Friday, January 14, 2011

Celery and its stable molecules

Have you ever stopped to think of how often you eat celery? "Oh, I'm not a fan of celery," you may say....well, think again!

Growing up, celery onion and bell pepper were the base of most foods that came out of our kitchen. We found it in salads, beans with rice, and soups. Celery was always in the refrigerator though we rarely ate it raw - it was just one of those ingredients that you knew belonged everywhere.

The same is true today if we take a look at recipes but even more so when we looked at prepared or processed foods.  For example, bacon.  Does bacon really need celery?  How about hot dogs?  Or vegetable stock? Or crackers?  There's celery seed, celery root, celery stalks....

Last week, an article titled "Study pinpoint novel allergen in celery" and published on shed a little light on the subject of celery allergy research for those of us not in the medical field. 
Reseachers have identified 3 celery allergens at the molecular level.  Of these 3 allergens, one in particular seems to be resistant to heat.  That means that even cooking it in soups or with meats will not alter it enough to make it tolerable.  To complicate matters further, the molecules in celery appear stable and not easily digestable.  So, although celery is not one of the top 8 common allergens, it is not far behind and should not be overlooked nor underestimated. 

This is not good news for those with celery allergies because celery is a difficult ingredient to identify.  Unlike many other ingredients, the FDA does not require celery inclusion to be listed on labels.  Furthermore, when celery is used in processed foods, it is often considered a proprietary ingredient and listed as "spice" or "flavor".  This makes it especially difficult to identify foods which contain celery.   For someone who is allergic, this can be challenging to say the least.

In my home, we have managed a celery allergy along with the others that challenge us.  While I wouldn't say that clery is the single most difficult allergy to manage, I would ceratinly say that it is among the most difficult.  My angel's allergy to celery has meant giving up hot dogs, making our own sausage, boiling our own stocks, and mixing our own spices. It has meant countless hours on the phone with food companies trying to elicite their exact "secret" ingredients.  And, it has pushed me to devour cookbooks looking for recipes without all of the complex "spices" found in processed foods.  But, when the day is done and I reflect on all that has been done, I believe it was time well-spent. By subsituting allergy-free homemade foods for allergic processed ones, I think that my family is eating healthier.  I may have to work a little bit harder, but I am thankful that our celery allergy forced us to learn healthier eating habits. 

So... thank you, Celery!

1 comment:

  1. You're amazing! I hadn't even thought of celery as an allergen. Isaiah had it for the first time a couple weeks ago with sunflower seed butter. He didn't like it. Can't say I blame him, but I figured it was worth a shot. Anyway, sometimes I'm thankful for his allergies. He absolutely eats more healthily than we do. A blessing in disguise in some ways, I guess.