Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blog alert: Book of Yum

Food blogger and doctoral student like me! Lots of yummy sounding gluten-free recipes here.

Book of Yum

N.B. Might have (Might have? No definitely!) inadvertently commented on someone else's blog, who shall reman nameless - *cough* .H - recently using the 'wrong' profile which links to my research blog, thus revealing my true identity! Pssst - don't tell anyone!! Not that I'm ashamed of this little blog. Just not keen on all and sundry knowing about my problems - to put it coyly - 'down below'. ;)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Recipe: Grilled halloumi with roasted vegetables

My nutritional therapist suggested this really simple, but delicious recipe. I like to cook twice as much veg as I need and then save the rest to serve with pasta or a salad the next day. N.B. You can roast all sorts of vegetables, aubergine, carrots, tomatoes, spring onions, asparagus, etc.

Grilled Halloumi with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 1

3-4 slices of halloumi cheese
1 red onion, quartered
half a courgette, sliced
Half a red pepper, sliced
olive oil

Place the vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste. Place in the oven at about 200 degrees for about 20 mins (turning occasionally). Meanwhile grill the slices of halloumi on a griddle pan. Alternatively, when the vegetables are tender and just starting to crisp, remove from the oven and place in a shallow baking dish. Put the slices of halloumi on top of the vegetables (evenly spaced) and place under a grill until the cheese is starting to bubble and go 'toasty'.

Serve with brown rice dressed in a simple vinaigrette of two parts olive oil to one part cider vinegar. Add seasoning to taste.

Fructose-sweetened Chocolate

I've written before about how I suspect diabetic with maltitol gives me acne, so I'm trying out fructose-sweetened dark chocolate as an alternative. The chocolate I have is manufactured by Holex and purchased from my local independent health food shop.

It's pretty good, but incredibly sweet! The packaging advises that diabetics shouldn't consume more than 25g a day, which is a good guide. That equates to two rows. But I don't think I'm going to manage more than one!

I guess it's not really the best thing to eat, but I'm so fed up and PMT-ridden I NEED CHOCOLATE!!!!


I've had another row this evening. Y'know, just to make sure! ;) I decided that it really isn't very nice at all. Not just too sweet, but quite 'harsh', and a nasty aftertaste to boot. I shan't be buying it again. Need to find a victim to palm the rest off on!

***UPDATE 2***

I got used to it. Has all gone now. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A dilemma

I've got a really difficult decision to make. For the last fifteen years I've suffered with quite severe anxiety, sometimes leading to depression and frequently, bouts of insomnia. In the past, during a particularly bad episode, I was put on medication which was - not only ineffective - really not a good solution, as it make me feel very strange, kind of discombobulated and fat! I've tried all the usual self-help stuff, like lavender aromatherapy, St Johns Wort, Nytol, yoga, meditation, exercise, etc. I've read endless self-help books and last winter, during a period of quite severe depression, counselling. Nothing I have tried has had more than a short-term benefit.

My anxiety manifests itself in a serious of strange ways. Generally speaking it is constant and non-specific, though travel (particularly involving an over night stay), or having to get up early in the morning, can trigger quite alarming symptoms of panic. I can brood for months in advance of an event. And I recently had to pull out of quite a prestigious conference at which I had been accepted to present my research, because I couldn't deal with the journey (the actual presentation strangely caused no anxiety at all!). It had started to affect my ability to take up opportunities which will benefit my studies and my future career, and so I resolved that something must be done.

So today I went along to see my lovely and very understanding doctor. She did an assessment, which confirmed that I have severe anxiety, suggested I purchase a light box to help me through the winter months (when I often get very depressed), and made me an appointment with the practice therapist, who specialises in anxiety disorders. She also suggested I tried medication. Beta blockers are out, cos I have asthma. So she's offered me SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). They sound fab - really effective in the long run without the weirdness associated with the drugs I was taking before, neither are they are addictive. However, I was rather alarmed to find out that they can, in the short-term, make anxiety worse. Not only that, they have been linked with suicide - especially in teenagers (i.e. Seroxat). I'm no teenager, but I am on my own, and have no one to keep an eye on me 24/7 in case I do have a bad reaction. So, what do I do? I desperately want to get better, but I can't face the thought of feeling worse, even if it is only for a few weeks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Asparagus Soup

As promised, I toddled off to Leicester market yesterday afternoon and purchased some new season asparagus so I could try out that wonderful sounding asparagus soup recipe I found via Cooking Cute. I made it this lunchtime. It is - in a word - AMAZING!! Fresh tasting with a real zing. I had to wrestle with myself not to scoff the leftovers I'd set aside for lunch tomorrow.

Overall the recipe is suitable for anti-Candida dieters with some minor amendments. I omitted the optional parmesan garnish (though I might have added a sprinkle of grated hard goats cheese, if I'd had some) and replaced the 'all-purpose flour' with wholewheat plain flour (I suspect cornflour would work equally well). And as I no longer drink soy milk, I used goats milk instead. The asparagus I used was young, so not too woody. If you were using older spears, you might choose to sieve the vegetable puree before adding the milk and yoghurt.

Quick tip (nicked off Jamie Oliver): To get rid of the hard, woody part snap - rather than cut - the ends off the asparagus spears. This will leave you with just the tender parts of the vegetable!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Latest Supplement Regime

Had my (roughly) monthly appointment with my nutritional therapist the other day. She's amended my supplement programme to reflect my flare-up, current hayfever and the emotional stress I've recently been under. In fact, everything on this list I've taken before, so I can use up lots of left-overs. She has seriously upped my anti-fungal intake, which I think I still need.

Biocare Bioacidophillus - 1 x 2 times a day
Biocare MegaGLA - 1 x 2 times a day
Biocare Mycopryl 400 - 1 x 3 times a day
Biocare Oxypro - 10 drops in water, twice a day
Biocare Nutricell Caretenoid - 1 x 3 times a day
Biocare Histazyme - 1 x 2 times a day
Biocare Iron EAP2 - 1 per day
Biocare Adult Multivitamin - 1 x 2 times a day

I'm expecting to experience of a bit of 'die-off' with this lot. :S

Tea 'could cut skin cancer risk'

Green tea with a slice of lemon it is for me then!

BBC NEWS Health Tea 'could cut skin cancer risk'

Speaking of which, I'm really enjoying Twining's White Tea with Pomegranate at the moment. Lovely and refreshing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Quick and easy lunch idea

Devised a really simple, yet really yummy lunch idea today - so obvious really, that I don't know why I didn't think about it before.

Spinach Scrambled Eggs

2 large eggs
handful of fresh, baby spinach
olive oil spread
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse the spinach. In a small pan heat a knob of olive oil spread. Add the spinach and gently fry until it wilts (only takes a minute). Remove from the pan and keep warm. Beat the eggs in a bowl, add to the pan (on a low heat) and scramble. When almost cooked, but still moist, return the spinach to the pan. Stir into the egg. Remove the pan from the heat. Season to taste and serve, with oatcakes or potato farls.

The peppery-ness of the spinach works really well with the egg. I guess the resulting dish is really a kind of deconstructed Eggs Florentine!

Oh, how I miss Marmite! :(

Maki at 'Just Hungry' has done a taste test of the new limited edition Guinness version of Marmite.

Tasting Guinness Marmite Just Hungry

Not sure about that particular combination, but it has painfully reminded me of how much I miss the original stuff. Sometimes what I really, really need is a spot of marmite and butter on toast and a nice cup of (normal) tea with - yes! - milk. The ultimate comfort food for all that ails you.

But, I suspect that the inordinate amounts of marmite on toast I ate as a teenager and undergraduate (it was my staple diet) created my blasted yeast problems in the first place. That and an almost equal obsession with golden syrup on bread and butter. Mmmmmmmm - bad food... :)

Sunday, April 15, 2007


...for Delamere Spreadable Goats Cheese! Great on oatcakes. Bought mine at Tescos (selected stores only).

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fed Up

I'm so fed up. After a couple of okay months, all my symptoms have flared up again. I'm contending with a dose of thrush accompanied by cystitis, which has left my nether regions feeling like somebody has taken sand-paper to them! This is all so frustrating. Every time I relax a bit and think that I can, perhaps, start to relax the diet a bit, WHAM! Back come the itching and soreness with a vengeance.

I'm putting this flare-up down to emotional stress - had a family bereavement just before Easter and it's been a traumatic couple of weeks. But, things also seem to get worse when I've been at home. Now, this makes me wonder, is this because I'm not cooking for myself (and thus, not able to monitor my intake as rigorously), or are there environmental factors? My hayfever and rhinitis get worse at home too - are the candida symptoms part of this allergic response? Or, perhaps, an effect of the antihistamines I have to take?

Questions, questions, questions...and no bloody answers, as usual. Grrrrrrr.

What can I do? Well, I can try to relax a bit and go strict on my diet (if that's not a contradiction). I've been a bit lax with my yoghurt consumption recently (yuck - I hate the stuff) and been eating a little too much in the way of fruit sugars. So, my plan for the next few days is:
  • more yoghurt
  • cut back juice consumption, to one glass (diluted) a day
  • cut back fruit consumption (and type of fruit), i.e. one apple or banana a day, plus dried fruit on breakfast porridge
  • more fluid - WAY more fluid, haven't been drinking enough water recently, diluting the acidity in my urine will make me feel a hell of a lot more comfortable!

Here's hoping.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Good stuff from Tescos

I've just got back to Leicester after a week and a half or so at home, via a trip to Tescos, where I picked up loads of good anti-Candida diet friendly stuff.

I haven't had a chance to try out any of this stuff yet...will keep you posted.

First up is something which I think is going to revolutionise my cooking (or at the very least, make it a damn sight easier): 'Thai Taste Green Curry Paste', a fairly large (400g) tub of curry paste, the ingredients of which are:

Green Chilli
Lemon Grass
Rhizome Galangal (ginger, I suppose)
Fennel Seed
Kaffir Lime Skin

- so nothing there which is prohibited on the diet. According to the instructions on the tub, all you need to do is add 50g (enough for 4 people?) to coconut milk to make up an authentic sauce. Have got some king prawns and tofu to try it out. I didn't buy it this time round, but their Red Curry Paste looked okay too.

'Orgran Gluten-free Falafel Mix' - makes up five servings. Ingredients are:

Yellow Peas
Traditional herbs and spices
Sodium bicarbonate

Just add water to the mix, form falafels and fry until crisp. I have tried this mix before, but it was a while ago, so I can't remember how successful it was. Obviously didn't leave too bad an impression though!

'Kohinoor Rice Treat' - a good store cupboard standby. Ready to eat Indian-style vegetarian meals in a microwaveable pouch. I've got the Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani* and Paneer Tikka Biryani# to try. Both contain white basmati rice, but I remember reading somewhere that basmati has a lower GI than other white rice varieties, which suggests it is converted to sugar more slowly by the body than, say, American Long Grain. Good for emergencies (I hope!)

*Cooked basmati rice 70%
french beans 6%
yoghurt 5%
onion 4%
vegetable oil (refined sunflower) 3%
green peas 3%
Indian cottage cheese (paneer) 3%
carrot 3%
coriander leaves
green chilli
mint leaves
coriander powder
red chilli powder
kewra (flavour)
black pepper
bay leaves
rose petals

# cooked basmati rice 65%
Indian Cottage cheese (paneer) 15%
yoghurt 5%
onion 5%
tomato 3%
vegetable oil (refined sunflower) 3%
ginger paste
garlic paste
lemon juice
fresh coriander
fresh mint
kewra (flavour)
clove black pepper
rose petals
bay leaves
dry mango powder
melon seeds
pomegranate seeds
dry ginger
bishop weed

This all begs the question, why - when it is clearly possible to produce ready-meals without all the added crap - most manufacturers persist in including artificial colours and flavourings, flavour enhancers and sugars?

Friday, April 06, 2007

.H's Candida Diet-friendly Choco Cake

Well, I made it (or rather my Mum did). Here are my thoughts.
  • The mixture made a light sponge, though it didn't rise very much, and where it did it was quite uneven. This probably had more to do with the gluten-free flour we used (rice + several other grains) than the recipe.
  • The cake is certainly very chocolaty - but bitter. The rice syrup takes the 'edge off', but doesn't provide a lot of sweetness. The jam (which sticks the sandwich together) helps.
  • The cake improves considerably after 24 hours - which gives the flavours time to meld together nicely, and the sweetness of the jam (fructose-sweetened, black cherry jam, bty) to infuse the cake, leading to an altogether much more pleasant eating experience.

I'll certainly make it again. I'm not gluten-free, so I might try normal wholemeal flour next time, which will probably improve the texture, and maybe I'll be a little less stingy with the jam, which you definitely need to counteract the bitterness of the cocoa powder.

All in all I'd say the recipe is definitely worth the effort. It can't replicate the l0vely chocolaty-sweetness of a 'normal' chocolate cake, but it comes pretty damn close! Thanks for sharing .H!