So after the umpteenth bout of being sick and then not really feeling any better after the usual period of lounging and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take matters into hand and trotted off to a naturopath (motivated by my sister – thanks Vic!) BTW – it’s good to be back living in a country which has a healthy regard for natural medicine.
After an hour plus of interrogation (which actually was very interesting, as she made me go through my entire health history…at the end of which she remarked that it was no wonder my immune system was so low after all the stuff my body has been through over the years), and then a review of my previous week’s food/drink diary (which was a little scary after having had a friend in town), she concluded that I have Candida. Well…I had heard of this before, but definitely had no idea what this was all about…basically it’s an overabundance of yeast in my gut! Yikes – I have critters doing overtime down there…and not in a healthy way!
Roll forward a week…I am now fully into my detox diet. And oh what a diet it is…here’s a summary of the stuff that will make you gasp:
– No sugar…and when they say No Sugar, they mean it! Besides the usual suspects of cakes, pastries etc, this also includes all fruit (at the beginning anyway), any sweeteners including honey and maple syrup (my go-to’s when cooking), and all those words on the back of packages which tend to end in -ose ie fructose, sucrose etc. Sugar is yeast’s crack – it craves the stuff, which makes you crave it!
– No yeast…so that cuts out bread (even sourdough as that contains a ferment – more on that below), vegemite (need I say more as a kiwi?!?), soy sauce, citric acid.
– No fermented foods/drinks…oh yes, there are some biggies within this category! The first of which is alcohol (apparently you can get away with a shot of vodka or gin now and again, but there’s a definite taste shock switching over to either with just soda or fizzy water and some fresh lime!); second biggie is tea (those who know me well know that I like a big cup of tea first thing in the morning) and the third
horror biggie is coffee – need I say more???!!! This category also includes all vinegars (although apparently raw cider vinegar is an exception), which as a cook in summertime is like tying your hands behind your back.
– No milk products, with the exception of butter (although with no bread to put it on, what’s the point?) Depending on your point of view, fortunately goats and sheep milk products are OK (goats milk yoghurt is definitely an acquired taste…you can definitely picture a goat quite vividly when you taste it au naturel!)
The list does go on somewhat…but I won’t bore you with the details…as boring it does look to be! As a self-proclaimed foodie, this has been quite the shock to the system. Fortunately I don’t consume much, if any, pre-packaged food…however, I do eat out a lot and that’s when you really notice how hard this is.
So faced with this diagnosis, I took to the internet to do my own research…and geez this is a common condition! There’s a lot of info out there – and a lot of it contradicts what others say. So for me, I’m going to stick to the basics without being over the top (I don’t think I have an extreme candida condition, which definitely helps!) One thing I have noticed is that the majority of the info and associated recipes out there are US based…which I tend to find a little unadventurous in terms of taste (that’s the foodie snob coming out of me!), or they use ingredients that I don’t normally use (and I hope I haven’t offended any US readers…I am a big fan of Bon Appetit and some of my favourite bloggers/restaurants/chefs are American). So I’m going to use this blog to put out some tasty, easy examples of allowed food. Even if you don’t have candida, I think these recipes are still good if you are seeking healthy food options (just ask my husband as he’s been eating a lot of this stuff with me!)
Today’s recipe is spicy chicken thighs and red cabbage coleslaw. The one good thing about this diet is that there’s no limitations to meat (as long as it’s organic or free-range – added hormones being a big no-no) and most vegetables (the poor old potato continues to get a bad rap, as does other high sugar vegetables like corn, carrots, peas…all vegetables that I love!)
Spicy Chicken Thighs (serves 2-3 persons) – adapted from recipe on thekitchn.com (yeah yeah, I know it’s an American site!)
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half
5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 long red chilli (depending on how hot you like it will determine type of chilli), de-seeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless, skinless thighs (preferably organic or free-range; normally I prefer the skin on but with all the flavour that comes with this marinade, I promise you won’t miss it)
Salt to season
- In a small pan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds for approx 1 minute or until they start to release their aroma, gently tossing throughout. Place in a small food processor or handheld blender.
- Add the garlic, ginger, lemon zest, chilli, tomato paste, yoghurt and black pepper. Blitz until you have a thick paste.
- Smear over the chicken thighs, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours (I only marinated mine for 1 hour and the taste was definitely there!)
- Just before cooking, lightly season the chicken with salt. Either pan-fry over a medium heat with a little bit of olive oil to stop them sticking, or throw on a hot BBQ. As these are deboned thighs, they will only need 3-4 minutes per side.
Red Cabbage Slaw (serves 2-3 with leftovers)
1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely sliced
Handful toasted seeds – I used pumpkin, but you could use sunflower, sesame or a mix of your favourites
Handful sprouts – this time I used red radish sprouts
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp raw cider vinegar (or any good vinegar such as red or white wine, sherry, apple etc)
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp honey (I didn’t use this, but I do like a hint of sweetness)
1/2 tsp celery salt
- In a bowl, place the cabbage, celery and red onion. Toss to combine.
- In a jar, place the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, celery salt and ground pepper. Shake to combine. Taste and adjust as necessary (the cabbage will absorb a lot of flavour so be bold and up any of the above ingredients until you get something that works for you). Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
- Just before serving, add the toasted seeds and sprouts.
What’s your favourite ‘healthy’ recipes? Would love to hear from you!