That Beet Slaw

A Welcome From Dor

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

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

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


Marcia’s Story: That Beet Slaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meals with Marcia, By Allie

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

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

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


Flavor Savers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sonja’s Beet Slaw, Marcia Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

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This Is Not About Willpower

A Welcome By Dor

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

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

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


Ingrid’s Story: This Is Not About Willpower

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

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

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

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

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

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


Brain Chips For Ingrid, By Allie

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Sweet or Savory Brain Chips

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

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

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

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

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


Enjoy being extra brainy! For the month of August we are focusing on Social Support in The Purple Apron. 

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

 

How You Feel Is Data

The Purple Apron is a Little Different This Week

The Suppers Programs is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating friendly spaces for individuals to transition themselves towards a healthier lifestyle. As a grassroots program, Suppers relies on partnerships and collaborations for success. Our new partner, the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, has brought such wonderful things to Suppers – awareness, support, collaboration, and friendship.

This week’s post we will be attempting to return the favor by highlighting the IRN, which recently launched a nationwide 10 Day Real Food Challenge that you can easily join from your computer right now (after reading the rest of our blog, obviously). If you want to see what Day 1 looks like, head straight here. (Note the Preferred Recipe Partner…they look pretty familiar to me…)

The IRN is an amazingly complete resource – from their fantastic website to their great staff and relentless advocation for a reduction in the consumption of processed food and white sugar. They know what to present, how to present it, and they stand as an incredibly strong pillar, right beside us, on top of this tidal wave of a movement. And the best part about IRN for Suppers is that they think we’re pretty amazing too. Read more from Dor.

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David CrowHow you feel is data. This fact never goes away. Recently I was interviewed by the Institute for Responsible Nutrition about this most important concept at Suppers. We thought we’d take this opportunity to share the post because your most valuable, untapped, deeply wise and accurate source of information about your health is you!

Please visit the IRN’s Interview with Dorothy by clicking HERE and read about our most treasured concept at Suppers. 

Since two of our super savvy members with insulin-dependent diabetes — Audelle and Karen — both had revelations with a muffin that literally takes five minutes to make we’re sharing the recipe.

If Audelle and Karen can learn a lot about their bodies from a five-minute muffin, maybe you can too. 

Microwaving in Minutes, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I actually don’t have a microwave. Not because I’m like against microwaving (though I’m definitely not FOR microwaving over other high heat cooking methods necessarily) but because I just don’t have one yet. Microwaves are expensive.

Good thing there’s one downstairs on the furnished level of this historic house I just moved into. Bad thing: moving. It’s the worst.

Let’s talk about these muffins though. I have heard of the popular Pintrest “microwavable birthday cake” thing where you put some flour, eggs, sugar, etc. into a coffee mug and then microwave it and then it’s a birthday cake. They are always yucky though – like they don’t taste good. I’ve always regarded it as a good present anyways because everybody loves ironic or otherwise funny coffee mugs!

              For example: il_340x270.549977271_g9s4

Anyways when I heard about the recent success that Karen and Audelle had with “nut and seed muffins” during The Suppers Breakfast Challenge  I was again skeptical. But then I made them and they. Are. SO COOL! They taste unbelievably surprisingly delicious – I never ever would have expected them to taste so good but they really do! Of all the recipes I have suggested to you over these beautiful 21 or so weeks, I really hope you make this one the most.

It’ll take you five minutes of your day. Let’s just get right to it yes?


Step One: Combine dry ingredients in a beautiful, funny, or ironic coffee mug using a fork. Separately, combine wet ingredients in a dish with same fork.

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Step Two: Mix wet into dry until ingredients are well incorporated. Really make sure there is nothing on the bottom or you’ll have dry almond and flaxmeal in your muffin instead of softness and bubbles.

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Step Three: Pop in the microwave and wait 1-2 minutes. Muffin will blow up (not explode) magically and then relax after it is done. Yes, it sort of doesn’t look great so I dumped mine on a plate and then topped it off.

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Step Four: Top with some cool berries or a scoop of yogurt if you’re like me, enjoy!

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Magic Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Fiber-Rich Flax & Almond Muffin in a Mug

2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 Tablespoons almond meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
stevia to taste (for sweetness)
1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 Tablespoons water

1. Combine dry ingredients in a mug. Mix in coconut oil, vanilla, egg, and water and microwave for 1-2 minutes.

To vary, add one of the following:

A Tablespoon of almond butter
A few berries, chopped
A Tablespoon of chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews) or seeds (hemp, sesame, pumpkin)
1 Tablespoon cacao plus 1 Tablespoon instant coffee for a Mocha Muffin
Your choice!

Due to very high fiber content, be sure to drink 8oz water/tea/liquid with muffin. 

As always, head to the Suppers website, our Facebook page, and our Instagram @suppersprograms for all of your recipe needs, beautiful photo needs, and experimenting curiosity! How You Feel is Data – don’t let another day go by without listening to your body. It’s the only one that will talk to you. 

Play It to the End

A Welcome By DorDor photo by David Crow

Honestly, when you seduce yourself into eating something that part of you knows you really don’t want to be eating, are you thinking about how icky you’ll feel an hour later?  Or how tired you’ll be?  Or how angry you’ll be with yourself?  There is something about the human brain that anticipates how marvelous you’re going to feel 5 minutes, 2 hours, or a day in advance of having a food that’s more like a drug for you.  But whether it’s the 5 minutes or the day in advance, we don’t anticipate with equal clarity the lethargy, craving or regret that comes an hour later.  Our imaginations don’t automatically play the scenario to the end.
Ed‘s Story helps Suppers members pluck anticipation from the dicey grip of the automatic and place it in the arms of conscious eating.  Give it a try and leave us a comment.

Ed’s Story: Play It to the End

This is not my idea originally, but I got a lot of credit at our meeting for bringing it into our group. It’s an activity called “Play It to the End.”

The issue was self sabotage.

Everybody in our group attends Suppers in the hope of turning around long-term eating patterns that have gotten us into a lot of trouble.

Some of us are literally digging our graves with our forks. We’ve eaten out of control until the diagnosis of Diabetes stirred the fear of God in us. Our eyes were wide open. Every time we put something in our mouths, we were there (if not consciously present). Some of us knew it ran in our families. Still, we dug deeper.

One member said her best form of self-sabotage was continuing to socialize with people whose favorite activities were eating and drinking. Another said she could trick herself every time by telling herself, “Oh, I’ll just eat two.” Wrong. Two equals twenty. Most of us had some experience with the skip-breakfast-save-calories logic. Bad. But the form of self-sabotage we all did over and over was to seduce ourselves into eating by blindly anticipating the pleasures of eating, without remembering the consequences. 

So my contribution to Suppers is the activity called “Play It to the End.” Here’s how it works.

Ed’s Exercise: Play It to the End

The speaker recounts a made-up story about indulging in a favorite – and problematical – food, but has to tell the whole story, including the part about the consequences. This is “playing the tape to the end.” Here’s my story.

We are at a reception and the dessert table is beckoning. There is a cheesecake dripping with cherry sauce, three kinds of chocolate cake, a key lime pie, champagne flutes of chocolate mousse, and five kinds of cookies. I take slivers of each of the chocolate cakes. I am in heaven. The one with a layer of chocolate ganache is especially delicious. I go back for a bigger slice, plus a wedge of key lime pie and a few cookies. For ten minutes I am totally happy. I swallow the last bite. Now it’s all in my stomach. I think about the calories, the fact that it’s 9 p.m., and how I’ll probably be up for three hours in the middle of the night after so much sugar and stimulation. Of course I sleep badly. I feel bloated and disgusting. I kick myself for forgetting the consequences of last night blasts of sugar.

I have imagined the first part of scenes like this again and again, but for some reason remembering the whole experience doesn’t come automatically. The automatic part of my brain only recalls the anticipation of the eating. It requires my full, conscious participation to recall the consequences, but I have spared myself many nights of lost sleep since I learned to play my eating scenarios to the end. 

Let members share their imaginary experiences of anticipating, eating, and then feeling the consequences of consuming a food that acts more like a drug for them. To help you get started, you may use a prompt:

  • There was a bowl of chocolates on the table…
  • Everybody wanted to go for ice cream…
  • I am passing my favorite fast food joint and…

The Best, Worst Diet Ever, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Wanna hear a story about reckless self-sabotage? I’m going to tell you a story that is going to totally result in your mind being blown.

Years and years ago, when The Biggest Loser was still a thing and no one had died from diet pill + dangerous workout related reasons, there was this contest amongst some friends of mine. It was January when it started at work. People were complaining of having some extra pounds and matter on their bodies post-holiday and how they needed some incentive to help drop the weight. At some point, coworkers came up with the idea of doing a “Biggest Loser” contest through work. These were the rules:

1. An individual would buy in to the pot for 50 bucks.
2. Everyone would weigh in in the beginning and then spend 2 1/2 months working hard at dropping weight. At the end of the 2 1/2 months, everyone would weigh in again.
3. The individual that had lost the largest percentage of their original weight would take home the pot, which inflated to about $450 before the contest began.

I wasn’t interested in entering the contest but I kept my ears open. This was when my interest in Nutrition was growing like a germinating seed – I heard some things I didn’t like. 

“I’m going to JUST EAT chicken and broccoli” (for two and a half months?)

“I’m going to run three miles every day!” (no, you’re not.)

There were others. Another obvious goal that everyone had was to binge eat their faces off on the day of the weigh in, presumably because that meal would come off easily. It was all ridiculous and some were so unattainable that I scoffed at the whole idea. One day, before the weigh in, I lunched with one of the contestants-t0-be.

Now, this individual was actually a good candidate for dropping weight fast, and for some not-so-good reasons.

Our subject:

  • Was an insomniac 
  • Worked as a server throughout the day and into the night
  • Moonlighted as a baker from midnight to 5am in 90 – 105 degree conditions
  • Ate around 7,500 calories everyday, at least

Calorie wise, this day was no different. As I watched him chomp his way through two entire, cascading orders of french fries before even getting into the two gigantic, 800 calorie sandwiches sitting pleasantly on the side, I wasn’t amazed. I had seen it before. He said, confidently,

“You know, Allison. The only reason I eat like this is because I burn a lot of calories, really fast, between the bakery, not sleeping, and here at the restaurant. So really I could win this contest easily, just by eating only ONE sandwich and ONE order of french fries.” I laughed at his eccentricity, which didn’t surprise me but also didn’t NOT amuse me.

Jokingly, I said,

“Honey, you could win this contest by eating nothing but Candy Bars!” Immediately I knew that I should never, ever have said that. His eyes widened. He smiled in a crazy, mad-scientist way. And he said,

“That’s a great idea. I’m gonna do that!”

Do you know that he did that? He really did it. He spent 2 1/2 months eating candy bars. He was allowed to drink whatever he wanted (but you know in the entire 75 days it was never a smoothie, not once) and he had three “gimme” days which were previously planned dinners or events, like the Superbowl.

On those days the only green vegetable he ate was the shredded iceberg lettuce positioned underneath a pile of guacamole, and a seaweed salad. I wrote down everything he ate and drank every single day. We also recorded how he felt on days where he was feeling a certain type of way. For instance, one day he told me that he thought he was going to die. He would wake up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations and drink a milkshake to alleviate the feeling. That happened three times. If that isn’t self-sabotage, I don’t know what is. I begged him to stop but he stayed with this ridiculous diet.

At the end of the 2 1/2 months, everyone gathered back for a final weigh in, looking svelt but a little tired. Our subject’s biggest contender was a man who later went on to become a local personal trainer and owner of a popular chain fitness center. He spent his 2 1/2 months working out Rocky style and eating kale. They all kissed it up to the sky and got on the scale, me wondering if my subject would prevail…

And he won. He really won. He lost 41 pounds in 75 days eating mostly candy bars and milkshakes. Obviously he probably destroyed a whole bunch of cells, compromised his insulin sensitivity, gave away millions of strands of proteins out of his muscles and vitamins out of his liver to make up for the lack of nutrient density, and possibly secured a Type II Diabetes diagnosis for later in life but in addition to all of that the kid proved something scary about the typical American dieter: treating your body with extreme carelessness can result in tighter belts. So I guess you have to look at this example and ask yourself: what matters to you?

Does it matter how much you weigh MORE 
Than it matters How You Feel and MORE
Than how you treat your body

Self-sabotage comes in a meritage of varietals, pun intended. They say that willpower is at risk from the moment you awaken, as there is a limited allotment of willpower offered to each individual per day. How can we combat this? Can Ed’s exercise help us to fight our own brain chemistry or does even thinking about chocolate cause chocolate to be eaten? What are the implications of the story of the baker and his candy bar diet? Unlike Morgan Sperlock’s Supersize Me our subject did not give himself fatty liver disease and he didn’t even gain weight. I will never understand how his body survived such a dangerously low level of nutrients but what became clear was that most American dieters don’t actually care about ingredients. They don’t even care about calories. They care about the scale. And if all you care about is a number then self-sabotage becomes entirely available. It sometimes comes out in the form of an eating disorder (either bingeing or starving) but it always has to do with willpower.

At Suppers, we learn to recognize our lack of willpower and we learn to plan around it and for it. We plan on making mistakes – we expect ourselves to demonstrate weakness. We see recognition as a strength because recognition leads to planning and planning leads to success. 

Every day, I plan on me being a cookie monster and I plan on my no-cookie-angel having made something to slap the monster with. In order to win the battle my snack MUST be:

  • Already prepared
  • In the cabinet, NOT the refrigerator
  • Be full of protein and taste super salty and umami

Have I bored you enough for this week? Let’s begin. We’re going to make Tamari Almonds.

Step One: Toast almonds.

You know, just so you know, toasting almonds isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. You have to keep them moving or they will burn! My friend does hers in an oven and she always says, “If I can smell ’em, I already burnt ’em.” That’s why I do mine in a pan.
She’s crazy.

Pour in 1 cup of almonds at a time, that way they all stay flat and even. Then swirl the pan around every few seconds to keep them moving. If you flip an almond over and see a tiny black dot of burned almond flesh, lower your heat honey, you goin too fast.

Use your nose to decide when they’re done! They should smell like…well, like almonds. It takes anywhere from 3-4 minutes, depending on your heat and the type of pan used.

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Step Two: Pour in 1/4 cup of Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce) ALL AT ONCE and immediately, IMMEDIATELY, begin to swirl those almonds around and around. Use a wooden spoon or high heat spatula to help out if you need. This process takes about 90 seconds and it is loud at first. Don’t be scared, everything will be ok.

Once almost all of the liquid has evaporated REMOVE FROM HEAT and pour onto parchment paper. There should only really be, if anything, some syrupy Tamari remaining in the pan with the almonds. It should look like this:

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That’s it! These almonds store for weeks, IF you can keep yourself from munching on them. One serving of almonds is around 12 individual pieces tops. They are high in calories but like we learned, calories don’t mean nearly as much as ingredients and ingredients don’t guarantee weight loss or weight gain.

Learn yourself. Plan for weakness. Recognize success. Reward yourself with almonds.


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Tamari Toasted Almonds

1 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce)

1. In a stainless steel pan over medium high heat, add almonds and spread evenly across pan. Toast almonds 3-4 minutes, moving them constantly around pan to prevent them from burning. They are done when you can smell them and they smell like almonds.
2. Pour tamari into pan all at once and immediately begin swirling nuts around, using a high heat spatula or wooden spoon to help if necessary. Continue to stir and move very frequently, watching tamari evaporate slowly – it will take around 90 seconds for this to happen.
3. Once tamari has entirely or nearly evaporated and all that remains in the pan are the almonds and perhaps a bit of syrup, remove pan from heat quickly. Pour coated almonds onto a piece of parchment paper place on the counter or a baking sheet and try to separate once on sheet. Let dry and cool, then store in a glass jar in the cabinet.

As always, head to Suppers for recipe ideas, a calendar of meetings you would like to join, and some media on eating better and the support offered at Suppers.

We all self-sabotage but we don’t all recognize it. Learn how at Suppers – start by sharing your story with us below, we want to support your recognition.

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.

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!!!!

Popcorn

A Welcome by Dor

It is a cruel feature of the natural reality that what drives our pleasure often drives pain too. It happens with love (we know this). It happens with parenting (we know this, too). It happens with food (really?).

Our member Jenny had a problem that was very simple to solve, but she lives in a medical culture that doesn’t wonder about the possible role of food as a driver of pain.

She got a diagnosis and lots of treatments but no relief. Until she was asked the right questions. This week, we focus on one very simple, very straightforward philosophy:
Problems that are caused by food need to be resolved with food.

Jenny’s Story – Popcorn

I am used to our medical system, to getting a diagnosis and then receiving whatever prescription or procedure matches the diagnosis.
I have had mostly good experiences, and my doctors and therapists of various description would generally say that I am compliant. Well, I’m compliant and I do appreciate our medical system, until I reach the point where nothing works. That is the point I reached with Plantar fasciitis as the diagnosis and complications related to it.
All I know is that I was in a lot of pain and nothing was working. As someone who loves to walk and to hike, I knew I had to find a solution; the pain had persisted for almost nine months. During that time, I tried exercises, orthotics and a night-time splint. I tried massage. I tried reflexology. I tried acupuncture. I bought little balls to roll around to soften and stretch the soft tissues in my feet. I bought several pairs of new shoes. Pain killers might have been a possibility, but I didn’t just want to pop pills; mightn’t I do more damage if I couldn’t feel?
One day I asked a therapeutic friend what she would do if she had received this diagnosis. She said simply: “I’d examine my diet. Pretend food is causing the inflammation in your foot, which food do you think would — “POPCORN!” I said, almost immediately.
I recalled the meeting in which we talked about how our inflammatory foods tend to be the ones we adore. I remembered the rationale: it relates mostly to the cascade of endorphins and pleasure chemicals we experience when we eat a food stressor. But of course, it was hard to identify with the concept because, well, it’s just popcorn.
At the time I ate a lot of popcorn. A LOT OF POPCORN. Popcorn had become a universal solution for me. I could even convince myself that it was a healthy option as long as I didn’t add much oil, though, once asked the right question, I could not remain naïve. I had to test popcorn. To my shock and relief, the longstanding foot pain vaporized when I stopped eating all corn products. It took just a few days for the pain to begin to subside, and after about 10 days I was pain free. It’s now nine months later and the pain has not returned.

I don’t want to end this story leaving the impression that popcorn is the villain. I do want to champion experiments and especially the food elimination diets we try out at Suppers to identify the extent to which our favorite foods drive our inflammatory processes individually. Since having my own compelling experience with popcorn, I have engaged in many experiments, including food elimination diets and testing new foods and assessing their potential to energize and satiate me. I have three questions for my readers:

1. Do you experience pain or inflammation anywhere?

2. Is there any food you habitually eat that does more than satisfy normal hunger, like provide comfort, sedate you, or change your mood?

3. Is it worth it to you to eliminate the comfort food for a few weeks to see if it’s really acting more like a pain killer than a food?

Maybe my popcorn is your bell peppers, pizza or ice cream. All I know is that half a dozen interventions that worked for me for other problems couldn’t touch the pain in my feet. The match between my problem and my solution was giving up popcorn.

Snackfoods for Jenny, by Allie

Did you guys know that I went to culinary school in Berkeley, California? Well, I did, I crushed it, then I missed you and no one there got my jokes so I came home. The thing I miss the most about California, besides maybe the views? The grocery stores. I’m telling you, those grocery stores are just bonkers. The bulk sections are bigger than my house and they have ridiculous selections of dried mushrooms, chilies, dates from all over the world, bulk Celtic Sea Salt, like four thousand different dried beans, corn husks, banana leaves, exotic (but not for California) dried fruits, and the list goes on. In fact I feel as though that list was not even that impressive. Imagine a way bigger, way more impressive list. I used to make extraordinarily versatile snack mixes from those bulk sections but for some reason…they never satisfied for long.

Snacking is different for everybody in terms of food selection but the one thing which unites us all is, when we need a snack, WE NEED A SNACK. Like, GET OUT OF MY WAY. I’M HANGRY.

(Hangry = hunger + anger). 

This is probably why snacking is a super personal experience and something we all should experiment with! I have finally found that keeping a small bowl of unpeeled, hard-boiled eggs makes for a great Allie snack. Or a scoop of yogurt with almond butter or even popping some whole Tamari Almonds. I guess I go for the protein because if I go for the carbohydrates, it’s a very slippery, cabinet-slash-fridge-opening-extravaganza-midnight-on-Thanksgiving-style slope. Was that too much? Also my brother runs and he likes to follow up his jaunts with a soft boiled egg, which I tried when he was home last week. It was YUCKY. But I tried it cause, experiments. Plus, Suppers.

(Suppers = experiments + hugs + delicious food)

This week, I tried to find a snack that would be in the same salty flavor profile as popcorn, which was Jenny’s temporary downfall. I also tried to stick to something that can be prepared really quickly and stores fairly well. I chose a very simple preparation of kale chips–so simple it may in fact blow your mind.

Last thing I’ll say is, store-bought kale chips have nothing on kitchen kale chips. Nothing. I’m going to share with you the super speedy, zoomy fast way to prep simple kale chips, though I do want to mention that there are many ways to amp up your kale chip game if you have a food dehydrator.  If you’d like any tips on kale chips or dehydration, please use the comment section to start a discussion on the matter. I’m happy to share more.

Now, let’s do this.

Step One: Let’s talk about the type of kale you want to use. For this recipe you want a leafy, curly, or red russian kale and not the flat dino or lacinato kale. Those are great for kale chips in general but not for this prep.

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Step Two: Strip and Rip. Are you right handed? I don’t know if it matters but I am, so I hold the end of the kale leaf (stem side UP) with my left hand and then use my right thumb and forefinger to rip off the beginning of the leaf sides and then quickly strip the leaf, keeping those fingers close to the stem and holding it steady with my left hand. It sounds more involved than it actually is, seeing as how stripping one kale leaf takes about .75 seconds. Rip the kale into large pieces and throw into a bowl.

Step Three: Dry those babies so the oil and seasonings stick to the leaves. Season your kale chips with olive or melted coconut oil, then use any dried seasonings you want. I generally use salt and pepper but have been known in some circles to use garlic powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, nutritional yeast, and cumin. Not at the same time.

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Step Four: Place on a baking sheet (use parchment paper if you want) and spread out so kale is nice and even. Place in a preheated oven at 350 and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remember to check them halfway through and toss kale chips gently so that they crisp up evenly!

Step Five: Toss into a bowl and enjoy! I dare you to not finish them in one sitting and at the end, you’ll have eaten a bunch of kale, not a bag of chips.


 

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Kale Chips

1 bunch green curly kale or Red Russian Kale, de-stemmed and ripped into large pieces

1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted, or olive oil

sea salt, pepper, and any other seasonings

1`.  Preheat oven to 350. Pat prepared kale leaves dry or almost dry and toss in oil. Sprinkle seasonings over leaves and toss gently with tongs — do NOT massage kale leaves! That will just make them take longer to cook.

2.  Place kale leaves on a prepared baking sheet and spread out as evenly as possible.  Bake 10-12 minutes, stopping to toss kale chips halfway through to ensure an even bake and perfect crispyness.

For more Suppers recipes, remember to check out the recipe index on our website here. We have over 500 recipes for you to begin to create your own experiments!