Are you reacting to your dinner ?

If you constantly have an upset stomach, headaches or skin problems chances are you have thought about whether something you were eating was triggering your symptoms. So what options are there for finding out whether a food is upsetting you ?

The medical testing for allergies consists of either skin prick testing to determine if a substance provokes a reaction or blood testing for antibodies to Immunoglobulin E known as RAST testing. Naturopathically there are a number of other options including an Elimination Diet,  Food Intolerance Panel or Bio Compatability Hair Testing. So what are the advantages of each of these forms of testing ?

Skin prick testing involves scratching the skin with a range of allergens to see what generates a reaction. Usually done by a specialist you do need to be under supervision if a topical reaction causes full on anaphylaxis to an allergen so that you can be treated appropriately. Understandably many parents are not enthusiastic about this option however it does accurately identify  true allergens. A blood test to detect antibodies can be done where the skin prick testing is too invasive. It detects antibodies to specific allergens such as dust, pollens and foods.

Another option for determining intolerances is to use an elimination diet. Basically you eat very simple plain foods for 7-10 days  and then gradually introduce new foods to determine if it provokes a reaction. The elimination diet generally takes up to 6 weeks but has the advantage of being focussed on real food. Ideally you would also exclude any of the foods below that triggered a reaction.

What you can eat on a food sensitivity elimination diet:

  • Vegetables, well-washed (preferably organic), eliminate nightshade vegetable (such as eggplant,tomato and capsicum) if you suspect they are a problem
  • Fruits, well-washed (preferably organic), start with berries initially
  • Meat and fish (preferably organic and free range meats and wild fish)
  • Fats and seasonings – Extra-virgin coconut oil for cooking, and extra-virgin olive oil for dressings and other low-temperature applications, sea salt, herbs
  • Drink: only water (filtered if possible)

Naturopaths often conduct a food intolerance panel which looks for an immunoglobulin G reaction. It’s useful but will usually only tell you about foods you have been eating in the past few months. So if you haven’t had wheat for a year it may not show up.

Recently I have also looked at Biocompatibility Hair Testing conducted by Naturopathic Services. It has the advantage of not requiring a blood test and covers 500 widely available foods including a significant list of health foods. The test is reasonably priced and far less invasive for young children. It also has the advantage of covering foods which the client isn’t currently consuming. Blood testing will only reveal antibodies to a food that you are currently eating.

Other practitioners I know who use the test advised that it was making a big difference in cases involving skin and irritable bowel syndrome, two conditions I see frequently in clinic. Certainly in the last few months I am already seeing some significant changes in symptoms simply from removing aggravating foods from the diet.

If you have any questions about testing for food intolerances email me at Christine@elementalhealth.net.au or you can make an appointment on 8084 0081.

 

 

 

 

 

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/test-ige.html

Gluten Free Made Easy

 There are a lot of people who need to change their diet and go gluten free. Whilst approximately 1% of the population need to go gluten free as a consequence of coeliac disease another 6-8% of the population suffer from non-coeliac gluten senstivity. Many people who suffer from other auto-immune conditions also find that removing gluten from the diet assists in managing their condition.

You realise that you need to make this change but you don’t really know where to start? This blog will help you get started with those changes. Lots of recipe ideas are contained in my page Gluten and Dairy Free Dinners and the recent blog Seven gluten and dairy free breakfasts.

The best way to start a gluten free diet is to do it after restocking your pantry and freezer. Look at what you usually eat and then prepare a shopping list to enable you to stock up on alternatives.

Ideal suggestions could include the following;

  • Replace bread and crackers with suitable gluten free alternatives. Suitable alternatives for bread could include gluten free bread from Country Life, Dovedale, Healthybake, Schars or gluten free bakeries. Choices Bakery at Turramurra has a wide range and Deeks Bakery in Canberra provides online ordering across Australia. Gluten free bread is best served toasted and should be stored in the freezer so you can use it as needed.
  • There is already a good range of gluten free crackers including rice crackers and corn cakes available in most supermarkets. Just read labels to make sure that there are no  other ingredients that are problematic particularly if you have multiple food intolerances.
  • Breakfast cereals often include gluten so its important to ensure that you have a suitable alternative. Commercial rice bubbles and cornflakes for example can contain gluten so its best to find alternatives such as puffed rice. Making your own muesli is an easy and cost effective option using a range of gluten free puffs and flakes as well as dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
  •  The porridge below is from Brookvale farms and is served with stewed plums and coconut yoghurt. Its tasty and only takes a few minutes to prepare.
  • Pasta might be a good option for quick meals and there are several gluten free pastas to choose from including Orgran who have an excellent lasagne as well as San Remo. Ideally when cooking gluten free pasta keep stirring it whilst cooking to stop it sticking together. Also make sure that you rinse it well before serving.
  • Baking is easier with gluten free options at hand such as gluten free plain and self raising flour plus gluten free cornflour. These can often be substituted in baking however generally if you don’t have gluten free flour you are better off using a mix of different gluten free flours to really improve results.
  • Stock up on a range of rice including basmati and risotto rice so that you have a few different alternatives for meals.
  • Check the Celiac organisation website for lists of foods which may have some gluten. Often it can be surprising with things such as soy sauce and BBQ sauce containing gluten which doesn’t seem quite unnecessary.

Do you have any other tips for going gluten free easily? Please post them in the comments section below.

Need help deciding if you need to change your diet? Christine Pope is practicing at Elemental Health St Ives and can be contacted for appointments on 8084 0081.

 

 

 

Seven gluten free and dairy free breakfasts

Many of us stick to the same boring breakfast every day however when you suddenly find out that you can’t have wheat anymore the usual toast or cereal just doesn’t cut it any longer. So what do you do?

Here is a range of suggestions that I find work well in practice. I have included recipes or links to the recipes. Its easy to substitute particularly with gluten free grains or different types of milk (coconut, almond, rice or soy).

  1. Easy peach crumble (or pear or berry or apple or any combinations you like).
  2. Banana and choc chip muffins
  3. Roast vegetable hash
  4. Mango chia pudding
  5. Gluten free muesli with fruit puree
  6. Buckwheat pancakes (Orgran packet mix has all the instructions) but works well with bacon and maple syrup or grilled banana or fruit.
  7. BLT on gluten free bread with smashed avocado

Just click on the links for the easy mango pudding recipe from the Healthy Chef which only has four ingredients but really comes down to fruit, chia seeds, water and coconut milk plus the other link is to my gluten free muesli recipe which really can be tailored to personal preference. An even easier version can be buying a gluten free muesli and adding a few of your favourite ingredients, such as nuts and seeds or LSA mix.

Peach crumble

Easy peach crumble

4-6 peaches sliced

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup quinoa flakes

50 g melted butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar (coconut sugar, maple syrup work well too)

Place sliced fruit in a casserole dish. Combine melted butter with almond meal, quinoa flakes and sugar . It will be a little lumpy. Sprinkle over sliced fruit and cook at 180c for 20-25 minutes until topping is crispy and golden. Serve with coconut yoghurt for a little extra protein but its delicious by itself and the quinoa and almond provide good protein and fats.

Banana and choc chip muffins

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence (add to sugar)

50 g butter

3 mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups gluten free self raising flour or 1 cup gluten free plus 1/2 cup of almond meal or coconut flour

1 egg

1/4 cup choc chips preferably dairy free

Melt butter, mix in sugar and then egg. Add in alternately flour and bananas and stir well. Then add in the choc chips. Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cases or greased muffin tray. Cook 15-20 minutes at 180 Celsius. Muffins should be lightly browned when cooked.

Roast Vegetable Hash

This is really just a good way to use up leftover roast vegetables and many combinations work well.

Ideally you need half a cup of roast vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, carrots, etc) per serve

2 slices of bacon per person

1/2 small brown onion

1/2 cup greens either bok choy, wombok or cabbage work well

Saute bacon and onions for 2-3 minutes until lightly cooked. Add greens and roasted vegetables and stir for 3-5 minutes until warmed through. Salt lightly and serve.

BLAT (Bacon lettuce avocado and tomato)

Saute two to three slices of bacon and serve on a gluten free bread roll toasted with mashed avocado and sliced tomatoes.

Christine Pope is an experienced natural medicine practitioner who also teaches and is Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College. Food is one of her favourite topics!

Would love feedback on the recipes or any other easy breakfast suggestions which are gluten and dairy free!

Why I feed my dog a natural food diet

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In 2008 I was on the Organising Committee for a Homeopathic conference which was held in Sydney. One of our most popular speakers was a Vet who also used homoeopathics called Clare Middle and what really stuck in my head was her attitude towards diet. She said 70% of skin problems in animals were solved purely by feeding the pet a natural food diet. To me that showed how helpful a natural food diet could be in maintaining your pet’s health.

So what does our dog eat? Well most nights its a couple of chicken wings plus a bone of some type as well as leftover fruit and vegetables. We keep a tub in the fridge in which we put organic vegetable peelings, outside lettuce leaves and the woody bits of the broccoli and cauliflower as well as the tops and tail of carrots plus leftovers from our table like salad or risotto. Generally we avoid anything with a lot of garlic or onion which are quite toxic for dogs. Anything that is looking a little too soft from the fruit bowl also goes in the dog bowl.
Dog bowl

Feeding the dog this way is actually very cost effective – most of the vegetables would have been thrown away and the 2kg of chicken wings a week is only about $8. The vet Claire Middle also recommends a weekly meal of oily fish, we find a can of sardines work well and are usually quite cheap. She also has a little book available through her website which explains exactly what you need to feed your pet. Click here for details.

Our dog Buffy is now 7 years old and is a really healthy animal. She doesn’t seem to suffer from dog breath and has a really healthy coat. The picture above is one my son took when we were away and checking on the dog (it was taken on his sister’s bed)!

So what’s wrong with commercial dog food? Depends on what it is really, but as the Vet explained it seems that they often have a very high carbohydrate content and that’s different to what dogs would eat in the wild. Dogs were really scavengers and would eat small animals and whatever was dropped on the ground or easily accessed. Basically dogs are used to having bones in their diet and in the wild you will see animals eating the droppings of carnivores to access the calcium from the bones they consumed. There would be some carbohydrate in their diet from vegetables and fruit however not really from grains which is what many commercial dog foods may use.

We did try to convert our cat to a natural food diet with a little less success – she will eat raw minced meats like chicken and lamb but cannot figure out what to do with chicken necks, which is what was recommended for cats. She also gets a bit sniffy about fish, not really keen on canned fish but loves a bit of our leftover tuna or salmon.

How do you feed your pets? Have you tried a natural food diet with them and been successful?

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based in Sydney at St Ives and practices at her clinic, Elemental Health. She feeds her family a largely whole food diet and her pets as well.

What do you do when your child can’t eat egg, potato, dairy or wheat?

Health food ingredients in white porcelain bowls over papyrus ba

Recently I have seen a few children with an interesting range of food intolerances. In fact one recently was such a challenge it made gluten and dairy free look easy!

So how do you make changes when your child’s diet is so restricted ? What the hell do you put in their lunches for school?

First up don’t focus on what they can’t eat, focus on what they can eat. Typically there is a long list of fruit and vegetables plus meats and fish. Not a bad start. Then look at substitutes for foods. One tougher example is egg however there are a number of options in baking including “no egg” replacer by Orgran. I also found vegan recipes have some good substitutes including 1/2 a mashed banana or soaked chia seeds in lieu of eggs. Orgran also offer vegan options in many of their baking mixes which are helpful. This vegan website has a great range of egg replacment options http://chefinyou.com/egg-substitutes-cooking/ .

Coconut oil and fresh coconutIn a previous post I have already covered options for dairy free in detail so have a look if you need some more information http://wp.me/p4iTIZ-2g .

Secondly make sure you spend time working on gut repair. Many minor intolerances fall away when you repair the gut with adequate glutamine and support effective digestion with herbs and probiotics. Continue providing support with home made stocks and fermented foods. Fermented foods are a good source of probiotics for the gut and often cheaper than supplements.

Home Made Cultured Or Fermented Vegetables

Now the school lunches – gluten free breads are available but often include rice and potato flours which are also increasingly common intolerances. Some options here could be;

1. Use firm lettuce as wraps for fillings or hollowed out cucumber or corn cakes.
2. Consider salads with a firmer leafed green such as wombok with chicken, Waldorf salad with chicken or Thai roast beef salad with cos lettuce.
3. Drumsticks are a great option with a simple marinade.
4. Meatballs – Recently I made baked chicken meatballs which were very popular. Ingredients were bacon onion and tomato paste.
5. Vegetable sticks with hummuus, avocado or mashed bean dip.
6. Leftovers are always good, specially roast meats or sausage with a roast vegetable salad.

Pinkfarm’s facebook and website have great ideas and lots of information on fermented foods. Have a look at http://www.pinkfarm.com.au/lunchbox-ideas/ for some more ideas on lunches and also their fabulous stainless steel lunchboxes.

Whilst it may seem like a lot of work initially I find a little more preparation in the evenings makes the morning rush much easier. I usually pack up lunch size portions of leftovers for my children for the next day and then it can be grabbed out of the fridge before I drive them to the train station.

The extra work really pays off when you see the change in your child’s health as a result of making these changes. I often have parents telling me how sickly kids no longer get every cold that’s going or how much their skin has improved as a result of making these changes. Its really worth giving these changes 3 months to see the full benefit. Particularly if you can work on gut repair at the same time.

Would love to hear your stories about how dietary change has made a difference to you or your child. Please leave a comment on the blog below.

Christine Pope is in clinical practice at St Ives in Sydney and if you need help managing or identifying food intolerances you can make appointments on 8084 0081.

Field trip – the gluten free expo

gf products

Last week I went to my first gluten free expo. Not sure what I was expecting but I was surprised when I got to Homebush to find people queued up around two sides of the building waiting for it to open at 12. Also many of those people had those wheelie trolleys ready to stock up on gluten free goodies.

At the entry we were handed a Coles green bag with a few goodies in it, which was a great idea as I came away with a bag full of new things to try.

First up, my biggest success as far as my children were concerned , were the Genius brand croissants that actually tasted flaky and buttery. Subsequently found them in the freezer at Coles and I am now trying their puff pastry. They have a range of other gluten free breads and muffins and even pain au chocolat!

Bakery Bread on a Wooden Table. Various Bread and Sheaf of Wheat

The other big success was a “paleo” version of a protein bar, called Paleo Bars. There were two flavours and they are gluten, dairy and soy free. The key ingredients are walnuts, dates pecans, cocoa and coconut oil in the original and apricots, almonds and ginger plus the coconut oil in the ginger bar. They both taste good and don’t have that dehyrating after effect that you usually get from a protein bar. The website is http://www.bdpaleo.com and you can order both in boxes of 10 or 25. My son was quite impressed with the taste and said he had more energy at the gym when he had a bar before training. The Medicum Chain Triglcyerides in the coconut oil are used preferentially by the body for energy.

Another favourite and portable gluten free snack was the corn crunch. I am sure you could easily make these at home but the roasted corn kernels are rather tasty and a good snack that fits easily into the handbag or school bag. I know with so many schools gluten free this type of snack is going to become more popular and I would also recommend the roasted chickpeas and broad beans you can find in the Woolworths health food section.

Next year when I go back to this expo I will make sure I am prepared to make a couple of trips to the car with bags as well as coming on an empty stomach so I can do lots of tasting!! All the stallholders were very generous with their tasting supplies and it does make things easier if you can graze and grab lots of flyers so you know where to order it from in the future. I am sure since Coles were one of the major sponsors that there will be a number of the products carried in their stores but for others it was great to know you could order online.

What’s for dinner? Save time with meal planning

One of the hardest things to deal with every night is what’s for dinner? Its worse if you are getting home after work and don’t have everything to ready to prepare. Each week I usually prepare a list for weekday meals and then make sure when I order online or shop that I have the basics for those meals – it reduces stress dramatically as whoever gets home first can start cooking.

curry

My usual meal plan for a week looks something like this;

Monday : Gluten and Dairy Free turkey and eggplant lasagne with Cos salad (often make the lasagne Sunday afternoon when I have more time)

Tuesday: Roast Lamb and Vegetables with steamed snow peas OR Easy Roast Chicken and vegetables

Wednesday: Sausages (usually organic gluten free chicken and leek) and Potato Curry

Thursday :Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks and Wombok salad

Friday : Leftovers with some cold meats, humuus, olives and crudites.

Saturday :Cauliflower and Chicken Curry with rice.

I really like doing a roast early in the week as the leftovers are great for school lunches or even a lamb salad (cos, lebanese cucumber and olives with lamb and aoili mayonnaise). The easy roast chicken is basically the same as roasting a chicken except you use thigh cutlets and roast two per person on top of your choice of roast vegetables and just sprinkle the chicken with rosemary and rock salt plus the juice of a lemon and some olive oil. The vegetables that work well include parsnips, sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin. Usually takes about 50 minutes at 180c for the chicken which I then take out and keep warm and just crisp off the vegetables. Best part is that it all cooks together in one roasting dish.

The recipes for the Wombok salad, cauliflower and chicken curry and potato curry can be found under my page gluten and diary free dinners on my blog and the recipes for the lasagne and chicken drumsticks I will detail below as they are really quite easy.

Honey and Soy Chicken Drumsticks
Mix half cup each of caster sugar and soy sauce (Fountain for gluten free soy sauce) and pour over chicken drumsticks which have been scored (cut in two places) to help absorb the marinade. Cook for 40-50 minutes at 180C and then serve with Wombok salad. Always make up extras allowing 2-3 drumsticks per adult as they are a favourite in the lunchbox.

Lasagne – Turkey and Eggplant

Orgran Lasagne (or similar gluten free lasagne)
2 jars of tomato sauce or 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
One onion and one carrot diced
2 cloves of crushed garlic
600g turkey mince (chicken, pork or beef all work well too)
1 large or 2 small eggplant

Pierce eggplant with a fork in several places and roast in oven at 180c for 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool and then remove skin and add soft eggplant chopped in small pieces to simmering lasagne sauce. Once eggplant is soft you can often just spoon it out of the skin.

Saute onion in carrot in olive oil until onion is soft. Add turkey mince and brown and then add crushed garlic and tomato sauce. Simmer on low for a further 20 minutes. Add eggplant and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Layer lasagne sheets and mince in a large casserole dish. Start with a thin layer of the sauce and then place a layer of lasagne sheets,cover the lasagne sheets with the sauce and then add another layer – you usually have three or four layers.

Cook in a warm oven at 180C for 40 minutes with the lid on – then serve with a cos salad.