Friday, April 10, 2015

Histamine Intolerance Chronicles Begin with Granola

I'll be the first to admit that things have changed a bit since I first started writing my blog. Since then, Mom has moved to Arizona and I started working at one of the healthiest places in the world, Bastyr University. Which means I no longer am able to ruin Mom's recipes since I don't really have them anymore, not to mention that I'm not making nearly as much fattening American food as I used to. I'm not really making any, actually, especially since I realized that dairy and me just don't get along.

I figured that out last year when I did an elimination diet, which I immediately regretted not blogging about since I enjoyed it so thoroughly. Apparently, that is not a typical reaction, and it probably would have been nice for me to share some of the recipes I flourished on for those eight weeks sans gluten, soy, corn, dairy, refined sugar, and alcohol and caffeine in moderation. My apologies!

Besides discovering a sensitivity to diary, the elimination diet also revealed a possible histamine intolerance, which is an entirely bigger animal that I'm just starting to wrap my head around. Please click on the above link or Google "histamine intolerance" to read more about it because there's no possible way I could even begin to explain it. I will say that I've had some serious skin issues potentially linked to eating foods high in histamines that I would not like to repeat, and many of the other more minor symptoms listed are also present.

The problem is, foods high in histamines are yummy! They include tomatoes, spinach, many nuts, cinnamon, curry, fermented foods, vinegar, cured meats, dried fruits, soy, dairy, chocolate, bananas, avocados, citrus ... the list of deliciousness goes on and on. I've cut out the ones that are easy to do, like eggplant and strawberries, but I haven't had the courage to do a full-on histamine-free diet yet.

However, I think it might be time. Basically, to do it well, you need to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and gluten-free grains. Now that it's springtime and fresh produce is abundant everywhere, including in my new raised beds, I think I can tackle this.

I should note that long-term, the goal isn't to cut out all histamine-rich and histamine-releasing foods forever. I'm merely trying to figure out if these foods really are giving me reactions, then limit them when possible — or take a Benadryl if I want to go all out!

Anyway, this is a recipe blog, not a oh-woes-me blog, so I actually do have a recipe to share. This diet isn't going to happen overnight for me, so I'm approaching it in baby steps, And this week, I jumped the first hurdle when I finally made a granola that is free of nuts, cinnamon and dried fruit. Maybe that doesn't sound like such a big step, but after five years of making virtually the same beloved granola, I just didn't think I could make one that tasted as good.

But by combining my tried-and-true recipe with some tips from Candied Ginger, Coconut and Quinoa Granola, I created something that fills me up and is delicious, served with a ripe mango or pear and some dairy-free milk.

Granola with Quinoa, Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds and Cardamom

1-1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or other neutral oil)
1/4 cup melted honey (or other natural sweetener)
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet.

Mix oats, quinoa, seeds and cardamom. Meanwhile, whisk together oil, sweetener, water, salt and vanilla, then add to oats and combine well.

Spread the mixture evenly on the parchment, then place in the oven. Mix after 15 minutes, then check again at the 30-minute point. If granola is still moist, place back in the oven and keep checking in 10-minute intervals until mixture begins to brown.

Once granola is dry (but not burnt!), remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container.

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