Low-histamine shopping list and recipes

Ladies and gentlebeings, here’s what I’ve come to after a 6 month period of, firstly, a strict diet of tapioca, carrots, butternut, apples, and chicken; then, careful reading about *tested* foods on *living* humans, plus extensive empirical testing on my own particular system. The fruits (, veg, herbs, and meats) of this work lies below. Foods that I currently remember as improving the histamine picture have a +.

Note: I’m focusing on what I *can* eat as part of a low-histamine diet. Where my diet is restricted for other reasons, I say so, in order to point out where there’s obviously something for others to explore.

I don’t mention higher-histamine foods nor do I go into the details of what makes a food low-histamine (which can involve mast cell triggering, histamine levels within the food, salicylates, non-food triggers that raise the background level of reactivity, whether fermentation or aging is inevitably part of the process – as with beef – and so on) because that’s a whole ‘n’other article, and a bit beyond my bludgeoned brain at the mo’.

Caveat emptor: we’re all a bit different. This is why empirical testing, tracking results for yourself, and being able to notice when things change, is so important. My list is basically ok in principle, but it won’t be right for everybody, and may not even be right for me in a couple of years.

Besides “everything organic” and “everything fresh”, the third leg of this mow-histamine diet is “everything freezable frozen”, because leftovers and meats start making histamines real quick. So, freezing and then defrosring in the microwave is the only safe way to go with yhese things.

I let stuff that’s fresh off the stove or out of the oven freeze up on the top shelf (usually atop the “buns” box) and then move it to its rightful place:

The magic lists

Everything, absolutely everything, is super fresh and organic. This is part of the deal with low-histamine foods, and I’m ever so grateful that it’s possible right now. (Thank you to the federal SNAP/Food Stamps system and to HIP, the produce-enhancing state funding system for low-income people, plus an outstanding local farmer’s market that works with these programs!)

Produce:

    • +Apples, fresh local low-spray or organic (by low-spray, I mean they get sprayed twice, once when the buds set and once when the fruit sets. I find I tolerate this just fine, as long as the apples aren’t sprayed for storage)
    • Fresh cider, UV treated to impede fermentation (when I’m not frail)
    • Blueberries, wild
    • Cranberries
    • Peaches, when not frail
    • Plums, most kinds, when not frail
    • Cherries, when not frail
    • Mangos (not bruised)
    • Spring onions (some people are good with sweet white onions but not spring onions, and some can’t tolerate any onions, so YMMV)
    • Garlic heads (as above)
    • Sweet peppers (I find red bells and bullhorn peppers easiest to digest)
    • +Asparagus
    • Cauliflower, if good (no black or yellowed spots)
    • Soft/summer squash: marrows, zucchini, yellow crookneck (scoop out seeds if currently fragile)
    • Different squash: delicata, pattypan (seeded as above)
    • Beet greens
    • Radishes (which I like to steam)
    • Celery


    I can’t eat leafy cabbages because my fragile thyroid poops out if I do: mustard greens, collards, chard, bok choy, napa, savoy, radicchio, kale, green and purple cabbages, and other winter-harvest yumminess! Check them out for yourself, as long as your thyroid and gut is up to the job.

    Protein:

    • Chicken, turkey, pork, lamb (frozen straight off the block; another farmer’s market item here) (NOT ground: that generates histamine, possibly from the extensive cell damage)
    • Eggs (from scratching, soy-free hens)

    I can’t eat lentils, beans, or peas due to gastroparesis, but you lucky so-and-sos who can might want to read up & experiment to see which ones are ok for you.

    Lipids:

    These have to be fresh and not have any whiff of rancidity. Since all my food is fresh now, these and my protein sources are my only source of lipids for my brain and spine:

    • Olive oil
    • Grassfed (or Kerrygold) fresh butter, not raw
    • Avocado oil
    • Drippings from cooking meats, frozen right out of the pan. These are *wonderful* for cooking veggies with!
    • Coconut oil (when not frail)

    Carbohydrate rich:

    • Rice (plain whites, basmati, or jasmine are all ok for me; brown and sweet rice are not for frail times, but ok in small doses at other times)
    • Sweet potatoes, any kind but Japanese (which I think I did to myself by eating them too often at one time! Darn it)
    • Tapioca/yucca/manioc, same vegetable; fantastic for a sluggish gut & delicious made with apple cider
    • Farmer’s market honey
    • Sugars: panela, jaggury, coconut (all of them unrefined & mineral-rich, so YMMV)
    • Beets – with greens (I use the stems to flavor soups and I steam the greens or drop them on top of a batch of stir fry; delicious!)
    • Carrots, lots, as they go with everything
    • Broccoli
    • Parsnips, if I’m not currently frail (they’ve got such good nutrition I keep them on my shopping list, but they’re the first to go if I’m not up to the mast impact)
    • Celeriac
    • Hard/winter squash: butternut, acorn, kabocha (NOT pumpkin or spaghetti squash)

    Rice is my only grain. Some do ok with sorghum or buckwheat or some other things, but it’s hard on me in anything but small doses & when I’m not reactive.

    Flavorings and spices

    I can do, almost all fresh:

    • Parsley
    • Basil
    • Dandelion greens
    • Cilantro
    • Sumac (this is dried)
    • Bay leaf (dried)
    • Rosemary
    • Sea salt
    • Mined salts: Kosher, pink salts
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Cedar sprig (fantastic when cooking chicken or buttered black beans, not that I can eat the beans any more)
    • Cumin (when not fragile)

    Here’s the fun part…

    Recipes

    The web is international, and I try to work with that 🙂 Please be aware that, as my cooking was learned in US-origin households and restaurants, I cook by volume rather than weight. Measurements are noted accordingly. (I’m aware of the flaws in this system, so I use recipes that can accommodate the “fudge factor.”)

    These are much-loved ingredients I make ahead:

    “Ginger Fabulous”

    I almost took a picture of this, but it just looked brown on camera. It’s lovely earthy honey-colors IRL.

    • Peels from 4-6 apples (may freeze ahead)
    • Ginger x6-8 thumbs (a bit bigger than my smallish thumb, anyway)
    • Farmer’s market local honey, ~1/2 cup [120 ml]
    • Sugar (panela or jaggury for me; light brown or raw is probably good), same volume as honey
    • 1 pint [500 ml] cider
    • Optional: Dash of clove, if you’re ok with it

    Slice ginger to 1/8″ or less.
    Chop apple peels to about 3/4″ segments.
    Put everything in a good pot.
    Simmer until all the ginger is translucent, usually ~ 1/2 hour.
    Let cool.
    Try to keep enough for later; I find it hard to stop taste-testing.
    Uses:
    Use as is for preserves, or process/blenderise to rough texture for marinade, jam, or even hot drink if you don’t mind a bit of dessert in the bottom.

    “Super Greens”

    Here they are mixed into buns:

    • Parsley x6-8 bunches
    • Basil x3 bunches
    • Dandelion, Italian/less bitter (has spikier leaves), x1

    Chop parsley and the leafier part of dandelion greens to 1/2″ lengths.
    Pick basil leaves off stems and chop a bit smaller than that.
    (Wrap the stems in foil and keep in freezer for flavoring soups, as their flavors cook down delightfully.)
    Throw it all in a processor and chop very fine. (I have to go 1 head of parsley & equivalent of others at a time, because my processor is not that big.)
    Package up into ice trays, or in foil or paper by ~dessert spoon or ~50 ml sizes and freeze.
    Uses:
    1 of these dresses 2 to 4 scrambled eggs or omelettes, depending on taste.
    I take a batch and mix it with softened Kerrygold/grassfed (not cultured!) butter, to a ratio of 1 butter : 1 pressed-down greens by volume, and beat well into a super healthy spread. I refrigerate enough for a few days and freeze the rest. Way more yummy than something this healthy should be!

    “Isy’s elf-rising flour”

    This recipe is taken from alittleinsanity.com, but I removed the xanthan gum, use non-fungal risers, and make with organic flour ingredients. Its ingredients are friendly to systems dealing with inflammation and histamine problems. It makes buns, quickbreads, and muffins very quick & easy to put together. (I haven’t tried it with pancakes because I can’t limit my intake of pancakes sufficiently & don’t like to feel that sick, so doing without is my best bet rn.)

    This recipe uses weights because, for the most part, the ingredients are often packaged in these sizes so you just dump out a bag of each. Easy!

    • 24 oz [0.7 kg] brown rice flour, fine
    • 24 oz [0.7 kg] white rice flour, fine
    • 24 oz [0.7 kg] sweet white rice flour
    • 20 oz [0.6 kg] tapioca flour/starch (same thing)
    • 2+1/2 [37.5 ml] Tablespoons baking soda
    • 1 Tablespoon [15 ml] baking powder (I push this through a tea strainer to get all the clumps worked out. I abhor the taste of baking powder clumps)
    • 2 Tablespoons [30 ml] salt

    Blend carefully in a huge pot. I use both a paddle and a whisk, gently.
    Take the time to get everything *very thoroughly blended*.
    This makes a gallon plus 1.5 cups, or about 4 liters.

    Uses:
    This makes a forgiving dough, and will generally work out fine.

    2.5 cups [or about 750 ml] of flour will take:

    • 5 to 7 tablespoons[75-100 ml] of butter (maybe more; tell us if you try it?)
    • 1/3 cup [80 ml] liquid
    • 1/4 cup [60 ml] to 1/2 cup [120 ml] of sugar
    • Eggs, 1 to 4…

    If you use 1 egg per 2.5 cups of flour mix, it gives a texture suitable for scones or gf (American) biscuits.
    If you use 3-4 eggs per 2.5 cups of flour mix, it results in a soft, puffier texture with more volume, as for quickbreads [teacakes] or (American) muffins.
    Additions
    It adapts well: you can use water, broth, milk, or cider as the liquid, and can add as little as 1/2 cup [120 ml] or as much as 1+1/4 cups [300 ml] of diced chicken or Super Greens or wild blueberries – with or without some Ginger Fabulous – and still get a wonderful result.

    It bakes in 12-15 muffin tins (depending on the extras) at 350*F [175*C] for 16 to 20 minutes in my oven, or until there’s no steam in the scent from the oven / toothpick comes out dry.

    Here are chicken buns & blueberry teacakes in their freezer box. Defrost & warm by microwave on low for 30 seconds on top and 30 seconds on bottom.

    I’m still working out a recipe for lembas, but it’s only a matter of time. Buns made from this are light & crumbly all right, and certainly very filling!

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Excercise intolerance, the invisible vampire

I’ve been walking for 2 1/4 miles 6 out of 7 days per week for a few weeks, and it stopped kicking my butt, woohoo! I could come home and go straight into another task. This took awhile; at first, I had to lie down with my calves & feet up on a suitcase for a couple hours & stay down for hours except for bathroom breaks, then I just had to lie down for hours, then it went down to half an hour of horizontal time, and finally it was fine.

So I bumped it up — like a fairly well-informed patient– by no more than 10%, or a whisker under 2.5 miles. Today was the first day. I had to lie down for a couple hours, and moving at all is brutal. I move like a centenarian who’s been sucked dry.

Dazed looking fellow with fangs
This outstanding cartoon is by JNL and is freely available under a Copyleft free art license

So, after realizing that yes, even though I can walk more than 2 miles, I *still* have excercise intolerance… I decided to look it up and learn more about it.

Further inquiry

You know me: I like primary sources. Doesn’t mean I always understand them, but I can usually glean the right vocabulary from primary science and improve my searches from there.

What a 1 hour scroll through the National Library of Medicine turned up today is that excercise intolerance is usually related to specific kinds of heart failure (already ruled out), certain profound lung diseases (definitely not), certain complications of diabetes (nope, thank goodness), and mitochondrial illnesses usually due to genetic variations that leave them struggling (definitely something I’ll check again, in light of this new info. I’ve got those geneticgenie.org results somewhere…) It can also go with POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia, which I have a variable case of.

So what is excercise intolerance?

As I understand it currently, excercise intolerance means that, instead of excercise building muscle and oxygen-carrying capacity, exercise chews up tissues and reduces oxygen-carrying capacity.

Much like what happens when the vampires have been at ya.

Edvard Munch’s colorful take on vampiric prey, massively stylish as ever.

It’s very uncommon in the general population, and many people think they know better than to “believe in” it.

No wonder. It’s completely counterintuitive! How can excercise possibly make you weaker, sicker, and more broken-down?

Because some of us are just that lucky. Or something.

That which doesn’t kill me…

Makes me seem weirder and even harder to relate to.

It also generates inflammatory crap much faster than the impaired body can clean it out, which means more pain, more limited range of motion, and longer recovery time.

Yep, it’s fun to have! XD

It used to be that, once I broke the 2-mile mark, the only symptom I’d get after too much excercise was simply feeling like I’d had too much excercise, and a couple of Advil and a couple of good night’s sleep would take care of it. There *was* such a thing as “no more excercise intolerance”, and it was lovely.

I didn’t realize there were also such wide degrees of excercise intolerance. *This* doesn’t feel like I just did too much exercise and all I need is a little time. This feels like I’ve had an inflammatory surge, a mast cell activation episode, like my bones are charring gently, and like everything is about 10 times harder.

Now I know: Excercise intolerance can keep up! (Foul expletives mumbled under the breath.)

In the interests of data collection (and getting physician attention), I’ve pulled out my pulse oximeter and will check my oxygenation and pulse rate before, during, and after my walks.

Data! Yummy data! Nom nom nom nom. It’s not a cure, but it might help in the longer run. — Walk. The longer walk, haha.

 

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