Hold the Sauerkraut–Clues and Investigation


My Food Diary

First clue: An afternoon headache — I never get those.

Second clue: Several days of increased thumb swelling and generalized achiness in my hands, beginning the morning after the headache.

Investigation: Using my food diary, an essential tool in my healing process, I started a probe into the reaction (aka “setback”) I was having.

I asked myself: Could the reaction be due to grain exposure from feeding our chickens while my spouse was out of town? (We throw cracked corn to lure our eight chickens back into their enclosure for predator-free overnighting after they spend the day grazing freely. Since they have not yet been transitioned to paleo, feeding them involved reaching my hand and arm into a feed sack to scoop their gluten-laden treat and tossing it into their pen, which often results in a puff of grain dust rising up from the ground.) Did I get that headache before or after feeding them?… I can’t be sure–that detail was not noted in my food diary.

What was noted though, was that shortly before that headache, I had sampled homemade sauerkraut for the first time. And that I had eaten some at lunch for the next two days. Hmmm… Time to reach for another essential tool in my healing process: the internet. A search on “homemade sauerkraut” and “headache” and “joint pain” returned a possible piece of the puzzle: that I could have histamine intolerance (HIT).

It is a complicated subject and there are ample resources out there to explain the science behind it, so I won’t venture into explaining it. [The above link is a good starting point for an explanation.]

I will note, though, that many of the recommended foods for Paleo/AIP are high histamine foods, including:

  • smoked and cured meats: bacon
  • bone broth
  • sauerkraut
  • fish (including sardines)
  • citrus (the lime part of bacon and lime)
  • aged meats
  • spinach
  • avocados

to name just a few. And leftovers.

I am going to pay attention to this, but I am not sure yet about my approach. Have things now become more challenging?… When I first started writing this post I thought they had. But then I checked in with The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, whose Autoimmune Protocol I am following, and I read her encouraging words on the subject and decided to not get all crazy and more restrictive with my intake just now.

One very helpful quote from her post is: “…often health doesn’t come from what you take away, but rather what you add.” So while I will probably scale back my consumption of sauerkraut for the time being, I am going to continue drinking bone broth and eating avocados for awhile. Bacon though? Oh, I hope so!

Another possible cause of the reaction to eating homemade sauerkraut is bacteria die off from the probiotics. Another possibility to explore.


Keeping it Simple Today

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Lunch: 50/50 beef & heart burger, wilted beet greens and warmed blueberries

I took advantage of a day and evening at home alone to tackle some outstanding projects, so it was helpful to have some quick and easy meals available for lunch and supper. For the noon meal I cooked up a 50/50 burger patty that I had ground, shaped and frozen last week. To go with it, I wilted some beet greens in the same skillet and then warmed some frozen home-grown blueberries in the same skillet. Easy and so delicious. I enjoyed eating lunch in the open air.

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Browning pastured beef oxtail in virgin palm oil

In between doing some paint touch up work and rinsing brushes and roller and tending to other projects, I started a pot of oxtail soup. We were out of carrots, and I am putting a pause on eating onions, garlic and leeks (FODMAPs), so I decided to forego adding anything else. Just strip it down to basics. I used a total of three ingredients: pastured beef oxtail browned in virgin palm oil, followed by topping the beef with water and simmering it all afternoon.

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Serving oxtail soup for supper a few hours later. Plus a bit of homemade coleslaw, roasted butternut squash and a second bowl of oxtail soup.

Late in the afternoon I popped a butternut squash into the oven and by the time I had finished up my projects and cleaned up, supper was waiting for me: oxtail soup–two bowls of it–the first of which I added some pink himalayan salt, the second I didn’t, butternut squash and another sampling of my sauerkraut (day 6).

Tomorrow I will get to the grocery store and stock up on carrots and greens and other non FODMAP veggies and fruits. More winter squash, easy to prepare and so nutritious.

Nose-to-Tail Movement


This morning I updated my morning yoga class about the state of my wellness, since I feel that my wellness impacts my teaching. I mentioned the idea I had come across in my research of eating what ails you and how that had led me to start preparing and consuming pig’s feet bone broth. (In fact I am going to drink some in a sec). One of my students remarked that she would have to eat the whole animal. Which got a chuckle. And is profound in its deeper significance. So I wanted to note here for readers who might be unfamiliar–there is a Whole Animal/Nose-to-Tail movement. Chef Fergus Henderson might be the spokesperson for the movement with his book: The Complete Nose to Tail. I can’t say for sure. All this is newish for me too. Some chefs are bringing the movement to their restaurants.

Here is some science for you about the nutritional benefits of eating organ meat, from PhD and author Sarah Ballantyne (The Paleo Mom), who has eased some of her own autoimmune issues by following the plan she developed.

Broth time.