Healthy Cook: Allergy Season Healthy Food

Healthy Cook: Allergy Season Healthy Food

Try Some Herbs, Spices, Fruits, and Fish to Ease Spring Allergy Symptoms

THIS HAS BEEN CALLED  the worst allergy season in years. My wife said that, and, judging by the empty tissue boxes in recycling, it’s true.

For a few weeks, she has not said anything nice about oak trees.

She’s not the only one who feels that way. Friends have been commiserating with her while sniffling and sneezing and rubbing their eyes.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. People who suffer from these afflictions don’t have to be made aware of them. They know.

Pills and shots help some people. Some sufferers swear by eating local honey made from bothersome plants.

What works for one person might not help another.

WebMD has published a list of the ten worst cities for springtime allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America made up the list. More than half are Southern cities. None are as far south as we are, thank goodness.

Histamines are not your friend if you suffer from allergies. Even the definition doesn’t make them sound like fun.

“Histamine: A substance that plays a major role in many allergic reactions, dilating blood vessels and making the vessel walls abnormally permeable. Histamine is part of the body’s natural allergic response to substances such as pollens.”

Some foods are purported to ease spring allergy symptoms.

Cooking with Allergy Season Healthy Food

Onions, peppers, apples, tea, red wine, berries, and parsley have something called quercetin, a chemical in some plants that, experts say, might reduce histamine reactions.

Kiwi has plenty of vitamin C that also reduces histamines. So do citrus, apples, strawberries, and watermelon.

Pineapple and fatty fish help for different reasons. Pineapple has bromelain, while fatty fish have Omega-3. Both are said to reduce inflammation. Walnuts and flax seed are rich in Omega-3, too. Flax seed needs to be ground or pulverized to do any good because it will pass through your body whole. An extra coffee grinder makes quick work of flax seed.  

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kim chi, sauerkraut, and kefir can help.

Local honey, from pollen that might be a problem, is said to relieve symptoms. Keeping bees and selling honey is a popular pastime, judging by the many stands and signs around town.

Pat’s Apiaries, here in Polk County, has four varieties of honey, and just to make sure as many bases as possible are covered, they mix all four. The label says “Blended for Allergies.” Look for their stand at local farmers and artisans’ markets.

How about a triple whammy against the season? Make a parfait of yogurt, mixed berries, and a topping of cinnamon and a heavy drizzle of Central Florida honey.  It’s good any time.

An Italian study that followed 4,000 children for 12 months found that those who ate lots of fruits and vegetables had fewer problems with wheezing and shortness of breath than children who ate less. Children who ate more bread and margarine were more likely to wheeze.

Janet Maccaro, PhD, CNC, a clinical nutrition consultant in Scottsdale, Ariz., says spicy foods, those with a little kick, can help stamp out allergy symptoms. “Anise, fennel, horseradish, and hot mustard can all act as natural decongestants — they offer allergy relief by stimulating the mucosal cilia to help break up congestion.”

Without going to too much trouble, you can work some of these kicky foods into your meals:

  • Top cheddar cheese with spicy mustard for a snack or sandwich.
  • A little horseradish peps up mayonnaise or ketchup for a seafood dip. Try it with hushpuppies or corn muffins, too. Read the label on the horseradish to get as few extra ingredients as you can.
  • Curry powder can have a variety of ingredients that fit this bill. If yours is old and wimpy, replace it. Taste a tiny bit before you commit yourself to using a lot. Curry powders vary from mild to fiery.

Curry means “sauce,” so, if you have time and inclination, it’s simple to make a curry by using many individual spices instead of a manufacturer’s idea of what the flavor should be.  

Curries from southern India often are sweeter than those from other areas, and it’s fun, and healthy, to set out many dishes of garnishes that can help your allergies as well as your taste buds.

Here’s an adaptation of a recipe from Indian Food Forever:


Southern Curried Chicken Recipe

3 dried chilies

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

6 cashew nuts

1/3 cup butter

4 small onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

6 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

Juice 1 lemon

2 cups coconut milk


Combine first seven ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.

Melt butter in a frying pan, stir in onions, garlic, and spice paste, for 3 minutes. Add chicken, fry until brown. Set chicken aside.

Pour 1 1/3 cups coconut milk into the pan; simmer sauce until reduced and thickened.

Return chicken to sauce. Add rest of coconut milk and lemon juice. Simmer 10 minutes.

Serve with rice. Garnishes can include kiwi, bananas, pineapple, tomato, apples, strawberries, cashews, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and peanuts.


By: Trent Rowe

Categories: Columns, Health News