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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The C Word

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowHow much energy do you have to expend to refrain from having more than a portion?  I recall  two comments from friends I knew long before Suppers. One said that dieting was a full time job. The other said that she would consider it a year well spent if she did nothing but lose 40 pounds.

Some people who feel addicted to specific foods feel out of control when they have any. It takes a huge amount of energy and control to keep the genie in the bottle if you actually have an addictive relationship with an ingredient.   

In Alice’s story, control was a big issue and it bled into all parts of her life. She couldn’t relax about anything until she fixed her way of eating.


Alice’s Story: The C Word

After years of attending one of the 12-step programs, I have come to think of control as the C Word. To compensate for having no control in one area of my life, I tried to control just about everything else. I was frazzled, pushy, cranky, and difficult to please. I was also a big manipulator, and the things I manipulated most were my own moods and energy level. My tools were coffee, cocoa, candy, bread, cookies, and wine. The automatic choices I made were all about seeking comfort for an outrageously uncomfortable body. Every day started with a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate served to me in my bed by my husband. The jolt got me going. From there I raced through the day, trying to set up play dates and TV time for my kids for the moments when I wanted to sequester myself with a treat or protect them from  my foul mood. I had no tolerance for noise or even too much light. The slightest stimulation would set me off.

This went on for years. 

“Come here!” “Don’t do that.” “Close the door!” “Pull down the shade!” “Turn that off.” “Stop whining!” I was always barking orders. And if they didn’t cooperate I became mean. This went on for years. It never occurred to me until I heard about appropriate control that a healthy person could control their children in loving and effective ways. Maybe I could too, once relieved of the grip of food on my mood.

I stayed off everything for a week…And then the testing started. 

There was only one way to do it: change. I had to observe how I felt on each of my favorite mood manipulators and decide if it went on my “never” list or my “sometimes” list. The way I knew which list to put it on was how hard I had to control myself if I had a little bit. I warned everybody I knew that Cold Turkey Day was coming. I stayed off everything for a week and managed not to kill myself or anybody else. And then the testing started. If a sip or a bite led to ten, it had to go. If I enjoyed it but I had no big reaction it was OK. The big players turned out to be anything with corn, caffeine, white flour, and chocolate. These things made me nutty for more. Over time, the healthier I got, the sicker I felt when I cheated and ate them. It was nice that I could have some ice cream and wine, and I was able to cut them in half without feeling sorry for myself.

I’m still cautious about the C Word. 

The big difference these eliminations made in my life was that I wasn’t trying to control everybody else into maintaining a quiet, bland, stimulation-deprived environment for me. I didn’t have to; I was sleeping better and my personal biology no longer required it.

I’m still cautious about the C Word. I never want to go back to the rigid, frazzled person I was. Now when I yell at the kids to turn down the blasted music, it’s because they’re teenagers and it really is too loud.


Calming The Control Freak Inside for Alice, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I don’t wanna make any generalizations here but somehow I feel like the Suppers Concept of Automatic Choices very commonly circles around sugar. Dessert. Things that are sweet. Great, now I want chocolate and it’s not even 8am. The rationale there is that carbohydrates are so particularly desired by the body that when introduced to refined carbohydrates, the brain turns into a kid in a candy store. Literally.

Have you ever tried making an artichoke omelet? 

Last week we talked about the six tastes, why they are important, how to balance them, and how to better appreciate them. This week let’s keep that in mind as we learn how to make a health-supportive dessert that explodes on the palate just like your favorite naughty sweets.

You guys, cooking is about relationships. Every different food has a different disposition, requires different things. Sometimes foods don’t get along with other foods. Have you ever tried making an artichoke omelet? WELL DON’T. DON’T EVER EVER DO THAT. It ends up looking…horrifyingly gray. Something about iron. Have you ever tried marinating meat in pineapple? WELL DON’T. DON’T EVER EVER EVER DO THAT. It ends up with a mushy, mealy texture. Something about enzymes.

…go ahead and thank the Europeans for exploding dessert in extravagance

Cooking is about relationships between foods and our bodies, too. Each person has a different body and we all have our own biochemical needs. Additionally, foods have their own nutritive compounds and they offer to us different combinations of nutrients. There may be some biological inconsistencies there (your trigger foods or inflammatory foods) but there are more similarities. So let’s talk dessert.

Health-supportive desserts rely heavily on nourishing ingredients – like fruit, for example. Ingredient choice is really all you have going for you. “Dessert” before dessert was invented consisted of fruit, nuts, and honey. When cheese was discovered (yes, discovered) she got to join the party too. We can go ahead and thank the Europeans for exploding dessert into extravagance but for our purposes let’s just focus on how we can amp up the nutrition. Europe has enough to deal with these days.

These ingredients pack the most nutrition into the smallest package.

Trudy Schafer was one of my chef professors from Bauman, who got her Masters in Nutrition after becoming a chef. I was always in awe of her ridiculously ginormous brain. She always said super knowledgeable things like they were just commonplace like she was saying “well you know cause paint is wet” but REALLY she was saying things like “well we’ll just add some lime to complete the protein.” And I was like….”uhhhh right!” I should have asked her more questions and acted dumber, maybe I would have learned more. Anyway the point is, Trudy used to say that if a person is just getting started transitioning their diet and they only want to make one change, have them add fresh herbs and spices. These ingredients pack the most nutrition into the smallest package. Trudy also specialized in cooking for people with cancer – you know, that other C word – who can’t consume that much volume. So. Again. Herbs.

Let’s consider these moving parts we’re dealing with:

  • Dessert
  • Health
  • Herbs
  • Other Nutritionally PACKED Ingredients 

Shall we?


Dessert Pesto

What? What did she say? Pesto?? Sweet pesto?? GROSS! No, you’re wrong – it’s AMAZING. Top an almond flour shortbread or a slice of a plain peach with the tiniest dollop of this stuff and your kitchen god/goddess value shoots up like a rocket ship. Before I toe the line of building this up too much, let’s just make it.

Step One: Prep your herbs. If you just want to use basil for this, that’s fine. However, in my experience making this particular dish, it’s good to add some other sweet heavy hitters like:

  • Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lemon Balm
  • Thai Basil
  • Mint (Use Sparingly)
  • Pineapple Sage

There are more. To keep it very simple let’s just use basil today. After all, the basil season in New Jersey is fleeting and must be appreciated.

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Step Two: Gather your other ingredients. Replace each one like this:

Pine Nuts — Choose From: Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Cashews, Almonds
Garlic — Eliminate entirely. Nobody wants garlic in their dessert pesto
Lemon — Keep the lemon and don’t forget the zest
Olive Oil — Coconut oil, don’t forget to melt it
Sea Salt — Just a dash
Add some honey to sweeten things up to taste and you’re ready to spin. 

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Secret Tip: Don’t put the nuts in first, put the herbs in first. The nuts are heavy and when the processor turns on, they’ll make their way down there. It’s more difficult for the light herbs to get down to the blade without your help. 

Oh, right. That’s all! You’re done.


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Dessert Pesto

4-5 cups herbs (*Asterisk means use sparingly): Basil, Thai Basil, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, *Mint, Pineapple Sage, Lavender, *Rose Geranium
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1-2 cups nuts: Cashews, Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Pecans
3-5 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus some to taste
2 Tablespoons honey (*optional)

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend. Chunky dessert pesto is good for topping sorbet and fruit dishes, smooth dessert pesto is good for piping and fillings or toppings for almond lemon shortbread and other gluten free cookies.
2. Balance flavor with sea salt, lemon juice, and honey if necessary. Stores up to 5 days in refrigerator. Freezes like a champ.


Happy Pesto making!!! This closes out June, our Parenting month at The Purple Apron! 

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 months offering 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

Blueberries That Taste Like Candy

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowAre blueberries pivotal?  It’s been a while since I read Violet’s story.  But since Allie selected it for the blog, I re-read “Blueberries that Taste Like Candy” and marveled that another child had had a transformational experience with blueberries.

There seems to be a pattern here:
Child doesn’t like healthy food.
Mother at her wit’s end with child.
Mother and child pitted against each other. Blueberries save the day.

Blueberry season is upon us. What better way to confidently, lovingly, unswervingly draw a line in the sand. The future of your family’s palate and the financial backbone of the nation may turn when all other food disappears and the only thing left is a box of “delishush” blueberries.

Violet’s Story: Blueberries That Taste Like Candy

It took more than a year to transition.

At my first Suppers meeting, we participated in a workshop that explained how addictive the standard American diet is. In the U.S. we have easy access to affordable, highly processed foods. The facilitator explained how eating processed foods provides a diet high in sugar, salt, and fat, which destabilizes blood sugar and causes cravings for unhealthy foods and excessive weight gain. We also learned that making dietary changes and eating more whole foods will not only improve health, but can also improve how you feel physically and emotionally. My family has many of the problems that Suppers is designed to help. We have problems with alcohol on both sides, depression, anxiety, and struggles with weight. I had no idea that these things are all connected and that the common thread is what we eat.

The facilitator said we might be surprised how taste buds change after a period of time without lots of sugar in our diet.

As curious and as hopeful as I was going into this meeting, I was equally overwhelmed and lost when it was over. We had talked about nutritional harm reduction, which is a conscious and steady effort to slowly reduce and eliminate unhealthy foods. But I shuddered to think about what my kids might do if I tried to take away their favorite snacks. There’d be war on Main Street!

The facilitator said we might be surprised how taste buds change after a period of time without lots of sugar in our diet. A dad in our group told the story of how he had a long illness and had not eaten much for weeks. When he felt better he ate some blueberries. He said they actually tasted like candy! His story gave me hope that if I started taking gentle steps with my children, their taste buds would change incrementally and eventually help them enjoy eating what is good for them.

“These are delishush.”

It took more than a year to transition. My family resisted my efforts: the kids complained, my husband lost his temper, and everyone needled me to bring back the treats. Even though I felt like giving up, I continued to make changes; I threw away a box of cookies, made fruit and raw veggies available for snacking, substituted baked sweet potato “fries” for white potatoes fried in oil, and refused to give in when the kids whined for candy bars in the grocery store. Then one day I handed my son a box of blueberries for his snack and he tossed a big handful in his mouth and said, “These are delishush.” Normally, I would have said, “Don’t talk with your mouth full, please.” Instead I smiled.

When I was frantic about my family’s health, Suppers offered me a different but achievable task. Group support was critical. I also needed to experience that “hatching chick” moment; the moment before which nothing can change and after which nothing can stay the same. That happened for me the day I could imagine blueberries that taste like candy.


Bitter Greens Before Blueberries For Violet’s Kids, By Allie

Before you can understand the blueberry you must first understand the brain and the bud. The tastebud.

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Taste This

There are six tastes, currently. Six flavors. A flavor is not so much how it tastes in this case but a biological reaction to a food. The receptors on our tongue – tastebuds – are responsible for identifying the potential nutrients in a food and telling our brains and other relevant organs what to do in their presence.

SWEET foods contain carbohydrates, or energy, and this is the first flavor the tongue experiences (think breastmilk) and therefore becomes accustomed to – for the obvious reason that there is no life without energy. In a similar sense, digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth and lets the pancreas know that it needs to be ready for Insulin production and distribution.

SALTY foods offer the essential nutrient, Sodium. This nutrient may sound scary because doctors tell you to watch it but that doesn’t mean you don’t need any at all. Sodium regulates and moves water around in the body, addresses blood volume, balances Potassium, and helps with nerve functioning. In modern times, however, sodium is found in nearly every processed food (because salt brings out the natural flavor in foods) and even in over-the-counter medications. Always try to get the purest salts you can find.

SOUR is the bright, acidic flavor found in vinegar, citrus fruit, and tart juices. These foods can zap the tastebuds, sometimes in a shocking way (think babies tasting lemon wedges) and, long ago, could have alerted the tongue to a poisonous food. Since then we have been able to study and differentiate what is a good “shock” and what is a bad “shock” and have found that vinegars, fermented foods, and citrus fruits are some of the most nutrient rich foods on the planet. 

UMAMI is the tongue’s detection of protein so it is found in seared meats and foods with depth like mushrooms. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles, every hormone and enzyme in the body is also a protein, and when we run out of carbohydrates to process, protein is there. Umami is a mild flavor – even at high concentrates – and wasn’t discovered until the early 20th century by a Japanese chemist who noticed that Dashi, a broth, had a little more going on than salty, sour, or sweet.

BITTER is a nuanced flavor as well. Humans have about 30 genes coded just to detect bitter flavors as an evolutionary response to toxins. Omnivores and herbivores have to get really good at telling which plants are poisonous and which are not, so our tongue has evolved to separate and notice bitter flavors the way we notice sour flavors. The more experience the tongue has with bitter flavors the more the tongue can detect other flavors.

FAT is the most recently discovered flavor. It may be difficult to comprehend that fat is a “taste” but know this: the moment the tastebuds detect fat on the tongue, the gallbladder wakes up and starts dealing with bile production and distribution. Fat is also responsible, in a culinary sense, for carrying other tastes over the tongue with its silky richness.

Flavor Friends

In terms of flavor balancing, Bitter and Sweet balance each other out. So, for example, if you have a kale salad and would like to cut the bitterness slightly, you can make a dressing sweetened with a dash of honey or some orange juice. Flavor balancing is all about the palate – both what flavors compliment each other in an external sense (like Bitter/Sweet) but also how the person’s palate responds to flavor.

Same thing with Sour and Salty flavors. Did you just oversalt that dish? Don’t fret, just add some lemon juice or another acid and tame the salt. If you overdid it on the lemon juice, sprinkle some salt to bring other flavors (besides lemon) forward.

You can retune your OWN palate…

Have you ever heard someone say “Well, your tastebuds change every seven years,” or something like that. They’re not wrong but it’s not a whole picture. In fact, our tastebuds can “change” much faster than that and cell production isn’t part of that – THE ONE WITH THE POWER IS YOU!

Yes, you heard me correctly. You can retune your OWN palate to be more sensitive to the flavors of real foods. The processed food industry has a monopoly on salt/sweet/fat – these flavors are the most basic ones, the most desirable ones, the most biologically recognizable ones. They’re the easy ones.

Bitter, sour, umami – these are more difficult to detect, more covert, more “unpalatable” and that’s what makes them so important. Tongues oversaturated with the monopolized easy flavors need a good cleansing to be able to truly appreciate the difficult flavors.

The best way to appreciate a blueberry is to learn to appreciate greens. 

So how do you fix your tired, sad, monopolized tongue? How do you take back control of your tastebuds? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: concentrate on bitter and sour flavors. If Bitter balances Sweet it doesn’t mean the two are at odds with each other – it means the two understand each other. The best way to appreciate a blueberry is to learn to appreciate greens. It’s no wonder blueberries taste like candy after concentrating on the difficult flavors for awhile! It’s both more like the actual blueberry flavor and it’s a sweet relief for your more nuanced tongue too.

We’re going to ease into this process by making a delicious Suppers Friendly Spinach Pie. I went a little nuts in the kitchen yesterday because it was my anniversary and I was trying to make a one-dish-dinner that tasted as delicious as possible.

Spoiler alert, it passed the “Delishush” test with flying colors. Here’s how I did it.


Step One: In a traditional Spanakopita, the greens are cooked first by themselves and then squeezed. I would start there because it takes awhile for them to cool down enough to be able to handle. I used collards from Dor’s garden to compliment my lovely baby spinach and to turn up the bitter note.

Chiffonade the collards by de-stemming them, rolling them up (AGAINST the spine, NOT with the spine – see above) and slicing into 1-inch strips.

Then saute over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Even though they’re collards they do not need the everything cooked out of them.

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Once done and cooled, squeeze out all the moisture and set aside.

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Step Two: Flavor, flavor, flavor. What’s the foundation of flavor? Say it with me: ONION. Your choice. I did a large sweet Vidalia onion and three garlic scapes.

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Hey, do you know what a garlic scape is? They’re in season RIGHT NOW and they’re basically a delicacy – once they’re gone, they’re not back until next year.
Each garlic plant sends out just one scape per season. The scape is the reproductive part of the garlic plant. Farmers snap them off so that the garlic plant will continue to focus on the bulb and will NOT focus on making garlic babies. Reproduction can be very distracting.

They taste like garlic but are a little sweeter. Awesome grilled. Great in pestos.

Step Three: What’s a spinach pie without a crust?! To keep things Suppers Friendly, we are doing a crust which is essentially Dor’s Almond Crackers but we’re adding some eggs to keep everything together.

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Does it form a ball? Can it hold its shape? Then you’re good.

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First slice the ball in half and then roll out JUST ONE half. Don’t laugh at my rolling pin, my wooden rolling pin is at work and, besides, it’s a good tip.

Press the other half of the dough into the bottom of a greased 9 X 13 glass baking dish.

Step Four: The filling. Saute onions, garlic scapes, add chicken thighs, shiitake mushrooms (I know, this is where I was going nuts) a can of coconut milk, and then stir in cooked and drained greens! Add some salt, the zest and juice of a lemon, a dash of apple cider vinegar, some freshly chopped herbs of your choice, and about a quarter cup of chopped fresh parsley. What’s great about this is you do everything out of the same pan except bake it.

Step Five: Pour filling over 9 X 13 pan with crust pressed into the bottom and even out. Then top with rolled out crust and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until top crust is golden and firmed up!

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Suppers Spinach Pie

For the filling:
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 pound spinach leaves
1 pound collard greens, de-stemmed, chiffonade
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
3 large garlic scapes, minced (or 3 large cloves garlic)
3 pieces chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 can coconut milk, whisked with a fork until incorporated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

For the crust:
4 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon dried herbs
dash ground black pepper
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water (pour in half and keep other half reserved)

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large cast iron pan over medium heat, add 1 Tablespoon coconut oil and spinach leaves. Cook 5 minutes, just until wilted, and place in a colander. Return pan to heat and add chiffonade collard greens. Cook 5 – 7 minutes, until wilted, and place in colander with spinach. Allow to cool 10 – 15 minutes until cool enough to handle and then squeeze out all moisture.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add all crust ingredients except remaining 1/2 of the water and mix with hands. Be sure to thoroughly mix crust before adding any more water and only add if crust is crumbly and will not form a ball.
3. Divide crust in half and press one half into a greased 9 X 13 glass baking dish. Place the other between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to very thin with a rolling pin. Place baking dish with crust in it inside the oven and par bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
4. Meanwhile, in cast iron pan, add 1 Tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute 3 – 5 minutes. Add minced garlic scapes and cook 1 more minute until very fragrant. Add chicken thighs and pan sear 2 – 3 minutes per side.
5. Remove chicken thighs and chop into large chunks and then return to pan. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and scrape up any brown goodness on the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in shiitake mushrooms and coconut milk. Lower heat to low and allow to gently cook about 5 minutes.
6. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, fresh herbs, and parsley until everything is well incorporated. Pour over par baked crust and top with rolled out crust. Cut any edges or press down into pan to create a nice pocket and place dish in oven. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the crust on the top is golden and firm. Allow to cook 5 minutes before serving – it will be very hot!


Happy Spinach Pie-ing!!! June is parenting month at The Purple Apron!

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

Blueberries For Georgia

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowYou are the parent, you are not the friend. In this week’s story, Blueberries for Georgia, another frustrated mother deals with her five year old’s resistance to eating fresh fruit. Blueberries were new for Georgia.

We did not have this problem five decades ago when my mother was teaching me how to eat. There simply weren’t choices. We learn to eat by following the example of our parents. As you will see, Georgia’s mom was filled with trepidation about coercing her child to try fresh blueberries and in the end Georgia took the plan and ran with it.

Eileen’s Story: Blueberries For Georgia

Last month I attended a Suppers meeting where we discussed Bee Wilson’s book First Bite: How We Learn To Eat. In her book, Wilson points to study after study that proves a child can learn to like any food as long as the child has that particular food in the world he lives in. Wilson advocates a specific approach in which the child has repeated (at least 15), continuous (daily), small (the size of a grain of rice) exposures to the particular food. The child must actually taste the food during each encounter (licking counts).

This practice, Wilson claimed, will have even the most stubborn toddler enjoying a wide range of foods.

Well, this sounded like the perfect Suppers experiment for me and my five year old daughter, Georgia.  I thought I’d start with something easy, like blueberries.  Here is how it went.

Day 1:  I put one blueberry in a special, small, shallow blue bowl and approached her expectantly with it, explaining that this was an experiment and all she had to do was eat this single, delicious blueberry. Georgia refused and happily turned back to her playing. After twenty minutes of coaxing, begging and demanding, she finally ate it, making a vinegary face. I was dejected but up for the challenge.

Day 2:  My blue bowl and I chased Georgia around the house until I finally caught her. While I didn’t exactly pin her down and force-feed her the blueberry, let’s just say that neither one of us was happy after she finally ate it. I was beginning to question the wisdom of this approach.

Day 3:  Georgia took one look at me holding the blue bowl and had a complete melt down – fists and feet pounding the floor and hysterical crying that seemed to have no end. I put the bowl down on the counter and busied myself with making dinner.  She would not be consoled and I was shaken to my very core. I now knew that this experiment was not going to work for us.  Georgia finally ate the blueberry about an hour later.  I guess the poor thing thought she had to or she would never get any other food.

Day 4:  I don’t know what possessed me to continue, but I walked over to Georgia with a blueberry, in the blue bowl. She happily said, ok mommy, and immediately dropped the blueberry in her mouth.

Day 5:  I hadn’t yet had a chance to set up the blueberry in the blue bowl before Georgia ran over to the refrigerator, opened the fruit drawer and grabbed a handful of blueberries and threw them in her mouth.

Day 6:  I asked Georgia if she was ready for her blueberries, and she excitedly chanted blueberries – blueberries – blueberries, while I got them out of the refrigerator for her.

We continued with blueberries for nine more days and have since moved on to sugar snap peas and kiwi. These experiments are working for us and we plan to continue them.

While these foods may not be her favorites, or even wind up in the regular rotation, she understands a lot more about trying new things and that you may like something the tenth time you try it even when you didn’t like it the first nine times.

And, we are starting to have more and more choices when it comes to healthy foods on our plates.


A Suppers Re-Design on Blueberry Buckle for Georgia, by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081My mother only ever made meatloaf with two sides: mashed potatoes and peas. And not sugar snap peas or snow peas or anything that delicious. I’m talking about the peas that come frozen out of a bag and taste godawful. For her, that’s how she only ever was served meatloaf and it was a beautiful treat for her as a child. She grew up in a very big family and I’m sure, like for Dor, there were no choices at the dinner table unless you chose to skip dinner. 

Anyways, that’s how she made it. I hate peas like that. Ugh – to this day, cannot stand green peas. Strangely enough, when they are served to me fresh in the spring, I’m all about that because they have that classic pea flavor but it is much more mild. Plus, I’m a total food snob. Ned can’t stand it, especially when we are on the subject of pizza. I’m a Nomad pizza girl. He’s a Contes guy. I keep telling him, “It’s ok to be wrong about stuff. I still love you even though no one has ever been more wrong about anything in the history of the universe.” Can you blame me though? I mean…Nomad versus Contes? That’s not even a fair contest.

When I was a kid, my mother would serve us meatloaf and sit down with us at the table – so pleased with herself and excited for dinner – and I would groan and she would say,

“Three bites. You have to take three bites of peas.” 

And she wouldn’t let me do the thing where you just put ONE single solitary pea on the spoon. It had to be a whole spoonful. I would do it, hating the experience. I never really grew to enjoy peas honestly BUT I did enjoy lots and lots of other vegetables!

Maybe it was that very palate tuning experiment that I needed to experience in order to explore other options and enjoy them. 

Blueberries, though. I mean…Georgia. Blueberries are DELICIOUS. So plump, so juicy. The perfect combination of sweet and tart. The perfect size for a handful. Easy to clean, keeps well in the fridge. Can be frozen whole without much trouble and eaten as a nice evening snack. And, of course, sorbet and popsicles. I think, for Georgia, the anticipation of the new food was probably the worst part. To her mother’s credit, blueberries were a GREAT place to start! 

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Almost every year, I enter the Terhune Orchards Blueberry Bake-Off in July when our special fruit is in season. Sometimes I win. None of the recipes I have ever made for the Bake-Off would be deemed Suppers Friendly, so I am going to walk through how to redesign a recipe. 

Here is the original recipe: 2013 First Place: Blueberry Buckle. Don’t make that.


A Blueberry Buckle Re-Design

Let’s talk about cleaning. 

Always place blueberries in a big bowl of water. Then take handful after handful out of the bowl, looking at them, letting stemless blueberries fall into a clean bowl. The water makes it easier to scoop without crushing the berries and it also makes it easier to see those little stems. They come off pretty easily by pinching them with your fingers and pulling them out.

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Let’s talk about crust.

To make the crust according to the recipe, we need:
All purpose flour
White sugar
Baking powder
Salt
Cinnamon
Lemon Zest
Eggs
Vanilla
Butter

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Obviously some of these ingredients are not Suppers Friendly. Here’s what you can do. 

Change The Ingredients

Every ingredient in your kitchen can be thought of as an element or as a means to an end. Each ingredient performs a specific purpose, whether it is for texture, flavor, or volume, or a combination of those. So, if you break it down into elements of a recipe and aren’t confined to an ingredient list as it stands, you can re-design just about anything – even when you are baking!!!

All Purpose Flour = Almond Flour (or you can use another gluten free flour, a gluten free flour blend, or you can use cooked grains like brown rice, quinoa, or millet)
Cornstarch = Arrowroot powder (a natural starch) or Tapioca Starch
White Sugar = Coconut Palm Sugar, Sucanat, Stevia (use very sparingly), Honey, Maple Syrup
*Always add cinnamon and vanilla to sweet recipes when they are not written in. Cinnamon and Vanilla bring out the natural sweetness in foods.
Eggs = Go ahead and use Eggs OR make a Flax Egg with 1 Tablespoon Flaxseed and 3 Tablespoons water mixed in a small bowl and left to congeal.
Butter = Go ahead and use Butter OR use Coconut Oil
*Coconut Oil is a wonderful saturated fat, stable at high heat, solid at room temperature, tastes amazing, and is great for your skin!

That was easy! Make the recipe as it is written by choosing your alternative ingredients and, as always, EXPERIMENT!!!! 

There is a blueberry pie contest at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market on July 2nd. It MUST be a pie but since I don’t have time to bake one, here’s a tip:

Thai Basil and Blueberries are a great combination. 


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Blueberry Lemon Buckle

1 1/2 cups almond flour or gluten free flour
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar, divided in half
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon zest (one small lemon)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil, in clumps and chilled
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 heaping cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 heaping Tablespoon Thai Basil or Lemon Balm, chiffonade

1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease an 8X8 baking dish with coconut oil.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, half of the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Pulse 12 times to combine.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and vanilla. Set aside.
4. Pull apart clumps of chilled coconut oil and add to flour mixture in processor bowl. Make sure clumps aren’t too close to each other. Add egg yolk mixture to bowl and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Be careful not to over process or you will end up with dough.
5. Press 2/3 of crumb mixture into bottom of baking dish. Set aside.
6. In a separate bowl, combine arrowroot, remainder of sugar, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and then fold in blueberries. Turn gently to coat and sprinkle basil into mixture. Pour over crust and sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over top.
7. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until bubbly and done.


Happy Blueberrying!!! June is parenting month at The Purple Apron!

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

Zita Serves a Stone

A Welcome By Dor

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

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

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

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

Zita’s Story: Zita Serves a Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Zesty Jam for Zita, By Allie

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

“I don’t LIKE quinoa.” I’m like,

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

“I don’t LIKE tomatoes.” I’m like,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAM ON IT

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

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

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

There are two ways to do this:

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

It looks like this:

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

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

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

DSC_0110You do not need that much sugar. Stop it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just wait, I’ll be right.


 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Latkes

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David CrowI can argue for a role for food in just about any scenario: health, illness, mental illness, failed or successful marriages, armies that march on their stomachs, and the rise and fall of civilizations. But even I know it’s not just about the food. Our relationship with food and ability to digest it and turn it into who we are require time and honor. You don’t have to be experienced at meditation to call more mindfulness into the way you eat. You can select eating according to your intentions instead of your impulses. Even just two minutes dedicated to mindful eating can shift how you relate to food.

Dee and Stella’s Story: Latkes

As a frequent guest speaker at Suppers meetings, I get asked lots of questions, including many I don’t know the answer to. One of my favorites is how to start meditating. That came up at a lunch meeting in a busy office building. The members scrambled in, experienced a bunch of details for 50 minutes, and raced out to beat the clock. “Could you please teach us how to hurry up and relax?”

There were a few things wrong with the question, but I understood what they meant. We frequently do brief meditations at meetings, so I offered a classic mindfulness exercise.

(Try it at your own meeting. Provide a small bowl of raisins or sunflower seeds, and read this with a pause after each sentence.)


Mindfulness Exercise

Please take a breath and let it go.

And just notice the feel of your body in your chair.
Just notice how your body moves as you breathe in. And out.

Now pass around the bowl of raisins.
Take a couple and place them in the palm of your hand.
Look at the raisins and notice how they feel in your palm.

And how they look.
Are they all the same?
Note the differences in color, texture, and form from one raisin to the next.

Now feel the raisins with the tips of your fingers.
Roll them between your fingers.
How do they feel?
Do they feel the same to your fingertips as to your palms?
If not, how are they different?

Bring your hand to your nose.
Smell the raisins.
How do they smell?
Do they remind you of anything?
Anywhere?

Now close your eyes, and bring your hand to your mouth.
Gently place the raisins on your tongue and just notice how they feel.
Let your tongue move them around and notice how they feel between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

Next notice how your mouth feels.
Does the presence of raisins make you salivate?
Let yourself now chew the raisins, over and over, with no intention to swallow them.
How does the taste change as you continue to chew?

Say to yourself the word “raisins” and let them slip down your throat.


When they fluttered their eyes open, one of the members, Stella, said she had never heard of eating mindfully before and that she’d like to try it after the holiday. Her downfall? Potato latkes. A recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic, she knew she had to learn to resist her favorite treats. “My father always said, the best form of exercise is pushing yourself away from the table. My mother didn’t agree. She was all for piling latkes on our plates. Dad could eat six and stop. Me, I’d have that many down before the sour cream even made it around to me.”

So Stella made herself a Suppers Experiment. She would make a batch of latkes, set the table for herself, and do the raisin meditation with a crispy, salty, warm potato latke.

“There is no way I’m giving up latkes,” said Stella. “But I will commune with six, instead of inhaling a dozen.”


 

Taking The “Potato” Out of the Potato Latke for Stella, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081There’s this weird thing that only exists in America and, unlike a lot lot lot of weird things that only exist in America — this one may not be so desperately unhealthy.

It’s the Big Salad. (Do you guys watch Seinfeld? Remember when Elaine introduced the Big Salad? It’s a thing.) The non-elusive Big Salad can be found in many sit down restaurants and is often around the size of a pro-wrestler’s head. Assuming one can help out with cheese/fried chicken/dressing related situations, The Big Salad is pretty much a way of stuffing oneself with a gigantic pile of vegetables.

Aaaaaaaaand……..I’m having a problem with having a problem with that.

So when I was reading Stella’s story about being a Potato Latke monster not only did I empathize with that (cause potato + fried + sour cream = duh) but I also have spent many a Seder enjoying latkes made without potatoes. And they’re equally delicious. I’ll show you how.

Step One: Shred root vegetables of choice. Today we are using beets, green zucchini, and parsnip. Tip: for jobs requiring a lot of vegetables, use the shredding blade of your food processor and be done in seconds. 

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You’re not reduced to summer squash alone, although it is certainly not something I would leave out. Use any number of softish/crunchy vegetables (and use them in combinations) like:
Parsnips     Carrots     Beets     Rutabaga     Sweet Potato     Peppers     Your Choice!

Step Two: Place shredded zucchini in a colander and toss with a good pinch of salt. Place colander over a plate and let sit for at least one hour. Draining excess moisture from vegetables (especially zucchini/carrot) will help in the frying process and make those latkes nice and crispy!

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Step Three: Mince onions, scallions, leeks, garlic, or any member of the allium family. In a large bowl, combine shredded, drained vegetables with minced onion, a pinch of sea salt, and lightly beaten eggs. Mixture should be coated entirely in eggs but not swimming in eggs (at all).

Step Four: This is the only time I will ever suggest this: it’s traditional (and makes a big flavor difference) to fry latkes in Olive Oil. I know. Olive oil has a sadly low smoke point (that point in which fat molecules are chemically altered from too much heat) and I would normally suggest something like coconut or vegetable oil for the fry. But not in this case. A proper fry oil temperature is no lower than 350.

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Step Five: Make patties that fit the palm of your hand and begin to fry latkes. Fry around 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Top with sea salt while still wet from oil and set aside until they are all done. Serve immediately!

 


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Vegetable Latkes

1 green zucchini, shredded
1 large beet, shredded
1 large parsnip, shredded
pinch sea salt
1 red onion, minced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
olive oil, for frying
toppings of your choice!

1. Place shredded vegetables in a colander placed over a plate and toss with a good pinch of sea salt. Let shredded vegetables sit at least 1 hour to drain as much moisture as possible. If you don’t have the hour, let them sit 20 minutes and then squeeze with hands over colander to drain. 
2. In a large bowl, combine drained vegetables, minced onion, and eggs and mix until all vegetables are well coated with egg.
3. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large skillet and place over medium low heat.
3. Make palm sized patties from vegetable egg mixture and gently drop into hot oil. Fry 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. *Sometimes I fry on both sides and then lower heat to low, allowing hearty root veggies like beets to cook through. Place fried patties on a paper towel and sprinkle with some sea salt to finish. Serve immediately with applesauce, sour cream, or a topping of your choice.

 

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

 

 

The Terry Wahls Cleanse

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Cleansing is not for the faint of heart.  
The first thing that happens for me is anticipatory dread from the moment I decide to do the cleanse until it actually gets underway.  The prospect of giving up lots of favorite foods and putting myself into a straight jacket has to be balanced by a leap of faith that I’m going to get some benefit that will have made it all worthwhile once it’s over.  
 
The next thing that happens is I eat and drink things I would never even want ordinarily, influenced, no doubt, by the fact that I always do this right after the holidays. Then I worry I’m not going to be able to adhere to all the rules I’ve set up for myself.  Then I just start doing it.  
Self doubt and self-recrimination seem to be normal. The first week of cleansing sucks.
 
I’m always the one standing up for the role of one’s biochemical reality — usually underplaying the role of emotions and relationships — and I shall remain in character.  The gloom that cuddles me is probably due to my body having to retool itself suddenly to burn on a different kind of fuel (my fat instead of any carbs I’ve eaten).  Imagine how cranky a car would be if it had to fit itself to burn on potato alcohol when all it’s ever known is gasoline.  That’s how cranky I am.
 
So in my first week of the very promising Wahls Protocol, I am appropriately irritated and irritating but keeping my eye on the ball.
The joint pain, digestive pain, brain fog and bloating that have hounded me since adolescence will get chased out.  
Writing this post reminds me to require myself to produce some happy anticipation too.  Yesterday I ordered a goose from the Amish Market; today’s lunch was leftover duck and bok choy soup.  Given what’s going on in the press about fat these days, I’m thrilled to have found a neuro-protective protocol that packs in the lipids.  Coconut oil and fowl, my new best friends.

Searing Salmon For Salty Dor, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081

Happy New Year! Is everyone feeling a bit sluggish after the weeks of debauchery, sugar, caffeine, and butter? Is everyone ready for a post holiday cleanse to kickstart their new year? I know I am. Hey can we talk about how brave Dor is to be running headfirst into that Wahl? (Get it?)
If you decide to join Dorothy in the Terry Wahls Protocol, a detox diet for neurological protection and to reduce join pain and inflammation, check out Terry’s website here to see how she defeated MS, got herself out of a wheelchair, and reduced her pain immensely. Please use the comment section or email me or Dor to tell us about your cleansing intentions and talk about the ups and downs of the cleansing experience.
Next week I’ll tell you about my experience with the Master Cleanse and how…well, how also not for the faint of heart that thing is. Cause wow.

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Roasted Salmon and Sauteed Greens

1.5 lbs salmon, skinned and de-boned
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon desired seasonings
1 lemon, halved
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 lb greens (spinach, bok choy, mustard, etc.)
sea salt
1 1-inch piece ginger, grated
1 clove garlic *optional
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place salmon on parchment paper and sprinkle with salt and seasonings. Place in oven at 400 degrees and roast 10 minutes. Remove, check middle for doneness and cook another 5-7 minutes if necessary. Once done, squeeze lemon over salmon and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add greens, salt, ginger, and garlic if desired, and saute lightly until greens have wilted and turned bright green. Remove from heat and balance with sea salt. Serve warm with salmon.
Bonus: This is not entirely Terry Wahls  friendly but it is my super secret special salmon crust recipe. I usually make a big clump of this and slather it all over the top of my salmon before sticking it in the oven.
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1 bunch scallions, minced
1/4 cup brown miso paste
1 bunch cilantro, minced
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 dash tamari
1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Should be between the consistency of cake batter and wet dumpling dough. If it’s too wet, add more miso paste. Slather on fish before roasting.

A Carol Christmas

Dor photo by David Crow

A Welcome By Dor

To our members who celebrate Christmas (and to those who don’t too):

We know our Suppers friends range from those who enter the season with great joy and abandon to those who must take care of yourselves and focus on self care over the holidays.  Every year at this time we share A Carol Christmas, a story of self care.
We look forward to more treats, fewer triggers, and lots of good food and camaraderie in the new year.

Carol’s Story – A Carol Christmas

I do much better things with this holiday than celebrate it. 
At least, after years of making myself miserable at the holidays, I’ve found a way to take care of myself. While my friends engage in what seems to me to be institutionalized abusive eating on a holy day, I choose to eat more simply at Christmas than I do all year.
There’s no clearer, kinder amount than zero when it comes to my holiday trigger foods. 
In Suppers I have learned to distinguish between treats – foods I can have occasionally – and triggers – foods that I can’t touch because they open floodgates. My diet program makes no such distinction. So for years I’d trigger binges at the holidays by tasting old family favorites I thought I could control by counting calories.
My formula for a perfect storm is being with my family combined with a buffet table. I have a history of eating to numb myself. I have a history of needing to numb myself when the family gets together. Confronted not only with Aunt Sally but Aunt Sally’s sweet potatoes with marshmallows, I’m likely to cave in and plough right through to the pies.
I don’t even recognize marshmallows as food the other 364 days! 
Sometimes I don’t feel related to my family. They seem to enjoy these family recipes without beating themselves up. Not me. Fortunately I’ve lost the taste for them as long as I avoid triggering situations. But that’s the key: avoiding triggers. In normal circumstances, even the sweet potatoes would be too sweet for my taste buds now that I’ve retooled my palate for whole food. In the old days I used to eat leftover mincemeat pie
with hard sauce for breakfast!
Triggering was such a problem that for a couple years I had to avoid work­related parties entirely because I couldn’t manage social anxiety without starting a cascade of unhappy eating. Now I go but I arrive late and leave early. What’s the point of staying longer if I’m not eating and drinking myself into a stupor that puts me on the same level with everybody else? And with my family I’m having a Carol Christmas. I’ll prepare my favorite almond muffins ­­ — a treat that isn’t a trigger –­­ to eat before I go so I don’t feel deprived. I’ll even light a candle and think about what this holiday is supposed to be about. Then, with a full belly and a kind heart, I’ll go and give everybody a hug, catch up with Aunt Sally, sing a few songs and head home before things start to deteriorate.
This is the best I can do this year to take care of myself. I don’t want to spend another holiday in isolation, nor do I want to trigger myself into several weeks of eating that require a New Year’s resolution and will power to stop. Maybe another year I’ll have the strength to remain with the revelers and not indulge. Not this year. My palate is smart enough, but my flesh is still weak.
Wednesday Night Suppers Meeting Recommendations for
Holiday Harm Reduction
* Don’t ever go to a party hungry if you know you’ll be among people who use guilt to get you to eat the wrong food.

* There is nothing like planning ahead. I make doubly sure to have delicious food on hand at this time of year. I also plan emotionally in case I meet any saboteurs.

* I have to work at giving myself permission to be my top priority. I keep the focus on my own needs. I take food I know I can eat and enough to share.

*Skip no meals.

* Drink lots of water. It’s good for just about everything.

* Volunteer to bring the guacamole and bring veggies instead of chips.

* Avoid trigger foods 100%. Enjoy an array of treats that aren’t triggers.

* Remember alcohol breaks down all kinds of barriers. It may be harder to resist the canapés with a drink in your hand.

* Seek out the healthier choices like nuts, cut up fruits and veggies and hummus.

* Serve yourself on small plates.

* I stay in my process of self­reflection. I track my progress. There is something about tracking the changes in my taste buds and ideas about quantity that makes me feel stronger.

* Take your conversation away from the buffet table and chat at the other end of the room.

* My family is threatened by my success. They are invested in keeping me the same. I give them the choice of having me come and accepting that I eat differently or not having me there at all.

* I treat Christmas like Lent. If I give up one ingredient like sugar or flour, it’s easy to avoid the foods that get me into the most trouble.

* Take more yoga classes.

* If alcohol is the issue, visit when there’s least likely to be drinking, or maybe host a holiday brunch yourself (without the champagne).

* Guilt trip if you don’t clean your plate? Remember no food is wasted if you compost!

* If necessary, resort to little white lies and get out of Dodge.

Baking and Singing Christmas Carols for Carol, By Allie

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OK so I totally get the holiday malaise. Yesterday was literally the shortest day of the entire year. Sun gives you endorphins and stuff. Sugar addicts — so, like, everybody — beware the whole next two weeks! And Oh. My. God. My FAMILY IS GOING TO BE IN THE ROOM WITH ME!!!

PS, last year one of the grandmothers went particularly crazy. It was insane, this is a hilarious story. She’s a little dementia-y so let’s all remember that this woman is sweeter than a meringue dipped in sugar. Sweeter than a sweet tart. She’s always been that way. So it was surprising when she walked in and my cousin greeted her warmly,

“Hi Grandma!” and she was like,

“Shrimp.” Nicole said,

“What?” (cause that’s what anyone would say). And the retort —

“I want shrimp.” Nicole obliges and puts shrimp on a plate and gives it to her. So she goes,

“What, you’re not gonna put any sauce on it?”

That was just a shadow of the beginning. The elderly women of the O’Brien/Gindraux household sit together at the appetizer table (which we keep relatively under control in terms of not ruining my beautiful dinner that takes weeks to plan) and, depending on the year, bicker about just how terrible we’ve all gotten. I think. That’s what it sounds like at least.

So they’re all sitting there and the woman in question, whose name I shan’t reveal, let’s just call her Sweetness, is having trouble with her hearing aid. The trouble is, she needs a new one. So she can’t hear anything! Imagine the frustration, honestly. But everyone, including Nicole, is talking around them and so at some point Nicole asks her grandmother a question. Sweetness responds,

“Who are you?” Because I guess she can’t see either. Nicole goes,

“It’s me Grandma, Nicole.” Sweetness goes,

“I should have known it was you from how much you’re eating.”

Nicole — “Was that a fat joke, Grandma?” Now at this point, my other little cousin who has…let’s just say she doesn’t have any filters and is young and positioned at the table as well, throws her hands up and starts screaming at the top of her lungs,

“Fat jokes fat jokes fat jokes fat jokes!!!!!”

And then my boyfriend walked in, at that moment, to meet my extended family for the first time. It was special.

So, yeah. Christmas can tear up the emotionally fragile, the strong, the compulsive eaters, and those who are in control of their impulses for the most part. Christmas is bittersweet, a reminder of loss, of love, of warmth, and obviously can be full of coldness, depending on the family or the way the family members are……feeling that day.

But at the same time I’m like, hey. Christmas is alright. In fact, Christmas is the BEST! Santa? He’s my man. I’m 30 years old and Santa is still alive and well in my little heart. Santa represents thoughtfulness, generosity, and magic. For me, Christmas is about laughter, joy, exploration of menus, and being together. For someone who cherishes time with family, Christmas has much to offer.

But I get that some people aren’t cool with it.

So let’s get to the muffins. These muffins are SUPER easy — remember in Carol’s story, for those of us who need to fall back on some protein and satiation before they face their families, here is an easy recipe for preparing before the madness begins. Keep in your pocket for emotional support. Crumbs, scrumbs.

It’s baking. There are a few tips:

Generally, mix your dry ingredients separate from your wet ingredients. Sugar, and all forms of sugar, are considered wet ingredients because they dissolve in water

For gluten free recipes like this one, you are battling for texture. Gluten, a protein, creates long, strong, strands of gumminess that hold air bubbles expertly. So, in order to create a similar texture, you need to focus on leaveners, gums, and starches. (Eggs, tapioca, xantham, guar, etc.)

Don’t overmix things. That crushes air bubbles and renders things flat.

If you are a beginner, follow the recipe the best you can. Also, read the recipe all the way through before you get going. I’ve told my students that oh, probably 1,300 times and they still don’t do it. That’s how they ruined about four batches of apple bread, seven attempts at real mayo, dumpling dough, and countless other things that we still ate. Except the broken mayo. Gross.

Once you become a more confident baker, you can change up the recipe in certain ways. People say baking is unlike cooking because it’s science, which is mostly true. However, if you learn why ingredients react you can apply that knowledge to other similar ingredients. Like eggs for vegans.

One egg equals:

  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon flax in 2-3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon chia soaked in 1 Tablespoon water at least 10 minutes
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, baked and peeled
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu, blended
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 bananer mashed (yes, bananer, or banana if you wanna be boring)
  • X amount potato or tapioca starch, according to the box

Rotate your pans halfway through the process. Learn the hotspots in your oven and you won’t overbake things. 

There are more tips but those are some basic ones to get you started. Now we should get us started. In the end, you’ll have this fantastic lemon muffin:

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Step One: Mix your wet ingredients separate from your dry ingredients. Also, preheat your oven. That’s super important.

Step Two: This recipe says to use a food processor but MY food processor currently has a crack in it and doesn’t like too much liquid. Plus this looks like it’s going to be a wet recipe. So I used a bowl and I whipped up the eggs, ricotta cheese, and some vanilla before blending it into the dry almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Lemon zest is a dry ingredient. 

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By the way, did you know that cinnamon helps to stabilize blood sugar? It makes the insulin receptors on the outside of the cell more sensitive to insulin. I call it the Marriage Counselor for Insulin and The Cell in my “The Tragic Love Story of Insulin and The Cell”. I just said insulin and the cell a lot of times.

Step Three: Bake it in a greased pan of some kind. I did a cupcake/muffin pan because they’re going to be as cute as they are delicious and I like sharing baked goods. Remember that when you reduce the size of your baked good from a loaf pan to a muffin tin, you’re going to need to modify your baking time quite a bit. Use your eyes. Watch yo stuff.

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When in doubt, use a toothpick. If it comes out clean, you’re good. If it’s bread and it comes out almost clean, you’re good. Bread will continue to cook after it comes out of the oven. 

That’s it! You should know that this recipe is very, very versatile. Use other ingredients — any you like! Use applesauce instead of eggs, add diced apples to seal the deal. Use spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Use shredded carrot and coriander, caraway, or poppyseed. Use lemon and poppyseed. Be creative. This recipe can take it.

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Almond Bread Variations

This recipe contains dairy products but no gluten. The result is a sliceable, toastable loaf, like a heavy pound cake. It can be made sweet or savory.

Ingredients

2 1⁄2 cups almond flour
3 eggs
1⁄4 cup ricotta or dry curd cottage cheese
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda (scant teaspoon)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Yields: 7 muffins or 4-6 servings bread

Additional Notes

Variations:

Add a little stevia and some lemon zest or food-grade lemon oil.
Add minced herbs such as rosemary or sage.
Add 1/2 cup chopped dry fruit like raisins or apricots.
Add caraway seeds for a result more like rye bread.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients except the almond flour in the food processor and process until thick and uniform. Add the almond flour and blend well.
  2. Butter and flour (with almond flour) a 4 x 8 loaf pan. Pour the dough in the loaf pan, and bake for about an hour or until it is a little brown on top and a knife inserted comes out clean. The top will crack a little.
  3. Allow to cool thoroughly. You can loosen the sides by moving a knife or spatula along the sides. Remove and finish cooling on a rack. The texture will not be right if you slice it before it is done cooling.

Recipe and MORE, MORE recipes available on The Suppers Programs website HERE!!!!