It’s been one hell of a past few days on the allergy front. Long post here, with the fried chicken recipe at the end.
A week or so ago my niece came to visit for a few days. She has some severe food allergies of her own, worse than mine, and at dinner, she asked me what was in the margarine to see if she could use it. I began reading the label off and — lo and behold — discovered that it contains pea protein. I am severely reactive to pea protein, it tears my stomach to shreds, causes severe toxic gas (I know, I know — TMI), and makes my joints hurt for days. That level of reaction happens if I eat a muffin containing it, or two or three cookies at one sitting.
When I saw this, I suddenly realized that I’ve been slowly poisoning my system with small amounts of it over the years on an almost daily basis. No wonder I’ve had so many unexplained reactions. There have been so many times I’ve climbed the walls trying to figure out what I was reacting to. To find out that my margarine is probably at the root of some of them really threw me for a loop.
Why didn’t I know this before? I honestly don’t know. I can’t remember if I read the label in the beginning and glazed over it, but I’ve been using this for at least four years, if not longer, and never bothered to read the label since I started because hey—dairy and gluten free!
I promptly checked the company’s website. They make two types of it without pea protein, however they don’t use dedicated equipment, and the chance for cross-contamination is pretty strong. Finding a completely dairy free margarine is hard enough in the first place, finding one without other ingredients that I react to? Not going to be easy. Needless to say, I’m no longer eating the margarine and I noticed a difference after a few days.
However, day before yesterday, I broke down and ate some of the unsweetened ketchup we buy. I haven’t been eating tomatoes for about two months but did a challenge on them. No real problems, so I assumed I could go back to eating them. And in my tomato-hungry mind, this meant eating ketchup too.
Night before last, I ate some and about fifteen minutes later began getting the most horrible reaction that lasted all night and into yesterday. My stomach twisted in knots, my throat was raw and sore, my nose started to stuff up, my eyes hurt, my muscles ached, and my lips started to burn.
Now what I should have done right then? Take Benadryl. But in that confused state that I get in a reaction, I kept thinking it would get better. Well, it didn’t get better all night long and by yesterday morning, at 5 AM I finally got it through my head to take a big dose of it, and went to bed. Got some sleep, and some of the symptoms abated after a few hours, but yesterday was a blur, and I’m still paying for it today.
Yesterday when I woke up after taking the Benadryl, I read the label on the ketchup.
There are two things in there I react to: vinegar and onions. But there had to be more, I could feel peppers burning on my throat. So I called the company and asked them what their spices and natural flavorings contained. The customer service person told me, “I’m sorry, I don’t have that information.” I asked if she could get it for me and met with an abrupt “No”…cue me never buying their ketchup again.
And then…I started remembering the times before where I ate the ketchup and had a reaction and thought, this is minor, it must be a blip. Truth is, I gave the ketchup a pass because it didn’t seem so bad. I knew it was gluten and dairy free, so…ignore this little reaction and that one.
What I’m getting to in this long rambling post, and it’s rambling because I’m still a bit foggy, is that you have to continually read the labels and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO.
Now, my fault on continuing to eat the ketchup. But the company not telling me what’s in their spice mix? BAD FORM Westbrae. Bad form.
So always read the labels. No matter how many times you have bought the product before, they can always change the formulations at the drop of a hat. And companies seldom announce changes.
Annnnd…I’m embarrassed because I broke one of my cardinal rules: I continued to eat something I knew had allergens in it, because I liked it and because I didn’t think it would be that bad. Well, this reaction? Was bad. I’m lucky though because it could have been much worse.
I like to think I learned my lesson. In fact, I’m going to go through my pantry and read every label on everything and whatever I cannot eat—that Sam doesn’t eat—I’m donating to the food bank. I’ll update you on what I find that should not be lurking in my cupboards.
Now, for my fried chicken recipe. I love fried chicken and I have been trying to find the right combination that works for me and produces the mouth feel and taste of fried chicken. I would love to be able to add other spices to it — like paprika — but I don’t dare eat anything like that. So here is a basic recipe and you can adjust spice levels depending on what you can add into your diet.
Gluten and Dairy Free Fried Chicken
- 10 chicken thighs, complete with bone and skin
- 3/4 cup white rice flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tbsp oil
- Cooking spray — choose one that is good for high heat cooking, like coconut
- Using a paper towel, pat chicken thighs thoroughly dry.
- Stir salt and rice flour together. If you want to add other seasonings, do so now.
- Spray two large skillets with a thick layer of cooking spray — and I do mean thick. Add 2 tbsp oil to each pan.
- Place over burners and turn heat to medium.
- Dredge chicken thighs in rice flour and arrange in skillet, meaty side down. Do not allow chicken thighs to touch each other.
- Cook over medium heat, without disturbing, for fifteen-eighteen minutes depending on size.
- Using tongs, carefully turn chicken thighs over. Cook another fifteen minutes.
- If the thighs are extremely thick and meaty, add three minutes cooking time to each side.
- Carefully remove from pan and serve while hot.
I was extremely pleased with the results of this recipe. You DO need to pat down your chicken though, in order for the rice flour to thoroughly stick. The result was a crispy chicken without much grease.
Feel free to print this recipe out for your use, but if you want to send it to someone, please credit me or link to this blog post. Thanks. 🙂
That’s it for today, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And to all of you who follow me who have food allergies or sensitivities — be safe. Always read the labels. Always make sure you have Benadryl and your EpiPen near. Because you never know when something, be it from your own oversight or random contamination, is going to set off a reaction.