So Cindy, What Can You Eat?

When people find out about my food allergies, one of the first questions they ask me is: “What can you eat?” That seems like a perfectly acceptable question, but the truth is, I can eat a lot of foods and I probably can’t think of them all on the top of my head.

In fact, I believe I probably have a more varied diet than the average American. Because  I can eat fewer foods (though still many), I eat most of them. Whereas, when you have the whole world of food open to you, you make select choices based on what’s easy, what you prefer, and what’s familiar. There’s got to be a term for this, but I just came off a 12+ hour day on set (fabulous shoot btw) so all I can think of is the tyranny of the majority. Which, if you think of certain food groups as the oppressed minority sort of maybe makes a little bit of sense if you’re willing to really stretch for it.

Think about what you ate this week. Maybe not you, loyal readers, as you probably care quite a bit about food (you’re reading a food blog, after all) and that separates you from the masses. But think about the people around you and what they eat. Same lunch day in and day out? Similar dinners? Making a large pot of food on Sunday and spreading it through the week? Probs.

In a typical week (I’d count this week, but I’ve got a cold and had an allergic reaction yesterday so I’m all out of sorts), I eat:

chicken

turkey

lamb

beef

cheese

eggs

beans

rice

corn quinoa pasta

potatoes

sweet potatoes

squash

zuchinni

eggplant

cereal

bread

green beans

pineapple

apples

pears

grapes

chocolate

chips (either corn or potato)

And that’s not counting lentils, millet, carrots, quinoa, tomatoes, and peppers which make regular appearances in my diet.

I don’t always use the same recipes, I don’t always eat the same combos at meals, and of course, I only eat each food item 3 times a week.

I feel like I have a fairly diverse diet each week. Fine, so I can’t experiment with new foods (except weekly, when I experiment with new foods at the doctor’s office), but I eat what I can. I’m not saying I don’t get bored. Oh, boy do I get bored! But most of the time, it’s easy as switching out Honeycomb for Captain Crunch. Or eating white beans instead of black beans. Yams instead of sweet potatoes. Meatballs instead of pepper steak.

I think back to two years ago, when I was overdosing every day on pasta (with sauce and cheese for lunch and chicken or beef for dinner…occasionally subbing pasta for rice). I could eat a lot more (sort of, I mean, since no doctor had told me I couldn’t yet), but I actually ate a lot less.

Too often, I think of my allergies as a burden. This week, especially, when I reacted to nothing, simply because I’m already under the weather. But then, I realize that in a lot of ways they’re a gift. Today, I’m focusing on how they’ve taught me to broaden my horizons, care more about my daily food intake, and pay more attention to nutrition in general.

Now excuse me, as I plan for tomorrow’s lunch…

Emmys! (and some hives)

It’s the superbowl of TV…the Emmy Awards! Only, there’s no typical food for this major American holiday, which is a shame. It’s my turn to host the Emmy’s “party” this year (read: a few friends in sweatpants sitting on a couch watching the show), and I decided to cook what will maybe become an Emmy’s staple menu.

Main Dish:

Homemade pizza — for recipe, see here.

Side:

Fried zucchini — essentially, zucchinni fried with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Dessert:

Strawberry chocolate oat muffins – a twist on my pumpkin oat muffins (vegan! gluten free! nut-free! woo-hoo!) only with pureed strawberry and some chocolate powder instead of pumpkin…or cherries

It all would have been an absolutely SUPERB dinner to accompany a really incredible Emmy show (Homeland! Homeland! Homeland!) but I erupted into hives for a reason I simply can’t understand.

Or maybe I can understand it. Last Monday, on the second night of Rosh Hashana, we had the traditional new fruits to make a blessing for the new year. I am allergic to most fruits, certainly exotic fruits, so I didn’t eat them. No one anticipated an airborne reaction, because there was no horseradish involved. And yet, I broke out into hives for a few days following that meal. My guess right now is that I had an apple that was right next to the fruits, and as with the horseradish incident of Passover, I think the apple absorbed some of the other fruits’ essences. Apples are pretty absorbent — they’re known to absorb most of the pesticides sprayed on them, for instance — and since I had definitely not overdosed on apples and that’s what I was eating when the hives began, I can only imagine they are the culprit. It’s been under a week, and I haven’t been strict about my Benadryl usage, but these sorts of hives can reappear for days. So I’m betting it’s that. Or I overdosed on wheat, with it being in the pizza, and having challah pretty regularly as part of all the ritual meals. Not that I’ve been eating a ton of challah, but I’ve had less wheat over more time than in most weeks (most weeks I eat wheat only on the weekends, in huge amounts. This week, I’ve had bread at many meals, but in small amounts).

Either way, my traditional Emmys meal was slightly marred, but very delicious, so here’s to hoping that next year:

a) I’m closer to winning an Emmy

b) my allergies are in check enough to eat the above foods totally 100% safely

Strawberry Overdose!

So cheap and juicy!

Regina Spektor sings, “Hey remember that time when you OD’ed? Hey remember that other when you OD’ed for the second time?” in her song “That Time.”

It’s a great song, and while I know she was talking about drugs, I can’t help but relate right now. Because I totally OD’ed on strawberries, and a part of me knew I was going to.

I’ve had an inkling for a while that the three times a week rule is more of a ballpark. Sometimes, I can get away with 4-5 times. And sometimes, 1-2. It depends on the food. Strawberries, it seems, are more of a 1-2 time food.

I ate about 5 strawberry cherry muffins early this week, and I used about 6 strawberries for the batch of 10. So that’s like 3 strawberries, over the course of 4 days. Not a lot, but a lot of times. Today, on my drive home from work, I wanted sugar so I had some freeze dried strawberries. One handful, fine. Two handfuls, fine. Third handful, verging on mediocre and I thought, “Hey, I think I’m overdosing.” But then, like a drug addict, I guess, I got hungry and wanted more and decided I was invincible. So handful number four, and it was like FIRE in my mouth. I feel hives on my tongue. It’s unlike most of my allergic reactions, because it’s not swelling per se, but it feels exactly like a hive only on the back of my tongue, not my skin.

I had one more to see if I was crazy and of course the hive flared back up. So yes, I am crazy, but probably for experimenting. While driving. Um, clouded allergy judgement anyone? (I was safe, though, hives just hurt they aren’t like fatal or anything, and I knew I wasn’t at risk for anaphylaxis, just discomfort. Sure it was dumb, but I promise it was not as dumb as it seems).

I then decided to do what any normal person does. Stop to pick up dry cleaning that’s been waiting at the cleaner’s for over a couple of weeks. There’s something about proving to myself that I’m not sick that makes me really want to do chores. I bet that these days, if I had an anaphylactic reaction, I’d consider cleaning my apartment before using my Epipen. I’m motivated by stubbornness and control issues. You can’t stop me, I say!

Anyway, as I climbed the stairs to the cleaner (4 steps), I noticed I was not as spry as I usually am. That confirmed this reaction. This burning on my tongue is not a hallucination, it’s not insanity, it’s not psychosomatic, it’s a real reaction. And since I am not allergic to strawberries, it must be an overdose.

I’m Cindy, and I overdosed on strawberries. But hey. I also finally picked up my dry cleaning.

Win/win?