Monday, May 17

Vegan tortilla 'sandwich' and eliminating foods

When we first decided to tackle Tara's AIP head-on and try to manage it instead of allowing it to control us, the most daunting aspect was revamping her diet.  Aside from the universal mantra of eat a carb-rich diet, there is so much conflicting information about what a Porphyriac can and can't eat. Honestly, it was really overwhelming.  

After some moping around and a lot of, "Oh my goodness, what the hell can you eat, Tara," I realized that being so overwhelmed to the point of paralysis wasn't going to get Tara anywhere.  So, what did I do?  I looked through several websites that had dietary information and picked out some major themes.  I found that the guidelines could be roughly boiled down to this: 

1. Eat a diet that has at least 250-300g of carbs per day.
2. Avoid all soy products.
3. Limit the amount of sulfur/sulfite intake.
4. Avoid alcohol.
5. Eat regularly and don't fast.
6. Avoid chamomile. ( I know, weird.)

UPDATE: For a more detailed restricted foods list, check out the Restricted foods page

The first thing we did was to get Tara to eat more regularly; this isn't something that comes easily to Tara.  She doesn't get hungry to often, so she can't rely on her body to tell her when to eat.  So, we figured that she needs to eat every three hours or so.  Also, she has to eat or drink something very shortly before going to bed and after waking up.  This has made a huge impact on how Tara feels.

As far as eliminating the porphyrinogenic foods, our strategy is to no longer bring it into the house and when we use it up, that's it! (This will save us from having to replace everything in the pantry.)  I decided to start with soy.  I figure that, while it will be the hardest to eliminate, it will also have the most impact.  Soy can be tricky because it comes in several different forms: soy lecithin, soybean oil, vegetable oil, soy flour, soy protein, etc.  I was shocked to learn that it's in almost everything, especially in baked goods.  What's worse, I can't even rely on the allergen information (you know, the "Contains wheat, dairy, etc. ingredients."), because soy is not always listed, so I have to check all of the ingredients.  The biggest problem has been with convenience foods that Tara really likes, such as frozen waffles or breakfast bars.  My goal is to slowly replace those with either other soy-free, convenience-substitutes or homemade versions.  

 Gratuitous shot of rising steam...

We've also started to decrease the amount of high-sulfur foods we eat.  Sulfur is in things like cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and tomatoes - yeah, tomatoes!  (See somewhat conflicting lists here and here.)  We're not being super strict about eliminating any of these foods yet because it would just be too much.  Thankfully, though, we don't regularly eat foods that are super high in sulfur, like those from the cabbage family, so that hasn't been too difficult.  However, when it comes to things like garlic and onions, foods that are integral to so many other recipes, all we can do is decrease the amount of how much we eat for now.

The hardest thing about this has been being creative and open-minded about what we cook and eat; we have to be willing to try different foods. On the up-side, though, we've eaten so many yummy foods that we never would have tried before, like these vegan tortilla sandwiches.

 I love how the grains of rice look like teeth.

Vegan tortilla sandwich

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention... Of course, it's cliche to say so, but in the case of this tortilla sandwich, it's so true.  I used all of my energy making a from-scratch bread (recipe soon) that I could barely come up with anything for dinner.  So, I started randomly pulling things out from the fridge.  I ended up with an old package of sun-dried tomato tortilla, Moroccan-flavored hummus dip, leftover black bean and tomato rice, and frozen peas.  The combo was de-freaking-licious!  The entire time I was eating the sandwich, I kept saying how insanely good it was.  The only thing I would have changed was to mix the peas in with the rice and included them in the sandwich (I actually did this the next night for dinner).  

Feel free to experiment with what you have.

  • Tortillas (at least 2)
  • Some sort of dip or spread that isn't too runny
  • A rice and/or chopped vegetable mixture, room temp.
  • Olive oil

Heat a pan over med/high heat.  Spread one side of each tortilla with your dip. (You want it to be thick enough to hold your rice/vegetable mixture on the tortilla, but not so much that the mixture gets lost.)  Spread your rice/vegetable mix on one of the tortillas.  Place the second tortilla, dip-side down, on top.  

Brush one tortilla lightly with olive oil.  Put the sandwich, oil-side down, in the pan.  Cook for a few minutes until the bottom is browned to your liking.  Brush the top lightly with olive oil.  Flip and cook until browned.

Cut in quarters to serve.  

Note: Recipe can be halved by using one tortilla, cut in half.

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