Tag Archives: food allergies

Beyond the Beaches in Hawaii

Today, it’s pouring rain in Seattle. In fact it’s rained so much that we’ve set a new record and according to NPR, Nov 19th is officially the rainiest day of the year! I badly need a new pair of rain boots that are actually waterproof. Sigh.

I’m recently back from a 10 day trip to Hawaii. This was my first time! We were on the Big Island and Kauai. While I enjoyed the beaches and got to do some scuba diving while on the Big Island, there was a lot of other things to like about the Hawaiian islands. Here’s a photo essay of some of my favorite things: bananas, sweet potatoes, taro fields, lu’au, kalua pork and of course the flora.

I haven’t traveled much since getting hit with all the food allergies and I’ll confess that I was slightly worried about how it would all go. We rented cottages on Airbnb and made sure we had a kitchen for me to cook in if needed. This helped a lot. I ended up cooking about 50% of the time and you can see below some of the produce I found at local farmers markets.

Fortunately, there were a few things I could eat out. Plate lunches included meat and white rice and often came with a salad. I got the grilled fish, kalua pork or poke (raw fish salad dressed in sesame oil) options and skipped the salad dressing. Laulau was another wholesome meal where the meat was covered in taro and ti leaves and steamed. Simple, yummy and very filling with rice. It was great for me that meats are usually simply prepared without a lot of sauces by grilling, steaming or roasting.

I’m counting on the memories, the remnants of a tan and hopefully lots of stored up Vitamin D to get me through another Pacific Northwest winter! The thought of the ski slopes opening soon does help too.

 

Hawaiian bananas, pink limes and sweet potatoes big island farmers market

Hawaiian bananas, pink limes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes had a very floral flavor when steamed. The local bananas were starchier and I liked them a lot bananas than what you normally get in the US.

quail eggs and hawaiian bananas

We treated ourselves to quail eggs one day! And those bananas went from green to yellow just in 2 days.

Taro field

Fields of taro, the starchy tuber used to make the Hawaiian staple poi. The leaves are used to wrap around meat and steam, adding flavor and helping keep the moisture in.

banana tree

Banana tree blossom

kalua pork cooked in imu

Opening up the imu – the pit constructed in the ground to cook a whole pig in

Kalua pork

Kalua pork when cooked the traditional way in the imu

After a luau

After the luau feast and show, very touristy but great show.

palm tree braids

Palm tree jewellery

 

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Squash and Pumpkin Soup with Garam Masala Spiced Tahini

spicy tahini squash and pumpkin soup

spicy tahini squash and pumpkin soup

I’ve been complaining about my food allergies on this blog these last few months! It’s definitely been a challenge to keep cooking traditional Indian dishes at home that I can blog about. With every new addition to my list of food issues, I went through each of these phases: disbelief that you can’t eat that food, despair as to how you’re ever going to do without it, kitchen clean up where I get rid of all the offending ingredients and subsequent trip to the grocery store to stack up on things that I can eat, experimentation with new recipes and finally, finally feeling like it’s not that big a deal any more.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with food allergies, how are you doing? Wondering what you can cook or eat when you go out? Please reach out and send me a note. I’d love to help if I can. Here’s the list of foods I’m avoiding and I’d be more than happy to fill you in on recipes and substitutions (Fruits and vegetables are listed because I need to follow what’s called a FODMAP diet):

Dairy (with the exception of ghee), all soy products, gluten, lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, peanuts, honey, corn syrup, agave, most artificial sugars, most vinegars, coconut, apples, pear, cherries, watermelon, figs, mango, avocado, nectarines, plums, prunes, bananas, cabbage, green beans, onions, shallots, garlic, beetroot, asparagus, artichoke, leek, spring onion, radicchio, chicory, and tomatoes. 

pumpkin soup with spicy tahini garnished with garam masala roasted squash seeds

Garam masala roasted squash and pumpkin seeds are the perfect garnish for this fall soup

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this butternut squash dip recipe my friend Alli had posted! It was seasonal, spicy and different from other pumpkin or squash soups. I had to make a few adjustments of course including leaving out the yogurt. If I could do coconut milk, I would have loved to use that as a replacement.

I had a delicata squash and a small pumpkin at home that needed to get used up. I also had a jar of tahini that I hadn’t done very much with. Alli’s recipe not only inspired me to make a spicy squash/pumpkin soup but I loved the way she combines the butter with tahini and spices. I microwaved tahini, ghee (instead of butter), cinnamon, cayenne and salt together. This on its own is a great dip by the way! But it adds a wonderful depth to the dish that you don’t get with just the typical squash and cream soup.

I remade Alli’s recipe into this dish below (scroll down for the recipe) but came up with another really simple idea for curried squash puree that I will share next week! A hint, it’s made South Indian style.

Happy Autumn!

roasted pumpkin and delicata squash

Roasted pumpkin and delicata squash ready to be pureed

delicata squash soup with spiced tahini

Delicata squash soup with spiced tahini

Ingredients

Adapted from Alli Shircliff’s recipe on her blog An Open Cookbook

Serves 3-4

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced, brushed with olive oil and oven roasted for 40 mins at 425*
  • 1 small pumpkin, sliced, brushed with olive oil and oven roasted for 40 minutes at 425*
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Recipe

Puree the roasted squash and pumpkin in a food processor with some water.Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium high power. Fold into the puree. Adjust for salt if necessary. I had to add another 1/2 glass of water to thin out the soup to my desired consistency. I think I could have easily doubled the amount of garam masala.

*Bonus: Rinse and pat dry the seeds from the squash and pumpkin. Toss with olive oil, 2 pinches of salt and garam masala. Roast in the oven (lowered heat to 300) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool down before eating. These roasted seeds are great as a garnish or on their own as a snack. If you like pumpkin beer, I’m sure these will pair really well.

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Sambhar – South Indian Lentil Curry

sambhar south indian lentil curry with vegetables

Sambhar, a hearty lentil curry

Do you have food allergies or intolerances? When you first hear about them, you feel really sad to have to cut out something you love to eat. And you wonder how you can do without. Well, I think when you don’t have a choice, you find a way to continue to eat food that tastes great and is nourishing.

I’ve mentioned my food allergies before. I now have fructose intolerance to add to that list and can’t eat onions, tomatoes or coconut anymore. If you know anything about Indian food, you know how often these are used. I’m following a FODMAP diet and have also eliminated soy, dairy, gluten, lima beans, and kidney beans. So I’ve been wondering what to eat lately and very importantly, what to blog about!

Do you have food allergies? How have you adapted your cooking to your lifestyle? I know completely changing your diet can be a huge challenge. And to make sure that what you eat is tasty and varied. To help those of you with food allergies, I’ve been trying to remember to tag recipes with allergy information where applicable. You can do a search on the left.

That brings me to today’s post. Ever had dosa or idlis in a South Indian restaurant? The lentil curry that always comes on the side is called Sambhar. Now I think it’s a delicious dish in it’s own right and can be eaten as a main meal. The best part is that you can easily make 2 or 3 times the recipe and have a big pot to last you all week. It’s one of those rare curries that I don’t get tired of easily. I made this sambhar without onion but still included tomatoes and green beans (also on the FODMAP list). But they were easy enough to pick out.

The other thing I love about sambhar is that it is so flexible. You can eat it with rice or other grains like millet. We often cook pearl millet instead of rice at home. You can also eat it by itself as soup. It’s delicious with a spicy Indian pickle on the side or with papadum.

sambhar

typical vegetables for sambhar

Typical vegetables used for sambhar

cooking the sambhar vegetables

Cooking the sambhar vegetables 

Serves 4

  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida
  • 10 curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sambhar powder (buy in Indian store or see below)
  • 1 scant teaspoon tamarind extract, dissolved in 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup vegetables (3 of any of green beans, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, tomato, etc), cut to 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

Rinse the toor dal thrice. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or till the lentils are soft and fully cooked.  Mash the lentils with a masher or large spoon.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a thick bottomed pot. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, throw in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Sizzle the whole spices just for 5-10 seconds before adding the turmeric, sambhar powder, and tamarind extract in water. Stir well.

Add the vegetables, salt and enough water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, and simmer covered on low for 10 minutes or till the vegetables are cooked. Add water to just cover the vegetables if needed.

Transfer the vegetables to the pot in which you cooked the toor dal. Mix well. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Sambhar Powder 

  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons urud dal (dehusked, split black lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ tablespoon black peppercorn
  • ½ tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 10 red chilis

Dry roast the whole spices and urud dal for 3 minutes on medium low heat. Grind to a fine powder in a spice blender along with the turmeric and asafetida.

a pot of sambhar

A pot of sambhar

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