Vegan Salt –the blog











{August 23, 2011}   Broccoli Whatnot Soup

Let the anti-candida recipes begin!

A while back, I received Quinoa 365, a purely quinoa cookbook, as a bridal gift from my aunt. Naturally, when I read that quinoa was permitted on an anti-candida diet, I started scanning it for veganizable, sugar-free, gluten-free recipes. By the time I finished tweaking this quinoa soup inspired recipe, it was barely recognizable, but it tasted delicious.

In a soup pot, sautee:

1/2 onion, diced
drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil
1 tsp black pepper

After a few minutes, add:
5 cups broccoli florets or a combination of broccoli and cauliflower (the stalks are fine too, but if you're juicing, remember that broccoli stems are great in your morning vegetable juice.)
16 oz. organic vegetable broth
1/3 cup quinoa

When the quinoa and broccoli have softened, stir in:
1 cup original almond milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
a handful of Daiya shreds, mozzarella or cheddar

When the cheese has melted, blend the soup as much or as little as you'd like, then season with:
5-10 cloves of minced fresh garlic (leaving it to the end rather than cooking it in means it is a more potent fighter of candida.)
Lemon zest and juice, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste.

Serve hot with May's Gone crackers crumbled on top.



{August 8, 2011}   Taking on Candida!

My current adventure, like countless others in this world, began in a second-hand bookshop.  Last week, I was browsing the shelves, picking out a few novels and philosophical essays, when an enormous medical reference book caught my eye. Optimal Digestive Health: A Complete Guide.

Complete! For ten dollars, how could I go wrong? I purchased it and presented it to my husband, who has suffered from undiagnosed, chronic digestive problems for about eight years.

That evening, as I read mindless teen fiction (a guilty pleasure), he browsed the book, flipping back and forth, intent on his research. At last he said, “I think I have candida.”

Candidiasis is an imbalance of yeast in the body, primarily in the gut, usually brought about by prolonged stress, use of antibacterial drugs, use of birth control pills, or a high-carb or high-sugar diet. Although my husband has none of the surface symptoms, internally, it all adds up. Even the foods he’s learned by trial and error to avoid (like sweets, gluten, and starches) are on the list of candida aggravators.  It all suddenly made sense! The two of us spent the next several days reading everything we could find on candida.

I read that when women have persistent candida, one of the most telling clues is recurring vaginal yeast infections. Unfortunately, when men suffer from candida, it can remain in the digestive tract for years, and from there it spreads to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Yikes!

Even if the long-term complications didn’t include heart attacks, asthma, leaky gut syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer, we would be impatient to start him on an anti-candida diet, just to relieve his suffering.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I would undertake this dietary change with him. It’s easier to stick with a restrictive diet if the whole household does it together. Besides, according to one source, as many as one third of people suffer from candida. (Even if I’m not among them, I know I feel better when I eat a cleaner diet.) Symptoms of candidiasis include sugar cravings, fatigue, foggy-headedness, acne, PMS, anxiety, and a white coating on the tongue. Yes, I said sugar cravings are a symptom of a highly dangerous illness. But the good news is that it’s treatable by nutrition. My husband and I will be doing this together, and I’ll be posting recipes as we go along.

This is a very. strict. diet.

Note: We aren’t directly following the advice of any particular anti-candida expert or book. Instead we’ve pieced together an anti-candida diet that most of our hurried research seems to agree on, and what works for us. For starters, we’re remaining fully vegan, of course, which only eliminates eggs, cow milk yogurt and kefir from the Accepted Foods list. All other animal products are already off limits on most anti-candida diets. No loss there!

Forbidden foods include, but are not limited to:

  • All animal products (that’s the easy part)
  • Sugar: This means sugar, sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, rice syrup, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. (Except Stevia.)
  • Gluten and Starch: No wheat, barley, rye, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes or corn.
  • Alcohol: Not even an occasional glass of organic vegan wine. Nope.
  • Caffeine: No coffee, no black or green teas.
  • Fermented or Yeasty foods: No breads, pickles, vinegar (except raw apple cider vinegar), mustard, tempeh, soy sauce, and no mushrooms, since they’re a fungus.

And here’s the heartbreaking kicker:

  • FRUIT: No fruit juice, no dried fruit, no fresh fruit except citrus fruits and berries.

What we can still have:

  • Vegetables: Anything but corn or potatoes. Tomatoes and carrots cannot be cooked.
  • Some Fruit: Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, and berries. No juice.
  • Liquids: Almond, coconut, or soy milk (unsweetened). Herbal teas. (Edit to add: non-sweet fruit juices, such as pure cranberry or pomegranate juice. Kombucha!!)
  • Beans and Lentils: Pretty much anything goes here.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Anything except peanuts, so no peanut butter either. Tahini (sesame paste) is a go!
  • Other: Tofu, quinoa, hummus, plain vegan yogurt, and basically any herbs and spices.

Best foods to fight candida:

  • Raw garlic
  • Lemon
  • Fresh ginger
  • Yogurt and probiotics
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach
  • Raw apple cider vinegar, according to some

So far, we’re just two days into this, and still struggling to eliminate fruit and sugar (my shortcomings) and coffee (his). We’re both going through typical detox symptoms of headaches, fatigue, and in my case, serious fruit cravings. But we’re managing to find things to eat, and hopefully the detox stage won’t last too long. At the end of this adventure, whether it lasts a month or a year, I anticipate that we’ll feel healthier than ever, and we’ll have a bunch of gluten-free, sugar-free recipes figured out.

If you have overcome candida, particularly as a vegan, I would love to hear how you did it, how long it took, and what your favorite candida diet recipes are!



{February 5, 2010}   Omar’s Rawtopia – a review

Creme de Broccoli

If you were the luckiest human on earth, an invited guest at a faerie feast, the wee folk would almost certainly offer you dishes just like you’ll find at Omar’s Rawtopia– right down to the edible flower petals sprinkled on top! Omar’s food is like a concentrated garden on your plate, bursting with color, texture, and flavor.  Everything from the drinks to the dessert is organic and raw, and as an added benefit, it’s naturally gluten-free and vegan! Omar’s Rawtopia, formerly known as Omar’s Living Cuisine, is located right in the heart of Sugarhouse (ok, immediately South of the hole in the ground where the heart used to be.)

Omar’s is our favorite restaurant: I’m admitting my bias right up front.  We try to go there every month or so as a couple.  It isn’t cheap, at about $15 for a main course, $3.50 for a drink, and $7/$8 for dessert, but no food could be more worth the price! I first met Omar Abou-Ismail about six years ago, when his restaurant was still fairly new.  I was still a meat-eater at the time, and highly skeptical of eating raw vegetables, but he took the time to talk to me about his passion for food and about the energy found in plants.  He has the aura of a man who has found his calling and is intent on changing the world with his work.  When Omar lists “love” as an ingredient in every dish, he’s absolutely sincere about it.  He’s willing to share that love with everyone he meets: while we ate today, he spent some time talking with two women at a nearby table about the reasons for eating raw food.  He called raw food a “beautiful journey”; one which is beautiful because it is challenging.

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