Asian inspirations for Failsafe eating

Have been thinking of Asian dishes which could easily be adapted for a Failsafe diet, or provide the inspiration for Failsafe cooking. Today’s ideas:

Nonya favourites:

Pong Tauhu – omit prawns, taucheo (fermented soya beans), just make the tofu-meatballs and put in homemade clear broth with the bamboo shoots.

Poh Piah/Kueh Pie Tee – again omit the prawns and taucheo from the cooked filling; unfortunately the toppings will have to leave out the beecheo sweet sauce and chilli as well as prawns, nuts, laap cheong Chinese sausages, and don’t forget to use Iceberg lettuce instead of the usual lettuce variety. It won’t seem much like poh piah without the beecheo :( but one could happily enjoy Kueh Pie Tee.

Japanese basics:

– choose a Failsafe filling, and to be on the safe side, you might want to leave out the seaweed wrapper.

Festive red rice with azuki beans
– leave out the sesame seeds.

Okonomiyaki (see also here)- basically a savoury pancake, just make sure all the vegetables are Failsafe, and no ready-made sauces. Maki at Just Hungry gives instructions for homemade mayonnaise to go with the onkonomiyaki, which will be Failsafe if you replace lemon juice with citric acid and leave out the mustard powder. Amine-tolerant people could try using a homemade brown gravy in place of Japanese commercial brown sauce. I guess without the characteristic Japanese mayo and brown sauce, this is really just a glorified vegetable fritter :/.

Sweet rice & red bean – so versatile

Tried out this very easy Failsafe dish today: Japanese sticky/sweet rice (similar to other Asian glutinous rice) cooked with red beans.

There are very good instructions on Maki’s Just Hungry site, but to make sure the dish is free from salicylates, omit the sesame seeds.

[I’m a little confused about the exact status of sesame seeds’ salicylate levels: this site puts them as low, this one says they are moderate, and this list says they are high! Well, none of them say sesame seeds have negligible salicylates so best to avoid them if possible.]

Version 1
For breakfast, I ate this in the Japanese style as described by Maki, as a savoury dish, flavoured with salt.

Version 2
For supper, I ate it as a Southeast Asian-inspired hot dessert by adding sugar and unsweetened soy milk (in place of coconut milk).

Another successful innovation in the search for Failsafe foods to satisfy the Asian palate :).

Forget the food, just quit the job

Was just reading an article by Beverley Paine titled ‘Food sensitivities or total stress load?’, and it raises a very important point:

I personally found that it wasn’t the salicylate alone that caused my intolerances, but an inablitiy to adequately handle stress caused by many different factors – eating a diet loaded with salicylate over a couple of days exascerbated my problems and usually triggered asthma and other allergic symtoms. If I wasn’t stressed physically or emotionally (eg from being cold, or a sudden change in temperature or barometric pressure, sitting an exam, visit to a new doctor, etc, or even simply hanging out with a group of friends) I could tolerate normal levels of salicylate in my diet. . . .

Ultimately I’ve found that I can eat almost anything – even foods high in salicylate – provided I manage my overall stress levels. This means low social activity, getting to bed before 10.30pm, exercise every day (usually only walking), avoiding stressful situations like deadlines, running late for appointments, etc. I watch intake of stimulants like caffeine. Anything that stresses the physical body in any way at all can trigger sensitivities to food and airborne particles…

Failsafe beverages: decaf? and milk alternatives

Since starting the Failsafe diet, I have been facing the terrible gap left in my life by the absence of teas (black, green, roasted barley, herbal etc.) and struggle to find hot beverages to satisfy me. Unfortunately, teas are dried plant products which are high in salicylates.

Decaffeinated coffee is acceptable on the Failsafe diet, but I am not a coffee drinker (I quite like the taste but dislike the sour aftertaste, and it’s only palatable with lots of milk & sugar which are both things I’d rather not have). In any case, some decaffeination methods involve chemical solvents such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. According to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, ‘Some of the organic solvents used … have been suspected of being health hazards even in the tiny traces left in the beans (around 1 part per million). The commonest, methylene chloride, is now thought to be safe.’ (p. 447). Well any Failsafer or food-conscious individual would certainly have their alarm bells ringing at statements like ‘now thought to be safe’!

Seems to me that unless you can verify that the decaf product has used the ‘Swiss’ method (only water as a solvent and charcoal filters to remove the caffeine, or the ‘supercritical’ (i.e. highly-pressurised) carbon dioxide method, then perhaps decaf is not a good beverage option either. Incidentally, decaf does contain a small amount of caffeine: 2-5 mg per cup as compared to 60-180mg for ordinary brewed coffee (Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, p.447).

The recent hot beverage alternative I’ve been making is oat/rice/soy milk with carob. I love oat and rice milk anyway, and carob is sweeter than cocoa powder, so this mock-hot-chocolate beverage tastes quite rich & sweet. Non-dairy alternatives are better because cow’s milk produces phlegm, especially if one drank a whole mug of it!

Although oat, rice and soy milks are often mentioned in the same breath as dairy milk alternatives, nutritionally they are quite different. While dairy is a protein food, grain drinks are primarily carbohydrates. Soy also has a higher proportion of protein compared to oat and rice.

I haven’t tried making oat and rice milks at home (next project :)!), but I suspect they might taste very different from the packaged commercials ones. Certainly I found a huge variation in packaged soy milks – from the sweetened Asian varieties, to the many health-food brands from the west, to the bare bones homemade version. Vita brand’s Pure Soya Bean Extract is the closest to homemade in taste, no preservatives and is the cheapest commercial unsweetened soya milk :).

Do check the labels of all milk alternatives on the ‘health-food’ shelf in the supermarket, I realised that many of them contain a lot of additives and flavourings, including carrageenan, which has been linked to cancer. It’s on the Failsafe list of additives to avoid.