Everyone wants an IC grocery shopping list. Well, I couldn’t come up with one that would satisfy everyone, but I do have these recommendations for the top 15 healthiest choices.

FRIDGE:
Eggs – Try Omega-3 eggs (like Eggland’s Best) for anti-inflammatory properties, or any for a complete protein source and quick meals

Baby spinach/greens – Nature’s nutrient power-house (vitamin A, C, Calcium, fiber, folate, potassium and anti-oxidants) toss in pasta or soup or “hide” by blenderizing into sauces or smoothies

Colored Sweet Bell Peppers – Not the green or hot ones, twice as much vitamin C as an orange and a terrific tomato substitute – easy to oven roast to really bring out the flavor

Apples – Gala and Fuji are most IC friendly, only 80 calories, full of fiber and sweet. Other types (not Granny Smith) are “try-it”s. Topping for oatmeal and a snack mate for peanut butter

Greek Yogurt – It may be a “try-it” item, but so full of calcium, protein, magnesium, probiotics and vitamin D. Organic types may have less sugar and fewer preservatives. Skip artificially sweetened and those flavored with “avoid” fruits and flavors

FROZEN:
Blueberries – Frozen, fresh or dried – a super source of vitamin C, fiber and anti-oxidants – the best cranberry substitute. Raspberries blackberries and cherries are “try-it” options

90% lean turkey or chicken – check labels and avoid those with “added broth”, flavorings and preservatives. High in protein, iron, zinc and fewer calories than beef

Frozen veggies – Frozen can retain more nutrients than “fresh” depending how long it’s been sitting at the store or traveling. Avoid added sauces and season with IC friendly herbs

Frozen Shrimp – low-cal, high protein – so easy for quick dinners or an appetizer. Excellent with basil pesto

PANTRY:
Pouch “tuna style” salmon or light tuna – a major source of Omega 3’s, a low-cal protein and at times the only appetizing seafood available. A patty recipe on the label was IC friendly minus the Worcestershire sauce

Nuts – Almonds, peanuts and cashews – not just for snacking – filling and chock full of anti-inflammatory oils, vegetarian, gluten-free, fiber, iron, vitamin E and a good source of protein. If calories are a concern – limit to 20-30 per serving

Nut Butters – Don’t be afraid of the price. Compared to meat it’s a cheap protein alternative and an amazing apple, celery topper

Canned (or frozen) lentils, chick peas and white beasns – Tons of fiber, protein and healthy carbs – another cheap IC meat sub. Rinse, season with garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and basil then toss with roasted red peppers and pasta or salad – no cooking!

Oats – Learn to love it, an IC lifesaver! Bladder-soothing, high fiber and all natural. Make ahead and refrigerate to save time

Olive Oil – Heart healthy, anti-inflammatory and a few teaspoons with herbs adds lots of flavor and not too many calories

We hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving and were able to sample some TG specialties (yes, thyme, sage and rosemary, favorite TG herbs, are IC friendly) thanks to a little Prelief and choosing apples over cranberries!

Here are two holiday dips to use on Christmas or New Year’s Day. Thank you, Marcia!

PUMPKIN-MAPLE DIP
In a food processor, combine a 4-oz. package (not tub) room temperature cream cheese, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (if tolerated) and a pinch of salt. Process until smooth. Place in serving bowl.
Serve with sliced Gala or Fuji apples, Ace brand whole wheat bread (no preservatives) or graham crackers (if tolerated). Makes 2 cups.

pumpkin maple dip

CARAMELIZED ONION AND WHITE BEAN DIP
In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over low heat. Add 2 large thinly sliced sweet onions (cooking onions sometimes makes them more tolerable); sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned, about 40 minutes. If onions start to burn, add a little water and stir. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Set aside 1 tablespoon onions for garnish. Place remainder in a food processor with 1 14-oz. can drained and rinsed white beans, 1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Puree until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Place into serving bowl and top with reserved onions.
Serve with potato chips (check ingredients: IC friendly chips contain potatoes, vegetable oil, no soybean oil and salt) sliced veggies like IC friendly carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and our favorite, red, orange and yellow sweet bell peppers (green if tolerated), or a preservative free whole wheat pita or flat bread. Makes about 2 cups.
If you don’t have a food processor, a blender or hand mixer works.

bean dip

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Here’s a yummy dessert our IC friend Marcia graciously provided. Thanks!!
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

Custard

4 cups cored, peeled and sliced gala apples
2 eggs
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or all-spice (if not tolerated try a very small sprinkle)

Streusel

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 chopped almonds

Grease a 9 inch square glass baking dish. Prepare apples and set aside. Beat eggs, add sweetened condensed milk, melted butter and cinnamon. Add apples and stir to coat. Combine sugar and flour in another bowl; cut in cold butter or margarine until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375. Bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool and enjoy. Refrigerate leftovers.

Here are some helpful excerpts from a post about low acid coffee from Jill Osbourne, MA, the founder of the IC Network and author of several IC books. I added tips like where these items might be found in West Michigan.
– Not every IC patient can and should drink even low acid coffees. If you have, for example, Hunner’s ulcers, severe petechial hemorrhaging in your bladder or are currently in a major flare, you should only be drinking water, milk, chamomile tea and/or peppermint tea until your bladder has the opportunity to heal.
-Patients whose bladders are in better shape may find low acid coffees to be tolerable if used in modest quantities. Our favorite grocery store brand is Folger’s Simply Smooth regular or decaffeinated found at Meijer or Family Fare Stores.
-Specialty coffees available in Grand Rapids from Schuil Coffee on 29th St or Herman’s Boy in Rockford offer ground coffees from areas of the world where the acidity of the coffee beans is naturally lower like Brazil, Guatemala, Sumatra and Zimbabwe. We have found Zimbabwe Blend, Sumatran Mandeling and Celebas Kohlasi to name a few. Some have even been available at Meijer Stores as is a low acid Columbian.
-A more recently available brand, Simpatico is roasted in Holland, MI. They are expanding and opening a facility in downtown Grand Rapids and are set to be vendors at the new Downtown Market in July. And for those of you pining for a low acid espresso, Simpatico offers one which has won rave reviews for it’s low acidity (5.7pH) and excellent flavor with a score of 87/100 when tested by Coffee Reviews.
-Puroast, a low acid coffee distributed on the IC Network direct sales website, also performed very well. The Puroast Guatemalan Dark Roast had a pH of 5.9 and a flavor score of 84. Tyler’s Acid Free coffee, also available on the IC Network website, had a lower acidity at 5.7, but the flavor fell far short at 68. Another lower acid coffee, Euromild, was not reviewed, but is popular as well. Many of these companies have a variety of choices to appeal to many tastes.
-Even brewing methods help make a more bladder friendly cup of coffee. A cold-water brewing method using a Coffee Toddy, available at Schuil’s and Herman’s Boy, extracts less acid from the coffee grounds than do hot-water brewing methods.
-How are low acid coffees made? Low acid coffee can be produced from specific beans, processing methods and brewing method. The altitude coffee is grown at can make a profound difference as well, the lower the growing elevation the less acidity produced. Harvesting methods can also reduce acidity, particularly if they dry the whole fruit naturally. The processing of coffee beans can also reduce acidity. Some companies use a proprietary, very slow roasting method which reduces acidity while others first steam coffee beans to reduce their waxy outer layer. Dark roasting, as opposed to medium roasting, can also dramatically reduce acidity.
-A note about caffeine: anyone who drinks caffeinated beverages know that it makes them urinate more frequently. Why? Caffeine is a diuretic, stimulating urination by increasing blood pressure within the capillaries in our kidneys which then increases blood filtration resulting in an increase in urine. But, caffeine also decreases the ability of our kidneys to filter water, thus causing urine to become more concentrated with urea and ammonia. These chemicals may explain why caffeinated beverages are so irritating to our already inflamed bladders. Throw in the acids found in coffee, and you’ve got yourself a caffeinated cup of potential misery. If you are considering trying a low acid coffee, we suggest starting out with a decaffeinated version to minimize this potential effect.
-How to make a low acid IC friendly coffee? 1. Start with naturally low acid beans, roasted to a darker roast! We suggest trying a DECAF before trying regular coffee. 2. Use a cold brew coffee maker. The Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker ($37.99) uses regular coffee but reduces the overall acidity by 67% when compared to hot brewing systems by using a unique, patented cold brew system. 3. Taking the OTC supplement, Prelief, beforehand may reduce/neutralize acidity levels. 4. Start with a small amount to determine if your bladder tolerates it well! 5. Don’t go to excess. One cup of coffee a day is plenty for our more sensitive bladders and if you start having bladder discomfort again, stop immediately to avoid irritating your bladder further. A low acid herbal coffee might be a reasonable alternative, such as Pero, Kaffree Roma, Roastaroma or Cafix found at many grocery stores or health food stores.

Adapted from the http://www.IC-network.com website by Elizabeth Braun, MS,RD GRWH Dietitian


With Spring finally here vary your daily salad and vegetable servings with these raw and cooked  10 great arugula ideas. These recipes will work with any tender spring green; try spinach, watercress, mesclun, dandelion, or young mustard greens.

Eat It Raw:
Use about 9 oz (8 cups) arugula for each salad and add the other ingredients to taste. Dress lightly with herb-infused olive oil, lemon zest (if tolerated), and salt and pepper (if tolerated), or use your favorite IC friendly homemade dressing.

1. Italian
Arugula, sliced radicchio, Parmesan cheese shavings (if tolerated) or fresh sliced mozzarella, quartered artichoke hearts, pitted black olives

2. Summer 
Arugula, diced sweet red bell pepper, fresh corn kernels, fresh basil

3. Steakhouse 
Arugula, sliced steak, cucumber, chopped scallions, crisp bacon (if tolerated)

4. Sweet and Salty 
Arugula, diced fresh pears, crumbled feta cheese, toasted, lightly salted cashews

5. California 
Arugula, crumbled Feta, toasted candied almonds, dried or fresh blueberries

Try It Cooked:

1. Pesto
Puree 2 garlic cloves, 2 cups packed arugula, ½ cup olive oil, and ¼ cup cashews or pinenuts. Add 1 Tbsp lemon zest (if tolerated); season with salt and pepper. Serve on grilled fish or chicken.

2. Pilaf
Sauté 1 diced onion (if tolerated) or garlic in 2 Tbsp canola oil in a pot. Add 1½ cups rice, 2½ cups water, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer. Stir in ¼ cup raisin (if tolerated)s and ¼ cup ­slivered almonds. When rice is tender, stir in 2 cups packed arugula.

3. Sandwich
Layer slices of ripe peach (if tolerated) or fresh sliced fuji apples, thin slices of Gruyère cheese, and a handful of arugula between 2 slices of whole wheat bread. Bake until cheese melts.

4. Pasta
Combine ¾ lb cooked whole wheat spaghetti, 1/2 cup steamed mushrooms, 1/2 cup steamed carrots, with 2 cups packed arugula,  ¼ cup chopped parsley, 3 Tbsp pine nuts, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Warm.

5. Pizza
Top a whole wheat pizza crust with ­basil pesto, a handful of arugula, sautéed broccoli, and shredded mozzarella. Bake at 425°F until cheese melts.

Ideas adapted from Parade Magazine Sunday April 21, 2013 by Elizabeth Braun, MS, RD for the Interstitial Cystitis Diet

http://www.parade.com/6201/parade/10-fresh-ways-to-use-arugula/

One of the most common questions I get from interstitial cystitis (IC) patients is, “What can I put on my salad?” The answer is, “Plenty!” The trick is to pile the salad itself with flavorful vegetables, herbs, IC friendly fruit, cheeses, and nuts so that you aren’t relying solely on the salad dressing for that burst of flavor. You can also try herb‐infused oils for salad dressing or create homemade dressings with suitable substitutes for the vinegar or mayonnaise base. You can even make your own croutons. Finally, as always, rely on your own instincts and experience with various ingredients. Here are a couple of salad dressing recipes from Confident Choices: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder to get you started:

Basil Blueberry Non‐Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 c. frozen blueberries, partially thawed
1/2 c. organic, pure blueberry juice
1/2 c. olive oil
1 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. sugar
2 t. finely chopped fresh basil (may substitute thyme)
Pinch salt
Pinch white pepper as tolerated to taste

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend using one‐second “pulses,” checking consistency after every couple of pulses. May also be made without using frozen berries. Simply increase juice to 1 cup.

Homemade and Healthy Ranch Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 c. fat‐free plain yogurt (try organic Greek yogurt!)
1/2 c. low‐fat cottage cheese
1/2 t. lemon zest
1 t. dill
2 t. parsley
1/4 t. minced garlic
Pinch onion powder
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper to taste, if tolerated
Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Store in refrigerator for up to one week past “sell‐by” dates on yogurt and cottage cheese.

Source: http://www.nutraconsults.com/Salads.html

Ingredients:

1/3 c honey

1/2 c almond or peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 c gluten free crispy rice cereal

1 c gluten free uncooked oats

2 Tbsp ground flax seed if tolerated or ground almonds

2 1/2 tsp unsweetened carob powder (optional available at health food stores or online)

Optional: Add your favorite tolerated dried fruit — blueberries, golden or regular raisins, pear or apple chunks.

Instructions:

Microwave honey and nut butter 30-45 sec or until bubbly in a glass bowl. Add vanilla.

Combine rice cereal, oats, flax seed or almonds and carob powder in a large bowl. Stir in honey nut butter mixture until well combined with a spatula as is very sticky.

Pour into lined 8×8 pan and press down until level. Cool then cover and put in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

Cut into bars with sharp knife sprayed with cooking spray. Cut into 8 or more bars, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Leave out 5 min and enjoy!