Low Histamine Whole30 Results

From September 22- October 21, 2014 I've been doing a Low Histamine Whole30 with one of my good friends Laura. We both suspect we have histamine issues and were hoping this would resolve some of them. It's basically 30 days of eating whole foods minus foods high in histamines, like an elimination diet to hopefully be able to reintroduce foods one by one and see if any changes occur.

Here's a quick excerpt from the Whole30 site on histamine intolerance:
  • Histamine is a chemical which occurs naturally in certain foods.* It’s also one of the chemicals that is released in the body as part of an allergic reaction, causing the typical allergy symptoms, like ‘itching, sneezing, wheezing, and swelling. (Many over-the-counter allergy medications contain an antihistamine.) We have an enzyme which breaks down the histamines found in food, but some people have a low level of this enzyme. When these people eat too many histamine-rich foods, they may suffer ‘allergy-like’ symptoms such as headaches, rashes, urticaria (hives), itching, gastro-intestinal upset, asthma, or eczema. This is called histamine intolerance.
  • *Certain foods are also able to stimulate the body’s own natural release of histamine. These are called “histamine liberators.”
  • If you are one of the 1% of people with a histamine intolerance, your best recourse is to follow a Paleo + low-histamine diet. Our low-histamine shopping list eliminates all histamine-rich foods not allowed on the Whole30 (like cheese), and excludes additional histamine-rich “Paleo” foods. Pay special attention to the notes at the bottom of the list, as some specific types of foods (such as cured or smoked meats, canned foods like salmon or tuna, and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha) should also be avoided.

For me, there were two main things I hoped to see improvement in: the constant mucous I have in my throat (yuck!) and my sleep. Despite trying numerous supplements, bed time routines, regular sleep/wake schedules, exercise, not eating close to bed time, no electronics before bed, blackout curtains, earplugs, etc I still wake up an average of 6-12 times per night no matter how tired or well rested I am. As a result, I almost never feel like I am well rested. This has been going on for as long as I can remember, and I was curious if histamines had anything to do with it (still not sure about that).

Here are some of the main differences between a regular Whole30 and a low-histamine Whole30:
  1. No eggs.
  2. No nuts/seeds/oils derived from nuts/seeds.
  3. No processed anything (no canned olives, no canned tuna, no prosciutto, no packaged chicken broth, no sugar free bacon, no dried fruit, etc.). I made an exception here for packaged coconut, coconut water and coconut milk. Since avocados are also out if you want to play it safe, coconut and your cooking fats are pretty much the only fats you can have unless you have access to fresh olives.
  4. No dried herbs or spices, only fresh.
  5. Food must be either cooked fresh or cooked fresh, frozen, then microwaved/cooked from frozen. Leftovers accumulate lots of histamines. Thawing accumulates histamines. For this one I did the best I could because sometimes we were traveling and I packed a salad with chicken in the cooler and things like that. There were a few times that I did eat "leftovers" but mostly I ate food straight from the freezer.
  6. No shellfish.
  7. No tomatoes.
  8. No citrus fruits.
  9. No herbal teas.
  10. No fermented products like kombucha.
  11. No vinegar.
So here's some things that inadvertently happened as a result of my low-histamine Whole30.

First, I bought 20-some meal size tupperware and put a "Label Once" sticker on each of them. I thought that having all my meals in the freezer and having to microwave them from frozen would be sooo inconvenient, but actually it worked out really well for me, so I plan to do it again. The main advantage of that was that if I didn't want to eat something today, I didn't have to, because it would keep in the freezer. Also, other then when I batch cooked, the only dishes I had to wash were just tupperware.

Oh, I whittled down the grocery list even further by looking up lists of high histamine foods online. Different sites have different lists, and I wanted to do the "safest" route to hopefully see a reduction in mucous.

In order to have enough food pre-packaged for each meal, I learned how much food I actually need per meal. I need about 1/2 pound protein and about 1-2 cups veggies plus one serving fruit. These amounts helped me meal plan my grocery shopping for the week. If I work out, I usually eat an extra 1-2 cups of starchy vegetable, usually plantains or sweet potato.

I learned that pretty much any frozen fruit is tasty. Frozen blueberries are like little candies.


Ground bison with Sweet Potato Poi
 
I normally enjoy Whole30s (this is my fourth) because I get more creative with my meals. This time around, I really only used 1 or 2 recipes because since our food list was so limited, it really wouldn't work with almost any recipes without tons of substitutions. So I made a bunch of my own recipes including lots of burgers, veggie/ground meat scrambles, meatballs, sausage patties with vegetables and more. I have never planned so many meals with not a recipe in sight. And pretty much every one turned out good. Actually, Andrew loved my cooking even more than usual this time around because he doesn't like too many flavors/herbs/spices together in one meal. He can taste every individual flavor and so he prefers simpler meals like these.

Cauliflower rice with garlic and shallots, Beef and Veggie Meatballs and sweet potato hash

I always eat more veggies on Whole30s then otherwise and I used up the large quantity of random vegetables I had accumulated in my freezer over the past few months. I think it really helps that I eat veggies with breakfast. Most veggies freeze and thaw well, but there are a few that change texture like spaghetti squash and yellow squash/zucchini. Even so, they aren't terrible.


Roasted duck with sauteed cabbage and green apple

I learned how to cook with fresh herbs. I love dried herbs, as my roommates can vouch for due to the shelving in the kitchen that contains jars upon jars of my dried herbs. I keep them in glass mason jars with a hand written label on top. I have the overflow on shelves in the garage. So I really wasn't too familiar with the rations of fresh herbs, nor how to use them. I dove right in and guesstimated my way to success.


Baked chips made from organic potato- have you heard, potatoes are now Whole30 approved?!

Oh, and since I learned my meal portions and ate big breakfasts, I had very few snacks between meals (say 5 or less over the whole month).

Sweet Chicken and Green Apple Sausage Patties with sauteed shredded zucchini
 
The best news is that I have seen a reduction in mucous! For the first time in my life, it was non-existant at times! Unfortunately, those times were sporadic and I haven't been able to determine what caused the lack of mucous or what continues to cause the mucous. However, simply seeing an improvement is thrilling and made this whole thing worthwhile. But, I got a notebook and have been recording my meals, meal times, exercise, sleep and generally how I'm feeling each day in the hopes to notice a pattern over time. I will be reintroducing most foods gradually and noting how I feel.


Breakfast hash: ground turkey, fresh herbs, cubed butterntu squash and sugar snap peas
 
I've also had several nights of better than average sleep. Right around the same time I started taking a new supplement (L-Theaning Double Strength which is an anxiety relieving supplement...this is the only supplement I take and I take no meds) I saw an improvement in sleep. That was also around the time that the temperatures started dropping here in MD and I sleep a lot better in the cool weather. I've also started exercising more (walking Jubi 1-2 times most days and jogging a few times a week on my lunch breaks). The two consistent factors have been the supplement and the temperatures, but we will see if this trend continues.

Baked chicken thigs with carrot rice "risotto"- probably my favorite meal this Whole30

Weight loss: when I started this Whole30 I weighed in at 161 pounds. Granted, this was after eating a little more junk than usual prior to the start of the Whole30. About a week prior to starting this Whole30 I weighed in around 155 pounds. After the 30 days, I was back down to 156.

Ground Beef and Cauli-Rice Lettuce Wraps
 
What's next? I'll continue eating my Whole30 meals like I do the majority of the time anyway, with a few paleo but non-whole30 foods/meals here and there. Mostly what I miss is my paleo or paleo-ish sweets- coconut milk ice cream, coconut macaroons, etc. I'm planning to make pumpkin pie macaroons (paleo) and (paleo) coconut milk pumpkin pie ice cream, but I did stock up on other goodies, some healthier and some just plain old junk. After each Whole30, I usually eat one junk food with no nutritional value. This time it will be zebra cakes. Then, all my other not so healthy snacks have standards, i.e. no gluten, none of the foods that bother me (rice, nuts, seeds, cocoa/chocolate, seed oils), no HFCS and nothing artificial.

Bear Church Rock Hike on Columbus Day (10/13/14)

Originally Andrew wanted to do a day trip to Assateague then turn around the next morning and leave for a two day backpacking trip, since we had a long weekend, but we compromised and did a day trip to Assateague Saturday, rest day Sunday, and a day hike in Shenandoah on Monday. Here's the hike we did: http://www.hikingupward.com/SNP/BearChurchRock/. I sent out an invite to friends, but only one friend was able to make it. One of my new friends from Camp Nerd Fitness Taylor L came out to meet us, even though he had a 3.5 hour drive! Our drive was only 2.5 hours. It was nice to see him again and I was happy that he and Andrew got along.

Taylor and I at the top- check out the awesome foliage

Camp Nerd Fitness Friends!

Although the weather was not the greatest (very rainy when we arrived, changed to sprinkles/clear with fog/mist) we had a nice time. All together, including breaks, the hike took about 4.5 hours and was 8.5 miles. It was an out and back trail (rather than a loop trail) so I'd say the first 3 or so miles were almost level. The last mile or so was pretty steep. And then coming back it was all downhill/mostly level again. We also took a short side trail to a cabin. With the fog around the cabin, it made for a cool view.


The cabin
We brought the dogs and they had fun running the trail. We only saw a few other people the whole time.


Jubi looking cute, as always
The boys running the trail
When we made it to the top we took plenty of pictures then had a lunch/snack break. I had carrot sticks and an apple. None of us were extremely hungry by then. The foilage views from the top were amazing. I had been really looking forward to seeing Shenandoah in it's fall beauty. It got pretty chilly when we stopped for lunch, but despite the weather we weren't cold at all on the hike!


Andrew doing modified tree pose
Full tree pose...scary!
We spent a lot of time chatting and getting to know each other better, which is always one of my favorite things. Andrew is former Navy and Taylor is active duty so they had that to talk about, too.

The whole family together <3
Then we headed to Pig and Steak for lunch. We each got a steak and two sides (I got plain baked potato and green beans). Andrew enjoyed their apple pie and ice cream. I was impressed to see they had funnel cake on the dessert menu. The food was so-so, but it was nice to get a hot meal after the hike.

Then we said our goodbyes and each headed home. We got home around 5:30 so we still had a few hours left to bathe the dogs, cut Andrew's hair, and celebrate the dog birthdays with Pet Birthday Cupcakes and their new Buster Cube food toys. We also got to watch a movie that evening which was nice.
Who wants birthday pup-cakes?!

6 Ingredient Sweet Chicken and Apple Sausage Patties (W30, LH, AIP Friendly)

When I was meal prepping for our Whole30 with Lena and Laura, Laura suggested making sausage patties with green apple in them. What a great idea! I've purchased sausages before with green apple in them, but never made my own. And I happened to have some leftover green apples too!

I didn't dice my apples very tiny, as I napped through meal prep time this weekend, so I was up early this morning (4:30 am) to meal prep before pet sitting before work. I used my handy Progressive Veggie Dicer to dice the apples but you can also dice them by hand, especially if you want smaller pieces of apples and celery.

Ingredients:
3 pounds ground chicken
3 green apples
5 stalks celery
3 leeks
about 1-2 inches of ginger root (subsitute 1/2-1 tablespoon dried ginger)
Sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 400. Wash your hands.
2. Dump chicken into a large mixing bowl. Grate ginger over mixing bowl. Add sea salt.
3. Dice apples, celery and leeks. Add to mixing bowl.
4. Incorporate all ingredients using your hands to mix until consistent.
5. Line 2 baking sheets with tin foil.
6. Shape sausage patties and place onto baking sheets so they are not touching. You can use a 1/3 cup measuring cup as a guide.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

Note: If you prefer non-crunchy celery and apples, dice these very finely and/or sautee prior to adding to chicken.

Makes about 6 servings and about 30 sausage patties.


Ground Beef and Cauli-Rice Lettuce Wraps (W30, 21DSD, LH, AIP Friendly)

These wraps are very tasty and a good food for company! They are reminiscient of tacos without the tomatoes and pepper-y spices.




Ingredients:
3 pounds ground beef
dill weed (about 10 stems)
cilantro (about 15 stems)
sea salt
2 shallots
1 elephant ear clove garlic
2 heads cauliflower
2-3 romaine lettuce hearts
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Add ground beef to large skillet on medium. Add sea salt.
2. Dice dill weed and cilantro over beef as it cooks. Stir to incorporate. Cook, breaking into smaller pieces, until no longer pink.
3. Meanwhile, quarter your cauliflowers and remove as much of stems as possible.
4. Insert shred blade into food processor, and shred cauliflower. If you don't have a food processor, you can grate your cauliflower by hand with a cheese grater.
5. Heat a large skillet on medium and add 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Once heated, add cauliflower.
6. Remove outer peel of garlic and shallots. Add to food processor and blend to dice, or dice by hand. Add to cauliflower in skillet.
5.  Add sea salt. Stir until slightly translucent and tender. Remove from heat.
6. Serve by loading up lettuce leaves with cauli-rice and beef. Enjoy!

Makes 6-12 servings.

Assateague Island Trip 10/11/14

Saturday morning we headed up to Assateague Island via Chincoteague Island to see the wild horses. I have been wanting to go there for a while and decided this year was the year! Unfortunately, due to pet sitting and other scheduling conflicts, we weren't able to go this summer, but kayaking tours are available through the end of October.

Despite the rain, we headed out Saturday morning a little after 8:00 am. We packed our lunches in a cooler to have a picnic when we arrived. The drive was rather long (4 hours or so) but we napped and listened to music and talked. My roommates Lena and Xavier came with us, as they are new to MD (moved here a year ago from CA) and had heard good things about Assateague.

We arrived around 12:30 or so and found the Assateague Explorer where the kayak tour departed from. We got directions to a park nearby and ate lunch at a picnic table by the water. Unfortunately it was chilly and gloomy, but we still enjoyed our lunches.

Picnic lunch

It was just the four of us and the guide on the kayak tour that afternoon. Andrew and I got separate kayaks and Lena and Xavier shared a kayak. The tour lasted around 3 hours and we got to see a lot of wildlife including several kinds of birds and my favorite was salt water hermit crabs! I have pet fresh water hermit crabs and I loved seeing the salt water hermit crabs scuttling around under the water in their natural habitat- so cute!
Kayaking!

 

Look at that teamwork!
We kayaked down to a sand bar and got out to take a break. Then we kayaked to the beach and walked around there. Kayaking back to the departure point was tough as we were going against and wind and current, but we all made it. Despite the gloomy weather, it was a nice trip on the water and they were having an Oyster Festival with a live band so we got some music on our tour.

On the beach taking a break
 
We were all pretty disappointed that we didn't get to see any wild horses. Our kayak guide told us that they had rounded up all the horses the day before for their annual vaccines, so they might still be penned up. We drove around for a while and Andrew even flagged down a ranger to ask about the horses, but apparently they were no longer penned up and had run farther than normal after their vaccinations. We checked several areas the ranger recommended for horse viewing but there were none to be seen. Still, we had a good workout and it was a nice day trip. We are thinking we might go back on the big annual pony swim next year.

Then we headed in search of a restaurant. My roommates and I are all doing a Whole30 right now but on the way Andrew wanted to get some fudge. He doesn't have much of a sweet tooth but he loves some fudge! Even though we are on our Whole30, we all got some fudge for after it's over (next week). I got vanilla fudge, pumpkin pie fudge, a little orange creme fudge, and some salt water taffies (yum!). Then we went to Steamer's for dinner. Dinner was ok, I had a steak, salad (just a pile of lettuce with carrots) and plain baked potato.

After dinner, we were ready to head home as it was rather late. We took a wrong turn and added on a few minutes by driving into DC (oops) but we got home shortly before midnight.

I was glad that I designated Sunday as a rest day, to sleep in, catch up on grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking and other chores.

Carrot Rice "Risotto" with Chicken Thighs (W30, AIP, 21DSD, LH Friendly)

BJ's sells giant bags of carrots (5 pounds) which is awesome, but is an awful lot for one person. So, I used about half of them to make this risotto! I usually think of eating carrots raw or in chicken soup, but this is a great and easy way to eat them, too.


Ingredients:
2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoon coconut oil, divided
salt and pepper
About 20 carrots or a normal sized bag of full sized carrots
1/2 bunch parsley (about 20 stems)
2 cloves garlic
4 shallots

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Line a baking sheet (or two) with tin foil.
3. Lay out chicken thighs so they are not touching on the baking sheet.
4. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in microwave.
5. Drizzle over chicken thighs with spoon and distribute evenly.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until no longer pink. Set aside.
8. Meanwhile, remove tops of carrots.
9. Using a food processor's shred blade (or by hand with a cheese grater) shred carrots into slivers resembling rice.
10. Place a large skillet on medium heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once melted, add shredded carrots.
11. Dice parsley, garlic, and shallots and add to carrot mixture.
12. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Once carrot rice is becoming soft and onions are translucent, remove from heat. Do not over cook or your rice will turn to mush.
13. When chicken thighs are cool, dice and add to "rice".

Enjoy. Serves about 4.

Pet Birthday Cupcakes (Dog/Cat Treats)

Our fur kids get to celebrate their birthday every year with a new toy and/or treats as well as a homemade birthday cake/cupcakes (some version of a pet friendly meatloaf).

This year, I've created a cupcake recipe!
Such hungry puppies...no one ever feeds them!


Pupcakes

Ingredients:
1 pound ground pork (or other ground meat, unseasoned)
1 egg
1 cup frozen mixed veggies (preferrably corn free- I used a blend of carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, squash and broccoli)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add all ingredients to food processor and process. OR if you are like me and forgot your food processor, steam veggies and carefully dice into small bits. Then mix all ingredients together by hand, kneading until evenly distributed. (You can puree the shell too if using the food processor.)
3. Evenly distribute meat into cupcake tins. Mine filled about 7 cupcakes worth when they were only filled about 3/4 of the way.
4. Bake for 20-45 minutes (until no longer pink inside).

Makes about 7 cupcakes. For small pets like cats and small breed dogs, I recommend feeding only a small portion of a cupcake per meal as too much change in diet can cause upset tummy.

These do keep in the freezer, too.

Easy Burgers (W30, 21DSD, LH, AIP Friendly)

Sara, Lena and I had girls night this week. It was long overdue and really nice to catch up. Since Lena and I are doing the Whole30, we made a Whole30 meal and it was good! We had baked homemade "chips", golden cauliflower soup, melon and homemade burgers wrapped in lettuce. These are so easy and they were so good.

Ingredients:
3 pounds ground beef
3 shallots (or 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger root shredded (or pinch of dried ginger)
salt and pepper

1. Turn over to broil.
2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
3. Add ground beef to a large mixing bowl.
4. Dice shallots and garlic. Add to mixing bowl.
5. Shred ginger root with cheese grater and add to mixing bowl.
6. Add salt and pepper.
7. Mix thoroughly with hands.
8. Shape into burgers and place on baking sheet so they are not touching.
9. Broil for about 15 minutes or until desired doneness. Serve wrapped in lettuce if desired.

Makes about 9 burgers, so 4-9 servings worth depending on if you eat 1 or 2 burgers at a time.

Paleo/Whole30 Grocery Shopping

Sometimes I get questions from those that don't eat paleo, "what do you eat?!" So this week after my grocery shopping trip to BJ's, I took a picture of my cart. I am doing a low histamine Whole30, but all of these foods are Whole30 and paleo as well (except for the mango gelato- because coupon and because 80% rule for after my Whole30).


Here's a breakdown:
Honeydew melon $3.99
3 lb ground beef $13.99 total (hormone and antibiotic free, cruelty free)
Talenti Mango Gelato $7.99- $1.50 coupon = $6.49
3 lb ground turkey $10.49 total
7.25 pounds boneless chicken thighs $15.88
3 pounds ground chicken $7.99 total
seedless watermelon $3.49
5 pounds organic carrots $3.99
2 lb cubed butternut squash $4.99
2 containers blackberries 12 oz each $9.98 total ($4.99 each)
gigantic roll tin foil $22.99 - $3.00 coupon = $19.99

Total with tax $102.62

Here's the behind the scenes info:
I shop for just myself. I have roommates who are also doing the Whole30 but we don't share food. Occasionally we will offer each other food or give away extras, but in general we keep our food separate. Sometimes I feed Andrew dinner or have my parents over. There will likely be leftovers from this food for next week.

I have a weekly organic CSA subscription. This week, I picked up lots of sweet potatoes, white potatoes and green onions. It works out to about $10 per week and I get to choose which veggies I want from what they have harvested.

I forgot to get two cauliflowers for golden cauliflower soup so I will have to run out and get those.

I am using the following items from my fridge/freezer this week also: squash/zucchini, sugar snap peas, tiny heads cauliflower, coconut milk, onion/shallot, garlic, parsley and several other fresh herbs, frozen blueberries to supplement the fresh fruit. I also have chicken breasts in the freezer if needed.

Here's my weekly meal plan:
(Unless otherwise noted each meal will have lots of leftovers and will contain at least one source protein and one veggie and I will also eat one serving fruit per meal. Each meat and veggie will be cooked with two different fresh herbs/onion/shallot/garlic/etc and salt). I eat about 1/2 pound meat and at least 1 cup veggies per meal.

Meal 1: Cubed butternut squash and sugar snap pea breakfast hash with ground turkey and diced cauliflower.
Meal 2: Shredded zucchini or zucchini/squash combo sauteed with chicken/green apple homemade sausages
Meal 3: Sweet potato noodles with chicken thighs
Meal 4: Homemade burgers, Well Fed's Golden Cauliflower Soup, baked fries (girl's night with two good friends plus leftovers)
Meal 5: Carrot rice risotto with chicken thighs

Usually I plan 5 meals plus breakfast for the week, but I had lots of leftovers from last week so I planned one meal less.

This will finally use up the last of my excess vegetables in the freezer! Now I have to use up all the coconut flakes and shreds, which I plan to do by making my own coconut milk!

And now, two of my tasty carby snacks from last week: baked sweet plantain chips and baked potato chips


 
And finally, a picture of the Leonardtown Wharf where I walked the dogs on Saturday morning. It was about a 1.5 mile walk.


Ground Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash (W30, AIP, LH Friendly)

There's just something delicious about acorn squash. It's so rich and savory. I like to have mine for breakfast, but you can eat it any time. I learned something new, too. I made these, stuffed them with meat, wrapped them in tinfoil then froze them. I unwrapped, put in a bowl, and microwaved for about 4 minutes, and they were just like they would be if I had stored them in the fridge. The skin was no trouble to eat around. So now you know.



Ingredients:

2 acorn squash
2 pounds ground turkey
4 green onions
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)
sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
3. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut the acorn squash in half, in the direction from stem to base.
4. Scoop out seeds and discard. Alternately, you can remove the seeds from the pulpy stuff and bake them. Yum!
5. Place acorn squash face down on the baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 45 minutes or until all the "flesh" of the squash is mushy when turned over.
7. Meanwhile, add coconut oil to a skillet. Then add ground turkey.
8. Dice your green onions and grate your ginger and add to the ground turkey as it cooks. Sprinkle with sea salt.
9. Separate the turkey with a utensil, breaking it up into small clumps. Stir occasionally and cover.
10. Once the turkey is no longer pink, remove the skillet from the burner and turn off the burner. Set aside.
11. When the squash and turkey are done, turn squash over so the "nest" in the middle can be filled with ground turkey (then do so). Refrigerate or freeze.

Makes 4 servings.