Turkey Tracks: September 18, 2017
I Am Not Starving
Here’s a typical lunch for me these days: a big salad with lots of fresh veggies and some meat protein. This one has boneless chicken breasts marinated and flash roasted and an array of local fresh produce: roasted beets and raw cukes, red peppers, carrots, lettuce, fresh dill, olive oil, and salt.
I clearly have something called MCAS or MCAD, Mast Cell Activation Disorder/Syndrome. I realized this past winter when it got much worse, that I’ve had it my whole life. It is behind all the trouble with allergies and unpleasant food intolerances. It is most likely genetic, or the propensity toward it is. And hello folks, these mast cell disorders are NOT rare, as previously thought. Some estimates are one in six have some form of it. I got it from my dad, who thought he had asthma, when really he was likely reacting to histamine triggers he did not recognize, which was true for me for the past 72 years. Indeed, drugs, from over the counter to serious drugs like my dad took for what he called asthma, can make the condition much worse. They do for me. I can’t even look at a Zyrtek or Claritin.
Mainstream medicine recognized this problem around 2008 and 2009 and gradually the knowledge is widening. The Mayo Clinic is “on it,” for instance. Common triggers are fermented foods, alcohol, aged foods like aged cheeses, possibly gluten, yeast, chemical smells and chemicals put on the body, hot, cold, exercise, travel, etc. Some foods trigger the body so that it releases histamine–like citrus, for instance. The nightshades (like tomato, peppers, eggplant, potatoes) are a problem. There are a number of food lists of high and low histamine foods, but each person has to kind of figure out what works and what does not–and those foods/triggers can change from day to day depending on how full each person’s “histamine glass” is at the moment. Some people experience terrible migraines and anaphylactic shock, and I feel so lucky that I have not had either of those. But I have plenty of nasty symptoms otherwise. And I had plenty of warning signals last summer and fall, but didn’t recognize them for what they were. There may also be a connection between aging, loss of estrogen, and the main symptom, histamine intolerances.
So…I can’t add vinegar of citrus to a salad and have learned to eat them with a drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkles of salt. The vegetables themselves are providing plenty of flavor, so I don’t feel deprived. I have to eat very fresh foods–leftovers acquire histamines as they sit around–so I am cooking a lot. That’s fine. I like to cook, and I like to be clear-headed. One immediate reaction is a king of brain fog so that I feel like I’m walking in slow motion all day, and it is harder to focus. Restaurants are very hard for me these days.
But, I feel so lucky that I finally stumbled on the information I needed to help myself–and as long as I stay in my own little bubble, I am doing fine. Along the way last winter I lost almost 40 pounds, which has also been a good thing, however hard it was at the time. I’d like to lose 20 more and am working at that project now. I feel lighter, healthier, and have a ton of energy–as long as I stay in the bubble. Penny girl dog and I are walking every day, and we are both enjoying that a lot. And I’m suddenly interested in making some fun clothes for my lighter body.
Here’s one of my go-to recipes:
Marinated Boneless Chicken Breasts
Boneless chicken breasts taste like dry newspaper to me, so I needed a way to pep them up. I went out into the garden and harvested handfuls of herbs–rosemary, parsley, tarragon, thyme, sage, basil, mint–whatever moved me at the moment. I stuffed them into the Vitamix, added some of the fresh garlic I grew this year, olive oil, and salt. I added oil until I got a good slurry. You could use a food processor or a blender as well.
I bought two packages of boneless chicken breasts and took a sharp knife and cut them in half lengthwise–to make a thinner piece of meat. I put them into a bowl and poured the slurry over them and coated them well with my hands. I let them sit in the refrigerator about an hour. I froze all but two–and those two I put on parchment paper in a very hot oven–400 degrees with the convection fan on. They cooked in 15 or so minutes. No more than 20 as they are thin. I put one in the refrigerator to eat as soon as possible and cut the other one up for my salad. I also have discovered these are great to cook on a hot grill.
Many of you could, of course, add citrus or vinegar to the marinade. Or, soy.
The frozen breasts thaw pretty quickly if you put the package on something cast iron–a few hours. And it’s great to have some “go to” quick food assets in your pantry.