Nickel Free + Curried Sweet Potato Soup

creamy curried sweet potato soup

Hello my loves, I was working on this post when I suddenly had the very good news that my trip to India was on. So now I sit in a cafe on the Ganges, sipping a masala chai, feeling so blessed to be here, and particularly enlivened by a day spent in the company of the most revered (as they say in India) Dr. Vandana Shiva.

This quantum physicist turned ecological warrior has been declared  an environmental hero by TIME magazine. She is powerful and brilliant, yet grounded, kind, and feminine as she passionately, clearly speaks of her mission to restore the world to its natural wholeness and integrity, starting literally from the ground up.

With Vandana Shiva

She is undoubtedly a Durga, informed by the Swaraj and Ahimsa concepts of Gandhi and Indian Vedic culture. It’s as if she is the Divine Mother herself, rising up to protect our earth, our water, our children, our individual health, our global health. “Life itself, in all its systems, is part of an inseparable whole,” she reminds us quoting Chief Seattle, Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Today Dr. Shiva spoke of seeds, soil and food. Everything she said resonated, resounded even. In particular and relevant to this post, since being told by my dermatologist that I may have a nickel allergy and therefore to avoid most of the foods that are my usual staple including leafy greens, many vegetables, most of my favorite fruits, as well as seeds, legumes, nuts and grains, I have been thinking quietly about how upside down it is to turn the earth inside out, digging up the ground of our own dear mother to extract metals. Treasure perhaps, useful of course, but ultimately, is it ours to take? Is it worth upsetting the integrity of life itself? Is the short term worth more than the long term?  When we see the damage we are causing on a global scale, is this what we want to give our children and grandchildren?

herbs marked

Over and over, Dr. Vandana spoke of the health risks that are exponentially growing – autism, alzheimers, cancers – because of our food, and the toxins used in the genetically modified seeds that grow our food.

I know we need nickel, oil, energy, etc. Of course, it’s impractical to think we would turn back the clocks.  Yet, the numbers speak for themselves – 1 in 10,000 children had autism 30 years ago. Now it’s 1 in 68 according to the CDC.  At these rates, MIT Researchers warn that half of all American children will be autistic by 2025.

Staggering, isn’t it?

I guess what I love most about Dr. Vandana is that she asks us to remember that all life has the right to life, even the plants, soil, seeds, rivers, earth. 

curried coconut sweet potato soup

On a more practical front, the original purpose of this post was to share with you a list of foods to avoid if you have nickel allergy, as well as a list of helpful sites and references I’ve searched out as there is little on the web about it. Finally, since thankfully I can have sweet potato and coconut, I offer you a divine recipe for a hearty, warm lunch or dinner meal.

Here is the list of foods one can eat ~

Blueberries, Coconut, Citrus, White Rice, Eggs, White Fish (have to be careful it isn’t full of mercury or fukushima nuclear waste – choose north atlantic fish), Dairy (only cheese + yogurt for me. if it is not fermented i can’t tolerate it) Zucchini, Cucumber, Sauer Kraut, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Beets, Cilantro, Ginger, Turmeric, Garlic (cooked, never raw), Coffee (add coconut cream and 1 t coconut oil for anti-inflammatory benefits), Blackstrap Molasses, Maple Syrup, Honey, Dijon Mustard, Mayonnaise – ONLY if it does not have soybean or safflower oil. (Sir Kensington, sold at Whole Foods, is the only brand I’ve found, but homemade is most delicious, and fresh!)
coconut curry sweet potato soup
Also, here is what I’ve learned regarding supplements, but please know I am not writing as a doctor and none of this is a prescription for anyone. I am only sharing what I am doing and what seems helpful. Please seek the advice of your (conscious) healthcare provider if you are concerned about food allergies.
~ The “experts” say that taking Vitamin C and Iron with meals is helpful. MSM is also said to be beneficial so I take EmerGenC with MSM every morning before breakfast. I also take Zinc tablets to keep the immune system strong.
~ Quercetin supplements were suggested and I have noticed it helps. I take 2 a day.
~ Zeolite is also known to be a good chelator. I took 1-2  tablets daily for a month.
~ Cilantro and Chlorella chelate heavy metals so ideally you will have a teaspoon of every day. I know people say Chlorella should be taken 30 minutes ahead of cilantro. If anyone has that proof, please post the links or send it along. Until then, I believe the body is smarter than that, and will be happy with the two together, or whenever I can remember!
sweet potato soup stamped
Sweet Potato Soup
2 orange Sweet Potatoes
1 T Ghee (or coconut oil)
1 Onion, chopped 2” piece fresh Ginger, thinly sliced and peeled
1 T Curry powder
2 cups Coconut Milk
3 cups Vegetable Broth (low sodium)
juice of half a Lemon
1/2 t pink (himalayan) salt, or to taste
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Pierce your sweets a few times with a fork. Place them in a baking pan and then set on a rack in the middle of your oven. Roast until you can pierce with a fork, about 30-40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Melt the ghee in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger, and stir until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the curry and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove the skins from the sweet potatoes and cut into bite size chunks. Add to the soup and cook a few minutes to reheat them. Add the coconut milk, and stir well. At this point, you can blend with an immersion blender or in your electric blender. You can also just mash the potatoes a bit with the back of a spoon and enjoy it as a chunky stew. Turn off the heat. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to taste and season.
Ladle into bowls and drizzle lightly with toasted sesame oil. Garnish with cilantro and a wedge of lime. Dill, basil, chives and thyme each seemed they’d have something to offer this soup, and since I had friends over when I made it, I decided to play with flavors. I chopped up all the herbs and put them out each in their own little bowl so everyone could garnish to their heart’s desire. It’s a delightful color and taste combination.
Morgan holding bowl

 If nickel allergy affects you, you will find more information and research with these links ~

*  this chart of nickel and nickel-free foods is the one my doctor gave me as a printout.
*  these are more extensive lists of foods: nickel in foods and the nickel allergy diet. the lists are somewhat conflicting because it often depends on where the food is grown and what is in the air, water, soil.
* these articles seem to be the most referenced: and journal of indian medicine.
* these blogs are helpful: nickel allergy mom and starting a low nickel diet.
* finally, a bit more science on the subject.
Remember too, that with a nickel allergy you can’t have anything out of a can – no sparkling water, no coconut water, nothing! And always ask for bottled sparkling water when you go out, because tap water can contain nickel.
Have you heard of nickel allergy? Do you have any kind of food allergy or intolerance? If so, how do you manage it best? I’d love to hear your experiences.
As always, let life love you. Enjoy whole foods as an expression of life’s love for you.
Eat whole. Be whole.

19 thoughts on “Nickel Free + Curried Sweet Potato Soup

  1. Oh, Laura, I am so sorry to read this, simply because I know first-hand how difficult one of these restrictive diets is. You will help so many people, though, by being yourself and sharing what you are learning with others. I hope you can follow your diet easily in India. I would love to talk when you get home.

    • Yes, Stephanie, I have been thinking of you lots – but then I always do. I have so admired the way you learn and grow from your physical and dietary challenges, and always seek to turn those challenges into loving service to others. It has not been so bad for me. The list of what I can have is sufficient, and simplifying has it own advantages. Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to enjoy all the delicious foods of India this trip without any of the issues I find at home. Thank you for asking and thank you for your great recipe blog!

  2. Laura, it sounds like you’re most definitely doing the best you can with this news. I’m sorry you’re having to change many of your staples, I know that can be tough. This soup looks divine. I love the herb and pumpkin seed topping. And thank you for sharing what you’ve learned about this allergy, I was not familiar with it. Enjoy your time in India!

  3. Thank you, Katie. It is mostly only touch on a system so used to loads of plant fiber! But now that I am in India it seems less of an issue so perhaps it is our food/environment on the western coast of the US. Thank you for your great recipe blog, too!

  4. I have to tell you how much I loved this soup! It was so delicious, scrumptious, satisfying that I was licking the bowl. Sort of… Used my finger since it did a better job than my spoon. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your love. Linda

  5. As usual Laura, you take a challenging situation and find beauty in it. This soup looks amazing. I hope you are loving India and I am glad you are feeling well there!

  6. Thanks Laura. Might you share the symptoms that lead you to know you had nickel allergy? How was it discovered for you?

    Thanks for your wonderful sharing. I love the beauty of your posts, and the kindness and intelligence of your sharing.


    • Thank you, Mindy. I had a very extreme bout of eczema that caused my face to swell, turn red, itch and sting. The tips of my fingers get dry, cracked, peeled and sometimes cut when I use my computer for any length of time, and I have digestive issues that seem related. You will know you have it if the button on your jeans leaves a bit of a rash, or if jewelry ever bothers your skin, since both can contain nickel. Thank you for writing, and for your thoughtfulness.

  7. What a exquisite, nourishing soup recipe! I am trying to balance my Vatta. Can’t wait to try this. I enjoyed reading about your trip to India. I just finished a wonderful book by Sara Kate Lynch called Heavenly Hirani’s School of Laughing Yoga, and it made me want to take a trip there. I have added it to my travel wish list!

    • Thank you. And I love your blog – it’s chock full of thoughtful, wonderful health info and recipes (oh, those blueberry tea cakes!). Blessings to you.

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  9. Hi Laura…I have suffered from a food-caused nickel allergy for the past three years, and am, again, in a state of crisis (weeping, seeping blisters on my hands and legs) and came to your blog by googling whether maple syrup could contain nickel. I am on a very restricted diet, but this has been mostly me determining what food not to eat, by simple process of elimination. I use Glaxal Base as a barrier cream, follow a strict, non-nickel diet, based on what I have been able to deduct about any food that I eat by searching online whether said food contains nickel I find the usual nickel-free diets online to be fairly unreliable, and am hoping that you may open my eyes to a better solution. I am also in the beginning of weaning myself off of betamethasone, a steroid ointment that I have been prescribed over and over again. Do you know of any safe and natural barrier cream that I could use, and also of a safe and organic ointment that could help stop the weeping and seeping? I have come close to giving up many times, but am sure that somewhere out there, there is a logical natural solution, if only I could be rested and well enough to be able to think of it! I would appreciate any help you could give me:) xoxox

    • oh lorna, i am so sorry to hear this. it can be so frustrating and demoralizing to do so much yet get so little relief! i really don’t know of any great creams – feel like i tried everything, but most creams, and especially the natural creams that were supposed to help, made things worse. i just use coconut oil.

      have you searched high and low in your environment to see if there is anything else that might be triggering this auto-immune response? i ask that, because as soon as i left the place where i lived when i wrote this post, i got better. i also stayed four weeks at an ayurvedic healing center, called vaidyagrama, that helped enormously. i still have the skin response when triggered, but it isn’t constant as it once was.

      depending on where you live, maybe i could recommend an ayurvedic doctor? i know, as you are discovering, that this is a highly personal journey – everyone seems to react differently to different triggers and “remedies.” i wish you well, lorna. i feel the pain of this, and i wish you relief soonest. xo

  10. I noticed you listed Ginger as one of the items you can eat with a nickel allergy. You may want to recheck that. I have a nickel allergy and ginger is a trigger for me! I also read that ginger was high in Nickel after I kept having reactions to it.

    • Christina, Thank you! Ginger has helped me digest and has helped a little with the inflammation but I will check that, and appreciate your advice. Thank you!

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