Breakfast Yogurt

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
2-3 tablespoons of water or milk
½ scoop whey protein powder
1 tsp. cinnamon extract
(optional) fruit or nut topping

Makes One Serving

Measure ½ cup yogurt and place it in a bowl. Or save yourself a bit of time and put it in a big enough container to take with you. Pour the half scoop of protein powder over the yogurt; stir thoroughly, making sure to scrape the sides. Add 2-3 tablespoons of milk or water. This addition will thin out the yogurt a bit. Mix the cinnamon extract in.

Add your choice of topping. Enjoy!

As I was fumbling around, wondering how I could still enjoy yogurt while cutting down on the sugar, since sugar is a major bladder irritant, I figured something out. And it wasn’t that Jamie Lee Curtis was right about the magical girl yogurt that makes you poop. A weight lifter/body model friend of mine had enticed me into buying some whey protein. “Aha!” I thought. “If you can make protein powder cookies, why not protein yogurt?”

And thus, breakfast yogurt was born.

Take a bit of yogurt, milk or water, protein powder, and cinnamon extract and fruit, and you’ve added some anti-inflammatory goodness to your day. I like to top mine with toasted oats for crunch, but you could try granola, walnuts, or just say screw it and crush up some cookies.

Frozen fruit, like blueberries, can be added the morning you eat it or the night before—no peeling or chopping necessary!

Chamomile-Poached Tilapia with Roasted Red Peppers

tilapia

2 tilapia fillets
2 bags chamomile tea
2 bay leaves
fresh ginger
salt and white pepper to taste
roasted red peppers (optional)

Boil two cups of water. In a heat-safe container, pour the boiling water over the tea bags. Let the tea steep for five minutes. Press a spoon against the tea bags to get as much tea out as possible. Take approximately two inches of the fresh ginger and slice it thinly. Add the bay leaves to a 12-inch skillet. In the 12-inch skillet, bring the tea and ginger to a boil over high heat. Add fillets. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered 6 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.
Remove the fillets from the liquid. Salt and pepper to taste; if desired, garnish with the roasted red peppers.

What’s anti-inflammatory, low oxalate, interstitial cystitis friendly, and delicious? I’ll just come out and say it: this recipe. The flavor of the fish is definitely mild, but it is moist and tender. You get the benefits of the fish AND the soothing power of chamomile, along with a hint of ginger.

Best of all, it’s a very quick cooking method, perfect for a midweek dinner. Bon appétit!

Perfect Peach Dessert

Two peaches, washed and split in half, pits removed
Plain yogurt or yogurt sweetened with stevia, one cup
Molasses or other sweetener (brown sugar, for example), one tablespoon
Butter, coconut oil or olive oil, one tablespoon
Vanilla extract, one teaspoon
cinnamon extract, one teaspoon (see note about oxalates and substitutions below for alternatives)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place your peaches in an oven-safe container. Pour the molasses over each peach half and dot with the butter or olive oil. Pour the cinnamon extract over the peaches. Cook for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the vanilla extract and stevia to your yogurt, or just measure it out plain for a tangier flavor. When the peaches are done cooking, put them in serving bowls and top with the yogurt. Serve immediately. This recipe makes two generous servings and is easily halved.

Recipe adapted from http://www.housebeautiful.com/kitchens/recipes/peach-dessert-recipes-sophie-dahl-0610

Oxalate note: If you are not following a low oxalate diet, simply use one teaspoon of cinnamon. Cinnamon is high in oxalate. If you do not have cinnamon extract, consider using ½ teaspoon of cardamom, which is medium oxalate and has a nice exotic flavor. If you are sensitive to spices, simply omit this ingredient.

Every year, I eagerly anticipate peach season. I’ll consume them raw, after they’ve ripened on the windowsill for days. I’ll eat them in pies, in ice cream, you get the idea. But sometimes, when I crave something that’s a bit different than plain peaches but a bit less sugary, I fix this dessert. It is creamy, juicy, and the butter and sweeteners caramelize just a little bit.

This recipe got me thinking about substitutes. I am sure there are many wonderful gluten free recipes for peach cobbler, fantastic creations made with coconut flour or oats used as a type of crumble topping. But I was amazed at how good the peaches were (almost) by themselves. If you are trying to adapt your diet in any kind of way, it can be so tempting to try and find a replacement. The fact is, the replacement is just never the same as the real deal. Sometimes we have to go out and find something even better, or something totally different, instead of picking sullenly at whatever concoction doesn’t really satisfy the craving.

This is especially true if you can’t eat the real deal any longer, whether it be from choice or from food sensitivities. I still eat gluten; I still eat a little processed sugar, but I find myself cutting out grains and processed sugars more and more. Desserts like this just transcend the need for a starchy component and let the flavors of the peach shine through.

Cinnamon Extract

cin_extract_whole

Cinnamon Extract

One stick of whole cinnamon, broken in half
Eight ounces of alcohol (can be vodka, brandy, or rum)

You will need a clean glass or plastic bottle. Take your cinnamon stick and put it in the bottle. Pour your alcohol of choice over the cinnamon stick. Seal the bottle and shake the mixture.

Wait one to three weeks and voila: you’ve made your very own cinnamon extract.

Seriously, it’s that easy! I found the cinnamon started to color the alcohol almost immediately. To get the full flavor, though, it is best to wait. You can also refill the extract; just make sure to use the same alcohol you started out with. You may want to periodically replace the cinnamon stick as well. I found whole cinnamon at F_resh Market; I found my first extract bottle online, but I used an old candy bottle from Lofty Pursuits for the cinnamon extract.

I plan to eventually make other extracts…maybe even chocolate extract. While you do have to buy the alcohol, it’s so easy to make and you know exactly what goes in it.

Super Salad

1.5 cups of romaine lettuce (or a blend of romaine and arugula)
½ ripe avocado, cut into chunks
1 handful alfalfa sprouts
3-4 ounces turkey or chicken breast, cut into chunks (ideally no salt added)
1 ounce crumbled feta
1 tablespoon sunflower or shelled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon raisins
part of a roasted red pepper, cut into strips
2-3 ounces mushrooms
pinch of salt and white pepper (optional)

Prepare the vegetables; make sure everything is in bite-sized pieces, or whatever thickness you like. Take a big soup bowl and arrange the meat, feta, avocado, and mushrooms. Put the lettuce, sprouts, and red pepper on top of the mixture. Sprinkle the raisins and seeds over the salad; toss lightly.

This particular salad came about when I realized a local sandwich shop also made salads to order. I can make about two or three of these at home for the cost of one in the shop. Admittedly, the one in the shop is more convenient.

Now, let’s get into what to use to DRESS the salad. I have had perfectly lovely flavors (and no reactions) to plain old extra virgin olive oil. I also have used Bragg’s liquid amino acids. Both are very low oxalate; be warned, though, some IC patients can’t tolerate the saltiness that is the liquid soybeans. B_olthouse Farms also makes a somewhat fresh yogurt ranch dressing, but the jury is still out on whether that’s a good choice for me. I have also had this salad plain; the red pepper and sprouts gives it a nice moistness all by itself.

I REALLY like that the above ingredients are basically good to go once you rinse and cut a few things—I keep the separate ingredients in the fridge at work and assemble them at lunch time. I bet Mason jars would work a treat, too.

I like to think of salads as a grain-free sandwich. Just as you can doctor up your sandwich anyway, you could substitute any ingredients you want. To make it vegetarian, try using sliced up firm tofu or boil and roast lentils ahead of time (just remember, ½ cup of tofu or lentils is medium oxalate). Cut up cucumbers, grill some onions—whatever! What do you like on your salad?

Corn Chicken Soup with Mushrooms and Barley

4 chicken thighs, skin removed, bones in

2 quarts chicken stock

2 teaspoons of coconut or olive oil (or rendered chicken fat)

1/4 cup quick barley

1 ear of fresh corn, shucked

1 medium yellow onion

1 clove of garlic

8 ounces of sliced mushrooms, white or baby Portobello

3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 to 3 teaspoons of salt

White pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

Heat one teaspoon of oil on medium heat in a large six-quart Dutch oven or soup pot. Place your sliced mushrooms in the pot and stir them into the oil. Let them sizzle in the oil until most of their water has burned off, at least 6-8 minutes. Stir occasionally. While the mushrooms are cooking, chop your onion and garlic. Add the onions to the pot and stir until they are soft, about four minutes. Add the chopped garlic. Wait 30 seconds or until it is aromatic. Move the vegetables over to the side of the pot.

Now, add the chicken thighs. It will be a tight fit. Let the thighs sit for three minutes or until the skin is golden on the bottom. Flip the chicken and let it sit for three more minutes or until golden. While the chicken is cooking, measure out one quart of your stock (4 cups).

Add one quart of the stock to the pot. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and the bay leaf. Let the soup come to a simmer, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Turn off the stove burner and move the pot off the heat. Remove the bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. Shred the chicken with two forks or, if you prefer, cut it into evenly sized cubes. Throw away the bones. Your chicken may still be a little pink; it will finish cooking in the next step.

Nestle the shredded chicken back into the soup pot. Add ¼ cup barley with the remaining quart of stock. Cut the kernels from the ear of corn; add the corn kernels. Cover and bring the soup to a boil; simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and white pepper to taste, along with the thyme. Add additional water or stock if the soup is too thick.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-easy-chicken-noodle-soup-178790

This post was inspired by a cold. A cold probably picked up while hooting and hollering to encourage the runners at the Disney World marathon. Since I began the low oxalate diet, I haven’t had access to my usual “I’m sick” comfort foods: some form of condensed soup and a grilled cheese. There’s no attempt at a grilled cheese here, but I think I’ve come up with a darn satisfying soup.

So many chicken soups, homemade or otherwise, have higher oxalate ingredients such as celery and carrots, or bladder irritating ingredients such as large amounts of sodium. I think this recipe finds many of the good things about chicken noodle soup, and converts them to a lower oxalate version.

Barley adds a hint of starchiness and thickness and homemade stock adds a rich taste. The mushrooms are there to give a little depth in flavor; the thyme and bay leaf enhance everything. Corn adds a little color and freshness. If you are doing paleo or primal, it would be very easy to take out the barley. If you don’t have quick barley on hand, rice would make a great substitute. And since I’ve started buying chicken thighs with the bone in (because they are considerably cheaper), this recipe allowed me to leave the bones in. You also can use chicken breasts, or deboned thighs or breasts, but the bones do enrich the flavor. I’m saving up a few bones and skins in the freezer for a homemade chicken broth, but it was nice to use all of the chicken immediately.

I deskinned the chicken thighs and popped them in the oven and made crispy chicken chips, which I intend to use in salad. A bowlful of this got me back on my feet, dreaming about what I can do with the chicken chips in the coming weeks. I may also add frozen peas to the next pot of soup for a little more color.