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:

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?


Cindy: 15

Allergens: 7

Undecided: 1


Food Challenge Round 3: Cindy vs. Beer

I can no longer say I haven’t had beer at 7:30am. If this were a game of “Never Have I Ever,” my finger would go down, and I guess I could take a swig of my Heineken.

It’s not just me who thought the idea of having beer at a doctor’s office at 7:30am was kind of awesome and kind of weird and kind of ridiculous. My doctor did, too. His son was at the office today to help out with some filing (ah, college), and my doctor called him in to the appointment (with my permission, of course) to show him that his job was cool.

Not sure why I was hating on Brandeis parties, considering the unofficial Modfest I threw as a statement…inspired, of course, by the previous year’s Purple Rain where I insisted on free Heineken…

Dr: Do you see what Cindy is doing?

Son: Uhhh…

Dr: She’s drinking a beer. At 7:30 in the morning. To see if she’s allergic to malt. This is how we have to test her.

Son: That’s kind of fratty.

Me: I know, which is weird because I went to Brandeis.

Dr: They’re not known for that over there.

Me: Where do you go?

Son: I went to UC Santa Barbara, but I’m transferring to USC.

Me: Oh, so this probably isn’t as weird for you.

As I continued to drink, after not having had alcohol since the beginning of April and beer since late February, I started to get tipsy. Obviously. A handful of Rice Chex isn’t really going to do much in terms of sobriety.

It was kind of weird to experience tipsiness while gauging to see if I felt totally fine, since the symptoms of an allergy aren’t that different from the symptoms of drunkeness (hazy vision, dizziness, feeling out of it) but the doctor and I talked through what I was feeling and as I was rambling we both kind of figured out it was a buzz. It felt nice. Awkward, but nice. I got giddy and did what any girl would — drunk text. I caught my friend J on the way to work and told him I felt like spinning around in his coworker’s chair. Because I really did. Still kinda do…they have a toasty and inviting office.

By 8:30, the doctor determined I was ready to leave. That is, until I sobered up to drive. Not that I was actually drunk, but you know, it’s bad to drink even one beer and get behind the wheel without waiting it out (Thank you, years of teaching alcohol education. End PSA). I hung out in the waiting room totally reliving my college experience by reading an essay in “Religion and Popular Culture in America.” Because once I get a Heineken and some free time, I morph back into an American Studies major.

Bottom line: I can now drink one Heineken, and that counts as about 1/2 a wheat in my weekly count. I can also eat malted barley, which means I can have basically every enriched flour. Which, in turn, means I can eat more breads from bakers I speak to, cakes, cookies, etc. Homebaked good! I dont’t have to bug people to read the ingredients on their flour. Kinda cool. However, I cannot have any other kinds of beer (they all have different ingredients — including FISH BLADDER! In researching which beer to drink, I found that many beers, especially those from the UK, are made with isinglass which is code for fish bladder which is code for possible anaphylaxis — explains why I never understood the deliciousness of Guinness but rather could barely swallow a sip), and I can’t have more than one beer without a possible overdose without testing it, which my doctor thinks is unnecessary and probably problematic.. But hey. It’s a win. Because I’m tiny and prefer Heineken anyway.

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy – 2

Allergens – 1

Up next: Onions