My Food Style

Light the Grill - Steps to enjoying safe BBQ

Is there a better way to start the day than enjoying the little t-ball game behind my home? There is something about parents cheering and aluminum bats clanging that bring back memories for me, for I was once the dirty faced kid who slid face first into everything, sometime for no particular reason. I was also the kid who tried to use his post game meal ticket twice at the snack shack. Unfortunately, for me they were too smart for my tricks. As a result, my love for food and the endless ways I tried to get it has brought me here to my patio where I am once again wishing I had that famous meal ticket. If only I could still fit into my uniform? It would be hilarious if I tried to climb into a stranger’s minivan. However, I doubt the police would share the same enthusiasm. I am better off here standing at the baseball field enormously hungry trying to figure out how to work some food into my roaring belly.

Luckily, for me, my patio is equipped with a grill and some fuel. All I need is a good recipe and some tongs and I can have my own post game feast. So I have listed below a battle plan - if you will – designed to formulate the greatest backyard BBQ. Keeping in mind that you (my readers) have Interstitial Cystitis, this battle plan is intended to feed your own team. If you follow the steps you will soon be on your way to mouth watering chicken smothered in BBQ sauce, cooled downed by classic potato salad and ice tea!

Step One: The Grill

You must have the right tools to grill, thus grilling begins with the grill itself. Most of us have the basic gas grill, which will do the job just fine, however they do come with some flare causing qualities. For starters, their hot rocks are exposed directly below your food, when the fat in your meat begins to render, it will drip onto the hot rocks creating smoke. Smoke contains PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which are harmful for not only those with Interstitial Cystitis but for everyone. Even though you cannot avoid PAH altogether, you can limit its contact with your food by grilling leaner cuts of meat and poultry, finishing the cooking process in the oven.

Step Two: The Meat

Use leaner cuts of meat like, top sirloin (beef), top round steaks (beef), tenderloin (beef), skinless chicken breast, lamb, pork tenderloin, pork bone in rib chop, venison, buffalo (bison), shrimp, or fish. For this dish, I have chosen skinless chicken breasts. I prefer to butterfly my chicken breasts before grilling because it cuts the cooking process in half, which will allow less time for the PAH to contact your food. Grill each side of the chicken breasts for three minutes before you add the BBQ sauce. When you add the BBQ sauce, lower your grill heat to low and grill each side for an additional minute, basting with BBQ between each flip. Rotate each breast three times per side, this will ensure you get a nice sweet crust.

Step Three: The Sauce

BBQ sauce is evil. Mine is not.
1-cup carrot juice

¼-cup blueberry juice
1 garlic clove – minced

1-cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons wheat flour

Salt to taste

Melt the butter first. Then sauté the garlic over medium heat for 30 seconds until it becomes aromatic. Increase the flame to medium high and add the flour, stirring for one minute (it should clump up). Add the carrot juice, blueberry juice, and brown sugar and stir for one minute. The sauce should thicken to the consistency of BBQ sauce, if it has not stir until it does. Remove the sauce from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Step Four: The Sides

Potato salad is a staple at my BBQ as well as everyone else’s in these 50 states. I make this potato salad with no mayonnaise and it contains no vinegar or citrus. It will be new to most people who did not grow up eating German potato salad, but it will still please your taste buds.

4 potatoes

1-tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup chopped parsley or chives

Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes in salt water until fork tender, drain and let cool. Add the flour, water, and honey into a sauté pan and stir over medium heat until thickened. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and then add the parsley and salt. Toss and cool.

Step Five: The Drink

Anything served ice cold would surely feel nice on a hot day. I normally make a large pitcher of ice water but with all these great flavors, I have to choose to use blueberry herbal tea. Blueberry herbal tea will compliment the blueberries in the BBQ sauce and keep any threat of a flare at bay!

What else do you need? Start those grills and enjoy a good game of T-ball.

Dinner with the ICA - How to Order When Dining Out

My business partner, Sean Williams, and I spent a wonderful night with Barbara Gordon, Executive Director of the Interstitial Cystitis Association. While discussing the many avenues we could explore to better assist those with IC, we had a surprising moment of insight in regard to a blog I wrote in which I encouraged you to asked questions when dining out.

We took my own advice and put it to work. Unfortunately the many questions we asked - all every simple questions - only confused our waiter. It was disappointing to see how very little those who serve us really know about what they are serving.

After finishing our meals and saying our goodbyes, I drove home and began considering this blog. I reflected on the poor waiter who could not answer any of our questions and I wondered, what if I had Interstitial Cystitis. Surely, the young man reading the specials would have no idea what to recommend. Sadly, I experienced how the world has little exposure to the existence of Interstitial Cystitis, thus making dining out a dangerous escape.

The continued efforts by people like Barbara Gordon and her team at the Interstitial Cystitis Association are to educate millions on the reality and presence of IC. As a chef and dedicated member of this cause, it is obvious that my aim should be to educate you - the one with IC - on how to approach a dining experience.

Planning a romantic night away from the house is pleasurable to anyone with or without IC. So how can you take your food style into a gourmet restaurant and walk out satisfied?

First, look over the menu - on the internet - of the restaurant where you would like to dine. Try to recognize how many things are actually safe for you to eat.

The tough part is finding a chef who is as excited as I am to accommodate your food style. Contacting the chef may seem daunting, but do not let it be. A great chef will go to every length to meet your food style. Ask to speak to the chef face to face when you arrive at the restaurant, it should be an honor for the chef. At this point, you can walk the chef through your diet.

Lastly, always have a few things in mind that would be easy for a chef to prepare. On the slim chance that the chef is not willing to serve you, you can always ask for a simple dish like sautéed vegetables and grilled chicken, or roasted beef with pan-seared mushrooms. This way you do not have to leave, and you can savor the night.




The Onions Triumphant Return

Onions here, onions there, onions seem to be everywhere! Bulb onions are among the laundry list of problem foods created for those with Interstitial Cystitis. However, onions have many layers beyond their appearance. They are sweet, tangy, and sharp, but they can also be rich, deep, and hearty.  Even though you have Interstitial Cystitis, there may be hope yet that you can enjoy the depth of flavorful onions.

In their raw state, onions contain amino acid sulfoxides and when cut these acids are released into the air making a lot of us cry. When you digest bulb onions, amino acid sulfoxides irritate your bladder. Caramelizing onions reduces the presence of these amino acid sulfoxides and increases the sweet qualities making onions safer to eat. Now I am not saying that I have solved the onion crisis, but science has proved these facts are accurate. We are all aware that the severity of flares fluctuate from person too person, so you may or may not be able to enjoy caramelized onions.

Onions are listed on the try it list - developed by both the ICA and ICN - and if you follow the elimination diet I would encourage you to eat caramelized onions as an alternative to just sautéed onions. The probability for flares is greatly reduced, but like I stated before, still very real. If you have enjoyed onions in the past and miss them dearly, you can follow the recipe for caramelized onions found in my recipe section.

Caramelized onions create a large number of different flavors, adding depth and sweetness to many dishes.  Therefore, I hope you unearth the ability to enjoy onions as they make their triumphant return to your dinner table.

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