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Nickel Food Allergy by Christy Cushing - 1M ago

Is your skin super sensitive to the sun like mine? It does not take much sun for my skin to burn and become super inflamed for days. Enjoying the great outdoors and hiking a couple times a week throughout the year, I usually prefer covering up with UV protective clothing and a big floppy hat.  I definitely inherited my skin from my father, who always wore long pants and a floppy hat wherever he went in the summer. Even with my body covered up, I still have to use sunscreen on my face. If I forget to use sunscreen, I’ll regret it and my skin will feel the sun’s indirect exposure from it’s reflection on water or red rock. Typically I don’t have to cover up as much in the spring, fall or winter unless the UV index is high.

The National Eczema Association recommends sunscreens with both zinc and titanium dioxide, as they aren’t absorb directly into the skin and also block harmful ultraviolet A and B rays. Titanium dioxide isn’t necessarily high in nickel, nonetheless I’ve heard from some that they are either also allergic to titanium dioxide or it will cause their skin to react.

Too much sun exposure can cause the skin to overheat and become aggravated. Though I try to limit my own sun exposure, phototherapy, or light therapy, when under the care of a physician can be a treatment solution for some with atopic dermatitis. However, the risk of skin cancer is great, so using clothing and sunscreen is always advised.

Lately I have not been able to wear skintifique on my face. Unfortunately their Moisturizing Lotion HP doesn’t include SPF protection and for some reason I burn easily when I use it and spend hours outside. Skintifique has told me they plan to add SPF protection to their products in the future. In the meanwhile, I wanted to share what sunscreen products I’ve found to work.

Neutrogena’s sheer zinc sunscreen is the only one I’ve found that doesn’t bother the sensitive skin on my face and neck.

The skin on my face and neck is the most sensitive on my body. After trying multiple sunscreens only SF50 Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion works on my face and neck. I love that it’s mineral based and waterproof. I haven’t found it oily or greasy. It also hasn’t given me acne which I appreciate! Though it’s called “sheer” it will leave a little white cast on my face because of the zinc oxide, especially when I don’t thoroughly apply it. However zinc oxide truly does protect your skin from both ultraviolet A and B rays. From all my research, I believe Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion is nickel free.

If you can tolerate coconut, perhaps Eucerin Daily Hydration SPF 30 which doesn’t include either zinc or titanium dioxide, could be a good option. Using Eucerion’s other products without issues, I randomly picked this up at a Walgreen’s when I forgot to apply sunscreen and planned on spending hours outside. I really like how it feels and I haven’t had any issues when I apply it on my arms and legs. However after I started using it for several days in a row on my face, I experienced a terrible eczema rash. After googling all of the individual ingredients, I realized it contains Hydrogenated Cocoglycerides, which is essentially coconut oil and coconut does not work for me.

For awhile I used Neutrogena Beach Defense, but one of its ingredients is fragrance. Told early to eliminate all cosmetic products with fragrances, I try to avoid everything and anything with fragrances.

Have you found a nickel free sunscreen that you like to use? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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You’re not alone. We can feel like we’re alone when we wake up with a nasty rash or can’t get a good night’s rest because we’re unknowingly scratching. When my skin is literally tough, it can still hurt when someone tells me to “just stop scratching.” Many of us deal with the shame of chronic atopic dermatitis caused by our uniquely tricky systemic nickel allergy or nickel food allergy.

Both our eczema and living with a food allergy can negativity affect our quality of life, impacting our self esteem, sleep quality, emotional and mental health. This can be especially challenging when our symptoms are on our face and visible to others. Everything we do is to treat our symptoms because as of yet, there’s still no cure.

Sometimes my eczema isn’t even related to what I eat. I can be persistently following the low nickel diet, eating at home with my nickel free cookware and stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, my seasonal allergies or using a new cosmetic product will make it appear.

Driving a lot for work, audiobooks are one of my new favorite joys. Preferring non fiction, lately I can’t get enough of Brené Brown‘s work on authenticity and vulnerability. I love how she proudly defines herself as a shame researcher and proclaims that “vulnerability is not weakness.” Her message about perfectionism always being intrinsically tied to shame resonates with my core being.

It’s been close to 9 years since my diagnosis and there are times when I feel overwhelmed. When I travel or I don’t have time to cook meals I can start to blame myself for my eczema and tell myself all that I’m doing still isn’t enough.

Negative self-talk is so destructive. When I get in that headspace I have to actively stop and remind myself how far I’ve come. Born with atopic dermatitis, one day at age 24 while under a tremendous amount of stress my eczema became systemic and started reacting when I ate foods that are higher in nickel.

I do my best every day and then wake up and try to do my best the next day, knowing some days will be easier than others. Yet I continue to show up and I am ever so grateful my food allergy doesn’t cause my anaphylaxis. Yet, I can still beat myself up and feel guilty after eating something I knew was higher in nickel or forgetting to ask the server about the specific ingredients. To overcome my own food allergy and eczema shame I try to tell myself it’s only one meal and one day. The last thing I want is to punish myself further than what my body is already doing. I’ve also had to come to accept my eczema will take 3-7 days to resolve when it emerges and engage in self-care and self-compassion.

There’s no perfect solution to living with a nickel food allergy. We can work diligently to avoid eating foods higher in nickel. We can carefully to try refrain from touching nickel, but nickel is in our water, air and soil. Realistically we can’t truly live with or without nickel as Barbara eloquently writes in the Two Faces of a Nickel Allergy.

While hiking in Southern Utah, my spouse and I found a beautiful patch of cacti blooming. Cactus only bloom when they are mature, under the right conditions of sunlight and cool nights. Some cactus species take years to bloom, ranging from 15, 30 to 100 years in the case of the puya raimondii, yet they still bloom and let the world see their true self. We are all beautiful and strong no matter what our skin looks or feels like.

What do you do to overcome guilt or shame related to your eczema and/or food allergy? I’d love to hear any tips you have in the comment section below!

I am honored to be recognized as one of the Top 40 Food Allergy Blogs and Top 20 Eczema Blogs to follow in 2018 from feedspot.com. I couldn’t do this without you and others within the allergy and eczema community. Thanks for sharing your story. I truly believe the more physicians, our co-workers and family know about our unique allergy the closer we’ll be at finding solutions. None of us can do this alone.

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Nickel Food Allergy by Christy Cushing - 1M ago

Gardening brings me pure bliss. It’s astonishing when you truly understand the amount of water, effort and satisfaction involved in sowing seeds to full fledged fruits or vegetables. Controlling the types of seeds, growth medium, fertilizer and water used are some of the greatest benefits when you grow your own food. Depending on my living situation, I’ve cultivated fruits and vegetables in Home Depot’s bucket containers, raised beds, in a community garden plot, used an aerogarden as a year round hydroponic garden and last year we grew our garden straight out of straw bales.

Multiple lists exist identifying foods higher or lower in nickel content, which begs the question why do the lists vary and which one do you follow? Geography and the geochemical composition of the soil used is one of the many reasons why some foods retain more nickel than others. In addition, some foods absorb more nickel from the air, water and fertilizers used to grow the food itself. Research has shown more mature foods are known to retain more nickel the longer it grows, so it’s recommended you harvest foods higher in nickel sooner than later. My resources page has lots of useful information about nickel in the soil and other identifying the quantity of nickel in certain foods.

Christy watering our community garden plot in Portland, Oregon.

My foods with nickel list works great and it includes comments from others like yourself who describe what they can or cannot tolerate. Several foods such as soy, oats, nuts, whole grains, seeds, beans, leafy greens, pineapple, raspberries are consistently identified as higher in nickel on nearly every list. My dermatologist provided me the list I use in the summer of 2009 when I was diagnosed with a systemic nickel food allergy

One of the most challenging things about this allergy is how it’s so different for each individual. After I diligently followed the low nickel diet for several months, not deviating or eating something higher in nickel, I decided to start keeping a food journal and reintroducing foods known for being higher in nickel. Corresponding my eczema symptoms with my food journal enabled me to identify which individual foods I cannot tolerate. Stress, dehydration and lack of sleep also dramatically influences whether my eczema flares out of control.

Eating crunchy arugula and mixed green salads are my true weakness on the low nickel diet. Giving up chocolate, nuts, and oatmeal did take couple months to adjust. Every year around birthdas and holidays I bake my own low nickel sweet treats, so I won’t indulge in the peanut chocolate oatmeal cookies. However, my salad jealousy gets the best of me and because it’s not a cookie or piece of cake, I give myself permission to deviate from the low nickel diet and eat one a couple times a month.

Hydroponic gardening, straw bale gardening and worm farm gardening are three great lower nickel gardening options you can try yourself.

Hydroponic Gardening

Using two small aerogardens to grow salad greens hydroponically

Maturing between 30-60 days, growing my own salad green hydroponically using an aerogarden helps and is a great cheap gardening alternative. The upfront costs of purchasing the individual aerogardens can be expensive, but once you have them you only need their seed kits every couple months when you choose to grow your lower nickel salad greens or herbs. You can also create your own hydroponic gardens using materials found at your local hardware store.

My body does not seem to react the same when I eat a green salad grown hydroponically without soil. When I make my own salad I’ll usually include a lot of cilantro, a known chelator that can help your body remove heavy metals like nickel from your body. Personally I don’t participate in a chelation therapy routine, but I’ve heard from some who do it under the care of a physician and have found great benefits.

Straw Bale Gardening

Two years I was asked if I’d ever gardened using straw bales? Never having heard about straw bale gardens, her question intrigued me to research more about it. From all appearances straw bale gardens seems easier to set up than both container and raised bed gardens, both of which require a large yard. I placed my straw bales over mulch and cardboard, for water retention. First the straw bales need to be “conditioned” for 10-14 days, which involves soaking them with water a couple times a day and adding fertilizer to help them break down. Originally we didn’t have one of our straw bales positioned correctly, so we broke it up and placed the lose straw around our other bales as a weed barrier. We spent $7.00 for each straw bale or $42 total, which seemed way more cost effective than the usual endless bags of soil!

Christy growing green onions, tomatoes, squash and peppers in straw bales.

When planting your seeds or plants you do place about a cup of soil in the straw bales per plant. We cultivated sweet yellow and green bell peppers, spicy jalapeno peppers, zucchini, summer squash, pumpkins, strawberries, green onions, radishes and heirloom cherry, roma, and beefsteak tomatoes. All of my plants did well in the straw bales except the squash, which were infected with some kind of pest. I believe gardening using straw bales reduced the amount of nickel in my garden greens, but I didn’t grow salad greens or many foods higher in nickel.

I found straw bale gardening a lot more work than traditional gardening. However the trade off is that it doesn’t involve hardly any weeding! Joel Karsten who really started the straw bale gardening movement in the US lives in Minnesota and I think it would be easier to grow a straw bale garden in the Pacific Northwest or Midwest or Pacific Northwest where the it rains more often and is humid. The dry Utah heat didn’t do me any favors, but I’m glad I experimented with straw bale gardening and I might again if I lived in a wetter climate.

Worm Castings

Sara standing next to our nearly 5 feet tall container tomato plants when we lived in a floating home on the Columbia River, in Portland Oregon.

Vermicomposting with red wigglers is one of the reasons why my gardens have always grown extra healthy and huge! Under the right conditions, red wigglers double in size within 90 days. Their mineral rich organic worm castings provide an excellent fertilizer that can be directly mixed with your soil and won’t burn the plant roots. About once a month we’ll also use casting to brew “worm tea” to water our gardens. Composting the low nickel unprocessed food we eat, our worms also eat a low nickel diet of used tea bags, coffee grounds and fruits and vegetables, (excluding citrus, onions, and garlic), mixed with coconut coir and our shredded paper. 

In 2012, we ordered our red wigglers in the mail from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm in Pennsylvania. Our mailman was both curious and alarmed when he delivered the package that said “live animals inside.” The following May, we gave him one of our tomato plants we’d grown from seed using the worm castings. Shocked at how big his the tomato plant grew and how delicious it tasted, he soon became a worm farmer himself!

You can grow your own garden directly from worm compost containers, but it’s tricky as the worms may try to escape your bin in the night! I’ve not grown directly out of my worm compost farm, but we use seedlings that start in our compost bin.

Do you love to garden? Have you tried one or all three of these low nickel gardening options? If so, I’d love to hear how it went for you and whether or not your body reacted the same way when you ate some of your own garden greens in the comment section below!

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Prepare to lick your fingers clean with this gooey low nickel treat that only takes a short time to cook and cool before it’s in your mouth. When I crave a low nickel sweet treat I turn to this all-time favorite rice Krispies treat recipe that was one of the first dessert recipes I made as a child.

Not eating marshmallows very often, I savor roasting them in a campfire while I enjoy sticky caramel marshmallow smores and when I cook this recipe. Low in nickel, Kraft’s Jet-Puffed marshmallows contain corn syrup, modified cornstarch, dextrose, water, contains less than 2% of gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate (whipping aid) natural and artificial flavor, blue 1. If you prefer to make your own marshmallows, it requires a little more preparation, and Ashlee Marie’s Homemade Marshmallow Recipe is a great alternative. 

My mom found an old pyrex dish I’d edched in junior high!

Returning from vacation in Glenwood Springs, Colorado we stayed at the Best Western hotel, where they served Rice Krispies cereal at the continental breakfast. As a cereal girl myself, I ate Cheerios routinely for nearly 20 years before my systemic nickel allergy syndrome diagnosis. High in oats, I had to find a crunchy low nickel alternative. Luckily Rice Krispies, Rice Chex and Kix have provided my breakfast relief. Eating Rice Krispies cereal at the hotel inspired me to cook this sweet treat!

When I am on vacation, I try my best to follow the low nickel diet and appreciate exploring my new destination. This trip we took the Amtrak train, which was an entire adventure in an of itself. When my stomach starts to growl, my brain is always questioning whether or not I can safely eat the options in front of me. I’ve gone hungry too many times or eaten something higher in nickel to understand the importance of planning ahead and packing some low nickel snacks.

Yet I’m still human and this trip once during lunch I forgot to ask about whether or not the bread for  my steak sandwich choices contained soy. My skin is just now starting to finally not scream at me! Choosing to not punish myself, I made these low nickel rice krispies treats.

The rice krispies should easily fall out of the pyrex dish if you spray the dish with olive oil.

I find it’s easier to cut up the rice krispies treats by flipping the Pyrex pan upside down on parchment paper.

If you try and love this recipe, let me know in the comment section or by rating it below!

Low Nickel Rice Krispies Treats

Prepare to lick your fingers clean with this gooey low nickel treat that only takes a few minutes to cook and cool before it’s in your mouth. 

  • olive oil spray
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups marshmallows
  • 6 cups rice krispies toasted rice cereal
  1. Lightly spray your pyrex glass container with olive oil cooking spray and set it aside.

  2. Measure out 4 cups of marshmallows and place them in a small bowl and then also measure out 6 cups of rice krispies cereal and place them in a large bowl, so you are able to quickly add both ingredients when the butter melts.

  3. Cut up the 4 Tablespoons butter into smaller sized squares, so it melts quicker and place it in a large ceramic saucepan on medium heat. Stir the butter constantly, allowing it to melt fast, but does not burn.

  4. When the butter melts, immediately add the marshmallows and stir them constantly using a wooden spoon until they lose their shape. This process should only take a couple minutes. 

  5. Remove the saucepan from heat and mix in the rice krispies cereal, coating the cereal in the butter marshmallow syrup mixture.

  6. Pour the coated rice krispie treats in your pre-sprayed Pyrex container and use a flat spatula to spread it carefully spread out the cooked rice krispies treats evenly within the glass container.

  7. Let them cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting them into squares. I find it’s easier to cut up the rice krispies treats by flipping the Pyrex pan upside down on parchment paper.

  8. Enjoy immediately or store your uneaten rice krispies treats in the Pyrex with plastic wrap covering to keep them moist.

Preparation is key to this quick and easy recipe, which is much easier to make if you pre-measure out the cereal and marshmallows into bowls allowing you to pour them both into the saucepan.

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Every day we strive to be prepared to prevent allergic reactions. This can be a challenge even when we’re in our own home. Constantly we are in the mindset of making special preparations for our day at work or school and when we go out of town. We never know when we may be in harm’s way as the result of a natural or man-made disaster. Just imagine the food allergy challenges you could experience if you had to evacuate your home for a minimum of 3 days!

If our food allergy has taught us anything, it is how to strategically think ahead. Mindfully creating your own allergy friendly emergency preparedness kit, overtime, will better equip you to be prepared and not have to worry about making special preparations or forgetting something should you need to quickly evaluate your home because of a disaster.

Maralin Hoff, aka the “Earthquake Lady,” conducts emergency preparedness presentations throughout the state of Utah and encourages attendees to “train your brain.” As humans, our primal reaction to a stressful situation is fight or flight. Yet, when you “train your brain” by already having a family communication plan and your custom allergy friendly preparedness kit, you don’t have to come up with spur of the moment solutions. 

Growing up in Utah along the Wasatch Mountains where multiple faults exist, I’ve been conditioned to be prepared for the forecasted 7+ magnitude earthquake. When diagnosed with my own nickel food allergy as an adult, I had to modify my emergency preparedness kit to meet my new allergy needs.

Various US governmental agencies recommend having at least a 72 hour kit that includes sufficient food, water, clothing and first aid. Many of the commercially created emergency food kits use stainless steel cans or contain soy or soy lecithin to preserve the food for longer periods. Both stainless steel and soy/soy lecithin are high in nickel. 

While those of us with food allergies may be able to use the non-food emergency preparedness kits, they can cost hundreds of dollars. So much of our lives already requires customization, I’m a firm believer in creating your own emergency preparedness kit over time, so you’re not burden with the upfront costs of gathering everything at once. Also the benefit of making your own kit is that you’ll know that what’s in your kit will work for you if you do have an emergency, which provides me peace of mind.

To contain my personalized allergy friendly emergency kit, I use two Rubbermaid storage containers. An avid camper, one of the totes contains camping supplies that doubles for emergency provisions and the other includes my emergency supplies. My camping tote includes a propane camping stove, plastic cooking utensils and the other tote includes non-food items. In addition, both of my family’s personal vehicles have a backpack in them with an old pair of tennis shoes and clothing, should we be caught on the road in an emergency. My portable air inflator was invaluable one very cold day in March when I got a flat tire outside of Torrey, Utah. Freezing outside, I used my winter coat and an emergency blanket to stay warm, while I waited over an hour for help. AAA couldn’t tow my car, so we had to inflate the tire enough to drive it to a nearby parking lot before replacing it. Luckily I was prepared and safe.

Since my nickel food allergy isn’t life threatening, I’ve personally decided to include some MREs and freeze dried food that does contain soy or is stored in a metal can. My spouse can eat them and in a pinch I’d eat them. You might not want to make a similar choice, but the choice is yours.  Alternatively I’ve considered investing in a dehydrator and/or freeze dryer for everyday use and to create my own low nickel freeze dried goods.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign, the US Center for Disease Control, The American Red Cross and several other organizations have websites with fantastic tools, checklists, in person events and  specific information on how to prepare for unforeseen hazardous events.  Mindfully creating an emergency preparedness kit is essential, I recommend customizing your emergency kit. Basic supplies I’ve added to my own kit includes:

  • Cetaphil lotion.
  • Aquaphor lip lotion.
  • Polysporin, because I am allergic to Neosporin.
  • Benedryl & Claritin with the active ingredient loradine.
  • Personal prescriptions – I use the steroid cream Desonide. You may want to include an epi-pen.
  • An old spare pair of my eye glasses.
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Cash.

Since many of the goods and products we use have expiration dates and our own needs change overtime, it’s recommended to evaluate your emergency kit every six months and re-stock expired goods. I like to do this in the summer and winter. If you have any insight into creating your own emergency kit or tips to add, please make a comment in the section below!

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Nickel Food Allergy by Christy Cushing - 2M ago

This low nickel corn chowder recipe makes for an excellent summer or winter soup. It can be served lukewarm or piping hot! The peppers are more commonly found in the summer and most of the other ingredients can be found at your local farmers market. Or all ingredients can be frozen.

Corn is considered lower in nickel. Some with systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS) or nickel food allergies cannot tolerate corn or they can’t until they’re they followed the low nickel diet for a couple months. I’m able to eat organic corn without it flaring up my eczema, especially if the corn is fresh or frozen. I try to avoid processed food products made with corn.

Organic corn is recommended, as in the US most corn is grown from genetically modified (GMO) seeds and pesticides are used to grow it. I use frozen corn that’s both organic and GMO free that I’ve found at Costco! In addition, I suggest you use the organic better than bouillon chicken base, which does not contain soy. It does contain “natural flavors” so you’re welcome to substitute organic chicken stock.

If you try and love this recipe, let me know in the comment section or by rating it below!

Low Nickel Corn Chowder

This recipe makes an excellent summer soup. Can be served lukewarm or piping hot. Throw in some great finds from the Farmers Market. Peppers are more commonly found in the summer. All ingredients can be frozen.

  • 2 strips uncured bacon (I prefer applewood smoked)
  • 1 small shallot or yellow onion (diced)
  • 6 baby small red and gold potatoes (diced)
  • 3 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme for flavor
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons organic better than bouillon chicken base (make sure soy-free)
  • 32 oz water
  • 3 cups corn (can be frozen)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Using a large ceramic dutch oven cook the bacon on medium heat, turn the bacon from side to side so the strips are evenly cooked.
  2. Once cooked, take the bacon out of the pot and put aside. Cut up the cooked bacon and place it aside.
  3. In the bacon grease, brown the onion, potatoes, peppers and celery for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the water, better than chicken bouillon, frozen corn, fresh thyme, bay leaves and cooked bacon. Cover the soup mixture and simmer on low until the potatoes are soft.

  5. Once the potatoes are soft, reduce the heat and add one cup heavy whipping cream for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaves, serve and enjoy!

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I love a great steak. Over the years, my relationship with red meat has dramatically changed. For 4 years my parents used to poke fun at my being an adamant vegetarian who couldn’t stand to look at red meat, let alone smell it! In 2006 while training for a marathon I experienced both an iron deficiency and protein deficiency, requiring me to reintroduce meat including red meat in my diet. Three years later in 2009 I was diagnosed with systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS) or a nickel food allergy. Why do I bring this up? Since my SNAS diagnosis, I’ve often questioned whether the lack of iron in my diet negatively contributed to my severe nickel allergy.

Scientifically both iron and vitamin c have been shown to reduce our body’s absorption of nickel. The question is how do we add more iron to our diet without always eating red meat? I caution taking iron supplements unless you’re under the direct care of a medical professional. I’ve heard some horror stories regarding using iron supplements and personally I don’t take any. Instead, using cast iron cookware is an easy way to supplement your diet whenever you cook in the oven or stove. I love using Lodge’s cast iron products. They’ve told me they contain “a trace amount less than 0.001%” nickel.

In addition, some low nickel foods that contain higher amounts of iron include:

    • Eggs
    • Broccoli
    • Enriched egg noodles
    • Beef or chicken liver
    • Chicken and Turkey
    • Fish – halibut, tuna, salmon, perch, sardines
    • Oysters, clams, mussels
    • Rasins, dried apricots, dried peaches and dried prunes – I avoid purchasing dried fruits with sulfur dioxide.
    • Fortified cereals – nonheme iron, which our bodies less efficiently absorb (also found in beans, lentils and spinach) – I like to eat Kix cereal and Rice Chex cereal, both of which are fortified with iron with 45-50% of your daily recommended value.
    • Quinoa – as a seed, technically quinoa contains nickel, yet the quantity varies. I’ll eat quinoa about once a month. Sometimes it causes me to react and other times not, whereas I’ve heard from others they cannot tolerate it at all. If you do eat quinoa, it’s recommended you soak it for 1-2 hours and then rinse it after soaking. If you “test” it, keeping a food journal that corresponds your symptoms is a great tool to identify how your body reacts.

To improve your body’s absorption of iron, it’s recommended you also eat foods rich in vitamin c, like papaya, kiwi, brussel sprouts, oranges, broccoli, or strawberries. If you’ve had success eating finding ways to add iron to your diet, I’d love to hear about it, just let me know in the comment section below or on Facebook or Twitter.

This article was originally in my monthly newsletter.

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Nickel Food Allergy by Christy Cushing - 2M ago

When I took this photo, I forgot the eggs! Don’t do that when making the recipe!

My mother’s recipe, this delectable low nickel banana bread is my go to treat when I’m craving something sweet or attending a party. The banana bread’s cakey flavor makes it irresistibly challenging to not eat an entire loaf in one day! In an attempt to pace myself, I’ll use the batter to create 4 small loaves, or 2 small loaves with one large loaf or 2 large loaves. The bread freezes nicely for 1-3 months.

Using soft or overly ripe bananas dramatically improves the bread’s flavor. When my bananas are overripe, but I don’t have time to make the recipe, I’ll place the bananas in the freezer and then thaw them when I’m ready to make the recipe. Make sure your bananas are thoroughly thawed before trying to mash them!

Bananas themselves are lower in nickel, but moderate when it comes to histamines. They contain high amounts of both vitamin C and vitamin B6, and are well known for being a great source of potassium. Bananas contain some of the same proteins found in latex, causing some with latex allergies to negatively react to them, which is called “latex-fruit syndrome.”

Low in nickel, this recipe excludes both chocolate and nuts, which can be found in many processed banana bread recipes.

If you try and love this recipe, let me know in the comment section or by rating it below!

Low Nickel Banana Bread

Soft cakey low nickel banana bread that’s perfect when you’re craving something easy and sweet.

  • 1/2 cup butter soften (or ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup applesauce)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas (soft or overripe is recommended)
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar (or a cap full of white vinegar)
  1. Identify what you’ll use for bread pans, spray them with olive oil and dust them with flour. If you’re using stainless steel bread pans, line them with parchment paper, which is then sprayed with olive oil.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar and then add the egg and flour.
  3. Next use a large plate to mash each of the bananas with a fork and put them into the bread batter, thoroughly combining all the ingredients afterwards.

  4. In a separate small container (I’ll usually use a 1 cup or 1/2 cup container) pour the milk and stir in the baking soda before adding the cap full of white vinegar, which should start to bubble when mixed. Stir the milk, baking soda, vinegar combination into the banana bread batter.

  5. Evenly pour the bread batter into your oiled and flour dusted bread pans.

  6. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, and when it looks done place a toothpick into a couple center points of the bread to identify if any of the bread sticks to the toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, your bread is probably read to take out of the oven.

Allow the bread to cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing and enjoying!

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Fruit infused water allows additional flavors and nutrients to be added to your water without adding sugar, like smoothies, juices and sodas. Our bodies rely on adequate hydration to function properly, including healing and preventing eczema flare ups. Dehydration is serious and the majority of people don’t drink more than 2-3 cups of water daily. If someone tells me they’re not feeling well, especially when they indicate they have a headache or are fatigued, my impulse is to ask them about their water intake.

As I’ve noted before, drinking water can help our bodies purge harmful toxins, like nickel. John D. Kirschmann author of the Nutrition Almanac affirms this concept noting how “absorbed nickel is rapidly and efficiently excreted via the kidneys” (pg. 74). Infusing your water with strawberries, kiwi, papaya or oranges also naturally adds vitamin c to your diet, which has been shown to help reduce the absorption of nickel

Filtering my tap water, my Pur Classic 18 Cup Water Dispenser became unwittingly too tall last fall when I purchased a my new bottom freezer refrigerator. Determined to make it work, I removed one of the three shelves, which enabled the water dispenser to fit, until I needed additional shelf space when l hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Noticing my own reduction in water intake after we no longer had readily available cold water, I requested the 8 inch tall nickel free, BPA free Prodyne Big Fruit Infusion Pitcher for Christmas. I wanted a pitcher with a water infuser canister or rod that could both contain the fruit and easily be removed.

Sliced blueberries and strawberries.

Unaware of specific techniques to infuse my water, I checked out Britt Brandon’s book Infused Water: 100 Easy Delicious Recipes for Detox, Weight Loss, Healthy Skin, Better Immunity and More from my library. Filled with fantastic ideas, her recipes offer various combinations of fruit, herbs and teas to easily infuse your water. She organizes the recipes for detox, improved immunity, boosting energy, stress relief and reduced inflammation. Brandon recommends infusing the water for 4-24 hours and drinking the water within 1-2 days. Personally I like to infuse longer, for 12-24 hours, but through experience I quickly learned that infusing the water for too long can cause the water to become bitter or ferment, making it not drinkable.

I’ve also learned, it’s best to peel fruits like apples and pears for added benefit. My favorite combinations include strawberries with crushed blueberries, cucumber and orange slices with muddled mint and slices of apples and pears with lemon.

Do you infuse your water? If so, have you found it helps you drink more water daily? Are there fruit and herb combinations you enjoy? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

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As a young child, often I would personify the florets of broccoli and cauliflower and tell them “good-bye” before dunking them in ranch dressing and eating them. I crave broccoli and love its fresh crunchy raw taste. Fortunate to live in Hong Kong for a month in 1997, I relished the opportunity to eat Chinese broccoli nearly every day. Most often cooked in oyster sauce with garlic, I could not get enough of its flavorful taste.

Low in nickel, broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and Chinese broccoli is more related to the kale family. I am able to eat broccoli without issue, however when I occasionally enjoy Chinese broccoli, it does cause my eczema to react.

High in fiber and loaded with various vitamins and minerals, broccoli is considered high in both vitamin C and vitamin K. Broccoli also contains vitamin A, Thiamaine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Vitamin B6, Folate (B9), calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Research studies in 2010 identified how the sulforaphane found in broccoli has been shown to treat and kill certain breast cancer cells.   

I try to eat raw broccoli as often as I can while at work. With my restrictive diet, there’s only one food my spouse cannot tolerate: broccoli. Unsure if it’s broccoli or if she’s sensitive to it’s salicylate, I’ll use frozen broccoli florets to make myself this creamy low nickel broccoli cheese soup when she’s craving something I can’t eat. This recipe makes about 3-4 large servings and requires attention to the timing.

If you try and love this recipe, let me know in the comment section or by rating it below!

Low Nickel Broccoli Cheese Soup

This creamy easy to make low nickel broccoli cheese soup recipe is great for a cold day.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ an onion or 1 shallot (chopped)
  • 4-5 whole carrots (chopped)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose white flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 cups organic broccoli (or 10 oz of frozen broccoli)
  • ¾ cup cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
  1. Rinse and steam the broccoli in a microwaveable bowl with 2 Tablespoons water for 3-5 minutes and set aside. 

  2. Coat the base of a deep ceramic Dutch oven with the olive oil and sauté the onion or shallot and carrots in the oil on medium low heat for about 5 minutes.

  3. Next stir in the flour and ground pepper and mix continually until the flour is thoroughly blended. 

  4. Using a Pyrex measuring cup, combine the ¾ cups water with ¾ cups whole milk and slowly add the watered down milk mixture to the Dutch oven stirring regularly and watching closely.

  5. Bring the contents to a boil until the sauce begins to thicken, approximately 2-5 minutes, at which you’ll add the steamed broccoli.

  6. Once everything is thoroughly combined, remove the Dutch oven from heat and immediately stir in the shredded cheddar jack cheese, which surprisingly melts quickly!

  7. Serve yourself up a bowl and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 3-4 large servings and requires attention to the timing.

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