Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snack Time!

After breakfast comes a snack...

I like to eat about 5 small meals a day and I try and eat them at the same time each day (weekends are a bit tricky because everything is out of sync - so I am not so strict with myself, although I still try and avoid the foods I am allergic to wherever possible because I know that I will not be feeling good for the next four days as it takes that long for the bad for to leave the body.)

So, how it works for me is: I eat breakfast at 8:30am, a snack at 10:30am, lunch at 12:30pm, a snack at 3:30pm and then dinner at about 7pm.

When I first started on this diet, snacks also had me a bit stumped - especially the variety part - but now I have them down pat and get soooo excited when it's snack time!

Some examples of the snacks I enjoy are:
  • Nuts - cashew, almonds (raw, unsalted)
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • Vegetable crisps like sweet potato and beetroot with a dip
  • Nachos and a dip
  • Fruit such as pear, apple, plum, nectarine, kiwi fruit
  • Carrot/cucumber sticks and a dip
  • Biltong (be careful to avoid biltong with vinegar if you are allergic to yeast)

Butternut Crisps

Roasted Chickpeas:  (These are a nice alternative to nuts)
    • Rinse chickpeas and dry them
    • Lay them on a tinfoil covered baking tray
    • Coat them lightly in peanut oil and Vital yeast-free soya sauce
    • Add some paprika for a bit of spice and some french herbs
    • Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes to an hour depending on how crunchy you want them (be careful not to burn the chickpeas)
    • Wait for them to cool down and enjoy!

Roasted Chickpeas

Savoury Popcorn:
    • Buy the popcorn kernels and not the microwave popcorn
    • I like to use olive oil for cooking
    • Don't overcook popcorn because it tastes hideous when burnt
    • Sprinkle over flavourings of your choice. I use "Nature's Choice Herbal Salt", which I buy from Dischem
DIPS: My favourite tool in my kitchen is my little hand-held all-in-one blender and chopper. I use it to make all my dips.

Avo Dip:
    • Blend together avo, lemon, salt and pepper until smooth
Hummus: (No Garlic) 
    • Blend together chickpeas, olive oil, tahini paste or sesame seeds, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth
    • Add cumin as an additional option
Hummus with Nachos
Sorrel and Tofu Dip:
    • This dip is best made with the creamy tofu from Woolies
    • Blend together grape seed oil, sorrel, tofu, french herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth
Butterbean Dip:
    •  Blend together butterbeans, lemon-infused olive oil (Willowcreek), herbal salt, pepper and lime juice until smooth
    • Blend together butterbeans, avo oil, dried rosemary, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth
Aubergine Dip:
    • Roast aubergine in the oven with sesame oil, paprika and herbal salt until tender
    • Scoop out of skin and place in blender
    • Add ginger (Woolies - tube), salt and pepper and blend until smooth
I hope that I have helped you see snack time in a different light and that you start to become as excited about it as I am.

Until we chat again, enjoy snacking the healthy way! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Breakfast Ideas

Here are some other quick and simple, yummy breakfast ideas: (because you don't want to be fussing too much in the mornings before work - work is stressful enough ;-)):

  • Banana smoothie with honey, raw almonds and soya/rice milk (or any other milk of your choice)
    •  blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth
  •  Fruit salad with nectarine, litchis and pomegranate seeds
    • Pomegranate is a very good source of vitamin C and is high in antioxidants and Vitamin B5 as well as being low GI
  • Oats topped with raw pear (not if you are allergic to gluten) I am now able to eat most glutens, except for wheat (I was only mildly allergic to them - so I had to abstain from them for 2 months to get them out of my system, now I am slowly introducing them back into my diet and monitoring my body's reaction to them)
    • Cook oats as instructed on the packet. (I like the "organic rolled oats" from Woolies. It cooks in 5-7 mins) add sugar to taste and then top with raw pear. Cinnamon also goes very nicely with this
  • Oats with soya/rice milk, pecan nuts and treacle sugar (not if you are allergic to gluten)
    • Cook oats as instructed on the packet (you can even cook it in the milk). Crumble the pecan nuts over the oats and sprinkle with the ant-like sugar 
  • Quinoa porridge with soya/rice milk, five spice sugar and blue berries
    • Quinoa is seen as a super food as it contains a balanced set of amino acids, which makes it an extremely good source of protein. It is also gluten-free. When cooked the tiny balls take on a translucent quality and have a yellowish border around them. Quinoa can be cooked in the same way as rice and can even be eaten with savoury dishes. For this meal, you may either cook it in a little water or milk until it has all been absorbed. Add the five spice sugar to the cooking quinoa (I use organic five spice sugar from Fresh Earth) Cool the cooked quinoa down a little and then top with the blueberries. Blueberries are also seen as a super food - they are high in vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K and dietary fibre and also have a low GI
  • Maltabella with honey and almond flakes
    • Cook the Maltabella as directed on the packet. (I use Bokomo Matabella - it cooks in 2-5 mins) Maltabella is made from sorghum and is gluten free. Top with honey and flaked almonds.
  • Red pear, mango and blackberry fruit salad
    • Blackberries contain rich amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Tip: Add pumpkin seeds to fruit salads to lower the GI and to give another texture and crunch.

Do you have any of your own yummy breakfast recipes? If so, please share them; I am constantly looking for new things to eat for breakfast!

As always, if you try any of my recipes, I'd love to hear what you think of them.

Until next time - happy easy breakfast eating :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Breakfast Mystery

 I found breakfast to be the trickiest meal of the day. I was so used to eating the same thing every day, such as muesli and yoghurt and instant oats, because it was easy and I didn't have to think about it much. Now with my yeast intolerance I could no longer eat ready-made cereals and I also needed to eat something different every day.

In the first week I was really clueless (this was even before I had found out about low GI foods). I made things like rice pudding (with soya or rice milk of course), maize pap and potato cakes with tomato and onion relish. These were generally high GI meals (although the things like soya milk and the tomato and onion did lower the GI) but, I was still feeling shaky and got hungry quickly.

Dr Davidson pointed me in the right direction and then I was A for away.

She introduced me to scrambled tofu. Now, I had heard horror stories about tofu - and I began to get the feeling that you either loved it or you hated it. I wasn't sure which category I would fall into, but I was interested to find out.

She told me about this restaurant/come shop in Emmarentia, Joburg called Fresh Earth:, which caters for people with allergies and different diets, such as vegan, and also stocks a variety of healthy and natural foods and products. So, one Saturday morning Dre and I went to try it out.

Of course I had the scrambled tofu, on vegan and wheat-free toast, and Dre had a sandwich packed full of amazing ingredients. We also had smoothies, which are awesome by the way!

Anyway, getting back to the scrambled tofu - it was surprisingly very good. It had the same texture as normal scrambled egg and even had the same colour - the bread was delicious, tasted just like normal bread - I had missed that crunch and texture of toast!

I was so impressed that I bought a block of tofu and decided to recreate it at home. This is my interpretation of scrambled tofu:

- Tofu (a hardish block, Fresh Earth has awesome tofu, but be careful because the smoked one contains vinegar, which you should avoid if you have a yeast intolerance. Woolies also stocks tofu, but it's the soft kind and I find the texture a bit wrong for this dish)
- A drop of healthy oil for frying, such as olive, grape seed, sesame
- Onion
- Green pepper
- Turmeric (for the yellow colour - yeast free!)
- Salt and pepper to taste

  • Finely dice the onion (if you are cooking for one, only use half an onion)
  • Fry in the oil until translucent, add a sprinkle of salt to prevent the onion from burning
  • Next, dice some green pepper (only half if you are cooking for one) and add it to the onion, fry until tender
  • Crumble some tofu and add it to the pot
  • Fry for a few moments
  •  Sprinkle the turmeric over the ingredients (not too much because it does have an overpowering taste) and coat the tofu until it takes on a yellow sheen
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Eat it with toast of your choice or I like to have it with baked beans (some baked beans contain gluten). I think the flavour combination is yummy


You can make this scrambled tofu with any ingredients. Other examples are tomatoes, spring onion, fresh coriander, olives (not if you have a yeast intolerance). But generally the sky's the limit. Experimenting is the name of the game.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think. Or even take a drive to Fresh Earth and eat it there - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

If you know of any other great food stores like Fresh Earth, I'd be very interested to hear about them too.

Enjoy experimenting :)

Low GI - Say WHAT??

Another issue I had was feeling shaky and lightheaded if I didn't eat - I always assumed that I had low blood sugar (but I did a glucose and insulin test and my sugar levels were 100% normal)...

So what did this mean?

According to my Homeopath, Dr Davidson, it was because the food I was eating was High GI as opposed to Low GI, (foods that your body takes longer to break down, thus giving you a slow release of energy over a longer period of time.) High GI foods are generally simple carbohydrates that your body breaks down much quicker, resulting in an extreme high, closely followed by an extreme low - that's also why I felt lethargic after a meal.

Ah, I was finally beginning to see the light - more of my mysteries were being answered.

So what foods are Low GI?

A sweet potato will provide you with more sustained energy than a normal potato. Although another interesting point is that a cold normal potato has a lower GI than a hot potato (therefore it would be better to use cooled baby boiled potatoes in a salad instead of having mashed potato, for example).

In the same token raw veggies have a lower GI than cooked veggies - therefore it is recommended to eat raw veggies wherever possible.

Brown rice has a lower GI than white rice. Nuts and seeds generally have a low GI as do most beans.

Another good point is that if you are going to be eating a food with a high GI, you should include low GI foods as well, to counter balance the effect.

Food for thought, I'd say?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 1 and a Recipe

As I promised myself, the Sunday after Dre's party was the start of my new diet.

I didn't quite know where to start though - I had all these lists telling me what foods contained all the items I was allergic to and then I had another list telling me what foods I could eat. Sounds easy enough; just follow the list you can eat - yeah right! 69 foods sounds like a lot, but when you take into account that you can only eat them every 4 days, it becomes a bit tricky.

After a sulk, and a bit of a feel-sorry-for-myself sob, I dragged myself off the couch and towards Woolies.

Right, I was going to do this!

Bravely I traversed the isles, armed with my lists. I remember reading a lot of labels and consulting my lists a lot. (Yip, I was there for a while!)

On impulse, I decided to buy a whole lot of seeds: sesame, linseed, pumpkin, poppy... I didn't have the foggiest clue what to do with them, but I could EAT them!

Next, I bought some veggies like broccoli and some strange beans that I had never eaten in my life - called soya beans. Seemed like a good idea at the time - embrace the unknown!

No more yummy Italian pasta for me - I was relegated to rice noodles and maize pasta. But, it's ok - I can work with it, better than no pasta at all!

I am lucky enough to be able to eat all fish, so standing in the fish section I saw the most divine fresh Norwegian salmon steaks, embracing the adventure - I took a packet. (Please note, the price was nowhere to be seen and with good reason - it cost an arm and a leg! I also have never cooked it before... Ominous)

I had been told to buy a variety of oils because cooking with olive oil every day was no longer allowed. Sheesh, oils don't come cheap! I was beginning to realise that this new diet of mine was going to cost a small fortune.

Ignoring the part of my brain that was calculating how many pairs of shoes I would be sacrificing, I soldiered on.

On this trip, I bought some cold pressed avo oil...

Back at home, I put all the ingredients on the counter and surveyed the scene.

Now, what was for dinner?

I decided on:

Flash fried salmon steak with rice noodles, soya beans and sesame seeds.

  • Firstly I covered the salmon lightly in avo oil, salt and pepper (I had heard somewhere that such a delicate fish doesn't need overpowering flavours - probably from my dad)
  • I then put the soya beans and rice noodles on to boil (neither of these take very long at all - 5 minutes or so)
  • Next, I bravely attempted the salmon (along with the first tip, I also heard not to overcook it, I was stressing a little - how would I know if it was overcooked?)
  • I quickly fried it on both sides making sure it developed a nice golden crust, probably for a few minutes on either side and decided it was done
  • I then dry-fried some sesame seeds to bring out the flavour
  • When the rice noodles and soya beans were done, I drained and tossed them together with some avo oil, salt and pepper and yeast-free soya sauce - the one I use is from the "Vital" range, you can get it from most supermarkets
  • Artfully set it on a plate and finished off with the sesame seeds
Simple yet surprisingly very tasty. Each item compliments each other very well and tastes so fresh (like health). I will make it again, although Dre was not too keen on the salmon :)

All in all my first "healthy" meal was a success.

Yay for me :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Big Send Off

I thought it would only be fitting to give my old food life a fond farewell.

And what better way to do this than Andre's birthday in the form of a "Mystery Dinner"?

"What is a Mystery Dinner?" I hear you ask. A mystery dinner pushes all boundaries beyond their limits - you may unexpectedly land up with dessert for your main course or you starter for dessert.

Each of our guests was sent an invitation, inviting them to a magical evening of mystery. The first moment of intrigue was introduced when they were asked to bring a mystery item of clothing.

On the evening each item was swapped amongst the group; guys were wearing fairy wings and Father Christmas g-strings and girls were wearing playboy bunny ears, bellboy hats and bow ties, to name a few.

The evening was starting to take on an intriguing quality.

Next, the menus were handed out. Each menu consisted of three columns containing the same 15 items. Only 5 items could be chosen in each column, with no repeats. This in essence created the starter, main course and dessert. To make things a little more interesting each item was given a mysterious name and the list also included utensils and drinks.

No talking was allowed during this process. If anyone was caught trying to communicate with someone else, a jagermeister was forcibly consumed as punishment.

The actual menu consisted of a tomato, thyme and feta tart with a beetroot and rocket salad for starters or as described to our guests a "confused fruit that sleeps around" a "stained water sucker" for the beetroot and "A green lift off" for the rocket (the salad was split into two items, of course) and to accompany this course was a sex on the beach cocktail or "A sandy romp". A fork was also needed to eat with, which was called "the devil's prong".

The main was "a featherless bra filler" and "burnt at the stake" or to the uneducated, a chicken breast stuffed with brie, basil and pepperdew with a roasted veggie skewer. "Casanova Fizz" or rather a glass of Krone sparkling wine finished off the dish, with the utensils needed being a "silver poker" - knife and a "doos pelmet" - serviette.

Oh, did I mention that this was a porn star mystery dinner? No? Oh, sorry... well, have you spotted the sexual innuendo yet? ;-)

Dessert was vanilla ice cream balls topped with raspberry coulis and crumbled biscotti biscuits or "frosted Caster Semenya", "seductive scarlet swirl and "a crusty Italian". The drink was a jager bomb, aptly called "Hiroshima meets an avalanche" and the spoon "two bodies under the blankets".

Each person's eating experience was different, except mine, being the cook does have its perks! While I was enjoying each meal in its entirety some of my friends were eating ice cream with a skewer, as no spoon had been ordered, or beetroot with raspberry coulis, the stuffed chicken breast with the biscotti, and some unlucky (or lucky, depending on your view point) guests even landed up with all three drinks at once.

(All items on the plate had to be finished before the next course was brought out.)

What ensued was an extremely festive night - all caution was thrown to the wind and even the most unadventurous of my guests were tossing their hair back and immensing themselves in the experience.

I think it was the perfect send off to my beloved food.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The End of An Era

My life is food and food is my life.

I think about it on a daily basis, no, wait! Make that - an hourly basis. I probably think about food as often as guys think about sex. (Now that's a lot ;-))

Before the allergies - food excited me in an absurdly free way. I concocted new recipes and my only limitation was my imagination... I had no restrictions - all ingredients had free rein and my boyfriend Andre, as well as my friends, were my guinea pigs. Life was good. Life was great!

Planning for a dinner party excited me and scared me at the same time. How would my friends react to my cooking? Would they think I was a good cook? Or would my worst fears be realised and the food not be eaten or the comments not be positive?

Relief - my newly created recipes with exotic names were a success!

Sleep after a dinner party was always sweet.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finally Some Answers

In October last year I had some blood tests done to figure out what was making me ill... Every test came back clear until I did the ImuPro Food Allergy Type III (IgG) test. Type III is a delayed allergic reaction to food and can occur 2-72 hours after consuming the food. It's virtually impossible to pick up what you are allergic to on your own because of the delayed reaction; although you may have some idea (I assumed that I was allergic to wheat). You are prone to Type III allergies if your small intestine is damaged, which mine has been for many years.

The sad fact of the matter was that I grossly underestimated what I was allergic to - the main foods that were making me sick were garlic, milk, yeast, eggs and gluten.

I was shocked.

But, there was nothing else to do, except fix it. And I was so determined to fix myself, as I had been suffering for such a long with bloating, stomach pain, headaches and so on that I was willing to do anything. Little did I know what that actually meant...

Firstly, I was told to cut out all of the offending foods for a period of 4 to 12 months depending on the severity - and if that's not bad enough, I was then told to rotate the foods that I was still allowed to eat in a 4 day cycle - to prevent more allergies.

This seemed impossible, especially when I realised, for example, that yeast was in not only the obvious - bread, but also in fruit juices, wine (oh my beloved wine, what a sad, sad day!), cereals, most stock cubes, some fruits, mushrooms, tomato sauce, vinegar, chutney, coffee... the list goes on and on...

Armed with my lists of what not to eat and my list of what to eat, I bravely tried to figure out a menu for myself, but filled with an overwhelming sense of loss and hopelessness, I did the only thing I could do and burst into tears!

I saw my days of hosting gourmazing dinner parties and eating at fancy restaurants disappearing before my eyes, only to be replaced by platefuls of rabbit food, that I could only eat every 4 days!

How was I going to do this?