As published in Eco Parent Magazine
Low allergen soup with a watercress option!
Spring is a time of growth and renewal. Budding flowers, bursting blossoms, and allergy flares! This brings us to why anyone would choose to eat a low-histamine diet. Histamine is an organic compound, chemically described as an amine, and is naturally high in certain foods. Symptoms of histamine intolerance include allergies, itching, nasal congestion, breathing difficulties, headaches, bloating, cramping, sleep disturbances, and even anxiety. Histamine is found in a number of foods. The following recipe includes some tasty ingredients that are not only low in histamine, but also contain nutrients that help to reduce inflammation and reactivity.
LOW-HISTAMINE GREENS: ARUGULA OR WATERCRESS
Spinach is a food that, sadly for some, must be avoided while following a histamine elimination diet. But fear not! Arugula and watercress are excellent low-histamine substitutes, so you can still get your greens on! Why are these greens so good? Arugula is a member of the powerful cruciferous family of vegetables (think broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts). It derives its antioxidant, detoxifying, and anti-inflammatory properties from compounds like glucosinolates and flavonoids. As for watercress, research tells us that two of the constituents in Nasturtium officionale (its lovely Latin name) — flavonols and megastigmanes — significantly inhibit histamine release, which means less allergic reaction.
CREAMY ARUGULA SOUP RECIPE
This creamy, dairy-free soup features lightly cooked arugula, but can also be made with watercress. While watercress’s growth and availability peaks in the spring, arugula can be bought all year long, so use whichever you can source. Both leafy greens have a peppery, fresh flavour, and produce a light and refreshing spring soup!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb sweet potatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks (about 3 potatoes)
4-5 cups water or fresh vegetable broth
1½ tsp sea salt
4 cups fresh arugula or watercress
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: coconut milk or coconut cream for topping
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and sauté the onion and celery until tender, about 8 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute or so, until fragrant.
Add sweet potatoes, 4 cups of water or broth, and salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover to let the vegetables simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 6-8 minutes.
Add the arugula or watercress to the pot and stir until wilted, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth, then return the soup to the pot and warm over medium heat.
Season with additional salt and black pepper, to taste.
You can garnish with a splash of coconut milk or coconut cream (the thick cream found in a chilled can of coconut milk) and a few sprigs of the fresh greens you used in the soup.