Hi!

This site has moved and changed names!  Please visit me at Low Oxalate Info for lots of low oxalate diet articles, tips and recipes.  Also, please note that I will no longer be supporting comments on this site.  All comments left on this site will be transferred to the corresponding post on my new site and will be answered there.  Thanks for visiting, and please come and see me at LowOxalateInfo.com!

Heidi

I had hoped my first post back would include my favorite pumpkin custard recipe–the one my family eats at least twice a week.  Instead, I am the bearer of disappointing news.  I just learned from my newest VP Foundation newsletter that cinnamon is much higher oxalate than we previously thought.  Instead of 8.1 mg./teaspoon (medium oxalate), ground cinnamon has 38.5 mg. oxalate/teaspoon (high oxalate).  The VP Foundation is committed to retesting many common food items using the latest testing techniques, partly for this reason and partly to determine the soluble/insoluble oxalate content of foods (as opposed to just total oxalate).  They want to make sure their members have the most accurate values possible.  This fall the VP Foundation retested many herbs and spices, along with many other foods.  Most have similar values to the old testing, but the new value for cinnamon is a shocker.  I will be updating or removing recipes from this site over the next few weeks to reflect the new oxalate values, but until then, please be aware that any recipe on this site that includes cinnamon is much higher oxalate than I have calculated.   Although this news is disappointing to me, I am grateful to the VP Foundation for their commitment to testing and again urge readers of this site to support this wonderful organization with your membership or with donations to their testing fund.  I also am grateful for the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo group for already updating their oxalate spreadsheets to reflect the new values.  Talk about dedication!  These two resources really make the low oxalate diet easier for me.

And now more news . . . As you’ve probably noticed, I took a short sabbatical from this site to concentrate on some very important life projects.  Since my last post, I have written a dissertation proposal, taken and passed my written and oral comprehensive exams, and survived two rounds of the flu while caring for sick three-year-olds.  Phew!   I have also given this site a lot of thought–the things I’d   like to change, what I’d like to add, new series I want to write (and that dang food list that I still can’t seem to format!) and I’ve realized that the current capabilities of this site will no longer support my vision.  I’ve started searching for  new web support that will allow this site to grow and become an even better resource for low oxalate dieters.   So here’s the heads up.  Sometime in the next few months, I will have a new look and a new address, but I’ll give you plenty of warning.  I will also keep this site up and running after the transition (I just will stop adding to it) as long as the information on it stays current enough for my comfort level.  Thanks in advance for your patience in this process!

Now back to the kitchen . . . I’ve got a lot of creative cooking fun coming up as I learn how to cook with less cinnamon.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to post a modified pumpkin custard recipe next week!

Got apples?  Here’s a simple low oxalate recipe that has been a family favorite since I was a kid.  It’s perfect in the fall when apples are abundant and even better in the winter on a cold snowy night.  I serve it unsweetened as a side dish (it’s especially good with pork) or drizzled with a little honey for the boy’s dessert.   You can peel the apples if you want, or leave the peels on if you’ve got fresh apples without too many blemishes or pesky pesticides.

Fried Apples

6 – 8 medium-sized cooking apples (Granny Smith or Jonathon are good)
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
A drizzle of honey (optional)

Peel the apples if desired, then core them and cut them into thin slices.  Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the apples and saute until tender, allowing at least some of the apples to become golden brown.  Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top and add a drizzle of honey if desired.  Stir just enough to coat the apples and serve warm.

Makes 6- 8 servings.

Oxalate Note:  All ingredients in this recipe are low oxalate or very low oxalate.  I prefer fried apples with only a touch of cinnamon, but you can use 1/2 teaspoon and still have a low oxalate treat.

OXALATE UPDATE (Dec. 2011):  Cinnamon has been retested since I wrote this post and found to be high oxalate at 38.5 mg./teaspoon (Thus, 1/4 teaspoon adds about 10 mg. oxalate to the recipe).  You might like to substitute nutmeg (2.3 mg. for 1/4 teaspoon) for the cinnamon or leave it out.   

Serving Suggestions: Serve for dinner as a side dish with pork chops or pork roast.  Serve for breakfast with ham or sausage, as a topper for Paleo pancakes or cottage cheese pancakes, or sprinkled with low oxalate granola.  Serve over ice cream for a lovely fall desert.

Other Diets: This recipe may also be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, and carb controlled diets.  It is also SCD-legal.

I’m not sure how it started but my sons and and their grandmother  have a running joke about eyeballs.  The boys will throw the word “eyeball” into a conversation and Grammy pretends to be totally grossed out (although sometimes it’s not an act!).

Low Oxalate Eyeball (un)Appetizers! (Lesson learned: try a black or red plate, so the eyeballs really show up!)

The boys love this joke so much, I thought it would be fun to really gross Grammy out with some creepy Halloween appetizers.  So here’s your warning:  If the thought of eating an eyeball makes your stomach turn, this is not the post for you.  But if you crave a little low oxalate fun, here’s a sure-fire Halloween party hit for your little ghouls and goblins.  Eyeball (un)Appletizers!

My boys thought these were fabulous!  They had a lot of fun making the eyeballs and even more fun serving them.  They chopped the crab with plastic knifes, made the salad, stuffed a few egg while mommy stuffed the rest, and added the sliced olive pupils.  We served the eyeballs on a plate with a lid, so when Grammy lifted the lid she would see two eyes staring back at her.  Success!  Grammy was totally grossed out by these!  She managed to choke down one before she gagged and couldn’t continue, but the  boys (and their Papa) laughed like crazy and ate a lot! I had two and they weren’t bad (although I admit I took the black olive off the second one–very cool looking but not the best taste combination!).

Hope you have fun making and eating your own disgusting Halloween (un)appetizers!

Eyeball (un)Appetizers

8 – 12 hardboiled eggs
4 – 6 ounces crab or chicken salad (see salad suggestions below)
Sliced black olives* or raisins

Shell the eggs and slice them in half.  Remove the egg yolks and save them for something else (egg salad is a yummy low oxalate lunch).  Arrange the egg halves on a serving plate.  Spoon 1 – 2 teaspoons of crab salad into the hollow of each egg half.  Top each egg with a slice of black olive.  Enjoy!

Makes 16 – 24 appetizers.

"Ewwww!"

Oxalate Note:  Sliced black olives are a high oxalate ingredient with 22 mg. oxalate per half cup.  BUT one slice of black olive has less than 1 mg. oxalate and black olives really do look the creepiest!  Of course raisins will lower the oxalate level and I admit, they do taste a lot better with raisins!  So make your trade-offs depending on what your kids would enjoy most.

Salad Suggestions:  I wanted my eyeballs to really be gross with a somewhat realistic texture and a blood-shot appearance.  The easiest way to do this is to use real or imitation crab, separated into chunks with a fork.  Add enough mayonnaise (or oil of your choice) to hold it together and maybe a dash of salt, pepper (or Old Bay seasoning if you’re wiling to use an untested ingredient), and Voila!  You have a low oxalate crab salad that will make your eyeballs look bloodshot (and really gross!).  Another way to do this is to use shredded or finely chopped chicken or turkey.  Again add a little mayo, pepper, and salt, but this time you might want to add some thin strips of red bell pepper to achieve the blood-shot look.  I used 8 ounces of crab meat to make my salad and had at least a third of it left over after stuffing the eyeballs (which my sons ate as their snack that day without any add-ins).  You can always make a bigger batch of salad and add some chopped broccoli stalks (or the egg yolks) to the left-overs for lunch the next day.

One of the first questions every low oxalate dieter asks when starting a low oxalate diet is what can I eat?  After reading the low oxalate food lists, it’s tempting to think you’ll have to throw out every recipe book you own and start from scratch, but this isn’t true.  Many recipes in your collection may already be low or medium oxalate or they can be simply modified to lower the oxalate content.  Other recipes may need major revisions.  Others are hopeless, but even these may serve as a starting point or catalyst for making up your own recipe.  Almost every recipe I use on a regular basis is one I modified from someone else, or one I made up using a high oxalate recipe as an inspiration.

This series is designed to help you gain confidence in modifying your own recipes.  It is intended for use by low oxalate dieters, but the principals could be used by any other dieter needing to modify recipes to better fit their health needs.  All you need is a fairly current database of oxalate values for foods (see note 1 at bottom) and a recipe.  Let’s get started!

Step One: Is This Recipe Low Oxalate?

The first thing to ask about any recipe is whether it is low, medium or high oxalate.  There are two ways to do this.  The first method is easier and faster, and will work fine if you only need a rough estimate of the oxalate content.  The second method takes a little math and a little more time, but it has the advantage of allowing you to calculate a close approximation of the oxalate content of any recipe.

To show you how they work, let’s look at the ingredient list of a yummy, gluten-free appetizer by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry (click the recipe title for the whole recipe).

Herb Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 1 (1 pound) package white button mushrooms
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

Method 1:  The Guesstimation.

Guess what this method involves? You’re right.  Guessing!  But it’s educated guessing based on what you know about the oxalate content of each ingredient.  To use this method, your recipe has to pass two tests—all ingredients must be low oxalate, very low oxalate or lower medium oxalate AND the recipe cannot contain more than a one serving of low oxalate herbs or spices (since the oxalate content in herbs and spices can really add up fast).  To use this method, simply check each ingredient to see whether it is very low oxalate (less than 1 mg. per serving), low oxalate (less than 5 mg. oxalate per serving) or “lower medium” oxalate (5-8mg. oxalate per serving), looking up any ingredient you are unfamiliar with in your database.  Here’s the list again with each ingredient marked for oxalate content.

  • 1 (1 pound) package white button mushrooms (low)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese (low)
  • ¼ cup minced parsley (low per 1 tablespoon serving)
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives (very low)
  • 1 teaspoons minced garlic (very low)
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt (untested*, but regular table salt has no oxalate and this is a simple substitute)

This recipe passes the first test—all ingredients are low or low oxalate (with the substitution of regular table salt).  However, it does not pass the second test.  Although parsley is low oxalate per serving, this recipe contains four servings of parsley, one serving of chives and one clove of garlic.  This means that although all the ingredients are low oxalate, the high amount of herbs might make the recipe medium or even high oxalate per serving.

If your recipe passes both tests, you can feel fairly confident that it is a low or lower medium oxalate food and can be eaten on a low oxalate diet.  If it fails one or both of the tests, you need more information.  Time for method two!

Method 2:  Get Precise

In this method, you calculate the approximate oxalate content of each serving to give you more confidence in your decision whether to eat this food.  First, you must calculate the approximate oxalate content of each ingredient on the list.  To do this you find out how much oxalate is in one serving of ingredient then multiply by how many servings are in the recipe.  For example, parsley has 4.5 mg. oxalate per tablespoon, and the recipe calls for 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup = 4 T), so parsley adds 4.5 X 4 = 18 mg. oxalate to this recipe.  Here’s the list again with approximate oxalate contents.

  • 1 (1 pound) package white button mushrooms (1 pound is about 450 grams, and there’s 4 mg. oxalate per 100 grams of mushrooms.  That makes 4 mg. X 4.5 =  18 mg.)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese (low oxalate, but no numbers given)
  • ¼ cup minced parsley (4.5 mg. X 4  = 18 mg.)
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives (0.1 mg.)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (0.3 mg. per clove which is probably about a teaspoon)
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt (not tested*, but 0 for table salt)

As you can see, there are two potential problem ingredients.  In this case, I feel very confident approximating values.  Goat cheese has been tested as low oxalate, but no numbers are given in the database.  We also know that evaporated goats milk is very low oxalate at 0.1 mg. per tablespoon, and most cow’s cheeses that have been tested are between 1-4 mg. oxalate per ½ cup serving.  I am going to use the value 2.5 mg. per half cup as an approximation and see what happens.

A second potential problem ingredient is Celtic sea salt. Sea salt is an untested ingredient* (see note 2 at bottom), but can easily be substituted with regular table salt and is probably very similar in oxalate content to regular table salt.  I’m going to use zero in my calculation, knowing I can make this easy substitution if I feel the need to.

The second step in method two is to add up all the oxalate values (I’m using 5 mg. for 8 ounces of goat cheese since 8 ounces =  2 servings at 2.5/serving).

18 + 5 +18 + 0.1 + 0.3 + 0 = 41.4 mg. oxalate total

The recipe says it will serve 4-6 people.  If I divide 41.4 by 6 servings, I get about 7 mg. oxalate per serving.  

That’s it!  You’ve approximated the oxalate content per serving and can now decide whether to make the recipe as directed or whether to modify it.

According to my calculations, Elana’s Herb Stuffed Mushrooms are probably “lower medium” oxalate, although they only contain low oxalate ingredients.  Also, remember I used an approximation for goat cheese, so this number may be a little lower or higher.  It is probably safe to think of these as having somewhere between 6 and 8 mg. oxalate per serving, knowing that you may be wrong. If you are very strict about your oxalate content, you would probably want to avoid herbed stuffed mushrooms or modify this recipe.  If you are not as strict, these may be something you could eat in moderation.

I personally think of herbed stuffed mushrooms as a food I can taste but should eat with caution.  I made them as an appetizer for my birthday two weeks ago, and my friends all gave them a big two thumbs up!  I popped two into my mouth during the course of the party (about half a serving).  I also loved them, but I thought they might be a little “herby” for my taste.  This means there’s definitely room for modification by lowering the herb content, which I probably will do the next time I make them. (See Tips for Using Herbs and Spices to get the most out of the herbs you use in your recipes.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning the first step in how I modify recipes for the low oxalate diet.  In the next installment of this series, I’ll discuss the next step in making modifications.  Some modifications (like table salt for sea salt and decreasing the amount of herbs) are pretty easy.   Others can be quite challenging.  Stay tuned!

Do you have other rules of thumb you use to test recipes for oxalate content?  Do you automatically avoid untested ingredients?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

Note 1: The two most reliable sources for the oxalate contents of foods, available as of October, 2011, are the Low Oxalate Cookbook Two published by the Vulvar Pain Foundation (along with its addendums published in the Vulvar Pain Foundations Newsletters) and the Consolidated Oxalate Spreadsheet, available in the file section when you join the Yahoo group “Trying Low Oxalates,” which is  monitored by oxalate researcher, Susan Owens, part of the Autism Research Institute’s Autism Oxalate Project.

Note 2: (Nov. 10, 2011) Since writing this post I have learned that Selina Naturally, Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt has 0.10 mg. oxalate per 1/4 teaspoon.

This post and site has moved to http://lowoxalateinfo.com/paleo-pancakes/

Thanks!

 

No-bake, low oxalate protein bars are easy to make and yummy!  They are high protein, high fiber and unfortunately high fat, so be careful how many you eat if fats are a problem for you.  What I really like about these bars is that they fill my kids up and keep them full until the next meal.  They also provide me with an easy, on-the-go breakfast choice if I need to get out of the house quickly.  These work well in an insulated lunch box, a cooler, or in your backpack when the weather is cool, but be careful about leaving them out too long in the summer or in a well-heated building.  They depend on refrigeration to keep their shape and pleasant texture.  Too much heat and they will melt into a gooey (yet still tasty) mess.

No-Bake Low Oxalate Protein Bars

1 ½ cups quick oats or rolled oats (GF)
½ cup ground flax seed
1 cup whey protein powder (or use rice or pea protein powder)
½ cup flaked coconut
¾ cup raisins (or dried cherries or apples)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
½ cup honey (or agave nectar)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Sunbutter brand sunflower seed butter
3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons water

Combine the oats, flax seed, protein powder, coconut, raisins and pumpkin seeds in a bowl and mix well.  Put the honey, Sunbutter, butter and vanilla in a separate glass or ceramic dish and microwave on high for about 30 – 45 seconds until the butter is melted and the Sunbutter is gooey.  Stir the Sunbutter mixture until it is well combined.  Add the Sunbutter mixture and the oat mixture and stir until the oats are well coated.  It should have a crumbly, somewhat dry texture that barely holds together when you press it (like the oatmeal topping of an apple crisp).  Add the water a half tablespoon at a time, stirring well each time, until you get a mixture that will hold together more like playdough (still a little dry but could be rolled into one big ball that would stay together).  It usually takes about 2 tablespoons water.

Press the oat mixture into a 9 X 9 inch baking dish OR other convenient dish with about the same dimensions (you could press it directly into a convenient-sized Tupperware).  I often use a Pyrex glass baking dish with a plastic lid.  For easy removal, line the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap plus enough to double back over the top as a cover after you’ve pressed the oat mixture into it.  Put the dish into the refrigerator and let chill overnight or for at least four hours.  Cut into 18 bars (4.5 x 1 inch each).  Transfer into an air tight container (or wrap in the plastic wrap) and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks (Maybe three?  I’ve never had them that long, but there’s nothing in here that doesn’t keep a long time in the refrigerator).

Makes 18 bars.

Oxalate Note:  Each low oxalate protein bar has about 8 grams protein (when made with whey powder), 3.5 grams fiber, 8 grams fat and 5 mg. oxalate.  Rolled oats (11.1 mg. oxalate/half cup), Sunbutter (6.1 mg. per 2 tablespoons), ground flax seed (6.6 mg./half cup) and pumpkin seeds (5.2 mg. per 2 tablespoons) are medium oxalate.  All other ingredients are low or very low oxalate.

Variations:  I’ve been fooling around with this recipe for months and although every combination I’ve tried has been tasty, it’s really hard to get a good, pleasant consistency with even a slight variation.

If you want less sugar, you may remove 1 – 2 tablespoons honey without too much trouble.  You can also use some liquid Stevia in place of the water.  Do not replace the honey with applesauce  unless you want a really sticky (yet still tasty) bar.

If you want less fat, you may leave out 1 – 2 tablespoons butter OR 1 -2 tablespoons Sunbutter and still have a decent bar.

If you want less oxalate, try substituting roasted chestnuts for the pumpkin seeds or try substituting ½ cup coconut for ½ cup oats.  You may also leave out 2 – 3 tablespoons of Sunbutter, although you may have to add an extra tablespoon of butter.

If you can handle more oxalate, then you may substitute 3 – 4 more tablespoons of Sunbutter for the butter, or you may add up to 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds.

The raisins, pumpkin seeds and coconut are interchangeable with other dried LO fruit (try apple, cherry or banana), roasted chestnuts or coconut (about 1 cup total of these add-ins).  I’ve also had luck increasing the protein powder by another fourth cup.

Do not replace the butter or coconut oil with other cooking oils.  The solid nature of these oils when refrigerated is what makes this recipe work.

Other Diets: No-bake low oxalate protein bars may also be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and controlled carbohydrate diets with the appropriate ingredient choice.

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