Saturday, 15 February 2014

Intolerable intolerances

2014 is getting off to a slow and miserable start it seems. As if the weather wasn't enough to get you down I have now inflicted on myself the most miserable punishing diet known to man. I've never been one for diets, but after pretty much a lifetime of stomach upsets, skin issues, fatigue and generally feeling not great, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that there's something going on in my diet which is having an adverse effect on how I'm feeling. That coupled with a stubborn repetitive strain injury, meant this was the year I finally decided to get down to doing something about it. There's plenty of info online about elimination diets and I suppose I could have tried to do it on my own but I decided that I would need some guidance in this as I really had no clue what I was doing and there's widely varying ideas out there. So at great expense I took myself off to an allergy specialist who is either taking me for a complete ride or is going to change my life. Fingers crossed for the latter.

One of the things I've learned to date is that I never could have done this on my own. The initial diet is so limiting that I never would have had the willpower to stick to it had I not had someone in a white coat, to whom I was paying a sizeable sum of money, to answer to at the end of it. (I'll give details of the initial diet below so you can sympathise with my misery - basically nothing processed, no flavours not even pepper, no grains or soy and rice is the only carbohydrate you're allowed - awful.) At first I had great notions of coming up with lots of exciting recipes to try and make it interesting but I quickly gave up. About the most interesting thing I was able to come up with was a nice cashew and herb crust for a piece of fish, but that's hardly life changing now is it?

The second thing I learned was that this was going to cost me quite a lot in grocery bills. Although I'm probably making great savings on treats and booze, nuts my friends are not cheap.

Thirdly, I learned that the initial diet was probably the easy bit. I'm now in stage two and it's time to start reintroducing foods. Which is great. Until they start reacting badly with you and 1) you feel terrible and 2) you realise that you may have to say goodbye to this food, possibly forever.

First to be reintroduced was potatoes. Went without a hitch. Second came eggs. I woke up thrilled at the prospect of having a real breakfast for the first time in 10 days. (many of the last week's breakfasts consisted of some form of the dinner from the night before) I made myself two delicious poached eggs and some nice fried potatoes, wolfed them down and within an hour nearly fell asleep at my computer. I haven't felt a wave of fatigue like that in quite some time and the instantaneous reaction from the breakfast was quite startling. I had asked my doctor how I would know if I was intolerant to something and his reply was 'you'll know'. At the time I found this a totaly unsatisfactory response and I left his office marking one up for the 'you're wasting your money' column. I suppose today the columns evened out a little. As if that wasn't bad enough, I then attempted some gluten free, sugar free baking.....more on this experiment later perhaps....and have had a stomach ache since. Given that everything else in the 'cake' had been in my diet in the last ten days I guess eggs are the culprit.

The next two weeks will see a slow reintroduction of various foods so the experimentation continues. In the meantime it's still no eating out, no booze, no sugar, no fun. 

Life it seems is a little dull.

the offending diet

Thankfully I have managed to salvage some enjoyment out of my misery. In the search to find some sort of post dinner treat that will sate my need for after dinner sweetness I have discovered the delights of dairy free/sugar free 'ice cream'. Lest the name fool you there is no cream involved and rather the whole thing can be made from frozen fruit. It's surprisingly tasty and has a lovely texture somewhere between ice cream and sorbet.

It couldn't be easier to make although it did nearly finish off my little mini blender, but it was on it's last legs anyway. Note to self - save up for a proper food processor.

Here's the how to:

Dairy free/sugar free ice-cream

whatever flavourings you desire/are allowed to have - things like cocoa, nut butters, honey, vanilla, coconut, fruits, you can be as creative as you like really. I used raspberries as that's what I had and that's what I'm allowed to eat.

All you need to do is peel and slice some bananas and freeze. When they're frozen you blend them up with your flavour of choice. (I used about 1/2 cup raspberries for 2 bananas). The consistency should be something like soft serve ice cream at this stage. It helps to blend the frozen fruit in small batches too if your blender is as weedy as mine. Transfer the mix to a freezable container and return to the freezer for a few hours. It doesn't need any stirring like regular ice cream, just leave it be and it will turn out delicious.

I served mine with some chopped nuts.


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