Cooking Tips

Just a few tips and tricks picked up along my low histamine journey which you might find useful.

Tinned/canned goods

Due to my poor health and lack of energy I sometimes used tinned pulses my recipes.  You’re really not supposed to use tinned foods on a low histamine diet, with its emphasis on fresh food, so I’m not advocating you follow my example.  I do the best I can under difficult circumsances, and just don’t have the time or energy to spend hours cooking dried beans.

Many canned goods are preserved in citric acid, but the brand Tarantella uses only salt water and all their beans are organically grown. Widely available, including Amazon, but I buy mine from Booths supermarket.  If, like me, you have to use tinned pulses choose the best you can.

If using dried pulses, soak overnight in plenty of water before cooking.  To cook pulses, drain off the soaking water and rinse, then place in a saucepan and cover with fresh water.  Bring to the boil then simmer, covered, for the time given in the chart below or according to the packet instructions.  Add salt 10 mins before the end of cooking time – if you add it at the start it toughens the skins and hardens them.

Approximate cooking times for pulses after soaking:
Aduki beans 30-60 mins
Black-eye beans 1½ hours
Borlotti beans 1 hour
Butter beans 1-1½ hours
Cannellini beans 1 hour
Chick peas 1½-2 hours
Haricot beans 1-1½ hours
Lentils, large brown or green 45 minutes
Split peas, large 40-50 minutes
Note: small red lentils and small split peas require no pre-soaking.  Cooking time for red lentils is approximately 20-30 minutes and for small split peas 45-60 minutes.

Dried pulses double their weight after being soaked and cooked, so when using them instead of tinned pulses use half the weight.  Eg. for a standard 400g/14oz can of beans, soak and cook 200g /7oz of dried beans.

Food substitutes

DRIED FRUIT:
If a recipe calls for sultanas/currants, in things like a risotto or curry, I substitute fresh diced mango.

ONIONS:
One of my readers, d, left a really useful comment regarding a substitute for onions and garlic if you can’t tolerate either. She advises peeling and dicing a parsnip and using it just like you would an onion, ie. sauteeing in oil before adding the other recipe ingredients. Apparantly parsnips give a nice peppery flavour which is useful as a base for other ingredients. Thanks for the tip d!

SOY SAUCE:
If a recipe calls for soy sauce I use Tamarind paste instead. I’d never used tamarind before going low histamine, but now use it a lot. It adds a strong, tangy flavour and can liven up even the most bland of recipes. It’s also useful in sauces.

SPICES:
If a recipe calls for curry powder I substitute dried turmeric or cumin.
For cinnamon & nutmeg I substitute ground ginger.

TOMATO:
If a recipe calls for a tin of tomatoes I substitute an 8oz jar of my tomato-free or red pepper sauce.

For tomato puree I thicken my red pepper sauce or tomato-free sauce with a little cornflour mixed to a paste with water.

VINEGAR:
If a recipe calls for vinegar I either substitute water in equal quantities (sometimes this is fine, depending on the recipe), or lemon juice if I know a very acidic taste is needed (for 1 tblsp vinegar I only use 1 tsp lemon juice, taste, and add more if needed).

Conversion Tables

Oven temperature conversion guide:  click here.

British to American weight conversions for popular foods: click here.

Weight calculator from British to American and back: click here.

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