Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Food Allergy Awareness Week

This week is Food Allergy Week (17-23 May) and it is important that we all know what to do if a reaction happens, how to minimise the risk of a reaction and to understand and support family and friends living with food allergies.

It took me about ten years of suffering to discover I had allergies to both wheat and soy. Which subsequently led me to choosing my paleo lifestyle

My soy allergy is the more severe of the two - with a reaction occurring within minutes of consuming it. If I have just the tiniest amount of soy milk, soy sauce, tofu or any other direct soybean product I will literally be in agony. Very quickly. I remember going to a new popular Ramen restaurant with some work colleagues once and before I left the restaurant I was literally bent over in pain. 

Over the years, I managed reactions with over the counter IBS related medication but nothing really worked properly. Over a six-month period, I underwent a series of medical and food related tests under the guidance of an excellent clinical immunologist and allergy specialist. 

From my experience, the consumption of processed foods and leading a busy lifestyle can make it very hard to work out what may be causing sickness and/or allergic reactions in our body. You really have to listen to your body and if you find it hard to work out, please see a specialist and get tested.

Food allergy now affects 1 in 10 infants* and about 2 in 100 adults. The most common triggers in childhood are egg, milk, peanut and tree nuts. Other common triggers include fish, shellfish, sesame, soy and wheat. 

Anaphylaxis is a generalised allergic reaction, which often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular). A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger and can rapidly become life threatening.
Knowing what to look for is very important, especially when it comes to children who may not be able to advocate for themselves when a reaction is occurring. Here are the signs and symptoms to be aware of:
Mild - Moderate Reaction

  • Hives, welts or body redness
  • Swelling of the face, lips, eyes
  • Vomiting, abdominal pain, tingling in the mouth

Severe allergic reaction- ANAPHYLAXIS
  • Difficult/noisy breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (in young children)

Ninety percent of allergic reactions are caused by: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. However, any food can trigger anaphylaxis. It is important to understand that in some people even very small amounts of food can cause a life-threatening reaction. Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.


A food allergy is an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When we eat a food containing that protein, our immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, triggering symptoms that can affect breathing, one's gastrointestinal tract, skin and/or heart.
Symptoms of food allergy may include; swelling of the lips, face and eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting, hives, swelling of the tongue, breathing difficulty, or a sudden drop in blood pressure. If left untreated, these symptoms can be fatal.
Avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent a reaction.
Adrenaline is the first line treatment for severe allergic reactions and can be administered via an autoinjector called the EpiPen® or the Anapen®.
Approximately 10 people die from anaphylactic reactions each year in Australia and some of these may have been triggered by food.


For more information and training check out the below links: 

* Osborne et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy
using population-based sampling and predetermined
challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676
Please feel free to share any personal stories you have about food allergies below so we can all be better informed.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Paleo-Friendly Papaya Chicken Curry

Using seasonal produce is an important part of eating healthy and living sustainably. With papaya and papaw currently in season I was keen to experiment with it in a savoury dish for something a little bit different. 

Gerard Kath, Papaya Australia President, says that this seasons' great quality can be attributed to minimal rain and generally favourable papaya and papaw growing weather.

In case you were not aware of just how amazingly good these two fruit are for you here's the science:

Nutritional Benefits

  • contain soluble and insoluble fibre, necessary for digesitve health;
  • contain a unique combination of antioxidants that assist our immune system;
  • contain skin protective nutrients;
  • are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A and provides nearly three times as much fibre as 1/2 cup of brown rice per serve; and
  • are suitable before, during and after pregnancy due to the high folate, vitamin C and essential nutrients that promote a baby's growth and development.

Tips & How To Choose A Goodie:

1. To choose a ripe fruit - lightly press underneath the stem and it will give a little to the pressure;

2. They are fragile, a few dark spots or blemishes on the skin are normal;

3. Ripen in a fruit bowl but then store in the fridge once ripe - enjoy within two days;

4. Allow to sit out of the fridge for about 5 minutes before you eat it to maximise flavour;

5. To speed up ripening, place in a paper bag with a banana.

Now for the recipe - This is SO quick and SO easy and tastes INCREDIBLE. This has become a firm favourite at our house and will make a regular appearance on our table during papaya season each year.

Paleo-Friendly Papaya Chicken Curry
Serves 4

1 tbs olive oil
1/4 korma curry paste ( try to choose one with no added sugars)
500g papaya, peeled, deseeded and mashed
400ml can coconut milk ( organic if possible)
2 free range or organic chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
Handful of Kaffir lime leaves ( optional)

Over a low heat, heat oil and korma curry paste in a pan or casserole dish until fragrant.

Add papaya and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer.

Add chicken and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add red capsicum and cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve with cauliflower rice *

Easy Cauliflower Rice
Wash & cut into pieces
Crumb using a food processor or grate it using a grater. Use what you need and store the remaining in fridge. It can also be stored in the freezer.
Fry it in olive oil, coconut oil or quality butter until tender. Season with S&P.

Garnish curry with thinly sliced Kaffir lime leaves and season to taste.

* Using a chopped onion in your cauliflower rice is optional.