Keen on kamut: handling food allergies
by Shelley Frances Deegan
Are food allergy problems keeping you or a loved one sick? Alternative
grains may help make the difference.
hen I was diagnosed by a kinesiologist 3 years ago with
allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, yeast and sugar, I thought my days of
eating anything but dry salad were over. I also was diagnosed with Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome, which is why I was always tired and craved sugar, caffeine
and many other non-nourishing foods and beverages. I was 25 pounds overweight
and my body hurt all the time. I left the kinesiologists office with my
vitamins and hope for better health. It was in my hands - no one could get
me better but me.
All I had to go on when I left the kinesiologists office
was the fact that there are 26 grains other than wheat. My next stop was
the health food store where I was a babe in the woods - it was very foreign
to me. I had been shopping at the regular grocery store all my life and
I needed help. The staff at the health food stores were pleasant, but they
either didn't have the time or didn't have the knowledge to show me the
things I would need.
But this didn't stop me: I was determined to learn more
about the alternative products by buying them and cooking with them.
I knew nothing about alternative grains like kamut,
amaranth, quinoa or rice flour. I did know that every time I ate something
like sugar, cheese or coffee I paid for it with abdominal cramping, stomach
pain and bloating, bad breath, bad skin, exhaustion and pain. These are
symptoms many people live with everyday. I had been one of them.
Since there is so much social activity around food,
you can imagine how isolated I felt - I could no longer go out for pizza
and drinks with friends. It was time for me to cultivate a new group of
friends, a"life-style change." A support system of at least ONE
person to listen and understand you is VITAL.
Now that I have done my homework (or storework), I can
save you some time and steps to knowing what food products are allergy free.
Let's look at some of the wheat free/gluten free grains people have been
eating for years. (But first, you may ask, what is gluten? Answer: A specific
protein fraction in spelt, wheat, rye, oats and barley, more to less in
- Kamut (KA-MOOT) is a grain that many people with wheat allergies tolerate
very well. It is the most buttery, rich, nutty tasting of the grains. It
has 20 to 40 percent more protein than wheat. It is easily digestible. Some
kamut products in the health food store are: Mrs. Leepers Spaghetti Noodles,
Arrowhead Kamut Flakes cereal and Puffed Kamut. Wonderbrot Bakery in Escondido
has an incredible loaf of kamut bread made with rosemary, or just kamut
flour and sea salt. Try a loaf from the refrigerator or freezer section.
- Quinoa (KEEN-WA) Rich and balanced with complex protein, delicious,
light and easy to digest. Its balance of amino acids is so outstanding that
the National Academy of Science called it "the best source of protein."
Wash the seeds before cooking - nature endowed Quinoa with a bitter coating.
Try Ancient Harvest brand noodles. Flour is available to cook with. Experiment!
- Amaranth is a rediscovered Aztec "Grain of the future."
Averaging over 16 percent protein, it contains rich sources of fiber, calcium
and phosphorus. Its flavor is wild and woodsy. It has remarkable vitality
and energizing qualities. It makes a delicious crust for pies or quiche
(my pumpkin pie crust was delicious!).
- Baking mixes
- Arrowhead brand has a good pancake and waffle mix without wheat or
gluten. Their wild rice pancake and waffle mix is great, too.
- Rice flour
- This is one of the staples of my new lifestyle. Your next gravy could
use rice flour instead of wheat or white flour. I can't taste the difference
but I can sure feel the difference. Flours available for baking and cooking
are: potato, soy, kamut, corn, tapioca, teff, amaranth and rice.
- Corn is another good substitute for wheat - IF you don't have a corn
allergy as well. Westbrae brand has Angel Hair Corn Pasta that is very tasty.
Read the labels
READ THE LABELS ON EVERY SINGLE BOX BEFORE
YOU DECIDE TO PUT IT IN YOUR CART.
My experience with a box of "Amaranth
cereal" taught me once and for all: the cereal also contained oats
and barley. Good thing I read the label before I ate it, since I am allergic
Why buy organic? Because certified organic foods are grown without any chemicals
or pesticides. Chemical-free farming is only 1 percent of the industry,
yet it is important that we move away from chemicals. Support organic farming.
It can be more expensive, but your body will appreciate it.
Many are available. TIP: Consider your family's style
of eating. Do you like soups, sandwiches, sauces? Do you want to make a
change, and what to? Look thoroughly through a cookbook before you purchase
it so you don't end up with useless (for your needs) recipes.
Next month: Dairy replacements for milk, cheese, butter
and yogurt. There are good replacements for these foods. Remember to share
this information with a friend in need!
Shelley Frances Deegan is founder of "Solutions to Food Allergies."
They offer informational health food store tours several times per month
and "Food Police" services to support you in adapting your kitchen
to the preparation of healthy foods. Individual consultations also available.
For more information, please call (619) 543-0334.