Easy Low Histamine Chicken Tacos when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance (also Low FODMAP, Low Lectin, Low Oxalate, Low Salicylate)
If you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance like me, you might not feel like cooking fancy dinners right now.
I love nourishing, delicious food with balanced flavors. And I really enjoyed cooking before I got to my sickest point. I would even have elaborate dinner parties – I loved them!
After my health crashed, though, I just couldn’t pull it together to make meals. So, I was just cobbling things together – it was really just whatever I could manage steaming.
Like steamed carrots, cabbage, and chicken…that would be dinner. It got very boring very quickly.
And I was taking the wrong approach to foods – I kept whittling away, taking out more and more foods. To where there was no way to balance flavors or even nutrients. I got down to 10 foods (if I didn’t count seasoning).
I made a lot of mistakes on my journey to health. But I also learned a lot of important lessons.
One of the important lessons that I learned was to not continue taking foods out of my diet. Doing that can lead to “10 foods left.” Or even 5 foods left. It happens more often than you’d think.
So, instead, I began to think about how to replace foods. And I wouldn’t just do it to replace them flavor-wise. But also to replace them nutrient-wise.
Think about replacing foods, not just eliminating them.
For example, I’d think, how do I replace tomatoes in my diet with another high nutrient food? Fresh mango could make a salsa (keep to ¼ cup for low FODMAP).
Fresh tamarind is another interesting food, if you haven’t tried it. It’s been shown in studies to lower histamine.
Tamarind can supply the tartness of tomato in a curry or sauce. Both tamarind and mango are nutrient dense superstars in their own right.
Another thing I learned on this windy food journey is how important food is to us. Food is very important culturally. And also for our general life happiness and sense of contentment.
No matter your cultural heritage, sharing a meal with friends or family is a huge boost to life satisfaction. Enjoying some version of the foods passed down through our cultural heritage or family makes us feel part of something greater.
Food truly brings us a feeling of comfort and belonging. So, having foods that are familiar and that have lively, balanced flavors is really vital to our overall well being.
One more thing I learned is how important flavor is to both our emotional and mental health.
I found that when I was eating a very limited diet and a very restricted diet, that my mood was really low. I honestly felt depressed by the bland and boring diet that I was following.
Maybe some of that was because I wasn’t getting enough nutrition, as well.
And because I’m a “Foodie,” I love exciting flavors and I love variety. So, one of my missions for my healing journey has been to come up with recipes that fulfilled that need for flavor and satisfaction in what I’m eating.
You may be just starting to learn how to eat low histamine. Or you could be figuring out how to deal with lectins or oxalates or FODMAPs like I was.
In the beginning, it can be difficult to figure out how to adapt what you eat.
I’ve found that a lot of people I talk to with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance are dealing with many of the same struggles.
And that’s why we have several recipes here on the website that do just this. They help us provide variety, balanced flavors, and foods that are enjoyable. And hopefully a little bit fun!
This recipe was sent to us by one of our followers, Caroline. And then I adapted it to make it low FODMAP and added a couple extra veggies.
This recipe presented some challenges because we’re looking to replicate some Mexican flavors. And we can’t use avocados, tomatoes, rice, peppers, or mushrooms.
Caroline did a great job of working around that!
I wanted to be sure to include some vegetables. Because they provide such important compounds. So, what I’ve added in here are some shredded carrots and some arugula.
Another challenge was to replace the garlic and onion flavors. And I’m going to tell you in the recipe how we did this.
What I love about this recipe is that it’s quick and it’s easy… especially if you keep cooked chicken available in the freezer. It’s great if you have some frozen and ready to pull out and use.
So let’s look next at how to keep chicken prepped ready for quick meals like this!
Keeping Chicken Low Histamine – what to know when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
The first thing to think about when keeping chicken low histamine is to make sure you are starting with pasture-raised chicken. The second thing is that it needs to be frozen right after slaughter. Otherwise, the histamine will begin to accumulate.
Learn how meat can cause histamine issues by reading this post:
The goal is to go as quickly from frozen to cooked as you can. Because it’s in the between time that histamine goes up.
You can take a frozen chicken and cook it in the Instant Pot. And then make this recipe the same day. Or you can make the chicken ahead of time and freeze it. Then you can pull it out and thaw it for easy meal prep.
This is the Instant Pot I have:
Either way, the chicken doesn’t spend much time raw before it’s cooked. Which keeps it super low histamine!
Now we’ve made sure the chicken is low in histamine. So, let’s move on to a couple of FODMAP foods we’re going to replace. Starting with onion.
Importance of Garlic and Onion – what to know when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
First, I want to mention that not everyone with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance has issues with FODMAPs.
However, many people who are dealing with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). And symptoms like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea may have FODMAP intolerance.
It’s also really common in Mold Toxicity!
You can read more about that here:
What to know about FODMAPs and SIBO if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Some of the hardest things I’ve found to replace in eating low FODMAP are garlic and onions.
These are flavors that are found in most of our savory foods. There’s nothing that really quite tastes like garlic and onion.
Onion is also extremely high in quercetin – especially red onions.
And quercetin is known for its powerful antioxidant capacity and its ability to fight allergic reactions. Some of its key benefits shown in numerous research studies are:
- Balancing the immune system
- Combating viruses
- Inhibiting histamine release
- Lowering inflammation
Because of their rich color, red onions are also high in anti-inflammatory anthocyanins. These provide even more antioxidants to your recipes.
Next, several studies have shown benefits of garlic include:
- Lowering inflammation
- Enhancing immune function
- Fighting parasites and other infections
- Protecting the cardiovascular system
As great as both of these foods are, both garlic and onion are really high in fructans, a type of FODMAP. And that’s bad news if you have issues with the group of FODMAPs called fructans.
And, when people have FODMAP intolerance, even smaller amounts of garlic and onions can be quite the digestive disaster.
If you’ve had to run to the bathroom in misery after eating too much of them, you know what I mean!
When I first started eating low FODMAP, I found that I was feeling deprived again. Because I couldn’t figure out how to replicate the garlic/onion flavor in my dishes. And foods just didn’t taste balanced anymore.
But once I learned these two FODMAP tricks, it was a game changer!
Now, if you don’t have FODMAP intolerance, then just use fresh garlic and onions. That’s perfectly fine if you tolerate them.
They are low histamine and research has shown that they have a lot of mast cell stabilizing properties.
Garlic and onions also contain sulfur compounds. Which are absolutely essential for mast cell stabilizing. Mast cells make something called heparin sulfate. And that’s their primary way to stabilize themselves.
Heparin sulfate is produced by mast cells along with histamine. Heparin sulfate suppresses inflammation. Hospitals use animal-derived heparin in high amounts (as a drug) to prevent blood clots.
So, that’s why these kinds of sulfur foods, like garlic and onions, are so important in our diet.
And that’s another reason why I didn’t want to give them up in my diet – because I know how important they are.
So, here are the low FODMAP tricks to garlic and onions.
How to Replace Onion in a Low FODMAP diet – what to know when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
For what to do with onions… green onion (scallion) tops are low FODMAP. It’s ONLY the green tops that are low FODMAP. The whites are not.
Even a small amount of the white part is very high in that fructan FODMAP. And cooking doesn’t break down the FODMAPs.
So, if you have trouble with onions, you might try green onion tops.
Chives and leek greens (not whites) may also be used. So, there are different options. This recipe uses the green onion (scallion) tops.
Okay, so we’ve covered onion. Now, what about garlic?
How to Replace Garlic in a Low FODMAP diet – what to know when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Garlic has a lot of fructans as well. And again, cooking doesn’t get rid of the FODMAPs. So, pressed, chopped, or whole garlic is out.
So, what can you do?
An easy fix is to purchase or make garlic infused olive oil. The garlic infused oil can be tolerated by most people.
To make garlic infused oil. Use 2-3 cloves of garlic per 1 cup of oil (you can use more if you like a stronger garlic taste). Here is that recipe.
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
2-3 Whole cloves garlic (or cut in half for a stronger flavor)
1 cup Olive oil
- Peel garlic cloves, and drop them in a saute’ pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- On medium heat, saute’ the cloves for a few minutes, stirring often so they don’t burn or brown.
- Turn heat to low, and add rest of olive oil, and stir, letting the oil warm for another 3-5 minutes.
- Using a strainer and a clean glass jar, pour the oil into the jar, straining all of the garlic pieces out.
- Store immediately in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or freeze the oil to keep longer.
Don’t store the oil longer than three days because of the risk of botulism.
Also, don’t ever infuse raw garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Because this is a risk for botulism.
I’ve tried a few different garlic-infused extra virgin olive oils. And I’ve found this one has the best flavor. And it seems to be the best quality olive oil of the ones I’ve tried:
You don’t need a whole lot of the garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil to get amazing flavor.
And, when you can find them, garlic scapes are very flavorful. Plus they’re low FODMAP as well!
Speaking of flavor, arugula is another great way to add a major punch to your recipes – including this one.
The Power of Arugula – Histamine lowering and Mast Cell Supporting Powerhouse Food
Arugula is probably my favorite green. This is because it’s a great substitute for spinach.
Spinach is often seen as a superfood. But the problem with spinach is that it’s one of the highest oxalate foods out there – It’s just extremely, extremely high oxalate.
And on top of that, spinach is very high histamine. So, it’s off the list for many of us with histamine, mast cell, and oxalate issues.
Now, arugula is pretty spicy when it’s raw. But once you cook it, it mellows out and is similar to spinach. You can just chop it up and add it to meals – just like spinach.
I try to put it in as many meals as possible. The reason is that arugula has many histamine-lowering and mast cell-supporting benefits.
Now, we already talked about the importance of sulfur in mast cell stabilizing. And it’s good to know that you can get sulfur from arugula. Just as you can from garlic and onions.
Arugula also has the added benefit of supporting something called nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide also happens to be mast cell stabilizing.
And arugula contains quercetin, which has been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Animal research has found that arugula (also known as “rocket”) extract is protective against stomach ulcers. The way that it does so seems to be through its antihistamine effects.
But what if you don’t tolerate arugula for some reason? Or maybe you just don’t like it?
Not to worry! In the next section, I’ll cover an alternative to arugula and a few other modifications for this recipe.
How to Modify this Recipe for Your Own Needs – what to know when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
This recipe is very versatile. You can swap lots of ingredients. You can leave things out. And it will pretty much still work!
The core pieces of this recipe are chicken, some sea salt, and if possible, some green onion tops. And some garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil to give it some garlic flavor.
If you don’t have FODMAP issues, again, you can just use regular garlic and onions. You don’t have to modify it here.
But, we wanted to start including more low FODMAP recipes. Because a lot of people in our MastCell360 community are also dealing with FODMAP issues.
Now, this recipe was designed to be low histamine, low lectin, low oxalate, and also with a special emphasis on low FODMAP.
This is a little bit of a phase II low histamine recipe. In that there is some lime and a tiny pinch of cayenne.
So, if you’re in phase I of the low histamine diet, then you might not be able to tolerate some of those things just yet. That’s okay – you can leave out the lime and cayenne.
Also, some people just really dislike cilantro. Again, you can just easily leave it out.
You can use either cassava tortillas or lettuce leaves… Or neither one and just eat it by itself.
This recipe can easily be cut in half. Or to serve more people, just double, triple, or quadruple it!
And here are some ideas if you have salicylate issues:
- Substitute green/white cabbage for the arugula and chop it well.
- Use a smaller amount of carrots.
- Leave out the cayenne.
- Instead of using garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil, use garlic-scape ghee:
So, you can see this can really be adapted for a lot of different dietary preferences.
Feel free to make this recipe yours. And if you modify it in any way, I’d love to know what your ideas were. And how you changed it. That way, we can see all kinds of different options for how to adapt this recipe.
So, let’s get on to the recipe here, and you can get cooking!
Easy Low Histamine, Low FODMAP Chicken Tacos when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance (also Low Lectin, Low Oxalate)
- 1 Tablespoon ghee
- 3 organic carrots ( with the tops are lowest histamine), cleaned and shredded
- 3 green onion tops, chopped
- 2 cups baby arugula, chopped
- 2 cups low histamine, cooked chicken (like cooked in an Instant Pot*), thawed
- 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (like Celtic or Real Salt)
- 1 Tablespoon FODY garlic-infused EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Tiny sprinkle of organic cayenne (optional)
- Fresh organic cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice, freshly squeezed (optional)
- 4 lime wedges (optional)
- 1 recipe of Cassava Tortillas (optional) OR 6 large lettuce leaves
- Melt ghee in a large non-toxic non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Add shredded carrots and green onion tops. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they start to soften.
- Add chopped arugula and cover with lid for 3-4 minutes, until wilted.
- Add chicken. Add garlic-infused EVOO. Sprinkle salt over meat and vegetables.
- If using, add optional cayenne.
- Stir to blend together.
- Stir occasionally while heating the chicken until it’s warm.
- Take off heat.
- If using, top with cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Serve with Cassava Tortillas or on lettuce leaves. Can add lime wedges to the plate, if using.
- Freeze any leftovers before you start eating!
Let’s get creative together – Do you have any Low Histamine, Low Lectin ways to jazz up this recipe?
Remember, you can’t use avocado, peppers, rice, mushrooms, or tomatoes.
What did you come up with? I can’t wait to see your creative ideas! Post in the comments below.
What to read next:
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References for Easy Low Histamine Chicken Taco Dinner
Adaki, S., Adaki, R., Shah, K., & Karagir, A. (2014). Garlic: Review of literature. Indian journal of cancer, 51(4), 577–581. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-509X.175383
Alqasoumi S, Al-Sohaibani M, Al-Howiriny T, Al-Yahya M, Rafatullah S. Rocket “Eruca sativa”: a salad herb with potential gastric anti-ulcer activity. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2009 Apr;15(16):1958-1965. DOI: 10.3748/wjg.15.1958.
Arreola, R., Quintero-Fabián, S., López-Roa, R. I., Flores-Gutiérrez, E. O., Reyes-Grajeda, J. P., Carrera-Quintanar, L., & Ortuño-Sahagún, D. (2015). Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of immunology research, 2015, 401630. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/401630
Coleman J. W. (2002). Nitric oxide: a regulator of mast cell activation and mast cell-mediated inflammation. Clinical and experimental immunology, 129(1), 4–10. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2249.2002.01918.x
Kim, B., Choi, Y. E., & Kim, H. S. (2014). Eruca sativa and its flavonoid components, quercetin and isorhamnetin, improve skin barrier function by activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α and suppression of inflammatory cytokines. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 28(9), 1359–1366. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5138
Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Skrovankova, S., & Sochor, J. (2016). Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 21(5), 623. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21050623
NATHIYA, S., DURGA M, M., & DEVASENA, T. (2014). Quercetin, encapsulated quercetin and its application- A review. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 6(10), 1–26.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286027853_Quercetin_encapsulated_quercetin_and_its_application-_A_review
Shaik, Y. B., Castellani, M. L., Perrella, A., Conti, F., Salini, V., Tete, S., Madhappan, B., Vecchiet, J., De Lutiis, M. A., Caraffa, A., & Cerulli, G. (2006). Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation. Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents, 20(3-4), 47–52.
Shrivastava, N., Singh Baghel, S., Baghel, P. A. R. S., & Rajput, S. (2012). A REVIEW OF QUERCETIN: ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTICANCER PROPERTIES. World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1(1), 146–160. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267333748_A_review_of_quercetin_Antioxidant_and_anticancer_properties