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Posts tagged ‘allergic’

I can almost hear you saying, “What is yuca?” (pronounced YOU-kuh). It is a very interesting root found in many tropical countries, from Africa to the Carribbean, Central and South America, many South Pacific islands, and parts of Asia. I learned to like it when my husband introduced me to it while we were living in Texas.

It is a very starchy, fibrous root with a kind of bark-like skin and white flesh. It cooks similar to a potato, but it is a bit drier and has a rather bland flavor. You may have heard of its other name, cassava, as it is called in many English speaking countries, such as Jamaca. It is also the root from which tapioca is made.

The other night, my husband found this site that talks about many of the properties of yuca, and we were surprised to find that it is a good source of calcium, as well as anti-inflammatory.

My son is allergic to potatoes, which makes buying gluten-free mixes and products virtually impossible. However, tapioca flour and starch can substitute very well for potato flour and starch in GF recipes, and he is not allergic to it at all.

In Texas, we used to buy it for about $1 a pound. Not terribly cheap, but still affordable. We had to remove the skin and the ends, and I learned the hard way to chop it open in the store to check for pure white flesh (instead of flesh with gray lines in it). Sometimes I would find a lot that was good, and then I would skin it all and freeze whatever we didn’t plan on using in the next few days. It could be taken from the freezer and put directly into hot water to cook, and it tasted almost the same as fresh.

Then we moved to Oregon, and the yuca here is almost $3 a pound. So we never buy it. Not to mention that I doubt it will be good quality up here. But my husband found frozen shredded yuca at a Philippino market for about $1.25 per 1 lb bag. He used about two pounds to make a yuca casserole for Christmas dinner (yuca on top and bottom with seasoned veggie burger filling), but it’s a bit expensive to use for the family on a regular basis, and takes a bit of work. However, we discovered that if we took some of the yuca (which is so finely shredded that it is more like a thick batter than anything else), added some salt, and pan fried it in small patties, Manny would devour them. He’s been known to eat more than half a pound of it at one sitting!

Lately poor Manny, who is definitely allergic to eggs, milk, and all nuts and seeds except flax and hemp, has become more and more sensitive to beans. I can’t just feed him grains–most of them aren’t a complete protein, and even if they were, the quality of protein isn’t enough for a growing child. He won’t eat greens (and with the limited amount of food he can eat, it’s next to impossible to hide greens in anything), so using greens to supplement his protein isn’t really a viable option. So we decided to try a little turkey. Daddy bought some at the health food store today. He chopped it fine, mixed it with the yuca, made the patties, and cooked them with a little palm oil (which oxidizes slower than olive oil, is flavorless, and healthier than canola oil). We started with about 2 ounces of turkey and half a pound of yuca. I’m not sure how many patties he ate, but there were only 2 two-inch patties left when he was full.

Turkey isn’t something we’ll give him every day. What we bought today cost over $2, and I’m not positive it was organic  or free range (it didn’t say it was; he bought it pre-cooked and sliced in the deli, not raw). I can buy similar turkey from Azure Standard, only it IS organic and free-range, and costs over $6 for each 6-oz package (just under $6 each if I buy a 10-pack). I figure buying it pre-cooked is better, so I don’t have to deal with raw meat in my kitchen (a friend made that suggestion, and I totally agree with her!).

As a third-generation vegetarian, feeding meat to one of my kids is something I really hesitate to do. But we don’t seem to have a lot of options right now. I really hope that he will outgrow many of his allergies eventually, and in the mean time he really needs to avoid anything that makes him more itchy. If giving him a little turkey now and again will make that easier, then so be it.

Now if we could just move to a tropical country where yuca and other non-potato roots are staples in the diet… Hey, there’s no law that says I can’t wish, is there? :)

This is the blender I use.

It’s not even noon yet as I sit down to write this, and I have already used my blender three times. I use it more than any given pot or pan, more than the toaster, more than just about anything else. Granted, if my son weren’t allergic to so many things, requiring me to make things for him, I would probably not use it quite as often. But I use it almost every day.

And today happens to be one of those days when I use it extra.

Let’s see… I started out by blending up some black beans I had cooked for Manny, right before I poured them into ice cube trays to freeze for later.

Then I blended the quinoa I had cooked for Manny’s breakfast. Because he doesn’t chew stuff much yet, I find it better to grind his grains. Most of them I grind before cooking, but since quinoa needs to be rinsed, it’s easier to blend it up afterwards.

A little later, I used the blender to make teff milk, which is very similar to the rice milk I demonstrated on YouTube, except that I use a little less teff than rice (otherwise it gets too thick), and I only cook it for 1 hour instead of 2 1/2, because the grains are so tiny.

When I finish with this post, I will make cashew cheese for haystacks.

After lunch, I will make nut milk with the nuts that are soaking on the window sill right now.

So that makes five times today that my blender is getting used. I honestly don’t know how I could live without one! Anyone want to get me a VitaMix for Christmas? Or my birthday? Or just because? Anyone? 😉

But seriously, please share how you use your blender–if you have one. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By ozgurmulazimoglu on Flickr

Yes, that is right. I seem to have developed a wheat allergy at the age of 29. Maybe some of you know I just turned 30 last month, and I didn’t actually figure out it was wheat until about a week ago, but the allergy has been developing for the past few months now.

Let me back up. A few months ago, I started using Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid cream on my son. Sometime thereafter I noticed that I would often get itchy right before bed in a small area, like my calf or lower back or wherever it was. For a while I thought it was that I was reacting to the medication. Maybe if I got some gloves to use while I put it on, I would be better. But I never got the gloves, and I only itched for a few minutes in the evening, so I wasn’t very motivated to do anything about it.

But gradually it got worse. I started being mildly itchy during the day, and the itchy spells in the evening became more intense and widespread. I would find myself scratching off and on for half an hour while trying to go to sleep. I also had pretty much figured out that it wasn’t the Triamcinalon, because some nights he didn’t need it, and some nights Daddy put it on, and yet I was still itchy. But I wasn’t always as itchy to the same degree every night–it would vary somewhat.

I didn’t want to admit it, so I ignored it for a while, but finally it started getting too much to ignore. I was breaking out with these little bumps wherever I was itchy, and when I scratched, it would raise welts and even get hot sometimes (though that only lasted for a few minutes and disappeared as the itch died away). Finally I decided I must be allergic to something. I suspected sugar at first (I have a gargantuan sweet tooth–which is shrinking, by the way), but I still itched even when I completely avoided it. So I figured it couldn’t be that. My next suspect was wheat.

Now, you must understand something about our diet. We don’t have the typical American diet by any means. We can go anywhere from 1-3 days without eating wheat for breakfast or lunch. We don’t eat bread with every meal. In fact, bread usually only gets eaten for sandwiches or as toast for supper. And since I don’t eat supper, there were days I didn’t eat wheat at all. So I started paying attention to how much I itched every evening, and taking note of whether I had had wheat that day or not.

And I definitely noticed a pattern. The days I didn’t get any wheat I itched very little. The night I itched the worst was the day that I had biscuits for breakfast and cornbread (with wheat flour) for lunch. And thus I diagnosed my wheat allergy. Or sensitivity, or whatever it is.

So things are going to be different around here. I’m not cutting wheat out 100% just yet–with my son’s allergies and everything I’m trying to do, that just isn’t something I am ready to do yet. But like I said, we already have many wheat-free days. So I’m going to take one recipe at a time and figure out how to substitute either the recipe or the wheat in it. Last night I took my souffle recipe and used oats instead of breadcrumbs. It turned out okay, except I think I need to increase the salt slightly, or add something else, since oats have less flavor than breadcrumbs. The texture was good, though.

I am also doing an experiment with kamut, and soon will try spelt. They are both related to wheat, but some people with a wheat allergy can eat them. So today I made cornbread (we eat it every week here!), and used freshly ground kamut flour in it. They didn’t raise quite as high as they would have with pastry flour (what I usually use), but they tasted just as good. I have also made it with barley flour, but I wanted to test the kamut. I have also made biscuits with 100% kamut flour, and they turned out beautifully. I haven’t had any wheat since Saturday, and I have been less itchy every night. If I get more itchy tonight, I’ll know I can’t eat kamut either. If I don’t, then maybe I can use it in place of wheat in some things. If not, I know I can make that recipe with barley flour (my mom does it that way), so at least I will be able to continue to make this family favorite!

I got a bread machine recipe for spelt bread, and I can get spelt flour at the grocery store. So I am going to try spelt soon. If I can handle kamut and spelt, I don’t think I’ll even miss wheat. If I can’t… well, then I guess I’ll have to get more creative!

Have you ever had an allergy show up in your adulthood? Please tell me about it! I would love to know how you dealt with it, how you adjusted. And check back soon for the results of today’s kamut test!

This Post Has Moved!

I have started a new website dedicated to this topic: My Baby Has Eczema

You can read the post here: Help, My Baby Has Eczema: The Beginning

Be sure to check out the comments for this post here and there as well.