Food Allergies, Anyone?

Recently, I had lunch with a colleague at a popular upscale Asian-inspired restaurant  and was very surprised when  the waiter asked, “Do you have any food allergies we should be aware of?”

In over five decades of going out to eat at least once or twice a week, that was the first time I had been asked that question. Now, while growing up, I suppose I knew that some of the kids in my school had random allergies, like to strawberries or to shellfish. But the idea that eating a peanut could kill someone – let alone by being kissed by someone who had eaten one – never crossed through my consciousness. And I remember eating daily peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as our main staple food in camp without any fatalities. How is that our food supply has become such a potential liability, that restaurant kitchens want to be on alert?

I could have responded to the waiter with probably a lot more information than he (and my dining companion) might have liked to hear about my food allergies and sensitivities, but it’s something that I’ve been aware of for quite some time and have learned to modify my eating accordingly, especially when I stick to a high raw foods diet.

Food allergies are becoming quite prevalent in people of all ages. While most of what are defined as “allergies” are acute and abnormal reactions of the body’s immune response, there are also food sensitivities and intolerances, such as gluten and lactose intolerance, which have become more commonly known but are often overlooked in traditional diagnoses.

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Simple Raw Fusion Dish – Corn, Shitake and Asparagus Fricasse

Raw Fusion Recipe – blending the incredible health benefits of the raw foods lifestyle with the comfort and convenience of mainstream meals.

 Over the past few years the raw foods lifestyle has gained quite a following.  Eating primarily raw foods does not necessarily mean that you subsist on a boring diet of carrots and celery; or even that the food is always cold and completely uncooked.  In fact, gourmet raw food recipes are some of the most sophisticated-tasting foods that I have ever experienced.  The premise of this lifestyle is that you eat mainly whole foods that have not been exposed to heat over 118 degrees, which destroys most of the vitamins and minerals and virtually all of the digestive enzymes, making these meals very easy on the body.  Dr. Oz said this when asked about raw foods:  “There are immeasurable health benefits to maintaining a raw foods diet.”

The key word here is “maintaining.”  Because there are specific ways of preparing raw foods,  as well as certain equipment, many people would find it challenging to sustain a high raw foods diet over a prolonged period.  While there is nothing that I have personally experienced like the raw food diet that can almost miraculously transform a number of chronic food allergies and other health issues, I am also keenly aware of the human need for comfort, convenience and camaraderie in their eating habits – as well as getting certain cravings satisfied.

Over the years I have found ways to integrate the two lifestyles in very appealing combinations..  My first recipe offering is deceptively simple, yet everyone who has tried it is astounded by the tantalizing variety of tastes and textures of flash-sauteed veggies served over greens, which become semi-wilted and ultra-delicious.   Although other oils can be used for flash-sauteeing, there is none that imparts such a rich and nutty taste as virgin coconut oil.

This can be served as a main course or a side dish, however, one of the tenets of the raw fusion philosophy is proper food-combining.  Corn is a starchy, high carb food.  If you are seeking to lose weight, it combines favorably with the greens and other veggies and makes for a very fulfilling dish.  However, if you combine corn with a protein (meat, chicken, fish, tofu) it does not support weight loss.

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