Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Allergies and Fish Stew

We are in the middle of allergy season. Everyone I know is sneezing, coughing or walking around in a daze. Last year we were too, until we met with a naturopathic doctor who had us go on an allergy elimination diet for 8 weeks that led us to make changes in our diet. Our gluten and dairy free changes have meant big changes to our health and our body's reaction to allergens. 

We have always suffered from allergies because we've always lived in the (not as commonly known) allergy capital of the world, Austin. Clay had allergies, skin rashes and digestive issues from the time he was little. The pediatrician helped us determine his milk protein allergy at age one. He was put on allergy medicine at 18 months and asthma medicine around the same time. We knew there must be another way...and sure enough the changes in his diet, the addition of the fish oil and our changes around the house have made the difference. Too bad we can't use the neti pot with him yet!

We have friends ask us all the time what we're doing, so I thought I would share for those of you who are suffering. Please seek the advice of your doctor or naturopath before you make any changes!

  • We eat seasonally and locally. Seasonal eating is healthier because you are eating foods that are nutrient dense. Local, organic foods are healthier because they use no pesticides, spent less time traveling and are grown in high quality soil. Read more about the importance of the soil at Johnson's Backyard Garden.
  • We use a neti pot daily (look at People's Pharmacy or just about any pharmacy or grocery store - or in fun colors at BookPeople). It's not pretty and a little weird the first time you use it, but it works. Really. You will feel the difference immediately.
  • We take 3000 mg of fish oil every day and so does Clay. We use Nordic Naturals for kids (at Wheatsville, Central Market and People's Pharmacy) in strawberry or lemon flavor and Clay loves them! Tip: Take your fish oil at night before bed and you won't get the fishy taste in your mouth. 
  • During allergy season we make sure we eat as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible and limit inflammatory foods (especially gluten and dairy)
  • We take our shoes off at the door to limit outdoor allergens
I found a really great e-book cookbook recently for grain-free recipes. We tried the cioppino recipe this evening and it was delicious. Below is a version adapted from their Cod Cioppino recipe. 

Black Drum Cioppino

• 3 tablespoons olive oil, Texas Olive Ranch
• 2 carrots, diced (we sliced), Johnson's Backyard Garden
• 1 onion
• 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
• 6 cups chicken (or fish) stock, we used homemade chicken stock
• 2 ½ cups tomato puree or tomato sauce
• ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 TBSP fresh thyme, we used some from our garden
• salt and pepper
• 2 bay leaves, our garden
• 6 tablespoons fresh parsley, Johnson's Backyard Garden
• 2 pounds black drum (cod and shrimp work great as well), cut into 1/2" pieces, Quality Seafood (5% off with GoLocal Card)

1. Heat a large pot on medium heat and add the olive oil, carrots, and onion and a pinch of salt. The original recipe called for garlic, but we added garlic powder because that is what we had at home.
2. Pour in the chicken stock, apple cider vinegar and tomato puree. 
3. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, sea salt, bay leaves and chopped parsley. 
4. Simmer partially uncovered for 25 minutes.
5. Add the black drum pieces just before serving and cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Serve with fresh baked gluten-free bread. I use Pamela's Bread Mix. I also made a salad using Animal Farm lettuce and Texas pecans with a little shaved parmesan and dressing with Texas Olive Ranch olive oil and white wine balsamic vinegar.

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