Thursday, June 30, 2011

No-dig, raised veggie garden beds

I've been busy as predicted! It's taken two full days of really hard work but stage 1 of my no-dig, raised veggie garden is completed. I slept very well last night & expect the same will happen tonight. I'm so tired I can barely walk .. and sore!! The big containers are filled with ... Layer 1: thick cardboard (re-cycled house moving cartons) with thick wadges of newspaper filling the spaces. Layer 2: 30 cms deep mix of horse & chook manure (you can see some of my little fertiliser machines in the first pic). Layer 3: I raked up all those bloody dead leaves that were lying about everywhere and threw them in with a handful of blood & bone; as well as some of the broken down ashes out of the wood heater. Layer 4: thick pads of straw. Layer 5: I found some old compost, left behind by the previous owners, and added that. Layer 6: thick pads of lucerne hay which I got cheap 'cos it's weather damaged ~ perfect. This was a lot of hard work by an old girl, all by herself! I hope it works & I am harvesting yummy veggies this coming season. Stage 2 will happen once all those layers start to break down and I'll add some worms. Then for Stage 3, I'll buy either good quality garden soil, compost or potting mix to top the containers up before planting seedlings. The final, top layer will be a mix of horse manure and straw used as mulch.

Those small, round containers in the second photo are potato planters, which I saw in the gardening suppliers and thought why not? They are made from the same stuff as those blue tarps everyone uses...kwim? There are holes in the bottom and a velcro sealed trap door on the side, so you can harvest the spuds easily. I put a layer of straw & compost in the bottom and placed the Kipfler seed potatoes on it before I carefully covered them with compost. The idea is that you cover the potatoes continually as they grow, until they reach the top of the container...20 weeks or so until harvest.

The round galvanised container I originally bought for a tomato plant, but I think it might get too hot in our vicious summers so it will probably work better for a few herbs.
I'm going to ask DH to cut the old 44-gallon drum in two and use the 2 halves as well. Come to think of it, there are a few of those lying about which I can re-cycle. That way I can do some staggered planting of the veggies we like best; and that I can eat the most of.

There are nine 20+ years old mixed fruit trees on the property which yield hundreds of kilos of the most delicious fruit. Last season was a disaster with all the rain we had. What the rain didn't kill the birds destroyed one morning at daylight, so we didn't get much for ourselves last year. Even though I can't eat a lot of fruit, I will be ready for those birds this coming season. Hear me birds?? I've got two words to say to 'ya ... white netting ...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lots of hard work coming up!

Today I purchased three of these galvanised iron raised garden beds. Two of them are oval, the third is round (it's for potatoes). The range of vegs I am able to eat is fairly narrow and I am so sick of the crap from supermarkets. The soil on our property is clay and it's impossible to grow anything in it successfully.... believe me I've tried! So, I decided to go no-dig in raised beds and grow my own. I've been collecting cardboard and newspapers for some time now. There's no shortage of chook & horse manure - it will just take a lot of hard work to cart it to the containers, but the days are sunny so I'm looking forward to some exercise outside. I also have a good supply of straw and old hay. I've bought small square bales of lucerne. The recycle bin is full of kitchen scraps which are composting nicely. I kept all the leaves from the trees gathered (well, almost!) in one spot and they will form part of the mix. It will take several weeks to get all the components into the containers, but it should be magnificently ready for spring planting. I was going to use the 'old tyre' trick to grow spuds, but then my daughter reminded me about what they are made from! Instead, the local maunfacturer of the containers showed me their newest product which will be perfect. I think I'll buy a couple more of the round ones to grow tomatoes in. I can't eat much tomato, but my DH loves them and it will be fun to grow them for him.
At this stage I plan to grow some herbs, tomatoes, apple cucumber, zuchinni, green beans, potatoes, maybe some sweet corn, bush pumpkin, yellow squash and one Queensland Blue pumpkin. We have eleven fruit trees which are more than 20 years old. The fruit from them is so delicious. If I am careful, I am able to eat some of it each day. I think my next project will be to preserve some of that gorgeous fruit ... but summer is a long way off yet.
The appointment with my GP went far better than expected. When I explained why I was there, he was quite concerned & alarmed that it took me such a long time to realise what was happening with the reaction I had to the muesli bar (see below). He told me to get some Telfast or Zyrtec and to carry them at all times; and also warned me to be vigilant about nuts and seeds. He is convinced I had a 'classic' nut allergy reaction. I have a referral to a specialist ~ in Melbourne, of course! Today is 28th June. My appointment is on the 14th of November. I could be dead in the meantime ........... sigh!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

So now I have a nut allergy as well??!!!!

Quite recently, I received one of these bars in a goodies bag at an information session I attended. It was touted as being 'Fructose Friendly' because, although it contains honey, it also contains glucose in an equal ratio which evens out the fructose load. I'd had nothing to eat all day. I'd driven for two-and-a-half hours to get to the session. It was now 10:15 pm and I was still only half-way home. I was starving. Then I remembered the bar in the little green bag. Hadn't eaten a muesli bar for months, it was FM safe. So, why not I thought? Ripped the wrapper off with my teeth to eat it as I was driving through pissing rain, heavy fog & bloody great honking trucks with four headlights on full beam. Fun? No!! As I held the bar near my mouth to take that first bite, my nose said "WTF are you doing? You shouldn't be eating this, you dickhead!" Now, in the past, I've listened when my nose has spoken. On this occasion I didn't. "STFU nose!!! Mind your own beeswax!" Within 15 mins of eating the bar, my mouth and tongue were on fire! My lips were tingling. The back of my throat was burning and felt 'hard'. It was slightly difficult to swallow. By the time I got home about two hours later, the area around by mouth/chin was numb & the inside of my mouth & tongue were still on fire. The numbness was still there when I woke up next morning. I didn't get any feeling back in my lips until around 1:45pm that day. Sounds like a classic nut allergy reaction to me. Something I've never experienced in my life before, until this episode. It just keeps on getting more difficult!!!

I have an appt to see my GP in two days, but I seriously suspect I'd had an allergic reaction to the ingredients in the bar: rolled oats, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, honey, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, sesame seeds, cinnamon, glucose (made from corn/maize), oat flour, natural vanilla flavour. The glucose made from corn interests me, as I've been noticing I react to Corn Thins in a similar way ~ though it's nowhere near as intense ... just mild tingling in the lips, with mild burning mouth & tongue.

Did I read the label on the bar? No! It's written in Size 2 font and I didn't want to pull over. And THAT'S what my nose was trying to tell me. If I had read that label, there is no way I would have eaten that bar. Another hard lesson learned. I need to listen to my own advice.

I'm a bit anxious about going to see my GP with this new development. He's the one who laughed out loud at me when I told him I'd been diagnosed with FructMal. If he shows me such disrespect - hell, any level of disrespect - this time, he's likely to get snotted!! And maybe even reported ...

Interview with Patsy Castos

There's an interesting interview with the respected U.S. Dietician which you should read IMO :)

Patsy's book "IBS - Free At Last" is a very helpful publication.

An apple a day??

I finally got to attend an FM Group Session run by Shepherd Works in Melbourne, last week. I was very impressed with the presenter, Kim Menzies. She sure knows 'her stuff'. I identified with a lot of the advice she provided - just wish it hadn't been so rushed & such information overload.
One thing Kim said was that, after the initial 8-week strict Low FODMAPs diet, it's very important to challenge and re-introduce the foods you were previously unable to small amounts! The theory is that, if you don't do this, you may well lose the level of tolerance to them you DO have.
It was a timely statement for me, as I have been working on our enemy Mr. Apple for about four weeks now. I also react to salicylates and amines, so need to be extra careful. I bought just one glorious Fuji apple. I took it home and put it on the kitchen bench, where it stayed for a few days. I stroked it every time I walked past it - a bit like sex with an apple, really! LOL Then I just thought, "Stuff it, I am going to do this!!!" So, I peeled it quite thickly and ate a small quarter of it. Then I sat back and waited ~ nothing, nada, zilch, zip!!! Prior to Low FODMAPs, that apple would have been out of me within 45 minutes, travelling at the speed of sound!!!!!! Since then I have eaten a WHOLE Fuji apple ~ thickly peeled & cored, of course. I keep waiting for the grenade to go off in my bum, but it hasn't. I made sure I re-introduced this food slowly, over a period of weeks. I also made sure that I keep my intake of other fodmaps on that day at a low level. I have a whole range of other "challenging" foods to re-introduce over the coming months. It gives me hope ........

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potts Black Rye Sourdough

This is what I had for lunch today ~ but I overdid it on the tomato & now I'm paying a bit. Should have only had three slices of tomato. I'll remember next time!!! I have bought 5 loaves of this bread now and it's been a success every time, no symptoms from the bread. I know this for sure as it was one of my challenges three weeks ago. The bread supports the theory that sourdough fermentation changes the fructans in the grain. Don't ask me how. Ask a food scientist. All I know is that I can eat 2-3 slices a day and still be OK. It has none of those 280 numbers - you know the ones! Propionates, which are used widely as preservatives in bread making in Australia. Shame on you bread makers of Australia!! Read the label in the photo to see what it doesn't have. There is gluten in the bread, so it's not suitable for people with Coeliac Disease. It is fermented for a minimum of 24 hours ... which is also good, according to the scientists, for seeing off the fructans. It's a very dark bread - almost black - more like pumpernickel in colour. It doesn't leave an aftertaste like some sourdoughs do. You can see I used my favourite 'flavour enhancer', good old iodised sea salt flakes. I added a GF blueberry muffin which I made myself so I know it had no nasties in it. DH's friend, who comes in every few weeks to chop our firewood, likes to be spoiled so I bake for him. The muffin was the only one that Mick didn't eat. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but it was a great treat! The bread stays fresh for about 3 days, then good as toast for another two. I give the last slices to either the dogs or the chooks. It's good value at less than $5 a loaf. I get mine from Woolies.

FF Chicken & Vegetable Soup

I've made this soup several times during the past four weeks and have eaten it many times without symptoms. It's tasty Low FODMAP, low amines and low salicylates. If you are not able to tolerate corn, leave it out!
I peel the vegs, cut them into chunks and give them a very quick whizz in the food processor. Keep back a few of each veg to cut into smaller chunks and add to improve the mouth feel so you actually have to chew. This is a thick & chunky soup, a meal all by itself. Add a crusty GF roll and you're set!
1 6-pack of skinless chicken 'lovely legs' (about 400g) or use whatever cut you prefer
2 medium carrots (peeled)
1 medium parsnip (peeled)
3 sticks of celery - the inner paler ones - and keep the leaves on
4 corn cobbettes - zapped for 2 mins in the microwave first
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 medium zucchini (peeled)
1/2 cup pre-cooked gluten free pasta
1 teaspoon iodised sea salt flakes
2 - 3 litres cold water
Place the chicken in a large saucepan and cover with 1/2 the water.
Peel and chop vegs, except for the corn & peas, and whizz quickly in processor with the rest of the water. Pour into pan. Dice chunks held back and place in pan. Add peas.
Cut the corn off the cobs, using a sharp knife & add to other ingredients. Add salt flakes.
Simmer on gentle heat until the vegs are soft & the chicken is cooked. Take chicken out of pan & pull meat from bones. Return to pan, add the pre-cooked pasta and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Thanks to 'Fructose Freak' for pointing out something important. I didn't explain that I peel the vegetables because I respond to amines & salicylates. There is absolutely no need to peel them if you are able to tolerate naturally occurring food chemicals, which are usually found directly under the skin.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fructose Friendly Fritters

Been thinking about these for a while now. I can't eat spinach because it's loaded with amines, but I can eat silver beet. I cooked extra 2 nights ago, bought some ricotta and had a play. Here's the result. It's not lactose free. There are amines in the cheese & bacon; as well as preservative in the bacon. However, the individual dose rate is low. Each cooked fritter weighs approx 75 grams.
I ate three, as a main meal, without any symptoms.
approx. 300g ricotta cheese
2 cups cooked silver beet
2 short end bacon pieces, cut into small strips
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese, parmesan if you prefer
125g tin corn (omit if you can't safely eat it)
2 large eggs, whisked together
about 1/4 cup of 'safe' cooking oil (I used sunflower)
Smash the ricotta in a bowl & stir in the cold silver beet.
Place approx 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy based frying pan. Cook the bacon strips in the oil til crisp. Add the bacon and drained corn to the ricotta mix. Stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Heat oil in pan ~ just enough to crisp the outside & prevent them from sticking. Drop large spoonsful into oil, flatten gently with an egg flip. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown, turning carefully as the mixture is soft and will break. Drain on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with iodised sea salt flakes & enjoy.
The mix makes about nine fritters.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New information to share

Dr Sue Shepherd and Dr Peter Gibson have just released a new book called "The Food Intolerance Management Plan". You can purchase it from:
It's also available through book shops & other online resources.
The next Group Session relating to FODMAPS run by Shepherd Works ...
When? Wednesday June 22, 2011 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Where? 5 Arnold Street, Box Hill (Melbourne, Victoria)
Cost? $110 pp, but each registered participant may bring a guest at no extra cost, limited to 20 participants ... 40 maximum, counting guests. The session will be facilitated by Kim Menzies.
Dr Jaci Barrett is on Twitter, where she tweets about information from her research into Low FODMAPs. I find it very frustrating when an assumption is made that everyone who needs to desperately access the most up-to-date research, may not have the technological skills to do so. I am one of those people. For those of you more techno savvy, you can find her here:!/FODMAPResearch
If this link doesn't work, click on the Twitter icon on the home page at dietsolutions:
FYI, she has shared that garlic contains four times more fructans than onions do; and that tofu, which has been tested this year, is Low FODMAP.
Up-date: I contact Dr. Barrett about my concerns (above) and to her great credit she responded very quickly. She stated: "The majority of people following me on twitter are dietitians from around the world interested in my research and private practice setup. Again, I will direct them to my website for more details. I am really trying to use all avenues to share the information".