Tag Archives: diet

Life’s too short

We are obsessed in the western world with living longer and in order to do this we have to spend our whole lives not doing anything naughty……….in other words not having fun.  No drinking, no eating junk food and spending our time at the gym rather than slobbing in front of the telly watching Celebrity Big Brother (Kirsty Ally’s been brilliant 😉 ).

There’s no greater pressure to live a totally joy-less existence than when you’re ill.  I mean, how dare a sick person get drunk or eat a meal that doesn’t consist of kale and lentils – they obviously don’t want to get better!

Here’s my thoughts on old age – I don’t want to get to 90.  I’m only 50 and am already fucking sick of living with constant pain and exhaustion and with the daily threat of anaphylaxis hanging over my head.  I don’t want to live on rabbit food in order to gain another 3 pain-filled, crippled years when I’m old.  I’d rather die a bit younger and have spent my days eating Wine Gums and stodgy carbs because I like wine gums and stodgy carbs and fucking hate kale which IMHO should only be eaten by rabbits.

Nothing is going to cure my MCAD, which is caused by having hEDS, which is a genetic disease and currently un-treatable.  No amount of holy basil is going to stop me having faulty collagen.

Yesterday, my diet consisted of toast for breakfast, a home-made pizza for lunch with a home made fruit smoothie, afternoon snack of wine gums with a cup of tea (shock, gasp!) and a bowl of Weetabix for tea.  There was  barely a vegetable in sight because I was having a crap day and wanted to eat shite.  News flash – it hasn’t killed me and I’m not in hospital with anaphylaxis.  In fact, I’m very lucky that my mast cells/HIT tolerates nutritionally defunct food and I can eat as much crap as I like.

Obviously woman can’t live on carbs and sugar alone and no-one wants to develop diabetes, but this woman doesn’t want to live on cauliflower couscous or raw cacao either – yeugh!  And if my mast cells would still tolerate alcohol I’d probably get drunk once a week to have some time off from having to deal with my shitty life.

I am currently about 10lbs over-weight but I am 50, menopausal and increasingly disabled by both hEDS and M.E.  I actually think I’ve done well over the last quarter of a century of inactivity to have only gained 10lbs – go me!

My life is deprived enough and I’m now at the point where I refuse to deprive myself of pleasure any more.  So what if I live from now til I die on a diet of Weetabix and Wine Gums – at least I’ll have enjoyed my food.  I’m not sure why, all these years, I’ve eaten boring food I fucking hate.  To live a longer life of pain and sickness?  Sod that for a game of soldiers.  I’d rather die young and have enjoyed the previous twenty years, than die when I’m old and have lived a life of boring deprivation.  Pass the Starburst 🙂

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Food Shaming

I’ve written about the Food Nazis several times before.  Y’know, those people online who say that following this diet or that diet has helped them enormously and you can’t possibly want to improve your health because you’re still eating sugar/gluten/dairy/processed food/high histamine food (whatever that is) or “food with no nutritional value”.  And whilst I know that eating healthily is vital to………..well, health…………I also know that when you’re chronically ill there are days when you’re lucky to have eaten at all let alone have spent hours preparing raw foods washed down with a green smoothie.

There is so much emphasis on food in the management of chronic conditions that’s it’s easy to feel really down on yourself if you’re not able to follow the legion of (often contradictory) dietary advice circulated online.  But it’s important to remember that hardly any of this information has been backed up by research and even if it has been scientifically proven to help you are sick, your life is already ridiculously hard and you are doing the best you can.  Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking badly of yourself.

I thought I’d share with you a few pearls of wisdom I say to myself when I’m having a wobble and doubting that I am doing all I can to manage my diseases:

  • Jak, you live on your own with limited money and zero help.  Be proud that you manage as well as you do.
  • You don’t just have hEDS.  You also have MCAD, M.E. and cripplingly painful endo and adeno.  On top of that you’re going through the Menopause which even healthy women find difficult.  Be kinder to yourself.
  • Nausea kills your appetite.  If you haven’t eaten a thing all day and the only item of food you fancy is a packet of Wine Gums they at least contain sugar and sugar equals energy – it’s better than starving.
  • As a species, we have managed to survive and thrive for 2 millennia without chia seeds or sprouted peas.  And you have managed to survive for 24 years of chronic illness without them too.
  • What works for one person doesn’t work for another, especially when that other has both MCAD and Histamine Intolerance.
  • I live in the north of  England, not California.  It’s sodding cold here and a green salad is not going to keep me going when it’s -10C outside and I have to walk the dog, bearing in mind I have M.E and my muscles don’t work properly.  Without some seriously stodgy carbs I’d never get out of bed.
  • Your life is ridiculously restricted.  If you want to binge on Pringles and Jaffa Cakes washed down by pint mugs of Yorkshire tea every now and again knock yourself out.
  • If all you have the energy to make for dinner is oven chips and a fried egg you’ve just consumed 14% of your RDA for Vitamin C, 26% Thiamin, 16% Riboflavin, 16% Niacin, 30% B6, 18% folate , 11% B12 plus Vitamins A, D, E & K alongside Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese not to mention 490mg of Omega 3 fatty acids, 26% of your RDA of protein and beneficial to POTS sodium.  Processed or quick food does not equate “nutritionally deficient” whatever the food nazis tell you and it’s better than not eating at all cos you’re too knackered to make anything.
  • I am doing the best I can under very difficult circumstances.

I watched a talk on the proposed dietary research EDS UK want to undertake recently and while I’m sure, in an ideal world, eating a diet rich in nutrients which aid collagen synthesis and wound repair would be beneficial let’s not forget that lots of people with hEDs have a digestive tract that is so fucked up they are being fed via a tube into their stomach or heart.  Advice on a new diet isn’t going to help them much, or the estimated 10% of people with hEDS who also have MCAD and who are on restricted diets of varying types and severity.  So to spend £250,000 on a treatment which is only going to help a proportion of hEDS patients makes me kind’ve pissed not to mention left out in the cold.

I’m really, really, fed up of being left out in the cold simply because my illness is complex or severe.  Surely to goodness those people at the severe end of the spectrum are the ones we should help first not last?  They are the ones whose entire lives have been robbed, whose futures are bleak and who are suffering the most.  Instead, they are the ones ignored while the focus is on those easier to treat.  It’s been just the same with M.E. for decades until, of course, world renowned geneticist Ron Davis’ son became severely ill which has resulted in the severely affected being studied by Nobel prize winning scientists in a race against time to save his life.

We are not all on the same journey – the path for some is smooth, flat, concreted and accompanied by helpful companions and for others is rocky, pot hole strewn, uphill and crawled alone.  You can only do what you can do and don’t let anyone tell you that your best isn’t good enough.

Frankenfoods – Part 2

Following on from my first post on this subject, a reader of my blog rightly pointed out that the reason most people reach for convenience foods, rather than making their own from scratch, is that making all your own food simply takes up too much time.  I couldn’t agree more.  I spend two entire mornings every week making food to put in the freezer and trying out new recipes, and a further 1-2 hours every day cooking.  It’s exhausting, particularly when you’re ill, in pain, have problems standing and have very limited energy.  I have no idea how people who work would fit it all in!  And thereby comes the crunch.

On the whole, women have only been in the workplace full-time since the war.  Before that, a woman’s job was to run a home and rear children and it took up every second.  My Nan cooked for 9 people every day of her life on a black lead range which used coal.  She didn’t have a fridge let alone a freezer, so food was fresh every day (she made all her own bread, pastry, gravies, sauces, jams, even toffee).  My family were poor, so my Nan worked part-time cleaning richer people’s houses, but she simply would never have had the time to work a 40 hour week outside the home as modern women do now.

She also didn’t have the leisure time we expect nowadays.  She didn’t play with her kids, or take them to Alton Towers.  They weren’t ferried by car to Brownies, or after-school hockey practice.  The children amused themselves while my Nan got on with the never-ending job of cooking, washing up, doing laundry (on an open fire, starting at 5am on a Monday morning and taking the entire day) and keeping the house clean (which wasn’t a huge job, as it had one room upstairs, one room downstairs and a lean-to which contained a sink – the loo was at the bottom of the garden and bathing was done once a week in a tin bath in front of the fire).  Her evenings were spent knitting clothes for her brood, as she couldn’t afford to buy jumpers from a shop.  Dunno about you, but I’m glad we now have automatic washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, fridges, freezers, showers, proper cookers and online shopping at Matalan.  Which, one would think, would give us bags more time……….only it hasn’t.  Well, actually, it has – we just use this spare time in ways my Nan would never have dreamt of, ie going to the Gym, waiting outside dance class in the car at 8 o’clock at night to drive our kids home, and spending weekends going ten pin bowling, or swimming, or spending hours and hours and hours on our iPads or watching the telly.

On the flip side, for those of you who are married expectations from husbands and fathers have altered dramatically.  When both parents go out to work it’s only right that partners take on an equal share of the domestic chores and child rearing.  At least, that’s how it’s supposed to go, but when I speak to my married friends it sadly rarely does and women still take on the majority share of both child rearing and housework.

We really cannot have it all.  We can’t have careers, leisure time, families and look after ourselves well – there aren’t enough hours in the day.

I don’t have a choice about my diet.  If I eat high histamine foods I go into anaphylactic shock, so cooking is a number one priority for me.  When I look at how I’m going to spend my week (which I do on a weekend so that I can prepare for what’s in store and make sure I rest and plan my energy) cooking is the first thing I put on my schedule.  Followed by appointments (either for me, my Mum and now my Dad).  Followed by walking my dog.  Followed by rest.  Cleaning the house, bathing and leisure time make the cut now and again, but certainly aren’t high on my list of priorities.  Luckily for me I don’t have children – I simply wouldn’t have coped, particularly when I was bedridden for all those years.  People who are ill yet still have families to care for deserve a medal – I just don’t know how they do it.

The solution for me has been to prioritize, which means I don’t have the time or energy to do many of the things I’d like to.  I don’t even have the time or energy to do many of the things I should do, like wash my hair (which is why wearing wigs is a God send!) or change my bed sheets.  I had to let go of the life I expected for myself and come to terms with the life I’m actually able to live.  When I was bedridden I had to fight incredibly hard to obtain welfare benefits which enabled me to employ people to help me in my home.  There was no way I could have cooked for myself then and I’m grateful every day that I’m now able to make my own meals.

This is how I manage my life.  Priorities will be different for all of us, depending on our health, finances, how much help we receive and our family circumstances.  But in order to feed ourselves well, something has to give.

Frankenfoods – Part 1

When I was a child there was a little shop in most villages, or at the very least a daily mobile shop van.  Along with a milk van (although we got our milk straight from the farm opposite our house) and a butcher’s van.  Oh, and a pop van that came round on a Friday night – it was the only pop we ever drank.

My Mum bought everything in our village shop, going every day or every other day for bread and perishables, and we grew much of our own fruit and veg (potatoes, onions, carrots, sprouts, berries in the winter; peas, beans, cauliflower, radishes, tomatoes, rhubarb, apples, pears, gooseberries in the summer).  OK, so there wasn’t a huge amount of choice but we ate fresh, seasonal produce as nature intended.

That was less than 40 years ago, yet in that short space of time the way we produce, purchase, prepare and eat food has become almost unrecognisable.  80% of village shops are now closed and everyone buys their groceries weekly at the supermarket with the majority of food items lasting several days.   Only about 30% of the food I eat is even grown in the UK, let alone in the area where I live.  And while I do still grow some of my own produce and would grow more if my health allowed and I had a proper garden, I realize I’m in a dwindling minority.

The biggest shock about going low histamine is that I’ve been forced to look at labels and really think about what I’m eating.  What we put in our bodies horrifies me.  I don’t even know what half the ingredients are, but they’re not food.  How can a chicken be 60% meat for goodness sake?!  And why are vitamins and minerals being added to our bread and cereals?

One of the biggest shocks was how much yeast and vinegar is added to food.  I could barely find one label that didn’t contain some version of vinegar or have added yeast.  And whilst I’m sure each particular food has been safety tested, has anyone joined the dots and realized that nearly ALL our food contains these ingredients and looked at the cumulative effects on our bodies?  How acidic must our stomachs be, and I’m not surprised we get yeast infections like Candida.   Our solution is to then take probiotics to repair the damage, instead of just not eating all the crap that’s destroying our gut flora in the first place!  My Nan managed to live to 86, with barely a days illness in her entire life, without drinking Yakult. What she did do was grow some of her own fruit and veg, right up to her seventies, and spend hours cooking and baking everything from scratch with a handful of simple ingredients (she made the best damson jam and apple pie in the known universe 😉 ).

I have a blackberry bush in my garden.  I pick the fruit when it’s ripe, it lasts about 4 days in the fridge before it starts to go mushy and after a week it’s inedible.  How, then, can berries be picked in Cyprus, transported on a ship to England, put onto lorries, delivered to supermarkets, stacked on shelves, bought by consumers, taken home, kept in the fridge for a few days……….and still be in perfect mint condition?  I make all my own sauces, and I know if I make some Tzatziki it will last about 5 days in the fridge before I need to throw it away.  How, then, can a store bought sauce have a sell by date two years into the future?  And if I make a cake, by day 3 it’s as dry as a piece of cardboard yet cakes sit on supermarket shelves for months and are still as moist as the day they’re made.  What on earth is being done to our food to make it last so long?

For 30 years our obesity epidemic has been blamed on saturated fat.  Only now we know that saturated fat, in moderation, is fine.  And now sugar is the enemy, when IMHO sugar in moderation will also turn out to be fine.  All the additives, pesticides, chemicals, irradiation, genetic modification and preservatives in our food, on the other hand, are not fine and I’m much more convinced are altering our digestive processes, metabolism and health in profound ways.

I always thought I had a healthy diet.  I ate organically wherever possible, didn’t drink alcohol, was pesco-vegetarian, rarely ate puddings or so-called junk food (although I loved chocolate!), never drank fizzy pop and juiced my own fruit and veg.  But when I went low histamine I was staggered at all the items I could no longer buy because they contained vinegar, yeast, preservatives, additives and other forbidden ingredients.  I absolutely dread to think what the average British or American diet, which is no-where near as healthy as the one I used to follow, consists of and it doesn’t shock me in any way that our children are on track to be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.

The whole food industry topic is huge and is something I’m going to come back to in future blog posts.  It’s so important.  Luckily here in the UK we have people like the Chef Jamie Oliver flying the flag for ‘proper’ food and home cooking (and just look at the flack he’s received over the years for simply pointing out the crap that goes into our children’s meals, including school dinners, when he should have been given a bloody medal!), but we all need to be more aware of what we’re putting in our bodies.

 

 

 

Weekly roundup

I had my 5th root canal treatment on Thursday and after 7 weeks there is finally good news – the infection has gone from all three roots, yayyy 🙂  But this is me, so there is also bad news – the tooth still hurts like a son-of-a-bitch and we have no idea why, and some more of the tooth chipped off taking the temporary filling out.  I’m fairly sure I’m just going to be left with a stump, but one which should still be crownable so all is not lost.  Because my tooth is still hurting my Dentist still didn’t fill it, instead putting my 6th temporary dressing on.  I have to go back in another 2 weeks to see if the pain has calmed down.  I can’t believe how well I’m coping with all these local anaesthetics and horrible dressings which contain things I react to – the pertinent point being “local”, ie. they’re not entering my gut or my blood stream, because if they were all hell would be breaking loose.  The stress of each treatment does affect me though – I couldn’t spell a single word after my appointment on Thursday and called a fellow blogger the name of a friend I’d just been chatting to on the phone – I gave up being online after that and had a nap instead 😉 .

Having to radically alter my diet has not been either easy or fun, and there have been days where I’ve wanted to just give up (sadly it’s not an option unless I want to go back to having anaphylaxis every time I eat).  But then there are days like Wednesday this week, where my food was lovely, and I think I’ve finally cracked the whole new diet malarkey.  I had:

  • Breakfast: organic yeast-free bread, with butter and home-made rhubarb jam.
  • Lunch: home-made Chinese spring rolls, with home-made sweet chilli dipping sauce.
  • Dinner: home-made creamy vegetable pancake, with potato salad and carrot/red cabbage coleslaw both made with home-made mayonnaise (although I do admit to cheating slightly with the pancake, as I sprinkled it with a little bit of mild grated cheddar which I melted in the oven).  My meal was washed down with freshly squeezed juice of kale, broccoli, grapes, blueberries, melon and mango (I’m sure any vegetarians reading this will know, but you should always try and drink a vitamin C rich drink with your main meal as it helps iron absorption).

During the day I worked out I’d eaten:  Whole-wheat, Olive oil, Rhubarb, Lemon juice, Sugar, Dairy (butter, milk, cream, cheese), Sugar snap peas, Carrots, Courgette, Mushrooms, Beansprouts, Spring onions, Tamarind, Garlic, Chilli, Red cabbage, Potatoes, Egg yolks, Groundnut oil, Salt, Kale, Broccoli, Cantaloupe melon, Grapes, Blueberries and Mango.  Which seems like a pretty well-rounded and balanced diet to me.

This month has been brilliant in terms of head pain, and I’ve not had a migraine (or even a headache to any real extent) since before my last period.  This is phenomenal for me, and probably the only time I’ve been migraine-fee for a whole month in the last 7 years!  I went and spoiled it all by having one on Thursday, although it wasn’t very bad and didn’t stop me doing what I wanted to – it was hormonal of course, as it’s my pre-menstrual week.  I’d forgotten what living without migraines was like and I have to say this month has been awesome 🙂 .

I made the mistake of not putting insect spray on when out in the garden one day this week.  The result?  My legs were used as a buffet table by every nippy little critter in a 10 mile radius.  I won’t be forgetting again! (sorry for poor picture quality in this post – my camera is away at the menders and I’m relying on my very cheap mobile phone).

We’re continuing to have lovely warm sunshine here in the north of England, which is nothing short of miraculous as I live in the wettest part of England and it usually just rains……and rains…..and rains some more.  It’s gorg to zip about the village on my scooter in my shorts, breeze in my hair, fresh air in my lungs (albeit causing me to sneeze my head off!) and a song in my heart.  The appreciation I have for times like this is beyond words – the last 20 years has been a slog of epic proportions which at times has nearly killed me.  But I am still here and loving life 🙂 .

 

 

Superfoods

I bet you’re dead excited seeing that title and are thinking I’m going to write a really informative post on how to improve your health eating some newfangled pod found in the Arabian Desert………..but this is me.  Miss Cynical.  So you’re going to be sorely disappointed 😉 .

I’ve been ill since 1994.  Absolutely zero was known about M.E. then (the situation has barely changed but that’s a topic for another day) so spurious ‘cures’ appeared with monotonous regularity and the majority of them involved either food or supplements.  So I may be a low histamine newbie but I’m a very old and weary veteran of diets that claim to make you well.

These days popular diets include:

  • holy basil
  • medjool dates
  • kale
  • coconut oil
  • bone broths
  • Paleo
  • anti-inflammatory
  • FODMAP
  • no gluten and/or grains (try telling heart healthy Italians that pasta drowned in olive oil is bad for them!)
  • no dairy
  • no sugar (seriously, is there any fucking thing left?!)

When I first got sick it was:

  • bee propolis
  • probiotic yoghurt
  • anti-candida (ie zero sugar, yeast, fermented foods or fungi)
  • gluten-free
  • aloe vera juice
  • sprouted seeds & beans
  • spirulena
  • l-carnitine
  • co-enzyme Q10
  • ginko biloba
  • ginseng
  • echinacea

And inbetween there has been:

  • goji berries
  • manuka honey
  • cranberry juice
  • kamboucha tea (have you ever drunk that shit? Eugh!!!)
  • drinking raw olive oil
  • almonds
  • di-ribose
  • fasting
  • juicing
  • raw
  • low GI
  • low fat
  • Atkins (low carbohydrate)

For the first 8 years of being desperately ill I tried everything and remained as sick as a dog.  So I threw in the towel and started eating like a normal human being.  I have friends from those early days who still eat anti-candida and gluten-free and yet they’re still sick as a dog – I have no idea why they continue when it’s clearly not helping.

I do know one person who was diagnosed with M.E. and who was cured by eating anti-candida.  Which goes to show she didn’t have M.E., but a yeast problem.  Not a single person I’ve ever known has cured themselves from M.E. (or any other disease) by taking l-carnitine or sprouting mung beans.  In fact of my friends who are still following restricted diets I’m the most well of them all and they are, without exception, as sick as the day I met them.  Which has to tell you something.

To a large extent I credit my partial recovery from M.E. to improving my diet so I’m not dissing eating well in any way.  I spent years juicing, eating organically, often raw, and it absolutely improved my health.  No question.  But I’m not ‘cured’.  And I will never be ‘cured’.  Not unless someone finds a way of altering my buggered up genes and replacing my knackered nervous system.  I’m more hopeful of a cure for my overly vigilant immune system, although knowing my luck it will involve drugs my overly vigilant immune system attacks 😉 .

I take all the latest Superfoods and cure-all diets with a humongous pinch of salt.  In fact, the salt would probably make me feel better than a bowl of medjool dates due to the fact that it would increase my crappily low blood pressure 😉

I know many people who read my blog have complex food intolerances/allergies and have to live on restricted diets.  If I eat high histamine foods I literally feel like I’m about to die.  I’m not advising anyone with a wheat intolerance to suddenly start eating bagels or someone with fructose intolerance to binge on fruit salad.  What I am talking about here is believing all the hype about current ‘cure-all’ diets or superfoods which in 20 years time will turn out to be a load of old nonsense (we’ve been told for 30 years that fat is the enemy and now we’re being told fat is good, it’s sugar that’s the enemy……..seriously, somebody shoot me!).  Every single natural food item you eat is good for you in moderation and in its own way – none are really any better or worse than any other, and many need a balance of each other in order for the body to utilize their nutrients (ie. calcium rich foods/magnesium rich foods/vitamin D rich foods/potassium rich foods – one is useless without the others).  I get genuinely concerned when I read about diets online which advocate excluding entire food groups like grains or dairy, especially if you are already following a restricted diet like low histamine – you should never do this without the help of a trained and registered Dietician.  Becoming deficient in B vitamins, or carbohydrates, or not consuming enough fat (which is vital for brain function and mood, even Dr Oz agrees!), is potentially damaging to the body not to mention your energy levels.   Use your common sense and don’t believe everything you read.

 

 

New Recipes

It’s been approximately a year since I started to eat a low histamine diet.  It’s second nature now and I’ve gotten into the grove of preparing all my food from scratch and choosing low histamine ingredients.  Initially I felt incredibly deprived as all my favourite foods were forbidden (how I miss the humble tomato and freshly grated parmesan cheese!) but I now have a bank of tasty recipes and I’ve adjusted to the change in taste although it did take several months.  So if you’ve just started to eat low histamine and are thinking you can’t face another day stick with it, it gets better I promise!

Eating out is tricky and it’s rare you ever find a totally low histamine meal.  I just choose the meal with the lowest histamine ingredients available, pick the tomatoes out of salads and ask for no dressings etc.  As my histamine “bucket” is no longer full to overflowing having the odd higher histamine food doesn’t usually cause me any problems.   Saying all that, I’ve eaten frozen processed chips in a restaurant and had a reaction to those so now I only go to places that use all fresh ingredients.  If I need to buy a sandwich when I’m out I do have to cheat and have bread containing yeast, but I have it freshly made up at a deli with low histamine ingredients (eg, yesterday I had a roasted vegetable & mozzarella panini – the veg was freshly grilled in front of my eyes and mozzarella is allowed on my version of the diet).  Drinks are also problematic, so I usually end up with bottled still mineral water although I’ve had pear J2O with no problems. I react to apples because of my Birch pollen allergy, but all of you should be able to drink apple juice which is widely available.

I’ve found a new source of ready-made items with low histamine ingredients in Booths supermarkets, who often stock unusual things not seen in the larger supermarket chains.  I found jars of organic rhubarb compot, caramel sauce, blackstrap molasses and various other items I’ve struggled to source – so if you have a Booths near you check it out.

On to recipes.  As stated in my last food post I tried substituting carob powder for some of the flour in my Crunchy Oat Biscuits, instead of using actual carob chips.  They were OK but not nearly as nice as the original with the chips in, so I’m sticking with those as they’re delicious!  I also said I’d find a way of making home-made Bounty bars, but despite several tries the carob covering just doesn’t work so I’ve had to admit defeat *cries silently* 😉

I still struggle with lunches especially when I’m often not at home, so finding a new portable recipe is always great.  The late Linda McCartney (wife of the Beatle Paul McCartney) produced some brilliant vegetarian cookbooks that didn’t use stupid ingredients like vine leaves and made proper hearty meals suitable for an English winter!  As they are now quite old her books often don’t contain modern ingredients, which make her recipes more suitable for low histamine meals.   This week I’ve made some Leek Puffs from her ‘Linda’s Summer Kitchen’ cook book and they are tasty, though best still slightly warm from the oven.  See the lunch section of my Recipe page and scroll down.

I also struggle to find sauces which don’t contain either soya or vinegar, so to find a sauce recipe with allowed ingredients is a gem.  This Chinese Honey Dipping Sauce is really versatile and can be used as a marinade, in stir fries, as a substitute when recipes ask for soy sauce, or added to other recipes to give them a tang!  It doesn’t make a huge quantity, but it’s quite a strong sauce so you don’t need much – I use 2-3 tablespoons for a single veggie/noodle stir-fry. See the Jams & Sauces section of the Recipe page and scroll down.

I’ve been spending a few weeks perfecting a Quorn meatloaf recipe (although you could adapt this for mince if you eat meat), the original idea for which I think also came from a Linda McCartney cook book.  Meatloaf can be quite dry, so in the picture below I’ve done it with buttered new potatoes and sweet potato/carrot casserole (the recipe for which is in the Main Courses section of the Recipe page, as is the new Meatloaf).  The addition of tamarind paste to the meatloaf gives it a nice tangy flavour and you could also add nuts if tolerated to bump up the nutritional content.

Photo of Quorn meatloaf

I don’t have the energy to make my own vegetable stock for use in recipes, but thought I’d share with you how to make it if you don’t want to use commercially available stock cubes or powders.  It’s easy, albeit time-consuming, and the stock can be frozen for future use.  See the Miscellaneous Section of the Recipe page and scroll down.