You Are Not What You Eat

A Welcome By Dor

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

Do not give up. 

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

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

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


Gail’s Story: You Are Not What You Eat

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

Just as Suppers says, they forgot my body.

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

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

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

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

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


Getting the Goods For Gail, by Allie

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

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

It’s basically the best place ever. 

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

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

“Let’s make lamb for Ned and Roger!” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


All of the Lamb Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patty Pan pictured here cuddling with friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Spiced Roasted Rack of Lamb and Patty Pan Mashed

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

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


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

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

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Better Living Through Chemistry

A Welcome By Dor

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

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

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


Lindsey’s Story: Better Living Through Chemistry

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

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

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

A few years later I got another blow.

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

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

My formula for success has four parts…

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


Lavender Lemonade for Lindsey, By Allie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Lavender Lemonade

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

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


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

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

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

My Body is the Temple of My Soul

A Welcome By Dor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Black Bean Burgers For Beth, by Allie

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

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

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

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

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

INGREDIENTS, FLAVOR, AND CHARACTERISTICS: A GLOSSARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Black Bean Burgers

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

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


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

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

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

Suppers social resources:

Suppers Website
Facebook Page
Instagram handle @suppersprograms

A Book Review on Perlmutter

A Review By Dor

Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD

Dor photo by David CrowI’m simultaneously sad and exhilarated when scientists catch up with cooks and say things like, “A medical revolution is underway…”and when you continue reading the conclusion is that we all need to eat homemade sauerkraut. Honestly, haven’t our Hungarian grandmas been telling us all along to eat pickles because they’re so good for us? Haven’t our Korean grandmas been putting kimchi into everything else forever? My new favorite book is The Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD (of Grain Brain fame, I adore this man). A medical revolution that affirms what traditional cooks have known all along is my kind of revolution.

What I didn’t know – and what I’m so thrilled to learn – is how profoundly the content of our guts affects the functioning of our brains. From ADHD and autism in children to the rising tide of early dementia, people from the so-called civilized world suffer often-preventable debilitating brain disorders. No matter what Suppers meeting you go to – blood sugar, digestive disorders, vegan, omnivore, low carb, carb addicts – people complain of brain fog and mental fatigue. Perlmutter says it all starts with your microbiome, the vast population of organisms that inhabit our gut and outnumber our own cells ten to one!

I am of the “Eat-a- pound-of- dirt-before kindergarten” school of thought, a gardener who seeks to avoid putting city water on my spinach and berries. Now science tells me why, and why I want to grow the organisms that come in from my garden by lactofermenting – just about everything. Allie and I had a productive argument about the relative merits of various kinds of home fermentation. I’m trying all the kinds that don’t involve wheat (although I bet a lot of us could eat a properly fermented sourdough and not suffer).

Check the Suppers calendar for fermentation workshops at North Slope Farm, Terhune Orchards and my house. Charlie and I are doing one on kombucha making and will be sharing our SCOBYs. And doesn’t some one want some of my kefir grains?


Sauerkraut Demistification, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Dibs on those kefir grains, by the way. Clarification is important here, both in terms of helping to demystify the process of making your own sauerkrauts and also so that we all understand why we ferment and which fermentations are the best ones to perform. Let’s dive into the science a little bit.

Lacto-Fermentation

Very basically, the process of lacto-fermentation utilizes the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, as well as other probiotics, or lactic acid bacterium (LAB). These special organisms are present on foods that grow close to the ground and they do the best when they are in an anaerobic fermenting environment – which just means an environment without oxygen.

That environment is extremely important to the process because the environment dictates which bacteria are going to be present. We want to harbor the good guys only – the probiotics we discussed before – the places where they thrive -like salty, acidic brines – are also the places where harmful bacterium don’t want to be! 

If you’ve done things correctly then you will have created an environment which first kills off all of the bad bacteria (because they don’t like the salt and need oxygen) and then allows the lactobacillius to start working on converting sugars into lactic acid. That acid is why fermented foods have that bold tanginess!

That’s the science for you. Here’s a comforting thought though – whether you understand all that bacteria/probiotic/cillius discussion or not, the process itself is really quite simple.

Sauerkraut

Step One: Slice cabbage as thinly as you can. Don’t forget to take out the core! You can also slice up any other veggies you want to ferment with the cabbage. Dino kale is a good one, leafy herbs, carrots and other crunchy vegetables – go nuts.

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Cut a triangle AROUND the core in your halved cabbage and remove. Shred the rest.

Step Two: Add salt – usually 1 Tablespoon of salt per head of cabbage – and start to massage and squeeeeeeeeeeeeeze that cabbage. Massage it like you are massaging a pro wrestler’s shoulders, even if you don’t want to have to do that. Use the same amount of strength. You are finished when you can lift a handful of cabbage and squeeze that fistfull and water streams out of your fist.

After that happens you are available to add some liquid flavor – throw some water, ginger, jalapeno, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, etc. – anything you want – into a blender. Blend it up and mix in with kraut before packing into the jar.

Step Three: Pack tightly into a glass, wide mouthed Ball jar. Make sure to pack it really tightly to create that anaerobic environment!

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Step Four: This is the easy part – wait. You can do all sorts of things to try and keep the vegetables underneath the liquid brine that is created.

Some folks put a small glass jar with some water or marbles in there to hold the veggies down. There are even special sauerkraut pots that they sell where you can put water in the moat and keep the air out. Don’t worry, it’s only $150 for the pot. Or you can use a two dollar mason jar (and that’s when they’re not on sale).

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Probably the easiest thing to do is what Dor does – just make sure the water is there and visit your jar daily. With a spoon, press veggies down underneath the brine at least once per day for three days. Keep the metal lid of the jar – just the lid, not the screw top over the jar to help keep out air, dust, and bugs but other than that…not much to worry about.

Keep tasting – by the third day your kraut should be beginning to have that classic tangy taste. In a week she should be done fermenting and can be popped in the fridge!


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Sauerkraut

1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled
3/4 cup water

1. Place cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Begin massaging the cabbage very forcefully, breaking down cell walls and drawing water out of the cabbage. Continue squeezing and processing cabbage until water streams out of fistfulls.
2. Add kale and carrot, continue massaging until kale is wilted.
3. In a blender, combine ginger, garlic, and water and process until liquid or mostly broken down. Pour over vegetables and toss until mixture coats vegetables.
4. Pack into glass jars very tightly and continue adding and packing kraut until jar is almost full.
5. Each day press vegetables down underneath the brine with a clean spoon. Make sure there is enough brine to mostly cover veggies. Taste on the third day and allow to continue fermenting for about 1 week. Some sauerkrauts take longer depending on the room temperature. When done, refrigerate! Kraut keeps up to 3 months or so in a refrigerator.

*There should be liquid at the top of the jar once packed. If not, it’s possible you did not process vegetables enough or perhaps you need to add brine. Give it a day and if the liquid level is still a concern then make brine with 1 cup water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt.*

My Hungarian Grandma

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

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

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

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

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


Eva’s Story: My Hungarian Grandma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pickled Veggies for Eva, By Allie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pickled Pickles Pickled Pickles Pickled Pickles! Yay!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Refrigerator Pickles

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Feeding My Children in America

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

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

“We have bad genes for diabetes.”  

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

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

Anu’s Story: Feeding My Children in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Applying Anu’s Tactics, By Allie

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

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

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

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

So let’s make that now, together.


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

 

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

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

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Chana Masala

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

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