CHOKO 101: a must for the FAILSAFE diet
Updated: Jun 4
Choko, another vegetable low in salicylates. Definitely underperforming as a fabulous vegetable. Watch out, you may have one growing in your garden!
The choko is a great addition to the list of vegetables suitable for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) or FAILSAFE elimination diet (low salicylates, amines, glutamates as well as many food additives). The problem is, most people have never heard of it.
This was not the case during the depression when the choko became a 'favourite' in the diet of the families and was presented in many wild and wonderful ways, sometimes even passed off as pear or apple in desserts! It was a cheap and readily available vegetable that families could count on.
Chokos seem to have fallen from public knowledge so it is time to rediscover this versatile vegetable.
If following the FAILSAFE elimination diet, including as much variety of the low salicylate veggies is important to maximise nutritional intake.
Eating vegetables such as choko and swede each week can really help achieve this.
Where can you get Chokos?
Chokos are hard to source. You probably won't find them in general supermarkets. You probably won't find them in your local fruit store. I ended up finding them in a rather large and fancy fruit store which stocks every vegetable under the sun.
They are easy to grow and will clamber over anything! Thanks to a reader for submitting this pic of a choko vine looking very healthy in her garden....
Choko (also called chayote), believe it or not, is part of the pumpkin family, native to South America.
Also known as a chayote, vegetable pear or mango squash.
Pick the fruits at any time and store them for months! Although if picked a bit late can become dry and stringy.
How to use Chokos
Choko is a little bit like a zucchini- in fact you can use it in the same way. Like zucchini, the humble choko comes into its own as a vegetable that absorbs the surrounding flavour rather than giving any flavour on its own. Just boiling up and serving choko does not give this little vegetable any justice. They have a very mild flavour, much like the marrow.
Great early food for babies- especially if food chemical sensitive.
Just wear gloves when peeling as the sap can be irritating.
Peel and slice and add to sit fries
Add it to soups- at the end of cooking so it keeps its shape.
Boil then blend into a soup with added potato + season with salt or garlic
Boil and then blend with cooked rice for a thick soup + season with salt or garlic
In tacos with beef or chicken + spring onion + black beans + iceberg lettuce or cabbage
The fruit makes an excellent choko chutney and is an excellent addition to soups (see recipe below)
The flesh can also be cooked and mashed and added to mashed potato
Roast it! And have on its own or add to salads.
Add to stews
CHOKO CHIPS: slice and roast with rice bran oil or another low chemical oil
Make into a cake! The infamous POKO CAKE (see below).
CHOKO RECIPES for the low chemical diet
There are quite a few very cool choko recipes. Sue Dengate's Failsafe cookbook has a fantastic POKO CAKE which is a cake made from chokos and pears. Well used by many on the low chemical or FAILSAFE diet.
Check out these two ways of using your next (first?) choko...
1 medium choko
30g Nuttelex Original
Citric acid, salt to taste
Optional: sprinkle of parsley
Peel and slice choko
Heat in fry pan with Nuttelex
Saute until the choko is light brown and just tender (not completely soft). This will take about 4 – 5 minutes.
Sprinkle citric acid and salt to taste
Optional: sprinkle with a small amount of chopped parsley
See this YouTube clip that shows you how to make choko chips but to make low in food chemicals of FAILSAFE then use a low chemical oil such as rice bran oil, cut off skins (use gloves), replace cayenne pepper with salt and small amount of garlic.
See page 270 Friendly Foods (reference below, can download on Kindle or get via online book stores)
7 chokos (1.2kg when peeled & diced)
4 spring onions
2 TBSP rice bran oil or acceptable oil
3/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tsp citric acid
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups water
Peel chokos and dice (½ cm cubes)
Finely chop spring onions
Place oil in a large hot pan
Add diced chokos and shallots into pan and stir fry for 5 minutes
Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes until liquid has reduced and thickened. While chutney simmering: sterilise a pre-washed jar
Pour into sterilised jars, cool and refrigerate
So give choko a whirl and and maximise your nutrition at the same time!
Choko Nutritional Information
FOOD CHEMICALS: low in salicylates, amines and glutamates and recommended for the RPAH natural food chemical elimination diet/ failsafe diet.
FODMAPs: is low in FODMAPs for a normal serve (1/2 cup = 75g) but turns into moderate FODMAPs for 4/5 cup (120g) is high in the FODMAP: GOS
Dominique Risso, Vegetable that's choko full of goodness. The Courier mail. 31/01/2012. Accessed from http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/food/choko-full-of-goodness/news-story/4d7cac592395a8a10adc98e1ef763c6f?sv=90547b4921727de530a9a5227f732616. Assessed 20/3/2018.
RPAH elimination diet diagnostic handbook: volume 1. Anne Swain, Velencia Soutter, Robert Loblay, 2020 (revised edition).
Monash University low FODMAP app. Version 3.0.2. Accessed 27/02/2019.
Swain, A, Soutter V, Loblay R. Friendly Food. The essential guide to managing food allergies and intolerances. Murdoch Books, 2020.