ICN Feature Column - FRESH TASTES by Bev Laumann

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You Are Here: IC Network : Fresh Tastes : June 2001

A Soup For Summer Meals

Who has time to cook in June? Graduations, conventions, weddings, vacations, kids' summer sports programs... everyone's so busy. And Lord knows most of us would like to slim down and once again fit into those itsy bitsy summer outfits. It's no wonder light meals are the order of the day in many families. But when we lighten up on the food, we need to make sure we don't skimp on the water and fluids. For many people with IC, particularly those whose symptoms are more pain than frequency, dehydration can provoke bladder pain. Soups for supper are one tasty way to keep well hydrated.

If you're like me, all the warm weather activity can bring on a stress induced bladder flare. So I have to watch the menu pretty carefully. We have light meals on these sultry summer evenings and a homemade soup with a small salad are just perfect. A bit of finely chopped fresh chives, fresh basil or fresh oregano flavors an undressed salad of moist garden greens (see Fresh Tastes,
April 2001, "It's Salad Season!
").
Bread sticks complement homemade soup as do soda crackers, baked tortilla chips or Pringles potato chips (no preservatives and less fat than potato chips). If you can't find commercially made bread sticks that your bladder enjoys, try the homemade version (see Fresh Tastes, September 1999, "Vitamin E and the IC Diet").

Though canned soups are quick to fix all the popular brands are a minefield of additives. Organic pea soup (made by Amy's Kitchen) is available at Whole Foods Markets (a national chain - check your local phone book). It's free of preservatives, hydrolyzed proteins and protein isolates that can trigger bladder pain. Best of all, for those with IBS who are sensitive to gas-forming foods, this manufacturer appears to have mercifully made the product the old-fashioned way. Even if most canned pea soups cause horrible gas and flare up your IBS, this one may be tolerable.

Can't find good canned soup that your bladder likes too? Homemade soups are so much tastier anyway and this month's feature is a healthful and easy to make light meal.

Mild Bean, Barley and Lentil Soup

Oh soup, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: First, and most importantly of course, I can count on this basic mild recipe to not upset my finicky bladder on stressful days! It's flavorful, low-fat, and protein-packed too. It freezes well and it's just the thing to heat up for a light summer dinner when I don't want to heat up the kitchen. Best of all, my husband really enjoys it. (No cooking one recipe for him and another for me just because my bladder is flaring!)

Then too, if my bladder decides to behave for awhile or I'm expecting company for dinner, this soup is so versatile that I can give it real pizzaz by simply adding a few more ingredients. But wait! There's more: I can make a large batch and refrigerate portions for use the next day or two what a time saver for an activity packed summer! Friends and relatives with special diets can eat it too. This recipe's got vegetarian, low-sodium, or low-oxalate variations to please just about everyone, so enjoy!

2/3 cup dry lentils
1/3 cup dry kidney beans
1 Tablespoon barley, hulled or pearled
2-1/2 cups water
2 cups Health Valley low-fat chicken broth
2 pork loin chops, trimmed and chopped in 3/4-inch chunks
vegetable oil
1/3 cup sliced carrots
2/3 cup sliced celery
1-1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon onion salt

Cover dry beans, barley and lentils with at least two inches of water in a large pot. Let soak for 6 to 8 hours (overnight, while you do Saturday morning chores, or while you are at work). Pour off the soak water and rinse with fresh water. Drain, then add 2-1/2 cups of water and the 2 cups of broth to the beans. Cover and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, trim fat off the pork chops and cut in chunks. Then brown the pork in a skillet with a little vegetable oil. Add browned pork, carrots, celery, marjoram, fennel seed, and onion salt to the boiling pot of beans. Cover and let boil about 2 minutes. (At this point you can take it off the stove, refrigerate, and continue cooking later in the day.) Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer for 3 hours. With back of a spoon, stir and crush a few lentils to make a creamier consistency. (Serves 4)

Soup Variations--

Spice-it-up: Add black pepper to taste, 1/2 cup sauteed onions and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder. Throw in some cooked mild or spicy Italian sausage. (Even mild sausage that lacks cayenne pepper tends to have some drawbacks for the IC patient: MSG, benzoates, and paprika or worse yet, oleoresin paprika. If you have to avoid all those ingredients but can have a bit of nitrates in the sausage, try Aidell's Chicken and Apple sausage (Aidell's Sausage Company; www.aidells.com). Or make a trip to your local natural foods store. As your bladder improves with medical treatment you might find that spicy is occasionally okay for you but preservatives still bother your bladder. Check out Whole Foods, Wild Oats or Trader Joe's markets. These
stores sell preservative free Italian sausage).

Low-oxalate: You may want to avoid the oxalates in celery. Try using broccoli instead.

Vegetarian: Natural food stores sell a variety of vegetable broths that can substitute for the chicken broth. But be careful about adding tofu or other vegetable-based meat substitutes. The protein in them has been hydrolyzed and as a result they often contain quite a bit of pain provoking glutamates.

Low-sodium: Health Valley makes a low sodium version of their MSG-free chicken broth. Also, substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of onion flakes or 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives for the onion salt.

Serving suggestion:
Warmed bread is great with just about any soup. My local Trader Joe's store carries a wonderful wheat and potato flour bread I enjoy (Trader Joe's brand Shepherd Bread). Trader Joe's is a national chain, so check your phone book for local stores. The only drawback to this preservative-free bread is that in the warm weather it molds quickly. One solution for small families is to keep the loaf in the freezer and only take out slices as they are needed. Slices defrost in about 10 or 15 minutes when left on the kitchen counter).



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