Watermelon Popsicles

popsicle

4-5 cups of seedless watermelon chunks, separated
one tablespoon of agave nectar

Place the first half of the watermelon chunks into a blender. Tamp the chunks down with a spoon so they are closer to the blades of the blender. Get a medium-sized bowl ready. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the watermelon juice into the bowl. Use a spoon to push down any pulp into the bowl; throw away the seeds.
Take the second half of the watermelon chunks and blend them. Strain the juice and seeds into the same bowl. Then, pour the entire bowl of juice back into the blender. Add one tablespoon of agave nectar. Blend until combined.

Pour the juice into your popsicle mold. Freeze until solid, preferably overnight. Ice cube trays or Dixie cups with popsicle sticks make good improvised molds.

I admit, it’s a little late in the season to be posting popsicle recipes. But these are so easy and refreshing. Here in the South, there are going to be several weeks yet of warm weather, perfect for enjoying these on the porch. They are sweet, and a little drippy, and darn near perfect. What sweet, cold things do you find refreshing?

It’s kind of funny…I used to basically eat close to half a box of Popsicles in one go, before I started this journey. One just wouldn’t satisfy whatever craving I had. Now, I can happily gnaw one of these, emphasis on one. I hope they bring you a similar sense of satisfaction.

Also, the Dixie cup popsicles are insanely cute. I have a recipe for blueberry creamsicles I’ll have to share soon, and the sticks stand up straighter. The watermelon mixture is basically juice, so it’s hard to get them to stand upright. They look like little drunken desserts.

Three Healing Teas

Before switching to a low oxalate diet, I used to be an avid tea drinker. I loved black tea and green tea in particular. While there are several lower oxalate green teas, I can’t really tolerate them anymore. But I still crave tea. The ICN food list recommended chamomile and peppermint tea, which I really enjoyed. And Wendy L. Cohan’s excellent book, The Better Bladder Book, turned me on to something I had never tried: nettle tea. All three of these herbal teas are worth trying. Even if they don’t benefit your symptoms, they are a welcome change from water and milk.

Chamomile tea: Chamomile is a mild tea. It is made from chamomile flowers (shocking, right?) Some brands of this have other additives, but I prefer to use ones made with just the flowers, as lemongrass or other acidic things may cancel out some of the benefits. This tea pairs well with desserts, or you can even cook with it (see my recipe for chamomile-poached tilapia). I also like to make chamomile tea and dunk a few animal crackers in it. It makes up for no longer being able to binge on British biscuits and sugary black tea (which, while delicious, was not exactly healthy).

Chamomile tea may have a relaxing effect; it makes some people outright sleepy. It can soothe the bladder simply by relaxing it. While this may sound alarming, it means you may void your bladder less often. As long as you know it won’t make you too sleepy, I suggest drinking some before a long trip; it may cut down on pit stops on the road.

In the summer, try putting a bag of tea in a glass of water and keeping it in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or longer if you don’t mind a stronger flavor). You can do this with virtually any tea, but it’s particularly nice before bed. Remove the bag before enjoying it.

Nettle tea: If you respond well to antihistamines, nettle tea is the tea for you. It has a somewhat grassy taste. Nettle tea is an anti-inflammatory, so it may naturally soothe your bladder. It is also a natural antihistamine, except it won’t make you sleepy like Benadryl. However, it is a tea best enjoyed at home, as it may make you need to pee more often, at least temporarily. If you have a bladder infection, nettle tea may be an especially good choice, since it can help flush bacteria from your system more quickly. It doesn’t seem to have much of a diuretic effect on me, but be forewarned.

I especially enjoy nettle tea during allergy season. I find a hot cup of it soothing for my throat when I have had a lot of sinus drainage. I haven’t had the heart to try it cold.

Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea may or may not have specific properties that help the bladder. It helps some people; I personally find it doesn’t help my symptoms. However, it can definitely help an upset stomach, and many people find it relaxing and refreshing. It is good hot or cold. Do not drink peppermint tea if you are prone to heartburn or GERD.

If you are still craving caffeine, you might want to try rooibos tea, which is a red African bush tea. Bear in mind any caffeine has the potential to irritate your bladder, but many people have reported no effect on their symptoms. Drink up and enjoy!

Flaxseed Tea

Three tablespoons of raw flaxseed, ground
A cupful of hot water

Place the ground flaxseed in the bottom of a mug. It is best to use raw flaxseed and freshly grind it. Boil water in a tea kettle or on the stovetop. Pour the boiling water over the flaxseed and stir it many times, until the water becomes slightly filmy. Wait for the water to cool down and drink it slowly. If you want some extra omega 3’s, eat the flaxseed; otherwise, just sip the water.

This tea, or tisane, is very useful for flare-ups when your bladder hurts. Flaxseed is also very low oxalate and high in fiber. You can grind flaxseed ahead of time and put it in the freezer.

Since overindulging in some carbonated cider, I have been having a very annoying flare-up. Carbonation, in any form, seems to be a major trigger for me. This tea makes a nice change from chamomile tea. Flaxseed contains a lot of mucilage, soluble fiber. Supposedly, the fiber coats your intestines. Since your intestines are so close to your bladder, this may provide some relief. However, you really do need to stir the flaxseed in the hot water to release the fiber. It does look a bit slimy, but it tastes alright.

Sometimes, simple is good. Right now, I am trying to focus on each moment, each meal, to try and heal.

Coconut Flour Flaxseed Bread

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted 1/2 cup flax seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt (or less)
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/8 cup water (or coconut milk for a moister bread)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or coconut water vinegar or lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a small loaf pan (7 3/4″ × 4 1/2″ × 3″ H). Mix all the dry ingredients together. Combine all the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat well. Batter will be thick. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

Source: http://paleofood.com/recipes/baked-cocoflaxbread.htm

Dinner roll variation: Make this recipe into herb dinner rolls by adding a teaspoon each of chopped fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary to the dough. Shape the dough into rolls and bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. The rolls can be used to make breadcrumbs.

Wow, sorry about the radio silence! We moved house here and things are a bit out of sorts still.

I love how adaptable this recipe is. I have shaped it into patties and used it as burger buns. I have made it into muffins, and you can make it into breadcrumbs. It is tasty, predictable, and travels well. I also like it because unlike many coconut bread recipes, it is both savory and has relatively few eggs.

Finding a gluten-free flour that is low oxalate AND tasty can be challenging. Like most gluten-free baking, this recipe combines two types of grain-like things. I still eat wheat, but this bread makes for a nice backup if I’ve overdone it. And I like that it has a nutty flavor and does not taste like coconut, even though coconut oil is one of the ingredients.

Coconut flour can be very temperamental. Some people keep it in the freezer to avoid effects from humidity. One tip to always remember: Be very, very careful with the measurements. Make sure to level off your measuring cup. Coconut flour is very thirsty, and too little liquid can result in a drier product than you might like. Also, be sure to not have too much of the final product; coconut flour is extremely rich in fiber, with [x] per serving. Remember, what irritates your colon is likely to irritate your bladder.

I want to experiment with making crackers out of this recipe by making the bread, slicing it up very thin, and putting it in the food dehydrator. What things do you want to make with coconut flour?

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!

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.