Traditional Holiday Vegetables Are Bladder Friendly – Fresh Tastes by Bev

By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB

November is a perfect month for taking stock of the good things and good people in our lives. And perhaps this year more than ever, those of us with IC need a day of Thanksgiving to relax, de-stress, and to help us refocus on the good things and the supportive relationships in our life.

Across America families will be sitting down together not only to enjoy a holiday feast but to experience togetherness. Many of us will be serving foods our grandmothers made according to old family recipes. Some of these family favorites feature foods of North American origin, such as roast turkey, corn, or maple syrup. Others are made according to exotic recipes handed down from ancestors in the “old country”. In the cultural melting pot that is America, each family has its own uniquely blended culinary heritage. This year at Thanksgiving, say those who follow such trends, tradition will be definitely “in” and novelty will be “out”. Old family recipes and foods of North American origin will be prominent on our tables at Thanksgiving this year.

Unfortunately, one of the most traditional American dishes served at this time of year is cranberry sauce. Cranberries, though in recent years advised for people with bladder infections, are extremely acid. They’re definitely not advised for people with IC because they are guaranteed to give IC bladders hours or days of misery. Other foods– turkey, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes for instance, traditionally served at Thanksgiving and other times during the winter months, are fairly safe for IC bladders.

Yams and sweet potatoes (they’re different vegetables altogether) are tasty sweet treats that manyof us think of as “comfort food” and are most often served during the winter months. Invariably baked with sweetly pungent spices they give a delicious scent to the whole house when they are baking. Sweet potatoes, by the way, are great sources of vitamin A (they have more than carrots). They’re also a good source of fiber, which for us is important because dietary fiber can help offset the constipating effects of antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants and prescription painkillers.

Ever wonder what it is that makes leaves red and yellow in autumn? It’s carotenoids, the same family of plant pigments that color yellow fruits and vegetables. It’s the carotenoids in fruits like apricots and peaches and vegetables like yams and sweet potatoes, that gives us vitamin A. Although they are frequently seen on tables at Thanksgiving, Americans eat less sweet potatoes these days than we used to. In rural America in the 19th century, root crops such as these were stored after harvest in a “root cellar” a small space under the house where the cool air kept these vegetables fresh for months. During long winters, sweet potatoes were a source of vitamins A, C, and pantothenic acid (a nutrient that helps our body’s cells make energy). Here is a simple but very tasty recipe for fresh sweet potatoes. It’s based on one I acquired many years ago from an elderly lady in New Hampshire. In the northeastern U.S., maple sugar is a favorite sweetener.

Maple Baked Sweet Potatoes

– servings : 3 or 4

  • 2 fresh sweet potatoes (not yams)
  • 1/4 cup stick margarine
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  • margarine, vegetable oil, or non-stick cooking spray
  1. Coat a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with margarine or non-stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with vegetable oil. Peel sweet potatoes and slice in half-inch thick slices. Melt margarine in a saucepan then stir in maple syrup, almond extract, and nutmeg, mixing thoroughly. Toss potato slices in the liquid mixture to coat. Spoon slices into the casserole dish, pouring remaining liquid over them. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F. for 35 minutes or until potato slices are soft.

While yams are an entirely different root vegetable from sweet potatoes, we often think of them as being the same because they can substitute so easily for each other in recipes. This is a quick-to-make recipe for yams. The fruit used in this recipe can be varied according to your bladder’s sensitivity. Of course the safest fruit for us are pears, but apricots and peaches can be delicious in this recipe if your bladder can tolerate them. If your family would prefer peaches or apricots, you might also try this: use peaches on half the dish and pears on the other half (or make your serving separately with pears).

Yam and Fruit Bake

– serves 4

  • 2 pounds canned or cooked yams, sliced about 3/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-oz can sliced pears, peaches or apricots
  • 3 Tbsp. stick butter or margarine
  1. Drain yams and slice. Combine brown sugar, chopped cashews, ginger and salt. In a 10 x 6 or 10-inch square baking dish, layer sliced yams and half of the pears. Cover with half the brown sugar mixture. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients. With a knife, shave thin pieces of butter from the stick and scatter across the top of the casserole. Bake covered, at 350 degrees F. For 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Spoon some of the sugar syrup over the yams before serving.

Notes: Of all the nuts, almonds and cashews are the only ones well tolerated by IC bladders. However, some people can’t even tolerate those. Also, ginger is a pungent spice and in large amounts may not be tolerated by IC bladders. The amount in this mild recipe is very small and usually well-tolerated, but be careful if you increase the amount. If your bladder is extremely sensitive and you know that any amount of ginger bothers your bladder, you can substitute half a teaspoon of cinnamon for the ginger. Let your bladder’s experience be your guide.