That Beet Slaw

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David CrowThe way I feel about superb chefs is similar to how I feel about scientists: I’m filled with admiration because they know things I don’t know. That makes them mysterious and wonderful, as long as they are benign.

I am a superb chef at heart, but not in fact. I’m a scientist at heart, but not in brain.

What my chef friend Marcia gave me was permission to stop adding ingredients, to stop being seduced by the lure of the complicated, and to allow the explosion of the true flavor of vegetables to blossom on my tongue. Honestly, it all started with a lowly beet. Raw…


Marcia’s Story: That Beet Slaw

20160911_145719You know how, when you learn something new, the whole world seems to be about that one thing? Well, for me, the world is all about that beet slaw. 

I am a private cooking instructor. People come to my house and pay top dollar to cook a sumptuous dinner together, then sit down for a dinner party. They pay for new recipes and the chance to cook together, something pretty rare in our world today. Often, the menus include whole foods – fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains perhaps, animal protein and fats, olive and nut oils. Unfortunately, I’ve also been bathing in heavy cream and wading through butter and sugar, teaching folks how to prepare what I call “entertainment food.” It’s elegant fare, and I’m proud of what I’ve created. But a dinner party for them has become a lifestyle for me, and it’s impossible for me to make a steady diet of these things and feel well. 

It’s easy to fall in love with the Suppers ideas. 

So I decided to try Suppers. At my first meeting, a mother with two young children said, “It was worth coming to this program for that one beet slaw recipe. My kids eat huge servings of raw beets whenever I make that slaw.”

I was skeptical. It is easy to fall in love with a food when you love the ideas around it. And it is easy to fall in love with the Suppers ideas. Fill your plate with the good stuff and ease out the bad, cook and eat with purpose in a communal setting, listen to your body…But that won’t cut it with my students, or with my family for that matter. 

How can I get more of this, and how soon?

At the next Suppers meeting, we made Sonja’s beet slaw again, this time with a mixture of sunny disks of golden beets and fine shreds of the blood red (owing to me experimenting with the blades on the food processor). A simple white balsamic vinaigrette and that was it. People just inhaled it. 

At home I shredded up the deeply colored beets with over-wintered parsnips and raw sweet potatoes! I added the first of this year’s lovage and sorrel, then sprinkled toasted pumpkin seeds on top. I made a simple vinaigrette from olive oil and my special wine vinegar.

My husband couldn’t stop eating it. That’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is that my college-age son went nuts for it too. I’d given him some leftover salad in a jar one day in the car as we was heading for his dorm. A few days later, he returned with some of his college friends in tow, and these were his exact words: “How can I get more of this, and how soon?”

I packed him off to the grocery store to buy the beets.

I realized that what the Suppers philosophy has going for it is the fundamental culinary principle of taste. If your body is starving for certain nutrients, it goes into orbit when you feed it those foods. The Suppers Programs operates on the principle that we as a culture have deprived ourselves of the pleasure, nutrients, and community that give a meal its soul. Suppers is about reincorporating that good stuff into our lives in an intentional and joyful way. And the entertainment food? Eventually, it just won’t fit on the plate.


Meals with Marcia, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I should start by saying…I only eat beets because I know they’re good for me. Vegetables are great and everything, I’d go so far as to say they’re 90% fabulous but then there’s that 10% and beets have always made that list for me. Meaning they’re not my favorite or even my preference.

But sometimes, when prepared in delicious, fabulous ways, beets glide effortlessly into that 90%. Beets become sensational. This is one of those times.

The next delightful fact is that when it comes to delicious preparations of vegetables, the two women I trust the absolute mostest, you know, besides myself, are Dorothy Mullen and Marcia Willsie. These ladies know how things are done when it comes to flavor. And now you will too!


Flavor Savers

OK so if you’re going to be making this salad…or any salad really…there are some things you should know.

  • Pretty much no matter what happens, use seasonal produce whenever you can. Everything tastes better AND offers more nutrition when it is eaten in it’s season.
    • Beets have two vibrant seasons: Spring and Fall. Technically beets can grow as long as the sun is shining and the ground isn’t frozen solid. However just because something is growing does not mean it’s the optimal season. Just look at California: they grow tomatoes in the Springtime and yet they are nothing compared to a Jersey tomato picked in August.
      Pathetic in comparison. Really just sad. 
  • Remember lessons from flavor balance class:
    • Salt balances Acid
    • Bitter balances Sweet
    • Fat carries flavor over the tongue and adds richness
    • (Don’t worry about Umami for raw preparations, we’ll talk of that another time)
  • Salads are about texture as much as they are about flavor. If you are making a spinach salad, make sure to add something that goes CRUNCH! If you are making a beet slaw, make sure to add something that doesn’t require so much chewing. Like chiffonade collard greens lightly massaged, or Feta cheese. Or both.

Sidenote – did you guys know that there’s like a BUNCH of different varieties of beets? I only learned this when I started working on farms but red beets are not the only players in this ball game. Far from it! There are golden beets, of course, but there are also White Beets – the sweetest beet – and Chioggia Beets – these are pink and white inside they look sooooooooo pretty in slices!!!! Farmer David makes fun of me because I can’t say “Chioggia” without really trying and making it sound very dramatic but neither can any of our customers so who cares. In an unrelated story, I’m smarter than him.

The point is, don’t feel limited by your product. Feel inspired by it, feel invigorated by your growing knowledge of different products and how to use them. And always feel humbled by where we get to live and how much we get to see and use. Also, allow yourself to feel like you don’t know the best thing to do and let that lead you to look for answers instead of quit the process. If you’re using seasonal produce in the first place, you can’t make that many wrong turns. If you’re just learning about what’s in season when, well darlin – get your tush down to the farmer’s market and talk to a farmer.

There’s actually a book that I would recommend to anyone – particularly someone who isn’t as experienced at finding foods to pair with other foods – called The Flavor Bible. It’s FABULOUS, you guys. Whenever I’m stumped in the kitchen I know that I can turn to that book and find something to go with the ingredient causing confusion. Here’s a passionate excerpt:

“We taste with our hearts as much as with our tongues. What else could explain adult preferences for one’s mother’s dishes over those prepared by a great chef? This also helps to explain the lasting appeal of traditional dishes and cuisines of countries around the globe, which stem from our love for their cultures, their people, and the deeply rooted culinary traditions that have sustained them over centuries.” – Page, Dorneburg. 

I mean doesn’t that just make your heart SING?! What Marcia was talking about – the best part of making That Beet Slaw – in having her son come home asking for more. That moment of literal joy experienced by her son Tucker when he tasted Mom’s beet slaw and by Marcia in knowing that she made her son crave something healthy she made. That is what we all are looking for. It’s indescribable when you aren’t in the throes of the experience but it has to do with finding the perfect combination of flavor, texture, love, and timing, when it comes to making food for the people we love, that they love. 

Make sure that you put love into the food you are making. Your family can taste it with their hearts.


Step One: Look at how brilliantly beautiful beets are as you slice them up to pieces small enough to fit into your food processor hole thing.

For organic beets, I don’t peel mine. Especially not if I’m shredding the beets up. I just scrub em real good with my fingers or a veggie brush and slice off the tops and that’s pretty much it. You can peel them if you want to and I would definitely peel conventional beets before shredding. 

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Step Two: Using the shredding blade of your food processor, shred the beets up. If you don’t have a food processor, call me, you can borrow mine. Normally I would be like “eh, you can do it with a box grater” but no. Not for this.

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Step Three: Make your dressing! Marcia uses super interesting and elegant vinegars but the only thing that matters for this recipe is that you don’t use balsamic vinegar. That’s basically the only rule. You can use white balsamic, just not brown. It’ll make the salad look yucky. And things that look yucky are tasted suspiciously.  

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Step Four: Top with other stuff that you have prepared and serve! That’s really it. You’re done. No, step away from the cutting board. It’s just that easy.

I used some finely chiffonade collard greens and some chunks of feta that I crumbled with my hands. You can use anything you want! 

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Sonja’s Beet Slaw, Marcia Style

2 bunches (about 6 small) organic golden and red beets, scrubbed real good and sliced (I know it’s supposed to be “scrubbed well” I’m just being literary. OK Mom?)
3 Tablespoons champagne vinegar (or white balsamic, or white Pinot, or anything white except Distilled White Vinegar. That’s for cleaning and pickles.)
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and white pepper
lemon juice if necessary

Topping Suggestions
Dairy: Crumbled Feta or Goat Cheese
Greenery: Chiffonade kale, collards, spinach, or basil
Nuts: Crumbled walnuts, sliced almonds, toasted cashew nuts
Crunchy Vegetables: Shredded cabbage, carrot, scallion, red onion
Animal Protein: Grilled chicken, Blackened salmon, Grilled shrimp, Seared Ahi Tuna

  1. In a food processor set with a shredding blade, shred all beets. Place into a bowl and, using a set of tongs, toss with vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Beets should be gleaming and their color brighten with the oil. Taste for balance. Add salt and more acid if necessary. I sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice if the acid is too sweet and not sharp enough. Lemon juice usually does the trick. Lime would work here as well. 
  2. Top with ingredients of choice and serve.

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!

If you would like to join our mailing list, please head over to our website to sign up and fill out a questionnaire – that will let us know what interests you in health and/or cooking! To become a subscriber of The Purple Apron, email Allie and she’ll put you on the list!

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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How I Turned Around Diabetes

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

There are few things that inspire more gratitude in me than hearing people speak with candor.  Usually at Suppers, sharing openly and honestly involves taking some kind of a risk: sharing a painful truth about one’s eating habits, acknowledging one’s role in acquiring a diagnosis, or revealing what was once a secret.
Shri is an occasional attendee at Suppers, but she had fully absorbed our founding concept of biological individuality and the need to do one’s own experiments and observations around food.
It is with the utmost respect and gratitude that I acknowledge Shri for sharing the tension among her culture, her eating preferences, and her biological individuality.

 Shri’s Story – How I Turned Around Diabetes

As an Indian American, I came to the United States over 34 years ago as a graduate student and later settled down as a financial services executive. I semi retired in 2013 hoping to do all the things I couldn’t do before –exercise regularly, eat better, meditate and be an engaged parent. For the most part, I was doing all of these things, but years of careless eating habits (carb rich and processed foods) reared their ugly head. Despite all my resistance, I had to learn to accept my fate and make conscious changes to control what I possibly could.

When I first learned about Suppers four years ago, I didn’t have any health problems. The concept intrigued me as did the opportunity to cook healthy meals. I also enjoyed the communal dining aspect and focus on intentional/mindful eating, so I periodically attended Suppers meetings.

I didn’t see any other option to reverse diabetes or high blood sugar. I really didn’t want to become dependent on medication and insulin.

Eight months ago when my blood sugar levels increased dramatically due to significant stress caused by unforeseen circumstances, I attended several workshops hosted by Suppers on this topic. At one of these meetings, Dor casually mentioned that Suppers was hosting a “Whole 30” cleanse, so I came home and researched the concept. It involved eating meat. I wasn’t sure I could do this given the fact that I had been eating a vegetarian diet for the past few years. At the same time, I didn’t see any other option to reverse diabetes or high blood sugar.  I really didn’t want to become dependent on medication and insulin.

I grew up in a household that practiced Jainism in India. Jains are forbidden to eat any meat, eggs, poultry and fish, but also root vegetables. The fundamental belief of this religion is rooted in non violence and taking extreme measures to not harm any living being (for example, uprooting a plant causes it to die, hence no potatoes, beetroot etc.).  

Truth be told, I didn’t miss anything as there were plenty of available choices – legumes, ancient grains (red millet, amaranth, pearl millet, barley, oats to supplement wheat and rice),  along with spices, seeds and nuts as well as fruits and vegetables. All the grains were ground at the local mill. My mother preserved and cured vegetables, ground her own spices, made yogurt with active cultures along with cold pressed juice. Fresh fruits and vegetables were purchased almost every day from a handcart. Fresh full fat milk was delivered to the house every morning. There was no microwave, and eating leftovers was not an acceptable practice. In general, almost everyone I knew lived like this.

I needed to slowly introduce meat back into my diet.

As an adventurous person, I started eating meat when I came to the United States.  It was convenient and often times the only available option, so I ate essentially “anything that wouldn’t bite me back”.

About four years ago, I gave up eating meat as I used to feel uncomfortable and nauseous. Every time I cooked meat or poultry, I felt repulsed and didn’t feel like eating the food I had prepared. When I ate in restaurants, I was concerned about the quality of meat (mostly non organic) as it also made me feel nauseous.

So with Whole 30 my options were really limited. I wanted to start the program but knew that I would not be able to practice it right away.  I needed to slowly introduce meat back into my diet.

I started slowly with one meal a day that incorporated meat. I only bought high quality grass fed and antibiotic free poultry, eggs and meat, as well as wild caught fish.  
Like the Suppers program, I made cooking and eating an intentional and mindful process. I also selected simple recipes that would be easy to prepare and make ahead of time so that it wouldn’t interfere with work.

When the pressure was off, I found that my body wasn’t rejecting the food. So I started the Whole 30 program on my own. My diet is low carb, < 20 grams per day, and comprises of meat and vegetables along with nuts, cheese and almond milk. I ate an apple occasionally, if I felt lightheaded as I still took medication.

Within a week, my blood sugar levels were below 100 – every time I tested – fasting, after lunch and dinner. My energy levels had increased and my mind felt sharper. My mood swings disappeared and better yet I didn’t feel hungry or the need to snack all the time. 

During the first week I worked out twice a day and felt even better.  I continue to work out for 45-60 minutes every day – mostly moderate activity – walk, use the treadmill or elliptical along with lifting weights and using strength training equipment.

My fear of insulin shots and medication were greater than that of eating meat again.  
I also thought that I may not be able to follow the Whole 30 diet because I had to take medications, so during the first week, I was particularly attentive to any symptoms that I might experience – light headedness, dizziness etc.

After the first two days of light headaches, I actually started feeling much better – higher energy, clearer focus, sharper thinking and fewer mood swings.  I didn’t really miss carbs as much as I thought I would.

The second week was harder – I started getting chills, so I increased my intake of calories – still following the Whole 30 program. On some days to compensate I ate 30 carbs instead of the required 20. While some of my resistance to meat was “mental,” it was also “physical” in that I needed to eat organic and antibiotic free items as much as possible. I have not felt nauseous either with my home cooked meals. Whole 30 is forcing me to look at food very differently. It’s almost as if I am going back in time to my childhood with the emphasis on fresh food! As an added bonus, I have also lost weight.

Low starch veg + turkey meatballs with ginger, egg, scallion, and indian spices, okra, tomato, onion, and greens on the side.

The spices should include turmeric, coriander, cumin, some form of pepper, black pepper, cardamom to combine anti-inflammatory properties. And temper the spices in oil first. Probably telling you stuff you know already.


Spiced Meatballs for Shri, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081While Shri’s imagery and lovely descriptions of food in a charmingly ancient way were enough to captivate any eager reader, make no mistake: what you’ve just heard is one of the most incredible stories of transformation in the history of The Suppers Program. 

Dor’s favorite thing other than people who speak frankly about themselves is when people accept the fact that there is no quicker or more painless path forward than by way of experimentation.

When culture and bio-individual needs don’t fit with one another it is, first of all, difficult to detect food insensitivities, and second of all difficult to reconcile choices. HOW a Jainist Indian woman discovered that a diet consisting of animal protein and crunchy vegetables EVEN HAPPENED is beyond me – even though I just literally finished reading/typing the story. More than that is the transformation of Shri – a woman whose fasting glucose number was 335 and after two months of experimenting with Whole30 those same numbers were under 100. That isn’t just incredible, it’s miraculous.

If you can think about your relationship with food as an experiment, if you have the luxury of time to spend figuring out that: yes you CAN have lamb and beef but NOT chick peas or that onions are causing your abdominal distress or maybe it’s kale and leafy greens that you must avoid like the plague or that you are or are not allergic to raw or cooked vegetables (yes that is a thing) IF you can experiment and listen to your body. If you can do that, then you need never worry about “dieting” as a concept of holding something back from yourself. Your diet will only ever consist of foods that make you feel healthy and vibrant, flexible, energetic, and full of joy. I mean, you know, as flexible as you can manage.

The nice thing about Indian food is that it’s really all about spices when you think about it. Different areas of lots of regions have traditional foods based on what the land can produce, what animals can thrive, and what the community can process. Northern Indian cuisine features ingredients like goat, paneer, chicken, and dairy products, while Southern Indian cuisine is traditionally strictly vegetarian (and ridiculously spicy like….omigod). Anyway, the point is – spices like turmeric, coriander, nutmeg, mace and black pepper, seeds of cumin and fennel and mustard, curry paste made with fresh ginger, cardamom pods, and clove – there are more but the marriage of spicy next to sweet next to strength is the flavor profile of Indian spices and, therefore, Indian foods. 

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So, yeah, meatballs work just fine. Isn’t that thing cool by the way?! Dor let me borrow it for the blog but then I forgot to give it back to her. I don’t know what my favorite part is but besides the turmeric I think it’s the spoon. So cute!

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There are a couple of things you can do with these spices. Me, I’m a spice grinder kind of girl. Most people will take their whole spices and temper them in coconut oil over a medium flame until they get fragrant. You can do that too.

I just pop everything in that bowl into a spice grinder and make a sludge of sundried tomatoes out of it for a flavor base.

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Bam! When making meatballs, my secret is to put as much flavor as possible in there and don’t add any breadcrumbs or eggs. Once you add eggs you basically have to add breadcrumbs to sop up the eggs, which you didn’t have to add in the first place. Save the eggs for breakfast.

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Sear the meatballs in a tablespoon of coconut oil for 1-2 minutes a side, turning along the way. Another option is to place them into the oven directly. That helps to keep the sphere shape but it doesn’t get the brown sides like you may want.

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Dr. Adi says that the brown sear on foods is full of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End) which basically is a carcinogen and carcinogens speed up aging. Which is dreadful when you consider how delicious brown seared things are and how pretty much any delicious sauce you’ve ever eaten has been, at some point, de-glazed. I haven’t totally recovered from learning this information in December at Taste of Suppers so I think I am just going to have to sear these meatballs.

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I found that they ended up being totally delicious over some Chana Masala with some freshly diced raw red onion.


Indian Spiced Meatballs

For the paste:
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed (the white ones)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
16 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated in water for 8 hours
3 small cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried herbs of choice
3/4 cup prepared paste

1. In a spice grinder, combine coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard, and fenugreek seeds. Grind until smooth and place in a small bowl. Add tumeric, pepper, and sea salt.

2. In a high powered blender, place drained sundried tomatoes, fresh garlic, oil, water, and spice blend. Blend until completely smooth. Should be very thick.

3. Place 3/4 cup of paste into meatball mix and blend with hands until evenly incorporated. Form meatballs until all mix is used up. (There will be extra sundried tomato paste – you can make this into a sauce or freeze it for future meatballs)

4. In a skillet, over medium high heat, melt coconut oil. Place meatballs in oil and sear 1-2 minutes per side, remembering to sear all sides of the meatballs. Alternatively you may place meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through.

5. Serve over chana masala (freshly made or leftover works for me…) or with a sauce made from the paste and some sauteed green vegetables. Stores up to 5 days.


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!

If you would like to join our mailing list, please send an email to our administration and let us know what interests you in health and/or cooking! To become a subscriber of The Purple Apron, email Allie and she’ll put you on the list!

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

Experiments

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Would you characterize yourself more as a lab rat or a Guinea pig?  I mean, we are already unwittingly serving as research subjects for the processed food manufacturers, the chemical companies, and the pharmaceutical industry. Right?  As soon as we acknowledge that this is happening, we can take control of the situation.

We can vote with our dollars; we can refuse to support projects that put our children’s health at risk; we can buy real food and food that’s (relatively) free of pesticides. We can also become our own test subjects and run our own experiments.

We pulled Holly’s story from Logical Miracles. She wrote it in 2009, but the message is as true today. We are all guinea pigs anyway! Why don’t we learn the language our bodies speak to us and become the managers of our own labs? You can make it happen faster than it takes you to say “How you feel is data!”  Just start noticing how you feel.
So far this year Suppers has hosted a Breakfast Challenge and a Whole30 Challenge, and will be hosting a vegan cleanse in April. Why all these? Because biological individuality demands that to live a vibrant life, we must each do our own experiments and find our own personal pathway to vibrant health. Holly has some good advice.

Holly’s Story: Experiments

For me, Suppers turned out to be all about experiments. Eat this, see how you feel. Don’t eat that, see how you feel. Eat this and don’t eat that and see how you feel. Eat this first, then that. See how you feel. Add vegetables. Subtract sugar. See how you feel. Eat brownies on an empty stomach (I wouldn’t recommend it). Then see if you can have one after a good meal (much better). I was willing to do these experiments because I didn’t want to give up all my favorite foods.

In a way it was a trick. The completely unexpected outcome was that I started desiring things I never had a taste for before. I heard about “transition sweets,” using combinations of seasoned sweet vegetables like yams and sweet potatoes to satisfy my hunger for desserts. It backfired for somebody else at my meeting who also tried this experiment, making her crave more sweets. But it worked for me, giving me just enough of a sugar hit to feel satisfying.

Seeing if my appetite foolishness starts up is the way I can tell if an experiment succeeded or succeeded. Yes, succeeded or succeeded.

Some of the people at my meeting are completely off gluten, some wish they were, and others are fine on it. I found I was one of the lucky ones who can tolerate wheat bread, but it took staying off it for a few months to confirm that I was OK with or without it. Once again I felt tricked: by the time I figured out I was OK eating gluten, I’d learned to survive without it. So I ended up eating a lot less junky baked goods and more soup or salad.

Seeing if my appetite foolishness starts up is the way I can tell if an experiment succeeded or succeeded. Yes, succeeded or succeeded. The experiment is a success if it tells me I can eat a food and it’s a success if it tells me I can’t. Or maybe I can handle a small amount mixed with other things. The point is, clarity equals success. The way I know a food is good for me is if it satisfies my hunger. I know it’s not good for me if it makes me want to eat more and more. If I feel like I fell on a trip wire to overeating, that’s data about what I just put in  my mouth.

The only way I ever failed at these experiments was by not writing down everything I ate. I felt ashamed seeing it in writing. But then I got so good at reading my body’s signals that even bad reporting didn’t matter because I could get the information from how I felt.

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I could have gone to a doctor and gotten the same information after lots of testing, but my insurance doesn’t cover it. And I’m not so sure I would have trusted the results anyway, since I don’t know the people in charge as well as I know the lady who runs my lab.


Honoring Holly’s Hunt, by Allie

While flipping through Logical Miracles searching for new blog posts, Holly’s story jumped off the page almost immediately. The tale of her quest, her hunt for what works, how to find that information out, and what to do with it – THAT is a solid representation of the work that Suppers does.

There are so many diet plans and fads suggesting exactly WHAT to eat and what NOT to eat, when to eat it, etc. What always amazes me about Suppers again and again is the spirit of discovery and experimentation that is fostered within our communities. Research can be a fascinating thing if you are only looking at data because you are interested in what the data shows -in an almost nonpartisan way. We are all simply subjects in the eyes of science. Science is as open minded as Justice is blind. If you are interested in feeling well and achieving vibrant health, then you can take data found within your mouth and make conscious decisions based on the results.

Knowing what your inflammatory foods are, however, is the first step.

Recently, Suppers hosted a Whole30 challenge. Whole30 is currently the most popular diet challenge around because it is pretty forgiving (meaning there are a LOT of foods that you are allowed to eat) and there are a ton of resources available for free so that you can get started. You can download the “Yes” list, the “No” list and the “Mehhhhhh fine whatever” list for free! This type of “cleanse” is very in line with the type of food already served at Suppers meetings (save a few minor pro-inflammatory details) but the best thing about it is probably that you can eat burgers still.

So if you’re going to make a burger, it might as well be the BEST DAMN BURGER you can think of making, ever.

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I’m getting ahead of myself but LOOK at that thing. It’s like a towering tower of succulent, gooey, fatty, protein laced, deliciously seasoned green and brown and yellow one eyed monster. Shoutout to my egg guy down the street, by the way. Sigh, oh how I wish I had chickens in my own backyard. Alas…

Let’s talk about this – you might think you know how to make a burger (and the chances are VERY good that you do) – but getting creative in terms of the construction of said burger is where there can perhaps be improvements.

Bread
Obviously, a burger is defined as a patty of some sort of meat or meat substitute placed between two pieces of burger bun. However, bread is an evil, evil temptress and she harbors the fugitive gluten in nearly every case. If Whole30 is your jam then, well, you can’t have that jam on bread. Also I’m pretty sure jam is out too. But I digress.

What can bread be replaced with? Well…..what other thing is round and can encapsulate something shaped like a burger?

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Burger & Portobello Mushroom, best friends forever. I mean, think about it. It’s round, it looks like a burnt bun, and as long as you don’t eat it with your hands you’ll probably have a marvelous time.

Think of other things that can replace the bread for a burger and try them out!

Cheese
Some people use burgers as a vehicle for cheese and some people use cheese as a vehicle for like mustard or something. But what IS cheese, really? It’s packed with flavor that is carried by fat. It can be sharp and I certainly will not say that there is a taste or texture equivalent that will match that cheesiness of cheese…however, when you really break it down cheese is fat, protein, and salt.

So a nice farm egg will do splendidly.

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I seriously think this burger was the most beautiful tower I’ve ever made. I didn’t even want to eat it after because it was so picturesque.

The Burger
The difference here isn’t really all that noticeable because the burger will still taste great with just salt and pepper. Some people put chopped onions and eggs in their burger patty meat. I am NOT of this philosophy. At ALL. But whatever you want to do to increase flavor is obviously fine with me.

I use high quality grassfed beef and whatever spices are calling out to me. Today it was smoked paprika (to add some smoke flavor to a pan-fried burger cause snow you guys), celtic sea salt, black pepper and just a pinch of turmeric.

 I did a simple pan sear (use coconut oil if you use stainless steel, I used cast iron and no oil) and then popped it in the oven with my portobello mushroom for 10 minutes. That was a perfect medium.
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Fries
I know, it’s easy to just be like um, fries are not part of a burger or why don’t you just make roasted sweet potatoes but I’d like us to get a little bit more creative.
Again – what do we get from fries? Fat, starch, salt, and satisfaction. Well, with enough olive oil (to finish) this can be achieved with sauteed greens too. I promise! Delicious sauteed greens can be AS satisfying if not more than a plate of greasy french fries or heavy sugary root vegetables. Plus, root vegetables can be triggers for some folks so you want to watch your reactions to them carefully.
In closing, there are three other benefits of sauteeing greens:
  • Greens like spinach, when consumed raw, have pretty high levels of oxalic acid. Eating a combination of raw and cooked greens are optimal for achieving an alkaline system (which is more beneficial than an acidic system).
  • Chewing can get tedious when you consider how much spinach you COULD be eating if you just sauteed it. I feel like I could saute an entire pound of spinach and it would end up being like 2 cups. No joke.
  • Garlic, helloooooooooooooo.

Ready to go grocery shopping? Here’s your list!


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Whole30 Burger Tower

1 8oz grassfed burger patty
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch turmeric
1 portobello mushroom cap
12 oz spinach
olive oil
1 farm egg, fried to your liking

1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Form burger patty and sprinkle spices on both sides.
3. In a cast iron pan, over medium high heat, sear burger 2-3 minutes per side. Place seared burger patty on parchment lined baking sheet and place mushroom cap beside patty. Place in a preheated oven and roast 10 minutes or longer for a more well-done burger.
4. Saute spinach in cast iron until wilted. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt – remove from heat and place in a pile in the middle of a plate. Fry farm egg and set aside.
5. Create your burger tower by layering portobello mushroom cap, face-up, over spinach and placing burger patty over mushroom. Gently place farm egg on top of burger and finish with black pepper, if desired. Enjoy immediately or just stare at it.


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!

If you would like to join our mailing list, please send an email to our administration and let us know what interests you in health and/or cooking! To become a subscriber of The Purple Apron, email Allie and she’ll put you on the list!

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

Discovery

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David CrowOne immutable, non-negotiable, inflexible, hard-nosed, defining characteristic of Suppers is that as an organization we. don’t. tell. people. what. to. eat.  With only one food rule – avoid processed food – we ask people to focus on running personal experiments to tease out data about what food makes them feel the best.  Sometimes a little slip reveals more about your body than a slew of tests, as it did the day Sandy C lost her vision.

When you’re done reading her story, please let Dor know you want to join our experiment groups.

Throughout 2017, Suppers will be hosting a range of activities from 5-minute experiments in your email inbox to hosting group challenges in private Facebook groups. The Breakfast Challenge starts January 23rd; the next Breakfast Challenge will take place later this year. Members are already posting to a Whole30 group, however the “30 day challenge” has yet to begin — stay tuned. In the spring we will be hosting a vegan cleanse.

The point of all of these experiments and challenges is to help you understand and embrace the most important breakthrough Suppers offers — that How You Feel is Data!

Please enjoy the story of Sandy C’s Discovery, for there is no data so dramatically suggestive as instantaneous, spontaneous blindness.


Sandy C’s Story – Discovery

What happened when I took charge and became my own private investigator is nothing short of amazing.  AMAZING!

I did one of the popular cleansing diets for a few weeks, nothing drastic, I was still having some relatively normal meals.  I devoted myself to the program for six weeks:  No sugar, no alcohol, no unhealthy snacking, just whole foods and some protein. My one daily treat was the 8-ounce cup of coffee that I enjoyed each morning. By the end of the six weeks, I felt great. I had lost 10 pounds and had a noticeably more positive mental outlook.

The way an elimination diet works, you start adding foods back and if suddenly a symptom returns, then you have demonstrated to yourself that that food is somehow a culprit in your particular body.  Some people might get headaches back; some people might feel depressed; others might get a surge of inflammation like muscle pain or a rash that had quieted down during the experiment.

So I started adding foods back in, one by one, so that I could observe if a particular food was driving any of my health problems.  I liked how I had lost weight on the elimination, and I didn’t want to undo all the good results by mindlessly returning to my old ways of eating. It just so happened that I walked up to my desk and someone had left a cold frosty Diet Coke. I certainly hadn’t been drinking soda on the diet, and in general I have a soda only now and then, but there was this Diet Coke sitting on my desk.  I sat down, opened it and took a few deep drinks straight from the can.

It was a good thing I was sitting down because it wasn’t long before I suddenly lost my vision. The vision loss was like large black circles in both eyes; there was light and a kind of peripheral vision. I couldn’t believe what was happening, I think I was in shock. In any case, I can’t remember any other symptoms because my anxiety was through the roof. As I sat there, after several minutes the blackness faded and I could see again. The experience certainly got my attention. When I felt more composed, I clicked around on the internet to see what might have happened. I have no idea if the visual problems associated with aspartame explain my experience; all I really needed to know is that I need to never drink another diet soda. I tell my story to my diet soda-drinking friends, usually without results. That’s OK, at least they know who they can talk to if they want to feel better and become willing to work on their eating habits.

I am still in the early stages of my journey, and I’m grateful that I had a dramatic reaction to my first experiment. It helps me stay in the process of being my own private investigator, engaged in discovering my body’s ways of telling me how it reacts to the processed food supply. It has given me a whole new perspective on paying detailed attention to what I am eating and continuing with this important work.


No Soda for Sandy, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Jeez, I guess that’s the end of Diet Coke for me. My eyes don’t need any help accelerating towards a stronger prescription because as it is I can’t go more than a few months without leaving my glasses on an airplane in New Orleans or just not feeling like wearing them because nerding isn’t trending anymore. (It’s only moderately trendy to be a nerd right now). And then after I forget what hole they fell into. I only really need them when my eyes are super tired on a late night drive in the rain. Seriously, my eyes are fine I swear you guys.

The real villain here for Sandy is clearly Diet Coke. I’ve heard from more than a few folks plus real and !FAKE! news about that specific soda being the culprit for a lot of issues – even death. Though I don’t know the chemical compound which could be to blame and while there are definitely not nearly enough studies to back up these claims, it’s tough to argue with personal experience. Especially when there’s definitely not ONE thing that is “healthy” about Diet Coke. Still day after day after year after decade, people will continue to drink this soda — and pretty much every soda.

The thing is, beverages are easy to overlook as part of a diet in general because…well…they don’t fill you up, they give the illusion of offering hydration, they’re somewhat see through or totally clear so they also offer the illusion that they’re…dare I say it, healthy? Low calorie? I don’t know how else to explain the Big Gulp. I mean WHAT THE HECK YOU GUYS. Why does this exist?

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Oh my God so many things. First of all, I literally thought that the Big Gulp was as big as it got WHICH IS WHY I MENTIONED IT in the first place. Super Big Gulp? Double Gulp? By the way, the Double Gulp is 64 ounces. 64 Ounces is the minimum recommended amount of water that everyone should be drinking every day. (It’s actually half your body weight, in ounces, like 140 pounds divided by two is 70 ounces per day, but whatever.)

This brings me to…the X-treme Gulp. P.S. What is it with Americans and misspelling the word X-treme to do things that should really just be called unnecessary? Barf. Oh and also you know that ridiculous FULL GALLON soda cup that is on the far right? The X-tremely unnecessary one? It costs $0.99 to refill that sucker. The soda tax should be looking sexier and sexier to everyone right now – it would eliminate the possibility of such insane, inane refill scenarios.

Beverages are also a known culprit in childhood obesity and the many shocking cases of Type II Diabetes in children. Beverages! It’s so easy to look past the sugar, even as a parent but especially as a kid, when the sugar has dissolved into liquid and the liquid tastes good. It’s so easy to forget that a 99 cent Arizona iced tea has 64 grams of sugar – SIXTEEN TEASPOONS – per can. (Not per serving, per can. But, really, who opens a can and doesn’t finish it besides college freshmen? And who puts 2.5 servings in a non-resealable can besides criminals? Exactly.)

So basically in modern times you have to actively, consciously, make the choice to look at labels, to understand sugar in grams vs. teaspoons, and make sweetened (chemically or naturally) beverages a treat instead of a routine. Drink water. Nothing so flavorless ever tasted so good. Lol when my brother was home for the holidays we were sitting down for lunch and he asked me what I wanted to drink. I said “Liquid”, and he said “What kind?”, and I said “Plain” and then he laughed because he thinks I’m funny.

If you’re just starting out with the whole water thing (just go with me on this) and you “don’t like the taste” of water, no worries! A doctor once told me that plain water doesn’t absorb as efficiently in the body without a little sumthin sumthin in there anyway! She drinks water with fresh lemon or other citrus, and a bit of juice! I guess the body absorbs things more enthusiastically when it knows there’s carbohydrates in there. And electrolytes. Anyway, the point is – start where you are. Start with half-water, half-your favorite beverage. Experiment with different fruits to place in water. Try cucumber water! There’s a reason why that’s a thing.

Just do one thing for me…if you buy an X-treme Gulp, calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar it contains before drinking it. OK, I’ll just do that for you: It’s 100. There are ONE HUNDRED teaspoons of sugar in an X-treme Gulp (gallon) of soda. The recommended number of teaspoons per day for an adult male is NINE TEASPOONSWomen have a recommendation closer to six teaspoons.

I’m going to let that sink in before we review.


Things We’ve Learned Today

  • The Big Gulp is actually the smallest Gulp
  • One teaspoon equals 4 grams of sugar
  • The highest daily recommendation for teaspoons of sugar is 9 (about 36 grams)
  • If you divide your body weight in two and transfer that number to ounces, that is the number of ounces of water you’re supposed to be drinking everyday but a 64oz minimum is a good rule of thumb
  • Beverages may contain chemicals, calories, and sugar so check the label, including the serving size
  • Water doesn’t have any chemicals, calories, or sugar, and it’s free for many Americans
  • Allie gets REALLY mad and goes on rants sometimes and everyone else has to kind of just deal with it because she’s definitely not going to stop and they all know she’s probably right anyways

One more thing. It is illegal for a food-serving establishment to refuse to give you water for free. They can, however, charge you for the cup. FYI.

Let’s move on.

Sandy’s story was about an amazing (amazingly bad but still pretty amazing) effect that a beverage had on her body. So Dor and I thought that today I would teach you how to make a different beverage that can have amazing effects on the body: Golden Milk.


Golden Milk is super trendy but very ancient. The reason why Golden Milk is a healing beverage is because it’s basically Turmeric in drinkable form. And Turmeric is very, very healing. 

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For the past generation, turmeric has been gracefully climbing the rungs of modern medicine to find its place towards the top. It has been, and will continue to be, studied for over 20 years for its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties. But this ginger-like root has been used as medicine in Southeast Asia for like literally thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicinal practices as well as religious Hindu ceremonies. Plus, it will dye the crap out of your hands, counter, cutting board, etc.

Anyway, the one thing they are discovering about Turmeric in science that you may not have known (and it’s why Golden Milk is particularly useful) is that you have to consume like a lot of Turmeric to make a difference, medicinally speaking. More than would be palatable, say, in a curry or a plate of food. This is why they sell those Turmeric pills at the health food store – because if you poured that much on dinner you might not want to eat dinner.

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Golden Milk solves that problem by encapsulating the flavor of Turmeric in coconut fat (or milkfat) and calming it down, offering a balance of sweetness and spiciness, and allowing the drinker to quietly enjoy a strong, filling cup of tea that must be slowly sipped. The flavor of golden milk is only mildly “acquired” and can be something that you, your children, and your family will begin to crave in a short time.

Here’s how to make it:


Step One: Place coconut milk or whole fat milk, turmeric (raw or dried), ginger, coconut oil, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and peppercorn into a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer with some water. Ideally the mixture should simmer quietly for about 10 minutes.

Don’t boil the mixture – ESPECIALLY if you are using real milk because it will scald and then it will taste NARSTY. The water in the recipe acts like a buffer for the heat. Once it evaporates, the milk is done.

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I let mine go more like 15 minutes because it wasn’t “golden” enough.

dsc_0391Step Two: Stir in a dash of honey, if desired, alcohol-free vanilla, or stevia until dissolved. Use a fine strainer to separate the liquid from the roots and spices. Pour into mugs and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon or nutmeg. Serve warm.

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Golden Milk

1 cup coconut milk, almond milk, or whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 nutmeg pod (*optional)
1 1-inch piece raw turmeric, thinly sliced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 1/4 inch piece ginger, chopped
6 peppercorns, white, black, or pink!
up to 1 Tablespoon honey (*optional, use stevia or another sweetener if desired)
freshly grated cinnamon and/or nutmeg for garnish

  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir together milk, water, and coconut oil. Add cinnamon stick, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger, and peppercorns. Bring to a slow simmer, watching closely. Simmer for 10 minutes. Mixture will thicken slightly.
  2. Stir in honey or sweetener and strain over a fine strainer into a mug. Garnish with freshly grated (or dried) cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired. Serve warm.

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!

If you would like to join our mailing list, please send an email to our administration and let us know what interests you in health and/or cooking! To become a subscriber of The Purple Apron, email Allie and she’ll put you on the list!

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

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

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

My Ancient Wiring

A Welcome By Dor

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

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


Rose’s Story: My Ancient Wiring

A Family Reunion is not ‘normal circumstances’

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

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

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

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

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


Other Things That Are Ancient for Rose, By Allie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, Sashimi. 


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

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

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

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For the more adventurous aspiring Sushi chefs, try…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salmon Sashimi with Avocado & Cucumber

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

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


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

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

My Body is the Temple of My Soul

A Welcome By Dor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Black Bean Burgers For Beth, by Allie

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

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

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

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

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

INGREDIENTS, FLAVOR, AND CHARACTERISTICS: A GLOSSARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


48465d_bfdbfe183b374b9aafe3d373198ea1ee
This was a version of black bean burger made by my GSCK kids last summer! We used green bell peppers instead of carrots and a cilantro pesto sauce for topping – so delicious! Once you make these burgers my way, experiment with yours!

Black Bean Burgers

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

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


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

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

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

Suppers social resources:

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Instagram handle @suppersprograms

My Hungarian Grandma

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

I have never done a formal study on the demographics of Suppers meetings, but I’m going to say with unscientific confidence that we attract a disproportionate percentage of non-American-born women.

This makes sense to me. They seek us out because we have a food ethic that more closely resembles that of their country of origin and they bond readily with others who share more traditional values around food.

Actually – and to tell you the truth — I’m smug about it.

I savor the righteous indignation that I shouldn’t be feeling as the founder of Suppers because it’s Oh-so-judgmental to feel that way.  I enjoy the holier-than-thou feelings that rise when the New York Times “exposes” things you and I have been saying for years about processed foods.  I’m going to re-double my efforts to actively practice non-judgment for everyone but traffickers of junk food.  In the meantime, let Eva and Allie inspire you to do something really important; it’s time to start making pickles.


Eva’s Story: My Hungarian Grandma

When I was a little girl in Hungary my grandmother used to preserve all sorts of vegetables from her garden. At that time fresh (which meant not processed, but not really fresh because they were imported) vegetables were not available in Hungary during the winter months and I was told to eat our pickled vegetables because they had lots of vitamin C. I did not need much persuasion; I loved the sour taste. Our favorites were pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage.

Sauerkraut was our number-one favorite in winter and in summer we loved pickled cucumbers best.

Starting in May we made pickled cucumbers almost every week. As soon as one jar was gone, the next was already out in the sun waiting to be “done.” It was not a big deal for us but a way of life. 

Now in America three decades later, I signed up for a fermentation course at a health food store. I did not know exactly what it was about (we never used the word “fermentation” in Hungary, we just pickled our vegetables) but it seemed interesting and healthy. The master fermenter gave a long introduction about the health benefits of fermented foods. He also talked about his childhood; he learned to ferment from his Slovakian grandmother. As Hungary and Slovakia are neighboring countries. I thought maybe I had heard about this process; it sounded very familiar. When he switched from “Why lactobacilli are healthy” to “how to ferment” I had a strange feeling of discovery – evidently I grew up “fermenting” vegetables. 

Only now do I realize the value of what Grandma taught me. My favorite sauerkraut has not only vitamin C but also vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, E, K, niacin, iron, copper, and more. It regulates fat digestion and cholesterol, strengthens heart muscles, and stimulates cell growth. It has anti-cancer properties and, last but not least, is a very effective treatment for hangovers! 

I came to the Suppers program because I wanted to learn about healthy eating. I started reading the information on the website and I must adit it intrigued me. How can people live without wheat, dairy, and sugar? What is left to eat?

The Suppers Programs has been the best health investment I have ever made.

At Suppers we talk about the spirit of creativity, which to me means the healing force that rises when we feel we are actively participating in creating the program. This is how I felt when I brought samples of my fermented vegetables to share at a meeting. There was great enthusiasm among members who wanted to learn to do this. When I teach them how, my Hungarian Grandma will be sitting next to me, smiling. “These are just pickles.” Just?


Pickled Veggies for Eva, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Uh, I don’t know about you guys but when I initially discovered home fermentation and looked at the directions, I was intimidated. Dor and Eva might be pros but Allie O’Brien (and a bunch of folks I talk to, too) did not begin her education on home fermentation with confidence.

Sure, probiotic rich foods are good. Sauerkraut that comes out of plastic bags is yucky. Fermented foods have, like, all of the B Vitamins and give you all the right tools. But it’s a murky, mysterious world in those jars. And I’m like…

“What is that, is that mold?!?!?!”
“We’re supposed to sanitize EVERYTHING when it comes to wine and beer but we don’t even WASH vegetables when fermenting? Uh…”
“What is schtooping? We’re supposed to ‘schtoop’ the cabbage? I thought that was a bad word in Yiddish?”
“I’m scared.”

So I started with pickles, myself, it just seemed easier really. I did want to get better at making kraut and in actuality Dor has totally demystified that process for me by offering visual cues: cabbage should be streaming with water, that’s not enough salt, put some kale in there, that’s too much salt (this one has little recourse unless you have more cabbage or more vegetables). So I’m learning.

But it’s just…her kraut is about 900 times better tasting than mine. Not only that but also I constantly discover millions of different types of krauts that come churning out of her kitchen with astonishing regularity and I get to taste them! My favorite is when she does the kraut with the kumquats in it – omg. So good. I call it “orange juice sauerkraut” and I can actually enjoy the flavor again finally because straight OJ hurts my tummy and I’m allergic to it, no matter what Ned and Farmer David say. I’m allergic to orange juice.

You guys. Dor is the queen of sauerkraut. Seriously.

So I figure I should probably stick to pickles. Last summer I had an overabundance of cucumbers (I know, huge problems over here) and decided to have my GSCK kids try out some pickles. Since I had never made them before I looked through some of my cookbooks: Nourishing Traditions, Alice Water’s cookbook, and Cook’s Illustrated, and in the end I did what a lot of people do: I went on the internet.

Ted Allen (not Tim Allen, that’s the Home Improvement guy – TED Allen is the foodie dude from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). He had a recipe for Refrigerator Pickles and it looked pretty easy. 

Well folks, it just reaffirmed things: fermenting vegetables is straightforward but not easy unless you are trained by hand. His amounts were WAY OFF – so off that I have spent almost a year making this recipe again and again and again, trying to justify the amounts suggested in his recipe and then fix them accordingly and today I almost got it. So let’s do it. In the world of fermentation, this is probably as simple as it gets. 

Pickled Pickles Pickled Pickles Pickled Pickles! Yay!

Step One: Prepare all your vegetables. We’re using Kirby Cucumbers, carrot, broccoli, garlic, cilantro, and scallion. You can use jalapeño, summer beans, dill, fennel, etc. You can use anything, ok? Anything.

DSC_0153.jpg

Step Two: Boil 2 cups of water. Ted Allen first said to boil FOUR CUPS of water but that couldn’t have been more wrong. I was like, “Ted Allen, have you ever actually made this before?” Cause that’s how wrong it was. Boil, then simmer 2 cups of water and toss in the garlic, let it cook for 5 minutes or so.

It still made too much brine so if you are feeling adventurous, boil 1 cup water and see if that is too harsh with the vinegar. That’s ultimately what you have to balance with the water.

DSC_0154

Step Three: Take out two 1-quart jars (I’m using plastic containers because all of my jars are occupied, I know, plastic = bad, glass = good) and measure spices into the jars. Add any sprig you are using – today I’m using cilantro because I want to see if it works or if it is too delicate and gets slimy.

Once you’ve done that, pack veggies TIGHTLY into jars – Ted Allen was also wrong about the amounts of veg suggested. He must have magical Mary Poppins jars where you can add like triple the amount of things that would normally fit. Or he didn’t recipe test. Just add until you can’t add anymore and save whatever is leftover for another cooking project.

DSC_0161

Yes that’s coffee ok I didn’t get to the blog until this morning I’m sorry!

Step Four: Finish the brine with vinegar and salt, then separate out the garlic into jars and pour the brine. Cool, refrigerate, enjoy within a few hours! Pickles always taste better the next day and they last up to 3 months! If they make it past a week, that is.

DSC_0162


Refrigerator Pickles

2 cups water
10 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
6 teaspoons salt
2 cups white vinegar
4 sprigs fresh dill, anise, thyme, or cilantro (success pending)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 kirby cucumbers, halved lengthwise
1 large carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large scallion, thickly sliced into coins
8 broccoli florets
*additional items include 1 cup summer beans, 2 jalapeño peppers, summer squash, kale, cauliflower, bell peppers, red onion – you name it

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add garlic. Allow garlic to cook for 5 minutes. Add vinegar and salt, raise heat to a boil, dissolving salt. Remove from heat.
  2. In two 1-quart jars, separate sprigs of herbs. Divide seeds and peppercorns between jars. Then remove garlic cloves from the brine using tongs or a spoon and separate evenly between jars.
  3. Pack jars full of vegetables very tightly.
  4. Pour brine over vegetables to cover completely. Let cool on the counter, then cover and refrigerate. Pickles will taste good after a few hours but will be much better after a few days and will keep up to 3 months.

To all of you who came out for the Suppers Founder’s Day Fundraiser and supported The Suppers Programs – thank you!!!! Give us some love by checking out our Instagram @suppersprograms and here’s the link to our Facebook page and our website too!

 

Zita Serves a Stone

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowIn all my years of parenting and feeding children, I never did anything as clever as my friend Zita, a Suppers facilitator who took Suppers with her when she moved to Florida.

I hid vegetables in spaghetti sauce; I made sure there was nothing but raw vegetables and fruits around when the kids were “starving”; I bribed; I brainwashed; and I told them they would die of vegetable malnutrition if they didn’t eat their vegetables. But I never served them a stone.

To this day, Zita Serves a Stone is my favorite Suppers story.  I identify with the frustration.
I feel the pain of a mother who knocks herself out trying to raise children who have been hijacked by the American junk food culture. I’m warmed by the love and humor in Zita’s solution.

If you think serving a stone to children who don’t eat their food is a good idea, at least put some jam on it. See Allie’s super easy recipe for refrigerator peach jam.

Zita’s Story: Zita Serves a Stone

When I was growing up the relationship between parents and children was very different from what I’m experiencing now with my own children. For one thing, I grew up in Europe in a close-knit family. We respected our parents. We learned from them and knew we needed them. Homework was meant to be done, and we ate the food that was given to us. 

That is not how it is for me in America. At a Suppers meeting attended mostly by mothers who are struggling to improve their children’s food choices, I commiserated with them. I shared that I have three beautiful children who have a completely different attitude toward adults.

My nine-year-old tells me that if his homework doesn’t get done, that’s too bad for the teacher; personally, he’s fine with it! His brother claims he was born just to skateboard.

None of them have a taste for the traditional homemade foods that are so familiar and comforting to me. Their palates are American. The older they get, the harder it is to find ways to teach them to appreciate the flavor of real food.

Do you want to hear a story? The other day I made a brown rice cooked cereal for breakfast for my sons. It is steel cut so it is a bit chewy, even after you cook it for an hour. I also made fresh apricot jelly for them as a topping, also for bribing. Then one of my darlings says, “Mommy, it is not possible to eat this, it is like a stone.”

After a brief discussion with him where neither party persuaded the other, I went out to the garden, found a nice piece of stone, washed it and served it on a plate with my fresh apricot jelly on top. All three kids became quiet immediately and looked at me in total shock.

“If it is a stone, eat the real thing.” I said. “I’ll finish your cereal.” He was so surprised that I was not kidding, and finally said he would eat the rice cereal instead. And he did!

Sometimes my children need a jolt. I have to do something crazy and unexpected to get their attention and let them know I mean business. A friend at Suppers said she also had to grab her children’s attention. But who has the patience, energy, time, and creativity to come up with something crazy all the time? I certainly do not. Although I must admit, I can’t wait for one of them to tell me that dinner tastes like cardboard.


Zesty Jam for Zita, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081The other week I did a cooking demonstration for a trained Suppers facilitator who was holding an outdoor family yoga class. There was a young girl there whose focus was pretty difficult to maintain through a couple of the activities I witnessed. Since the demo was outdoors I decided to make a salad – Quinoa Tabbouleh – with fresh tomatoes, scallions, parsley, lemon, oil, and salt. First thing this kid says:

“I don’t LIKE quinoa.” I’m like,

“Well today we’re going to try it in a different way.” Few minutes later,

“I don’t LIKE tomatoes.” I’m like,

“Have you ever tried tomatoes WITH quinoa? Sometimes foods we don’t like end up tasting really good when they’re made a different way or combined with other foods.”

And always I try to sail quickly past the back-and-forth discussion, past the bribing with treats to follow, past long explanations, everything. I just inform the child(ren) that they are going to try it and that’s that – because I know what my secret weapons are: 

  1. I’m not their parent, I’m a new person and most kids aim to please, if only for their own personal attempts to be seen as “good.” This is useless if you are their parent, however, I’ve had the same kids for three years now and they still chow down on some veggies without any battles.
  2. I know that, pretty much no matter what, any kid in my clutches will eat, or at least try, whatever I want them to because I’m not going to be making it for them. They are. And that’s the difference you can work with.

I don’t have kids and I don’t want ’em. Ever since the invention of the personal screen and fruit roll-ups, kids have become ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I love them – they say amazing things, they make me smile, they present constant learning experiences and challenges for adults, and it’s cool to watch a person figure things out for the first time. But jeez. Kids today require so much more everything because everywhere they go they are everythinged. You can blame whoever you want for that one – commercials, Steve Jobs, white sugar, No Child Left Behind, little league trophies, or parents – and you wouldn’t be wrong but you’d be no closer to the solution. 

The little girl in my demo slipped on a pair of gloves that were only a little too big and started to mix the cooked and cooled Quinoa. I quickly showed her how to gently lift and fold salad over with her hands and she got it. Some spilled out of the bowl but whatever. As I added each following ingredient I explained what it was and why we needed it for our salad. I explained how lemon zest adds flavor and nutrition. I showed her how to zest a lemon and she did it – poorly – but she did it and I’m pretty positive that was the first time she ever held a Microplane in her entire short life. She juiced the fruit with my citrus squeezer. She flavor balanced and added some salt. She tasted her way to completion. I was just her measuring cup. And her recipe.

In the end she tried a bite of salad with quinoa and tomato. First she closed her eyes, talking herself into the experience, and then quickly she shoved the spoon in her mouth, chewed carefully, eyes closed, and then put her thumb up. She ate a full 1/2 cup before deciding she still didn’t like tomatoes. I told her to keep trying.

I never really figured this out before having kids cooking in my kitchen. It just happened because at the GSCK things get a little hectic and my time is mostly spent fielding zillions of questions and troubleshooting – there’s no time for Chef Allie to actually cook. So the kids do it all and…well, they own it. They own their work, they’re proud of themselves. They cooked that okra (that they also grew) in some vinegar with some sea salt and now they want to eat it because they made it. I never had to fight about how okra is good and vegetables are good – it’s not really the point anymore. 

There is something you should know if you are going to embark on this I’m-not-cooking-you-are thing – kids are TERRIBLE at following recipes. They NEVER read through the procedural steps, they just throw everything in a bowl and then they’re like…”Oh. It says we were supposed to ‘blah blah blah’ now what do we do, Allie! What do we do?!!” It drives me insane. It’s my next problem to solve.

Good thing making jam is so forgiving. Let’s talk about that now.

JAM ON IT

Oh my GOD making jam is SO EASY I can’t believe people actually spend money on jars of store bought jam. Once upon a time I was like, “I’m going to start a jam company!” and then I was like, “I’m going to get into non-profit!” and now I’m like, “Shoot, I could have been rich.” It’s ok because I really love sharing recipes with everybody so I probably would have driven myself out of business anyways.

Step One: Choose your ingredients. You need 5 cups of roughly chopped fruit. If it’s a small strawberry I don’t even bother to cut it, seriously. That’s what potato mashers are for. Usually what I do is take my 4-cup glass Pyrex and just fill it all the way to the top with fruit. Like this:

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Today I’m using peaches because it’s May and I will patiently wait for fresh local strawberries, and also stonefruit is pretty low glycemic – my thing is making really low sugar jam.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Cook your fruit down over low heat for a long time. The color won’t be as bright and it takes longer and it doesn’t taste as, like, “WOAH” but it works.
  2. Use Ball’s No-Sugar-Needed Pectin.

It looks like this:

realfruit_low_sugar_flex_batch.jpg

You can find it at most grocery stores but it used to be only at Wegmans. I’ve found that Target has the best price on pectin (and mason jars) unless Shoprite is having a sale. It’s not at Whole Foods but I bet it’s at McCaffrey’s.

Step Two: Get your other ingredients ready. I use 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice, 3 Tablespoons of my pectin, and like 3-4 ish Tablespoons of coconut palm sugar.

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Do you know how much sugar normally goes into jam? Try like SEVEN TO NINE CUPS OF SUGAR for FOUR CUPS OF FRUIT. That’s what the recipes say anyways. That’s CRAZY.

DSC_0110You do not need that much sugar. Stop it.

This is Coconut Palm Sugar.
It’s a sugar that still has some minerals in there.

When a human consumes processed, bleached sugar the biological processing and zooming fast use of the sugar steals minerals from the body.

Sweeteners with minerals still present like Molasses, Coconut Palm, Sucanat, even maple syrup or honey give back some of what they take away. 

Honey is tough to use in jam because it’s an invert sugar and invert sugars spread out, they don’t collect and congeal. You can use it but the jam will have a hard time getting jellified.

Step Three: Start with fruit, lemon juice, and pectin. Throw all of those into a stockpot and bring to a rolling boil – it’ll take a bit and you have to keep a pretty close eye on it and stir very frequently. If you are using frozen fruit, let it cook a bit and then use a potato masher to chop it up a bit – it will release some water which you need for the boil. 

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Step Four: Once you’re at a rolling boil, add the sugar and bring it back to a boil. Boil hard for one minute and remove from heat. Stir in herbs now if you are using them. Use sterile jars if you are going to can or, if you’re me, use a ramekin and throw it in the fridge and say to yourself, “Ned will eat it in less than a week.”

Just wait, I’ll be right.


 

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Allie’s Low-Glycemic Peach Thyme Jam
(Refrigerator Version)

5 cups peaches, chopped roughly, skin-on
3 Tablespoons Ball’s No-Sugar-Needed Pectin
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup-ish Coconut Palm Sugar or Sucanat
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, minced *optional

1. In a stockpot, over medium high heat, add peaches, pectin, and lemon juice. Stir very frequently until peaches break down a bit. Use a potato masher if necessary.
2. Once mixture begins to bubble, stir constantly and bring fruit to a rolling boil, which is a boil that cannot be stirred down and boils in the middle.
3. Stir in sugar and keep stirring. Bring mixture back to a rolling boil and boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in thyme if you are using herbs.
4. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month or properly can for indefinite shelf storage. (My jam jars still in the cupboard are coming up on a year old and they’re still going strong.)

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, we love The Purple Apron. And we love Purple Aprons. As always, head to Suppers Website for all of your recipe needs and if you are interested in coming to a meeting! Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page or our Instagram @suppersprograms.

Lastly, our fundraiser is THIS SUNDAY! You can support The Suppers Programs, a non-profit organization, by registering for our event HERE. If you can’t attend you can still make a donation. It would be so wonderful if you could help to support this awesome organization so we can keep making blogs and being awesome.