Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A virus

I'm not even going to kid myself it's swine flu this time, although it probably is. Tiredness and fatigue, a sore throat, a stuffy nose, plunging gloom and blowing hot and cold all the time - all I've been missing is a consistent high fever.

The ring had all but gone today - a good sign the immune system is struggling. If this was swine flu, this was a nasty little virus as it played with my head and made sure I did not do anything apart from grabbing a couple of hours of extra sleep.

Today my throat is still sore and I could be fairly confident it was not an allergic reaction. So it was time for the miracle cure - redbush tea.

I made it weak - I have forgotten how to make it. But within a few minutes there was  a satisfying itch all over as my immune system kicked in. My left arm has come out in red spots so I think I had better stop drinking it.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Punched in the face

I was working away from home for a few days this week. There were lots of finger buffets and this is when I get reminded just how problematic food can be.

I tend to assume I'm safe to sample foods if I'm not sure. That's not really true. And also if a nibble is tasty, it's hard to stop eating it, especially if I don't collapse on the spot. After a couple of days of this I felt as if I'd been punched in the face. My lip was sore, my tongue was swollen and my throat was going sore. And my insides were not too happy either. There was the beef sandwich that looked plain - but of course the caterers could not resist the temptation to add mustard. There was the prawn on a stick that again looked plain - but was in fact soaked in curry. And memo to me, chicken strips are always laced with pepper.

The upside was a visit to an Italian restaurant. They offered dish with pasta, spinach, tiger prawns, chilli and red onions. I asked them to serve it without the chilli and onions and they did. The prawns were plain and it was delicious.


Fried banana

I tried adding banana to the stir fry tonight. I mixed cabbage, banana and sardine, using the same techniques as with "tuna con chips" and ate it with fried potato. It was okay and the banana fleshed out the sardine nicely - but I could not taste it at all. I won't be adding this to my list of recipes yet.

Does anybody know how to fry banana to make a sweet and sour? I've eaten plenty of plantain in my life but feel that banana should be useable.

 I had more success the other night. I did a stir fry to eat with pasta from bacon, cabbage, leek and soy sauce. It tasted very Chinese.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

What is salicylate free?

 While I was under hospital care I had three different lists of foods and substances with and without salicylate. The first was sent out by the consultant and had been compiled by the British Allergy Foundation. The later ones were compiled by the dietician.

There are some big differences. By the end of the period, the dietician had split foods into negligible, low, moderate, high and very high. The original British Allergy Foundation merely classified them as high and low.

Mostly I try to keep to a diet high in fish and some basic near-zero salicylate foods such as cabbage, leek and banana. Other foods have crept in however.

I eat grapes. The original list said they were "high" and to be avoided. The last list says low. I don't find a problem.

The first list said broccoli was low. The last one says high. I avoid it.

The first list said pineapple juice was high. The last list says low. When I tried it I was quite ill. I avoid it.

The first list said sweetcorn was high. The last list said it was moderate but that corn on the cob is low. What's the difference? I've been eating it but I did notice the other day, it left me with a burn a little like curry.

The first list said all tomato was high. The last list says fresh tomato is low and may be okay. I avoid it.

The first list said cherries were high. The last list says canned cherries are low. I've been avoiding them - maybe I could try cherry products such as Black Forest Gateau.

The last list says green beans are okay. The first list didn't mention them and I've been avoiding them - although I love them.

The first list says parsnips are low. The last list says moderate. I've given them up quite recently.

Both lists say onions, mango and lemons are low, yet I've always avoided them. Maybe I just don't like onion and found it a good excuse to get everyone cooking with leek. I don't know why I would choose to avoid mango and lemon. I must find the second list - because that's maybe when I gave up on these two.

Perhaps I should try to find an even more up to date list. Or perhaps there simply isn't enough research on the subject.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Salicylate free eating

A few months ago I promised to list here all the salicylate free meals I have devised and reported. Here they are, just half a dozen, so far, along with the guidance I have drawn up for caterers and friends.
Meals involving fish are also low in omega 6 and especially safe, both in theory and in my experience. So there's a lot of fish. Some of these "recipes" are more detailed than others.

I have kind people who attempt more ambitious meals for me, such as fish pies and pizzas. You always have to check they don't accidentally sprinkle pepper on the food.

I have promised myself to step out and attempt a low salicylate curry some time. My list says it would have to use tandoori spice. I'll add to this list as recipes come in.

Tuna con Chips - when you hanker for a chilli con carne
Apple and Tuna Sauce
Fish pasta sauce
Roast chicken and gravy
Salmon and spinach
Salicylate free pasta sauce with mince
Guidance for friends
Instructions for caterers


Monday, September 07, 2009

Good news about cabbage!

 I eat a lot of cabbage. It has no salicylate and it is easy to store fresh. I have found ways to use it as a base for sauces and all sorts of dishes.

And it's worried me because it seems such a bland vegetable. The signs in the supermarkets say to mix your colours, to eat red and yellow and orange and green fruits and vegetables. Well, cabbage comes as red or white or green so that's not too bad.

So I'm celebrating the latest news about cabbage. It says that cabbage contains a chemical sulforaphane that has special properties to protect against heart disease. There's not as much as broccoli, which I can't eat, but I eat a lot of cabbage.

It's also in brussels sprouts, which we also eat a lot of. We tend to buy them frozen. It's also in cauliflower, which I do eat but I'm not sure I should.

We usually mix cabbage with leek when we cook it. I'll be eating a lot more!


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Green bananas

 We ordered our shopping on-line last week, including our usual large amount of bananas. Without exception, every banana that came was green.

I was desperate, and others were tucking in, so I ate the green bananas. I have read in various places that unripe fruit may be richer in salicylate, also that bananas contain pseudo-histamines. These are unscientific and unchecked comments - it is what I recall. All I know is that the bananas played havoc with my insides.

Today my throat is sore, my tummy is sore, I am running hot and cold, I've slept far too long and my limbs are throbbing. I fear I may at last be about to succumb to swine flu - or it could be just green bananas.

Next time we're going to send the green bananas back.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The joy of montelukast

 The pesky cat is back today. Yes, the episode with the fleas nearly ruined the second week of my summer holidays. So the cat got defleaed the minute it set through the door. It wasn't happy.

Today the problem is almost all gone - although there is still a weal on the back of my left hand.

For several days  the little finger continued to be sore - being most irritable first thing in the morning. Even worse was that when I touched it - to check - the itching flared up and the finger swelled. This was followed by the itching, and the swelling, spreading up the hand and the arm and that was worrying. I used up my last two montelukasts two days in a row simply to deal with this problem. This seemed to work. There's still a weal on the back of my left hand.

Curiously The Ring has nearly gone. In the mornings it's barely visible. This may be a result of not eating strong cheese of any kind for a few days - or of a salicylate free diet. I found the remains of a block of uneaten extra strong cheese when I got home and ate some of it. The Ring started to return but has receded again this morning.

It seems that montelukast is so successful - and worth more than four billion dollars a year - that there are major commercial battles over it  within the pharmaceutical industry.

Makers Merck seem to have seen off one attempt to make cheaper, generic versions.

But now there is an industry wide challenge to its patent.