How to make the most of a smoothie bowl if you have latex-fruit syndrome
Can't eat avocado? banana? Mango? I know, it sucks. But you don't have to miss out!
When I first found out I had latex-fruit syndrome, I really thought my luck couldn't get any worse.
The worst part about it was that the fruits that were now causing me extreme bloating and stomach cramps, were actually my favourite fruits to eat: avocado, mango, pineapple, banana, all dramatically cut out of my diet. It was a bleak day.
For those of you who have never heard of latex-fruit syndrome before, here are some facts:
- There is a 30-50% chance of people who have latex allergies to react badly to fruits that contain similar proteins. - The structural similarities of the proteins in these fruits and latex leads to a reaction, because the body confuses the fruits for latex.
- This is called cross-reactivity, but does not always mean that you react to both latex and the fruits that bear a similar biological structure. Many people who react to latex do not show any reaction when they consume the fruits, and the same goes for people who react to the fruits who don't react to latex itself. Like lucky old me.
- The fruits that can, but not always, cause reactions are: avocado, banana, papaya, chestnut, kiwi, tomato, celery, pineapple, apple, melon, potato, eggplant, passion fruit, mango, cherimoya, green pepper
- Just because you react to one fruit, does not mean you will react to all of them
- The symptoms can be: bloating, gas, stomach cramps, constipation and/or diarrhea
Worth the pain?
Despite knowing all of this, I continued to eat the fruits that upset my stomach, simply because I loved them so much and didn't want to miss out. Imagine a toddler throwing a tantrum, "IT'S NOT FAIR!"
The more I ate, the more I unsettled myself, and it got to the point where pretty much anything I ate was bloating me and causing me pain - even worse, I couldn't fit into my favourite jeans. *gasps in horror*
After a painfully boring week of eating soups and broths to re-set my sad little tummy, I decided to cut out all the fruits I knew upset me, and just grin and bear all the avocado brunches I knew I could never have.
I got used to this after a while; I enjoy a challenge in the kitchen and it forced me to get creative with my breakfast and brunch choices. However the one thing I was at a real stand still with was smoothies.
I always thought bananas are pretty much a staple element to any smoothie - they bring the sweet and the thickness, not to mention that they're great for your gut (if you don't have fruit-latex syndrome, of course.) Mango and pineapple are the base of any tropical smoothie, and avocado is great to adding extra creaminess for a more decadent option. So I pretty much had berries to use, and I felt cheated, hard done by, so I huffed and puffed and neglected the blender for years.
For my 24th birthday, a friend bought me some coconut bowls as a memory of our times travelling around South-East Asia two years previously. I became determined to use them to all their beauty, and knew the best way to do this was smoothie bowls.
What to do?
After some disastrous experimentations with different ingredients and a couple of lapses in eating the fruits I shouldn't (one is only human) I came to some pretty positive revelations.
Unfortunately, there is no real substitute for mango and pineapple, so tropical smoothies were a no go. However, I did find some great hacks to get the same consistency, natural sweetness and creaminess of banana by using ingredients equally as good for you!
For those of you that don't have any allergies, but just don't like the flavour of bananas, pay attention. This is for you too!
- For starters, always ALWAYS use frozen fruit for your smoothie bowls. it gives it the thickness needed to place on your toppings without them sinking into the mixture. Did you even have a smoothie bowl if you didn't take a picture of your artistically presented fruits and granola and send it to your mum?
- Chia seeds. I am not a fan of chia pudding, but I like chia as a topping on smoothie bowls as its full of antioxidants and pretty great for you. However, when added to the smoothie blend, chia doesn't go jelly-like as it does in chia pudding, it just gives it a stronger structure - this is great if you're making a smoothie to keep in the fridge for your breakfast the next morning, or even as a snack!
- Vanilla yoghurt is great for adding creaminess and sweetness - I use Alpro's vanilla soya yoghurt as I love the subtle flavour of soya, but any vanilla yoghurt can work.
- Oat milk. I drink oat milk with anything I can, purely because I love the creaminess of it, and it really does work wonders in a smoothie, especially if you're going for a nut butter and cacao option.
Thickness, sweetness AND creaminess!
Frozen coconut chunks. Now, these are virtually impossible to come by, so I created my own version by freezing good quality coconut milk in tubs, and scooping out like ice cream when needed. Honestly, it's probably one of the greatest successes of my life so far.