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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This Is Not About Willpower

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowI try really hard to keep my focus on real food and my values around locally sourced food and responsible practices. But I’ve climbed on board with a few fads – healthy fads – and felt like an idiot for going overboard on single ingredients. Do I have to worry about thallium in my kale? My doctor friend told me to stop eating flax seeds, and a girlfriend ended up in the emergency room when she ate too much chia seed without taking water.

It’s my body, right? So I’m doing it again. I’ve been reading so much about the brain benefits of coconut fat, I decided to try to get down a couple tablespoons per day. It’s not easy. It works best if I freeze it first and crack it up and use it like sprinkles. So me being me, I invented “brain chips”.

Having recently been contacted by a company that said I had to stop using the words “flavor bombs” for our flavor bombs because they had trademarked the phrase, I first went to the Internet to see if somebody already owned the words brain chips. I’m getting paranoid about words. So far it applies only to electronics not to food. So I took all my favorite ingredients that are supposed to be good for your brain, chopped them up, mixed them with coconut fat, and stuck them in the freezer. There’s a savory version for salads and a sweet version for dessert. You will definitely want to freeze them on sheets on parchment paper, it makes it a lot easier to crush it into chips and clean up afterwards.


Ingrid’s Story: This Is Not About Willpower

If the bariatric surgery office hadn’t made me wait for several months, I would have had part of my body removed. I was that desperate. I know people who think the surgery is heaven sent, and I am happy for them. Personally I think having a part of your body removed because you can’t stop eating is nutty, but I was about to do it myself because I was entirely enslaved to food and saw no other way out. Desperation is not a strong enough word to describe my situation. I’m so grateful a nutritionist steered me down another route.

This is not about willpower. Whatever my compulsion is, it operates on a plane beyond the reach of human willpower. Many a time I would wake up to find a mess of wrappers or dirty dishes in the kitchen, with only the vaguest recollection of going down in the middle of the night in a virtual trance, prowling around in the fridge. There were more conscious behaviors too, like when I’d order fast food and make noises about buying for the whole family, when it fact it was all for me. I would go home and eat until I was numb and hate myself afterward. I even passed up social invitations I might have enjoyed, fearing my friends would see me at my worst if I couldn’t control my eating at the buffet table. 

I related these embarrassing experiences at a meeting with people I’d never met before. I was surprised to hear myself revealing humiliating secretes to total strangers. But as I spoke, I realized I had no telltale anxiety, no fidgeting, I was at ease. There is something about the culture of Suppers that makes it possible to walk into a meeting and start speaking my truth. “I never met you before but I feel safe already.” That sentence actually came out of my mouth — me, Ingrid, the closet everything. So many things clicked for me. After years of spending fortunes on diet programs that made me feel ashamed, this free alternative was making me feel peaceful and confident. I was doing my own experiments, not squishing myself into somebody else’s protocol. My eating decisions would be about what I need, not what they are selling. I got it: what I needed was real food, not pre-packaged, nutritionally calculated, scientific food-like matter. Food. 

In the first few meetings, it was plain that the missing link for me was accepting that the foods I binged on were the ones I was addicted to. I would have to do experiments to determine which ones I could enjoy in moderation and which ones I’d have to avoid totally, at least for a while, because they triggered binge eating. And the antidote was not lectures, weigh-ins, or talking about my relationship with food. The antidote was cooking together, eating together, talking together, with the emphasis on “together.” For me this is as much about the people as it is about the food. When I arrive at a meeting, without fail, the second I walk in the door I feel the warmth of family Thanksgiving. 

I’ve been assured that as my body does its housekeeping, my mood and emotions will become brighter and brighter. In a few short weeks I feel the difference already. I leaned over to the woman next to me and said, “So am I feeling more emotionally at ease because the food is healing me or because I found a community of nonjudgemental friends?” “Who cares?” she said. “As long as it works.”

Yeah, who cares. There’s something very complete and satisfying about preparing a meal with a bunch of people and sitting down to eat it. Who cares if I’m responding to protein, carbohydrates, and fat or support, acceptance, and love. When somebody takes the time to buy my food, teach me how to prepare it, and light a candle for my evening meal, I start feeling fed long before the first spoonful of soup goes down. 


Brain Chips For Ingrid, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Food is satisfying and meals are nourishing. The difference is so key. We eat food when we are hungry, thirsty, or bored. We share meals with others or enjoy meals with ourselves when we are respecting the food and respecting ourselves. 

But let’s get real. We work. Even if we don’t have jobs, we Americans live fast paced, jam packed lifestyles with hardworking mentalities. Therefore we often complain about not having enough time to ourselves to relax OR to cook. Or to “cook”. Or to eat or “eat”. Those of us who have realized that the answer is a combination of cooking real food and sharing it with others are closer to vibrant health than anyone else. Of course, who doesn’t love a shortcut?

Brain Chips, Dor’s latest invention, are a perfect example of a homemade booster. I love boosters, personally. I love anything that is a small package full to bursting with nutrition. Mostly because I work.

I’ve also recently discovered that I love frozen nuts. Maybe it’s the heat. Dor always keeps her nuts and seeds in paper bags in her freezer and I know this because when I’m organizing things in her freezer to make room for or find something, I find the bag of nuts easily because of all the yummy fat seeping through the paper, telling me to have a snack. It’s literally the only way I enjoy cashew nuts by themselves – otherwise I think cashews are yucky. When they’re frozen they take on this beautiful sweet flavor and creamy texture. So Brain Chips combine whatever science is behind freezing nuts to bring out flavor (not sure if that’s a thing) and my number one favorite cooking fat: Coconut Oil. 

Prized for its nourishing medium chain fatty acids, Coconut Oil is a bit of a rockstar these days when it comes to brain health studies. It also contains Lauric Acid, a fatty acid that is almost impossible to find naturally (although it is contained in breast milk). Its stability as a saturated fat makes it a good sauté oil but its smoke point isn’t crazy high (350). Still, it’s more difficult to oxidize Coconut Oil due to its natural hydrogen. Not to mention, its recent surge in popularity has made it more affordable and available. Coconut Oil is a perfect alternative ingredient to butter in baked goods like cookies, which require saturated fats to not melt all over the place in the oven. Finally, Coconut Oil is THE only oil that would work in Brain Chips because its flavor is unmatched. I don’t know anyone besides Homer Simpson (who I don’t actually know but I feel like I know him) who can take down even a bite of butter by itself and enjoy any bit of the experience. However, I can enjoy a bit of Coconut Oil on a spoon by itself without much suggestion. 

That’s why Brain Chips are now a thing. Here’s how to make them. Do you have five minutes? Great.


Step One: Finely chop a bunch of walnuts (or almonds or any nut really but walnuts are shaped like brains and they’re good for your brain so use walnuts if you want to be relevant.)

Get all of the other ingredients you are using (lemon zest, grated ginger, spices, and 1/2 cup coconut oil today. And sea salt.)

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Step Two: In a parchment lined pie plate, arrange walnuts evenly and toss with all ingredients besides oil.

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Step Three: Melt coconut oil and pour over walnut mixture. There should be a good layer of oil but it should not cover the mixture. It’s more like a bark. Except there’s no white chocolate. Also, can we please stop calling white chocolate “chocolate”? There’s nothing chocolatey about it.

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Step Four: Freeze for about 30 minutes at least. Then remove, break it up with a knife or smash it out of the pie plate and then smash up and down a few times on a clean cutting board. You’re done.

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Sweet or Savory Brain Chips

For sweet:
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt

*optional ingredients — choose up to 3 of the following:
1 Tablespoon cacao nibs
2 Tablespoons dried currants
2 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
3 drops Stevia (drop into coconut oil to dissolve)
1 lemon, zested
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger powder, etc.
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla

For savory:
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt

*optional ingredient — choose up to 3 of the following:
1 teaspoon curry powder, chili powder, blackened seasoning, etc.
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tablespoon pepitas or sunflower seeds

1. In a parchment lined glass 9-inch pie pan, arrange walnuts in an even layer. Add sweet or savory ingredients and stir together until evenly incorporated.
2. Pour coconut oil over mixture and, if necessary, use a spoon to coat walnuts and even out mixture.
3. Freeze at least 30 minutes and then remove. Chop with a knife or smash against a cutting board to break into pieces and store in a freezer. Enjoy sprinkled over chili, sorbet, grain salad, slaw, or your favorite dish!


Enjoy being extra brainy! 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

 

You Are Not What You Eat

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowWhen we added Gail’s story to Logical Miracles, I wasn’t even fermenting my  own kraut and kimchi yet. Gail’s story is my story:  unremitting mood swings paired with abdominal distress; it went on for years.

Do not give up. 

Now — at least around here — “prebiotics” and “probiotics” are everyday words and we eat them as much for our brains as anything. Science is documenting the relationship between gut health and brains. I am speaking to our readers who experience debilitating depression or anxiety: do not give up.

Would anyone look at me today and guess I was in the pit of depression for 2.5 years? Or that I spent a month in a psychiatric hospital? Today I’m medication free, and depression is in the outfield of my radar screen.

Come to Suppers and do the experiments; figure out how food relates to your problem. You are not what you eat; you are only what you absorb of what you eat. Come eat the food and let it become who you are.


Gail’s Story: You Are Not What You Eat

In my many years of searching for answers to my depression, panic attacks, and abdominal pain, no one ever suggested that my mood problems and bellyaches were the same problem. And nobody told me that what was going on in my head was “downstream” from my gut, which is just a fancy way of saying one caused the other. 

Just as Suppers says, they forgot my body.

I went to lots of conferences, seminars, programs, and support groups in addition to doctors and therapists. Some of them were holistic, and that’s where I started to realize that nutrition is not generally examined when you present with panic attacks. Just as Suppers says, they forgot my body. They were perfectly willing to give me pills to fix my moods and abdominal pain, but they didn’t pay attention to where my mental health issues came from to begin with. Years of eating sweets and treating infections with antibiotics had ruined my digestion.

One day at a seminar, a doctor said, “You are not what you eat.” Ears perked up. “You are only what you absorb of what you eat.” And he went on to talk about all the things in our environment that destroy our digestion, including sugar, processed foods, stress, heavy metal pollutants, antibiotics, failure to breast feed, lack of exercise, and too much alcohol. 

Don’t ever leave your body out of the equation.

This made sense to me because although I ate pretty well, I was stressed, had taken lots of antibiotics, and self-medicated my anxiety with alcohol. Ultimately, good food was not enough. I had to get professional help from a doctor and nutritionist who gave me probiotics, capsules of herbs to clean out my liver, and supplements to heal my gut. Eventually the bloating decreased. I put on a few pounds, which I needed to do. I took some anti-fungal medication recommended by my doctor and worked on the stress part by swimming and learning to breathe better. It took a long time, but as the abdominal pain and pressure subsided my mood got better.

What I would like to contribute to Suppers is this: “Don’t ever leave your body out of the equation.” Even some very bad mental health challenges can start with a bellyache, because the brain is downstream from the gut.  


Getting the Goods For Gail, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Dor and I have this guilty secret – a mild addiction that rears its shiny head oh, about every five to six weeks or so. We love bowls. 

We love bowls so, so, so very much. Can’t get enough of them. No double digit number of bowls is high enough. We only go for stainless steel of course – even as bowl addicts we have standards – and we, like many shoppers, enjoy a good bargain.

It’s basically the best place ever. 

There is this wonderously mystical place that is only open to businesses. In order to get a membership you have to own or manage a registered Corporation (typically one that would justify the need for multiple bowls, for example). Or you have to know someone who does. The place is called Restaurant Depot. It’s basically the best place ever. 

Like I said, every five to six weeks or so Dorothy and I will get an itch. A bowl itch. So we will plan and schedule an entire trip to get our bowls (and knives, and silverware, and utensils, and crystal glasses, and olive oil…) and to justify the trip we’ll be like, 

“Let’s make lamb for Ned and Roger!” 

One trip to the store will inevitably include a good long gander at the list of ingredients on most packages. 

Right, cause Restaurant Depot has more than just bowls and utensils. The store also has massive, massive amounts of food. Most of the edible items available in Restaurant Depot are not even close to something I would call “food”. One trip to the store will inevitably include a good long gander at the list of ingredients on most packages. Well seasoned goers will have figured out after their first trip that the best idea would be to shop as they would in a normal grocery store: stick to the outsides. That’s where the healthier options tend to end up.

The refrigerated section of Restaurant Depot is big. Really big. If you were to take all of the residences I have lived in since birth (6 houses, 3 two-bedroom apartments, 1 studio, and two dorm rooms) and mush them all up into one building and then multiply the square footage by three it probably still wouldn’t be as big as the refrigerated section of Restaurant Depot.

Other things that are big? The bags of spinach (they only sell them by the three-pounds) and boxes of Shittake Mushrooms (you can only buy them by the whole huge box) and the cases and cases and cases and cases of lemons, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli rabe, etc. etc. etc. Dor and I are never not totally amazed by the sales and the sizes – basically in the words of the modern American growing woman, we can’t even. 

I mean we’ll take it but not without thinking. Not without feeling. 

That part of it hurts our hearts a little bit though. Since we understand that access to good food is such a huge aspect of food insecurity and health in general, when we see “foods” and also real foods so readily available in huge quantities…well, we feel badly about purchasing them for such a low cost. Two and a half pounds of spinach for less than what it costs to buy just one pound at any store in Central New Jersey? I mean, we’ll take it but not without thinking. Not without feeling. It’s just that we both have realized a few things: one, eating meat is necessary for our personal health; two, we can share our bounty and we do everyday; three, we really enjoy cooking and sharing dinner together. Lots

Like I said, though, the trips are really about making dinner for us plus Ned plus Roger. And for us on a post-Restaurant-Depot-trip, that usually means New Zealand Rack of Lamb, already Frenched (when they clean the bones on the end so you can grab ’em). Mostly because it’s sold for around $7.99/lb. Which is ridiculous.

Our menu on any given Tuesday (every five to six weeks or so) is:

New Zealand Rack of Lamb, coriander, cumin, scallion, dijon
Shiitake Mushrooms, scallion, coconut oil
Sauteed Greens, scallion, coconut oil, sea salt
Probiotics – ALWAYS probiotics

The result of this is that I’ve gotten pretty good at making lamb. This week I will share with you the basics and a recipe for a really nice summer meal complete with summer squash and fresh summer onions! If you want to take a trip to RD with me for the lamb, you probably have to fight Dor first.


All of the Lamb Things

Step One: Use a heavy bottomed cast iron pan or oven-safe grill pan and place over medium to medium-high heat. Melt a small scoop of coconut oil to coat the bottom. Slice some summer Tropea Onions (the sweetest onions in all the land) and add to pan with a sprinkle of salt for a quick saute.

Step Two: Drain lamb package and pull out racks. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice.

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Secret Tip: Only sprinkle spices on the fat side first instead of trying to season both sides. Once the seasoned side of meat is down on a pan sautéing it’s easy to season the other side! 

Step Three: Sauté lamb fat side down on hot pan and season other side. Be sure to sear for 3-4 minutes per side until you get this nice browned meat. Remember that is where Umami flavor comes from!!!

After the sear stick the whole thing right in the oven, fat side up!

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Step Four: Say it with me. Patty. Pan. Mashed. Potato. Patty Pan Summer Squash is my favorite favorite favorite summer squash. It’s the ones that look like little yellow and green alien spaceships and their flavor is naturally buttery with a slight hint of nuttiness.

Patty Pan pictured here cuddling with friends.

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Step Five: Chop up the squash and toss into a deep dish sauté pan that comes with a tight fitting lid. Steam over medium heat in coconut oil with minced garlic plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook until tender and very slightly browned on one side.

Step Six: Employ a good ol’ fashioned potato masher to mash up the tender squash. Yes, that’s right. No need for a fancy emulsion blender, VitaMix, food processor, or anything electric. Just a metal potato masher and you’re good to go.

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Step Seven: The slicing. Slicing a rack of lamb is actually not that easy. I’ve done it like fifteen times now and I finally figured out how to make it work for me. The trick is you have to cut it with the fat side DOWN and looking at the individual slots between the bones. Make your cuts there first and then turn the bones upwards and finish the cut.

Look at this picture. Do you see the meat between the two bones closest to the fat part of the rack? The meat is just a little bit raisedInsert your knife there and slide it down between bones to make an initial cut. 

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Repeat this step between all of the bones until it looks like this:

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Then turn the rack upwards and hold the bones while completing the cut. 

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That’s all! I top my mashers with a dollop of sour cream and some cooked onion but you can keep it vegan if you like. 


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Spiced Roasted Rack of Lamb and Patty Pan Mashed

2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 Tropea onion or red onion, thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2lbs racks of Frenched lamb chops
freshly ground coriander and cumin seed
2 large Patty Pan Summer Squash, large dice
2 large cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 dollop sour cream (*optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron pan or a heavy bottomed oven-safe pan over medium to medium-high heat, melt coconut oil. Add sliced onions and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Season fatty side of lamb racks with sea salt, black pepper, freshly ground cumin and coriander, and place fat side down on hot pan with onions. (*It’s a good idea to move onions to sides of pans to make room for lamb to have direct contact with pan) Sear 3-4 minutes per side, adding seasoning to bone side when necessary and then place pan into preheated oven. Roast for 10 – 15 minutes for a medium rare center. Let rest 10 more minutes and then slice between bones for individual lamb chops.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add diced squash, sea salt, black pepper, and chopped garlic and stir to combine. Place a lid over top and steam until tender – about 7-10 minutes. Remove lid and mash with potato masher to desired consistency. Top with sour cream if desired and serve with sliced lamb chops!


I know you’ll Love your Lamb!!! For the month of July we are focusing on Brain Health in The Purple Apron. 

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

Better Living Through Chemistry

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowSometimes I can’t believe I said what I said. Who is this person who prizes non-judgment and biological individuality above her own way of being? It’s me.

Lindsey is one of the earliest members of Suppers, a seasoned member of the twelve-step community and an assiduous avoider of sugar and flour in all of their forms. What I needed to hear and didn’t want to hear when I was at the height of my campaign to save the world with whole food was that some people simply need their medications and nothing else will do.

Here is an early trail blazer on the path to non-judgment from which I aspire to never swerve. 


Lindsey’s Story: Better Living Through Chemistry

I was relying on the Suppers proscription against judging others the day I told my story. Most of the people in our meeting had had trouble with depression on top of all they were juggling because of sugar issues. For the most part, they wanted to get off their antidepressants, or at least reduce the dose.

My fear that the cycle of compulsion might start again is much greater than my desire for a particular food. 

Not me. There are few things in my life that rival the gratitude I feel for the doctor and medications that brought normalcy into my life. My body gives me few options. There are several things I have to get right simultaneously in order to be okay. My fear that the cycle of compulsion might start again is much greater than my desire for a particular food. If there’s a speck of sugar in the food, I won’t touch it. I am also a recovering alcoholic, and life is better when I’m as consistent about sugar as I am about alcohol. Zero is zero, the clearest, easiest amount for me to deal with. I went through withdrawal twice and I don’t ever want to go there again. I know that if I waver, the committee in my head will start telling me it’s OK to have just a little. The last time I used that logic, it was ten years, 50 pounds, and a diagnosis of pre-diabetes before I snapped out of it. 

A few years later I got another blow.

Among my relatives are a mother and two siblings with serious mental health problems. One of my brothers developed schizophrenia as a young man. My mother was in denial until the day she died. My sister has never been diagnosed but it is evident something is wrong. She moved to California and doesn’t maintain contact. In the meantime, about 15 years ago a situation in my life caused me to experience severe depression. I was adamant about not taking medication; I was alcohol and drug free. The night I seriously considered suicide to relieve the pain, one look at my 11-year-old daughter’s face brought me back to reality. I saw my therapist the next morning and she referred me to a doctor who prescribed an antidepressant. Through therapy and a good shrink, I got through that horrible time. Because I finally felt freedom from those outbursts, I kept taking the antidepressants. A few years later I got another blow. In between jobs and setting up my own business (my life dream), I suddenly couldn’t get out of bed.

It was an ordeal just driving my daughter to school every morning in my pajamas. I lay on the couch from 9 a.m. on, wondering how in the world I would find the energy to pick her up at 2 p.m. I couldn’t muster the energy to go outside and feed my rabbit and clean her cage, so I gave her away. My dog was very old and sickly and needed to go in and out all the time, so I let the vet put her down, and to this day I feel horrible. I was really scared. My doctor told me I was bi-polar. No way! My brother and sister were the ones with the mental illness, not me. I had a successful career, was raising a great daughter, managed our household, and was active in the community. “Was” turned out to be the key word. I couldn’t believe I had ever led that life. I felt like an imposter.

My formula for success has four parts…

Reluctantly I began medication – and slowly, very slowly, I improved. Mental illness is not easily treated and it took almost two years of various medications until we arrived at my current “cocktail.” I keep in close contact with my psychiatrist and have maintained good health for five years. I have learned that mental illness is a disease of the brain and not a disgrace. Until society accepts that, I only tell my story when I think someone can be helped and I’m in a safe environment for sharing. So my formula for success has four parts: absolute adherence to a whole food diet, abstinence from alcohol, my medications, and the support of family and friends who love me and never judge the path I’ve chosen.


Lavender Lemonade for Lindsey, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Last week we discussed nutritionally packed ingredients and how to use them to our advantage when trying to avoid cravings and brain/blood sugar disruption. This week we will continue a discussion to honor herbs. Herbs. The Rocky Balboa of healthy foods. (Cause he was very small but extraordinarily fierce and relentless.)

Now, when it comes to serious issues like mental illnesses which require medication, there may be no recourse besides a routine including therapy and prescriptions recommended and provided by your doctor. However. It’s also true that there are specific ingredients which may help to reduce anxietycalming, cooling herbs, fruits, and vegetables to help soothe the nerves and, when combined with meditation exercises and deep breathing you may find that’s the only cocktail that you need.

The simple act of removing the top of my vial of Lavender essential oil…can calm me down instantly…

Speaking of cocktails, there’s this one I happen to really adore. Now that it’s summertime and the living is “easy” (not for me, for me the living is insanely more difficult) I’ll share with you a way to make it even easier.

Lavender is one of the most powerfully soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety herbs that grow on the planet. The simple act of removing the top of my vial of Lavender essential oil and slowly taking in a noseful of its heavy soft scent can calm me down instantly, help me clear my head and focus on the solution to whatever problem is causing me anxiety. 

Essential oils are not just for your skin or your nose – some of them can be consumed. You need to be careful with essential oils because they are extremely concentrated. Two drops in a recipe is one drop too many. You should never, ever consume undiluted essential oils. They can burn your mouth and esophagus.

That said, with a light and steady hand, essential oils can take your recipes to the next level. My favorite way to use them is in beverages and my favorite of those special beverages is Lavender Lemonade. It’s the perfect way to relax in the shade or even to begin a day in which you expect to encounter stress.


Step One: Heat up 3 quarts of water and stir in honey to dissolve. Add water to a big glass pitcher and set aside. *If you are like Lindsey and can’t do honey you can use stevia instead. 

DSC_0232Do you guys see that I got my pegboard? Ned caved. It was inevitable.

Step Two: Slice Meyer Lemons and try to remove as many seeds as possible with the point of a knife. Squeeeeeeeeeeeze those lemons into the pitcher of warm sweetened water and stir again.

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Step Three: Add ONE DROP of Lavender essential oil while water is still warm and stir. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes so that ingredients can mesh and then cover and place in a refrigerator or pour into glasses over ice and enjoy immediately. If you have Lavender sprigs and guests coming for a dinner party, those might be nice to use as a garnish.

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Lavender Lemonade

3 quarts filtered water
1/2 cup honey (*optional, you can use a few drops of Stevia instead or a combination of your favorite sweeteners)
6 large Meyer lemons, sliced and de-seeded
1 drop Lavender essential oil

1. Warm water in a saucepan over a medium flame or in a microwave until steamy but not simmering. Remove from any heat and add honey. Stir to dissolve completely and add to a large glass pitcher.
2. Squeeze and drop Meyer lemon slices directly into pitcher and stir/press down with a wooden spoon to incorporate juice and warm up the peels.
3. Add one drop of Lavender essential oil into the pitcher and stir. Let mixture sit 5 minutes to steep and cover and refrigerate until cold enough to drink or pour over ice and serve. Garnish with Lavender blossoms if you like.


Enjoy sipping on your calming Lavender Lemonade and don’t forget to breathe! For the month of July we are focusing on Brain Health in The Purple Apron. 

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

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

Suppers social resources:

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!!


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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:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Feeding My Children in America

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Among our many friends from different cultures, Suppers welcomes quite a few Indian women.  One of them, a physician, told me,

“We have bad genes for diabetes.”  

“Maybe,” I thought to myself. “But it wasn’t until you came here and started eating our food that things got so out of control.” 

I feel like apologizing to everyone who comes here and suffers our hopelessly addicting, processed food supply: my Japanese friend who gave her child coke in his bottle and rotted out his baby teeth, a European whose child ate smoked tongue or whatever she gave him until his first day in an American Elementary School, and now my Indian friends who can’t get their children to eat real food.
Anu figured it out.  She reclaimed her position in the family as the one who sets the rules for and the tone of the dinner scene.  Yes, it took work. But consider the alternative and the consequences.

Anu’s Story: Feeding My Children in America

I am an Indian mother raising two children in America. I have a very picky 5-year old boy and an 8-year old daughter who will eat anything as long as it is not too spicy. What?  I’m Indian! Their Western eating habits have evolved from being annoying to worrisome, especially as my son is barely grazing the lower edge of the growth charts and is bound to fall off any day now. And to make matters worse, my angst grows when I hear my father’s voice in my head and I can sense his disapproval. 

After feeling desperate and hopeless for many years, I decided I had to take control of the situation by putting my focus on it. I have recently started experimenting with a style of feeding children which is more the way French mothers do it. The children are offered one snack after school and nothing else before or after dinner. My kids are starting to understand that dinner is it! We have stopped eating in the car. It has to be at the table, with placemats, and cutlery. The kids are learning to not expect food on-demand but at certain times during the day and only in a setting that honors the importance of eating well.

Dinner has been a struggle, and frustrating experiences in the past have led to complete meltdowns and me manipulating their eating with guilt-inducing tactics. I now try to make the experience pleasurable. We bring our best place mats and dishes out every night. 

We have a four-course meal two or three nights per week. Even when we eat out or order in, I try to ensure that we lean towards healthier options, Japanese food instead of pizza or a pub meal. We include a homemade soup, usually something very simple like dal — Indian lentils —  or some boiled veggies like cauliflower, carrots, kale, zucchini etc. that have been blended with some stock, butter or maybe crème fraiche. Then we have a salad, entrée and dessert. Dessert is usually fruit along with some chocolate, ice cream or rice pudding.

And I use no more language that makes dessert the goal, “If you eat X, then you get dessert.”  Instead I say “Let’s first eat X, then Y, then dessert.”

If they don’t at least taste the first course, they cannot proceed to the next course and have to wait it out until the next meal. Yup…that was not fun the first time we tried it, but I am glad I stuck with it because I have not had to explain it since.

Dinner has turned into a fun game, except the winner is not the fastest one but the person who eats all their courses…slowly.

Finally, we are talking more about what we are tasting, how it feels on our tongues, etc. The only rule is they can’t just say, “I don’t like it.” They have to describe what they are tasting as they develop their palates.

We have been at it for only a few months, but I can tell the difference this approach is making in how my kids show up for meals. We are still years from perfection, but I am grateful for every sip or lick or bite that they take of the rainbow colors that fill their plate, and for their willingness to stick with me on the greatest teaching challenge of my life.  And while I call this approach French, I am also realizing that this is exactly how I was raised in India…to value food and associate it with pleasure not guilt, to look forward to engaging with the family during meal times, and to appreciate the ceremony around each meal.  What a gift my parents gave me, and I hope my children will thank me some day for passing it on to them.


Applying Anu’s Tactics, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Channa Masala is, like, my jam. I totally love anything that is like “blank” masala. I figure that the “blank” or X is some sort of protein and the “masala” part is spices + protein + total fiery hotness and then you have a masala.

Yo. Indian Cooking – especially South Indian Cooking – is spicy. I feel the pain of Anu’s children, I really do. I also am of the persuasion that omitting hot peppers from cooking is generally the way to go when it comes to accommodating every eater at your dinner table. But I digress.

Channa Masala is the bessssssssst. It’s the best. Know why? Cause canned chick peas. Cause canned tomatoes. Cause availability. Cause everyone should freeze their ginger whole. That’s why. I don’t have a singular story about South Indian Cooking – how my bestest friend in the world traveled across India for a month and came home to teach me how she ate systematically with her right hand and a piece of delicious Naan in her left, (or the other way around) or how my other best friend lived on an Ashram for a year and became extraordinarily spiritual and never DIDN’T become meditative and incredibly calm or how I basically love Chicken Tikka Masala. I know that’s like the most basic thing to love from Indian cuisine but did you know how Tikka Masala was invented? Let me tell you.

Once Upon a Time, Queen Victoria was totally in charge of India even though she, like, never lived there for a second and only came to visit when she felt like it. The soldiers lived there, though, and the folks who lived there weren’t feelin it. At all. So one day the soldiers were going to be dining with all of the residents (AND the Queen was coming too) and THEY were like – let’s take control of this situation, basically. And so they were like, essentially, “let’s poison these folks.” So they cooked. They took rancid chicken and cooked that rancid chicken in tomatoes and spices that were heavy enough to cover the flavor of the rancidness so that the soldiers would eat it and NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. So they didn’t know the difference. But guess what else. They also didn’t get sick. The volatile, acidic, amazingly powerful spices plus the heat and probably the time (and not the thyme) made it so that the soldiers literally did not experience sickness from the otherwise yucky dinner. And guess what else? They LOVED it. They loved the dish! Its popularity did not escape notice by the Queen and she made it a big deal. Chicken Tikka Masala it was named and India had to wait, like, way longer to gain independence from Great Britain. But they got it and that’s why we now have Channa Masala. I think. That part I made up but the rest is true.

So let’s make that now, together.


Step One: Chop all of your things and prep stations. Heat a pan with olive or coconut oil or Ghee (if you really want to be relevant and stuff.)

 

Step Two: Saute onions, peppers, ginger, and spices all together for as long as possible. Onions are the foundation of all flavor, basically, in case you were wondering. Also, do you freeze your ginger? CAUSE YOU SHOULD. Keep your ginger root in the freezer and take it out when you need and it grates like a dream. Like a Brad Pitt dream. Like a dream about someone you always dreamed of. Yeah. It grates like that. Like snow. Jon Snow. (Also a dream). Try it. Peel ginger? Who does that?

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Step Three: Add chick peas, tomatoes, some broth, herbs, and everything else in the recipe. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until thickened to your desire!

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Chana Masala

3 Tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
1 large yellow onion, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon freshly ground garam masala
5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
3 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 Red Habanero peppers, minced (*optional)
1 Tablespoon ground Turmeric
2 15oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, smashed and chopped
1 cup vegetable stock, plus some if necessary
1/2 cup fresh herbs  (parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano, etc.)

  1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, melt coconut oil or ghee. Add onion, salt, and garam masala and saute, stirring frequently, for 7-15 minutes, or until onion is translucent and very tender.
  2. Stir in garlic and saute while stirring constantly until fragrant, or about 2 minutes, and immediately grate in ginger and add minced hot peppers, Turmeric, chickpeas, tomatoes, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency.
  3. Top with fresh herbs and serve hot!

Why Am I Crying?

A Welcome By DorDor photo by David Crow

A lot of people who come to Suppers get introduced to their physical bodies, to know themselves in ways they never thought about before.  What a relief it was for Ruby to discover that she was not crazy, she was in fact a sane person in a crazy body.  Like Lisa, our last subject in “Marshmallow Madness“, Ruby was getting loud signals from her body that her blood sugar was driving her bad mood chemistry, but she didn’t understand the language. Ruby had never learned that her jags of crying were typical of someone with her health issue.
False emotions drove her doom and gloom imaginings as she drove home after stressful days at work, but a simple intervention restored her normal emotions. 
If you would like more information on anxiety and the issues we are exploring today, please visit The Mood Cure.

Ruby’s Story: Why Am I Crying?

There’s a phrase we use at Suppers that described my situation perfectly: “sane person, crazy body.” Not that I advocate splitting mind and body, but if my rational mind was able to observe my crazy behavior, how crazy could I have been? My body insanity always happened like this:

Around 5 p.m. I would be on my way home from work, looking forward to getting home to relax and have dinner. About halfway home I’d start thinking about friends and family situations, and somehow my thoughts would get darker and darker. Rationally, I knew that everyone was fine and there was nothing to worry about, yet my thoughts were out of control: a dear friend was ill and going to die; people I love would be killed in a devastating accident. I would upset myself so much that I’d start to cry. 

Why was I crying?

Whenever this happened there was nothing going on that would explain getting so upset, yet there I was, driving home with tears streaming down my face. The only sane conclusion was that I was going crazy!

Then one night at a Suppers book review meeting we were talking about blood sugar and mood chemistry. We discussed false emotions and how these occur when blood sugar drops. I realized in that instant that this is what I experience on my drive home from work. Of course! After a stressful day at work I get hungry.

I know I have some problems with blood sugar, but I never connected the dots. My rides home are filled with false emotions, irrational thoughts, and uncomfortable feelings that go away as soon as I eat. 

What a relief to read about my experience in a book by someone who understands the problem. First, I’m NOT going crazy! I’m a sane person in a crazy body. I just needed help coming to the realization that I can get control over these emotions by making sure I eat what my body needs to level out my blood sugar. All it takes is a healthy snack at around 3 p.m. Who would have thought that a well-timed cup of yogurt or chicken soup would rid my drive home of demons? My friends at Suppers encouraged me to run my own experiments to see which foods carry me the longest and journal the experience. It doesn’t take much — half an apple with a little cheese will see me through until dinner.

How I feel is data. The change felt miraculous, but it wasn’t. I just experienced the “logical miracle” that Suppers says can happen when you start giving your body what it needs. Knowing how to interpret my body’s signals has been hugely empowering. Thank goodness for these meetings and the sanity they have brought back into my life.


 

Foods to Dry Ruby’s Tears, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081

Someone I know can’t have garlic. Like, she literally just can’t have garlic and then expect to be comfortable on a physiological level. Her tummy will hurt, it might cause bloat, digestive issues, etc. From garlic. Can you imagine?!
Cause the internet says, “eat raw garlic everyday and never get sick!” And someone on Facebook shared an article they didn’t write and maybe didn’t read called “Five Foods To Always Eat Especially Garlic!” Well guess what? She can’t. She figured it out over time and elimination dieting.
She figured out that even an antimicrobial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, potent, powerful allium vegetable was actually not good for her. It actually caused inflammation. 
Go figure.
See, foods have pretty consistent properties. But we are less predictable. We are animals, hosts to billions of other living things, victims of incredibly efficient yeasts and viruses, and prone to all sorts of allergies and sensitivities. We’ll never know what foods to eat unless we experiment.
Is there anyone in the entire world, who has ever existed in the history of food, that doesn’t like pasta? MAN pasta is DELCIOUS. Am I alone in this? I doubt I’m alone — usually at least one person wants to hang out with me.
Anyway, I can’t have pasta. It’s really a bad idea. Remember, I’m still broken up with my boyfriend. His name is Bread and he was so beautiful and our relationship was as wonderful as it was toxic. Bread’s cousin is named Pasta and when I lost Bread I lost him too. But that’s love for you.
In the meantime, I’ve been spending time with my surrogate boyfriend. His name is Spaghetti Squash. Let me tell you about his stats.
On the Glycemic Index scale:
Spaghetti Squash scores a 40
Brown Rice scores a 55
to give you an idea.
However, one must always consider the Glycemic Load these days — carbohydrates plus fiber plus protein = the actual affect on (some) people’s blood sugar. On that scale, Spaghetti Squash scores a 1. A ONE!!! White boiled spaghetti scores a 26. This is like golf, people. That means that Spaghetti Squash is like Arnold Palmer and Pasta is like….well, like me. I’m terrible at golf.
Another great thing about Spaghetti Squash is that you really don’t have to do much to make it taste great. And for my friend’s sake, if you want to you can skip the garlic. Lights. Camera. Action.
Step One: Slice squash lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds using a table spoon. Not a “Tablespoon” like in measurement, just a large spoon you would use if you were eating at a table. Place squash directly on oven racks, flesh side up, for 45 – 60 minutes depending on size.
The reason why we place the spaghetti squash flesh side UP and not DOWN, as we might with a butternut or another more tender squash is because we want the end result to be drier so that individual strands can be acquired and you will have something that looks like spaghetti.
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Yes, that is a duck. And yes, it was very hot. Use tongs or other utensils for safety reasons.
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Let cool for about 25 minutes or until you can stand to touch the squash.
Step Two: With a fork poised away from you, prong side down, begin to lightly shred away squash. It will pull up and separate from the strands beneath it fairly easily. Once you have shredded one side, turn the squash away from you and shred the other side. Then, turn onto a plate.
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Step Three: Flavor squash with olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, pesto, tomato sauce, spices, or garlic if you can stand its volatile nature. Serve warm or store in a food safe container in the refrigerator and reheat before enjoying.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash, sliced in half lenghtwise and de-seeded
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
Any desired spices, herbs, or alliums (like onion, garlic, scallion)
Any desired sauces like tomato sauce, pesto, alfredo, etc.

Procedure

1.  Preheat oven to 400 and, if you like, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepared squash, flesh side up, and roast 45 – 60 minutes. Poke with a fork to test tenderness after 45 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool 25 minutes or to touch.

2.  Fork shred squash until only skin remains. Place on a plate or in a bowl and toss with oil, salt, lemon juice, and any seasonings or sauces. Serve warm.

As always, head to Our Website at Suppers for all of your recipe needs!

Marshmallow Madness

 

Dor photo by David CrowA Welcome By Dor

When will you know if a panic attack is not a panic attack?
When will you know if your joint pain is optional?
When should we accept that our aches and complaints are just signs of normal aging?

Answer:  After you’ve done your experiments to identify which processed foods drive your suffering.

Lisa learned that when she was having a panic attack, she wasn’t having a panic attack. Labels can be powerful and  misleading.  They can set us up to make all kinds of erroneous conclusions about what’s causing our health and mental health problems.  One thing I hear when we’re sharing at the table is how people feel more “level”, “stable” or “centered” when they figure out which foods match their personal needs.

More often than not, it involves getting the right balance among proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber and water at the beginning of the day, breakfast.  

And it also means eliminating the primary drivers of anxiety, most notably, sugar.  Oh, by the way, Lisa lost 40 pounds without struggles when Marshmallow Madness identified the true drivers of her panic and pain.  Here’s her story.


 

Lisa’s Story: Marshmallow Madness

Menopause was not kind to me. Aching joints, weight gain, crankiness, and anxiety plagued me. But the worst was the heart palpitations. Most of it I passed off as the inevitabilities of aging — except for the heart palpitations, which were intense and scary. I had always felt quite sane, but this was making me crazy. When I shared my story at a Suppers meeting, everybody was nodding their heads like they knew exactly what was going on with me.

My doctor and a cardiologist did some tests that confirmed the palpitations and discovered an underlying heart arrhythmia, but could not determine a cause. They said people have heart palpitations all the time, and prescribed beta blockers. 

I’m a single parent and this wasn’t good enough for me. I couldn’t believe my heart could withstand that stress for very long. So I turned to the internet and did a simple search on “heart palpitations.” The first results I checked listed three causes and one of those was glucose. This rang a bell because I’ve always had a feeling I am sensitive to sugar. If I eat a donut for breakfast I have brain fog the entire day.

So I decided to do my own test and stop eating sugar and starch. That was in February. In March, I took my young daughter on vacation in California, and we stayed at a fabulous little hotel with a pool and outdoor fire pits. I took one look at this and said, “Let’s roast marshmallows!” So we bought a bag of marshmallows and skewers. We sat by the pool that night chatting and demolishing the bag.

At 3 a.m. I woke with the worst palpitations I had felt yet. My heart was going crazy. I stayed in bed hoping I would make it until morning, saying to myself, “Well, I think I just gave myself another glucose tolerance test.” When I was in high school my pediatrician had suspected a glucose tolerance problem, and gave me a three-hour glucose test — apparently not long enough.

I began to follow a diet that called for regular, small servings of protein. The results were immediate. My heart palpitations disappeared in three days, I lost 40 pounds without the struggles I’d experienced on diets, all my aches and pains disappeared, and I felt more clear-headed.

I returned to my doctor and told her the results of my unintentional experiment with marshmallows and the results I’d had with a high protein, low carb diet. She said, “You’re a good detective. You should write an article.” I should write an article? When I asked her what we should do next, she said, “Well, if you’ve figured it out, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

I returned to the cardiologist and told her the same story. She was very concerned about the low carb diet and felt that it would increase my cholesterol and create a greater heart risk.

I went to an endocrinologist as well, looking for verification of what I had discovered. He was as dismissive as the cardiologist and attributed everything to my weight loss. He couldn’t understand that I was incapable of losing weight until I discovered the role that sugar and refined carbohydrates played in my cravings. And to add insult to injury, he charged me $500 for a 15-minute consultation.

That was eight years ago. For two years I couldn’t eat carbohydrates without getting heart palpitations. After two years, my body began to heal itself — a mixed blessing because now I can cheat a little. So my weight is ten pounds higher than my low, but overall I feel good.

I wonder where I would be now if I had not experimented with my diet. It’s scary that none of the doctors I consulted figured any of it out.

Here are all the symptoms that disappeared since I eliminated
Sugars and S
tarches from my diet:

Aching joints     Bad knees     Blurred vision     Caffeine cravings     Carpal tunnel syndrome

Disintegrating handwriting     Feeling flushed     Feeling jittery under stress or at end of day

Foggy-headed     Food cravings     Gum disease     Heart palpitations     Irritability

Inability to lose weight     Inability to wake up in the morning, like I’m drugged

Memory problems     Momentary dizzy spells     Nail biting     Nightmares     Overweight

Sleepiness/drowsiness watching TV or at a movie theater

So was the cardiologist right to be concerned? I eat more than a dozen eggs a week — and bacon, when I am in the mood. Here are the results of my blood tests when the heart palpitations began and now, eight years later:

My weight went down 25 pounds.
My “good” cholesterol went up 45 points.
My “bad” cholesterol went down 5 points.
And my triglycerides went down 36 points.

I feel fabulous. And I love sharing my story with others who are also taking charge of their health. 


Smashing Eggs and Avocados for Lisa, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Sometimes I go to diners for breakfast (very rarely) and I see their French Toast or Pancake special for the day and they are topped with maple syrup, bacon, sea salt caramel, toffee, whipped cream, banana foam, strawberry sugar, and more bacon. And I’m like, “man, that sounds delicious! I’ll have eggs!”

No matter how many forms of sugar the diner people want my breakfast to include, I know that a savory breakfast is the kind of breakfast for me. The sweet breakfast simply is something that does not appeal to me any longer. Sweets after dinner, well, that’s a different story.

Some people find that a high protein diet made up of many small meals throughout the day helps them find balance in their blood sugar and also in their lives. Eggs are a really great version of food because they fit so nicely into so many different categories! Breakfast, snack, baked goods, you name it! Lots of egg dishes are warm and need to be prepared right before you eat them. However if I’m already slipping into the “get out of my way literally I will walk over you if you are in between me and the pantry-frigerator” phase, well, maybe I won’t be able to wait until the egg is done frying. I’ve already eaten like half the cheese in the fridge or, worse, I’ve started eating crackers.

So for me (and apparently Lisa) sometimes cold, prepped egg dishes are the way to go. In the words of at least one coach, this is what we play for.

Step One: Boil Eggs. You guys, there’s actually a LOT of dissenting opinions in the world of boiling eggs and some people are extraordinarily passionate about all of the egg things. Like this guy, who is totally obSESSED with all of the egg things. I’m just going to say, the best way that usually works for me is, place eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, place a lid on the saucepan, and wait like 10 minutes or so.

In addition, do you have one of these things? I guess it’s called an egg slicer because I’ve literally never used it for anything else but these things are AMAZING. Why would anyone ever chop eggs with a knife? Who even has the patience for that??!!

Step Two: For this recipe the avocado doesn’t have to be perfect, you can prep it any way you like. BUT I thought it would be a great opportunity to teach you some avocado tricks! First of all, getting that pesky skin off with the meat still intact. (By the way did you know that an avocado is technically a nut/legume? I heard that somewhere.)

Take half of a pitted avocado and place it flesh side down on a cutting board. With your non-thumb-fingers, starting at the slimmer end, start to peel off the skin, keeping your thumbs applying gentle force to the rest of the avocado. Towards the middle this will get easier–keep applying consistent force and pulling skin and: Voila!

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Then, take it one step further. A nice fanned avocado is perfect for lifting and placing on a sandwich in a nice, flat, even, easy way (even though I don’t eat sandwiches because I recently broke up with my boyfriend, Bread). Get there by thinly slicing the skinned avocado in nice, even, long, slices. Then, press the flat edge of your knife against the middle of the avocado, gently pressing down until *gasp!* the avocado collapses in a beautiful fanned arrangement.

It’s so pretty! Look again!

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Step Three: Prep the rest of your stuff. One great way to deal with finely dicing just a bit of celery is to make slits in the stalks, then use the non-slitted stalk part to hold onto and dice off the rest. Then you can save or eat the rest. Like here:

(I ate the celery rest, in case you were wondering.) There’s only a few other ingredients so I just put them together for you.

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Step Four: Put it all in a bowl and use a fork to fork mix it together. Add salt and pepper, plus any other seasonings you like and enjoy or put away for later! (You know when I’m talking about.)

Did you just ask if you can add other stuff? Uh, duh, of course you can! I would add diced chicken for some added protein, carrot for a sweet crunch, a whole BUNCHLOAD of different sorts of herbs and spices, basil in the summer, scallions in the spring, and lemon zest because I’m Allie O’Brien and if you didn’t know I love lemon zest, well, now you do and you shan’t forget again. There will be a test.


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Lisa’s Egg and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

12 hardboiled eggs
2 avocados, peeled and mashed
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup organic mayo (or greek yogurt)
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

1. Mash egg and avocado together. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Yields six servings.

Variations and Alternative Ingredients

1 teaspoon dijon mustard
paprika, turmeric, dry rub spice blend, italian spice bend, etc.
fresh basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.
shredded carrots, summer squash
diced chicken, turkey, pork, bacon, etc.

Enjoy! As always, be sure to check out other Suppers website recipes on our index of recipes! And remember — how you feel is data! Start experimenting today and you just might surprise yourself. AND your doctors.

My Brain For a Sliver of Cheesecake

Dor photo by David CrowA Welcome By Dor

When is your mood not your mood?

When does fatigue have nothing to do with being tired?

When is willpower irrelevant?

Answer: when your brain has been hijacked by a slice of cheesecake – or any food that drives inflammation or changes in mood chemistry in your highly individual, totally unique, don’t-let-anybody-argue-you-out-of-your-N = 1-experience brain

This is what I’m watching at my Suppers meetings as people sign up to facilitate and join our Suppers for Brain Health meetings. Are waves of fatigue, bouts of fuzzy thinking, ripples of depression or anxiety really tipoffs? Is our preternatural delight for certain foods a sign that it acts more like a drug than a food in our particular bodies? Might the brain signatures of today foretell the inflammatory conditions of tomorrow?

Sharon’s story is one of the first Suppers stories. Cleaned out after an elimination experiment, she was particularly vulnerable when she got smacked in the brain by a slice of cheesecake.


 

Sharon’s Story: My Brain for a Sliver of Cheesecake

One day I came to Suppers all excited to tell about an experience my friend and I shared over a sliver of cheesecake, and to see if anybody could explain the near-coma we experienced after a recent dinner party.

I heard the best explanation ever of what can happen in a brain after cheesecake. It made sense of years of bizarre experience, and I want to share my story with everyone.

For ten days a good friend and I supported each other in our determination to eat dairy free and gluten free, having bonded over similar health challenges related to our inability to digest these proteins. I noticed a distinct improvement in mental clarity and sense of well-being. We planned a wheat- and dairy-free dinner party for friends, and selected flavorful, satisfying dishes that we were sure would leave no one feeling deprived. It was all delicious and no one felt the absence of wheat or dairy products. But somebody had brought cheesecake for dessert. It came pre-sliced in mere slivers, and we both decided after some deliberating that we were going to have some. Pow!

I couldn’t wash a dish. I barely made it up the stairs. I went into such a rapid decline of mental and physical fatigue that I told my husband I couldn’t stay awake one more minute and collapsed into bed. The next day I was talking with my friend and she had had the exact same problem: total exhaustion, inability to override the fatigue with willpower, and a “carb coma” – a sort of a hungover feeling the next morning.

I arrived at Suppers asking for explanations and we ended up devoting the meeting to a consideration of the third concept, “food is the first addiction”. Dor, Dr. George, and several other members who have learned the hard way to steer clear of gluten and dairy put it this way (I wrote down every word): gluten and dairy products, when incompletely digested, put “gluteomorphines” and “casomorphines” into your body, which occupy the same receptor sites in the brain as morphine and similar substances (opiate receptors). It is one of several reasons why wheat and dairy products are such big comfort foods for many people–and people with compromised digestion are particularly vulnerable.

Add to that the sugar, which alters your brain chemistry the same way cocaine does; we studied that at a Suppers meeting too, because so many of us feel drugged when we eat sugar. Add to that what we learned from reading The End of Overeating, and you’ll understand how the very anticipation of eating a food that is drug-like will provide a dopamine response, that sort of jazzed-up feeling you get from knowing that something good is coming. No wonder so many of us need a support group to stay on track with our eating!

The first Suppers program was called Suppers for Sobriety, and all the meetings that followed retained this idea that people need support to resolve eating patterns that keep them sick or addicted. By the tie my friend and I were considering that cheesecake, we were already under its spell. We had planned, we had been clean for ten days, we had gone to the trouble of preparing this special menu. But we were seduced by the presence of cheesecake, much as a wannabe recovering alcoholic is seduced by “just one beer” with friends, and we caved in. 

To make matters worse, our little period of abstinence had made our brains even more vulnerable to the drug-like effects of particular foods. Apparently, when you withhold something drug-like and then re-introduce it, the urge to consume it is even worse than it was before the period of abstinence. It can take months, at least, to get to what Suppers describes as a “logical miracle,” the point at which the drug/food relaxes its grip and you start craving salads, if anything.

Dor said this experience is all part of the Suppers experiment process. You just can’t believe what an enormous difference it makes in your mental and emotional life to get off whatever are your offending foods until you’ve experienced it yourself. She herself was not gluten free until she started running meetings for ADHD families. She went off gluten for three months as a trial and then never ate it again, because abstinence fixed–simply and completely fixed–her problem with daytime fatigue.

I know I can’t make you get your epiphany faster just because I had mine. But here is what I want you to know about my experience. Getting off wheat and dairy made the following differences in my life:
Reduced my brain fog
Increased my focus and ability to concentrate
Had a calming effect on my mood
Increased my energy and stamina


 

Creating Cheesecake without Cheese for Sharon, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081For thousands of years human beings have altered their environments to fit better into special lifestyles. How can we store foods better for the winter? How can we grow enough to feed larger communities? How can we move off this farm? How can we eat in a city? How can we speed up family dinner? How can we REALLY speed up family dinner? What’s family dinner? Dinner? That’s so 90’s.

Over the many years that we have bizarrely survived, we have changed a lot of things. There is one thing that has taken longer to alter and that would be our organic bodies. Dietary evils are different for each person however in terms of particularly reactive ingredients, there’s a pretty short list. Sugar, dairy, wheat–these are highly reactive foods (well, sugar isn’t a “food” anymore but whatever) which, when avoided, cause the vast majority of individuals to feel a lot better.

But, like, cheesecake, you guys. Cheesecake. Do we have to give it up forever and ever? Do we have to say goodbye? Isn’t there anything we can do? For a lot of people, like Sharon, the goodbye is solid. Stay away and minimize cravings. But for others there are some loopholes. I’m all about loopholes. Let’s chat.

Dairy
What looks like cheese and acts like cheese and sort of tastes like cheese and feels like cheese? What’s white and creamy, filling, delicious, and fat-containing? Cashew nuts! OK! We’ll start there!

Sugar
What’s sweet but more natural, less processed or not processed, and takes longer to digest (thereby avoiding that immediate SPIKE)? Dried fruits! Figs, dates, apricots, pretty much any dried fruit! Thank you lord Medjool Date!

Wheat
What do we need this for again? A crust? Goodbye, graham crackers, HELLO nut/fruit crust! You save me time and cranial reactions! You do NOT save me calories.

Do we have a cheesecake now? Methinks we do. 


 

Step One: Soak cashew nuts in water for at least three hours. Soaking the nuts will inflate the cashews and fill those cells so that when blended the result is a creamy delight.

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Cashews are probably the creamiest, palest, least overtly flavorful nut when blended but soaking other nuts is acceptable as well.

Step Two: Pit dried fruit of your choice and blend in equal parts with your choice of nuts and seeds to make a crust. My favorite is a blend of dates, figs, and apricots blended with walnuts, pecans, and 16638ece-97ae-48e5-81b7-9afe75696e59pumpkin seeds. I flavor that up with sea salt, orange or lemon zest, cinnamon, alcohol free vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg, and/or allspice. Other options include oats, cooked millet, quinoa, or other grains.

 

 

 

Step Three: Make your Cashew Cream by combining soaked cashews with sweet ingredients (but not sugar!) like pitted and soaked dates, lemon zest, cinnamon, and alcohol free vani547a0f70-2394-4d94-b99c-72a2a6a05eb2lla.

Ingredients like cinnamon and vanilla work to bring out the natural sweetness in other foods, like cashews, for instance. Cinnamon also works as a marriage counselor in the body, mediating between fussy cells and Insulin when the neurotransmitter on the outside of the cell’s “front door” refuses to open for Insulin.

If your cashew cream is still not as sweet as you like, and it won’t react poorly with your body, you may add just a dash of maple syrup or honey. Just a dash, Julia Child.

 

 

Step Four: Pour, make the top look pretty, and freeze! That’s all you need to do for this vegan, sugar-free, high protein, high fat no-bake cheesecake! Also, you’re allowed to say “sugar-free” even when using products that contain sugar, like fruit. It’s weird but there’s a big controversial difference between “added sugar” and foods that simply contain sugar. I can’t say more here because the government might be watching.


 

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Basic Cashew Cheesecake

Ingredients

For the crust:
2 cups nuts of choice
2 cups dried fruit of choice (soaked if fruit is very dry in water for 20-30 minutes)
1 orange, zested
2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon alcohol free vanilla
pinch sea salt

For the filling:
3 cups cashews, soaked 3-8 hours in water
4 large Medjool dates (soaked if fruit is very dry in water for 20-30 minutes)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 Tablespoon alcohol free vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (plus more, if desired)
1/2 cup water (plus some, if necessary)
1 pinch sea salt

Procedure:

For the crust:

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor and process until dough forms. Should be able to roll into a ball and keep its shape. If dough is crumbly and dry, add water 1 Tablespoon at a time and keep pulsing until desired consistency is reached.

2. Press into the bottom of a springform pan or tart pan and set aside or stick in freezer while preparing filling.

For the filling:

1. In a high powered blender, combine filling ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. There should be no chunks or even grit when done! Add extra water and continue blending if mixture is not creamy enough.

2. Pour over prepared nut crust and freeze at least 1 hour. Before serving, remove from freezer and let thaw at least 20 minutes or until cheesecake can be sliced with a knife.

(optional: top with berries, low or no sugar jam, or a compote)

Makes 12-15 servings

That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading! As always, head to The Suppers Programs website for more recipe ideas to curb cravings and experiment your way to your own Logical Miracle!

Note: The Breakfast Challenge began on February 7th! Join us at Suppers to start your experiment first thing in the morning! 

www.thesuppersprograms.org