Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Wheat & Dairy Free Supermarket

Well, look what I've just found. A UK-based company that sell yeast-free products (including bread mixes - hmmmm, sugar beet fibre? Is that okay?) mail-order! You can even search within each section for 'yeast-free', or 'no added sugar' products. I know absolutely nothing about them, but once I've been paid, I might give 'em a whorl.

Soya: pros and cons

Following on from my earlier post - ostensibly about breakfasts, but also about how I've recently gone off soya milk for a number of ethical and health reasons - there's been some really illuminating posts about the pros and cons of soya products on the Fanatic Cook blog recently. To summarise (and I know this is simplifying the debate somewhat) fermented soya products (e.g. tofu, soy sauce and miso) are good, while unfermented soya products (like soya milk) are potentially harmful, if consumed in large quantities. I, for one, have decided to give up soya milk in preference for UHT goats milk (which doesn't cause me any problems).

Why does life have to be so complicated?!

Iron absorbtion and making the most of the nutrients in your diet

Here's an interesting little article. Obviously, orange juice is off-limits for the anti-Candida diet, but - as I need all the iron I can get - I've taken on board the advice about avoiding tea at meal times. Trying to have a mug of fruit or nettle tea instead.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I've had a pizza relapse (and mushrooms, cheese, chorizo sausage, paella and creamy garlic sauce) today. Pizza al funghi for lunch, followed by tapas for dinner. Oh well, guess I'll have to get back on the straight and narrow tomorrow. ;)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cranberries - lovely cranberries!

I was delighted to find dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice concentrate - instead of sucrose - in my local health food shop the other day. They're still very tart, but great on muesli. I'm thinking about making up my own dried fruit/nut mix as a snack for when I'm on the move, comprised of the aforementioned cranberries, shredded coconut, chopped dried apricots and brazil nut pieces. Yum!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tea 'healthier' drink than water

Tea is healthier than water, according to a study carried out at Kings College, London. Not only does it replace fluid, it contains antioxidants and fluoride (good for teeth!).

I know you're not supposed to have caffeine on the anti-Candida diet, but I really would not be able to survive without green tea (and crisps - but that's another story!) - I'm an addict. My particular favourite is 'Double Dragon' from Fujian province in China, available from 'Holland & Barrett'. It's not as bitter, nor as strong as some green teabags can be. It still contains some caffeine, but at much lower levels than 'normal' tea or coffee (which I detest). White tea - if you can find it - has even less caffeine and more antioxidants.

Some light relief!

Have just found this fab Retro Food Recipes website. None of them are suitable for the anti-Candida diet of course (but would I really want to actually consume any of them?!), but I just love imagining these God-awful creations. I can remember seeing as a toddler the image of a pink, gelatinous blancmange in glorious, HIDEOUS technicolour in one of my Mum's ancient Good Housekeeping recipe books. I remarked that it looked just like a bottom. I can still see it in my mind's eye today - must have made a BIG impression!

What particularly caught my eye here, was the recipe for 'Felixstowe Tart' in the regional foods section. Hmmmmm - I could add something really bitchy here (my ex ran off with a tart from Felixstowe), but I won't. ;)

Ideas for dinner - Part 2

With a bit of imagination you can come up with lots of ideas for main meals. But it's best not to get stuck in rut - anecdotal evidence suggests that you may become more susceptible to forming new allergies/food intolerances if you have a limited diet. At the moment I tend to eat fairly light suppers, with plenty of salad and vegetables (I'm loving beetroot at the moment - the Co-op sells it ready cooked and vacuum-packed without any added nasties). So, here's a few more ideas for the summer.

Oatmeal goujons

This is a really easy and quick way of cooking chicken or fish. The oatmeal is a great substitute for breadcrumbs and makes a lovely crunchy casing.

1 chicken breast or fillet of salmon (without skin) per person
Seasoning (salt & pepper, or Schwartz Season-all, for example)
Sunflower oil

Place a little oatmeal on a plate or in a bowl. Add a little seasoning (just enough to liven the oatmeal up!) and mix well. Take strips of chicken or fairly chunky slices of salmon (cut 'with the grain'). Roll in the oatmeal mixture until well coated and shallow fry in sunflower oil, turning occasionally to ensure the goujon is evenly cooked and browned.

Serve with salad and new potatoes (or chips!).

Ginger and cashew stirfry

You could add chicken or tofu to the stirfry, if you fancy something a bit more substantial. Just chuck the ingredients in, according to how much of each you fancy (I'm really not a very accurate, 'measured' cook!). The green vegetables and cashew nuts are packed full of iron, and the brown rice and noodles contain B6 (which activates iron) - just what the doctor ordered if like me, you're slightly anaemic.

clove of garlic
piece of ginger
bok choy
chinese leaves
cashew nuts (unroasted/unsalted)
dark soy sauce (if you're allowed it) or miso paste
sesame oil

Grate the garlic and ginger and gently fry in the sesame oil. Quickly add the onion, cut in half and sliced and the broccoli (cut into florets) - try peeling the stalk, slicing it finely and adding that to the pan too! Stirfry for a few mins, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the bok choy leaves and the chinese leaves (sliced) (as much as you want - or fits in the pan - but remember, they'll cook down to nothing in no time at all!). Stir fry until the leaves start to wilt and add the cashew nuts. Fry until the nuts are starting to brown and add a splash of soy sauce or a good heaped teaspoon of miso paste (with a splash of hot water). Combine well and serve immediately with brown rice or brown rice noodles.

If you are adding chicken or tofu, slice or cube and cook until brown on all sides in a separate pan. Add to the vegetables just before the soy or miso.

Variation: Butterfly some king prawns (i.e. de-vein) and marinade in the grated garlic and ginger, with a splash of soy sauce or squeeze of fresh lemon juice, for at least an hour before cooking (remember to refridgerate!). Add to the vegetables (instead of the cashews) just before you add the soy sauce or miso paste.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Errata: Success at Budgens!

Have just noticed that I credited St Helen's Farm with producing UHT Goat's Milk here:

Whoops! I got it wrong. It's actually manufactured by 'Delamere' and you can get it at 'Holland and Barrett' too. Fab website bty, it's got audio of goats 'baa-ing' (do goats baa?)!

Ideas for dinner

Finally, finally the bit of writing that has preoccupied me for the last few days is finished and my thoughts can return to food. Here's a few ideas for more substantial meals.

First up is a recipe I have adapted from one I found in a Cranks cookbook (I think!):

Beany Goulash

Enough for two (will keep in the fridge overnight)

1 tin of cannellini, butter or haricot beans
large clove of garlic
half a large onion, peeled and sliced
olive oil
1 large green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (without citric acid)
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 teaspoons of paprika
a dash of cayenne pepper or half a de-seeded and finely sliced green chilli pepper (optional)
salt and pepper
natural/bio yoghurt to garnish

Fry the garlic and onions (and chilli) in the olive oil, add the green pepper and fry until onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, the drained and rinsed beans and the paprika (and cayenne). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about fifteen minutes, without a lid on the pan, to reduce the liquid a little.

Serve with a swirl of yoghurt and accompany with a green salad or brown rice.

Indian style food is pretty easy to adapt to the anti-Candida diet. I make up a basic Korma-style sauce, using Coconut Milk or Cream, to which I add pieces of chicken, prawns or tofu. A quick and easy recipe follows:

Chicken (or prawn or tofu) Korma

Serves 1

chicken breast (cooked prawns or half a packet of tofu)
half an onion
half a green pepper
clove of garlic
piece of ginger
tablespoon of mild curry powder
2 teaspoons of garam masala
tin of coconut milk or half a block of coconut cream

Grate the garlic and ginger and fry in sunflower oil (do not allow to burn!). Add the onion (diced or sliced) and gently fry until softened. Cut the chicken into pieces (cube the tofu, if using instead) and add to the pan. Fry until browned. Dice the green pepper (fairly large pieces), add to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the curry powder to the pan. Give the ingredients a good mix and then add the coconut milk (if using creamed coconut dissolve in a little hot water first). Allow mixture to simmer until the chicken (or tofu) has cooked and the liquid has reduced a little. If using prawns, add them to the sauce and gently warm through. Add the garam masala and serve with brown rice, poppadums or wholewheat chappattis.

I have made a vegetarian option before, using cubes of potato, florets of cauliflower and green beans.

For an extra special version, substitute the curry powder for 2 teaspoons of freshly ground cumin seeds, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Marinade the chicken in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper for at least an hour before cooking. Cook as per instructions above, but add a good dollop of yoghurt to the pan before the coconut milk/cream.

Check back soon for some more recipe ideas!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A temporary hiatus

Blimey! You wait ages for a blog entry and then three come along at once. ;-)

When I'm not worrying about what I'm eating, I'm a research student and, at the moment, I'm heavily engaged in a bit of writing that I must get done for my supervisor by the middle of next week. So today's posts are likely to be the last for some time.

So, here's me, signing off for a little while. Bye bye...

Book Review: 'Vegetarian Cooking Without' by Barbara Cousins

Have just got my grubby little mits on Vegetarian Cooking Without: Recipes free from added Gluten, Sugar, Yeast, Dairy Products, Meat, Fish, Saturated Fat, by Barbara Cousins. Looks like it's going to be really useful. Some great recipes, including puddings and cakes (Yes! Puddings and cakes on the anti-Candida diet!).

I tried out a couple of the recipes with varying degrees of success last night: Thai Tofu with Coriander, Chilli and Ginger (p. 154) was quick and easy to make and delicious (even though I wasn't able to get hold of several of the ingredients for flavouring, kaffir lime leaves anyone?!). I made (or attempted to make) Apricot and Walnut Clusters (p. 205) with one eye on the 'Big Brother' final. Not so successful - but for the most part due to me not following the recipe properly, rather than a problem with the recipe per se. I thought I'd be clever and stew the apple in the microwave instead of on the hob, but it didn't produce the necessary sticky mush required to stick all the dry ingredients together. Consequently, they were not so much clusters, than one big cake. I crumbled it up and used it as a crunchy yoghurt topping (and froze the rest). Not bad!

She's also got some useful information in there about Chinese medicine (apparently people with Candida problems are too 'damp'). Worth investigating further methinks.

'Toxic Diets' fuel child obesity

Interesting report on BBC Online this morning. The comment that a high-sugar, low-fibre diet may cause hormonal imbalances struck me; I've always thought there was a hormonal aspect to my Candida-related problems. And I certainly did used to have a high-sugar, low-fibre diet!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Share your experiences with the world!

Well, maybe just me and whoever is out there reading this blog!

I would be delighted to hear your comments, suggestions, tips and experiences. Just drop me a line...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Success at Budgens!

I recently had a very successful shopping trip at 'Budgens'. I found a range of products suitable for people following the anti-candida diet (see photograph), some of which - like the chappattis - I've previously, but most I haven't come across before. Perhaps things are looking up!

1. 'Sacla' Char-grilled Aubergine Pesto - ingredients:

  • aubergine
  • sunflower seed oil
  • water
  • basil
  • tomato
  • cashew nuts
  • sea salt
  • fresh garlic
  • crushed pine kernels
  • lactic acid (preservative)
  • hot chilli pepper

2. Tzatziki (Budgens)

  • yoghurt
  • cucumber
  • salt
  • garlic granules
  • mint

3. 'Glutano' Tri-Colour Pasta

  • maize starch and flour
  • spinach powder
  • tomato powder
  • beetroot powder

(v. tasty with the aubergine pesto!)

N.B. 'Orgran' produce a similar corn-based pasta, available from Holland & Barrett.

4. Patak's Plain Chappattis (six)

  • wholemeal flour
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • fruit juice (guess this is okay in small quantities!)
  • emulsifiers*
  • raising agents #
  • calcium propionate (preservative)

* Mono and Diglycerides of fatty acids, mono and Diacetyl Tartaric Acid esters of Mono and Diglycerides of fatty acids (no idea what this is - if anyone out there knows, and it's nasty, please let me know!).

# Disodium Diphosphate Sodium Hydrogen carbonate (ditto!).

- and finally

5. 'Delamere' goats yoghurt

Same company produces a fresh goats milk available from the Co-op.

Other 'new' products:

('New', because I haven't seen them before!)

  • hard goat's cheese
  • UHT (longlife) goats milk

Both manufactured by 'St Helen's Farm' and available from Tescos.

What shall I have for breakfast? Part 2

Just a quick addendum to the entry about breakfast ideas...

'Kallo' make a puffed (brown) rice cereal, which is available from Tescos (look for it in the 'free from' aisle). It's unsweetened - in fact, it contains nothing but rice - so try it with goats milk, chopped dried apricots or apple and yoghurt. Makes a nice change from muesli.

Have included a photograph of the packaging to give an idea of what to look out for!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Book review: Erica White's 'Beat Candida Cookbook'

Erica White's Beat Candida Cookbook is a bible for those embarking on an anti-Candida diet. As a sufferer and nutritional therapy practitioner with years of experience, she provides the definitive list of dos and don'ts.

The first sections of the book deal with her personal story and give background information on candida albicans and symptoms. The bit I'm most interested in here is from Chapter 6, where she details 'foods to avoid' and 'foods to enjoy' (pp. 42-45). My only criticism is that it is a very basic list. Often, presented with something a bit more exotic than your average British fayre, I've been unable to find the advice I need. And to be honest, if you were going to live on just the foods Erica White recommends, your diet (and life) would get very monotonous indeed.

Which takes me onto my next criticism: the recipes. While it is really helpful to have suitable recipes to hand, the perceived need to adapt them to suit every possible dietary requirement, including gluten and wheat-free, means that the recipes I've tried (which, admittedly is few) have been bland and uninspiring. Which is a great shame.

The best way I've found to use this book, is to treat it as a kind of encyclopedia of knowledge about Candida and the anti-Candida diet, and use it as the backbone for the development of your own recipes (and most of the time you'll find that - with a little bit of experimentation - you can just adapt the things you made before you started the diet, by substituting white wine, for example, with a yeast-free stock, or white pasta for wholewheat, etc). For me, following Erica White's puritan programme and recipes to the nth degree would be akin to mortification.

However, having said all that, I would really recommend everyone following, or about to embark upon the diet, to buy the book. If nothing else, it helps to know that you're not the only one out there suffering!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ready-prepared salads from 'Delphi': A correction

So, I popped into Budgens yesterday lunchtime to check the ingredients for that Chickpea salad. And guess what my eagle eyes spotted? Why, citric acid of course! The moral of this story is trust no one. Not even your own mother! ;)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ready-prepared salads by 'Delphi'

I don't have regular Internet access at the moment, so blog entries might be a bit thin on the ground for the next week or so. Please bear with me!

However, thought I should mention that I've recently come across a couple of ready-prepared salads manufactured by Delphi and available from Budgens - a Chickpea salad (chickpeas with olive oil, feta cheese and sundried tomatoes) and a Lentil salad. Both very tasty. I didn't get to see the packaging for the Chickpea salad, but have been assured that there wasn't anything in there that I needed to worry about (and, unfortunately their website - 'though beautiful - doesn't give ingredients listings), but there was a small (and it must have been tiny) amount of vinegar in the Lentil salad (couldn't taste it, came after chopped parsley in the list of ingredients and only before salt, so a very small quantity indeed). Worth looking for if you've got a barbecue or summer buffet coming up.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ready meals: Marks and Spencers

The very nature of the anti-candida diet, with its myriad of restrictions, means that the vast majority of ready meals and processed food items are not suitable for those following the diet. However, in the eighteen months or so since I've been on the diet, I've come across a few 'short cuts'.

Tonight I had Marks & Spencers 'Bombay Aloo' for my dinner - potato chunks cooked with tomatoes, ginger and fresh coriander, according to the blurb on the box. And I can quite believe it, cos very tasty it was too. In fact it contained nothing but:

  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • vegetable oil
  • ginger
  • tomato puree
  • fresh coriander
  • salt
  • spices
  • mustard leaves; and
  • curry leaves.

So, unless M&S is being economical with the truth, there's nothing in there that we need to worry about.

I had it with an undressed salad and a couple of Patak's wholewheat chapattis (previously mentioned in my 'lunches' entry a couple of days ago).

I can also recommend M&S's Vegetable Curry and Bubble and Squeak Potato Cakes (available from the prepared vegetables section). However, apart from those few items, M&S is a bit of a disappointment. I haven't been able to find anything else suitable in my local branch in Leicester (and believe me, I've scoured those shelves!). They seem addicted to putting cream and sugar in EVERYTHING! Perhaps whoever devises their recipes has an undiagnosed candida problem? ;)

Pamela Singh's Candida Diet website

I've just come across Pamela Singh's Candida Diet website:

As a sufferer herself she's set up this website for fellow anti-candida dieters to get more information about the diet and to share her experiences and recipes.

I haven't had a chance to have a really good look at it yet, but there's some interesting info about rotating food to find out if you have any specific intolerances (apart from the main suspects) and what look like some fab recipes for Indian and Mediterranean inspired dishes:

Definitely worth a look. Will try out some of the recipes and report back...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Citric Acid - E330

You will have noticed that I've mentioned citric acid(E330) (and it's avoidance) several times on this blog. It is commonly used in manufactured goods as a preservative and, while it is produced naturally in the body and is present in a number of fruits and vegetables, for commercial use, it is manufactured by feeding a type of mould on sucrose, so it's best avoided by anti-candida dieters on two counts.

What really irritates me is that it really doesn't seem necessary. Why is it that Sainsburys, for example, uses citric acid as a preservative in its jars of green olives, but the Co-op doesn't? It appears to me that it is often used arbitrarily by food manufacturers, without real necessity (perhaps a chemist would care to comment?!). It's so damn frustrating to think you've found a 'friendly' pasta sauce or tin of tomatoes, only for it to be ruled out by the insidious presence of citric blinking acid!

It's the bane of my life!

Rant over... normal service will be resumed shortly. :)

Ideas for lunch, part two

Here's a couple more ideas for anti-candida suitable lunches, including a Claudia Roden recipe for home-made hummous. But first, let's start with one of my own creations!

Aubergine Pizza

Mozzarella is a 'young' cheese, which means it will contain fairly low levels of lactose, so it is suitable once in a while. Try to get buffalo milk mozzarella - avoid Danish 'pizza-style' mozzarella, it's revolting! - and make sure it isn't preserved in citric acid. Last time I looked, the Sainsbury's 'Be Good to Yourself' version was okay.

Serves 1

2 fairly thick slices of aubergine (medium-sized, sliced lengthways)
half a tin of Sainsburys bruschetta topping
packet of mozzarella
olive or sunflower oil

Lightly fry the aubergine slices in the oil until golden brown and soft (but not falling apart). Spoon some bruschetta topping on each slice. Top with generous slices of mozzarella and place under a hot grill until brown and bubbling.


I have adapted this recipe from Claudia Roden's version published in 'Mediterranean Cooking'. Tahini (sesame seed paste) is available from health food shops, such as 'Holland & Barrett'. You'll need access to a liquidiser or, better still, a food processor, to make this recipe.

Makes a generous amount. Will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

1 tin of chickpeas (make sure they don't contain citric acid)
3 tablespoons of tahini
juice of 2 lemons
1 large clove of garlic (if you don't like the harshness of raw garlic, try lightly sauteing it first)
drop of water
salt to taste
olive oil

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Blend with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic (crushed) and salt, adding a drop of water if necessary, until smooth. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and a swirl of olive oil.