Caramelized Leek Sauce

dairy free gluten free low amine low salicylate vegan

Caramelised leek sauce

Dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan, salicylate-free, amine-free. 

This recipe is a family favourite. The leftovers always go missing from the refrigerator the next day as my daughter eats it straight from the jar.

Sauces and eczema

One thing most eczema sufferers miss (especially while on the Eczema Diet) is sauce.

Why no sauce?

Because regular sauces are loaded with itch promoting ingredients. And if you are like most eczema sufferers you don't want to itch, right?

Sauce ingredients that worsen eczema

  • dairy/cream (pro-inflammatory, lactose, natural animal hormones such as estrogens, antibiotic residues)
  • tomato (MSG)
  • soy sauce/tamari (hidden MSG)
  • vinegar (all types contain sulfites)
  • spices (rich in salicylates)
  • refined sugar (acidic/triggers fatty liver)

I no longer have skin problems (and my daughter no longer has eczema), so we can indulge in unhealthy sauces occasionally. However, I see many eczema patients at the Eczema Life Clinic who miss sugar/MSG-loaded sauces.

Why do they miss sauce? Because sugar, dairy and MSG are highly addictive. 

In fact, "What kind of sauce is eczema-friendly?" is one of the most common question asked by readers of The Eczema Diet on our eczema blog, website and facebook page

The Eczema Diet

Sugar and eczema

I have considered making the usual low salicylate sauces but I baulk at using refined sugar on my salads. I just can't do it and refined sugar is not good for eczema.

Why is sugar bad for eczema? As mentioned in The Eczema Diet, sugar increases acid in the body and an overly acidic body not only smells bad, it can trigger the itch and candida albicans infestation.

People with eczema are already excessively acidic so cutting down on sugar helps them to feel less itchy. 

What about dates and coconut sugar?

Dates and coconut sugar are trendy right now but they are rich in itch-promoting salicylates so they are not eczema-friendly options.

On a personal note, I adversely react to most dates - they make me feel so tired I need to lie down and I have slightly blurred vision after eating them as I have hypoglycemia (i.e. I react to high GI foods. (Note regular dates have a high GI of 103, higher than refined sugar, according to Australian research). Some exotic dates are low GI but they are still rich in itch-promoting salicylates. (ref.) See "what are salicylates", below. 

So my dilemma was how to make a sauce that was sweet, tasty and good for eczema? Here are the top eczema-friendly sweeteners I found to use in this recipe:

1. rice malt syrup (rice syrup)

- it's the only sweetener which is alkalising, not acid forming (all other sweeteners are acid-forming in the body)

- It's not high GI, and it's just pure rice with no additives and it's usually cheaper than honey

- note it is a type of sugar so (like all sweet stuff) use in moderation

- contains no salicylates so it's eczema-friendly

2. real/pure maple syrup

- low in salicylate so it's suitable for people with eczema and chemical sensitivity

- pure, no refined sugar or additives (but note it is a type of sugar so use in moderation)

Both of these sweeteners do not give me hypoglycemia. All other sweeteners (apart from refined/white sugar) contain salicylates, including stevia, agave, honey etc. So for my eczema cookbooks I avoid them. Do not even think about using artificial sweetener as they can flare up eczema too.  

Health benefits of leeks

The following leek sauce recipe utilises the goodness of leeks. 

  • Leeks are highly anti-inflammatory
  • highly alkalising (to help restore acid alkaline balance)
  • Immune system balancing 
  • rice source of vitamin K, folate and manganese for healthy skin
  • low salicylate and amines 

What are salicylates ...

Salicylates (pronounced suh-lis-a-lates), is a natural pesticide chemical produced by plants for self-protection.

A normal healthy diet can contain up to 200mg of salicylates, from foods such as tomato, avocado, citrus fruits, teas and nuts (Janssen 1996).

People with eczema and other skin inflammatory disorders often don’t realise they are sensitive to salicylates and they can suffer for years as a result. 

  • Salicylates trigger hives in 62% to 75% of people who are prone to skin rashes (Loblay and Swain; Warin and Smith)
  • Salicylates trigger/worsen eczema symptoms in 52% of people prone to eczema^ 
  • Salicylates trigger/worsen irritable bowel in 69% of people with IBS^
  • Salicylates trigger migraines in 62% of people prone to migraines^
  • Salicylates trigger behaviour problems (such as ADHD, aggression and anxiety) in 74% of people with behaviour problems^
  • Salicylates trigger fatigue and a range of systemic symptoms in 74% of people with systemic symptoms (symptoms affecting the whole body)^

So it makes sense to limit or avoid salicylates for a set period of time if you have eczema, then test for salicylate sensitivity by adding them back into your diet.

My daughter and I had severe salicylate sensitivity and we used Skin Friend which gradually reversed it. 

But we love this low salicylate recipe which I developed for my new cookbook (in stores in October 2017). 

Caramelized Leek Sauce

It's quick and easy - takes about 10 minutes

This delicious chunky sauce is ideal for meat or potato dishes - think Christmas turkey, lamb or Potato Pesto Pizza, or make your own stir-fries using this sweet, flavoursome sauce.

It can be made either sweet or savoury, depending on your tastes, just leave out the syrup if you like and add fresh garlic - it will be less of a sauce but delicious all the same.  


  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil (it's low salicylate but you can use no oil)
  • 1 small leek, green part removed
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice malt syrup or real maple syrup (to taste)
  • Quality sea salt to taste


Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat (or use a tablespoon of water).

Finely chop the white parts and palest green parts of the leek and sauté the leek until very soft and slightly golden.

Add the syrup and sea salt to taste and cook on low heat for another few minutes until sticky and golden.


Try it and let us know what you think, below.

About Karen Fischer



At Eczema Life, we recommend nutritionist Karen Fischer's low food chemical program (The Eczema Detox) along with additive-free supplements for skin health and wellbeing. Click on the images to view more details:





Glycemic index foundation - dates

^Loblay, R.H. and Swain, A.R., 2006, ‘Food Intolerance’, Recent Advances in Clinical Nutrition, retrieved from the Australian Government website

Warin, R.P. & Smith, R.J., ‘Challenge test battery in chronic urticaria’, British Journal of Dermatology, 94:401-406.

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