My Eyes For a Loaf of Bread

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A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow“Nothing happens in the human body without a reason,” so said one of our first Suppers members.

We all knew him as Dr. George.  His prognosis was blindness; his solution was food.  Decades later and fully sited Dr. George provided us with one of Suppers’ earliest models for becoming one’s own case manager when the professional pronouncement doesn’t serve.

His story My Eyes for a Loaf of Bread teaches us to take heart, to have hope, and especially to swing into action because sometimes that bad diagnosis is wrong.

Hope, inspiration and lots of social support as you identify your personal inflammatory foods are just a phone call or email away.  


Dr. George’s Story: My Eyes For a Loaf of Bread

I had my first migraine at the age of nine. 

When I was a child my mother taught me about nutrition, and as a chiropractic student I learned more in my nutrition courses. But my interest in nutrition started after a personal health problem that began long ago.

I had my first migraine at the age of nine. It happened at a family get-together, and it was so bad that I said to an uncle, “If this is what grown up people get, then I never want to grow up.” The headaches increased in frequency and severity during my teenage years and well into my twenties. I consulted medical authorities during that period, but their only recommendation was medication, which resolved nothing. Although I was having no visual problems, I went to an ophthalmologist who diagnosed me as having sclerosing (hardening) retina of both eyes. He said the treatment for this condition was no treatment because the cause was unknown. He then said I would be totally blind within two years. His exact quote was, “You have two years before you have to get your cup and stick to beg.”

It’s not a miracle. 

I did not appreciate his sense of humor. And just because he didn’t know the cause didn’t mean there was no cause. From my professional training, I was aware that nothing happens in the human body without a reason. I determined that this condition had to be caused by some toxic build-up in my body. I proceeded to eliminate this toxic foods and fluids I normally ate and drank, including simple sugars, caffeine products, dairy products, fried foods, gluten foods, and all forms of bread, and almost all processed foods. One year later I had another eye exam at New York Hospital, and the ophthalmologist found no sclerosing in my retinas. Whatever sclerosing there had been was gone. That was more than 30 years ago, and to this day, I have not had another headache. There have been many biochemical research studies since then, and I now know my retina problems and my migraine headaches were caused by hypersensitivities to food. Blood tests were later taken to determine my specific food sensitivities, and I was not surprised to learn that I had already eliminated most of these foods on my own. My experience convinced me that if proper nutrition in both diet and supplementation is added to any form of heath care, it slows down the progression of many conditions and speeds up the healing process. 

I’m sharing this story because it’s not a miracle. It is the logical consequence of removing from my diet the foods and beverages that were toxic for me, and adding to my diet the nutrients in which I was deficient. This approach to therapy proved successful to my patients during my many decades as a chiropractor and later as a nutrition diplomate and board-certified clinical nutritionist. My role in the Suppers program has been to help develop literature for the program and present information on points of nutrition that require supplements. I’ve often said it would be wonderful if we could heal ourselves without taking supplemental nutrients. It is my firm belief that we are designed to heal on food as our medicine. I suppose if we all lived on a toxin-free planet with nothing but whole foods to eat, and if we all slept as many hours as it’s dark, and loved our neighbors, we wouldn’t need vitamins. But we live in an environment that assaults us regularly in ways that are, for many of us, beyond the reach of perfect food.

Nevertheless, there is no question that personal solutions start with whole food: luxurious servings of fresh vegetables and fruit; a few ounces of lean protein at each meal, including nuts and seeds; unrefined fats and oils like extra virgin olive oil; and whole grains, perhaps excluding the gluten grains that cause health problems for many of us. It’s really quite simple.


Other Things That Are Good For Your Eyes For Dr. George, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081As a Natural Chef, I’m trained to identify areas of improvement, design transitional diets based around the identifications, and create dishes and meals that are consistent with the design. While I may be able to notice deficiencies based on intake (or lack thereof) I never can suggest supplements because I’m not a doctor or registered dietician. I don’t even know if R.D.’s are supposed to “prescribe” supplements. Good thing you can still get vitamins from food. Like Dr. George says, it’s that simple. 

The process of learning about nutrition and whole foods can be as simple or as complicated — as you would like. Traveling deep into the rabbit hole of molecular biochemistry means looking into the body and figuring out what the heck is going on in there! Sometimes the depth can lead to darkness – kind of like when you’re scuba diving (not that I’ve ever scuba dived, I tried to put the thing on and go into the training pool and I got scared and they say you can throw up INSIDE OF YOUR MASK and then have to continue diving without panicking while trying to clear the…you know…anyway. Like, get me out of here immediately. Omigod. Gross.) But yeah, the sunlight only goes so deep below the surface of the water. Then it starts to get dark.

It’s kind of like that with Vitamins, Minerals, and phytonutrients. For example, there are two kinds of Vitamin A. Retinol and Beta-Carotene. Vitamin A Retinol is the true Vitamin A, it only comes from animal products, and is responsible for a whole bunch of things from cell apoptosis (yes, cell death) and also in forming, strengthening, and repairing the rods in our eyes, to name a few. There are more. Vitamin A is essential to our growth and development. It is the reason why we do not have webbed fingers and toes (because programmed cell death kills off the connective tissue cells between our fingers and toes in utero). It is essential to our DNA painting its special picture through our cells. It looks at a cell and it says, “you are going to be a heart cell,” “You are going to be a skin cell,” and “You are going to be a dead cell in 2.4 hours because your services are no longer needed.” Vitamin A is like the director in a film and Beta-Carotene is like the director’s assistant who can take over if the director is sick one day (which never actually happens in real life, directors are hardcore.)

Beta-Carotene is the other Vitamin A and is found only in plants but the reason why it counts as Vitamin A is bizarre and fascinating. In individuals with healthy livers, beta-carotene can be transformed into Vitamin A when needed by the body AND THEN BACK INTO beta-carotene once the need is fulfilled!!! Isn’t that amazing?!?!?!?! However, in small children or the elderly, where there is reduced liver functionality, that transformation is more difficult, or even impossible, to achieve. (That’s why babies fed a vegan diet devoid of animal products and therefore Vitamin A could literally die. It’s a thing.)

So when people are like, “eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes!” If you want to sound super smart (and risk sounding super pretentious) you could be like, “well, actually beta-carotene is good for the heart and immunity just like other carotenoids but beta-carotene can be used by the body to form Vitamin A Retinol which is good for your eyes. Is that what you meant?” 

Yes, health and nutrition can be as simple or as complicated as you desire. I like the rabbit hole of nutrition but when Ned starts explaining to me how an engine works in order to diagnosis a problem with one of the cars, I start to get a glazed over look and become insatiably, visibly bored until he stops. It’s probably the same for him when I start talking about vegetable properties.

Like one time I got home from work at like 11:45pm and all I wanted to do was eat my Ahi salad with spicy mango dressing and go to bed. Well, that just so happened to also be the evening where he figured out why our lawnmower was randomly turning off in the middle of mowing the lawn. So I’m putting my stuff away and taking out my salad just as he starts this inevitable marathon of an explanation — I put my hand up — and I was like, “Stop. I just got home from a 12 hour shift, it’s really late, I’m starving, I’m tired, and I don’t want to learn about how an engine works.” It’s possible that if I came home and he started telling me about an article on Type B blood or GMO corn (did you guys just see what’s coming out on GMO corn?? I wonder who financed that study) I would be more interested. But Ned and I have different interests and I love him for fixing the lawnmower while I get to play in the kitchen.

Dr. George’s own personal experience with changing his diet was extremely intuitive. Further, his advice on how to live is sound — try to get nutrients in the most effective way possible. 

You guys know how I like packing flavor, nutrition, or both (ideally) into a small package? Well, I’ve done it again. Simplest way possible. A Vegetable Curry. 


Curry in a Hurry

Step One: Chop up veggies and spill a bunch of curry powder (or turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, and a pile of fresh ginger and garlic) out on a cutting board. Take beautiful pictures and post them to your Instagram and blog.

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Step Two: Start the onions in a pan of coconut oil over medium heat. Next add the peppers, if desired, and let them cook a bit. Then add the rest of the veggies.

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Step Three: Using a mortar pestle (or a food processor I guess) crush curry ingredients into a paste. Throw into a small saucepan with some water over medium heat and let mixture form a thick sauce (in just a minute or two) to pour over cooked vegetables. This is called cheating.

Step Four: There is no step four.

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Vegetable Curry

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 yellow onions, saute sliced
1 red bell pepped, de-seeded and thinly sliced
2 medium or 1 large zucchini, half-moon sliced
1 package baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Turmeric powder or 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk (*optional)
Green curly kale, for garnish (*optional)

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add onions. Saute 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Stir in peppers and continue sauteing until tender.
2. Stir in zucchini and mushrooms and saute 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a mortar pestle, combine ginger, garlic, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. Grind together into a paste, making sure garlic has been mostly crushed. Add to a small saucepan with 1/3 cup water or so and place over medium heat. Cook until bubbling and then pour over vegetables.
4. Continue cooking vegetables until desired consistency. Add coconut milk, if you are using, and reduce slightly, so that mixture is not a soup, for another 7-10 minutes. Taste and balance with sea salt and lemon juice, if necessary, and serve or store. Garnish with green curly kale, if desired.


That’s it! Now off to the market with you to make some vegetable curry as a side for tonight’s dinner. Add lean meat or fish to make it into a main! 

Attention all readers! On September 7th, McCaffrey’s in Princeton is going to be having a program on proper handling of and shopping for produce! Do you want to know more about how to pick the best pieces of produce for your kitchen? Come join us for the presentation! There will be samples of delightful, healthy prepared foods and lots of great grocery store tips for you too! 

An RSVP is a MUST to attend this workshop! You can RSVP through email at nutritionist@mccaffreys.com 

Suppers is a brain-based recovery program for preventing and reversing health problems with food. If you want to submit a story about how you achieved a clearer mind focusing on a diet of whole foods, please send in a story to Dor!

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

 

This Is Not About Willpower

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A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowI try really hard to keep my focus on real food and my values around locally sourced food and responsible practices. But I’ve climbed on board with a few fads – healthy fads – and felt like an idiot for going overboard on single ingredients. Do I have to worry about thallium in my kale? My doctor friend told me to stop eating flax seeds, and a girlfriend ended up in the emergency room when she ate too much chia seed without taking water.

It’s my body, right? So I’m doing it again. I’ve been reading so much about the brain benefits of coconut fat, I decided to try to get down a couple tablespoons per day. It’s not easy. It works best if I freeze it first and crack it up and use it like sprinkles. So me being me, I invented “brain chips”.

Having recently been contacted by a company that said I had to stop using the words “flavor bombs” for our flavor bombs because they had trademarked the phrase, I first went to the Internet to see if somebody already owned the words brain chips. I’m getting paranoid about words. So far it applies only to electronics not to food. So I took all my favorite ingredients that are supposed to be good for your brain, chopped them up, mixed them with coconut fat, and stuck them in the freezer. There’s a savory version for salads and a sweet version for dessert. You will definitely want to freeze them on sheets on parchment paper, it makes it a lot easier to crush it into chips and clean up afterwards.


Ingrid’s Story: This Is Not About Willpower

If the bariatric surgery office hadn’t made me wait for several months, I would have had part of my body removed. I was that desperate. I know people who think the surgery is heaven sent, and I am happy for them. Personally I think having a part of your body removed because you can’t stop eating is nutty, but I was about to do it myself because I was entirely enslaved to food and saw no other way out. Desperation is not a strong enough word to describe my situation. I’m so grateful a nutritionist steered me down another route.

This is not about willpower. Whatever my compulsion is, it operates on a plane beyond the reach of human willpower. Many a time I would wake up to find a mess of wrappers or dirty dishes in the kitchen, with only the vaguest recollection of going down in the middle of the night in a virtual trance, prowling around in the fridge. There were more conscious behaviors too, like when I’d order fast food and make noises about buying for the whole family, when it fact it was all for me. I would go home and eat until I was numb and hate myself afterward. I even passed up social invitations I might have enjoyed, fearing my friends would see me at my worst if I couldn’t control my eating at the buffet table. 

I related these embarrassing experiences at a meeting with people I’d never met before. I was surprised to hear myself revealing humiliating secretes to total strangers. But as I spoke, I realized I had no telltale anxiety, no fidgeting, I was at ease. There is something about the culture of Suppers that makes it possible to walk into a meeting and start speaking my truth. “I never met you before but I feel safe already.” That sentence actually came out of my mouth — me, Ingrid, the closet everything. So many things clicked for me. After years of spending fortunes on diet programs that made me feel ashamed, this free alternative was making me feel peaceful and confident. I was doing my own experiments, not squishing myself into somebody else’s protocol. My eating decisions would be about what I need, not what they are selling. I got it: what I needed was real food, not pre-packaged, nutritionally calculated, scientific food-like matter. Food. 

In the first few meetings, it was plain that the missing link for me was accepting that the foods I binged on were the ones I was addicted to. I would have to do experiments to determine which ones I could enjoy in moderation and which ones I’d have to avoid totally, at least for a while, because they triggered binge eating. And the antidote was not lectures, weigh-ins, or talking about my relationship with food. The antidote was cooking together, eating together, talking together, with the emphasis on “together.” For me this is as much about the people as it is about the food. When I arrive at a meeting, without fail, the second I walk in the door I feel the warmth of family Thanksgiving. 

I’ve been assured that as my body does its housekeeping, my mood and emotions will become brighter and brighter. In a few short weeks I feel the difference already. I leaned over to the woman next to me and said, “So am I feeling more emotionally at ease because the food is healing me or because I found a community of nonjudgemental friends?” “Who cares?” she said. “As long as it works.”

Yeah, who cares. There’s something very complete and satisfying about preparing a meal with a bunch of people and sitting down to eat it. Who cares if I’m responding to protein, carbohydrates, and fat or support, acceptance, and love. When somebody takes the time to buy my food, teach me how to prepare it, and light a candle for my evening meal, I start feeling fed long before the first spoonful of soup goes down. 


Brain Chips For Ingrid, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Food is satisfying and meals are nourishing. The difference is so key. We eat food when we are hungry, thirsty, or bored. We share meals with others or enjoy meals with ourselves when we are respecting the food and respecting ourselves. 

But let’s get real. We work. Even if we don’t have jobs, we Americans live fast paced, jam packed lifestyles with hardworking mentalities. Therefore we often complain about not having enough time to ourselves to relax OR to cook. Or to “cook”. Or to eat or “eat”. Those of us who have realized that the answer is a combination of cooking real food and sharing it with others are closer to vibrant health than anyone else. Of course, who doesn’t love a shortcut?

Brain Chips, Dor’s latest invention, are a perfect example of a homemade booster. I love boosters, personally. I love anything that is a small package full to bursting with nutrition. Mostly because I work.

I’ve also recently discovered that I love frozen nuts. Maybe it’s the heat. Dor always keeps her nuts and seeds in paper bags in her freezer and I know this because when I’m organizing things in her freezer to make room for or find something, I find the bag of nuts easily because of all the yummy fat seeping through the paper, telling me to have a snack. It’s literally the only way I enjoy cashew nuts by themselves – otherwise I think cashews are yucky. When they’re frozen they take on this beautiful sweet flavor and creamy texture. So Brain Chips combine whatever science is behind freezing nuts to bring out flavor (not sure if that’s a thing) and my number one favorite cooking fat: Coconut Oil. 

Prized for its nourishing medium chain fatty acids, Coconut Oil is a bit of a rockstar these days when it comes to brain health studies. It also contains Lauric Acid, a fatty acid that is almost impossible to find naturally (although it is contained in breast milk). Its stability as a saturated fat makes it a good sauté oil but its smoke point isn’t crazy high (350). Still, it’s more difficult to oxidize Coconut Oil due to its natural hydrogen. Not to mention, its recent surge in popularity has made it more affordable and available. Coconut Oil is a perfect alternative ingredient to butter in baked goods like cookies, which require saturated fats to not melt all over the place in the oven. Finally, Coconut Oil is THE only oil that would work in Brain Chips because its flavor is unmatched. I don’t know anyone besides Homer Simpson (who I don’t actually know but I feel like I know him) who can take down even a bite of butter by itself and enjoy any bit of the experience. However, I can enjoy a bit of Coconut Oil on a spoon by itself without much suggestion. 

That’s why Brain Chips are now a thing. Here’s how to make them. Do you have five minutes? Great.


Step One: Finely chop a bunch of walnuts (or almonds or any nut really but walnuts are shaped like brains and they’re good for your brain so use walnuts if you want to be relevant.)

Get all of the other ingredients you are using (lemon zest, grated ginger, spices, and 1/2 cup coconut oil today. And sea salt.)

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Step Two: In a parchment lined pie plate, arrange walnuts evenly and toss with all ingredients besides oil.

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Step Three: Melt coconut oil and pour over walnut mixture. There should be a good layer of oil but it should not cover the mixture. It’s more like a bark. Except there’s no white chocolate. Also, can we please stop calling white chocolate “chocolate”? There’s nothing chocolatey about it.

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Step Four: Freeze for about 30 minutes at least. Then remove, break it up with a knife or smash it out of the pie plate and then smash up and down a few times on a clean cutting board. You’re done.

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Sweet or Savory Brain Chips

For sweet:
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt

*optional ingredients — choose up to 3 of the following:
1 Tablespoon cacao nibs
2 Tablespoons dried currants
2 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
3 drops Stevia (drop into coconut oil to dissolve)
1 lemon, zested
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger powder, etc.
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla

For savory:
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt

*optional ingredient — choose up to 3 of the following:
1 teaspoon curry powder, chili powder, blackened seasoning, etc.
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tablespoon pepitas or sunflower seeds

1. In a parchment lined glass 9-inch pie pan, arrange walnuts in an even layer. Add sweet or savory ingredients and stir together until evenly incorporated.
2. Pour coconut oil over mixture and, if necessary, use a spoon to coat walnuts and even out mixture.
3. Freeze at least 30 minutes and then remove. Chop with a knife or smash against a cutting board to break into pieces and store in a freezer. Enjoy sprinkled over chili, sorbet, grain salad, slaw, or your favorite dish!


Enjoy being extra brainy! For the month of August we are focusing on Social Support in The Purple Apron. 

Suppers is a brain-based recovery program for preventing and reversing health problems with food. If you want to submit a story about how you achieved a clearer mind focusing on a diet of whole foods, please send in a story to Dor!

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

 

My Ancient Wiring

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A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowSuppers attendees – more and more – are identifying with the need to work a program to eat according to their intentions instead of their their impulses. When the irrepressible urge to eat descends, it feels like ancient brain wiring and habits transcend all reason. It happens.

Our long-time friend Rose has been dealing with unwanted impulses to eat for decades; and it is a biologically well-matched eating plan and consistent social support that make the difference between a brief fling with junk food and a total collapse.


Rose’s Story: My Ancient Wiring

A Family Reunion is not ‘normal circumstances’

I was so sure of the fortress I had built I was getting cocky about my meat and greens way of eating. If you read my last story,  you’ll recall that I stopped “believing in” emotional eating because I discovered most of my problem was living in an unstable body that responds to all starches with cravings for more. My new way of eating has been working for two years, and in normal circumstances I have no problem avoiding all the foods that used to be my favorites. But a family reunion is not normal circumstances.

We gathered from all over the continental United States. With my new-found desire to stop directing and controlling everything, I hadn’t insisted on choreographing all the activities ahead of time. So when on a holiday weekend we had no reservations for dinner, we ended up eating several times where there was space for us, the sushi place. It’s like herding cats figuring out who’s going in which car where, and there’s always a lot of boring time waiting around. I’m not good at being bored. I just haven’t perfected the art of being bored in a group of cranky people who don’t want to eat sushi again. In fact, feeling bored is the enemy of intention for me. 

Do you know the moment when you’re just sitting there minding your own business and all of a sudden you realize you’re going to binge? I think my ancient wiring took over. It was the dastardly combined forces of boredom, family reunion, and feeling captive in a restaurant full of sushi that tore me down. I had been a binge eater most of my life and even two years of freedom from binges didn’t save me this time.

How do I know? Because I’ve done this before. 

To make a long story short, I pursued the binge, put on a bunch of weight, came home, took it off. Blah, blah, blah. I have two pounds to go and I know it will be gone inside of two weeks. How do I know? Because I’ve done this before. I’m trying to keep my focus on how wonderful it was for the whole family to not have me masterminding everything; there is always some woman in my family who is willing to take over. But honestly, if she doesn’t do a better job, I may just have to make reservations.


Other Things That Are Ancient for Rose, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I’m a big fan of the line, “feeling bored is the enemy of intention” but I don’t think mine would read the same way. Mine would read, “feeling stressed is the enemy of intention”.

Even those of us who are particularly skilled at handling stressful situations can and will break eventually. For me personally, problems arise in the form of figurative multiple tornadoes or they don’t come up at all. It’s either a beautiful day with 0% humidity and 100% laughter OR: the roof is threatening to fly off of the house, Kitty runs outside, Soup boils over, driver’s license is missing, outside it’s like actually ONE MILLION percent humidity, and pretty much everything work related is late. Speaking of which, totes missed you guys. I’m glad to be back.🙂

Before we really get into it I just want to say this. What’s the deal with being a weatherperson? I want that job. Basically you are paid to be consistently wrong and it’s cool because what can you really do about the weather? Nothing. But I have a problem with the definitive nature of weatherpersons who are like, “IT’S TOTALLY GONNA RAIN ALL WEEKEND!” so you freak out and get all of the mowing done and then it doesn’t rain at ALL. Or my weather app is saying there is a 30% chance of rain and I look outside and it’s pouring. If I was a weatherlady I would get up there, turn on the camera, look into it and be like, “Actually I don’t know what’s going to happen. Sorry. I’m 99.9% sure that it’s not going to snow today but, you know, my department has been wrong before.” Yeah. I would love to do that.

For Rose, the unpredictable nature of HER perfect storm (see what I did there) was a combination of a high-stress environment and refined carb-filled sushi rolls. Was it the vinegary and refined sushi rice shoved into seaweed? Was it her ancient wiring itself that took over in order to escape her current unpleasant situation and achieve a (temporary) neurotransmitter response giving all the good feels? Or was it Rose’s family that fell apart – a family who may have expected her to dictate order, as she had done in the past, and didn’t realize that planning the eating venues for a family reunion actually takes some work. So, Sushi happened. And then it happened again. Rose isn’t worried about Rose so I’m not worried about Rose but I wonder this: what about Sashimi instead of Sushi? Could that be a Suppers form of Nutritional Harm Reduction to help out?

The thing about Sushi and Sashimi is – they’re different. 

According to the Wikipedia article I read, Sashimi is also ancient. The consumption of raw, fresh fish was a very common practice in China around the year 500 BCE and probably well before that. Later on the delicacy arrived in Japan and that’s where we got the name. Sashimi means “pierced meat” or “pierced body”, coined in a time when the word kiru, which means “cut”, was saved only for Samurai (the OG Japanese non-Emperor celebrities).

The thing about Sushi and Sashimi is – they’re different. Sushi refers to a dish that is made with Jasmine rice tossed with vinegar and doesn’t have to contain raw fish but often does. In fact my favorite Sushi rolls are just avocado with tons of pickled ginger and wasabi. Sometimes I eat some of Dor’s salmon avocado rolls. Sometimes. However Sashimi is traditionally a dish with simply raw fish elegantly draped over a vegetable garnish – usually shredded Daikon radish and/or Shiso, the lemony minty leafy Japanese herb. It’s quite good but difficult to find. (Check your farmers markets hint hint wink wink). Probably the thing that sets them both apart from other dishes is the knife skills. Skills like with a Z like Skillz. There are many different knife cuts to employ when preparing Sashimi but the most common one is the Hirazukuri cut (rectangular) and it’s just shy of 1/2 inch thick pieces.

One time I was in LA visiting my brother and he loves Sushi. You know people who can just eat like…like an absurd amount of Sushi? Well he is one of those people. Sushi places know this and for whatever reason like to run the All-You-Can-Eat specials for people who are really gonna fall off the wagon. Or people like my brother who just can eat like a truckload of food and go for a run and it’s gone. I hate him. (Not really). Anyways here’s the real point. While we were there Sean definitely ate like 20 rolls of Sushi but ALSO I, who had time to look up from my plate, was shamelessly staring at the Japanese chef behind the Sushi counter. His knife skills were unbelievable. He took a cucumber and, in one deliberate, even, perfectly timed move, he turned that cucumber into a sheet about eighteen inches long. Just one long rectangle of perfectly sliced, perfectly even cucumber. He threw the perfect cylinder of seed and cucumber boogers away. Unreal. Also my brother slept for like 3 hours after that meal. Also sometimes Johnny Depp goes to that place.

Also, Sashimi. 


Step One: Acquire the freshest, Sashimi Grade fish you possibly can. There are a LOT more fish out there besides Tuna and Salmon. Talk to your fish person about getting the best cut with a flavor that works for you. The fish manager at McCaffrey’s, Saidur Rehman, really knows his stuff if you can catch him. Tell him Suppers sent you. 

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I used salmon because I like the combo of the fish with avocado but there are SO many other choices. Here are some suggestions besides the obvious Tuna/Bluefin/Salmon options:

  • Mackerel – this fish has a strong aroma of the ocean and therefore can stand up to stronger flavors like garlic, ginger, or miso paste.
  • Halibut – a lean fish, this guy is delicate with a pillowy texture and very present flavor. Halibut makes for excellent Sashimi (and even better Ceviche).
  • Hamachi – yellowtail has a lot of great fat and with it comes the ability (come on Flavor Students, remember!) carry other flavors along for the ride. Therefore Hamachi can be perfect on a plate with delicate and subtle flavors or bold stand-up flavors.
  • Kampachi – a nice substitute for Tuna because of its firmness, Kampachi also is low in mercury and, of course, has those Omega 3s we’re all wild for. Omega 3 fatty acids are to foodies like the Beatles were to teenage girls in the 60’s.
  • Eel – I don’t really want to talk about Eel but people like it and it has the Beatles in it too.

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For the more adventurous aspiring Sushi chefs, try…

  • Uni – sea urchin. They look horrifying and they can sting. But they’re pretty good.
  • Squid – the texture seems to be the problem most people have with this choice but consider it anyway and also consider having it as a hot side to whatever you are serving. Grilled calamari really just needs some lemon and salt and it’s out of this world. A ten out of ten.
  • Jellyfish – I know, but it’s even a thing in California. According to some Sushi chefs, Jellyfish is misunderstood both in terms of taste and texture. I would just say…you know, know your sourcing. Did you know that Jellyfish are basically immortal??? Unless they are physically killed by something they just go on living literally forever. Someone told me that one time.

Step Two: Choose your accompaniments. Like any great Sashimi plate this should include pickled ginger, wasabi, and a soy sauce of some kind (like Tamari) but again you should not feel as though you cannot be creative OR seasonal.

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I’m being totally boring today and choosing some cucumbers and sliced avocado. Daikon radishes should be coming out soon enough and Shiso is in season right now! In case you want to be super traditional. There’s also carrots, green cabbage, collards. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely all about the fish. So, when choosing vegetables, do it for the colors on the plate.

Step Three: Slice fish into desired strips. I’m no Japanese Sushi chef like that guy in LA. That image will be with me forever, by the way. However, the type of fish will sometimes inspire the type of cut. Generally, however, you’re going to want to go against the grain to keep the meat together. Fish protein is separated by thin membranes of fat and tissue. Slicing with the grain compromises the integrity of the meat.

You should be using a very, very sharp knife. Always.

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Step Four: The sauce. Make your own dipping sauce by using flavorful alliums and roots. Try fresh ginger, of course, and also turmeric (for the health bennies), minced garlic, fresh scallions or purple scallions (yes, a thing), and use sesame oil and seeds to carry it all over.

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Salmon Sashimi with Avocado & Cucumber

1 5oz piece fresh, Sashimi Grade salmon, sliced into 3/8 inch thick rectangles
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and sliced
1 Tablespoon pickled ginger or more if desired
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Tamari
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
freshly grated ginger to taste

1. Arrange salmon, avocado, cucumber, and pickled ginger on a nice plate or board. Set aside.
2. In a small ramekin, combine wasabi powder, water, and rice vinegar. Mix into a paste using one chopstick. If you would like a larger amount of wasabi simply add powder and then drops of water and vinegar until a paste forms. Press into a shape or ball and place on arranged plate or board.
3. In a small bowl, combine Tamari, sesame oil, and minced garlic and stir. Grate ginger over bowl and stir in. (I cannot stress to you enough how much you should keep your fresh ginger in a freezer. It grates like snow falls). Taste and balance with an acid like lemon juice or rice wine vinegar, if necessary, and then pour into another small ramekin. Place on arranged plate or board and serve chilled.


Now go off and find some great fish! For the month of August we are focusing on Social Support in The Purple Apron. 

Suppers is a brain-based recovery program for preventing and reversing health problems with food. If you want to submit a story about how you achieved a clearer mind focusing on a diet of whole foods, please send in a story to Dor!

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

You Are Not What You Eat

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A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowWhen we added Gail’s story to Logical Miracles, I wasn’t even fermenting my  own kraut and kimchi yet. Gail’s story is my story:  unremitting mood swings paired with abdominal distress; it went on for years.

Do not give up. 

Now — at least around here — “prebiotics” and “probiotics” are everyday words and we eat them as much for our brains as anything. Science is documenting the relationship between gut health and brains. I am speaking to our readers who experience debilitating depression or anxiety: do not give up.

Would anyone look at me today and guess I was in the pit of depression for 2.5 years? Or that I spent a month in a psychiatric hospital? Today I’m medication free, and depression is in the outfield of my radar screen.

Come to Suppers and do the experiments; figure out how food relates to your problem. You are not what you eat; you are only what you absorb of what you eat. Come eat the food and let it become who you are.


Gail’s Story: You Are Not What You Eat

In my many years of searching for answers to my depression, panic attacks, and abdominal pain, no one ever suggested that my mood problems and bellyaches were the same problem. And nobody told me that what was going on in my head was “downstream” from my gut, which is just a fancy way of saying one caused the other. 

Just as Suppers says, they forgot my body.

I went to lots of conferences, seminars, programs, and support groups in addition to doctors and therapists. Some of them were holistic, and that’s where I started to realize that nutrition is not generally examined when you present with panic attacks. Just as Suppers says, they forgot my body. They were perfectly willing to give me pills to fix my moods and abdominal pain, but they didn’t pay attention to where my mental health issues came from to begin with. Years of eating sweets and treating infections with antibiotics had ruined my digestion.

One day at a seminar, a doctor said, “You are not what you eat.” Ears perked up. “You are only what you absorb of what you eat.” And he went on to talk about all the things in our environment that destroy our digestion, including sugar, processed foods, stress, heavy metal pollutants, antibiotics, failure to breast feed, lack of exercise, and too much alcohol. 

Don’t ever leave your body out of the equation.

This made sense to me because although I ate pretty well, I was stressed, had taken lots of antibiotics, and self-medicated my anxiety with alcohol. Ultimately, good food was not enough. I had to get professional help from a doctor and nutritionist who gave me probiotics, capsules of herbs to clean out my liver, and supplements to heal my gut. Eventually the bloating decreased. I put on a few pounds, which I needed to do. I took some anti-fungal medication recommended by my doctor and worked on the stress part by swimming and learning to breathe better. It took a long time, but as the abdominal pain and pressure subsided my mood got better.

What I would like to contribute to Suppers is this: “Don’t ever leave your body out of the equation.” Even some very bad mental health challenges can start with a bellyache, because the brain is downstream from the gut.  


Getting the Goods For Gail, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Dor and I have this guilty secret – a mild addiction that rears its shiny head oh, about every five to six weeks or so. We love bowls. 

We love bowls so, so, so very much. Can’t get enough of them. No double digit number of bowls is high enough. We only go for stainless steel of course – even as bowl addicts we have standards – and we, like many shoppers, enjoy a good bargain.

It’s basically the best place ever. 

There is this wonderously mystical place that is only open to businesses. In order to get a membership you have to own or manage a registered Corporation (typically one that would justify the need for multiple bowls, for example). Or you have to know someone who does. The place is called Restaurant Depot. It’s basically the best place ever. 

Like I said, every five to six weeks or so Dorothy and I will get an itch. A bowl itch. So we will plan and schedule an entire trip to get our bowls (and knives, and silverware, and utensils, and crystal glasses, and olive oil…) and to justify the trip we’ll be like, 

“Let’s make lamb for Ned and Roger!” 

One trip to the store will inevitably include a good long gander at the list of ingredients on most packages. 

Right, cause Restaurant Depot has more than just bowls and utensils. The store also has massive, massive amounts of food. Most of the edible items available in Restaurant Depot are not even close to something I would call “food”. One trip to the store will inevitably include a good long gander at the list of ingredients on most packages. Well seasoned goers will have figured out after their first trip that the best idea would be to shop as they would in a normal grocery store: stick to the outsides. That’s where the healthier options tend to end up.

The refrigerated section of Restaurant Depot is big. Really big. If you were to take all of the residences I have lived in since birth (6 houses, 3 two-bedroom apartments, 1 studio, and two dorm rooms) and mush them all up into one building and then multiply the square footage by three it probably still wouldn’t be as big as the refrigerated section of Restaurant Depot.

Other things that are big? The bags of spinach (they only sell them by the three-pounds) and boxes of Shittake Mushrooms (you can only buy them by the whole huge box) and the cases and cases and cases and cases of lemons, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli rabe, etc. etc. etc. Dor and I are never not totally amazed by the sales and the sizes – basically in the words of the modern American growing woman, we can’t even. 

I mean we’ll take it but not without thinking. Not without feeling. 

That part of it hurts our hearts a little bit though. Since we understand that access to good food is such a huge aspect of food insecurity and health in general, when we see “foods” and also real foods so readily available in huge quantities…well, we feel badly about purchasing them for such a low cost. Two and a half pounds of spinach for less than what it costs to buy just one pound at any store in Central New Jersey? I mean, we’ll take it but not without thinking. Not without feeling. It’s just that we both have realized a few things: one, eating meat is necessary for our personal health; two, we can share our bounty and we do everyday; three, we really enjoy cooking and sharing dinner together. Lots

Like I said, though, the trips are really about making dinner for us plus Ned plus Roger. And for us on a post-Restaurant-Depot-trip, that usually means New Zealand Rack of Lamb, already Frenched (when they clean the bones on the end so you can grab ’em). Mostly because it’s sold for around $7.99/lb. Which is ridiculous.

Our menu on any given Tuesday (every five to six weeks or so) is:

New Zealand Rack of Lamb, coriander, cumin, scallion, dijon
Shiitake Mushrooms, scallion, coconut oil
Sauteed Greens, scallion, coconut oil, sea salt
Probiotics – ALWAYS probiotics

The result of this is that I’ve gotten pretty good at making lamb. This week I will share with you the basics and a recipe for a really nice summer meal complete with summer squash and fresh summer onions! If you want to take a trip to RD with me for the lamb, you probably have to fight Dor first.


All of the Lamb Things

Step One: Use a heavy bottomed cast iron pan or oven-safe grill pan and place over medium to medium-high heat. Melt a small scoop of coconut oil to coat the bottom. Slice some summer Tropea Onions (the sweetest onions in all the land) and add to pan with a sprinkle of salt for a quick saute.

Step Two: Drain lamb package and pull out racks. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice.

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Secret Tip: Only sprinkle spices on the fat side first instead of trying to season both sides. Once the seasoned side of meat is down on a pan sautéing it’s easy to season the other side! 

Step Three: Sauté lamb fat side down on hot pan and season other side. Be sure to sear for 3-4 minutes per side until you get this nice browned meat. Remember that is where Umami flavor comes from!!!

After the sear stick the whole thing right in the oven, fat side up!

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Step Four: Say it with me. Patty. Pan. Mashed. Potato. Patty Pan Summer Squash is my favorite favorite favorite summer squash. It’s the ones that look like little yellow and green alien spaceships and their flavor is naturally buttery with a slight hint of nuttiness.

Patty Pan pictured here cuddling with friends.

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Step Five: Chop up the squash and toss into a deep dish sauté pan that comes with a tight fitting lid. Steam over medium heat in coconut oil with minced garlic plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook until tender and very slightly browned on one side.

Step Six: Employ a good ol’ fashioned potato masher to mash up the tender squash. Yes, that’s right. No need for a fancy emulsion blender, VitaMix, food processor, or anything electric. Just a metal potato masher and you’re good to go.

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Step Seven: The slicing. Slicing a rack of lamb is actually not that easy. I’ve done it like fifteen times now and I finally figured out how to make it work for me. The trick is you have to cut it with the fat side DOWN and looking at the individual slots between the bones. Make your cuts there first and then turn the bones upwards and finish the cut.

Look at this picture. Do you see the meat between the two bones closest to the fat part of the rack? The meat is just a little bit raisedInsert your knife there and slide it down between bones to make an initial cut. 

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Repeat this step between all of the bones until it looks like this:

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Then turn the rack upwards and hold the bones while completing the cut. 

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That’s all! I top my mashers with a dollop of sour cream and some cooked onion but you can keep it vegan if you like. 


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Spiced Roasted Rack of Lamb and Patty Pan Mashed

2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 Tropea onion or red onion, thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2lbs racks of Frenched lamb chops
freshly ground coriander and cumin seed
2 large Patty Pan Summer Squash, large dice
2 large cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 dollop sour cream (*optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron pan or a heavy bottomed oven-safe pan over medium to medium-high heat, melt coconut oil. Add sliced onions and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Season fatty side of lamb racks with sea salt, black pepper, freshly ground cumin and coriander, and place fat side down on hot pan with onions. (*It’s a good idea to move onions to sides of pans to make room for lamb to have direct contact with pan) Sear 3-4 minutes per side, adding seasoning to bone side when necessary and then place pan into preheated oven. Roast for 10 – 15 minutes for a medium rare center. Let rest 10 more minutes and then slice between bones for individual lamb chops.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add diced squash, sea salt, black pepper, and chopped garlic and stir to combine. Place a lid over top and steam until tender – about 7-10 minutes. Remove lid and mash with potato masher to desired consistency. Top with sour cream if desired and serve with sliced lamb chops!


I know you’ll Love your Lamb!!! For the month of July we are focusing on Brain Health in The Purple Apron. 

Suppers is a brain-based recovery program for preventing and reversing health problems with food. If you want to submit a story about how you achieved a clearer mind focusing on a diet of whole foods, please send in a story to Dor!

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

Better Living Through Chemistry

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A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowSometimes I can’t believe I said what I said. Who is this person who prizes non-judgment and biological individuality above her own way of being? It’s me.

Lindsey is one of the earliest members of Suppers, a seasoned member of the twelve-step community and an assiduous avoider of sugar and flour in all of their forms. What I needed to hear and didn’t want to hear when I was at the height of my campaign to save the world with whole food was that some people simply need their medications and nothing else will do.

Here is an early trail blazer on the path to non-judgment from which I aspire to never swerve. 


Lindsey’s Story: Better Living Through Chemistry

I was relying on the Suppers proscription against judging others the day I told my story. Most of the people in our meeting had had trouble with depression on top of all they were juggling because of sugar issues. For the most part, they wanted to get off their antidepressants, or at least reduce the dose.

My fear that the cycle of compulsion might start again is much greater than my desire for a particular food. 

Not me. There are few things in my life that rival the gratitude I feel for the doctor and medications that brought normalcy into my life. My body gives me few options. There are several things I have to get right simultaneously in order to be okay. My fear that the cycle of compulsion might start again is much greater than my desire for a particular food. If there’s a speck of sugar in the food, I won’t touch it. I am also a recovering alcoholic, and life is better when I’m as consistent about sugar as I am about alcohol. Zero is zero, the clearest, easiest amount for me to deal with. I went through withdrawal twice and I don’t ever want to go there again. I know that if I waver, the committee in my head will start telling me it’s OK to have just a little. The last time I used that logic, it was ten years, 50 pounds, and a diagnosis of pre-diabetes before I snapped out of it. 

A few years later I got another blow.

Among my relatives are a mother and two siblings with serious mental health problems. One of my brothers developed schizophrenia as a young man. My mother was in denial until the day she died. My sister has never been diagnosed but it is evident something is wrong. She moved to California and doesn’t maintain contact. In the meantime, about 15 years ago a situation in my life caused me to experience severe depression. I was adamant about not taking medication; I was alcohol and drug free. The night I seriously considered suicide to relieve the pain, one look at my 11-year-old daughter’s face brought me back to reality. I saw my therapist the next morning and she referred me to a doctor who prescribed an antidepressant. Through therapy and a good shrink, I got through that horrible time. Because I finally felt freedom from those outbursts, I kept taking the antidepressants. A few years later I got another blow. In between jobs and setting up my own business (my life dream), I suddenly couldn’t get out of bed.

It was an ordeal just driving my daughter to school every morning in my pajamas. I lay on the couch from 9 a.m. on, wondering how in the world I would find the energy to pick her up at 2 p.m. I couldn’t muster the energy to go outside and feed my rabbit and clean her cage, so I gave her away. My dog was very old and sickly and needed to go in and out all the time, so I let the vet put her down, and to this day I feel horrible. I was really scared. My doctor told me I was bi-polar. No way! My brother and sister were the ones with the mental illness, not me. I had a successful career, was raising a great daughter, managed our household, and was active in the community. “Was” turned out to be the key word. I couldn’t believe I had ever led that life. I felt like an imposter.

My formula for success has four parts…

Reluctantly I began medication – and slowly, very slowly, I improved. Mental illness is not easily treated and it took almost two years of various medications until we arrived at my current “cocktail.” I keep in close contact with my psychiatrist and have maintained good health for five years. I have learned that mental illness is a disease of the brain and not a disgrace. Until society accepts that, I only tell my story when I think someone can be helped and I’m in a safe environment for sharing. So my formula for success has four parts: absolute adherence to a whole food diet, abstinence from alcohol, my medications, and the support of family and friends who love me and never judge the path I’ve chosen.


Lavender Lemonade for Lindsey, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Last week we discussed nutritionally packed ingredients and how to use them to our advantage when trying to avoid cravings and brain/blood sugar disruption. This week we will continue a discussion to honor herbs. Herbs. The Rocky Balboa of healthy foods. (Cause he was very small but extraordinarily fierce and relentless.)

Now, when it comes to serious issues like mental illnesses which require medication, there may be no recourse besides a routine including therapy and prescriptions recommended and provided by your doctor. However. It’s also true that there are specific ingredients which may help to reduce anxietycalming, cooling herbs, fruits, and vegetables to help soothe the nerves and, when combined with meditation exercises and deep breathing you may find that’s the only cocktail that you need.

The simple act of removing the top of my vial of Lavender essential oil…can calm me down instantly…

Speaking of cocktails, there’s this one I happen to really adore. Now that it’s summertime and the living is “easy” (not for me, for me the living is insanely more difficult) I’ll share with you a way to make it even easier.

Lavender is one of the most powerfully soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety herbs that grow on the planet. The simple act of removing the top of my vial of Lavender essential oil and slowly taking in a noseful of its heavy soft scent can calm me down instantly, help me clear my head and focus on the solution to whatever problem is causing me anxiety. 

Essential oils are not just for your skin or your nose – some of them can be consumed. You need to be careful with essential oils because they are extremely concentrated. Two drops in a recipe is one drop too many. You should never, ever consume undiluted essential oils. They can burn your mouth and esophagus.

That said, with a light and steady hand, essential oils can take your recipes to the next level. My favorite way to use them is in beverages and my favorite of those special beverages is Lavender Lemonade. It’s the perfect way to relax in the shade or even to begin a day in which you expect to encounter stress.


Step One: Heat up 3 quarts of water and stir in honey to dissolve. Add water to a big glass pitcher and set aside. *If you are like Lindsey and can’t do honey you can use stevia instead. 

DSC_0232Do you guys see that I got my pegboard? Ned caved. It was inevitable.

Step Two: Slice Meyer Lemons and try to remove as many seeds as possible with the point of a knife. Squeeeeeeeeeeeze those lemons into the pitcher of warm sweetened water and stir again.

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Step Three: Add ONE DROP of Lavender essential oil while water is still warm and stir. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes so that ingredients can mesh and then cover and place in a refrigerator or pour into glasses over ice and enjoy immediately. If you have Lavender sprigs and guests coming for a dinner party, those might be nice to use as a garnish.

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Lavender Lemonade

3 quarts filtered water
1/2 cup honey (*optional, you can use a few drops of Stevia instead or a combination of your favorite sweeteners)
6 large Meyer lemons, sliced and de-seeded
1 drop Lavender essential oil

1. Warm water in a saucepan over a medium flame or in a microwave until steamy but not simmering. Remove from any heat and add honey. Stir to dissolve completely and add to a large glass pitcher.
2. Squeeze and drop Meyer lemon slices directly into pitcher and stir/press down with a wooden spoon to incorporate juice and warm up the peels.
3. Add one drop of Lavender essential oil into the pitcher and stir. Let mixture sit 5 minutes to steep and cover and refrigerate until cold enough to drink or pour over ice and serve. Garnish with Lavender blossoms if you like.


Enjoy sipping on your calming Lavender Lemonade and don’t forget to breathe! For the month of July we are focusing on Brain Health in The Purple Apron. 

Suppers is a brain-based recovery program for preventing and reversing health problems with food. If you want to submit a story about how you achieved a clearer mind focusing on a diet of whole foods, please send in a story to Dor!

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

The C Word

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A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowHow much energy do you have to expend to refrain from having more than a portion?  I recall  two comments from friends I knew long before Suppers. One said that dieting was a full time job. The other said that she would consider it a year well spent if she did nothing but lose 40 pounds.

Some people who feel addicted to specific foods feel out of control when they have any. It takes a huge amount of energy and control to keep the genie in the bottle if you actually have an addictive relationship with an ingredient.   

In Alice’s story, control was a big issue and it bled into all parts of her life. She couldn’t relax about anything until she fixed her way of eating.


Alice’s Story: The C Word

After years of attending one of the 12-step programs, I have come to think of control as the C Word. To compensate for having no control in one area of my life, I tried to control just about everything else. I was frazzled, pushy, cranky, and difficult to please. I was also a big manipulator, and the things I manipulated most were my own moods and energy level. My tools were coffee, cocoa, candy, bread, cookies, and wine. The automatic choices I made were all about seeking comfort for an outrageously uncomfortable body. Every day started with a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate served to me in my bed by my husband. The jolt got me going. From there I raced through the day, trying to set up play dates and TV time for my kids for the moments when I wanted to sequester myself with a treat or protect them from  my foul mood. I had no tolerance for noise or even too much light. The slightest stimulation would set me off.

This went on for years. 

“Come here!” “Don’t do that.” “Close the door!” “Pull down the shade!” “Turn that off.” “Stop whining!” I was always barking orders. And if they didn’t cooperate I became mean. This went on for years. It never occurred to me until I heard about appropriate control that a healthy person could control their children in loving and effective ways. Maybe I could too, once relieved of the grip of food on my mood.

I stayed off everything for a week…And then the testing started. 

There was only one way to do it: change. I had to observe how I felt on each of my favorite mood manipulators and decide if it went on my “never” list or my “sometimes” list. The way I knew which list to put it on was how hard I had to control myself if I had a little bit. I warned everybody I knew that Cold Turkey Day was coming. I stayed off everything for a week and managed not to kill myself or anybody else. And then the testing started. If a sip or a bite led to ten, it had to go. If I enjoyed it but I had no big reaction it was OK. The big players turned out to be anything with corn, caffeine, white flour, and chocolate. These things made me nutty for more. Over time, the healthier I got, the sicker I felt when I cheated and ate them. It was nice that I could have some ice cream and wine, and I was able to cut them in half without feeling sorry for myself.

I’m still cautious about the C Word. 

The big difference these eliminations made in my life was that I wasn’t trying to control everybody else into maintaining a quiet, bland, stimulation-deprived environment for me. I didn’t have to; I was sleeping better and my personal biology no longer required it.

I’m still cautious about the C Word. I never want to go back to the rigid, frazzled person I was. Now when I yell at the kids to turn down the blasted music, it’s because they’re teenagers and it really is too loud.


Calming The Control Freak Inside for Alice, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I don’t wanna make any generalizations here but somehow I feel like the Suppers Concept of Automatic Choices very commonly circles around sugar. Dessert. Things that are sweet. Great, now I want chocolate and it’s not even 8am. The rationale there is that carbohydrates are so particularly desired by the body that when introduced to refined carbohydrates, the brain turns into a kid in a candy store. Literally.

Have you ever tried making an artichoke omelet? 

Last week we talked about the six tastes, why they are important, how to balance them, and how to better appreciate them. This week let’s keep that in mind as we learn how to make a health-supportive dessert that explodes on the palate just like your favorite naughty sweets.

You guys, cooking is about relationships. Every different food has a different disposition, requires different things. Sometimes foods don’t get along with other foods. Have you ever tried making an artichoke omelet? WELL DON’T. DON’T EVER EVER DO THAT. It ends up looking…horrifyingly gray. Something about iron. Have you ever tried marinating meat in pineapple? WELL DON’T. DON’T EVER EVER EVER DO THAT. It ends up with a mushy, mealy texture. Something about enzymes.

…go ahead and thank the Europeans for exploding dessert in extravagance

Cooking is about relationships between foods and our bodies, too. Each person has a different body and we all have our own biochemical needs. Additionally, foods have their own nutritive compounds and they offer to us different combinations of nutrients. There may be some biological inconsistencies there (your trigger foods or inflammatory foods) but there are more similarities. So let’s talk dessert.

Health-supportive desserts rely heavily on nourishing ingredients – like fruit, for example. Ingredient choice is really all you have going for you. “Dessert” before dessert was invented consisted of fruit, nuts, and honey. When cheese was discovered (yes, discovered) she got to join the party too. We can go ahead and thank the Europeans for exploding dessert into extravagance but for our purposes let’s just focus on how we can amp up the nutrition. Europe has enough to deal with these days.

These ingredients pack the most nutrition into the smallest package.

Trudy Schafer was one of my chef professors from Bauman, who got her Masters in Nutrition after becoming a chef. I was always in awe of her ridiculously ginormous brain. She always said super knowledgeable things like they were just commonplace like she was saying “well you know cause paint is wet” but REALLY she was saying things like “well we’ll just add some lime to complete the protein.” And I was like….”uhhhh right!” I should have asked her more questions and acted dumber, maybe I would have learned more. Anyway the point is, Trudy used to say that if a person is just getting started transitioning their diet and they only want to make one change, have them add fresh herbs and spices. These ingredients pack the most nutrition into the smallest package. Trudy also specialized in cooking for people with cancer – you know, that other C word – who can’t consume that much volume. So. Again. Herbs.

Let’s consider these moving parts we’re dealing with:

  • Dessert
  • Health
  • Herbs
  • Other Nutritionally PACKED Ingredients 

Shall we?


Dessert Pesto

What? What did she say? Pesto?? Sweet pesto?? GROSS! No, you’re wrong – it’s AMAZING. Top an almond flour shortbread or a slice of a plain peach with the tiniest dollop of this stuff and your kitchen god/goddess value shoots up like a rocket ship. Before I toe the line of building this up too much, let’s just make it.

Step One: Prep your herbs. If you just want to use basil for this, that’s fine. However, in my experience making this particular dish, it’s good to add some other sweet heavy hitters like:

  • Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lemon Balm
  • Thai Basil
  • Mint (Use Sparingly)
  • Pineapple Sage

There are more. To keep it very simple let’s just use basil today. After all, the basil season in New Jersey is fleeting and must be appreciated.

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Step Two: Gather your other ingredients. Replace each one like this:

Pine Nuts — Choose From: Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Cashews, Almonds
Garlic — Eliminate entirely. Nobody wants garlic in their dessert pesto
Lemon — Keep the lemon and don’t forget the zest
Olive Oil — Coconut oil, don’t forget to melt it
Sea Salt — Just a dash
Add some honey to sweeten things up to taste and you’re ready to spin. 

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Secret Tip: Don’t put the nuts in first, put the herbs in first. The nuts are heavy and when the processor turns on, they’ll make their way down there. It’s more difficult for the light herbs to get down to the blade without your help. 

Oh, right. That’s all! You’re done.


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Dessert Pesto

4-5 cups herbs (*Asterisk means use sparingly): Basil, Thai Basil, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, *Mint, Pineapple Sage, Lavender, *Rose Geranium
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1-2 cups nuts: Cashews, Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Pecans
3-5 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus some to taste
2 Tablespoons honey (*optional)

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend. Chunky dessert pesto is good for topping sorbet and fruit dishes, smooth dessert pesto is good for piping and fillings or toppings for almond lemon shortbread and other gluten free cookies.
2. Balance flavor with sea salt, lemon juice, and honey if necessary. Stores up to 5 days in refrigerator. Freezes like a champ.


Happy Pesto making!!! This closes out June, our Parenting month at The Purple Apron! 

If you are a member of the Suppers Moms and Dads Facebook group and want to submit a story of your successes and failures at the dinner table with the kids – send in a story to Dor! We will have future months offering Parenting stories so share yours today! 

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

Blueberries That Taste Like Candy

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowAre blueberries pivotal?  It’s been a while since I read Violet’s story.  But since Allie selected it for the blog, I re-read “Blueberries that Taste Like Candy” and marveled that another child had had a transformational experience with blueberries.

There seems to be a pattern here:
Child doesn’t like healthy food.
Mother at her wit’s end with child.
Mother and child pitted against each other. Blueberries save the day.

Blueberry season is upon us. What better way to confidently, lovingly, unswervingly draw a line in the sand. The future of your family’s palate and the financial backbone of the nation may turn when all other food disappears and the only thing left is a box of “delishush” blueberries.

Violet’s Story: Blueberries That Taste Like Candy

It took more than a year to transition.

At my first Suppers meeting, we participated in a workshop that explained how addictive the standard American diet is. In the U.S. we have easy access to affordable, highly processed foods. The facilitator explained how eating processed foods provides a diet high in sugar, salt, and fat, which destabilizes blood sugar and causes cravings for unhealthy foods and excessive weight gain. We also learned that making dietary changes and eating more whole foods will not only improve health, but can also improve how you feel physically and emotionally. My family has many of the problems that Suppers is designed to help. We have problems with alcohol on both sides, depression, anxiety, and struggles with weight. I had no idea that these things are all connected and that the common thread is what we eat.

The facilitator said we might be surprised how taste buds change after a period of time without lots of sugar in our diet.

As curious and as hopeful as I was going into this meeting, I was equally overwhelmed and lost when it was over. We had talked about nutritional harm reduction, which is a conscious and steady effort to slowly reduce and eliminate unhealthy foods. But I shuddered to think about what my kids might do if I tried to take away their favorite snacks. There’d be war on Main Street!

The facilitator said we might be surprised how taste buds change after a period of time without lots of sugar in our diet. A dad in our group told the story of how he had a long illness and had not eaten much for weeks. When he felt better he ate some blueberries. He said they actually tasted like candy! His story gave me hope that if I started taking gentle steps with my children, their taste buds would change incrementally and eventually help them enjoy eating what is good for them.

“These are delishush.”

It took more than a year to transition. My family resisted my efforts: the kids complained, my husband lost his temper, and everyone needled me to bring back the treats. Even though I felt like giving up, I continued to make changes; I threw away a box of cookies, made fruit and raw veggies available for snacking, substituted baked sweet potato “fries” for white potatoes fried in oil, and refused to give in when the kids whined for candy bars in the grocery store. Then one day I handed my son a box of blueberries for his snack and he tossed a big handful in his mouth and said, “These are delishush.” Normally, I would have said, “Don’t talk with your mouth full, please.” Instead I smiled.

When I was frantic about my family’s health, Suppers offered me a different but achievable task. Group support was critical. I also needed to experience that “hatching chick” moment; the moment before which nothing can change and after which nothing can stay the same. That happened for me the day I could imagine blueberries that taste like candy.


Bitter Greens Before Blueberries For Violet’s Kids, By Allie

Before you can understand the blueberry you must first understand the brain and the bud. The tastebud.

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Taste This

There are six tastes, currently. Six flavors. A flavor is not so much how it tastes in this case but a biological reaction to a food. The receptors on our tongue – tastebuds – are responsible for identifying the potential nutrients in a food and telling our brains and other relevant organs what to do in their presence.

SWEET foods contain carbohydrates, or energy, and this is the first flavor the tongue experiences (think breastmilk) and therefore becomes accustomed to – for the obvious reason that there is no life without energy. In a similar sense, digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth and lets the pancreas know that it needs to be ready for Insulin production and distribution.

SALTY foods offer the essential nutrient, Sodium. This nutrient may sound scary because doctors tell you to watch it but that doesn’t mean you don’t need any at all. Sodium regulates and moves water around in the body, addresses blood volume, balances Potassium, and helps with nerve functioning. In modern times, however, sodium is found in nearly every processed food (because salt brings out the natural flavor in foods) and even in over-the-counter medications. Always try to get the purest salts you can find.

SOUR is the bright, acidic flavor found in vinegar, citrus fruit, and tart juices. These foods can zap the tastebuds, sometimes in a shocking way (think babies tasting lemon wedges) and, long ago, could have alerted the tongue to a poisonous food. Since then we have been able to study and differentiate what is a good “shock” and what is a bad “shock” and have found that vinegars, fermented foods, and citrus fruits are some of the most nutrient rich foods on the planet. 

UMAMI is the tongue’s detection of protein so it is found in seared meats and foods with depth like mushrooms. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles, every hormone and enzyme in the body is also a protein, and when we run out of carbohydrates to process, protein is there. Umami is a mild flavor – even at high concentrates – and wasn’t discovered until the early 20th century by a Japanese chemist who noticed that Dashi, a broth, had a little more going on than salty, sour, or sweet.

BITTER is a nuanced flavor as well. Humans have about 30 genes coded just to detect bitter flavors as an evolutionary response to toxins. Omnivores and herbivores have to get really good at telling which plants are poisonous and which are not, so our tongue has evolved to separate and notice bitter flavors the way we notice sour flavors. The more experience the tongue has with bitter flavors the more the tongue can detect other flavors.

FAT is the most recently discovered flavor. It may be difficult to comprehend that fat is a “taste” but know this: the moment the tastebuds detect fat on the tongue, the gallbladder wakes up and starts dealing with bile production and distribution. Fat is also responsible, in a culinary sense, for carrying other tastes over the tongue with its silky richness.

Flavor Friends

In terms of flavor balancing, Bitter and Sweet balance each other out. So, for example, if you have a kale salad and would like to cut the bitterness slightly, you can make a dressing sweetened with a dash of honey or some orange juice. Flavor balancing is all about the palate – both what flavors compliment each other in an external sense (like Bitter/Sweet) but also how the person’s palate responds to flavor.

Same thing with Sour and Salty flavors. Did you just oversalt that dish? Don’t fret, just add some lemon juice or another acid and tame the salt. If you overdid it on the lemon juice, sprinkle some salt to bring other flavors (besides lemon) forward.

You can retune your OWN palate…

Have you ever heard someone say “Well, your tastebuds change every seven years,” or something like that. They’re not wrong but it’s not a whole picture. In fact, our tastebuds can “change” much faster than that and cell production isn’t part of that – THE ONE WITH THE POWER IS YOU!

Yes, you heard me correctly. You can retune your OWN palate to be more sensitive to the flavors of real foods. The processed food industry has a monopoly on salt/sweet/fat – these flavors are the most basic ones, the most desirable ones, the most biologically recognizable ones. They’re the easy ones.

Bitter, sour, umami – these are more difficult to detect, more covert, more “unpalatable” and that’s what makes them so important. Tongues oversaturated with the monopolized easy flavors need a good cleansing to be able to truly appreciate the difficult flavors.

The best way to appreciate a blueberry is to learn to appreciate greens. 

So how do you fix your tired, sad, monopolized tongue? How do you take back control of your tastebuds? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: concentrate on bitter and sour flavors. If Bitter balances Sweet it doesn’t mean the two are at odds with each other – it means the two understand each other. The best way to appreciate a blueberry is to learn to appreciate greens. It’s no wonder blueberries taste like candy after concentrating on the difficult flavors for awhile! It’s both more like the actual blueberry flavor and it’s a sweet relief for your more nuanced tongue too.

We’re going to ease into this process by making a delicious Suppers Friendly Spinach Pie. I went a little nuts in the kitchen yesterday because it was my anniversary and I was trying to make a one-dish-dinner that tasted as delicious as possible.

Spoiler alert, it passed the “Delishush” test with flying colors. Here’s how I did it.


Step One: In a traditional Spanakopita, the greens are cooked first by themselves and then squeezed. I would start there because it takes awhile for them to cool down enough to be able to handle. I used collards from Dor’s garden to compliment my lovely baby spinach and to turn up the bitter note.

Chiffonade the collards by de-stemming them, rolling them up (AGAINST the spine, NOT with the spine – see above) and slicing into 1-inch strips.

Then saute over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Even though they’re collards they do not need the everything cooked out of them.

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Once done and cooled, squeeze out all the moisture and set aside.

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Step Two: Flavor, flavor, flavor. What’s the foundation of flavor? Say it with me: ONION. Your choice. I did a large sweet Vidalia onion and three garlic scapes.

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Hey, do you know what a garlic scape is? They’re in season RIGHT NOW and they’re basically a delicacy – once they’re gone, they’re not back until next year.
Each garlic plant sends out just one scape per season. The scape is the reproductive part of the garlic plant. Farmers snap them off so that the garlic plant will continue to focus on the bulb and will NOT focus on making garlic babies. Reproduction can be very distracting.

They taste like garlic but are a little sweeter. Awesome grilled. Great in pestos.

Step Three: What’s a spinach pie without a crust?! To keep things Suppers Friendly, we are doing a crust which is essentially Dor’s Almond Crackers but we’re adding some eggs to keep everything together.

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Does it form a ball? Can it hold its shape? Then you’re good.

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First slice the ball in half and then roll out JUST ONE half. Don’t laugh at my rolling pin, my wooden rolling pin is at work and, besides, it’s a good tip.

Press the other half of the dough into the bottom of a greased 9 X 13 glass baking dish.

Step Four: The filling. Saute onions, garlic scapes, add chicken thighs, shiitake mushrooms (I know, this is where I was going nuts) a can of coconut milk, and then stir in cooked and drained greens! Add some salt, the zest and juice of a lemon, a dash of apple cider vinegar, some freshly chopped herbs of your choice, and about a quarter cup of chopped fresh parsley. What’s great about this is you do everything out of the same pan except bake it.

Step Five: Pour filling over 9 X 13 pan with crust pressed into the bottom and even out. Then top with rolled out crust and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until top crust is golden and firmed up!

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Suppers Spinach Pie

For the filling:
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 pound spinach leaves
1 pound collard greens, de-stemmed, chiffonade
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
3 large garlic scapes, minced (or 3 large cloves garlic)
3 pieces chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 can coconut milk, whisked with a fork until incorporated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

For the crust:
4 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon dried herbs
dash ground black pepper
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water (pour in half and keep other half reserved)

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large cast iron pan over medium heat, add 1 Tablespoon coconut oil and spinach leaves. Cook 5 minutes, just until wilted, and place in a colander. Return pan to heat and add chiffonade collard greens. Cook 5 – 7 minutes, until wilted, and place in colander with spinach. Allow to cool 10 – 15 minutes until cool enough to handle and then squeeze out all moisture.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add all crust ingredients except remaining 1/2 of the water and mix with hands. Be sure to thoroughly mix crust before adding any more water and only add if crust is crumbly and will not form a ball.
3. Divide crust in half and press one half into a greased 9 X 13 glass baking dish. Place the other between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to very thin with a rolling pin. Place baking dish with crust in it inside the oven and par bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
4. Meanwhile, in cast iron pan, add 1 Tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute 3 – 5 minutes. Add minced garlic scapes and cook 1 more minute until very fragrant. Add chicken thighs and pan sear 2 – 3 minutes per side.
5. Remove chicken thighs and chop into large chunks and then return to pan. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and scrape up any brown goodness on the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in shiitake mushrooms and coconut milk. Lower heat to low and allow to gently cook about 5 minutes.
6. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, fresh herbs, and parsley until everything is well incorporated. Pour over par baked crust and top with rolled out crust. Cut any edges or press down into pan to create a nice pocket and place dish in oven. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the crust on the top is golden and firm. Allow to cook 5 minutes before serving – it will be very hot!


Happy Spinach Pie-ing!!! June is parenting month at The Purple Apron!

If you are a member of the Suppers Moms and Dads Facebook group and want to submit a story of your successes and failures at the dinner table with the kids – send in a story to Dor! We will have future time slots for Parenting stories so share yours today! 

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

Blueberries For Georgia

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowYou are the parent, you are not the friend. In this week’s story, Blueberries for Georgia, another frustrated mother deals with her five year old’s resistance to eating fresh fruit. Blueberries were new for Georgia.

We did not have this problem five decades ago when my mother was teaching me how to eat. There simply weren’t choices. We learn to eat by following the example of our parents. As you will see, Georgia’s mom was filled with trepidation about coercing her child to try fresh blueberries and in the end Georgia took the plan and ran with it.

Eileen’s Story: Blueberries For Georgia

Last month I attended a Suppers meeting where we discussed Bee Wilson’s book First Bite: How We Learn To Eat. In her book, Wilson points to study after study that proves a child can learn to like any food as long as the child has that particular food in the world he lives in. Wilson advocates a specific approach in which the child has repeated (at least 15), continuous (daily), small (the size of a grain of rice) exposures to the particular food. The child must actually taste the food during each encounter (licking counts).

This practice, Wilson claimed, will have even the most stubborn toddler enjoying a wide range of foods.

Well, this sounded like the perfect Suppers experiment for me and my five year old daughter, Georgia.  I thought I’d start with something easy, like blueberries.  Here is how it went.

Day 1:  I put one blueberry in a special, small, shallow blue bowl and approached her expectantly with it, explaining that this was an experiment and all she had to do was eat this single, delicious blueberry. Georgia refused and happily turned back to her playing. After twenty minutes of coaxing, begging and demanding, she finally ate it, making a vinegary face. I was dejected but up for the challenge.

Day 2:  My blue bowl and I chased Georgia around the house until I finally caught her. While I didn’t exactly pin her down and force-feed her the blueberry, let’s just say that neither one of us was happy after she finally ate it. I was beginning to question the wisdom of this approach.

Day 3:  Georgia took one look at me holding the blue bowl and had a complete melt down – fists and feet pounding the floor and hysterical crying that seemed to have no end. I put the bowl down on the counter and busied myself with making dinner.  She would not be consoled and I was shaken to my very core. I now knew that this experiment was not going to work for us.  Georgia finally ate the blueberry about an hour later.  I guess the poor thing thought she had to or she would never get any other food.

Day 4:  I don’t know what possessed me to continue, but I walked over to Georgia with a blueberry, in the blue bowl. She happily said, ok mommy, and immediately dropped the blueberry in her mouth.

Day 5:  I hadn’t yet had a chance to set up the blueberry in the blue bowl before Georgia ran over to the refrigerator, opened the fruit drawer and grabbed a handful of blueberries and threw them in her mouth.

Day 6:  I asked Georgia if she was ready for her blueberries, and she excitedly chanted blueberries – blueberries – blueberries, while I got them out of the refrigerator for her.

We continued with blueberries for nine more days and have since moved on to sugar snap peas and kiwi. These experiments are working for us and we plan to continue them.

While these foods may not be her favorites, or even wind up in the regular rotation, she understands a lot more about trying new things and that you may like something the tenth time you try it even when you didn’t like it the first nine times.

And, we are starting to have more and more choices when it comes to healthy foods on our plates.


A Suppers Re-Design on Blueberry Buckle for Georgia, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081My mother only ever made meatloaf with two sides: mashed potatoes and peas. And not sugar snap peas or snow peas or anything that delicious. I’m talking about the peas that come frozen out of a bag and taste godawful. For her, that’s how she only ever was served meatloaf and it was a beautiful treat for her as a child. She grew up in a very big family and I’m sure, like for Dor, there were no choices at the dinner table unless you chose to skip dinner. 

Anyways, that’s how she made it. I hate peas like that. Ugh – to this day, cannot stand green peas. Strangely enough, when they are served to me fresh in the spring, I’m all about that because they have that classic pea flavor but it is much more mild. Plus, I’m a total food snob. Ned can’t stand it, especially when we are on the subject of pizza. I’m a Nomad pizza girl. He’s a Contes guy. I keep telling him, “It’s ok to be wrong about stuff. I still love you even though no one has ever been more wrong about anything in the history of the universe.” Can you blame me though? I mean…Nomad versus Contes? That’s not even a fair contest.

When I was a kid, my mother would serve us meatloaf and sit down with us at the table – so pleased with herself and excited for dinner – and I would groan and she would say,

“Three bites. You have to take three bites of peas.” 

And she wouldn’t let me do the thing where you just put ONE single solitary pea on the spoon. It had to be a whole spoonful. I would do it, hating the experience. I never really grew to enjoy peas honestly BUT I did enjoy lots and lots of other vegetables!

Maybe it was that very palate tuning experiment that I needed to experience in order to explore other options and enjoy them. 

Blueberries, though. I mean…Georgia. Blueberries are DELICIOUS. So plump, so juicy. The perfect combination of sweet and tart. The perfect size for a handful. Easy to clean, keeps well in the fridge. Can be frozen whole without much trouble and eaten as a nice evening snack. And, of course, sorbet and popsicles. I think, for Georgia, the anticipation of the new food was probably the worst part. To her mother’s credit, blueberries were a GREAT place to start! 

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Almost every year, I enter the Terhune Orchards Blueberry Bake-Off in July when our special fruit is in season. Sometimes I win. None of the recipes I have ever made for the Bake-Off would be deemed Suppers Friendly, so I am going to walk through how to redesign a recipe. 

Here is the original recipe: 2013 First Place: Blueberry Buckle. Don’t make that.


A Blueberry Buckle Re-Design

Let’s talk about cleaning. 

Always place blueberries in a big bowl of water. Then take handful after handful out of the bowl, looking at them, letting stemless blueberries fall into a clean bowl. The water makes it easier to scoop without crushing the berries and it also makes it easier to see those little stems. They come off pretty easily by pinching them with your fingers and pulling them out.

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Let’s talk about crust.

To make the crust according to the recipe, we need:
All purpose flour
White sugar
Baking powder
Salt
Cinnamon
Lemon Zest
Eggs
Vanilla
Butter

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Obviously some of these ingredients are not Suppers Friendly. Here’s what you can do. 

Change The Ingredients

Every ingredient in your kitchen can be thought of as an element or as a means to an end. Each ingredient performs a specific purpose, whether it is for texture, flavor, or volume, or a combination of those. So, if you break it down into elements of a recipe and aren’t confined to an ingredient list as it stands, you can re-design just about anything – even when you are baking!!!

All Purpose Flour = Almond Flour (or you can use another gluten free flour, a gluten free flour blend, or you can use cooked grains like brown rice, quinoa, or millet)
Cornstarch = Arrowroot powder (a natural starch) or Tapioca Starch
White Sugar = Coconut Palm Sugar, Sucanat, Stevia (use very sparingly), Honey, Maple Syrup
*Always add cinnamon and vanilla to sweet recipes when they are not written in. Cinnamon and Vanilla bring out the natural sweetness in foods.
Eggs = Go ahead and use Eggs OR make a Flax Egg with 1 Tablespoon Flaxseed and 3 Tablespoons water mixed in a small bowl and left to congeal.
Butter = Go ahead and use Butter OR use Coconut Oil
*Coconut Oil is a wonderful saturated fat, stable at high heat, solid at room temperature, tastes amazing, and is great for your skin!

That was easy! Make the recipe as it is written by choosing your alternative ingredients and, as always, EXPERIMENT!!!! 

There is a blueberry pie contest at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market on July 2nd. It MUST be a pie but since I don’t have time to bake one, here’s a tip:

Thai Basil and Blueberries are a great combination. 


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Blueberry Lemon Buckle

1 1/2 cups almond flour or gluten free flour
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar, divided in half
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon zest (one small lemon)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil, in clumps and chilled
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 heaping cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 heaping Tablespoon Thai Basil or Lemon Balm, chiffonade

1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease an 8X8 baking dish with coconut oil.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, half of the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Pulse 12 times to combine.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and vanilla. Set aside.
4. Pull apart clumps of chilled coconut oil and add to flour mixture in processor bowl. Make sure clumps aren’t too close to each other. Add egg yolk mixture to bowl and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Be careful not to over process or you will end up with dough.
5. Press 2/3 of crumb mixture into bottom of baking dish. Set aside.
6. In a separate bowl, combine arrowroot, remainder of sugar, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and then fold in blueberries. Turn gently to coat and sprinkle basil into mixture. Pour over crust and sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over top.
7. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until bubbly and done.


Happy Blueberrying!!! June is parenting month at The Purple Apron!

If you are a member of the Suppers Moms and Dads Facebook group and want to submit a story of your successes and failures at the dinner table with the kids – send in a story to Dor! We will have future time slots for Parenting stories so share yours today! 

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

My Body is the Temple of My Soul

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowSuppers isn’t billed as a spiritual experience. Nevertheless, members experience spiritual sustenance in two main ways (you can probably think of more).

One is that it does take a body to have a spiritual experience. Having a physical body is a necessary but insufficient condition because it’s the vessel or terrain needed for any other experience to take place.

We  experience every feeling, every thought, every attitude and every spiritual moment on our human terrain.

So, just as the condition of the playing field affects the quality and outcome of the game, so too the condition of our physical bodies affects the quality and outcome of the lives we lead in them.  

Second, many of us derive spiritual sustenance from the communities that form around our shared intentions to be well. Our opening meditations, the food, our shared desire and commitments to take better care of the “temples of our souls”, and the support we provide each other are inspiring. For me, it’s about the “helper’s high”, the elevating feelings I get when I see revitalized people who thought their problems were intractable. Good food and social support are a powerful combination. If you haven’t been to a Suppers lately, what’s stopping you! Come get high on health with me!

Beth’s Story: My Body is the Temple of My Soul

When I started Suppers, I wasn’t expecting to have a spiritual experience. I went because my way of eating had gotten me into a lot of trouble. I had dug my way in with a fork and spoon and I needed to dig myself out with the same tools. I had church and a 12-step program to take care of my spiritual needs, so I imagined that the spiritual side of Suppers for me would be about penance. I looked at what wasn’t on the menu and knew I would feel sorry for my sins.

I didn’t know what to do with the line, “Caring for the body is the primary spiritual act because the body is the temple of the soul.” I’m not sure I agree with the “primary” part, but I got it that no matter what we’re doing, we’re doing it from a physical body. I have firsthand information on how illness affects my emotions and relationships and turns my prayers into pleas for help. 

It has been challenging for me in my spiritual practice to get quiet enough to hear God’s plan for me. Every day I ask for guidance, but there’s been so much noise in my head I couldn’t hear the answer.

It was a long process acquiring a personal appreciation of how deeply my physical body related to my spiritual experience. As I weaned myself off refined sugars and started eating more fresh food, my anxiety started to go down. I had been praying for years for help with anxiety and depression. I had no idea that part of the problem was my diet. I also learned that managing stress isn’t just about getting into a quiet meditative state; I also needed to move. A walk along the canal is just perfect for me. It locates me closer to God. Now that I’ve let go of most sweets, the spiritual difference is crystal clear. I spend more time saying prayers of gratitude than pleading for help. 


Black Bean Burgers For Beth, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Ever look at a package of vegetarian burgers? Most of them are pretty….well let’s just say that there’s a lot LOT of words under the word “Ingredients” that’s for sure – and you probably can’t pronounce all of them. At Suppers, that’s not a good place to start. 

The thing is, making vegetarian burgers can take a bit of work if you want them to be good. This is an instance where the time it requires to make them yourself is worth it – not to mention, they’re a make-ahead. Make a big batch and they freeze like champions! You know, like Olympic bobsled champions.

There is no need whatsoever to add manufacturing ingredients, like silica and tertiary butylhydroquinone, in case you happen to have them in your spice cabinet. Not kidding, butylhydroquinone is totally a word and it’s also an “ingredient” to look out for in processed foods. And hey, to be honest, there’s also no reason to add flour or breadcrumbs, either – that’s a trick that the majority of vegan or vegetarian chefs use to bulk up the volume, create binding, add texture, and reduce cost. But it’s not necessary – I’ll show you how.

It’s all about ingredient choices – and by ingredients I mean REAL ones. Not seventeen lettered ones. 

This week, no steps – everything just goes into a big bowl anyways. Let’s talk about the individual ingredients, how and why they are used and chosen, respectively, and then the recipe is at the bottom! 

INGREDIENTS, FLAVOR, AND CHARACTERISTICS: A GLOSSARY

BLACK BEANS
Black beans have their own binding capabilities – that’s why they’re a main ingredient in black bean burgers in the first place. In fact, that’s why someone was like, “black beans are sticky, I bet we could make burgers out of these” one day. However, black beans are pretty plain. Not much flavor. And to get them to their mushiest state takes a lot of elbow grease. You can use a potato masher as well but not a food processor – that would be TOO mushy, not enough good beany texture. 102980.jpg

I’ve used both canned and cooked black beans and…don’t hate me…I prefer to use canned. Cooked black beans seem to have a higher water content and make for a more liquid experience. Eden Organic Black Beans are my favorite brand but the more affordable 365 brand from Whole Foods is good too and, honestly, probably any canned bean would work.

SWEET POTATOsweet_potato_for_gnocchi
This is the secret weapon of a good black bean burger.
Roasted sweet potato flesh adds what wet flour would add – a fiber similar to the protein gluten – with none of the inflammation and four times the flavor. Go easy on the sweet potato, since they vary in size I usually go for a large one and then end up using about 3/4 of it. Roast in the oven, cool, peel, and add to your growing bowl of ingredients.

CARAMELIZED ONIONS
The last binding ingredient is, as we have previously discussed, the foundation of all flavor: the onion. Caramelized onions, which are a make – ahead that we learned about in Salmon For Breakfast  – add so much flavor to things that it’s totally bonkers. In terms of this recipe, these sweet sweet onions provide everything that we’re looking for in a small package. For one batch of burgers you probably don’t need more than 2 large yellow onions, sliced and caramelized.

Truth be told, for black bean burgers, you can stop around or before 60 minutes. But here’s the breakdown so you can see up to 2 hours.

MUSHROOMS
The other day I was making thportobellopix1.jpgese burgers in front of my sister, who generally won’t touch a thing I make but she DOES like my black bean burgers. She didn’t know there were mushrooms in it every time though. Ha! These are a bit of a secret ingredient – mushrooms add so much depth of flavor and they also add a nice texture and good water content. The trick is to chop up the mushrooms into nice even, small chunks, and then add them to the caramelized onions towards the end of the process and cooking them until the liquid is mostly evaporated.

SHREDDED CARROT
Carrots are so pretty! The orange color adds a nice splash to an otherwise darkish dish. Raw shredded carrot also adds some nice vitamins to this mineral rich burger. Finally, the carrots here won’t add a crunchy texture once they have been cooked but they will add a nice fresh, clean flavor of vegetables – even though nearly everything added so far is pretty much a vegetable. Just go with me. I’m sure you could add other shredded veggies at this point too if you are feeling adventurous.

TOSCANO KALE, CHIFFONADE dino-kale.jpg
Again this is a color and vitamin thing. Kale leaves (plus carrots) help to “break up” the otherwise heavy burger and you don’t need very much to make it a successful dish! I like to use toscano (aka lacinato, dino – the one with the flat leaf) kale because of its flatness and shape. Curly kale might work but it’s so difficult to manipulate in terms of shape and red russian kale has a water content that would create too much steam for the kale and give the burger an off flavor. So if you’re gonna use kale, use toscano. 

If you want to watch a mildly bizarre video on How to Chiffonade things, watch this one, it has okay tips and even though it uses basil it’s the same basic method: roll and slice. Here’s the video.

GARLIC
Cause garlic, you guys. If you can’t deal with garlic, don’t worry about it – but nothing garlics like garlic. I like to prep mine by mincing it first and then sprinkling a dash of sea salt on it and leaving it to sit for a few minutes. Upon return I continue mincing to get the salt all up in there and then I turn my knife blade away from me, so that I’m looking at the flat side and start to smash the garlic with the flat side, scraping towards me at a 45 degree angle, pressing and crushing the garlic as I scrape. I feel like this is hard to follow.

You know what, just watch Jaques Pepin’s method, he’s got some cool tricks right here! If Julia Child is my queen, Jaques Pepin is my king!

THYME, OREGANO, FRESH HERBS
Obviously fresh herbs pack one heck of a punch flavor wise. I like to use ground thyme, dried thyme, fresh thyme (any thyme, anytime), and I also use fresh oregano leaves, minced. Use whatever you like! A little fresh herbs goes a long, long way.

That’s it! I usually work next to a big bowl and when I’m done with an ingredient, I add it to the bowl. Then I go in with a potato masher and afterwards I use both hands to mix and fold and squish and crush and fold and mix until they’re done.

Another thing you should know before we finish up here is that these burgers take FOREVER to bake. They don’t have breadcrumbs or anything to lighten their load and they’re pretty wet considering the fact that most things have been cooked already so don’t embark on a black bean burger project if you only have an hour before dinner and then be like “well Allie said they were easy and they would take five minutes to make”. They’re easy, I suppose. But they won’t take five minutes. Try NOT to eat them in less than five minutes and make it a spiritual experience for yourself!!


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This was a version of black bean burger made by my GSCK kids last summer! We used green bell peppers instead of carrots and a cilantro pesto sauce for topping – so delicious! Once you make these burgers my way, experiment with yours!

Black Bean Burgers

1 large sweet potato, whole, unpeeled
2 heaping Tablespoons coconut oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced into half moons
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 lb mushroom caps (portobello or cremini) small dice
1 cup shredded carrot (about 5 medium carrots)
6 leaves toscano kale, de-stemmed, chiffonade
6 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
4 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1. Preheat oven to 375 and place sweet potato directly on the rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch drippings. Roast potato for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender. Remove and set aside to cool and then peel off skin. Place flesh in a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, melt coconut oil over medium heat and add sliced onions and salt. Stir to coat onions with oil, place lid over pan, and lower heat to low. Cook over low, low heat for up to 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to prevent sticking. For reference or pictures head to Step 2 of Salmon For Breakfast.
3. Once onions are mostly done, stir chopped mushrooms into pan with onions. Raise heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms have given off liquid and then that liquid has mostly evaporated. Add onion and mushroom mixture to bowl with sweet potatoes.
4. Add shredded carrot, chiffonade kale, garlic, black beans, and herbs to the potato/onion/mushroom mixture and begin to mash with hands or a potato masher. Mash, fold, and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Taste and balance with sea salt.
5. Lower oven heat to 350 and measure out bean burgers (if you can, use a scale and weigh burgers out to 6 ounces). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place patties on sheet, as close together as possible without sticking.
6. Bake burgers for 35-45 minutes on one side and then flip and continue cooking another 20 minutes or until done. Burgers will be heavy so flip gently – they need to bake a long time, don’t mess with the cooking time too much.


Happy Beaning!!! June is parenting month at The Purple Apron, so – although we are making up for missing last week by sharing one of Dor’s favorites to close out Founder’s Month – Parenting stories are coming!

If you are a member of the Suppers Moms and Dads Facebook group and want to submit a story of your successes and failures at the dinner table with the kids – send in a story to Dor! We will have future time slots for Parenting stories so share yours today! 

As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!

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A Book Review on Perlmutter

A Review By Dor

Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD

Dor photo by David CrowI’m simultaneously sad and exhilarated when scientists catch up with cooks and say things like, “A medical revolution is underway…”and when you continue reading the conclusion is that we all need to eat homemade sauerkraut. Honestly, haven’t our Hungarian grandmas been telling us all along to eat pickles because they’re so good for us? Haven’t our Korean grandmas been putting kimchi into everything else forever? My new favorite book is The Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD (of Grain Brain fame, I adore this man). A medical revolution that affirms what traditional cooks have known all along is my kind of revolution.

What I didn’t know – and what I’m so thrilled to learn – is how profoundly the content of our guts affects the functioning of our brains. From ADHD and autism in children to the rising tide of early dementia, people from the so-called civilized world suffer often-preventable debilitating brain disorders. No matter what Suppers meeting you go to – blood sugar, digestive disorders, vegan, omnivore, low carb, carb addicts – people complain of brain fog and mental fatigue. Perlmutter says it all starts with your microbiome, the vast population of organisms that inhabit our gut and outnumber our own cells ten to one!

I am of the “Eat-a- pound-of- dirt-before kindergarten” school of thought, a gardener who seeks to avoid putting city water on my spinach and berries. Now science tells me why, and why I want to grow the organisms that come in from my garden by lactofermenting – just about everything. Allie and I had a productive argument about the relative merits of various kinds of home fermentation. I’m trying all the kinds that don’t involve wheat (although I bet a lot of us could eat a properly fermented sourdough and not suffer).

Check the Suppers calendar for fermentation workshops at North Slope Farm, Terhune Orchards and my house. Charlie and I are doing one on kombucha making and will be sharing our SCOBYs. And doesn’t some one want some of my kefir grains?


Sauerkraut Demistification, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Dibs on those kefir grains, by the way. Clarification is important here, both in terms of helping to demystify the process of making your own sauerkrauts and also so that we all understand why we ferment and which fermentations are the best ones to perform. Let’s dive into the science a little bit.

Lacto-Fermentation

Very basically, the process of lacto-fermentation utilizes the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, as well as other probiotics, or lactic acid bacterium (LAB). These special organisms are present on foods that grow close to the ground and they do the best when they are in an anaerobic fermenting environment – which just means an environment without oxygen.

That environment is extremely important to the process because the environment dictates which bacteria are going to be present. We want to harbor the good guys only – the probiotics we discussed before – the places where they thrive -like salty, acidic brines – are also the places where harmful bacterium don’t want to be! 

If you’ve done things correctly then you will have created an environment which first kills off all of the bad bacteria (because they don’t like the salt and need oxygen) and then allows the lactobacillius to start working on converting sugars into lactic acid. That acid is why fermented foods have that bold tanginess!

That’s the science for you. Here’s a comforting thought though – whether you understand all that bacteria/probiotic/cillius discussion or not, the process itself is really quite simple.

Sauerkraut

Step One: Slice cabbage as thinly as you can. Don’t forget to take out the core! You can also slice up any other veggies you want to ferment with the cabbage. Dino kale is a good one, leafy herbs, carrots and other crunchy vegetables – go nuts.

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Cut a triangle AROUND the core in your halved cabbage and remove. Shred the rest.

Step Two: Add salt – usually 1 Tablespoon of salt per head of cabbage – and start to massage and squeeeeeeeeeeeeeze that cabbage. Massage it like you are massaging a pro wrestler’s shoulders, even if you don’t want to have to do that. Use the same amount of strength. You are finished when you can lift a handful of cabbage and squeeze that fistfull and water streams out of your fist.

After that happens you are available to add some liquid flavor – throw some water, ginger, jalapeno, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, etc. – anything you want – into a blender. Blend it up and mix in with kraut before packing into the jar.

Step Three: Pack tightly into a glass, wide mouthed Ball jar. Make sure to pack it really tightly to create that anaerobic environment!

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Step Four: This is the easy part – wait. You can do all sorts of things to try and keep the vegetables underneath the liquid brine that is created.

Some folks put a small glass jar with some water or marbles in there to hold the veggies down. There are even special sauerkraut pots that they sell where you can put water in the moat and keep the air out. Don’t worry, it’s only $150 for the pot. Or you can use a two dollar mason jar (and that’s when they’re not on sale).

s-l1000

Probably the easiest thing to do is what Dor does – just make sure the water is there and visit your jar daily. With a spoon, press veggies down underneath the brine at least once per day for three days. Keep the metal lid of the jar – just the lid, not the screw top over the jar to help keep out air, dust, and bugs but other than that…not much to worry about.

Keep tasting – by the third day your kraut should be beginning to have that classic tangy taste. In a week she should be done fermenting and can be popped in the fridge!


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Sauerkraut

1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled
3/4 cup water

1. Place cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Begin massaging the cabbage very forcefully, breaking down cell walls and drawing water out of the cabbage. Continue squeezing and processing cabbage until water streams out of fistfulls.
2. Add kale and carrot, continue massaging until kale is wilted.
3. In a blender, combine ginger, garlic, and water and process until liquid or mostly broken down. Pour over vegetables and toss until mixture coats vegetables.
4. Pack into glass jars very tightly and continue adding and packing kraut until jar is almost full.
5. Each day press vegetables down underneath the brine with a clean spoon. Make sure there is enough brine to mostly cover veggies. Taste on the third day and allow to continue fermenting for about 1 week. Some sauerkrauts take longer depending on the room temperature. When done, refrigerate! Kraut keeps up to 3 months or so in a refrigerator.

*There should be liquid at the top of the jar once packed. If not, it’s possible you did not process vegetables enough or perhaps you need to add brine. Give it a day and if the liquid level is still a concern then make brine with 1 cup water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt.*