A Welcome From Dor
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
Fall 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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: