Friday, December 28, 2007

Starting the Rotation Diet

Going on a rotation diet sounded too complicated when I was first diagnosed with food intolerances several years ago. I was barely listening when the naturopath told me that people with multiple food allergies need to rotate foods on a four-day schedule to avoid developing new intolerances. I was too busy mourning the loss of cinnamon rolls, ice cream and omelets, some of my favorite foods. I didn’t want to hear about this complicated plan where I would have to eat compatible foods. Well, guess what? I didn’t listen, and now I have additional foods to avoid.

My goal is to share my experiences as I learn to eat following a rotation diet. The goal of a rotation diet is to reduce your exposure to the same foods because this may increase food sensitivities. I am following a four-day rotation diet where compatible foods are divided into four days by food families. The idea is not to consume the same
food more than once every four days and no foods of the same family more than once every two days.

The theory behind the rotation plan is that all foods are either plant or animal-based, and divided into families according to their origin. With some food groups, in certain individuals, an adverse reaction to one member of a family may result in a similar reaction to other members of the same group. For instance, someone with peanut allergy is likely to be or become allergic to other legumes, such as soybeans or peas.

On my plan, I avoid dairy, eggs, gluten, onions, garlic, caffeine, asparagus, lima beans, peanuts, pineapple and bananas. I pick the foods for my four-day meal plan from a list provided my doctor. Each day there are choices for beverages, grains/flours, fruit, legumes/nuts, oils, protein, veggies and miscellaneous.

Here are the foods I selected by day for Week 1.

Beverage- Day 1: almond milk, peppermint tea Day 2: rice milk Day 3: soy milk
raspberry tea Day 4: macadamia milk

Grains/Flour- Day 1: buckwheat Day 2: quinoa Day 3: rice Day 4: amaranth

Fruit- Day 1: apple, pear, raspberry Day 2: blueberry, kiwi Day 3: peach, apricot Day 4:
mango, cranberry

Legumes/Nuts- Day 1:almond butter, walnut Day 2: tahini, sesame seed, hazelnuts, poppy seed
Day 3: carob, sunflower seed, green beans, black beans Day 4: garbanzos, peas, pine nuts

Oils- Day 1: almond, walnut Day 2: safflower Day 3: sesame Day 4: olive, sunflower

Protein- Day 1: ground turkey Day 2: sole Day 3: chicken Day 4: tuna

Vegetables- Day 1: kale, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, spinach Day 2: zucchini, yellow squash, mushroom, chard Day 3: brussel sprouts, cabbage, mustard green Day 4: carrot, parsnip, winter squash, endive

Misc.- Day 1: Black pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, stevia, turmeric Day 2: chili, cumin, parprika Day 3: yeast, ginger, saffron Day 4: basil, sage, oregano

At first, it looked like I would have to scrap all my favorite recipes. I started getting creative and here are two of my recipes I came up with for Day 1 of the first week.

Hot Apple Kasha for Breakfast
Note: I’d never had this before and discovered it was really quite good.

½ cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
1 ½ cup water
1 cup apple juice
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg and cinnamon
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 tbs. safflower or olive oil
Nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, dairy or non-dairy milk (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, heat oil. Add kasha and toast for several minutes.
Add water, apple juice, spices, diced apple, raisins and nuts. (Raisins and nuts can be reserved for topping.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve hot. Top with milk, brown sugar, raisins, seeds or nuts, if desired.

Indian Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Chips for Lunch or Dinner

For the potato chips:
Get the potato chips started before working on the burgers.
Peel 2 sweet potatoes and cut thinly with a Mandolin slicer. Place in a bowl and toss with 2 tbs. of allowed oil, black pepper and salt. Spread the chips on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until crispy at 450 degrees F (approximately 20-30 minutes).

For the turkey burgers:

While the potato chips are baking, mix well in a large bowl these ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey (93 or 99 percent fat free)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. nutmeg
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped finely
1 tbs. almond or other allowed oil

Divide the meat mixture into four patties. Heat oil in a grill pan, add the burgers and grill.

Serve the turkey burgers with sautéed kale or spinach, if desired. Drizzle the burgers with cinnamon oil (mix 1 tsp. of oil with 1/8 tsp. cinnamon).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cats inspire "Ginger Cats" recipe

I can’t imagine cooking without my cats in the kitchen. All I have to do is clang a few pans around in the kitchen, and my feline crew reports for duty. They include Oreo, an 11-year-old female, and Pumpkin, a one-year-old male. The kitchen seems like an appropriate place for two cats with food names. Sometimes, they invite their dog pal, Kona, an eight-year-old female Golden Retriever.

The trio entertains me with their antics while I cook. There’s something reassuring about having them with me while I undertake the challenges of learning how to cook appetizing menus on a rotation diet due to multiple food allergies.

I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies about a year ago after suffering with environmental allergies/asthma all my life. Hypothyroidism and a rare stomach disorder, called gastroparesis, are other cooking challenges. I've tried eliminating offending foods, only to develop new allergies. Just about every food, if I eat it too often, becomes an enemy. Now I undertake the challenge of following a rotation diet, where I rotate all foods and eat them only once every four days. By following such a plan, my body doesn't get enough of particular foods to label them as enemies. I’m sure there are many of you, like me, who can benefit from having a place to gather and share ideas about rotation diets and food allergies/intolerances.

My cats and dog have warmed my heart and cheered me up on many a day when I haven’t felt up to par. It seemed fitting to name this site and my first posted recipe after them. I was thinking of gingerbread cookies but thought, what about “ginger cat” cookies. I altered a Finnish gingerbread men recipe to be free of many allergens. After rolling out the dough, I used hand-drawn, paper cat patterns to cut out big cats and little cats. As you can see from the picture, Oreo was pleased with the results.

Recipe for Spicy Ginger Cats

(Words of wisdom from Oreo: “Cats get better with age.” The same is true of the Ginger Cats. Wait a day to eat them, and the spicy flavor will be more intense.)

2/3 cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening
½ cup maple syrup (add up to ¾ cup if you like them sweeter)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼- ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional, if you want the cookies beyond just spicy)
1/8 teaspoon each ground cardamom, ground coriander and ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons gluten-free baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup garbanzo bean flour
1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
¼-1/3 cup water
For decorating: melt 77 % cacao dark chocolate or Sunspire vegan carob chips

Cream shortening and maple syrup together in a medium bowl. Add spices and beat well.
Add baking soda, salt, flours, xanthum gum, cider vinegar and enough water to make a smooth, easy-to-handle dough. Roll into a ball. Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Press ball into a disk and roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into cat or other shapes. Use purchased cookie cutters. I didn’t have any cat cookie cutters. I drew cats on paper, cut out the patterns, laid them on the dough and cut around them with a knife. Place the cookies about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Chill the dough in between batches.
Bake 7-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Stay nearby and keep an eye on the cookies to make sure they don’t get overdone. Cool the cookies on the pan for 2-3 minutes. Then remove to completely cool on wire racks. Decorate. Melt chocolate or carob chips and use a clean small paintbrush to add features. I improvised and use Q-tips since I didn’t have a paintbrush.
Makes about 1-3 dozen cookies, depending on size. I was able to make eight big cats and 4 small.