Breakfast is Key

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

You are just going to have to act first and then believe. If I try to make you believe first, then act, it will never happen. The Logical Miracles fall out of the sky when people who experience breakfast deficit disorder start getting their needs met for food at the beginning of the day.
It’s not one tidy diagnosis that clears up. We’ve seen better control of blood sugar, reduced anxiety and panic attacks, more comfortable sobriety, better school performance, and resolution of headaches — just from finding one’s personal best breakfast.

Ellen’s Story: Breakfast is Key

I thought I’d heard every personal label there was, but I was wrong. I’ve heard, “I’m an alcoholic”; “I’m a drug addict”; “I’m a sex-addicted, drug-addicted alcoholic”; “I’m an overeater” – you name it.

When I was new to Suppers meetings, a young woman introduced herself with a label that was new to me: “I’m an O.” She meant blood type O, and she went on to explain the diet and lifestyle changes she decided to make, based on something we read at Suppers. If we’re going to label ourselves at all, this sounded to me like a much gentler way of going about it: identifying ourselves in terms of our individual biological needs. Another woman dealt with her personal biology by honoring her family history and allowing coconut fat back into her life. Polly’s skin cleared up and her mood swings leveled out when she discovered she “really is a coconut.” My story was different. I reported on a book about different metabolic types and realized I need lots and lots of vegetables and not as much protein as my friends. I just feel better this way.

Although our conclusions are very different, sharing our stories has helped me see there is one common denominator: real food. 

In practical terms, the most important things for my “O” friend were eating breakfast and getting off all foods with gluten, like wheat and oats. Once she did that, she had a much easier time avoiding binges and panic attacks. It was key to controlling her weight without going crazy. The biggest improvement for me came when I started eating beans or an omelet for breakfast. Right away I lost interest in afternoon coffee to give me a lift, and my moods became more even. Although our conclusions are very different, sharing our stories has helped me see there is one common denominator: real food. No matter what other truths revealed themselves about our needs, Real Food topped the list. I believe that anybody who comes to Suppers to work on making sobriety more comfortable or their blood sugar easier to control will benefit just from heading in the direction of real whole food. But those of us who have made the biggest strides are the ones who took the time to understand our personal biology.


Black Beans for Ellen’s Breakfast, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Just while we’re into categorizations, I’m a “B”. The theory on how your blood type steers what and how you should eat is owned by a man named Peter D’Adamo, who wrote a book called: Eat Right For Your Blood Type. My Dad has been on this diet for like 16 years, no joke. But that was just an accident.

It all started when my sister was about 8 or 9 years old – she was having chronic stomach pains and nothing would help them go away. Although she did eat vegetables she also ate an impressive amount of bread and refined carbohydrates, like a lot of 8 or 9 year olds. For a long time no one could make the connection and then I guess it just clicked for my Dad one day when he picked up the book, knowing her blood type already. According to the book, Type O’s REALLY don’t agree with refined or processed foods, especially grains and particularly gluten.

He dropped everything and ran to Wild Oats, do you guys remember that store?!?!?! It was like if Whole Foods, Mrs. Green’s, and Whole Earth Center had a baby and then rolled that baby in granola and Burt’s Bees chapstick and gave that baby dreadlocks and everything else that goes along with having dreadlocks. Now that I think about it the thought of my Dad shopping there on a weekly basis is 80% endearing and 20% hilarious.

Within days her stomach pains went away. 

Anyways he and my sister both go on this diet – he went on it for solidarity and to make her feel better about the whole thing. He’s blood type A – for Agriculture – a blood type that was born around totalitarian agriculture about 10,000 years ago when humans began to grow food and cultivate the Earth. According to D’Adamo, “A’s” actually can have unrefined grains and even wheat, however should not eat meat, poultry, or a bunch of other randomly specific food items. My sister is apparently supposed to be eating meat off the bone wrapped in meat and cooked in animal fat and rolled in meat smoked over a fire made of meat. (Or maybe she should just try Paleo for awhile.) Within days her stomach pains went away. More excited, my Dad goes back to Wild Oats for the third time that week, buying more and more gluten free products that just hit the shelves, because in the story this is the 90’s.

A month later, Dad goes for a routine appointment with his doctor. The doctor is like, “uhhhh what have you been doing?” My wonderfully observant father goes, “nothing.” The doctor is like, “well your cholesterol is all of a sudden normal.” (For his cholesterol at the time, this is a big deal). Maybe at that point he was like, “Oh well you know I have totally and completely changed everything about my diet in a way that I never have before and I stopped eating most animal products and stuff” but also maybe not. Either way the situation yielded the same result: a major health transformation in a matter of weeks.

Eventually my sister ended her devotion to the blood type diet and returned to eating gluten and refined foods – according to her, her food allergies end with milk (not cheese, not pizza, not kefir, just milk) and gluten is not something that bothers her enough to avoid it entirely. Regardless of her situation, what has happened for my Dad with this diet has been pretty amazing and, for me, at age 13 or 14 at the time, it was the first that I’d heard of the connection between food and the individual body (even if there are like four “individual” bodies in the book). Long before I knew about Suppers, before it even started just down the street from where Wild Oats used to sit, I already was introduced to a theory similar to Suppers’ “bioindividuality” and “personal biology”.

And no, I will not give up chicken. Chicken cannot be replaced with turkey, it’s better than beef, and it’s generally what’s for dinner.

Except when there are Black Beans from the Pressure Cooker. Hey, wanna learn how to Pressure Cook things? Keep reading!


Pressure Cooker – The Most Terrifying Stockpot in the Entire World

Not so long ago I was completely and utterly petrified of my pressure cooker. To be honest I’m not exactly sure when or why I even bought one. It was definitely Dor that told me that she could cook beans in 7 minutes, a statement which was understandably fascinating and remains to be something I have not been able to achieve…but I’m close.

Don’t be afraid of your pressure cooker – just know how it works.

Here is a picture of Ned using a pressure cooker to make you feel better.

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There are different types of gages on pressure cookers offering different types of information. All pressure cookers have at the very least:

  • A seal, on the inside of the lid, which should always be properly situated for optimum function and safety
  • A little red popper button thing which pops when the pressure is maximized inside of the pot – this is when you can start that timer on the beans
  • A 1-2-release valve to determine what type of food is being cooked
  • A lock for the lid, usually located at the base of the handle – without this pressure cannot be reached inside the pot

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What you need to know about cooking under pressure is that both liquid and flavor are both forcefully shoved into whatever it is you are trying to cook. If you don’t have enough liquid in the pot and things start to burn inside of the pressure cooker, everything is going to taste like a campfire. Trust me, I’ve done that more than once with potatoes. On the flip side, if you are making a dish like stewed beans or chicken soup, you have a special opportunity to add tons of flavor while things are still quite undercooked.

Of course one of the best side effects for this type of processing is that food cooks in minutes where it usually cooks in several minutes or hours. Beans in minutes. Rice in seconds. Soups in a blink. Stocks in a flash. It’s pretty incredible but you have to know what you are doing man! 

Let me give you the beans example to show you what I mean and for anyone who has ever tasted stewed beans at a Suppers meeting, this is how we do it. (Cue Montell Jordan because now I have the 90’s on the brain.)

Step One: Soak beans for at least an hour. If you want the beans to be more whole at the end of the process then don’t over-soak them. Between 1-3 hours should be fine. Most of the time I forget that I need to soak so I’m lucky if I get to 45 minutes. Just to give you an idea of how forgiving this is.

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Step Two: Rinse beans and add water – not too much!!!!! Too much water leads to mushy beans. A good rule of thumb is that the water should JUST COVER the beans in the pressure cooker. Another bean rule is that you NEVER add salt to the water. Ever ever ever. If you add salt to a pot of beans cooking too early then the beans will never soften. Other than that, we’re ready to go – let’s lock and load.

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Step Three: Bring the pot to pressure and start to cook for about 10-15 minutes. Balance between too much steam being released from the valve and enough heat to cook things as impressively fast as the pressure cooker boasts – you know, speed being the entire point of the contraption in the first place. If you are using gas heat, try to stick to medium/medium-low. For electric stick to like a 3.5 out of 6. Really just experiment though.

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This is a pressure cooker that is AT PRESSURE. Some have gages that will let you know that it is at like 15 PSI or at full pressure but I like the ones with this red valve that pops up and says “hi!”

The pressure cooker WILL LET YOU KNOW if you are overdoing it by releasing a shocking stream of steam in an extremely loud way. Don’t be scared. Just turn off the heat and let the pressure come down. Release that steam even further by flipping the valve to “Release”. Then open it up and check on things.

Step Four: Add your flavor! I used some chopped sweet potato, onion, red onion, garlic, and peppers. Just some leftover farmers market items that I keep in a bowl in the fridge. You can use anything you want but definitely have a can or jar of tomatoes or tomato sauce on hand. That goes in too and adds that extra liquid you may need. Add those things and then return the lid, lock it, and bring everything back to pressure one more time. Pressure cook for another 10 minutes or so and then release the pressure to open.

Anyone can do this prep! Here is a picture of Ned chopping garlic for anyone who needs some help prompting – ahem – others to do things in the kitchen.

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Getting him to do the dishes is another story. 

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The trick to a good pot of stewed beans is cooking the beans a little past half-way and THEN adding vegetables and diced tomatoes or tomato sauce to finish the beans! The flavor added from vegetables and tomatoes make a divinely flavorful dish!

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Step Five: Mix, balance, blend! For this recipe I wanted the final result to be a beautifully smooth, blended soup so I ran my emulsion blender through the beans when it was all finished. Ladle into bowls, garnish decoratively, and serve!


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Black Bean Soup

2 cups dried beans
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 15.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
Garnishes! (chives, parsley, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, scallions, summer squash, chopped onions, etc.)

1. Soak beans in water in the pot of a pressure cooker for at least 1 hour. Drain almost all of the water out and then add fresh water just to cover beans. Lock pressure cooker lid and bring to pressure over medium heat. Cook 10-15 minutes on full pressure.
2. Release pressure and unlock lid. Stir in onions, sweet potato, pepper, and tomatoes. Bring back to pressure and cook another 10 minutes. Release pressure and lift lid. Stir and taste beans for doneness.
3. If beans are still moderately hard, replace lid, bring back to pressure, and cook another 5 minutes. If beans are done, continue to cook uncovered. Stir in remaining ingredients and taste and balance.
4. Using a blender or an emulsion blender, puree the soup to desired thickness, adding a bit of water or stock if soup is too thick. Serve garnished with any and all desired toppings and enjoy hot!


The Purple Apron is now being distributed on Mailchimp. Please feel free to forward this to friends you think would benefit from hearing about our Suppers members, hearing from our Founder, and hearing from our chef friend!

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 your goals by 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

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Emotions Based On Speculation

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Did you ever imagine yourself into a froth just to find out that whatever it was you were anxiously anticipating never came to be?  Or maybe rehearse an imaginary conversation with someone  you love, reinforcing your righteous indignation?  Or how about, did you ever build a case in your mind about someone finding fault with you that bore absolutely no resemblance to reality?

When people share at meetings about all the things that send them into unwanted eating, it often comes up that the triggers come from their own emotions, thoughts, and speculations. This week’s blog is about stress-triggered eating. See if you can identify.

If your body is asking for comfort, let the comfort food be something that meets your true needs for building blocks (fat and proteins) and fuel (wholesome carbohydrates).


Valerie’s Story: Emotions Based on Speculation

My husband knows that there are a few things that make me crazy. I can’t stand clutter, and I have no tolerance for lateness. So when he leaves a trail of clothing and equipment between the back door and the bedroom, it feels like he’s purposely trying to provoke me.  It feels unloving. Or when he makes me late for a dinner date, I get so angry I ruin my whole evening over 25 minutes’ tardiness. The consequence of me getting this irritated is likely to be a candy binge; and he knows it. No matter what the trigger, when I feel hijacked by stress, my automatic choice is to stuff candy in my mouth for the rest of the day. 

I wanted to take his head off. 

I once arrived on the dot at the restaurant where I was supposed to meet him for lunch.  My romantic fantasies that he would be on time were dashed. It came as no real surprise that he wasn’t there. I called and left him a message. I erased the inbox on my cell phone, sent off a couple gratuitous text messages, and cleaned out my already clean pocket book.  My agitation grew as I visualized him playing at his computer, oblivious to the vibrations of his cell phone sitting in the charger two rooms over. Stress contracted the muscles in my neck and shoulders, tightening them as I pictured him totally absorbed by some project he obviously cared about more than me. I shuddered as I realized he didn’t love me any more. At that point I dove into my favorite divorce fantasy, clenching my jaw until it hurt. I got a hard knot in my stomach. And just before I got to the part where I took his head off, the derelict walked in, 14 minutes late and arms wide to greet me.

I learned that the effects [of stress] are the same whether [it] is real or imagined.

He hadn’t been dithering at the computer; he was in a sales meeting. His cell phone wasn’t sitting in the charger; it was turned off for the meeting and he forgot to put it back on. He wasn’t fixed on ruining our marriage; he’s just a man with a broader definition than I have about what it means to be on time. In less than a quarter hour, I had worked every cell in my body into a lather of emotions based on speculation. When he arrived, my brain caught up but my body was still tense and knotted — not a great way to start a meal.

When we talked about stress at Suppers, I learned that the effects on my body are the same whether the stress is real or imagined. My own fabrications could tense my jaw, bring my shoulders up to my ears, and sour my stomach. The lesson for me has been that having emotions based on speculation is like eating bad food. It gets into my body, setting off alarms and seriously jeopardizing my intentions to stick with the food plan I’ve laid out for myself.

My problem is that my imagination carries me away whenever it’s idle too long. I start making assumptions and produce real emotions based on wrong information. I decided a good matching solution would be always to have a paperback book with me so I can be pleasurably reading instead of furiously waiting. Carrying a slightly larger pocket book is a small price to pay for avoiding binges or divorcing a perfectly nice man who just runs a little late.


Stew to Stave off Stress, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Fall is the season of one-pot-slops, as I like to call them. The days grow ever shorter as summer is gently bopped on the behind by Mother Nature, lovingly gesturing the warmest month out of the room. Frigid mornings and cooler nights begin to grace us with their chilly presence. Cravings present themselves in different ways – now instead of strawberries, we want apples. Instead of raw slaws, we want hot hashes. Stews replace salads, casseroles replace cobblers. I’m gonna stop before I run out of alliterations. You get the point.

Macrobiotically speaking, we should eat with the seasons in more ways than just produce. If you’re following the seasons, under this philosophy, you must also pay attention to temperatures. The body’s abilities to stretch, expand, sweat, and arch in the summer, combined with the simple fact that we can be outside more, means that we can better use leafy plants like lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi, leafy broccoli rabe, and even foods that are high in sugar, like fruit. As the season turns colder we begin to grow more compacted. We huddle for warmth. We tuck our heads down towards our bellies, hold our arms against our chest, hide bare feet underneath our bums or blankets. The colder months call for cooked foods – foods that do not require so much energy to break down. Foods that will give us nutrients while understanding that the body requires more energy to avoid freezing to death. Longterm energy sources like proteins, and especially fats, become part of the list of foods that we crave. Protein for energy and warm stability, fat for insulation.

Of course…we don’t live outdoors anymore. However even though we have mostly moved up in the world, temperature control wise, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to honor the seasons, and ourselves, by eating with them both in mind.

This is why I love making soup in the fall. Not only are there fantastic ingredients available, namely winter squash, but also ingredients get just a little sweeter, a little more comforting, a little warmer. Plus, crock pots. And, dutch ovens. Two of my favorite kitchen buddies. So this week I give you one of my most requested recipes (you know, from like my fans and stuff): Butternut Squash Stew. It’s sure to help you de-stress because nothing helps you work out some real bubbly anger than slamming a knife into a huge squash and breaking it apart.


What’s in a Stew?

Any other soup would not taste as sweet. Just kidding, I’m just referencing Romeo and Juliet sort of. Ned’s taking an English class right now. Guess who’s editing his papers? Anyway – one time I was doing a cooking demonstration for a healthy holiday cooking class and one of the recipes was Butternut Squash Soup. At the time I only made the pureed version of this dish because I was obsessed with my emulsion blender (I had not realized the magic of a good VitaMix yet) and any Butternut soup I’d been served previously was always pureed. Seemed to be the thing the cool kids were doing.

So I go through my whole spiel about the preparation and what a mirepoix is and how to pre-roast and pull squash and stuff and when I go to blend it — my emulsion blender breaks!!! All we can smell in this tiny crowded room in Newark are fragrant vegetables and the beginnings of like an electric fire. Most people would probably choose this time to freak out, you know, being in front of a crowd and stuff and having something go so terribly wrong, but not me. I was just like – “so when something like this happens in the kitchen, you regroup.” I grabbed the (thankfully clean) extra potato masher I had on hand from my Half-and-Half Mashed (rutabaga & cauliflower, for example) and I mashed that soup until it was a chunky stew. When we all sampled it we talked about how it was better this way, and I agreed.

So now it’s just how I make it.

Step One: Cut and scoop that squash. One thing about dealing with winter squash is – it’s intimidating – if you don’t know what you are doing you could become frustrated, disenchanted, or hurt. So here are some tips:

ALWAYS TAKE THE TOP OFF

Knife skills are all about geometric shapes. A butternut squash is anything but geometric. Taking the top off of the squash gives you a flat surface to lean on once you have gotten that far. By the way, we’re not there yet.

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START IN THE MIDDLE

Lay her down on your board and insert your knife just above the curvy slope of the squash – slice down towards the bottom (fatter) part of the squash, until your knife has met the cutting board. It may take two tries – remember to pull out your knife very very carefully if at all.

IT’S A TWO PART PROCESS

Once you have cut through the bottom of the squash, stand her up on that flat part created when you took the top off and let your knife travel from the very bottom to the uncut, thinner, portion. Then, carefully press and slice down with the knife until the cut is complete.

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Step Two: Roast that squash. Roasting temperature is 400 degrees, technically.

Roasting the squash is easy, there are two options. One is to roast it flesh side up. The benefits of this include being able to salt and spice the flesh of the squash early on in the cooking process. Downsides include a longer cooking time and a drier outcome. Flesh side up is best for spaghetti squash, which pulls easier into individual strands when roasted in this drier method. 

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The other is, obviously, to roast it flesh side down. The benefits include shorter cooking time and it renders a more tender final product. This is ideal for something like the tender butternut, pumpkin, or acorn squash, which are really quite soft. Maintaining that soft, starchy, gluey texture is much easier when roasting flesh side down. The downside is that spices added are sometimes wasted on the baking sheet.

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I cheated – spiced the squash and then still tipped it over onto its flesh side cause I ain’t got all day to wait for my stew pics. Pop it in the oven and move on.

Step Three: Prepare your other ingredients. That’s simple – there are only four other main ingredients here: onion, garlic, carrot, celery. Simple as can be.

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Step Four: Saute veggies in order: 1) Onion 2) Garlic 3) Carrot & Celery. The order isn’t super important but alliums always get sauteed first because they need more time for their flavor to develop than, say, a delicious carrot. Cook with a lid on the pot to develop some moisture and save on stock.

Step Five: Scoop flesh from squash and add to pot with veggies. Add bouillon, stock, or water, and bring to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Mash, balance, and serve. Donzeroni.


Butternut Squash Stew

1 Butternut Squash, sliced lengthwise and de-seeded
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (*optional) omg one time I was making this for Ned and added some freshly grated nutmeg and he was like, “Nutmeg is so hard to find!” and I was like “that’s cause there’s a nutmeg shortage” and he was like “THERE IS? I KNEW IT!” and I was like, “no, honey” and laughed at him for being a silly goose.
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons
3 large stalks celery, thinly sliced
2-3 cups stock or 1 spoonful Bouillon paste plus 2 cups water
1 can coconut milk (*optional)
lemon juice, if necessary

1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or if you’re me and ran out, aluminum foil works). Sprinkle cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg, if desired, over squash flesh and then place flesh side down on lined baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes to an hour or until tender and remove from the oven to cool. Cool 20 minutes or until cool enough to handle and then scoop out flesh.
2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch Oven or a large stockpot, melt coconut oil over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic, and a pinch of sea salt and stir to coat. Saute 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, and then lower heat to medium. Continue cooking another few minutes, covered.
3. Lift lid and stir in carrots, celery, and another pinch of salt. Replace lid and allow to cook another 10 minutes, checking often, until vegetables are very bright and fragrant. Turn heat to lowest setting and replace lid. Keep warm until squash has finished cooking.
4. Once squash has finished, stir in scooped flesh and add stock or Bouillon paste and water, and coconut milk if desired. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes and turn off heat. Using a potato masher, gently mash vegetables until you have reached desired consistency. Taste and balance for flavor with sea salt and lemon juice, if necessary, and serve hot or cool properly and store.

Makes 8-10 servings


Squash that! 

The Purple Apron is now being distributed on Mailchimp. Please feel free to forward this to friends you think would benefit from hearing about our Suppers members, hearing from our Founder, and hearing from our chef friend!

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 your goals by 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