think that they are the best frozen veggie, mostly because they do not lose much of their integrity when frozen.

Spring Veggie Soup

2 onions
1 fennel bulb
2 cups/500 mls of chopped celery, about 4-6 sticks, depending on size. You can include the leaves too, if you wish.
1 tsp dried thyme leaves, not ground
1 tsp dried lavender, not ground
about 12 cups/ 3 litres of chicken or veggie stock
2 cups/500 mls of chopped asparagus, about one bunch
1 cup/250 mls of peas, fresh or frozen
sea salt and pepper, to taste
juice of one lemon
a few pinches of lemon zest

Slice onion and fennel thinly. In a large pot add the onions and fennel, some oil, and a teaspoon or two of sea salt. Cook on medium heat until caramelized, about 20-30 minutes. Add celery, thyme, lavender, and stock.  Simmer until celery is nearly tender. Add asparagus, and simmer until nearly tender, about a minute or two. Add peas and bring them to temperature. Season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and zest. Serve hot and enjoy!


- This makes a big pot of soup, if you want a smaller batch simply reduce the quantity of the veggies by half.

- The asparagus and peas will be vibrant green if you eat this soup right away. While they sit in the soup they will lose that colour, so if that is important to you try serving this right away. While you do lose colour in those veggies as time goes by, you gain flavour so do not be discouraged.

- If you only have ground spices then make sure to reduce the amount listed here, and season to taste.


- If you are allergic to onions and/or fennel you may make this soup without them, but make sure you have a flavourful stock to compensate.

- If you are allergic to any of the green vegetables, or the herbs listed simply omit them or replace them with your favourite.

- If you are allergic to lemons you may simply omit the zest from the soup. You will want a bit of acidity in the soup, so try replacing with apple cider vinegar, but go slowly and keep tasting to ensure you do not overdo it.

I have linked this recipe with Allergy Friendly Friday (Saturday this week). Check out the other amazing recipes there!

*Please Note* These recipes are part of my personal allergy diet. Please remember that everyone's allergies are different.  If you are unsure about any ingredients listed in these recipes please check with your doctor before introducing.