Friday, March 19, 2010

Suz's Guide to Sick Food

While children believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy, I'd like to think there's a special imaginary being out there for those of us who suffer from digestive issues.  I like to call this being, the Tummy Ache Fairy.  Since getting back from London (which was both fantastic and uncomfortably cold), I have had another visit from the Tummy Ache Fairy.  My fairy, like myself, is strong and forceful and so, my aches are of the aggressive nature.

You may be thinking, "Has our dear blogger Suz finally lost her mind?  Has all this health hockey finally tossed her over the deep end, now that she's seeing imaginary creatures?"

I would answer to that, "I never said I saw them, silly!"

But it dawned on me that those who are plagued with their own Tummy Ache Fairies and Digestive Elves of all kinds might also have the common problems that come with feeling sick in that area:  What do you eat?  How do you eat?  If you're constantly feeling this way, you can't avoid eating forever, can you?  How can you get calories in you?  

Now I'm not a nutritionist or a doctor or a nurse.  I'm just a woman recommending 5 of my favorite calm, easy, and sensitive products that have helped me in times of sickness.  After all whether your body wants to admit it or not, it needs food and the calories it provides to function.

What's the one thing you can always have when you're feeling crappy?  That's right folks, soup.  And even more simply, broth.  Sometimes you need to start small and sip your way back into eating.  And broth is also a clear liquid, for those of you having digestive related procedures that require you to ditch solid foods for a day.  

Imagine, which makes soups and broths of all kinds, could possibly be one of those companies I couldn't live without.  A wide variety (if not all) of their soups and broths are gluten-free.  They also have several flavors that are vegetarian, Kosher, and even low sodium if you have multiple diet restrictions.  I use their organic broths which have minimal, relevant ingredients, in several of my recipes to aid in the cooking of meat without adding unnecessary fats or marinades.  Broth adds flavor to otherwise bland dishes.  You can cook plain rice or quinoa in it instead of using water, and I sometimes use it as a substitute for tea (which I've been told to stay off of) when its cold outside and plain hot water won't cut it.

I am very sad for you if your grocery store does not carry Tinkyada pasta, because it is the best substitution for glutenous pasta I've found.  When you need to eat something plain and easy to digest, pasta or rice is definitely a good option.  But when it's combined into rice pasta, you've got a winner!  In addition to all the awesome qualities and abilities of Tinkyada pasta, it's super easy to cook.

If you're sick, the last thing you want to do is slave over a stove.  With this pasta, all you have to do is boil water, then boil the pasta for 1-2 minutes and shut off the stove, keeping it covered for 20 mins.  Nothing is easier than that!  Result:  you have a perfectly good option to feed yourself without your stomach revolting against you.  

Those of you who knew me in college, know that for about 2 years of my life I ate nothing but couscous and cheese, beans or meat.  I loved couscous.  Aside from the fun of saying it, what isn't to love?  It is a delicious little grain that is delicious plain or doctored.  Plus it is cheap.  Plus it takes no time to make.  But alas, gluten lives in couscous, and so I said goodbye to it years ago.  

Lundberg is another one of those companies that continuously impresses me with their GF, rice products.  They make an excellent quick-fix boxed risotto, rice cakes, and a line of brown rice couscous!  The brown rice couscous is as easy to prepare as regular couscous, and has the wonderful fluffy texture that I missed from eating regular couscous, but without that pesky gluten getting in the way.  When the idea of eating is not making you happy, boil up some of this mild and easy to digest heaven.  It's a food that's sure to bind some of your troubles away and settle your tummy.

Now I'm not one for sodas usually.  I've never loved carbonation, considering I'm usually already a little bloated myself.  But there are times, especially when I'm feeling sick, that I really, really crave that can of ginger ale or sprite.  Since I ditched corn for the most part a few months back, I haven't been partaking in soda, even when I've wanted it.  That is, until I saw Hansen's hanging out on the store shelf.  And then I instantly remembered- when I was a teenager, we bought Hansen's canned juice blends all the time (I think these blends have been discontinued but man they were good!).  Recognizing the brand, I then saw something else.  They use natural cane sugar instead of corn syrup to sweeten their sodas.  Now, I know that sugar is sugar folks, and you can argue for the pros and cons of it all you want.  But here's what I know.  I know when I read the ingredients on a can of Hansen's sodas I'm going to find ingredients I recognize, can pronounce, and regularly occur in nature.  I can't say the same for when I read any other soda label out there which is usually rife with corn syrup, 20 chemicals I don't recognize plus food coloring.

Hansen's doesn't have any preservatives, caffeine, or artificial elements to it.  And so I trust when I'm sick, it will make me feel better instead of worse.  Plus, the sugar really helps replace what you may be putting out, and helps with energy levels.

Alright, up until now you probably thought I was giving really good suggestions for foods to eat when you don't feel well.  But hot dogs?  I may have lost you at hot dogs.  For some reason, don't ask me why, I often feel I can handle hot dogs when I'm having tummy aches or sick issues.  To me, there's something comforting about them.  Maybe they take me back to my childhood.  Whatever the reason, hot dogs are a good choice because they are a source of protein and fat which is good to get into your body when you're not eating a whole lot.  Another plus, is that although not super salty, they do have a salty flair to them which is very good for the sick.  Can't have saltines?  Who cares!  I'm having hot dogs.

Applegate Farms makes great organic beef, chicken and turkey dogs that are nitrate, casein, and gluten free.  The taste, however, is fully there, and they're a fantastic meal solution for someone who can't cook because they don't feel well.  Microwaves are not hard to operate even when you're not 100% folks.

I hope the above suggestions are helpful to any of my fellow frequently sickies and that you find they're also good suggestions for when you're well too.  Just as all of these foods are good plain, they're also great doctored up for when you're not needing to see a doctor.  And no, no one sent me free samples or paid me to tell you about how much I love these products and how much they help me when my diet is under construction.  I did that all on my own.