I have to apologize in advance. This post is a little long, because it's been so long since I last posted. If you just want the recipe, scroll down to the bottom. No hard feelings.
When I first started having anaphylactic reactions to foods I cut many many things out of my diet. Actually for a week or two after my first terrible reaction I was so afraid to eat that I stuck mostly to plain rice, rice cereal, and Enjoy Life cookies. At this point I didn't know what all of my allergens were (I still don't, but I have a better idea) so I had no clue what foods were safe. I know a lot more now about which foods to avoid but the problem with latex-food allergies is that the lists of potential problem foods seem endless. So far I'm OK with some latex foods, like apples and cherries and I keep reading that most people are not allergic to ALL foods on the lists. This gives me hope.
There are only four fruits that I know for sure I can eat right now - apples, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries. Over the past few months, I introduced each of them slowly and I ended up being OK. I've been waiting to introduce more foods and I was hoping for a fruit so I decided to try peaches. Peaches are in season and Ontario peaches are always so amazingly delicious. I generally eat them by the container-full and ask myself "how many peaches are too many?".
The problem is that I have seen peaches listed on a few latex lists, as well as "fruit with stones", which really narrows it down. Come on! But, the idea of being able to add anything to my diet is so exciting to me, so I did. With a new food in mind the possibilities for cooking seemed endless. My mind started to wander, creating new recipe ideas....
My favourite was the idea of a peach marinade on chicken. I thought I would take peaches, blend them up with some ginger and garlic, then marinade the chicken. I think that would be prefect grilled.
What about stewed peaches on rice pudding or non-dairy ice cream? Deeeelicious! If you know you can eat peaches, try those out and let me know how they go!
As you can see, I don't have peach recipes posted here - just daydreams. I didn't get very far with the peaches.
The thing I keep reading about food challenges is that, yes, they are dangerous and should only be attempted with a doctor, in a hospital. In retrospect, I should have done it this way too, but I had not yet been referred to a doctor to help me in this way.
I slooooowly I tried the peach. I did little tests over about an hour and a half, each time waiting 20 or 30 minutes in between. I put a teensy bit of peach juice on my arm. Nothing. I put a drop on my lip. Still nothing. (I was getting SO excited!). I put a drop on my tongue and spit it out so that I didn't ingest very much - it was one of the most DELICIOUS things I have ever tasted in my LIFE! Still nothing. Then, I swallowed one drop of peach juice and INSTANTLY started having a reaction. Another long story short, the ER doctor told me not to introduce any more foods on my own. Luckily, yesterday I had an appointment with my allergist and she is referring me to someone who will do oral challenges with me.
I've spent countless days pondering my allergy-ridden life. It gets me down, more than I like to admit. I still have hope though, and try to keep my head up. Something that one of you said has helped me immensely. I found a comment by "Anonymous" under my Chocolate Chip Pancakes post. It seems as if I have the ability to help this person. It reminds me of why I started this blog and re-enforces what I already know - that there are people out there with similar allergies. I know that it doesn't always feel that way when you're dealing with a reaction or its aftermath. I feel lonely and scared and anxious about my allergies - I'm sure some of you do too. I'm learning that these feelings are all normal, and it's ok to feel this way sometimes. My naturopath referred me to a holistic allergist and with her help I'm learning to let go of these emotions. My husband also reminds me that although I've had a lot of reactions, I've survived them and I'm OK. It's important that we try to keep things in perspective like this, and remember that you are not alone. The thought of that helps me more than you know.
My recipe today is one that my husband and I created before my allergies were a big problem. We were on a trip to Italy and lived in Venice for a month - my husband is studying Venetian Renaissance Art History and I got to tag along. What a treat! If you have ever been to Venice you know that food prices there are just ridiculous. We were on a tight budget and also wanted to eat as deliciously as possible. Most of our meals were vegetarian and our favourite was Pasta with Garlic Beans and Zucchini. Since Italian food doesn't mix well with my allergies now (no more wheat, no tomato, no parmesan, no spicy pepper oil) I have made several alterations. But, I assure you this version is equally delicious. This is a vegan meal, but it will also satisfy the meat-lovers in your home, just trust me.
Pasta with Garlic Beans and Zucchini
Gluten-free pasta of your choice (I use GoGo Quinoa Spaghetti)
8-10 cloves of garlic (just trust me) crushed or minced
2 small zucchini diced
2 small cans (roughly 800 mls or 3 1/2 cups) of organic beans - I find that navy beans are best
about 1/2 cup olive oil or oil of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Dice the zucchini and saute at medium/medium-high heat in a small amount of the oil for about 2 -3 minutes or until it begins to soften and release some of its juice. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two, just until it begins to soften. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Add most of the oil to the pan. Drain and rinse beans (if using canned) and add to pan. Gently fold garlic and zucchini into beans until beans are warmed through, about another minute or two (careful not to cook them too long, or else they will go soft and starchy). Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta to manufactures' directions. Drain pasta and add to beans and zucchini mixture. Add the rest of the oil. Gently fold beans and zucchini into pasta. Add more oil if necessary.
This recipe makes enough pasta for four generous servings, and possibly leftovers too! Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you want small portions or are feeding a smaller crowd. If you don't feel like pasta, try the beans and zucchini on their own as a side dish. I have also been known to eat a bowl-full for lunch or dinner .
- Be very gentle while folding the beans. If you mess around with them too much they will get mushy and too starchy.
- If your beans are already salted, be careful about the amount of salt you add. Try to buy organic beans, if using canned, because non-organic canned food generally has preservatives.
- When cooking gluten-free pasta make sure you have a large pot and PLENTY of boiling salted water. Stir your pasta around frequently, as it tends to stick together.
- I have recently discovered quinoa-rice blend pasta and I I'm hooked on it - actually our whole family is. If you cook it according to the directions on the box (the kind I buy, GoGo Quinoa, takes 13 minutes) you will be very satisfied. I had to pinch myself a few times while eating it because it is so close to wheat pasta that I got a little scared! I have not craved pasta in a LONG time but I assure you, my cravings are back!
- If using rice pasta watch the cooking time very carefully because it tends to turn from under cooked to mush very quickly. If you are not satisfied with your pasta, try other brands because they differ significantly. The best rice pasta I've tried so far is President's Choice Organics brand.
- Use your own judgement, but you may want to rinse your rice pasta after cooking. I know that this is often considered a big no-no in cooking, but rice pasta has an immense amount of starch and may end up being very sticky, especially combined with the starch of the beans.
- If you are allergic to garlic, simply omit it from the recipe
- I have seen zucchini and squash listed on some latex lists, so please check with your doctor before introducing. If you are allergic to zucchini, I think this would be delicious with mushrooms and I know it is delicious with tomatoes. You could also try substituting your favourite vegetable or use just the garlic beans alone.
- I prefer to use navy beans because they do not fall apart as easily as larger, softer varieties like kidney beans
- If you are allergic to peanuts or other legumes ask your doctor before trying any beans. If you know you are allergic to beans, try substituting your favourite veggies, or some chicken.
- The original recipe had freshly grated parmesan, spicy pepper oil and sometimes tomatoes so feel free to add these ingredients if they are not allergens for you.