Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Recipe of the month – March
Simple (gluten free) Irish Soda Bread Recipe

This recipe can be found on page 200 of the book “Is Food Making You Sick? The Strictly Low Histamine Diet” by James L. Gibb

Soda bread (Irish: arán sóide, Scots: fardel) is a quickly-made bread traditional to many cuisines; most famously, Irish and Scots. It gets its English name from the fact that it’s made using sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda) as a leavening agent, instead of yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. If you use non-dairy buttermilk (see below) the ascorbic acid or tartaric acid has the same effect.

Ingredients

500g (17.5 ounces) plain, all-purpose gluten free flour, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
310ml (10 fluid ounces) buttermilk [see below]
rice bran oil spray

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200° C (400° F). Grease a baking tray with rice bran oil spray.
  • Sift flour, bicarb soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk.
  • With a wooden spoon, gently stir the ingredients until they are well mixed and form a soft dough.
  • Wet your hands with cold water to stop the dough from sticking to them. Scrape the dough together with your fingers, then tip it out onto a clean surface such as a large wooden chopping board, sprinkled lightly with flour. Lightly knead it until it is smooth and shape it into a sphere.
  • Put dough on baking tray and flatten it a little to form a round, domed loaf about 19 cm (7.5 inches) in diameter.
  • Take a sharp knife and cut a deep cross in the top, slicing half-way down into the dough. Sprinkle extra flour over the top.
  • Place tray in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf has risen well, the top is brown and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it. If it seems undercooked, give it another 3–5 minutes in the oven and then test again.
  • When baked, remove loaf from oven and place on a wire rack. Allow it to cool thoroughly before cutting slices.

Serve as an accompaniment to soups and stews.
Use bread on the day it is baked. Soda bread is delicious when fresh, but becomes stale quite rapidly. If this happens, simply  toast it. It is best stored sliced, in the freezer.
Serves: 8

Buttermilk

Uncultured Dairy Buttermilk
In the USA, cultured, thick milk is commonly called ‘buttermilk’—however that is something of a misnomer. True buttermilk is made by churning fresh cream to separate out the fat solids. The result is butter on the one hand, and low-fat milk on the other.
Buttermilk is more easily digestible than whole milk and has less fat. It is also preferred, by many cooks, for baking—especially for pancakes. People on a low histamine diet should avoid cultured products, but if you cannot buy true buttermilk at your grocery store, what’s the solution? Some cookbooks suggest adding lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk to create buttermilk; however neither of these additives is safe for HIT sufferers.
Another alternative is to whisk together 1 cup skim milk with one and three-quarters tablespoons of cream of tartar. Allow the milk to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes and stir before you use it.

Recipe for uncultured dairy buttermilk:

  • Pour 2 cups of fresh dairy cream into the bowl of your food processor (or 4 cups if you have a machine with at least 11-cup capacity). Leave the rest in the refrigerator.
  • Begin processing and watch closely as the cream thickens and whips. It may take quite some time. Gradually the cream will start to look less pale. When you see it breaking into tiny yellowish lumps, proceed with caution until you can see that the cream has definitely separated into cloudy buttermilk and clumps of yellow butter.
  • Place a strainer over a chilled bowl and pour through the contents of the processor, scraping out any sticky butter particles with a rubber spatula. Repeat the entire procedure with the other half of the cream. You now have around 2 cups of buttermilk!
  • Pour the strained buttermilk into a storage container and store it  in the refrigerator.

You also have about a cup of unsalted butter. Your strainer will be filled with small lumps of it.

  • Turn the contents out into a bowl and work the butter into one big lump with a strong wooden spoon. Drain off as much liquid as possible and continue working the butter. As the butterfat comes together it will turn into a smooth, shiny mass.
  • When no more liquid emerges, pat the butter dry with paper towels, place it into an airtight container and refrigerate it.

Recipe for dairy free buttermilk:

  • 1 tablespoon L-ascorbic acid powder or Cream of Tartar (or less, according to your taste).
  • sufficient non-dairy, non-soy milk (e.g. almond, brown rice or coconut) to make up to 1 cup

Place ascorbic acid powder or Cream of Tartar in a measuring cup. Add enough non-dairy milk of your choice to make up to one cup. Whisk to combine.
Allow mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes before using. The acid adds a flavor reminiscent of buttermilk.

Enjoy!

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Carrot Salad with Mango Horseradish Vinaigrette

Carrot saladRecipe of the Month – February
Carrot Salad with Mango Horseradish Vinaigrette

Low histamine, gluten-free, vegan-friendly.
Servings: 4
Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 450g (1 pound) carrots, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 finely sliced green spring onions (salad onions)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated horseradish (or frozen and recently defrosted in the refrigerator)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh green mango juice (or frozen and recently defrosted in the refrigerator)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Grate the carrots in a food processor. Set aside.
  • In a salad bowl, combine the grated horseradish, green mango juice, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Add the carrots, fresh parsley and spring onions (scallions) and toss well.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes: Adjust the amount of honey according to your taste.

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Spiced Green Tea with Apple

apple-teaRecipe of the Month – January

Happy New Year! Why not drink a toast to the new year with a cup of delicious ‘Spiced Green Tea with Apple’. It’s vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo-friendly. This recipe makes 4 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 4½ cups pure water
  • 1 large apple, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice (pimento) seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder or a 5cm (2-inch) piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 5cm (2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons rice bran oil
  • ½ teaspoon nigella blackseed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 green tea bags
  • ½ tablespoon amchoor powder or 1 tablespoon fresh green mango juice (you can vary this according to your taste)

Instructions:

1. Place water, apple slices, pimentos, turmeric, ginger, oil, blackseed and black pepper in a saucepan. Mix well, then place on the stove at a medium to high heat and bring to a boil.

2. When the mixture is boiling , turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. Then stir in the green tea bags and let the mixture simmer for another three or four minutes until the tea infuses through it.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Take out the green tea bags and stir in maple syrup, honey and amchoor powder or green mango juice. Add a small amount at first, then taste and adjust to your preference.

4. Strain tea into a teapot or other heat-proof container with a spout. Pour into serving cups.

Notes:

  • The leftover strained apples and ginger make a tasty hot snack.
  • Keep Spiced Green Tea with Apple covered and refrigerated. Consume it within a couple of days or freeze it to enjoy later.
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Hay Fever

Hay Fever and Histamine

Hay fever is known to medical professionals as “allergic rhinitis”. Despite its name, it’s not really caused by hay. The term was invented in the 1800s when people believed the symptoms were cause by the smell of hay that had been freshly cut.

Hay fever is caused by the body’s allergic response to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, fungus spores, animal dander or industrial pollutants. These allergens can float, unseen, through the air indoors or outdoors.  When you breathe air that contains these particles, your nose, eyes, throat and sinuses can become swollen, irritated and inflamed. Hay fever symptoms can include sneezing, a runny, itchy nose, and watery, itchy eyes.

Allergens such as those mentioned above don’t affect most people. They can breathe pollen, mites, mold spores etc. without experiencing any reaction. People with histamine intolerance (HIT) however, do react. And the reaction can make life a misery for them. Their immune systems kick into overdrive and release a surge of biochemicals, including histamine.  One aspect of histamine’s job is to produce inflammation and swelling. Many people resort to swallowing antihistamine pills or using antihistamine nasal sprays to subdue their symptoms. These can be helpful in the short term but over the long term they can have a rebound effect. Besides, who wants to be dependent on pills and drugs? It’s far better for your health to address histamine intolerance through diet

Hay fever can be sorted into two groups:

  • Seasonal Hay fever. This is triggered by seasonally-occurring factors outside the home, such as plant pollen and fungal/mold spores. Such allergens are most likely to be wafting about in the air during spring, summer and the first weeks of fall.
  • Perennial Hay fever. This can occur all year round because it’s triggered by allergens that hang about all year long, especially inside your home. They can include dust mites, mold and pet dander.

How to reduce potential allergens.

  • Seasonal Hay fever. When you’re at home, keep your doors and windows closed to prevent allergens from blowing in. Remain indoors during times when the pollen count is high. In some countries, local governments post pollen forecasts on the internet. Install filtered air-conditioning in your home and car. Avoid using fans or vents that suck air into your home from outdoors.
  • Perennial Hay fever. To reduce dust mites, air your bedding and vacuum your carpets.  You might consider replacing carpets with polished floorboards and mats that are easily cleaned. To reduce mold, check your bathroom and kitchen, and anywhere else moisture could encourage mold’s growth. Use specialized mold cleaners.  To reduce the effects of pet dander, brush your pets outdoors while wearing a face mask, and bathe them weekly. Make sure your air-con system has good quality filters installed.

The Strictly Low Histamine Diet.

Most importantly, reduce your body’s histamine “bucket level” by following a strictly low histamine diet. It’s not a lifelong diet, and it can be followed until your histamine levels are low enough to make your symptoms disappear without drugs.

 

 

 

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Low Histamine Christmas Pudding

Recipe of the month: DECEMBER
Low Histamine Christmas Pudding

Low Histamine Christmas Pudding – without dried fruit.

It’s impossible to make a traditional Christmas pudding when you’re avoiding dried fruits. You can, nonetheless, ‘have your cake and eat it’.
You need not be deprived of pudding just because you are on a Strictly Low Histamine diet. Make this delicious steamed golden syrup pudding, specially modified for people with HIT. The original version was a great favourite with my own mother and grandmother.

Ingredients

4 oz. (110g or 1/2 cup) sugar
2 free-range, pastured eggs
4 oz. (110g  or 1/2 cup) butter or palm-oil-free vegetable shortening, melted
4 oz. (110g  or 1 cup) all-purpose plain gluten-free flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1.5 oz. (40ml)  oat milk, brown rice milk or dairy milk
½ teaspoon natural, alcohol-free, oil-based vanilla extract
5 oz. (140g) golden syrup
rice bran oil spray or other vegetable oil spray

Equipment

Electric mixer with bowl
Another bowl
A sieve
A spatula
A steamed-pudding tin/mold, with a lid that can be fastened on securely
A large cooking pot with a lid
A wire rack that fits in the bottom of the cooking pot

Instructions

  • Sift together into a bowl the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and creamy.
  • Pour in the milk and butter and continue beating until they are well blended.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a spatula, fold in the vanilla essence and the sifted dry ingredients from the other bowl, to make a batter.
  • Spray the inside of the pudding tin with oil and pour in the golden syrup.
  • Pour the pudding batter into the tin and fasten the lid.
  • Put the wire rack inside the large cooking pot. Cover it with water, place it on the stove-top and bring the water to the boil.
  • Lower the steamed pudding tin into the pot, so that it sits on the wire rack.
  • Put the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and boil the pudding for an hour and a half.
  • While it is cooking, lift the lid of the pot occasionally to check the water level. If water has boiled away, add more boiling water to keep the level up.
  • After the cooking time has elapsed, lift out the pudding tin. Immediately invert it on a serving dish and lift away the tin from the pudding.
  • Serve drizzled with maple syrup, low-histamine custard, more golden syrup or coconut cream.

Decorate with a sprig of plastic holly for a festive look.

The pudding can be re-heated later if it is not to be eaten straight away, but do remove it from the tin while it is hot.

Wishing you a happy, healthy Festive Season!

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Beetroot

Beetroot for flavor, nutrition, color.

Edible beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris Conditiva Group). This vegetable is one of several of the cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris grown for their edible taproots and their edible leaves (called beet greens).[Wikipedia, “Beetroot”] Beetroot is listed as safe for people who suffer from Histamine Intolerance.
Beetroot’s color can range from white, through red-and-white striped, to golden-yellow or red. The most common color available in stores is a dark, almost purplish red.
In North America, beetroot is also called:

  • beet
  • table beet
  • garden beet
  • red beet
  • golden beet

Nutritional Information

Raw beetroot is 88% water, 10% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and less than 1% fat. In a 100-gram amount (3.5 ounces) providing 43 calories, raw beetroot is a rich source of folate (one of the B-Group vitamins) and a moderate source of manganese. Beetroots are helpful for weight loss because they provide fiber and water to fill you up, but few calories.
Some people can’t stand the flavor of beets, but others love their sweet earthiness. If you’d like to eat beets but you’re put off by the taste, grate them raw and mix them with other ingredients  in smoothies, cookie dough, burgers, hummus, salads or red velvet cake. The other ingredients can soften or disguise the flavor.
Beet greens are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C, so don’t throw them away – use them as you would use spinach or silverbeet (Swiss chard).

Food Coloring Uses

Betanin, obtained from beetroot’s vibrantly-colored roots, is used industrially as red food colorant. It improves the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, candy, and breakfast cereals, among other applications. [Wikipedia, “Beetroot”] Some of the names of beetroot hybrids pay homage to their gorgeous red coloring – such as “Bull’s Blood” and “Ruby Queen”. Famously, red velvet cake is made with beetroot. During the middle of the 19th century, wine was often colored with beetroot juice. In the 21st century it can be used as a coloring for pasta.

Medicinal Uses

Traditionally, Beta vulgaris has also been used as a medicinal plant. “De honesta voluptate et valetudine” (On honest indulgence and good health) was the first cookbook ever printed. It first appeared between 1470 and 1475.  The author recommended taking beetroot with garlic to nullify the effects of “garlic-breath”. For many centuries, from the Middle Ages onwards, beetroot was used as a treatment for a range of diseases, especially illnesses of the digestion and the blood.

Beetroot and Apple Juice

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a refreshing drink: Put beetroot, apple, carrot, celery and a tiny knob of ginger through a juicer and drink it chilled.

 

 

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Oat Milk

Avoiding Dairy Milk

Many people avoid dairy products. They might do so for health reasons, for ethical reasons, or because it’s unavailable.
The ethical argument is strong. Calves born on dairy farms are taken from their mothers when they are one day old and fed milk replacements so that the mothers’ milk can be sold for use by humans. The mothers can be heard calling for their babies for up to several weeks. On average an equal number of male and female calves are born to dairy cows. Male calves are usually killed when they are about five days old. Cows stop producing milk unless they give birth every year.

If you wish to avoid dairy products but enjoy milk’s creaminess and versatility, you can drink nutritious alternatives such as rice milk or oat milk. These milks are suitable for people with Histamine Intolerance. They can even be made inexpensively in your own home. Here, for example, is a recipe for “quick oat milk”. It’s lactose-free, and celiac-friendly.

Quick Oat Milk Recipe

This quick and easy recipe yields a milk that is rather thinner than ‘Slow Oat Milk’. It can be thickened by either the addition of a little finely ground oat bran, or by cooking the rolled oats before you make the milk.

Note: you will also need a blender and a fine sieve or cheese cloth.

Put the oats in a large bowl and add enough water to just cover them. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Drain the oats and pour into blender. Add 3 cups of water and sweetener or additional flavorings if desired. If you wish, you may add more or less water, depending on the consistency you prefer.
Blend until the oats have completely disintegrated into a creamy liquid.
Strain the milk through a fine sieve or cheese cloth (this is optional). Homemade oat milk keeps for a few days under refrigeration, but while standing it may separate, so make sure you shake or stir it before using.

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Singing – an amazing natural therapy

Singing is therapy!

You don’t have to be a perfect singer. You don’t even have to be reasonably good. Everyone can sing, even if they sing out of tune! But singing is amazingly good for your health in many ways. Just watch this video to find out how. “What happens to your brain when you sing? Professor Sarah Wilson from The University of Melbourne explains.”

Singing can benefit people who suffer from Histamine Intolerance by improving their overall health. Of course, it is only one of the many useful tools that can help us, including the all-important tool, diet.

Singing in groups

Oh, and singing in a group, with other people, is even better for your health.”Benefits for individual mental health that are associated with singing in groups include increased levels of social connectedness, increased sense of belonging, physical and emotional benefits, and reduced personal stress,” according to research conducted by the Wellness Promotion Unit at Victoria University.

Singing is free, it doesn’t require any special equipment, and it can be done at any time.  So, sing at the top of your voice when you’re driving your car and no one else can hear you, or belt out a ballad in the shower, or enjoy a quiet harmony with your partner, or join a local choir.

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Many-colored rice

Rice – white, brown,  black, red, purple or wild!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “eat the rainbow”. It refers to the fact that including a wide range of highly-colored natural foods in our diet has enormous health benefits.

The plant pigments that give fruits and vegetables and their gorgeous, glowing colors have wonderfully health-giving properties. Think of the bright reds and greens of apples, the orange (and purple) hues of carrots, the yellow of summer squash, the vibrant purple of blueberries.

Rice is a valuable food for people who suffer from Histamine Intolerance. Some people might be surprised to learn that rice comes in a range of colors, too. We are accustomed to seeing white rice, whose grains have been stripped of the nutritious outer hull, bran layer, and cereal germ. White rice is available as long grain, medium grain or short grain, as aromatic, glutinous or all-purpose. These days “brown rice” , or “whole grain rice” is more common than it used to be, and most of us know that with its extra nutrients and prebiotic properties, it’s much better for us than the processed white version!

The Rice Association (UK) says there are more than 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice (the grass species Oryza sativa)!

The wider the range of rice varieties you eat, the more nutrients you potentially consume. In addition, you add welcome variety to your diet. Rice varieties include a rainbow of colors from white and brown through red and purple to black. These colors are given to the rice grains by plant pigments with health-giving antioxidant properties. So look for colored rices in your local supermarket or health food store.

Wild Rice

What about wild rice? It’s not directly related to Asian rice (Oryza sativa). Like Asian rice it’s from the “Grass Family”, but instead of being from the genus Oryza, it’s from the genus Zizania. There are four edible species of wild rice. The grains are dark in coloring and like Asian rice they are gluten-free.
People who suffer from histamine intolerance can safely mix cooked wild rice with Asian rice for a delicious, nutritious meal.

 

 

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How to Make Home Cooking Easier

Home cooking

Home cooking

Tips for Home Cooking

We all know that we should be eating more home-cooked meals. When you prepare your own meals, you know exactly what’s gone into them. You can avoid the dubious ingredients added to many processed foods, such as monosodium glutamate, preservatives fake colors, fake flavors, extra salt and extra sugar. You can also avoid ingredients that are high in histamine or histamine liberators. Home cooking can even save you money. So what’s stopping people from cooking at home? Most people are too busy, and many lack confidence in their culinary skills.

To encourage you to use your home kitchen to produce nutritious meals we’ve rounded up some great tips on how to prepare simple meals that are enjoyable, easy and quick.

From Emma Watson at Kidspot: 6 ways to make family cooking easy.

From Weight Watchers: 6 tips for creating speedy 30 minute meals.

From the Australian Government: Quick and Easy Meals.

From Rachel Ray via “How Stuff Works”: Quick Tips for Fast Meals.

From Taylor Isaac at Cooksmarts: 12 Tips That Make Cooking Cleanup Faster & Easier.

Here are some of our favorite tips:

  • When you cook at home, double the recipe and freeze the other half for later.
  • Make use of pre-chopped snap-frozen vegetables. They save you time!
  • Keep your knives sharp.
  • Think of cooking as a relaxing and productive activity.
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