I am a mummy to a toddler on a journey to improve and maintain healthy skin on my little boy who has eczema. During his constant eczema flare ups, he scratches till he bleeds. Unsatisfied with the temporary relief his prescribed steroid creams offered plus the potential side effects of prolonged use over his lifetime, I explored alternative solutions.
After a visit to the Jan de Vries clinic and a Chinese Medical Practitioner, I learnt certain foods could be triggering the eczema flare ups and were to be eliminated/reduced in my son’s diet. This included citrus fruit and veg, dairy, eggs, shellfish, red meat, bread and fried or baked food. After a few weeks adopting his new restricted diet, I saw a less itchy, grumpy toddler with his irritated broken skin finally beginning to heal!
Being a parent it went against the grain to eliminate food, especially certain types of fruit, like grapes which he loves. Being from a Chinese background, food was always at the heart of my upbringing, so the thought of a restrictive diet brought me to tears. I feared he would not receive enough nutrition from the foods left that he enjoyed and would eat.
As soon as I heard about the nutritional benefits as well as the anti-inflammatory properties of watercress, I was keen to introduce it into my son’s diet and hoping it would turn things around for an often cranky, itchy toddler.
Armed with recipe ideas that hopefully appealed to the toddler within him, the first dish I made was my childhood favourite - Chinese watercress and pork rib soup. I blanched the ribs, rinsed them then added some slices of ginger in a fresh pot of water. Brought the water to the boil then turned down the heat and simmered for 90 minutes. I then added the watercress and simmered for another 30 minutes. The result – one unimpressed toddler who begrudgingly drank it through a straw. Granted it didn’t taste like my mum’s as I didn’t add any salt to keep it healthier; it was certainly needed!
Shaken but not beaten from his unenthusiastic response, for dinner I sautéed some watercress with finely chopped garlic. My little one ate it with less fuss once mixed into his bowl of boiled brown rice.
After a mixed response on day 1, the next day I made a watercress and avocado dip to go with red peppers picked from the garden.I fried off some onions and blended it together with one avocado plus some watercress. My toddler was not interested in the red pepper or the dip, instead I spread it on a tortilla wrap and added some ham and mini gem lettuce.It was a hit!
Fuelled by my recent success, the next watercress dish I made was for dinner on Day 3. Macaroni is always a hit with my little one, ‘the little carb monster’. But no cheese or creamy sauces were allowed, according to the dietician’s advice on eczema.
So, I made a watercress infused macaroni pasta. I boiled the macaroni pasta as normal, with watercress added to the pot. Once cooked and cooled, I flaked in a tin of mackerel fillets through the dish.
My son loved it and ate it all up, I was delighted! Three days into our watercress culinary adventure, I have noticed his broken skin around his ankles healing and becoming less angry red. Looking forward to getting my thinking cap on for more new recipes and continuing a watercress rich diet!