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Posts tagged ‘wheat’

Allergies

I have dealt with seasonal allergies off and on all my life. The funny thing is how they come and go.

I used to be allergic to cats. Until our cat died. A few years later someone gave me a cat for my birthday, and I had no problems at all.

I lived in ragweed country for 5 years with no issues. Then I moved away and came back a few years later to visit… and was totally incapacitated until Mom came back from the drug store with some OTC meds that made the rest of my visit much happier!

And now it’s happened again. I’m not sure if it the lack of sleep or the post-pregnancy hormones, but suddenly I am fighting itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sometimes sore throat. At first I thought I had a cold, but if it were a cold, I’d have mended by now. Instead, I continue to be miserable. Oh, sure, the intensity varies, but right now my eyelids are swollen and my eyes red and my nose irritated from the dripping and rubbing. And it’s affecting how I relate to my family. My tolerance for noise has dropped, and with my eyes itching, I can’t read to my kids (not to mention that the vibrations of my voicebox make my nose feel worse, like they are loosening up what’s inside, making it more likely to drip. And who wants to interrupt a story 50 times with “Aaaaaaah, I need a tissue!“?

Last night was especially miserable. I even posted on FB that I wished I were sick–because a cold would clear up in a few days! Then I decided to research natural allergy remedies. And one thing jumped out at me.

Allergies are related to the immune system. The stronger the immune system is, the less likely one is to suffer from allergies. This I already knew, which is why I suspect that my poor sleep lately (brought on by the arrival of a baby to our home) is a major contributor to my allergies.

But food allergies are also affected by the immune system. And the more allergies one is exposed to, the more likely one is to react. In my case, I have a mild allergy to wheat. It makes me itchy a few hours after I eat it. It’s bad enough to encourage me to make wheatless meals, but not bad enough to make me give it up entirely. However, it very well could be that wheat could be making my environmental allergies worse. And right now, I’m miserable enough that if I have to give up wheat to do it, I will–at least for a while! I can make rye and GF bread, eat rice pasta, and just avoid other sources.

There is another option too. I recently tried some raw sprouted wheat on a day that I had no other wheat, and I didn’t get itchy. So I may be able to get away with sprouting wheat, drying it in the dehydrator, and grinding it. Or, if I ever get a good food processor, grinding the moist sprouted berries into dough. But I don’t have a food processor, and I won’t grind more flour until what I already have is used up. Good thing my husband just bought me a new bread machine!

So wheat free it is. I want to be a happy mom, and I can’t really be happy if I’m miserable!

Rye Sourdough

When I first tried sourdough many years ago, I fell in love with it. The tangy flavor really appealed to me. I especially liked the crusty edges (even though I rarely eat the heels of regular bread). Unfortunately, most sourdough is 100% white flour, and I have been trying to avoid white flour as much as possible. In fact, I managed to go 4 or 5 months here in Aloha without it. When I did buy it, it was for a recipe for my husband to take to work for his coworkers. And with the leftovers, I attempted to make playdough (that turned out to be a failure–the recipe with cornstarch was much more like the real thing). But now I’m rambling…

Since I have developed an allergy to wheat, I try to avoid it for the most part. That means no more bread at potlucks, for instance. So all the fancy sourdoughs that show up there don’t show up on my plate. And I don’t buy it, white or whole grain or otherwise.

But I thought, now that I’ve found a good recipe for 100% rye bread, maybe I could find a recipe for 100% rye sourdough, and a way to make a starter.

Sure enough, I found a site that explains exactly how to make a rye sourdough starter, and then how to make bread with it. Granted, the recipe it shows in those steps uses 50% wheat, but I wrote the author, and he shared a sort of recipe for 100% rye (something about 78% hydration, 1% salt and 1% caraway, I think it was). I still have a lot to learn, it seems.

But I can’t do anything until I have a ripe starter, and that will take the better part of this week, it seems, so I have plenty of time to figure that out. I had everything I needed except for distilled water and a kitchen scale. Apparently, the kitchen scale is very important, because the water and flour need to be mixed in equal weights–such as 50 grams each–and it’s very difficult to be accurate with measurements. And when it comes to actually making the bread, the only way one could figure out 78% hydration,¬†which means more flour than water, so that instead of 50:50 rye:water it’s now 100:78. It seems I’ll get to use some math for the process–my favorite subject it was, so that will be nice.

Anyhow, I stopped at the Goodwill on my way home from shopping today and found a small kitchen scale for $1.99! I also found a number of other things I hadn’t planned on buying and ended up spending over $25, but that’s okay, because they were all things we more or less needed. Okay, the $10 family-sized swimming pool probably wasn’t really needed, but then, the neighbors loaned us their kiddie pool, and it got a big hole and it’s not fixable, and it was worth $10, so now we can replace it, so I guess it was needed after all.

Oops, I’m rambling again. Sorry…

So I picked up a gallon of distilled water and mixed up 50 grams each of 100% organic rye flour and water in a widemouth canning jar, screwed on a lid (a plastic one–not too tight), and set it in the kitchen.

My only concern is that the temperature of the house fluctuates dramatically. Right now it is about 80 degrees (the A/C doesn’t work), but this morning it was 65 (thanks to all the open windows). I hope this doesn’t negatively affect the culture. Maybe it will just slow it down at night.

Anyhow, I can’t wait for morning to see if it has any bubbles. I’ll take a picture then–it’s late now and I’m ready for bed. It’s been a long day!

All I can say is that a rye sourdough starter looks a whole lot easier to make than a wheat one, so maybe it’s a blessing I became allergic to wheat. And there’s nothing better than rye bread with caraway. Unless it’s more rye bread with caraway!

If you have any interest in rye sourdough, I would encourage you to take a look at the site I found. They have a lot of interesting information, including pictures of the bread they have made. It looks so good!!!

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!