The Condiment Conundrum
Dedication to Candida friendly cooking can present challenges especially when you are used to using condiments that are full of sugar! However, fear not. This does not mean we are doomed to eat bland food for the rest of time...
One of the most shocking discoveries to me was realizing how much sugar is in our food. Almost every condiment I owned was suddenly unusable to me and called for immediate re-invention!
Do you have a favorite condiment that you just cant live without? Start with these quick switch ideas for substituting staples in your kitchen, so that you can create new condiments without sacrificing flavor.
Substitute NOT Sacrifice
In an earlier post, I talked about kitchen hacks that can help you stay organized for stress-free, Candida friendly, cooking. In this post, perhaps even more important, I want to address some of the key substitutions of your every day kitchen staples that will keep your food-prep Candida friendly and tasting great.
Salt is perhaps one of the most basic ingredients but also one that gets the most attention when it comes to understanding its place in our diet. We have to be careful not to consume too much as there is a lot of information out there about the dangers of a high sodium diet. However, salt is also necessary for our bodies because it is actually one of the electrolytes that help keep the fluids in our body properly balanced. AND (let's be honest), salt makes everything taste better including foods that are both savoury and sweet! So is there a healthy way to include salt into your diet? Absolutely.
A great source of information I found was Brandi Black's article, Pink Himalayan Salt vs. Table Salt, in her blog PALEOHACKS. Did you know there are several different types of salt? In the past I had switched from iodized table salt to sea salt, simply because I liked how it looked and thought it was neat to put into a salt grinder! Since reading more about salt, I have switched yet again (this time for good), to pink Himalayan Salt. Not only is Himalayan Salt healthy for you but its also such a pretty color! With this simple switch you can reap multiple benefits (including relief from headache pain, increased energy, more restful sleep, and improved adrenal and thyroid function) and literally, 'have your salt and eat it too!"
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are like the fairy dust and glitter that make magic happen in the kitchen! Without these, food remains extremely plain. If you are anything like me, you probably have a few pre-made spice blends that you use frequently in many of your dishes. Something to watch out for, though, is that some of them can ... yep.. CONTAIN SUGAR! Take a few minutes the next time you are cleaning out your pantry to read the labels on your seasonings. No sugar? No problem! Unfortunately, you will need to find an alternative if you discover any form of sugar on the label. The good news is the easiest way to do that is to buy spices individually and learn to mix them yourself. My two favorites include creating the perfect taco seasoning mix, (check it out in my Recipes for Success section), or pumpkin pie spice blend for candida friendly cookies.
MOST importantly, did you know that when it comes to Candida there are certain herbs spices such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cilantro, and curry that have antifungal properties? If you take time to research any of these you will be blown away at how they can positively affect your health!
Not sure where to start? In my experience, the more recipes I tried, the more spices I used, and the wider my palate grew. In my kitchen, my blends and spices are organized in magnetic containers that stick to my refrigerator so that they are just an arms length away when I am preparing my meals. I encourage you to be creative and have fun when you season your food! Remember, with every meal, you are fighting Candida one dash at a time.
If you do any amount of research on healthy oils to consume, you will find right away much evidence telling you to refrain from the use of vegetable oils. One of my favorite articles on this subject is, The ugly truth about vegetable oils (and why they should be avoided), written by Robin Konie. Plain and simple, vegetable oil is bad for you. As mentioned in her article, consuming them can lead to hormonal imbalances and weight gain, heart disease and high cholesterol. For a long time now I have favored the use of Organic Cold Pressed Olive Oil in my cooking as a healthy alternative. According to Robin, she suggests replacing all vegetable oil products (including margarine) with healthy cooking oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Butter, Coconut oil or Avocado Oil, to name a few. I would agree!
When it comes specifically to treating Candida, Coconut oil wins the prize! Bottom line, Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties! In his article, 16 Proven Health Benefits & Uses of Coconut Oil, Kiran Patil describes how Coconut oil specifically disrupts the growth of Candida in the intestines. Add to this a whole host of other health benefits (good for your heart, cholestoral, skin, nails, hair, kidneys, liver, and bones to name a few...wow!) Needless to say, it is now my number one oil of choice in my kitchen. For tips on how to properly store your coconut oil, I recommend looking at David Lewis' article, Does Coconut Oil Go Bad? In his article, David offers information on how to tell if your coconut oil has gone bad, what you can do to prevent this, and proper ways of storing oil will use or disposing oil that you no longer need.
In my post, What is Candida?, I mentioned how vinegar is one of THE TOP foods to avoid. Since this is often found in many ready-made sauces, it is an important condiment to replace in your kitchen so you can re-create your favorites with ease.
In Corinne O'Keefe Osborn's article, Apple Cider Vinegar for Candida, she reviews the research that reveals how Apple Cider Vinegar can be used in the effective treatment of Candida due to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar also lowers your blood sugar when taken with a meal, and helps maintain good bacteria in your gut. By including this in your diet it helps prevent the growth of yeast throughout the body. My favorite uses of Apple Cider Vinegar include homemade salad dressings, mustard, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and marinades!
Other uses for Apple Cider Vinegar include taking it as an oral treatment for thrush, or as part of a sitsz bath for skin and vaginal yeast infection flare ups. Making this quick switch in your kitchen will be one of the best things you do!
Since the Candida diet calls for eating plenty of vegetables one of my favorite ways to eat a whole bunch at once is in a stir-fry! However, with soya sauce being on the NO list of foods, what is the alternative?
I found at my local health food store Bragg's Liquid Coconut Amino's. This product is a great alternative to soya sauce, and it tastes amazing. I use this not only for stir fry but in soups, on cauliflower rice, in meat marinades, salad dressings and BBQ sauce recipes!
When I did a little research on it, I found out that Coconut Amino's also carry additional health benefits! According to an article by Rebekah Edwards, Coconut Aminos: The Healthy Replacement for Soy Sauce?, consuming any type of coconut product has extremely good benefits for your heart health. When looking at coconut aminos, its properties can specifically strengthen our immune system and fight against diabetes, weight gain, cancer and PCOS! All the more reason to make the switch in your kitchen!
I am not one to use sweeteners often, nor have I explored many Candida friendly baking recipes as of yet, because of my dairy and egg intolerances. However, I have tried (and liked) two of the most recommended, which can be used to sweeten coffee or in cooking or baking recipes as a substitute for sugar. ln Lisa Richard's article, If You’re On A Candida Diet, Avoid Aspartame, she addresses the dangers of using artificial sweeteners when trying to avoid sugar, and instead, recommends using stevia or erythrital.
You can find stevia in local health food stores as well as some grocery food aisles. It comes in liquid and powder form, contains zero carbohydrates and a little bit goes a long way. Stevia is a natural herb can be used to sweeten coffee and in cooking or baking recipes as a substitute for sugar. Similarily, erythital can be purchased in powdered form and is most commonly used in baking recipes. It is a natural sugar alcohol that is easily elimitinated from the body and can act as an antioxidant in the blood stream. Using these sweeteners in moderation will allow you to experiment with foods and enjoy the occaional sweet treat without compromising your diet.
Time to Shop!
Now that we have explored a few kitchen staple substitutions, you are read to take a trip to the store and finish up your quick switch! Your grocery list?
* Hymalayan salt
* Herbs and spices (be creative!)
* Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
* Coconut oil
* Apple cider vinegar
* Coconut aminos
* Stevia and/or erythrital (depending on what you will use it for)
Overall, having these ingredients available in your kitchen will make candida friendly cooking easier. Consuming them on a regular basis will also contribute to your overall health. I look forward to hearing about your experiences in the kitchen as you navigate a whole new world of cooking and baking.
Happy Shopping friends!