A Welcome From Dor
Shri’s Story – How I Turned Around Diabetes
When I first learned about Suppers four years ago, I didn’t have any health problems. The concept intrigued me as did the opportunity to cook healthy meals. I also enjoyed the communal dining aspect and focus on intentional/mindful eating, so I periodically attended Suppers meetings.
I didn’t see any other option to reverse diabetes or high blood sugar. I really didn’t want to become dependent on medication and insulin.
Eight months ago when my blood sugar levels increased dramatically due to significant stress caused by unforeseen circumstances, I attended several workshops hosted by Suppers on this topic. At one of these meetings, Dor casually mentioned that Suppers was hosting a “Whole 30” cleanse, so I came home and researched the concept. It involved eating meat. I wasn’t sure I could do this given the fact that I had been eating a vegetarian diet for the past few years. At the same time, I didn’t see any other option to reverse diabetes or high blood sugar. I really didn’t want to become dependent on medication and insulin.
I grew up in a household that practiced Jainism in India. Jains are forbidden to eat any meat, eggs, poultry and fish, but also root vegetables. The fundamental belief of this religion is rooted in non violence and taking extreme measures to not harm any living being (for example, uprooting a plant causes it to die, hence no potatoes, beetroot etc.).
Truth be told, I didn’t miss anything as there were plenty of available choices – legumes, ancient grains (red millet, amaranth, pearl millet, barley, oats to supplement wheat and rice), along with spices, seeds and nuts as well as fruits and vegetables. All the grains were ground at the local mill. My mother preserved and cured vegetables, ground her own spices, made yogurt with active cultures along with cold pressed juice. Fresh fruits and vegetables were purchased almost every day from a handcart. Fresh full fat milk was delivered to the house every morning. There was no microwave, and eating leftovers was not an acceptable practice. In general, almost everyone I knew lived like this.
I needed to slowly introduce meat back into my diet.
As an adventurous person, I started eating meat when I came to the United States. It was convenient and often times the only available option, so I ate essentially “anything that wouldn’t bite me back”.
About four years ago, I gave up eating meat as I used to feel uncomfortable and nauseous. Every time I cooked meat or poultry, I felt repulsed and didn’t feel like eating the food I had prepared. When I ate in restaurants, I was concerned about the quality of meat (mostly non organic) as it also made me feel nauseous.
So with Whole 30 my options were really limited. I wanted to start the program but knew that I would not be able to practice it right away. I needed to slowly introduce meat back into my diet.
I started slowly with one meal a day that incorporated meat. I only bought high quality grass fed and antibiotic free poultry, eggs and meat, as well as wild caught fish.
Like the Suppers program, I made cooking and eating an intentional and mindful process. I also selected simple recipes that would be easy to prepare and make ahead of time so that it wouldn’t interfere with work.
When the pressure was off, I found that my body wasn’t rejecting the food. So I started the Whole 30 program on my own. My diet is low carb, < 20 grams per day, and comprises of meat and vegetables along with nuts, cheese and almond milk. I ate an apple occasionally, if I felt lightheaded as I still took medication.
Within a week, my blood sugar levels were below 100 – every time I tested – fasting, after lunch and dinner. My energy levels had increased and my mind felt sharper. My mood swings disappeared and better yet I didn’t feel hungry or the need to snack all the time.
During the first week I worked out twice a day and felt even better. I continue to work out for 45-60 minutes every day – mostly moderate activity – walk, use the treadmill or elliptical along with lifting weights and using strength training equipment.
My fear of insulin shots and medication were greater than that of eating meat again.
I also thought that I may not be able to follow the Whole 30 diet because I had to take medications, so during the first week, I was particularly attentive to any symptoms that I might experience – light headedness, dizziness etc.
After the first two days of light headaches, I actually started feeling much better – higher energy, clearer focus, sharper thinking and fewer mood swings. I didn’t really miss carbs as much as I thought I would.
The second week was harder – I started getting chills, so I increased my intake of calories – still following the Whole 30 program. On some days to compensate I ate 30 carbs instead of the required 20. While some of my resistance to meat was “mental,” it was also “physical” in that I needed to eat organic and antibiotic free items as much as possible. I have not felt nauseous either with my home cooked meals. Whole 30 is forcing me to look at food very differently. It’s almost as if I am going back in time to my childhood with the emphasis on fresh food! As an added bonus, I have also lost weight.
Low starch veg + turkey meatballs with ginger, egg, scallion, and indian spices, okra, tomato, onion, and greens on the side.
The spices should include turmeric, coriander, cumin, some form of pepper, black pepper, cardamom to combine anti-inflammatory properties. And temper the spices in oil first. Probably telling you stuff you know already.
Spiced Meatballs for Shri, by Allie
While Shri’s imagery and lovely descriptions of food in a charmingly ancient way were enough to captivate any eager reader, make no mistake: what you’ve just heard is one of the most incredible stories of transformation in the history of The Suppers Program.
Dor’s favorite thing other than people who speak frankly about themselves is when people accept the fact that there is no quicker or more painless path forward than by way of experimentation.
When culture and bio-individual needs don’t fit with one another it is, first of all, difficult to detect food insensitivities, and second of all difficult to reconcile choices. HOW a Jainist Indian woman discovered that a diet consisting of animal protein and crunchy vegetables EVEN HAPPENED is beyond me – even though I just literally finished reading/typing the story. More than that is the transformation of Shri – a woman whose fasting glucose number was 335 and after two months of experimenting with Whole30 those same numbers were under 100. That isn’t just incredible, it’s miraculous.
If you can think about your relationship with food as an experiment, if you have the luxury of time to spend figuring out that: yes you CAN have lamb and beef but NOT chick peas or that onions are causing your abdominal distress or maybe it’s kale and leafy greens that you must avoid like the plague or that you are or are not allergic to raw or cooked vegetables (yes that is a thing) IF you can experiment and listen to your body. If you can do that, then you need never worry about “dieting” as a concept of holding something back from yourself. Your diet will only ever consist of foods that make you feel healthy and vibrant, flexible, energetic, and full of joy. I mean, you know, as flexible as you can manage.
The nice thing about Indian food is that it’s really all about spices when you think about it. Different areas of lots of regions have traditional foods based on what the land can produce, what animals can thrive, and what the community can process. Northern Indian cuisine features ingredients like goat, paneer, chicken, and dairy products, while Southern Indian cuisine is traditionally strictly vegetarian (and ridiculously spicy like….omigod). Anyway, the point is – spices like turmeric, coriander, nutmeg, mace and black pepper, seeds of cumin and fennel and mustard, curry paste made with fresh ginger, cardamom pods, and clove – there are more but the marriage of spicy next to sweet next to strength is the flavor profile of Indian spices and, therefore, Indian foods.
So, yeah, meatballs work just fine. Isn’t that thing cool by the way?! Dor let me borrow it for the blog but then I forgot to give it back to her. I don’t know what my favorite part is but besides the turmeric I think it’s the spoon. So cute!
There are a couple of things you can do with these spices. Me, I’m a spice grinder kind of girl. Most people will take their whole spices and temper them in coconut oil over a medium flame until they get fragrant. You can do that too.
I just pop everything in that bowl into a spice grinder and make a sludge of sundried tomatoes out of it for a flavor base.
Bam! When making meatballs, my secret is to put as much flavor as possible in there and don’t add any breadcrumbs or eggs. Once you add eggs you basically have to add breadcrumbs to sop up the eggs, which you didn’t have to add in the first place. Save the eggs for breakfast.
Sear the meatballs in a tablespoon of coconut oil for 1-2 minutes a side, turning along the way. Another option is to place them into the oven directly. That helps to keep the sphere shape but it doesn’t get the brown sides like you may want.
Dr. Adi says that the brown sear on foods is full of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End) which basically is a carcinogen and carcinogens speed up aging. Which is dreadful when you consider how delicious brown seared things are and how pretty much any delicious sauce you’ve ever eaten has been, at some point, de-glazed. I haven’t totally recovered from learning this information in December at Taste of Suppers so I think I am just going to have to sear these meatballs.
I found that they ended up being totally delicious over some Chana Masala with some freshly diced raw red onion.
Indian Spiced Meatballs
For the paste:
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed (the white ones)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
16 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated in water for 8 hours
3 small cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried herbs of choice
3/4 cup prepared paste
1. In a spice grinder, combine coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard, and fenugreek seeds. Grind until smooth and place in a small bowl. Add tumeric, pepper, and sea salt.
2. In a high powered blender, place drained sundried tomatoes, fresh garlic, oil, water, and spice blend. Blend until completely smooth. Should be very thick.
3. Place 3/4 cup of paste into meatball mix and blend with hands until evenly incorporated. Form meatballs until all mix is used up. (There will be extra sundried tomato paste – you can make this into a sauce or freeze it for future meatballs)
4. In a skillet, over medium high heat, melt coconut oil. Place meatballs in oil and sear 1-2 minutes per side, remembering to sear all sides of the meatballs. Alternatively you may place meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through.
5. Serve over chana masala (freshly made or leftover works for me…) or with a sauce made from the paste and some sauteed green vegetables. Stores up to 5 days.
Suppers is a brain-based recovery program for preventing and reversing health problems with food. If you want to submit a story about how you achieved your goals by focusing on a diet of whole foods, please send in a story to Dor!
If you would like to join our mailing list, please send an email to our administration and let us know what interests you in health and/or cooking! To become a subscriber of The Purple Apron, email Allie and she’ll put you on the list!
As always, head to our website for recipes, tips, stories, meeting schedules, registration for workshops, and more! The Suppers Programs is dedicated to helping YOU make your own personal transition towards a healthier life. Join us and discover your path towards vibrant health, seated next to a caring Suppers member, enjoying a divine meal together!
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