A Welcome By Dor
When 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
Dor 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 raised. Insert your knife there and slide it down between bones to make an initial cut.
Repeat this step between all of the bones until it looks like this:
Then turn the rack upwards and hold the bones while completing the cut.
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.
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: