These past two weeks I've been busying myself writing recipes for a family with, not only multiple allergies, but histamine intolerance as well. It's been a great learning curve actually, and a reminder that we are all at different stages of gut health and need to listen to and respect our bodies in order to let them work the way they were intended.
Histamine levels in what you eat goes far beyond the chemical which occurs naturally in certain foods. It's also about how fresh that food is, how recently was your meat slaughtered or your fish caught, how long has your cooked food been hanging around, what method did you choose to cook that food and for how long? You need to be on top of it all.
When you are dealing with histamine intolerance it is very definitely a case of the fresher the better. That means from farm, fishing boat, slaughter house, market and retailer to table. This applies not only to meat and fish but there are problems with certain fruits and vegetables too. The longer something has been left on the stalk, the higher the histamine level. The longer something is stored, the more chance the histamine has to build up. So leftovers become a problem, unless your food can be frozen the minute it has gone cold and then eaten equally speedily once thawed, in order to avoid a reaction. Aged, fermented and cured foods are all out, as are canned and bottled. Then there are select foods that do not contain histamine themselves but can cause your body to release it - such as strawberries, spinach, chocolate, pineapple, avocados, pork and egg white. It is also necessary to address your cooking methods. Long, slow cooking is not a great option because it allows histamine to gather momentum. Pressure cooking is possible but should be done in moderation - and monitored in each person's case. So if you have any reactions to those foods or cooking medium, such as headaches, sneezing, flushing skin, cramps to name but many, you may be wise to look into histamine as your enemy. I would love to hear what foods you react to, dear readers and whether you believe them to be histamine related?
Writing a set of recipes with many restrictions, plus taking our own into account, was a challenge I was only too happy to rise to. I love getting my teeth into a good project and all the more so if it means I can help another family out. So this hearty chowder is one of several dinners and I have to say we have been enjoying feasting off the testing process. And whilst I've not yet been to New England, the home of chowder - and wow Fall is surely the time of year to visit - I am deliriously happy to be seeking comfort in this bowl. Tiny dice of celeriac provide a starchiness lacking from the traditional potatoes, without the aches and pains that nightshades are wont to leave behind in their wake. A good variety of vegetables in all shapes and sizes make for an interesting spoonful. Add a wholesome selection of roots and this truly is a nourishing bowl, which happens to be low histamine too. Enjoy!
hearty salmon chowder
If you can't find wild salmon, use a different sustainable fish such as halibut instead. Farmed salmon is such a bad idea because of the way it is bred and fed!
Print the recipe here
2 tbsp solid fat (I used coconut oil)
1 small fennel, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1 large leek, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3/4 lb (340g) wild salmon fillet, skin on
2 cups (500ml) coconut milk
1 cup (250ml) chicken or fish bone broth
1 large bay leaf
3/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
chopped curly parsley to garnish
Melt the fat in a large pan (that has a tight fitting lid) and add the vegetables and thyme. Put the lid on the pan and cook on a gentle heat for 25-30 mins or until tender, stirring once in a while. You want to sweat the vegetables, rather than get some colour on them so if you feel the vegetables are in danger of browning, add a tbsp or two of filtered water.
Meanwhile place the salmon, skin side down, into a large sauté pan with the coconut milk, broth and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and poach the fish for 6-8 minutes until only just cooked.
Remove the salmon from the coconut milk, discard the skin and bay leaf. Pour the milk into the pan with the vegetables, bring up to a simmer and cook a further 5 minutes or until the rutabaga and carrots have cooked through. Flake the salmon into large pieces, add to the vegetables and reheat, being careful not to let the chowder boil. Add sea salt to taste.
Serve with the reserved fennel fronds and chopped parsley on the top.