Monday, April 1, 2013

Indonesian Chicken, and A Foodie with an Egg Intolerance?

Happy April, everyone! It seems like time is just flying by these days. I do have an excellent recipe to share with you (Indonesian Chicken in the Crockpot), but I would also like to take a few moments to talk allergies. For those of you currently suffering, please grab a kleenex and read on. For those that are fortunate enough to have avoided the affliction of allergies, please feel free to skip to the bottom with the pictures of food. You will find the recipe there!

Growing up in the country, my sister and I both discovered we had allergies: hay fever, to be specific. Grass and tree pollens galore. I also have a shellfish allergy (thanks for those genes, Dad), and my cat makes me sneeze and my eyes itch, but I never really gave allergies much thought. They were just THERE. As was my heart burn. You gotta love acid reflux. And everyone always has very helpful suggestions: 'drink more water', 'make sure you chew slowly', 'better cut back on the coffee' (yeah right), 'guess that means no more wine for you ' (AS IF!!!)... but nothing ever helped, and so I just sort of ignored that, too. Left it under the "Just One of Those Things" category.


Just had to share these - they make me sneeze, but they are quite beautiful!

Lately, though, over the past decade, we have started losing family members to cancer. My grandfather on my mom's side was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, as was my dad's sister. We are fortunate enough to still have my Aunt with us, and when I talked to her and my father about her illness, something a little scary (at least to me) came to light. It is fairly common on my father's side of the family to choke when eating. This has been happening to me for the past couple of years. If I eat anything dry (like chicken or bread), or things that naturally clump together (like rice or oatmeal), I find that I choke on them. I chew VERY carefully, I swallow slowly, and I drink plenty of liquid while I eat, but I still choke.

So discovering that this is a family trait, as is esophageal cancer, and that my choking has been increasing in frequency lately, I got just scared enough to go to the doctor. She was very nice, but she looked at me like I was nuts when I explained to her why I was there. So she referred me to a GI specialist. Who also thought I was nuts. But she decided she wanted to do take a look, so I went in for an endoscopy. This is a really interesting procedure, if you haven't had one done... essentially you sleep through it. But the doctor takes pictures of your esophagus to show you later, and that's pretty cool.

My esophagus has developed eosiniphilic esophagitis, which causes the dysphagea.  Lots of fancy words, I know. Essentially, I have white blood cells that have formed rings in my esophagus. Those rings are where the food is getting caught, causing the choking. So the next big question was why were these rings forming? The most common reasons (and none of these are actually all that common!) are bacterial or fungal infection, precancerous issues, or allergies. After the biopsies came back, it has been determined that mine are allergies. So I was sent to an allergist to determine the next steps.

He did testing. Turns out, I am allergic to EVERYTHING. Yup. Everything. Thanks, parentals, for those genes. And the things I am not allergic to, I exhibit an "intolerance to"... nice, huh? So the known environmental causes include cats, grasses, tree pollen, dust mites and molds. For food: eggs, chicken, tomatoes, garlic, onions, broccoli (weird, I know), spinach, lemon... the list goes on. Odd thing, though... what I am not allergic to: wheat, hops, cheese (as long as it is lactose free)... so I guess I will drink lots of beer and eat lots of grilled cheese sandwiches!

The reason I am sharing all this with you, though, is because you will probably notice a change in the recipes I am sharing. I am attempting a food experiment over the next few months to determine which of the foods on the never-ending list of items to which I exhibit an allergy or intolerance actually causes me physical symptoms. I am hoping that by determining that, I can prevent the rings in my esophagus from returning using natural means. Currently I am treating them with a steroid, antihistamine, and antacid. Once the rings are gone, I need to keep them from coming back.

I am also doing a lot of research on my condition, food allergies in general, and the current focus that I have is on eggs. So please, bear with me in my crazy journey. I am a foodie who is allergic to food. I really need to get that sorted out. In a hurry. I would really appreciate any comments, links to good informational sites, stories you can share of people who are going through what I am, etc. The more information I can get my hands on, the more real-life situations I can review, the better equipped I will be to deal with this latest challenge.

With that said, on to bigger and better things! Like Indonesian Chicken that I made in my crockpot. Because I love my crockpot.
Seriously tasty spice mixture!
 A little ginger, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon and coriander... with some lime zest for extra awesome-ness.

You take that super yummy spice mixture and rub it into the chicken. I used chicken breasts, but you could easily sub in thighs if you want.


I added spinach and green beans, because that's how I roll. And boy am I glad I did! Extra veggies in a dish always help. Carrots would be very good in here. Probably some butternut squash, too.



After 5-6 hours in the crockpot on low, you serve this deliciousness over white or brown rice, or rice noodles would be good, too!

 Indonesian Chicken

Ingredients:

  • ~ 1 lb of chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 15oz can light coconut milk
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • ~5 oz fresh spinach
  • 2 cans green beans
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish desired

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, garlic and lime zest. Rub over chicken thoroughly and use it all. If you have any of this spice mixture left, add it into the crock pot with the coconut milk in the later step.
  2. Place chicken in a crock pot, and cover with onions and added veggies.
  3. Pour in coconut milk, lime juice, remaining salt. The coconut milk often separates, so mix in well.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.