Dor Is in My Fridge

Dor photo by David CrowA Welcome From Dor

If all that gets in your way of making the healthier choice is convenience, take a look at Joni‘s grab and go list of essential items to have on hand.  

For Joni, education was not enough.  She knew exactly what she was supposed to eat. But the crazy busy schedule of a full-time working mom meant that she raced to make everything happen except meeting her own needs for nourishing food.

Even fear of the cancer that ran in her family didn’t translate into good self-care.  It took the community of Suppers to make sure that her fast food was the healthy food.

Joni’s Story: Dor Is in My Fridge

When I first arrived at Suppers it was fear that drove me. There is way too much breast cancer in my family, and I’m at an age where I’d be foolish not to pay attention to my diet and lifestyle.

I am no newcomer to eating healthy whole foods. I’ve known what to eat for years.
My problem was not lack of good information but lack of the wherewithal to do what I know is best for me. Even fear hasn’t been enough to make me stay on the right path consistently.

When I got to Suppers, I wasn’t so much looking for information as for support. The Suppers form of sponsorship is called therapeutic friendship. It means we step in and help each other with whatever kind of support is needed: phone calls, walking partners, cooking dates, etc. I needed help staying on track to buy only good food and keep it on hand and ready to grab. To reinforce how important it is not to let ourselves get too hungry, we often cook extra food at meetings and bring jars so we can take some home.

Stress is a familiar companion for me. I have a busy practice. I’m also on the run keeping up with the schedule of an active teenage son. And I have problems with blood sugar and am already pre-diabetic. So I can rely on crashes happening if I’m not right on top of eating regularly and making good choices. But good choices are hard to make when inconvenience, time pressures, and carbohydrate cravings combine to sabotage my best intentions. One day, sensing a crash would come over me if I didn’t eat, I yanked open the fridge door looking for a fast solution. And there, facing me, was Dor in my fridge.

Dor is the leader of my Suppers group – the Suppers founder, in fact – and she offered her therapeutic friendship to help me establish new habits. She’d sent me home with a few jars of chili and soup from the last meeting. Well, wouldn’t you know, sometimes things work exactly as they’re supposed to work.

When I opened the fridge, there was a delicious, protein-rich chili in a jar from Dor’s kitchen. My “fast food” was healthy food. There would be no automatic choices today. I was sticking to the plan. I said a five-second prayer of gratitude and downed the chili before dashing off to the next appointment.

There are far too many social pressures, too many soccer games to race to, too many clients in need of my services, a husband who deserves my time, and too many internal impulses for me to get this right without lots of support. Obviously, slowing down has to be part of the long-term plan. But for now I need regular meetings, like-minded friends, and the right food in the fridge to manage this busy life without crashing.

When I reported to my Suppers friends how their support was helping me lead a healthier life, they asked me to make a list of “must haves.” Here is my list of things I must always have on hand because Dor won’t always be in my fridge:


Joni’s Grab & Go List of Essentials 

2 kinds of unsalted nuts: Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts
Pumpkin Seeds or Sunflower Seeds
Hardboiled Eggs
2 kinds of easy-to-grab fruit: Apples, Pears, Sliced Melon, and Berries
Sliced Raw Veggies (can be kept in a jar of ice water, tupperware, or ziploc)
Hummus or Vegetable Dip
Broiled Chicken and/or Sliced Turkey
1-cup servings of whatever chili or soup I make on the weekend
Pitcher of filtered water: NO Soft Drinks!!!
Flourless Tortillas, Frozen or Chilled
Whole Grain Crackers
Cubes or Slices of Cheese
Butter
Almond Butter and/or Peanut Butter
Small, wrapped servings of dark chocolate for special occasions 


Booster Bars For Joni, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I was at Target the other day getting some new gummy vitamins, a.k.a. fortified candy, and as I browsed the vitamin aisle I noticed something on the other side: like a zillion different brands of bars. It seems nowadays that with every fad diet comes a fad “bar”. A processed, mushed together set of ingredients, which, when combined with the literature and merchandised processed foods sold through one fad diet or another, will help you to lose X number of pounds. While researching for this week I wondered a few things about these bars:

  1. How costly are they in comparison to similar mushed together ingredients (granola bars)?
  2. How popular are they? Do they really sell?
  3. What ingredients in these make them different from other bars?
  4. Can I make them at home?

Then I wondered – why doesn’t everybody do this? Making protein bars for my family is something that I have done for fun for years. Now that I have the opportunity, I want to tell you this first: you too can make your own bars. It takes about 10 minutes and they last about two weeks. Want to know more? Keep reading.

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Step One: Choose your things.

Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, etc.
Seeds: Sunflowers, Pumpkin
Grains: None, oats, cooked quinoa (needs to be refrigerated), other cooked, needing to be refrigerated grains. (Hint, grains are unnecessary)
Dried Fruit: Dates, cranberries, apricots, golden raisins, figs, mangoes, apples, etc. (basically any dried fruit you can find)
Powders/Boosters: Chia, Flax, cacao powder, cinnamon, spirulina (needs to be refrigerated) orange zest, lemon zest (uhh, did you know that lemon zest has more vitamin c than orange juice?), cardamom (any spice you want really)
Sweeteners (optional): Honey, Maple Syrup, Alcohol Free Vanilla
Flavor Boosters: Sea Salt, Lemon Juice, Fresh Herbs (needs to be refrigerated)

Step Two: Blend your things into a mush. Basically, put all of your things into a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse, until you feel as though all of the things have made friends with each other and then turn your food processor off. The “dough” should “relax” at this point – or, in other words – pull away from the sides of the bowl. At this point, you are ready to turn that “dough” onto a parchment lined baking sheet and start to press it all into a squarish/rectangularish shape and begin to mold the “dough” into a cuttable thing.

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Step Three: Eat your things

It’s that easy. Protein bars are inexpensive when made at home, contain more boosters when made at home, and are more delicious, grab-able, and impressive when made at home. Best part – you can avoid all inflammatory-you foods when you make your own bars. Just like your smoothies, these You Bars can contain ingredients that are you-friendly and don’t cost so much when shopping at Target.

Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t shop at Target cause….well, Target has great clothes sometimes. And the sunglasses. So good.


 

You Bars

1 cup nuts and seeds of choice: almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pumpkins, sunflowers, etc.
1 cup dried fruit of choice: dates, cranberries, figs, raisins, apricots, mango, etc.
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon spice blend of choice (cardamom, coriander, etc.)
1 teaspoon booster of choice (spirulina, chia, flax, etc.)
1 orange or lemon, zested
pinch sea salt
dash honey *optional

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Turn on and pulse several times to incorporate. Turn on and process until dough “relaxes” against sides of bowl when processor has been turned off.
  2. Turn onto a parchment lined baking sheet and shape into a rectangle. Chill 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Remove and slice into 2X2 inch squares. Store in proper tupperware or freeze and enjoy one bar each day when hunger bares its teeth.

As always always, head to Suppers for all of your recipe needs, support, and to look for new meetings to visit! Suppers offers educational support for you to transition towards a healthier lifestyle. We would love for you to join us today! Check out our calendar now!

 

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Latkes

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David CrowI can argue for a role for food in just about any scenario: health, illness, mental illness, failed or successful marriages, armies that march on their stomachs, and the rise and fall of civilizations. But even I know it’s not just about the food. Our relationship with food and ability to digest it and turn it into who we are require time and honor. You don’t have to be experienced at meditation to call more mindfulness into the way you eat. You can select eating according to your intentions instead of your impulses. Even just two minutes dedicated to mindful eating can shift how you relate to food.

Dee and Stella’s Story: Latkes

As a frequent guest speaker at Suppers meetings, I get asked lots of questions, including many I don’t know the answer to. One of my favorites is how to start meditating. That came up at a lunch meeting in a busy office building. The members scrambled in, experienced a bunch of details for 50 minutes, and raced out to beat the clock. “Could you please teach us how to hurry up and relax?”

There were a few things wrong with the question, but I understood what they meant. We frequently do brief meditations at meetings, so I offered a classic mindfulness exercise.

(Try it at your own meeting. Provide a small bowl of raisins or sunflower seeds, and read this with a pause after each sentence.)


Mindfulness Exercise

Please take a breath and let it go.

And just notice the feel of your body in your chair.
Just notice how your body moves as you breathe in. And out.

Now pass around the bowl of raisins.
Take a couple and place them in the palm of your hand.
Look at the raisins and notice how they feel in your palm.

And how they look.
Are they all the same?
Note the differences in color, texture, and form from one raisin to the next.

Now feel the raisins with the tips of your fingers.
Roll them between your fingers.
How do they feel?
Do they feel the same to your fingertips as to your palms?
If not, how are they different?

Bring your hand to your nose.
Smell the raisins.
How do they smell?
Do they remind you of anything?
Anywhere?

Now close your eyes, and bring your hand to your mouth.
Gently place the raisins on your tongue and just notice how they feel.
Let your tongue move them around and notice how they feel between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

Next notice how your mouth feels.
Does the presence of raisins make you salivate?
Let yourself now chew the raisins, over and over, with no intention to swallow them.
How does the taste change as you continue to chew?

Say to yourself the word “raisins” and let them slip down your throat.


When they fluttered their eyes open, one of the members, Stella, said she had never heard of eating mindfully before and that she’d like to try it after the holiday. Her downfall? Potato latkes. A recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic, she knew she had to learn to resist her favorite treats. “My father always said, the best form of exercise is pushing yourself away from the table. My mother didn’t agree. She was all for piling latkes on our plates. Dad could eat six and stop. Me, I’d have that many down before the sour cream even made it around to me.”

So Stella made herself a Suppers Experiment. She would make a batch of latkes, set the table for herself, and do the raisin meditation with a crispy, salty, warm potato latke.

“There is no way I’m giving up latkes,” said Stella. “But I will commune with six, instead of inhaling a dozen.”


 

Taking The “Potato” Out of the Potato Latke for Stella, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081There’s this weird thing that only exists in America and, unlike a lot lot lot of weird things that only exist in America — this one may not be so desperately unhealthy.

It’s the Big Salad. (Do you guys watch Seinfeld? Remember when Elaine introduced the Big Salad? It’s a thing.) The non-elusive Big Salad can be found in many sit down restaurants and is often around the size of a pro-wrestler’s head. Assuming one can help out with cheese/fried chicken/dressing related situations, The Big Salad is pretty much a way of stuffing oneself with a gigantic pile of vegetables.

Aaaaaaaaand……..I’m having a problem with having a problem with that.

So when I was reading Stella’s story about being a Potato Latke monster not only did I empathize with that (cause potato + fried + sour cream = duh) but I also have spent many a Seder enjoying latkes made without potatoes. And they’re equally delicious. I’ll show you how.

Step One: Shred root vegetables of choice. Today we are using beets, green zucchini, and parsnip. Tip: for jobs requiring a lot of vegetables, use the shredding blade of your food processor and be done in seconds. 

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You’re not reduced to summer squash alone, although it is certainly not something I would leave out. Use any number of softish/crunchy vegetables (and use them in combinations) like:
Parsnips     Carrots     Beets     Rutabaga     Sweet Potato     Peppers     Your Choice!

Step Two: Place shredded zucchini in a colander and toss with a good pinch of salt. Place colander over a plate and let sit for at least one hour. Draining excess moisture from vegetables (especially zucchini/carrot) will help in the frying process and make those latkes nice and crispy!

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Step Three: Mince onions, scallions, leeks, garlic, or any member of the allium family. In a large bowl, combine shredded, drained vegetables with minced onion, a pinch of sea salt, and lightly beaten eggs. Mixture should be coated entirely in eggs but not swimming in eggs (at all).

Step Four: This is the only time I will ever suggest this: it’s traditional (and makes a big flavor difference) to fry latkes in Olive Oil. I know. Olive oil has a sadly low smoke point (that point in which fat molecules are chemically altered from too much heat) and I would normally suggest something like coconut or vegetable oil for the fry. But not in this case. A proper fry oil temperature is no lower than 350.

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Step Five: Make patties that fit the palm of your hand and begin to fry latkes. Fry around 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Top with sea salt while still wet from oil and set aside until they are all done. Serve immediately!

 


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Vegetable Latkes

1 green zucchini, shredded
1 large beet, shredded
1 large parsnip, shredded
pinch sea salt
1 red onion, minced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
olive oil, for frying
toppings of your choice!

1. Place shredded vegetables in a colander placed over a plate and toss with a good pinch of sea salt. Let shredded vegetables sit at least 1 hour to drain as much moisture as possible. If you don’t have the hour, let them sit 20 minutes and then squeeze with hands over colander to drain. 
2. In a large bowl, combine drained vegetables, minced onion, and eggs and mix until all vegetables are well coated with egg.
3. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large skillet and place over medium low heat.
3. Make palm sized patties from vegetable egg mixture and gently drop into hot oil. Fry 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. *Sometimes I fry on both sides and then lower heat to low, allowing hearty root veggies like beets to cook through. Place fried patties on a paper towel and sprinkle with some sea salt to finish. Serve immediately with applesauce, sour cream, or a topping of your choice.

 

Salmon For Breakfast

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowOne of our first facilitators was a near vegetarian whose body periodically required some fish for her mental, physical and emotional stability. When good fats and protein are what your body needs, nothing else will do. Although Casey’s imaginary world revolved around the croissants she could pick up in town, her ability to hear her body’s message broke through. She marched herself a few storefronts down to get the much-needed but less-desired salmon for breakfast.
The first principle of Suppers is to actively practice non-judgment.  And it starts with oneself.  
Each of us starts with highly individual, non-negotiable needs that have to be met. If you’re a determined carnivore who sniffs at a green smoothie for breakfast or a dedicated but depressed vegetarian or a patient who follows orders even when you don’t feel well, you can learn something from Casey: You have an innate wisdom that is trying to speak to you, if you would just sit for a few minutes and allow the message to come in.

Casey’s Story – Salmon For Breakfast

A few weeks ago I was on my way to the facilitators’ training for Suppers and I left the house without having a substantial breakfast. I had grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds, which satisfied my appetite almost until the end of my driveway.

The drive is about 25 minutes, so you can imagine that by the time I reached town I was focused not on the meeting but on food – eating – now! I made a beeline for the bakery. I could smell the fresh-baked bread before I got out of the car. I actually sat there for a few moments while thoughts of warm buttery croissants took over my brain. I thought about how many I would order. One for now, one for the car ride home, and maybe just one in case.

But something happened at that moment, as I played out the whole scene in my head. I wondered if this was such a good idea.

I allowed myself to mentally go into the shop, purchase the croissants, come back to the car and eat one of them. I took a moment to think about how I have felt in the past after doing this exact thing. I remember feeling like having another immediately and spending the rest of the day in a coffee-and-junk-food-consuming downward spiral. Not to mention the brain fog and fatigue. What could I do?

I thought of the Suppers Breakfast Challenge and discussions we have had at meetings about avoiding the trap of automatic choices and the importance for most people of consuming a high-quality protein in the morning. I am one of those people.

I have become familiar with my personal biochemistry over the years through proactive nutrition education, and I now know that omega 3 fats work well for me. So I did something I have never done before: I ate salmon for breakfast. That’s right. I marched myself down the street and bought a piece of pre-cooked salmon from the deli and marched right back to my car and sat there and ate it up. Within ten minutes (no joke, ten minutes), I started to feel focused, energized, happy, satiated, and altogether good about my decision. 

I had no trouble driving away without a bag of croissants. Perhaps I showed up at my meeting smelling like fish, but it was worth it. I told this story at the meeting because I was covering the concept of automatic choices, “the choices you make when you aren’t consciously participating.”

For me the most important words in the description were “consciously working on change,” “support,” and “time.” Consciously working on change is an ongoing process. It’s what I was doing in the car that day. Support has been the key.

I have studied Nutrition and for years have known what I needed to do to change my life, but without support I was not able to act on that information. Suppers has supported my change process without any pressure about which changes to make or how fast to make them. As for time, I told the group that three years ago I would not have paused for a second before buying those croissants. That day in my car, I may have taken 15 minutes to make a good decision. I was able to slowly work through it and come out on top (that day). My hope for myself and us all is that a couple of years from now, I (we) will be making healthier choices without a second’s pause. 


 

Stuff You Put On Stuff For Casey, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081A Chef is a cook with a mind full of tricks. Some chefs are super, super good with their trickery but the magic is based mostly in logic, mildly in chemistry, and includes the freedom of creativity. I say these things not to expose folks in the industry (you guys, I’m in the industry, I’m an industry person you guys) but to empower YOU.

Here’s a very common trick, for instance: If you want stuff to taste good, put good tasting stuff on your stuff!
In other words, it’s all about the toppings. I don’t want to trigger anybody here but think about a wedding where they have one of those mashed potato bars. It’s like a martini glass with some mashed taters in there and then bowls of good tasting stuff to put on the tater stuff. I think the thought process there is: potatoes are good but they’re WAY better loaded up with all sorts of horridly delicious ingredients.

Let’s apply that to you, Casey, me, and this moment. First of all I have, like, zero issues with eating salmon for breakfast. My breakfast is most often the leftover dinner from the night before. So if I’m making healthy breakfast choices then I am probably eating pretty “weird” things for breakfast, most often in front of my sister – who stares, horrified by my process – but that’s what works for me. Humongous salads, salmon, cold chicken, hard boiled eggs, sauerkraut, pestos – that’s what I am looking for in the morning. Plus coffee.

My advocacy for leftovers-for-beginnings is that any protein that was prepared in my home kitchen was also already sauced or topped off so it’s ready to eat but not chemically processed

The point here is to focus on making health-supportive toppings to place on
you-supportive ingredients – that is, to say, ingredients that keep you grounded, centered, and present. 

SO. If you are a person who is heading down your path towards vibrant health and your vehicle of choice is salmon, let’s chat.

Good Tasting Stuff Choices For Salmon

Sweet, Sweet Fruit

  • Cooking fruits down in acidic juice (like lemon or orange) with ginger root, turmeric root, and/or a dash of honey adds a sweet tang to your steamy fish.
    Salmon-friendly cooked fruits: plums, apricots, apples, tomatoes, dates, citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and grapefruit, tamarind (use the paste)
  • Chopping fresh fruits for a raw preparation is also a lovely direction, especially as we move towards warmer months. Toss with some lime juice and spices, you’re golden.
    Salmon-friendly raw prepped fruits: mango, all melons, pineapple, stonefruits

Get Yo Veggie On

It might help you to know that the season of salmon is spring and early autumn – however it is available year round in our magical land of abundance – so pair your salmon with seasonal veggies from the farmers market. The possibilities range a lot more here.

Spring: 

  • Arugula, Spring Greens, Stored Cabbage, Celeriac, Mint, Peas, Sugar Peas, Spinach, Asparagus, Garlic Chives, Radishes, Morel Mushrooms, Ramps (these are foraged locally in New Jersey but so far no forager I know has ever taken me with them foraging hint hint wink wink hint hint hint. Also Fiddleheads.
  • The farmers markets usually open around April the earliest. Find your way there to find out what’s actually in season for your zone.

Summer:

  • Bell Peppers, Tomatoes (I know, tomato is a fruit), Cucumbers (raw or pickled, also a fruit FYI), BASIL and other herbs, Sunchokes, Summer Greens, Shiso, Mushrooms, Scallions, Asian Eggplants, Corn, Golden Beets
  • Go to your farmers market and start experimenting. There are hundreds of summer pairings – including especially fruit, which is best eaten in its ephemeral season.

Autumn: 

  • Eggplant, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Peppers, Carrots, Celery, Onion, Leeks, Thyme, Potatoes, Flat-leaf Parsley, Spaghetti Squash
  • Go to your farmers market, honey.

Winter: 

  • Chestnuts, Marjoram, Winter Savory, Potatoes, Celeriac, Cabbage, All Types of Beets, Kale, Flat-leaf Parsley, Winter Squash, Swiss Chard
  • Don’t forget about your Farmers Market (yup, the markets continue on through at least December if not into January)

Go Nuts!

Since so many herbs pair so particularly well with the full, rounded, oily fish flavor of Salmon, we need to start thinking about herb based, nut based sauces like, ahem, PESTO.

Pesto
You are not limited to basil. Try spinach, arugula, kale, parsley, cilantro, or anything that looks green and is a leaf and then pick a nut and add GLOS (Garlic, Lemon, Oil, Salt).
Some combos include:
* Basil + Walnuts + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Basil + Thyme + Oregano + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Spinach + Oregano + Rosemary + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
* Cilantro + Pistachio + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Flat-Leaf Parsley + Pine Nuts + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt

* means it’s one of my favorite go-to’s

Cashew Cream
You can find the recipe in two places: on the Suppers website or here on an older Blogpost
Don’t lean on cashew cream too much, it’s so rich that it might be too heavy in the mouth and on the palate – try to break it up with another bright sauce.
Some combos include:
Cooked Apricot + Onion + Cayenne + Lemon + Honey + Dollop Cashew Cream
Raw Asparagus + Lemon + Scallion + Garlic + Tamari + Dollop Cashew Cream
Raw Cucumber + Dill + Shredded Carrot + Scallion + Dollop Cashew Cream

Are you getting the direction I’m going in terms of flavor? Here’s the main point: BRIGHT TASTING STUFF balances RICH TASTING / FEELING STUFF.

Bomb The Stuff With Flavor

Using a bunch of strong stuff in a small portion, thereby bombing your dish with flavor, is the secret weapon for Chefs and for Suppers alike. It’s like an atomic food bomb. These dishes are made of strong tasting stuff, like herbs or roots, citrus, and alliums, and they have an atomic-like effect on otherwise mild or plain foods. They’re great for soups, stews, casseroles and, of course, toppings.

A pesto is one example of an atomic food bomb. Another atomic food bomb I would like to address with you is Caramelized Onions. The process of caramelization extracts natural sugars from foods, and then gently, deliberately, burning those sugars. So, in the case of an ingredient like an onion, it is possible to make onion jam which tastes as sweet as a ball of date paste. Also, a ball of date paste almost qualifies as one but I think technically you’re supposed to have more than just one ingredient.

In closing, Caramelized Onions are like THE BEST THING to have on hand in your kitchen. They are a make ahead! Make one large batch and then keep in a tupperware in your freezer!!!! Now I think that we’ve finally exhausted this “stuff that tastes good on salmon” subject, let’s actually cook something already. Amirite?!

Now We Cook

Step One: Choose your topping(s). I choose, based on things I see in my refrigerator:
Caramelized Onions + Asparagus + Lemon + Garlic + Cashew Cream + Micro Greens

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Step Two: If you already have caramelized onions, skip to Step 5. If not, keep reading.
How To Caramelize Onions

Start with a large bowl of onions and three hours of being at home. Just at home, not necessarily in the kitchen.

Slice about 10-12 cups of onions into thin half-moons. The half moon slice on this is important as it slices against the grain and allows for more breakdown. If you slice the onion with the grain it doesn’t fall apart as well. Just FYI.

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Step Three: Over low heat, melt a bunch of coconut oil in a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add all of the onions at once and a healthy dash of salt (at least 1 full teaspoon) and turn the onions gently with a pair of tongs to coat with oil.

Place lid firmly on pan, set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes, and walk away. Seriously. Go read a chapter of your book or work on your blog 😉 or watch an episode of Mozart In The Jungle or,  I don’t know, have a dance party or something. Go relax.

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Step Four: Upon your return you will be amazed by how much liquid has been created. Give the onions a good stir with a wooden spoon to prevent anything sticking to the bottom of your pan. Then replace the lid and reset your timer. That’s literally all you do, on repeat, for about 2 1/2 hours or until the onions are brown enough for you. Here’s your list:

1. Return when timer beeps
2. Remove lid
3. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking
4. Replace lid
5. Set a timer for 20 minutes
6. Go away

Step Five: Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepped salmon filet on parchment and set aside.

Chop everything else you are using and toss together with lemon juice. Make a layered crust on salmon starting with a nice spread of caramelized onions, then chopped asparagus “salad”. Roast salmon at 400 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes, check for doneness and maybe add a few minutes depending on the size of your filet.

Step Six: Plate roasted salmon and top with a nice dollop of cashew cream and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Add micro greens to look fancy if you want. Enjoy.


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Onion Crusted Salmon With Asparagus

1 lb. salmon filet, de-boned and skinned
1 cup caramelized onions, pre-prepared
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, basil, or other herbs, minced (*optional)
1/2 cup cashew cream, pre-prepared
1/4 cup micro greens (*optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepared salmon filet on parchment lined sheet and slather caramelized onions over filet, making sure to spread evenly to each part of salmon. Use more caramelized onions if you like.

2. Prepare asparagus by tossing together chopped asparagus, smashed garlic, lemon zest, juice, sea salt, and black pepper. Spoon salad on top of onion crusted salmon filet. Roast at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Check for doneness in the middle and add time if necessary.

3. Remove and sprinkle with fresh herbs and a wedge of lemon if desired. Slice into large servings and add dollops of cashew cream and a small pinch of micro greens to each. Enjoy immediately or store for future meals!

FYI: If you are cooking for one, use:

6oz Salmon
2 Tablespoons caramleized onions
4 stalks asparagus, chopped into small pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1/4 lemon, zested and juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh herbs, minced (*optional)
2 Tablespoons cashew cream, pre-prepared
2 Tablespoons micro greens (*optional)

As always, always, look to Suppers for all of your salmon related recipe needs! And remember, we are here to support you. Join us at our Suppers table and find the support that you need to address food driven health challenges and achieve vibrant health!

 

Play It to the End

A Welcome By DorDor photo by David Crow

Honestly, when you seduce yourself into eating something that part of you knows you really don’t want to be eating, are you thinking about how icky you’ll feel an hour later?  Or how tired you’ll be?  Or how angry you’ll be with yourself?  There is something about the human brain that anticipates how marvelous you’re going to feel 5 minutes, 2 hours, or a day in advance of having a food that’s more like a drug for you.  But whether it’s the 5 minutes or the day in advance, we don’t anticipate with equal clarity the lethargy, craving or regret that comes an hour later.  Our imaginations don’t automatically play the scenario to the end.
Ed‘s Story helps Suppers members pluck anticipation from the dicey grip of the automatic and place it in the arms of conscious eating.  Give it a try and leave us a comment.

Ed’s Story: Play It to the End

This is not my idea originally, but I got a lot of credit at our meeting for bringing it into our group. It’s an activity called “Play It to the End.”

The issue was self sabotage.

Everybody in our group attends Suppers in the hope of turning around long-term eating patterns that have gotten us into a lot of trouble.

Some of us are literally digging our graves with our forks. We’ve eaten out of control until the diagnosis of Diabetes stirred the fear of God in us. Our eyes were wide open. Every time we put something in our mouths, we were there (if not consciously present). Some of us knew it ran in our families. Still, we dug deeper.

One member said her best form of self-sabotage was continuing to socialize with people whose favorite activities were eating and drinking. Another said she could trick herself every time by telling herself, “Oh, I’ll just eat two.” Wrong. Two equals twenty. Most of us had some experience with the skip-breakfast-save-calories logic. Bad. But the form of self-sabotage we all did over and over was to seduce ourselves into eating by blindly anticipating the pleasures of eating, without remembering the consequences. 

So my contribution to Suppers is the activity called “Play It to the End.” Here’s how it works.

Ed’s Exercise: Play It to the End

The speaker recounts a made-up story about indulging in a favorite – and problematical – food, but has to tell the whole story, including the part about the consequences. This is “playing the tape to the end.” Here’s my story.

We are at a reception and the dessert table is beckoning. There is a cheesecake dripping with cherry sauce, three kinds of chocolate cake, a key lime pie, champagne flutes of chocolate mousse, and five kinds of cookies. I take slivers of each of the chocolate cakes. I am in heaven. The one with a layer of chocolate ganache is especially delicious. I go back for a bigger slice, plus a wedge of key lime pie and a few cookies. For ten minutes I am totally happy. I swallow the last bite. Now it’s all in my stomach. I think about the calories, the fact that it’s 9 p.m., and how I’ll probably be up for three hours in the middle of the night after so much sugar and stimulation. Of course I sleep badly. I feel bloated and disgusting. I kick myself for forgetting the consequences of last night blasts of sugar.

I have imagined the first part of scenes like this again and again, but for some reason remembering the whole experience doesn’t come automatically. The automatic part of my brain only recalls the anticipation of the eating. It requires my full, conscious participation to recall the consequences, but I have spared myself many nights of lost sleep since I learned to play my eating scenarios to the end. 

Let members share their imaginary experiences of anticipating, eating, and then feeling the consequences of consuming a food that acts more like a drug for them. To help you get started, you may use a prompt:

  • There was a bowl of chocolates on the table…
  • Everybody wanted to go for ice cream…
  • I am passing my favorite fast food joint and…

The Best, Worst Diet Ever, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Wanna hear a story about reckless self-sabotage? I’m going to tell you a story that is going to totally result in your mind being blown.

Years and years ago, when The Biggest Loser was still a thing and no one had died from diet pill + dangerous workout related reasons, there was this contest amongst some friends of mine. It was January when it started at work. People were complaining of having some extra pounds and matter on their bodies post-holiday and how they needed some incentive to help drop the weight. At some point, coworkers came up with the idea of doing a “Biggest Loser” contest through work. These were the rules:

1. An individual would buy in to the pot for 50 bucks.
2. Everyone would weigh in in the beginning and then spend 2 1/2 months working hard at dropping weight. At the end of the 2 1/2 months, everyone would weigh in again.
3. The individual that had lost the largest percentage of their original weight would take home the pot, which inflated to about $450 before the contest began.

I wasn’t interested in entering the contest but I kept my ears open. This was when my interest in Nutrition was growing like a germinating seed – I heard some things I didn’t like. 

“I’m going to JUST EAT chicken and broccoli” (for two and a half months?)

“I’m going to run three miles every day!” (no, you’re not.)

There were others. Another obvious goal that everyone had was to binge eat their faces off on the day of the weigh in, presumably because that meal would come off easily. It was all ridiculous and some were so unattainable that I scoffed at the whole idea. One day, before the weigh in, I lunched with one of the contestants-t0-be.

Now, this individual was actually a good candidate for dropping weight fast, and for some not-so-good reasons.

Our subject:

  • Was an insomniac 
  • Worked as a server throughout the day and into the night
  • Moonlighted as a baker from midnight to 5am in 90 – 105 degree conditions
  • Ate around 7,500 calories everyday, at least

Calorie wise, this day was no different. As I watched him chomp his way through two entire, cascading orders of french fries before even getting into the two gigantic, 800 calorie sandwiches sitting pleasantly on the side, I wasn’t amazed. I had seen it before. He said, confidently,

“You know, Allison. The only reason I eat like this is because I burn a lot of calories, really fast, between the bakery, not sleeping, and here at the restaurant. So really I could win this contest easily, just by eating only ONE sandwich and ONE order of french fries.” I laughed at his eccentricity, which didn’t surprise me but also didn’t NOT amuse me.

Jokingly, I said,

“Honey, you could win this contest by eating nothing but Candy Bars!” Immediately I knew that I should never, ever have said that. His eyes widened. He smiled in a crazy, mad-scientist way. And he said,

“That’s a great idea. I’m gonna do that!”

Do you know that he did that? He really did it. He spent 2 1/2 months eating candy bars. He was allowed to drink whatever he wanted (but you know in the entire 75 days it was never a smoothie, not once) and he had three “gimme” days which were previously planned dinners or events, like the Superbowl.

On those days the only green vegetable he ate was the shredded iceberg lettuce positioned underneath a pile of guacamole, and a seaweed salad. I wrote down everything he ate and drank every single day. We also recorded how he felt on days where he was feeling a certain type of way. For instance, one day he told me that he thought he was going to die. He would wake up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations and drink a milkshake to alleviate the feeling. That happened three times. If that isn’t self-sabotage, I don’t know what is. I begged him to stop but he stayed with this ridiculous diet.

At the end of the 2 1/2 months, everyone gathered back for a final weigh in, looking svelt but a little tired. Our subject’s biggest contender was a man who later went on to become a local personal trainer and owner of a popular chain fitness center. He spent his 2 1/2 months working out Rocky style and eating kale. They all kissed it up to the sky and got on the scale, me wondering if my subject would prevail…

And he won. He really won. He lost 41 pounds in 75 days eating mostly candy bars and milkshakes. Obviously he probably destroyed a whole bunch of cells, compromised his insulin sensitivity, gave away millions of strands of proteins out of his muscles and vitamins out of his liver to make up for the lack of nutrient density, and possibly secured a Type II Diabetes diagnosis for later in life but in addition to all of that the kid proved something scary about the typical American dieter: treating your body with extreme carelessness can result in tighter belts. So I guess you have to look at this example and ask yourself: what matters to you?

Does it matter how much you weigh MORE 
Than it matters How You Feel and MORE
Than how you treat your body

Self-sabotage comes in a meritage of varietals, pun intended. They say that willpower is at risk from the moment you awaken, as there is a limited allotment of willpower offered to each individual per day. How can we combat this? Can Ed’s exercise help us to fight our own brain chemistry or does even thinking about chocolate cause chocolate to be eaten? What are the implications of the story of the baker and his candy bar diet? Unlike Morgan Sperlock’s Supersize Me our subject did not give himself fatty liver disease and he didn’t even gain weight. I will never understand how his body survived such a dangerously low level of nutrients but what became clear was that most American dieters don’t actually care about ingredients. They don’t even care about calories. They care about the scale. And if all you care about is a number then self-sabotage becomes entirely available. It sometimes comes out in the form of an eating disorder (either bingeing or starving) but it always has to do with willpower.

At Suppers, we learn to recognize our lack of willpower and we learn to plan around it and for it. We plan on making mistakes – we expect ourselves to demonstrate weakness. We see recognition as a strength because recognition leads to planning and planning leads to success. 

Every day, I plan on me being a cookie monster and I plan on my no-cookie-angel having made something to slap the monster with. In order to win the battle my snack MUST be:

  • Already prepared
  • In the cabinet, NOT the refrigerator
  • Be full of protein and taste super salty and umami

Have I bored you enough for this week? Let’s begin. We’re going to make Tamari Almonds.

Step One: Toast almonds.

You know, just so you know, toasting almonds isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. You have to keep them moving or they will burn! My friend does hers in an oven and she always says, “If I can smell ’em, I already burnt ’em.” That’s why I do mine in a pan.
She’s crazy.

Pour in 1 cup of almonds at a time, that way they all stay flat and even. Then swirl the pan around every few seconds to keep them moving. If you flip an almond over and see a tiny black dot of burned almond flesh, lower your heat honey, you goin too fast.

Use your nose to decide when they’re done! They should smell like…well, like almonds. It takes anywhere from 3-4 minutes, depending on your heat and the type of pan used.

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Step Two: Pour in 1/4 cup of Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce) ALL AT ONCE and immediately, IMMEDIATELY, begin to swirl those almonds around and around. Use a wooden spoon or high heat spatula to help out if you need. This process takes about 90 seconds and it is loud at first. Don’t be scared, everything will be ok.

Once almost all of the liquid has evaporated REMOVE FROM HEAT and pour onto parchment paper. There should only really be, if anything, some syrupy Tamari remaining in the pan with the almonds. It should look like this:

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That’s it! These almonds store for weeks, IF you can keep yourself from munching on them. One serving of almonds is around 12 individual pieces tops. They are high in calories but like we learned, calories don’t mean nearly as much as ingredients and ingredients don’t guarantee weight loss or weight gain.

Learn yourself. Plan for weakness. Recognize success. Reward yourself with almonds.


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Tamari Toasted Almonds

1 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce)

1. In a stainless steel pan over medium high heat, add almonds and spread evenly across pan. Toast almonds 3-4 minutes, moving them constantly around pan to prevent them from burning. They are done when you can smell them and they smell like almonds.
2. Pour tamari into pan all at once and immediately begin swirling nuts around, using a high heat spatula or wooden spoon to help if necessary. Continue to stir and move very frequently, watching tamari evaporate slowly – it will take around 90 seconds for this to happen.
3. Once tamari has entirely or nearly evaporated and all that remains in the pan are the almonds and perhaps a bit of syrup, remove pan from heat quickly. Pour coated almonds onto a piece of parchment paper place on the counter or a baking sheet and try to separate once on sheet. Let dry and cool, then store in a glass jar in the cabinet.

As always, head to Suppers for recipe ideas, a calendar of meetings you would like to join, and some media on eating better and the support offered at Suppers.

We all self-sabotage but we don’t all recognize it. Learn how at Suppers – start by sharing your story with us below, we want to support your recognition.

Varsity Player

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Who identifies with this statement: “I told my teenager to eat healthy food and he did it.”

Nobody, right? It’s hard enough when they’re little. It’s tough duty serving up tastes of the same unwanted food that requires the requisite 10 or 15 times before a small child accepts a new food. (Unless, of course, your tech-savvy neophobic 3-year old is surfing the net for evidence-based articles on feeding picky eaters.)

At Suppers, we learn that there is strength in numbers. What one mom can’t do alone, we can accomplish if we make it a team sport. We wouldn’t need to connive, collaborate, and form support groups if we weren’t immersed in a food supply that’s as addictive as street drugs. But we are.

Here’s what one Suppers mom did to fight the good fight: she went Varsity.


 

Lena & Todd’s Story – Varsity Player

My son plays varsity football at the local high school. He is a husky lad, and it takes a lot of food to fill him up and keep him fueled for all the activity he demands of his body.

I’ve always had kids in sports. Over the years many of us parents have expressed concern about what the boys are eating, and in the past year or two there has been an increased sense of urgency. Changes we tried individually at home to improve the quality of the food were not embraced, to say the least. 

So this year we decided to feed the boys as a team before games. I shared information from the Suppers program about how to increase energy and stabilize mood with good nutrition. The other parents were very receptive, and we created a menu for pregame breakfast or dinners that included fruit, whole grains, yogurt, eggs, and lean meats. Together we prepared and served the meals for the players, coaches, cheerleaders, and band members. 

What none of us could accomplish individually, we managed to do as a group.

Those hungry kids accepted nourishing meals. If they missed the white flour and sugary foods, they didn’t complain. As the season progressed, the kids realized they had more stamina and energy in the fourth quarter of the game.

There is no doubt in my mind that starting the day with a good breakfast made a difference. I feel very positive about organizing the parents and, as a group, coming up with a formula that worked:

  • Make sure there is only healthy food around when they’re hungry.
  • Make it delicious
  • Couch the discussion in terms of stamina on the field.

The parents won’t need to do any persuading once the kids feel the difference in the fourth quarter. 


 

Stew: It’s What’s For Dinner, said Lena, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081When summer comes, my time is spent attempting to educate local youths on gardening, cooking, nutrition, and more. Each warm and beautiful day we prepare a healthy lunch together with freshly harvested ingredients from our garden, sit down at a big table set by the participants, and enjoy a meal they made almost entirely themselves.

So when it comes to the “I don’t like greens,” or “Ewww what’s that?!” or “I don’t eat salad!” I’ve literally heard them all, a zillion times. My response is always,

“You don’t have to like it. You do have to try it.
I get to say that at least twice a day for 40 weekdays straight, all summer long. Would my solidarity break if I had to say it twice a day for 365 days straight? Oh, definitely. So Lena’s story is as inspiring to me as it is impressive.

At Suppers, we encourage bio-individuality and emotional, community based support to provide a person with the strength required to address food-driven health challenges. My theory, which is not very different, includes identifying the smoothest path towards empowerment for a child and then gently but firmly nudging them down that path. They think they’re walking alone but that’s because they’re kids and your presence embarrasses them. It’s better when they think those healthy choices were their own idea anyways. Who cares about “I told you so’s” when the 9-year old is happily eating stewed swiss chard and munching on kale chips? 

Like Lena addressed in her story, children at a private family dinner table are more “show runners” – more inclined to refuse food, have one of those precious, precious attitudes, and demand unhealthy and processed non-food substances from their exhausted parents.

However, in my experience, children in a larger group — even teenagers and perhaps especially teens — WILL try new foods! They will even encourage each other, comfort each other through the process, and – this is huge – if the healthy food tastes delicious then it doesn’t take much to get them to chow down.

So with that in mind, let’s get to work. Here’s a recipe for revamped Chicken and Sweet Potato Dumplings that is sure to please because of it’s natural fatty, saltiness, but is very simple to prepare and allows for your creativity to make slight variations as well. And just so you know, my students go totally nuts for this one. So yeah. It’s kid tested.

Step One: Rinse chicken parts and pat very dry so that spices will stick. Prepare a spice blend of black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, kosher or sea salt, and Bell’s Seasoning (this is key) in a small bowl. On a chicken safe cutting board, sprinkle spices and rub slightly into chicken. Let chicken marinate a bit and come up towards room temperature. 

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IMG_2898Step Two: Sear chicken in coconut oil or another high-heat cooking oil (in case you were wondering, avocado has the highest smoke point if you happen to be a gagillionaire and can use avocado oil for cooking). Sear meat 3-4 minutes per side, then add to a stockpot and cover with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

Hey, do you ever have that experience when you have to literally fight with seared meats that stick to stainless steel cookware? Me too! There are things you can do: 

  • Don’t take meat straight from a refrigerator and place in a pan. Cold meats stick more than room temperature meats.
  • Use the proper amount of oil and heat – not too much, not too little – to create what’s called The Maillard Effect, which causes water vapor to be released from foods, essentially “lifting” that chicken off the pan after just a few minutes.
  • Use cast iron or even enameled cast iron as much as possible for browning meat since it has a constant layer of oil and the groves in the pan are ideal for Maillard Effect.

Step Three: Chop all your veggies and stuff. This is stew, don’t go all nuts about getting like a perfect brunoise or whatever. Don’t worry, Thomas Keller is not going to come get you. Now let’s save you some time — rough chop, Chef! Throw those veggies into the simmering chicken & stock.

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Step Three: The dumplings. Traditional chicken and dumplings are made with Bisquick, duh. Obviously we are not going to use white flour BUT let’s think about what makes biscuits so yummy! Starch, a mild sweetness (from the milk) and doughy happy happy time. So…..let’s use starchy sweet vegetables to create our perfect super dumpling!

You can make up all sorts of variations on these dumplings too — be creative! Just pick a veggie that can be boiled or roasted, then mashed, and mix it with nut flour, egg, a sticky fiber like flax or chia, and seasonings! Nut allergy? No problem — use chickpea flour instead. Veggies include:

  • Rutabaga
  • Cauliflower or Broccoli
  • Celeriac or Celery Root
  • Butternut, acorn, kabocha squash, etc.
  • Carrot
  • Get your kid involved by giving the dumplings job to him or her — it’ll take it off your hands and you’re sure to get a lot of different, interesting ingredients in there.

Step Four: While soup is simmering happily, use two Tablespoons to form small dumplings from the bowl. Drop them gently onto (not into) top layer of soup. Continue creating and placing dumplings on soup until all batter is gone. Leave stew simmering uncovered another 5-7 minutes. If dumplings are firm when poked, you’re done.

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Chicken and Sweet Potato Dumplings

Ingredients

For the stew:

1 whole chicken, cut into parts (or about 4 lbs. chicken parts), rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Bell’s Seasoning (or Old Bay)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock or more if necessary
1 large yellow onion (makes about 2 cups chopped)
1 cup chopped carrot (about four small carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (about four stalks)

For the dumplings:

1 sweet potato, roasted, peeled, and mashed
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 egg
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 cup almond flour, chickpea flour, or gluten free flour
sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure

1. Place chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle with seasonings. Rub dry spices into chicken slightly and make sure each piece is evenly coated. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate and increase in temperature slightly.
2. In a large stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium high heat, melt coconut oil. Sear chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes per side and place in a clean stockpot until all chicken pieces have been seared. Deglaze chicken pan with stock and pour over chicken. Add stock to chicken pan until liquid just covers meat. Bring to a simmer.
3. Chop stew vegetables and add to simmering chicken and stock. Place a lid over stockpot and allow to simmer about 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare dumplings by placing all ingredients into a bowl and using a fork to mix thoroughly. When ready to drop, use two Tablespoons to form dumplings (or your hands if you prefer) and drop one at a time, very gently, on top of simmering stew. Avoid allowing dumpling to drop too much below the surface of the liquid -as that will disintegrate the dumpling- what you want is for the stew to “steam” those dumplings. Allow to continue cooking 5-7 minutes or until dumplings feel sort of firm when poked.

*Keep your simmer low at the end – the dumplings don’t always want to stay totally together. Try to keep dumplings away from angry bubble places, off to the side is best. Turn once with a fork if possible!

*Traditionally Chicken and Dumplings is served over wild, long grain rice. If you would like to add this to your recipe, go for it. I don’t do the rice because I like the dumplings so much and having rice too would be too much for me. However, that’s the tradition and if you would like to add a whole grain to this recipe, I won’t stand in your way.
Just don’t cook the rice with the chicken and vegetables because it will blow up to a huge size and won’t be a delicate carpet for your stew. 

Thanks for reading! As always, head to our website at at Suppers for more healthy recipes to feed your family with delicious, nourishing meals.