Histamine Allergy – the Christmas present no-one wants

How would you feel if your Christmas started with this?
Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure?

These are the typical symptoms of HIT (Histamine Intolerance).An Increasing proportion of the European population are being identified as Histamine
Intolerance (HIT) sufferers but there remains a dire lack of diagnosis and information in the UK.  HIT can be brought on by a bad reaction to a little red wine
and as  HIT symptoms mimic allergy symptoms it can be difficult to identify. Symptoms can include headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure.

What triggers Histamine Intolerance?

Stress, high histamine-level foods and alcohol trigger HIT symptoms. There are several high histamine foods around in abundance at Christmas time.
So some of us may not be so merry and bright spending part of the celebrations  in bed or in the bathroom, especially after parties, even if we haven’t
over-indulged. Many will experience quite severe consequences from just one glass of red wine, not to mention the mince pies and the Stilton or eating up the leftovers.

The HIT symptoms are very uncomfortable and look intriguingly like an allergy reaction. Why? The answer is simple. The common culprit is
histamine. But the difference between allergy and HIT is significant. In allergies the immune system is involved whereas HIT is the lack of an enzyme called
diamine oxidase (DAO). Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure are common symptoms to both HIT and allergic reactions.

HIT is complex but is mainly caused by problems digesting histamine-rich foods. In other words, if our DAO enzyme doesn’t do its job properly then histamine
levels rocket sky high and make us feel very ill. Some sufferers may have had this for a long time and those with predominant symptoms of diarrhoea are likely to
have been misdiagnosed with IBS.

Problem foods include matured cheeses, cured meats, processed/tinned foods, any fermented foods, tomatoes, spinach, aubergines, chocolate, nuts, citrus
fruits, wheat germ, some spices and alcohol, especially red wine and microbe-contaminated foods like tuna, mackerel and sausage. All foods that may abound at Christmas
Most people can enjoy histamine-rich foods and wine in reasonable quantities and feel perfectly fine the next
day. However, a few will feel incredibly miserable.

Don’t stress out

Christmas, although it is supposed to be a time to relax, means a lot of stress for many of us. Stress or emotional
upset is also known to be a trigger of HIT symptoms. So relax, enjoy, drink moderately and eat fresh foods.

Women major sufferers

Research shows that the majority of HIT sufferers are women in their 40s – thus the ones
who take the brunt of Christmas festivities and all the stress involved.
Those who believe they may have a degree of histamine intolerance should consult with their GP. If this brings no results because they are unaware of
the condition, call the Allergy UK Helpline. 01322 619898 they are fully trained on this condition and can tell you how to get help.
For further information contact Lindsey McManus – 01322 611648

Article published on behalf of Allergy UK

Quick Christmas gift idea – Gift Wrapped Plush Chocolates

Oh no! You’ve forgotten to buy a Christmas present for your friend…

What do you do?

1 Go to GoodnessDirect

Quick gift idea

2 Choose from a lovely range of handmade milk, white and dark truffles or chocolates from Plush Chocolates

3 Select to buy a Gift Wrapped Box decorated with ribbons

4 Add your own special handwritten message for your friend when you purchase and enter the ‘Delivery Details’

5 Sit back smugly as your friend receives a fantastic present before Christmas (last orders in by 18th December…)

Mouthwatering pumpkin, hazelnut and cranberry pie recipe for a vegan Christmas dinner

Satisfy your family’s tastebuds with this amazing Christmas centrepiece.
Serves 6-8
350g (12oz) pastry mix
1 onion, finely chopped
225g (8oz) spinach
150g (¼ or 6oz) pumpkin, sliced into small pieces (you can use pumpkin puree instead)
100g (4oz) roasted hazelnuts, finely ground*
100g (4oz) ground almonds
100g (4oz) breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) sultanas
150ml (¼ pint) water
225g (8oz) cranberries
175g (6oz) sugar
1tsp rosemary
1tsp marjoram
1tsp thyme
1tsp shoyu soya sauce
2 tbsp tahini
300ml (½ pint) vegetable stock
soya milk to glaze
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4
1 Place the pumpkin on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and marjoram. Bake at 180°C/Gas 4 for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Increase oven temperature to 220°C/Gas 7.
2 Fry the onion until soft. Add the spinach and fry for a further 3 minutes.
3 Add the nuts, breadcrumbs, thyme and rosemary. Mix in the tahini and shoyu and some stock for a moist texture. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
4 Put the sultanas, water, cranberries and sugar into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook, cover with a lid until the cranberries pop (about 5-10 minutes), then remove from the heat.
5 Make a shortcrust pastry from the mix. Once it is kneaded, press two thirds into an 8 inch dish.
6 Create a base layer of pumpkin slices. Build a second layer with the hazelnut and spinach, and pour on the cranberry filling.
7 Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid for the pie. Moisten the edges with soya milk and place the lid on top of the filling, pressing the lid and shell of the pastry together.
8 Make a hole in the middle to allow the steam to escape and glaze with the soya milk.
9 Bake on a high shelf at 220°C/Gas 7 for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190°C/Gas 5 and continue to bake for 50 minutes.

Alternatively go for a ‘Turkey Style’ Roast with Wild Cranberry Stuffing

*If you buy whole hazelnuts in their shells here’s some information on roasting hazelnuts.

Vitamin K2, of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s fame, discovered in Spirulina

There is a  growing body of research showing benefits for Vitamin K2. Among other benefits Vitamin K2 is believed to:

* Support blood health
* Support cardiovascular health and circulation
* Support bone health and benefit people with osteoporosis

These are very significant areas of health and in addition to this list, exciting new research is showing that Vitamin K2 may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease, a variety of cancers, varicose veins, and skin aging.  That is some line up indeed.

In general one of Vitamin K’s job in our bodies is to put the calcium in the right places and keep it from being deposited in the wrong places so helping to avoid bone spurs and calcification of soft tissues. It also helps prevent calcification of arteries which contributes to ageing.

It is only relatively recently that the role of Vitamin K in the balance of calcium within our bodies has been appreciated, whereas the other balancing nutrients of Vitamin D3  and Magnesium have been recognised for much longer.

Vitamin K is a fat soluble compound which is important for blood coagulation generally found in plants and in the ‘good bacteria’ of our bodies. In normal situations our bodies have no trouble storing Vitamin K, but antibiotics and other drugs can hinder it’s production.  This is a very brief summary of a complex issue which can be read more fully here or here.  However the good news I have for you is that  Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica provides approximately 15 mcg / 3gm daily serving or 19% of the Daily Recommended Value of Vitamin K2, and 75 mcg / 3gm daily serving of Vitamin K (including all forms) or 94% of the Daily Recommended Value of Vitamin K based on analytical results from an independent laboratory.

Hawaiian Pacifica Spirulina is already recognised as one of the world’s most nutrient rich foods. To hear, in addition to this, that Spirulina is also a good source of Vitamin K2 is indeed a bonus.  The manufacturers have told us : ‘ We have long known that Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica is an excellent source of Vitamin K, with 94% of the recommended Daily Value; but until now no Spirulina product has been shown to specifically contain Vitamin K2. We are delighted.’

See the full range of Hawaiian Spirulina

Pear and butternut squash soup – vegan starter for Christmas dinner

A sweet soup for starters. You’ll make it a vegan Christmas dinner not to be missed.

Serves 6
2 large pears, peeled and cored
1 onion, chopped
1kg (2lb) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1litre (2 pints) vegetable stock
2 tbsp engevita
salt and pepper
soya cream
chopped parsley

1 Slice the pears and simmer in 1/2 pint water for 15 minutes. Then blend the pears and water together.
2 Gently fry the onion until soft. Add the butternut squash and garlic and cover with a lid to cook for 15 minutes until tender.
3 Add the vegetable stock and blended pears, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
4 Liquidise the soup in a blender.
5 Use a clean pan to re-heat gently. Stir in engevita, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
6 Finish with a swirl of soya cream and a sprinkling of parsley.

For a quick alternative you might enjoy some Sri Lankan Lentil and Coconut Soup

Oaty bites

You’ll be surprised by how morish these vegan snacks are – just don’t eat too many before your Christmas dinner!
Makes 20
50g (2oz) vegetarian margarine
1 onion, finely chopped
150g (5oz) rolled oats
1 large carrot, finely grated
150g (5oz) vegetarian cheese, grated
50g peanuts, roughly chopped
50g pecans, roughly chopped
egg replacer for 1 egg (follow instructions on pack)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp basil
salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3
1 Melt the margarine in a pan. Add all the other ingredients.
2 Place mixture into a greased baking tray. Press down to make firm and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
3 Allow to cool and cut into 20 small squares.

But if you’re running short of time you can order some oat bakes online.

Walnut and date, mushroom rolls

This will have your mouth watering and will make a delightful vegan snack to tie over hunger pangs until Christmas dinner
Makes 12
1 small onion, finely chopped
125g mushrooms, finely chopped
125g pitted dates, finely chopped
25g walnuts, finely chopped
1 large apple, grated
½tbsp walnut oil
25g breadcrumbs
egg replacer (or 25g/1oz/1 tbsp soya flour)
2 tbsp water
225g (8oz) puff pastry (pre-prepared)
8g fresh parsley, chopped
8g fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
flour for rolling pastry

Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas7
1 Gently fry the onion, dates, apple, mushrooms and walnuts for about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the walnuts don’t burn.
2 Mix the egg replacer or soya flour and water together in a bowl.
3 Pour the onion, mushrooms and walnuts into another bowl, mix in half the egg replacer mixture plus the breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Leave to cool.
4 Roll out the pastry into a 15cm wide by 45cm long piece. Cut in half to make two long strips.
5 Place a small line of the mushroom and walnut mixture down the centre of each piece of pastry.
6 Use some of the soya flour and water mix to brush one side of each pastry strip. Fold over the filling and press the edges together.
7 Cut each strip into 6 small pieces. Place these on a baking sheet and brush with the soya flour and water mix.
8 Use a knife to make a couple of small slits on the top of each roll. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until risen and golden.

You can always cheat and buy in some  vegan sausage rolls to pop in the oven.