Monday, July 31, 2006

Things for Lunch

Lunch is a fairly easy meal on the anti-candida diet, despite the lack of bread (so sandwiches are out). Here's a few quick and easy ideas:
  • hummous ('friendly' versions available from Tescos, Sainsburys, Marks & Spencers and the Co-op - go for the plain, 'full-fat' option, 'diet' or flavoured versions are usually packed full of hidden nasties), spread on oat cakes (plain), or use as a dip for (plain, salted) tortilla chips, crudities, or - a recent discovery of mine - wholewheat chapattis (instead of the more traditional pitta bread). Make your own, or try Patak's version (sweetened with fruit juice, but I figure it must be a tiny, tiny amount), available from Sainsburys. Hummous has fabulous candida-fighting properties!
  • salads (see my previous post on barbecue food, for a few ideas) - try adding tinned tuna, prawns or grilled seasoned chicken) for protein.
  • eggs - boiled, scrambled or omelette-d.
  • home-made soup (see recipe for my version of Onion Soup below).
  • jacket potatoes with goats cheese (Sainsburys do a nice organic soft goats cheese without rind, or you could try grating a hard goats cheese), cottage cheese, or seasoned tuna mixed with yoghurt.

Onion Soup

This does take a bit of effort, but makes a smallish saucepan full, enough for two servings.

1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
olive oil spread
olive or sunflower oil
yeast-free stock cube (the only one I've come across so far is made by 'Kallo' - yellow box - and is suitable for vegans: available from 'Holland and Barrett' and other health food stores).
dried or fresh herbs (finely chopped)
salt & pepper

Finely slice the garlic clove and onion (in rings) and saute over a gentle heat for about 20-30 mins in a combination of the olive/sunflower oil and olive oil spread until soft and caramelised (this will add flavour and colour to the soup). Add the stock cube, a pinch of the herbs, pepper (the stock cube is already fairly salty) and about a pint of boiling water. Simmer for another 20 to 30 mins before serving. If the soup is too pale, you can add a splash of soy sauce or a teaspoon of miso paste (if you're allowed them) for colour.

More lunch ideas to follow...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What shall I have for breakfast?

No longer able to eat sugary breakfast cereals and toast, finding something to eat for breakfast might seem difficult. Here's a few ideas:

Invariably I have muesli with yogurt for breakfast. 'Normal' supermarket-bought muesli brands are no good, even the no-added sugar versions, because they will contain raisins, other sugary dried fruits and possibly nuts (which are to be avoided, especially by those just starting out on the anti-candida diet). So, I make up my own muesli mix, which takes a bit of planning and to-ing and fro-ing between different shops, but ultimately it's worth it.

Holland & Barrett (health food chain) sell a muesli base (just flakes of oat, wheat and bran), to which I add dried coconut shreds (anti-fungal properties) and an 'omega' seed mix (both from 'Julian Graves' - another health food chain). Now I have been able to reintroduce some foods, I add three chopped apricots ('Crazy Jacks' organic dried apricots, available from Tescos and Sainsburys, are dark and caramelly and delicious - and are free from added sugar and citric acid), and a few chopped brazil nuts, but if this isn't an option, try chopping up half an apple for natural sweetness. To this I add 'milk' (more below) and a good couple of spoonfuls of bio yogurt.

If I've run out of muesli/'milk', I go for fruit (chopped apple or maybe some berries - if you're allowed them) with yoghurt. Not as filling as muesli, but it'll keep you going.


Dairy products are restricted for those on the anti-candida diet. Lactose - found in all dairy products - is a naturally occurring sugar, but sugar all the same. However, it is found in greater proportions in cows milk, which is why lactose-intolerant people may be able to tolerate sheep and goats' milk, cheese and yoghurt (where levels are lower), and the same applies to those following the anti-candida diet.

There are other options: oat, rice and soya milk are fine (and can be used as substitutes for milk in cooking and baking, with no problems), and - despite what it says on the carton - never seem to go off! But, goats' milk and yoghurt are my current preference (I've been able to get goats' milk from Marks & Spencers and the Co-op and goats' yoghurt from Sainsburys); there's been a good deal of media speculation recently about the moral and ethical objections to the production of soya beans, as well as health problems associated with the over-consumption of phyto-oestrogens found in non-fermented soya products.


Eggs are great. Have them scrambled (with a knob of olive oil spread and salt and pepper to taste) or boiled for breakfast, with oat cakes instead of bread.

Barbecues and the anti-candida diet

I should really start at the basics, but as the weather has been so fantastic recently ('though it looks like the heat wave has now broken) and as my housemates and I had a (slightly breezy and damp) barbecue last night, I thought I'd share a few recipes/ideas for anti-candida diet friendly barbecue food.

Red pepper and halloumi kebabs

I can't really take credit for these. A vegetarian friend of mine had a vision of some kind of cheesy/pepper/red onion combo, and this is what I came up with.

Makes approx. four kebabs

1 large red pepper
2 red onions
packet of halloumi cheese (made with ewes' milk and available from Sainsburys and Marks & Spencers, and probably elsewhere too)
chilli or basil infused olive oil
kebab sticks/skewers.

Cut all the pepper, onions and cheese into pieces and arrange on the sticks/skewers, alternating between pepper, onion and cheese (aim for about three cubes of cheese per kebab). Drizzle with the olive oil and grill until the cheese is starting to brown (halloumi is 'grill-able', it won't melt and make a cheesy mess all over your barbecue).

Pseudo-Greek salad

Again, kind of inspired by a creation of my vegetarian friend. Can be adapted according to taste/availability of ingredients/time and effort you're prepared to put in!

Makes a large bowl of salad, enough to feed at least six.

Go to the supermarket and buy:

bag of mixed salad leaves
bag of watercress
2 gem lettuces or a large cos lettuce
half a cucumber
baby spring onions (or normal ones, trimmed and sliced length-ways)
small jar of green olives (look for ones that aren't preserved in vinegar/citric acid - the Co-op own brand ones are okay)
packet of feta cheese (Marks & Spencers sell an 'all sheep' feta)

For the dressing:

garlic-infused olive oil
cider vinegar (or freshly squeezed lemon juice, if you're avoiding vinegar)
mixed herbs (fresh or dried)
salt and pepper

Take half a bag of mixed salad leaves and mix in a bowl with a good handful of watercress. Roughly chop the gem/cos lettuce(s) and add to the bowl, along with the cucumber (halved and sliced), the spring onions, the olives (drained) and the feta cheese (chopped into cubes).

Mix about three glugs of olive oil in a mug or jar with a capful of cider vinegar (or a good squeeze of lemon). Whisk until combined and add herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, pour dressing on salad and toss.

Non-mayonnaise potato salad

V simple and probably nicer than potato salad made with mayonnaise.

As many new potatoes as you think you'll need
handful of baby spring onions
bio/natural yoghurt
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes until al dente. Drain, halve (large ones) and allow to cool. Chop spring onions and add to potatoes. Stir in a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt (enough to generously coat the potatoes without 'drowning' them). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Red pepper salsa

More like a chunky salad than one of those jars of dips you get to eat with tortilla chips. This recipe owes a lot of Delia.

To make enough for six (couple of good spoonfuls each):

one large red pepper
three-four large tomatoes
red onion
fresh mint
small red chilli
lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper

Blanch the tomatoes to remove the skins. When cool, remove the seeds and chop into small chunks. Mix in a bowl with the red pepper and onion (cut into equal sized chunks). Slice (as much as you can bear of) the chilli, chop a sprig of mint leaves and stir both into the tomato/pepper/onion mix. Add a splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Options for meat-eaters

  • Use of sprinkle of Schwartz' 'Season-All' and a splash of olive oil to enliven grilled chicken.
  • Cook salmon pieces (seasoned with freshly ground pepper) en papilotte - shielded from the BBQ flames in an aluminum foil parcel.
  • Make a marinade for king prawns by mincing or grating a clove of garlic and a piece of ginger and mixing with a splash of chilli-infused olive oil.

'Vegetarian' burgers and sausages: A word of caution

Many pre-prepared/processed vegetarian burgers and sausages, be they made from soya or Quorn, are unlikely to be suitable for people following the anti-candida diet. Apart from added sugar (could be masquerading as 'dextrose') and yeast extract, they're crammed full of additives and preservatives. Quorn is also a fungus-based product, and so should be avoided if you've been advised to steer well clear of mushrooms.

The next instalment will be about breakfasts. 'Til then...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Anti-candida Diet: The basics

There is loads of information out there about candida and the anti-candida diet, so I'm not going to reproduce it here. If you think you have a problem with candida ('thrush', 'yeast'), then you MUST seek advice from a medical practitioner to confirm a diagnosis. I would also recommend finding a nutritional therapist to offer advice and support.

My own symptoms have responded well to the anti-candida diet and I am now in the process of reintroducing some foods into my diet, but for those just starting out (or what to find out more), here's the basics (N.B. 'bad' and 'good' foods may vary depending on who you talk to):


  • all refined sugars;
  • dairy products (except yoghurt, 'young' cheeses, like cottage cheese - sheep and goats' milk/cheese has lower levels of lactose than cows' milk/cheese, so - if you can tolerate it - you may be able to use it as a substitute);
  • yeast and yeast products (i.e. marmite);
  • fermented products, e.g. vinegar ('though I can tolerate a small amount of cider vinegar), soy sauce and miso paste ('though these are now back in my diet);

- and avoid caffeine (I drink green and herbal/fruit teas) and red meat (I'm virtually meat-free these days).

Eat plenty of:

  • fresh vegetables and some fruits (most practitioners will suggest you eliminate all fruit except apples (maybe pears) at the start of your diet);
  • ginger and garlic (both have anti-fungal properties);
  • yoghurt; and
  • wholewheat grains.

This all sounds very scary at first, but there are plenty of really tasty things you can eat, which will be the subject of my next posting.

Introduction and mission statement

The aim of this blog is to gather together recipes and tips for people following a restricted diet, with a focus on the anti-candida programme, which I've been on since December 2004.

There are loads of recipes online and cookery books available specifically designed for those on the anti-candida diet, but they are very US-oriented, and quite frankly, many of the recipes resemble and taste little better than cardboard (hence the title of this blog!).

My mission is, therefore, to share my experiences, recipes and tips, so that others just starting a strict elimination diet, or maintaining their symptoms through diet, can save time and continue to enjoy food.

In the coming weeks I will introduce some of the easy and quick recipes I've devised, give links to useful websites, publish cookery book reviews and give tips about which supermarkets stock the best anti-candida friendly products.