Food Challenge 23: Cindy vs. Barley

I went into my barley challenge this morning with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I knew I could eat barley in its malted form in Heineken and flour. On the other hand, even though I can have wheat, the processing of wheat in pasta made me vomit while driving a car and subsequently pass out for a few hours. So, you know. You never can tell.

Luckily, though, pasta stays its own unique experience. I ate barley this morning – just plain boiled barley with a touch of salt – and did not get sick at all. And, even better, loved the taste of it. Who knew barley was delicious? I can’t wait to explore interesting barley soup and risotto recipes. Totally open to recommendations, too, but none with mushrooms, please (what is it with those two? Seriously, can someone who eats both please explain why they taste good together? I’m so curious and I’ll never find out).

And, now that I can eat barley, I can have one more of the seven species of Israel. These are foods that were brought as a tithe to the temple and are still traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashana and other holidays. They’re like the holiest foods, I think, and it bothers me that I’m allergic to so many of them.  They are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. And now, I’m only allergic to figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. As soon as I get olives back — someday, right??? — I’ll be back to where I started, with the majority on my side. I didn’t realize how happy it would make me to get barley back, but it really, really does.

Can't wait to make this! Well, after I adapt it to exclude the chicken broth (waste of time/chicken), onion, white wine, and replace the olive oil. So basically, I want to make barley with thyme, pepper, parmesan cheese, carrots, and maybe I'll be creative and throw in a pepper for creativity. Or nix the cheese and use red wine and garlic. It's a pretty picture, screw the actual recipe!

Can’t wait to make this! Well, after I adapt it to exclude the chicken broth (waste of time/chicken), onion, white wine, and replace the olive oil. So basically, I want to make barley with thyme, pepper, parmesan cheese, carrots, and maybe I’ll be creative and throw in a pepper for added flavor. Or nix the cheese and use red wine and garlic. It’s a pretty picture, screw the actual recipe! (or don’t: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/12/healthy-delicious-barley-risotto-recipe.html)

In other good news, I’m going to FINALLY be trying peanuts next time. Originally, my doctor had recommended we do a full day double blind challenge for peanuts. That was simply never going to happen, since I can’t take a whole day off of work just for the ability to eat peanuts three times a week, maybe. Loss of a day’s pay plus high risk of anaphylaxis? No thank you. Refilling my epipen prescription is more than my salary, so not worth it. But, I’ve been craving peanuts lately. I’ve been trying to smell it, I’ve been totally jealous of the office dog when she licks her jar of Skippy. I mean, all I want to do is just eat peanut butter from the jar and maybe sneak a few honey roasted peanuts and Butterfingers and Reese’s cups. Yum. So I asked the doctor again if peanuts were something we could do. Now that I’ve been getting better and since he’s seen how quickly my anaphylaxis actually comes on, he said we can knock the peanuts out in a regular challenge in 2 hours instead of the usual 20 or so minutes. It’s not going to be a double blind, because unlike most patients, I believe I am not allergic to peanuts. I’d probably convince myself I was fine with the peanuts in the double blind, I want them that badly.

So next time I food challenge — date TBD, depending on how my scratch test goes on Monday — I’ll be eating peanuts. And I better succeed, because I want them so so so badly. Plus, how baller would it be to be allergic to as many things as I am allergic to, and NOT be allergic to peanuts, the most popular allergen? I’d only be allergic to 3 of the top 8 (thought shellfish is iffy since I have no way of challenging it and keeping kosher). Fish and nuts. But I don’t want to get my hopes up either. Peanut anaphylaxis seems like the sort of thing you don’t want to induce upon yourself. It just seems socially awkward.

The only thing is, I want to eat Skippy crunchy peanut butter because it’s the best. But, it turns out, they use cottonseed oil (and something called “rapeseed oil” which is an antiquated name for canola oil, but I guess Skippy didn’t get the memo that people don’t like to eat things that are called rape). So no Skippy for me. Because cottonseed oil can kill me. Not because I don’t support poor verbage (which I don’t). All peanut butters use rapeseed, so that’s a non-starter. But I will, like a choosy mom, choose Jif. Because it’s the only name-brand peanut butter that doesn’t use cottonseed oil. Though, interesting fact, now that I’ve spent my night researching peanut butter — they make peanut butter with fish in it to increase omega 3s, and the reduced fat peanut butter is only 60% peanuts and 40% chemicals that sound like they can kill you. Who knew peanut butter was so darn complicated?

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 15

Allergens: 7

Undecided: 1

Next Up: PEANUT BUTTER!

Food Challenge Round 19: Cindy vs. Buckwheat

First, I want to say how proud I am that I’ve actually tried the foods I’ve said I would for the last few weeks. No more last minute changes. But I do sort of wish that I’d made a last minute swap for apricots this week, as I’m 99% sure I’ve eaten apricots and been fine (I never actually tested positive for them, or tested for them at all, but for some reason they terrify me and I feel like I need to eat them where I know I’m safe to overcome this totally irrational fear). I wish I’d made the switch, because buckwheat went…mediocrely.

Hey look! It's two foods I can't eat for the price of one!

Hey look! It’s two foods I can’t eat for the price of one!

I cooked buckwheat pancakes in the morning and they smelled FOUL. But when I tasted them at the doctor’s office, they were delicious. So right away I knew something was up, but I can’t really get my head straight before 9am most days and I was operating on almost no sleep and two consecutive 12+ hour workdays at my 8am challenge, so I let it be. After one pancake though, I got this weird airy feeling in my throat and chest. I’ve had this feeling before, and I usually ignore it and keep eating, and then get sick. It’s the impending doom feeling. It happened with pickles, it happens all the time with watermelon, and it used to happen with blueberries and walnuts when I still ate those. So this time, I trusted my gut and asked the doctor if I could stop eating. (I’m learning how to be safe, yay!). He said sure, and we just chatted about his latest Now That’s What I Call Music 45 CD.

And then the tingling started. No big deal, but like, my lips and chin and jaw started feeling…off. Not swollen. Not painful. Just, annoying. And hyperaware. And tingly. Like my whole body had become centralized in my face and I couldn’t balance out. This did not concern the doctor, who said I had no visible signs of sickness. Twenty minutes later, when the tingling persisted but didn’t get worse, he released me, with no medicine. We called it a “slight positive.” Meaning, I can have exactly that amount of buckwheat on rare occasions if I need to. Sort of like onion powder. But, unlike onion powder, I don’t think I’m going to be coming across buckwheat that often. And considering I’ve avoided onion powder successfully since that challenge a few months ago, I think the point is moot.

Anyone 3/4 of a bag of buckwheat flour? Because for $5.99 (for like 4 cups, mind you), that flour needs a good home.

Oh, and ps. Now that I can’t have buckwheat, I feel like I will get more incensed the next time someone suggests I eat gluten-free. Nope. I can eat real wheat (sort of) and I cannot have one of the standard gluten-free wheats, so world, stop asking if your gluten free cookies or cakes or what-have-yous are helpful to me. They aren’t. /endrant

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 13

Allergens: 6

Next Up: Apricots

Food Challenge Round 8: Cindy Vs. Cinnamon

“C-c-c-cinnamon lips and candy kisses on your tongue…yum.”

So sing OK Go in their song, “Cinnamon Lips,” on their first album.

Yum is right. Cinnamon is delicious. And it’s very seasonal, so it seemed like a good idea for me to challenge that as my first post-holiday challenge. Plus, I wanted to start with something I was confident about so that I’d be sure to get to work, as there’s too much going on for me to miss a day for anaphylaxis.

It was kind of nice to be back at the doctor’s office after my 7 week break. They were in full swing for Halloween, which was fun. And the doctor and I had some time to catch up while I ate my Cinnamon Toast Crunch – because if you’re going to try cinnamon, you may as well eat it in the best possible form. I’ve been replacing cinnamon with nutmeg for the past 6+ months) and it’s worked well, but somehow I don’t think Nutmeg Toast Crunch would be so great. Plus, eating a breakfast food at 7:30am is kind of nice after the whole tahine, chicken soup, beer challenges.

Anyway, it was DELICIOUS. Sweet as hell, overly processed, but still delicious.

The only thing is, it wasn’t great for my vision. The diplomas on the office wall started to blur and the doctor tried to keep my nerves calm so we’d be able to isolate any reaction. That worked some, but still I felt pretty bad. Not bad enough to call it a food I have to stay away from, but as the doctor put it, “It’s your choice. If you feel bad enough don’t eat it, but you can eat it without concern.” So another one of these half-passed tests. I’m not at risk of dying — YAY — but I probably won’t feel awesome if I eat too much. And I have to be very mindful of overdosing.

Anyone remember this cereal? Totally been craving it, which is weird because a) it’s gross and b) I hate French toast in general…

I can live with that. Like I said, nutmeg is a good replacement for cinnamon, and I can easily remove it from my cooking. But I can eat it in others’ cooking which makes dining out and shared meals just a smidgen easier. And the more I challenge, the more I realize that’s a large part of why I’m doing this. I believe I’ve gotten my list to a manageable size for me. I eat about the same variety as most other people do, only, mine isn’t a choice or a force of habit. It’s a force of body, and that’s fine. Except when it comes to social dining or dining on the go with packaged foods — there, I need some leeway, and I’m glad that cinnamon can be a part of that leeway.

I’m still deciding what to do next. It’ll likely depend on work, though, I can’t really predict what my reactions will be. I thought cinnamon would be a slam dunk — as I did pasta and olive oil — and I thought for sure I’d fail beer. So who knows? I’ve been craving peanuts, which happens almost never, so I think that might be a sign that that’s next. Gotta love some extra protein.

Whatever I choose next, I know the appointment will be fun. It’s on Halloween, and the whole doctor’s office is super pumped about the holiday. I kind of can’t wait to add to the absurdity of these food challenges with a costumed doctor. The only catch? I probably should wear a costume, too, and I have no ideas…So, I challenge you:

1. What to test next?

2. What do I dress up as?

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy – 6

Allergens – 2

Up Next: TBD