Since Monday I’ve been on a dietitian-ordered ‘clean up.’ This is generally something I crave (I have a serious love of cartharsis). We agreed a clean up was in order largely because on top of being a celiac, lactose intolerant, and insulin resistant, I have a nasty intolerance to vaso-active amines. These are a type of naturally-occurring chemical in lots of foods, that taste really REALLY delicious. Anything super rich and flavourful (hello: tomato paste, mushrooms, fermented foods). Unfortunately for me they cause a bunch of side-effects: inflammation, water retention, headaches, extreme fatigue. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the greatest at cutting them all out (because CHOCOLATE, folks) but generally I’m pretty good at avoiding the ones that I know have the biggest effect on me (bananas!).
Over the holidays, well, let’s just say my tastebuds got the better of my practicality. So, clean up! Two weeks of amine-free eating, with lots of fruit, raw salads, gentle methods of cooking (like steaming), healthy grains and protein. Sounds pretty good, right? Just so we’re clear guys, my dietitian gets it. He also recommended I drink almost as much green tea as possible, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, and understands my body chemistry enough to tell me that I don’t need to stress too bad about eating a ton of protein. (I put on muscle like a mofo. Combine my level of activity with too much protein and I would soon look far more bulky that I want to be.)
Anyway, part of the biggest challenges about eating amine-free for me has always been flavour. Because, amines = flavour. Especially all my fall-back seasoning/condiment-y type things: citrus, garlic, olive oil, vinegars, all nuts and seeds (except cashews). This tends to totally change my approach to thinking about the flavours of foods and how they go together. My dietitian (who is a demi-god, ok?) had the genius idea of using allowed fruits to add acidity and freshness to dressings, so there’s been lychees and mangoes in dressings for big Asian-style salads, and peaches added to creamy cashew sauces. Thankfully, fresh herbs and spices are still on the table and that has lead to many amine-free problems becoming delicious creative solutions.
This combo of a herby-chickpea dip with peppery-turmeric dukkah is hitting all the marks for me at the moment: a good balance of vege/carbs/protein/fats, no amines, and flavour. Thank goodness for cashews: they toast up so well, adding much needed creamy/nutty notes to the dip. The basil/parsley combo for the dip is a mainstay for me, but also what I had on hand. Any herbs will do though: coriander+mint, parsley+oregano, chives. It’s also a fact of the universe that things become infinitely more awesome when they have toppings, right? This dukkah is crunchy, peppery, versatile and easy to make. This is a tried and tested combo of spices for me, but I also know that fennel seeds, fenugreek and caraway are good additions. It can also go on top of many dishes: salads, soups, stews, etc. If you’re not sensitive to amines (hooray!) of course feel free to add all the usual suspects to the dip: lemon, garlic, olive oil. Any nut will do!
Large salads have also become a staple, so I’m planning to share one with you next week. Until then, wishing you all days of self-love, intentional eating and happy vibes. X
HERBY CHICKPEA DIP
makes ~1.5 cups
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup cashews, lightly toasted
handful fresh basil, stems removed
handful fresh parsley, stems removed
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 scallion (spring onion), sliced
freshly cracked black pepper
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, whizz to combine. Add 1-4 tbsp of water to achieve desired consistency. Season to taste. Serve topped with dukkah (below) and a selection of sliced veggies, crackers, or corn chips. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
makes 1 cup
1 cup cashews
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp flaky sea salt
Toast the cashews in a pan over medium heat until toasty smelling, but be careful not to burn. Allow to cool slightly, before combining the cashews with the spices in a food processor. Process for 10 seconds (you want the nuts to be chopped, and the seeds to be slightly crushed, but not totally ground to a meal). Store in a glass jar in a cool dark place, best consumed within one month.