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!

Advertisements

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.

I discovered salsa chicken last year when my boys were going through a high-maintenance phase.  For six months, they melted the minute we got home from daycare. They cried and clung to me and needed lots of hugs and books while they waited for dinner (which of course kept me from making dinner.)  By the time I got everyone to the table I could barely think, let alone be patient, nurturing and kind.

salsa chicken quesadilla
Aidan enjoys salsa chicken in a quesadilla.

This is why every parent needs a recipe like salsa chicken. Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, whether you work at home or away, you need a go-to meal for the days you know are going to be hectic.  Salsa chicken is my go-to meal.  With a little forethought and some preparation in the morning (or night before), I can have a hot, nutritious dinner on the table within ten minutes of walking through the door.  Beautiful!

Salsa Chicken

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (2 large chicken breasts)

1/2 – 3/4 cup salsa (1/4 of a 16 ounce jar) or Ro-tel* (see oxalate note)

In the morning (or at lunch), put the chicken in a crock pot. Pour the salsa over the chicken and cook on high for 5 – 6 hours or on low for 8 – 11 hours*.  Serve salsa chicken with corn tortillas or long/short-grained white rice, or use it as a substitute for beef in taco salads.

Yield:  4 adult servings (this recipe doubles easily!)

Note: Cooking times vary depending on the size of your crock pot, how hot it gets, and how tightly your lid fits.

Oxalate Note: Picante salsa has 4.5 mg. oxalate per 2 tablespoons.  Most brands of salsa should be similar in oxalate content as long as they only contain tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, chilies, and cilantro (or other low and medium oxalate ingredients).  Our favorite variety has pineapple!   An alternative idea is to use 1/2 cup chopped chilies and tomatoes (such as Ro-tel). As far as I know, Ro-tel has not been tested yet, but chiles are low oxalate (Old Elpaso chopped green chilies have 4.8 mg./2 tablespoons) and most varieties of tomatoes are medium oxalate (Hunts canned tomatoes are 7.1 mg./half cup), so this should be okay as long as you only use about 1/2 cup.

Ten Minutes from Door to Table:

Step 1: The night before, I place the chicken and salsa on the second shelf of my refrigerator along with a glass dish full of corn and all the fixings for a Mexican burrito bar–corn tortillas (or wheat ones for those family members not on a low oxalate diet), shredded cheese, low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, kidney beans, avocado etc.

Step 2: In the morning, I put the salsa and chicken in the crock pot and turn it on.

Step 3: When we walk through the door at night, my boys put away their jackets and shoes while I stick the corn in the microwave.  We wash hands, then the boys put the burrito fixings on the table (with occasional help from mommy), while I put the chicken in a serving dish and finish the corn.  We set the table together, and “Ta-dah” dinner is served!

Pineapple Salsa Chicken: Add a 15 ounce can of pineapple tidbits, drained, to the chicken and salsa before cooking.  Serve this over rice instead of in a tortillas as it tends to be very juicy.

Picky Eater Pleaser:  Serving salsa chicken as part of a burrito bar should give most picky eaters something nutritious to eat.  Aidan likes to make his salsa chicken into a burrito with the works, but Cameron prefers to eat the chicken, cheese and tortilla separate with plain yogurt for dipping. You may also reduce the salsa content to please picky eaters.  My friend Maria drains the salsa “juice” into the crock pot with the chicken, reserving the chunky parts to add later at the table.  This gives the chicken the yummy flavor of the salsa, but keeps the offending peppers and onions out—a good family compromise.

Other Diets:  Salsa chicken may be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free and controlled carbohydrate diets.

In honor of the new school year I’ve been experimenting with low oxalate granola bar and energy bar recipes for back-to-school lunchboxes and nutritious breakfasts on the go.  These bars have 4 – 5 mg. oxalate per bar, depending on which ingredients you use and how big you make the bars.  I was able to make them high fiber, gluten-free, dairy-free, a good source of omega-3s, and pretty dang yummy.  An added bonus:  these aren’t only fun for kids to eat, they’re fun for kids to make! They resemble an oatmeal bar cookie more than a traditional granola bar because I chose to use milk (or coconut milk) instead of carmelized butter (or coconut oil) and sugar as my binder, but this is what keeps them easy enough for young children to make.

Cameron stirs his low oxalate granola bars.

My boys were able to measure, pour and mix these granola bars with only a little assistance.  I had to do the final spreading and baking, but the boys did most of the work themselves.  Unfortunately I timed things wrong the first time we made these bars and they were almost cooled and ready to cut at 5:15 when the boys and I came inside from playing.  I hadn’t made dinner yet and the boys “needed one” right then, so I cut a couple bars and we had them with milk.  Then I cut a couple more bars, added some apple slices, fresh veges and cottage cheese and called it dinner.  The hamburgers thawing in my fridge could wait until the next night, but enjoying the boys’ fresh-baked granola bars could not.  After all, it’s the daily ritual of sitting down at the dinner table and enjoying each others’ company that’s important  to me.

Easy Low Oxalate Granola Bars

2 cups GF rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
3/4 cup raisins OR dried cherries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup flaked or coursely shredded coconut
1/4 cup isolated protein powder (whey, rice or pea), optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can condensed milk (OR 1 can coconut milk*)
1/2 cup honey or sweetener of your choice**

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 x9 inch baking pan.  Combine the oats, flax seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, coconut, protein powder and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the milk and sweetener.  Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture and stir until just moistened.  Press the granola into the prepared pan, then bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.  (If you do not have a 9 x 9 inch pan, you can press the granola into 9 or 10 inches  of a 13 x 9 inch pan and leave the rest empty).

Let the granola bars cool completely, then cut it into 14-18 bars (about 1 inch by 4.5 inch each).  Store the bars in an air-tight container for up to one week.

*A Note about Coconut Milk: If your brand of coconut milk is thick and creamy, this recipe should work well.  If it is really “liquidy” this recipe may work better if you add 1/8 cup coconut flour.

** A Note about Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, sugar, Splenda or 1 teaspoon liquid stevia are all low oxalate (or very low oxalate) and all work in this recipe, but honey and maple syrup add the best flavor.  If you use liquid stevia, these bars will not brown.  You may want to add a teaspoon of honey to help the bars brown or set a timer for doneness (note: do not use powdered stevia–it is high oxalate).  You may also want to experiment with different levels of sweetness.  When I make these bars with extra raisins and dried apples, I reduce the sweetener.

Oxalate Note:  Many of the ingredients in these granola bars are medium oxalate, including rolled oats (11.1 mg./half cup), ground flax seed (6.6 mg./half cup), dried cherries (5.2 mg./half cup) and some brands of coconut milk (coconut milk ranges from 0-6.6 mg./half cup).  Condensed milk, flaked coconut, salt and honey are all very low oxalate (less than 1.0 mg./serving), while raisins (3.8 mg. /half cup), pumpkin seeds (2.6 mg./tablespoon) and whey protein powder (2.4 mg./half cup) are low oxalate. (Pea powder is 5.4 mg./scoop while rice protein is 6.5 mg./half cup). These bars have about 4 – 5 mg. oxalate per bar, depending on which ingredients you use and how big you make the bars.

Variations:  Try any combination of dried apples, dried bananas, roasted chestnuts or Nestles premium white morsels, instead of the raisins, pumpkin seeds and coconut.  One really yummy combination is 3/4 cup dried apple pieces, 3/4  cup raisins and 1/2 cup coconut. (Your total add-ins should equal about 1.5 – 2 cups.)

Traditional Granola Bars: You may also wish to make a more traditional granola bar or granola.  Do this by omiting the milk.  Toast the oats and pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  Meanwhile, put 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil) in a skillet on low heat.  When the butter melts, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, honey or maple syrup and stir until the mixture carmalizes (liquid stevia and Splenda will not work). Pour all the other ingredients (except the milk) in a bowl, add the carmel mixture and the toasted oat mixture, and stir until just combined.  Press the granola into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes for traditional granola bars OR spoon the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 25 -30 minutes, stopping and stirring the mixture every 8-10 minutes during the cooking for traditional granola.  Cool completely before cutting the bars or storing.

Update on 9/28/11:  You may need to use more butter if you put in extra add-ins or tend to use rounded scoops like I do.  Yesterday, I made traditional granola and had to add an extra tablespoons of oil to make it work.

Other Diets: These bars may be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and controlled carbohydrate diets with the proper modifications.

Plenty of great food bloggers post low oxalate recipes without realizing it.  Other bloggers post recipes that are easily tweaked to be low oxalate or “lower” medium oxalate.  In this new series, I will introduce you to some of these bloggers and provide you with links to their low oxalate recipes so you can check them out yourself (just click on the recipe title).  I hope this series will also give you the confidence to start finding and tweaking recipes on your own.  Please read my description about the recipe before running over to check it out, however, because each one needs at least one simple change in order to be low or “lower” medium oxalate.

Soft Serve Banana Ice Cream

(Gluten-free, casein-free, vegan and “lower medium” oxalate, could also be used on a controlled carbohydrate diet)

This recipe is from Choosing Raw–a popular vegan, raw foods blog.  It makes a simple, creamy frozen treat that your kids will love (and hey, so will you!).  It’s a guilt-free pleasure with no added sugar.  If you want to experiment, try adding some frozen strawberries, pineapple, mango or vanilla extract.  Just remember that the bulk of your recipe must be bananas or it won’t get the creamy texture.  Also, remember chocolate is high oxalate, so don’t use Gena’s  chocolate sauce.  See my white chocolate sauce recipe at the bottom of low oxalate banana splits, instead, or opt to put sliced strawberries on top.

Oxalate Note:  If you skip the chocolate sauce, this recipe only has one ingredient — bananas, a “lower medium” oxalate treat)

Stuffed Squash

(Gluten-free, casein-free and low to “lower medium” oxalate depending on how you modify it, could also be used on a controlled carbohydrate diet)

Kim’s fabulous blog, Gluten Free Real Food,  is full of great gluten free recipes.  Some are low oxalate.  Many more are easily modified to be low or medium oxalate.  I tried this squash dish with fresh picked butternut squash, red pepper and tomatoes from my garden two nights ago and my family loved it!  You should leave out or reduce the amount of black olives (about 22 mg. oxalate per 1/2 cup) or let the non-low oxalate dieters add them at the table.  You may also want to use less tomato if you are very oxalate sensitive (most tomatoes are medium oxalate) or use a lower oxalate variety of tomato (like Georgia Peach or Early Girl).  When I made this dish I used the full amount of tomato but left out the black olives.

Apple-Turnip Chicken Salad

(Gluten free, casein free, low oxalate with modification, good for a controlled carbohydrate diet)

This recipe is from the blog, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free.  Angie’s website is beautiful and horribly tempting with way too many high oxalate dishes.  But if you can be strong and sift through the numerous high oxalate treats, you will find a few low oxalate gems.  When you check out this recipe, just skip the chicken stock part in the narrative–this has too many high oxalate veges in it–and jump down to the recipe for Apple-turnip chicken salad.  I used a pink lady apple, a yellow onion, and two fresh turnips.  It was yummy and crunchy, but be sure to leave out the walnuts (walnuts have about 46 mg. per half cup)! Also, make sure to use gluten free Dijon mustard if this is important to you.  I ate this salad on a bed of low oxalate lettuce and greens, but you might also try topping  cucumber “crackers” for a truly low oxalate treat.

My boys have a new favorite low oxalate recipe–Jamaican Rice and Peas!  This is a staple from my vegetarian days that I haven’t made in years, but I had one of those crazy cravings and gave in.  It also seemed like a good learning opportunity for the boys.  What better way to introduce new cultures than through their food?

Low Oxalate Rice and Peas

Aidan loves his rice and peas (here made with kidney beans)

Rice and peas is an everyday staple in Jamaica.  Its subtle coconut flavor and creamy texture are a perfect complement to Jamaican Jerk Chicken and other spicy island treats, but it also makes a filling vegetarian main-dish.  It’s traditionally made with pigeon peas, but black-eyed peas or kidney beans are often substituted.  I make it with canned peas or beans because it’s so easy, but you can prepare  the raw peas yourself if you can’t find canned pigeon or black-eyed peas (use one cup raw peas with three cups water).  I sometimes use the  pepper and sometimes don’t.  Since you use a whole pepper and remove it before cooking, it doesn’t make the rice hot, but adds a nice, subtle pepper flavor.

The night I introduced Jamaican Rice and Peas to my boys, I talked with them about Jamaica and tropical islands.  They were fascinated and asked lots of questions and repeated the things I was telling them over and over.  I think it was the first time it started to make sense to them that people live in many different places, and that people in different places eat different foods than we do.  It was fun watching them learn, and  it was a very pleasant way to make dinner conversation with soon-t0-be-three-year-olds.  I plan to buy a good map to keep in the kitchen, so as we cook and learn together I can point out where the different foods we eat come from.  I hope this will also make cooking and eating together as a family more fun.  It sure was fun last week.  And it was even more fun when Aidan requested “Island rice and beans” again for dinner a few nights later (we ate it as our main meal the second night since I already knew they liked it).

Jamaican Rice and Peas

1 can black-eyed peas, pigeon peas* or kidney beans* (15 ounces) (see oxalate note)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
1 cup water
2 cups long or short grain white rice–not instant!
1 habanero pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)

Put all of the ingredients into a saucepan, including the liquid from the beans.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender (about 30 minutes).  Remove the habanero pepper and serve.

Makes 4 main dish or 8 side dish servings.

Note:  Most Jamaican chefs start by cooking raw peas (which are soupy like non-drained canned beans) which is why I use the canned bean “juice” in my recipe. It keeps things easy and more authentic tasting.  You may like the texture of this dish better, however, if you drain and rinse the beans first, then add an extra 3/4 cup water.

*Oxalate Note:   Pigeon peas and kidney beans are medium oxalate ingredients.  All other ingredients are low or very low oxalate, so this is a low to “lower medium” oxalate dish depending on what type of pea/bean you use. Actual oxalate values are: black-eyed peas (3 mg. per 1/2 cup), pigeon peas*(7 mg. per 1/2 cup, canned), kidney beans* (11.7 mg./half cup, dried), coconut milk (0.0 mg. per 1/2 cup, Chaokoh brand), Uncle Ben’s long grain white rice (trace) OR “boiled” white rice (0.9 mg. per half cup), habanero pepper (0.4 mg. per sauteed pepper), thyme(2.5 mg. per teaspoon), garlic (0.3 mg. per clove), Hain table salt (0.0 mg.)

Picky Eater Pleaser:  Try leaving out the pepper, thyme, garlic and beans at first, so you just have coconut rice (you will have to add 1/2-3/4 cup water).  If your picky eater likes this, try adding back in the beans/peas first, then add each “spice” one at a time each time you make the dish.  Alternately, make “coconut rice” and let family members add their own beans at the table.  You can also use 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs instead of the dried thyme and remove them before serving.

Menu Planner:  Try Jamaican Rice and Peas as a side dish with baked chicken and pineapple, or as a main dish with a tropical fruit salad on the side (mango, banana and pineapple with coconut sprinkles-yum!).

Other Diets:  Jamaican Rice and Peas may also be suitable for gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian diets.

I was looking through my grandma’s old cookbooks and came across a cultural gem, Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers–Vegetables, published in1963.  It’s a wonderful snapshot of how America used to eat vegetables–usually in small portions with lots of cheese, mushroom soup, cream sauce, and buttered bread crumbs (according to over 2000 home economics teachers!)  Hard-boiled eggs were also a common ingredient in these recipes, which intrigued me since I had never eaten hard-boiled eggs in a casserole.  I had to try it!

Cameron eats his Eggs and Peas with Onion Cream Sauce

The verdict?  Hard-boiled eggs chopped over asparagus, peas or zucchini is really tasty although I could do without the mushroom soup and oxalate-filled crumb toppings.  I decided to experiment a little and came up with this yummy, low oxalate casserole. The onion in the sauce takes a little extra work, but it’s so good, it’s worth it.  Especially since the rest of the dish is so easy (skip the white sauce step and it’s ultra easy!).

My picky eaters dissected this dish, but after a slow start (Cameron would only eat the peas at first and Aidan ate everything else on his plate but the casserole), both boys agreed to try the eggs and cheese part and loved it.  They both ended up eating healthy-sized portions and wolfed it down the second time I served it.

Eggs and Peas with Onion Cream Sauce

1 medium white or yellow onion, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup water
8 ounces frozen green peas* (about 1 cup)
8 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and shelled
1/2 cup heavy cream, sour cream OR plain yogurt (see note)
1 tablespoon butter AND one tablespoon cornstarch (optional, see note)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 ounces Swiss cheese

Place the sliced onion in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil and boil for five minutes until most of the water has evaporated.  Meanwhile put the peas in a 2-quart casserole.  Slice the hard-boiled eggs and place over the peas.  When the onion is tender, place it in a food processor or blender (with left-over water) and puree.  Melt the butter in the warm saucepan and add the cornstarch.  Mix well and cook for about 10 seconds.   Add the cold milk, stir well, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often.  When the white sauce boils and thickens, add cream, salt, pepper, and onion puree.  Stir the sauce well then pour over sliced eggs.  Sprinkle the casserole with Swiss cheese, then place it under the broiler for about 3 -4 minutes until it is browned.  Serve immediately.

Yeild: 4 main dish servings or 8 side dish servings

Note: If you don’t want to bother making a white sauce, replace the cream with sour cream or plain yogurt, reduce the milk to 1/4 cup, and leave out the butter and cornstarch.  When making your sauce, simply mix the sour cream, milk, onion puree, salt and pepper in the warm sauce pan, then pour over the egg mixture.  You will have to broil the casserole a little longer, but it’s still quite yummy (especially with sour cream) and only a little runny.

*Oxalate Note: Green peas are a “lower medium” oxalate vegetable with 5.7 mg. oxalate per 1/2 cup.  All other ingredients are low oxalate or very low oxalate.

Variations:  This is also good with steamed asparagus or sauteed mushrooms  instead of peas.  I haven’t tried it with sauteed zucchini yet, but that’s next on my list.

Other Diets: This recipe may also be appropriate for gluten-free (make sure the sour cream is GF), vegetarian, and controlled carbohydrate dieters.