How You Feel Is Data

The Purple Apron is a Little Different This Week

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

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

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

A Welcome From Dor

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

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

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

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

Microwaving in Minutes, By Allie

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

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

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

              For example: il_340x270.549977271_g9s4

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To vary, add one of the following:

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

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

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

Thief

Dor photo by David CrowA Welcome By Dor

Truth telling has come up a lot recently at Suppers meetings – particularly truth telling and lying around food, eating food, bingeing on food, amounts of food, lying to a journal no one else will ever read, lying when no one else will ever care or catch you.

For Gerry, the prospect of loading up on candy turned an otherwise honest child into a thief. And the only thing she purloined was her father’s pocket change so that she could go buy those sweets.


Gerry’s Story: Thief

I once heard my doctor say that sugar is the gateway drug to other addictions. Since I grew up equating Mom with apple pie, it was hard to turn my attitude around and think of pie as anything but wholesome.

It was true, though, that sugar made a thief out of me. I came from a nice, middle-class family of smokers and drinkers who held down nice jobs and raised nice children. We even had nice dogs. There was a nice little dish of coins on my father’s bureau where he emptied his change from his trousers pockets every night. The only thing standing between me and what I wanted at the corner store was the nerve to pinch some of that change.

He’s never miss it, right? In those days you could get a candy bar for five cents. There was lots of penny candy and a big-scoop ice cream cone was only 12 cents. The times I snuck out with a whole quarter I was even able to feel generous and buy bubble gum and fireballs for my friends. They took care of me too on dry days since their mom had a little dish where she saved coins for the Laundromat. 

Soon I graduated to alcohol and cigarettes, which was no problem in my family. I fit right in. What were they going to say? There were no drunks or arguments, only nice people with habits. I never stole anything again, but I carried guilt about my thievery into adulthood.

It wasn’t until I went to that doctor, pre-diabetic and addicted, that I realized sugar was my “gateway drug.” Because of a bad combination of biochemical vulnerability, easy access, and a family that didn’t sweat the details, I had started through that gate when I was nine years old. 

I decided to share my story at Suppers because there are so many more children now than there were then who have the lethal combination of vulnerability, access, and parents who aren’t watching closely for signs of trouble.

Today, Suppers is helping me keep on track, but it’s an effort that would never have been necessary if I hadn’t walked through that gateway with sugar. I’m concerned about my children; they’re probably doing sneaky stuff just as I did – and will need to write about it some day. So I guess the best I can do is model good behavior and tell my story in the hope of sparing somebody else the walk through that gateway to addiction and diabetes.


Getting Rid of Gerry’s Thief, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Have you ever tried to kick sugar? It’s a fascinating process, you can’t just jump right into it and expect to be successful. The first thing you have to do is arm yourself with knowledge. Part of that is reading labels – obviously if a food has a label at all it has been processed in some way.

Sugar acts as both a sweetener and a preservative – it can appear in foods where you would never expect its presence: salad dressings, crackers, breads, soups, veggie burgers…

YOU. NAME. IT.

Then you have to factor in the other obvious ones: alcohol, candy, juice, and other sweetened beverages, yogurt, oatmeal, breakfast cereal, corn products, etc. Again. Read the labels. Lastly, get rid of the idea that diet drinks and diet or “sugarfree” products are going to be in line with the experience.

Many people find that beverages like diet sodas trigger an Insulin response, which means a blood sugar drop, which means you are now entering Cravings City, USA, located in No Willpower County. 

So now you know the basics – pretty much just eat things that are food. Then, well, sweetheart – you have to actually kick it. And I don’t mean like kick it like hang out, chill back, but rather – give up sugar. Stop eating sugar.

My GSCK kids gave up sugar for just around 24 hours last summer. In the beginning of my sugar workshop (when they learned they were consuming upwards of 20 teaspoons of sugar every day, easily) I had zero pledges for the “Day Without Sugar” challenge. After a short domino effect period all of my students decided to take the challenge. It should be noted that the original challenge period was longer than 1 day.

The next day, they were bears. They were slugs. It was like a bear and a slug had a child and that child gave up sugar – that would be my kids that day. It was awful – but as awful as it was it was eye opening for them to see the effect that a food/chemical directly had on their brain, energy level, and general feeling.


So to help you kick your habit you need alternative, naturally sweet foods to satisfy that flavor cravin – AND you need a good amount of fat in your diet to help carry you through without chemical cravings too! 

So I give to you today what Ned called, “the best soup I’ve ever had in my whole life” and I called, “pretty good but I forgot the mushrooms, spinach, and red pepper”:

The Suppers Programs Thai Coconut Chicken Soup. 

Step One: Slice leeks into half moons and rinse thoroughly. Leeks are very dirty!!! Often you will find actual mud between the layers of the leeks and so it’s important to rinse them or even to soak them before rinsing in a colander placed over a bowl. 

Melt some coconut oil in a pan and throw in the leeks to saute up a bit. Throw in other veggies you want as well at this time. I used sweet potato because I forgot to buy mushrooms because I’m an idiot at the store but a genius at the stove.

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Step Two: Cut up chicken breast or thighs with a knife or scissors into large chunks and add to bowl with coconut milk, spices, and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer – simmer 15-20 minutes or until thickened to your desire!

Step Three: The Fixins – A great coconut soup has GOT to have some raw elements to it. The richness of the coconut milk plays against the cool, sharp bite of the raw foods. For this soup I suggest using: diced pineapple, minced raw onion, freshly squeezed lime, and fresh cilantro, minced.

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Just ladle soup into bowls and top with small handfuls of your fixins and serve!


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Thai Coconut Soup

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and into half moons, rinsed thoroughly
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
dried thyme to taste
1 bell pepper, sliced thinly
15 large mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 pound chicken breast or thighs, cut into chunks
2 cans coconut milk (15 oz)
6 cups chicken stock or 6 cups water and 3 Tablespoons Better Than Bouillon
1 package cleaned spinach, chopped
1/3 bunch fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/4 pineapple, small dice (for garnish, optional)
1/2 cup minced red onion (for garnish, optional)

1. In a large enameled cast iron pan or large stockpot, melt coconut oil. Add leeks, sea salt, black pepper, and dried thyme, and saute 5 minutes alone. Add pepper and mushrooms and continue sauteing another 7 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.

2. Add chicken, coconut milk, and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Add spinach and cover – heat until spinach has just wilted. Remove from heat and ladle soup into bowls. Top with cilantro, fresh lime juice, pineapple, and minced red onion. Serve hot!

As always, head to Suppers Recipe Index to find more recipes like this one! The Suppers Friendly recipes are all gluten free and with no processed sweeteners – we have over 600 recipes currently on the website!

And don’t forget to like our Facebook page or check out our Instagram too! We need all the love we can get!

Last thing: Suppers is having a fundraiser coming up in May! You can register for the fundraiser by clicking here to support The Suppers Programs, a non-profit organization! 
 

Lentils Saved Me

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David CrowSometimes I think Suppers is such a no-brainer I can’t believe it wasn’t invented before. This whole concept of “how you feel is data!” is so patently obvious to me, I can’t imagine what it must feel like for those of you who live inside a body whose language you don’t understand. The language my body speaks verges on screaming.

I guess I’ve made it a personal mission in my life to help people translate how they feel into useful language. In this week’s post we share a story by a woman we called Rose – a pseudonym – you’ll see why when you read it.

She was highly educated, trained as a psychotherapist, and completely unaware that her feelings were at least partly driven by food.


 

Rose’s Story: Lentils Saved Me

I have been a psychotherapist for over 30 years. I was trained in the psychodynamics tradition, and I am a great lover of Freud. For most of my adult life I have had an eating disorder, and for most of my adult life I have been in therapy. I have spent more time talking about my relationship with my mother than I spent having a relationship with my mother. But it wasn’t until I was nearly 60 that I became willing to try another approach to my uncontrolled eating. My husband is a psychologist and more willing to experiment with diets and try new things. When he suggested I give Suppers a try, I was so frustrated with these extra 40 pounds that I agreed.

Lentils saved me.

It was at Suppers that I was introduced to the idea that to stave off hunger and prevent binges, I’d have to eat more.

I’d have to make the time in the afternoon to have a small meal between clients so that I wouldn’t be screaming for huge plates of pasta and heavy bowls of popcorn at the end of the day. The facilitator of my meeting sent me home with all the leftover lentils. I couldn’t believe what happened to my body. Not only did it reduce by more than half the vigilance required to stay away from empty carbs, I found I was feeling more loving towards my husband. All because of a daily cup of lentils to prevent a quick drop in blood sugar. 


 

Revising Rose’s Lentils, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081Every. Single. Year. On New Year’s Day, my mom made us eat what she called “Lucky Beans” and what I called “gross disgustingly horrifying lentils”. Suffice it to say that I don’t like lentils one bit. I keep trying them in different ways, though, cause I feel like it’s like that tastebuds thing — they change semi-regularly so you have to keep trying the same foods. Even if that means you have to swallow oysters sometimes. 

Oysters: the ocean’s boogers.  

Additionally, you have to keep trying the same food prepared different ways. Oh, honey, you don’t like kale? Have you ever tried it sautéed? Stewed? Massaged? With feta? With raisins? OK, well, come back later. When I was a kid it was acceptable for me to call Lucky Beans what I called them. As a real live adult-child, I have to focus on branching out. Besides, I’m pretty lucky so I guess I have my mom to thank for that.

No, but seriously, can I detract for a moment? I’m like SUPER lucky. Everything ALWAYS works out just beautifully (sometimes it takes awhile). At the same time in the immediate sense things generally work out incredibly well for me too! Like gambling.

One time I was in Vegas and, baby, I was hot. Originally I loooooooaaaaaaathed the idea of Las Vegas because my only experience with casinos was in Atlantic City, which is a place where I still feel cold and alone and sad. I was 21 and in A.C. for a conference with my amazing beautiful mom and we headed out after work. It was late – midnight at best – and we were sitting at a slot machine, losing, and the lady kept bringing us drinks for free (RED FLAG) and I looked around at some point to see the sad folks around me consuming more and more alcohol and losing more and more money to this grand and all-powerful casino that didn’t have any windows AT ALL and…well, I began to cry. I cried right in that casino. My mom looked over at some point and she was like, “Are you crying?!! Are you crying because we’re losing?!!” and I balled, dramatically, “No! I’m crying because EVERYBODY’S LOSING!!!!” Then we left.

Years later I went to Vegas. And, baby, I was hot. (I know, I said that already). The first night I went out with my big brother to a divey Irish casino – probably the only one in the city – and we weren’t there five minutes before my brother just blatantly won $1,000 outright. (We O’Brien kids are all pretty darn lucky). It didn’t stop there. I got four of a kind at three separate poker facilities. Just before leaving our hotel/casino to head back to LA, I just wanted to lose the $3 paper ticket things the machines spit out and in five seconds I turned $3 into $140. Four jacks and a nine.

I am going to go ahead and thank lentils (and my mom) for all of the luck bestowed upon me because one day I really want to like them. I really do you guys!

And…well…I think that day has come. 

The Lentil Steps

Step One: Go through your lentils before cooking them, cause there’s rocks in them. No, but really. Rocks, tiny stones that look like lentils in bulk form – they’re there. It’s easier to find them in red lentils, which I am trying for the first time. (New food party).

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IMG_3238Step Two: Rinse lentils, put them in a big pot covered with at least an inch of water or stock.

If you’re like me and you’re in the process of moving and you don’t feel like making stock, use this stuff. Better Than Bouillon. It’s amazing.

Just put a big heaping spoonful of this stuff into any sort of water mixture and stir or whisk into mixture. It will definitely increase the sodium content and it will also increase the FLAVOR content, like, tenfold. 

 

 

 

Step Three: Slice up 4 cups of veggies [use at least 2 cups of some kind of onion plus any other veggie you want. I did a basic mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot) to start] and I chopped them into pretty large stew-friendly pieces.

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Step Four: Now, you guys. While I am using Rose’s recipe (which I will share below) for lentils, I flew away a little bit because in Rose’s recipe she throws the veggies in with the lentils after the lentils have simmered for a bit. It’s definitely the easier way to go but it doesn’t add much flavor, or the opportunity to layer anything.

If you want to become good at layering flavor one way to start that process is by searing whenever possible. When foods are seared or sautéed you are offered chances to add salt, spices, umami (from the actual brown sear) and, most importantly, you are left with what one of my chef professors called Kitchen Treasures on the pan. Yeah, the brown stuff.

So in this step we take a pan, melt some coconut oil, add all the veggies, some salt, pepper, and dried thyme.

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Don’t worry munchkin. We’ll get to the sausages.

Step Five: Make some room in the pan and then sear those sausages until medium rare, then chop them up into bite sized pieces, stir into the veggies, and add the whole thing to the pot of lentils.

Here’s another random tip. Keep a pile of spices out when searing veg or meats. It’s easier and CLEANER than continually grabbing the salt shaker, the salt bag, the spice jars, etc.

Think about what you want to use and make a pile. 

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Add everything to that pot! Deglaze with a dash of apple cider vinegar and a wooden spoon if things are sticking! 

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Step Six: Add canned tomato product (crushed, whole peeled, chopped, whatever, + paste) and let that pot simmer for as long as you like! In my case it was until Ned finished edging the entire walkway up to the house for like four hours and after the sun had gone down and I was like “what. Are you doing.” That boy loves landscaping.

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That’s it! Let it simmer and reduce! Or you can do it Rose’s way.


 

Rose’s Lentil Stew

1 lb lentils
1 cup tomato sauce or several fresh tomatoes, chopped
4 cups chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, zucchini, and/or parsnips
1 Tablespoon broth base (organic, no MSG)
Optional: 2 Tablespoons curry paste
Optional: 1 cup salsa
salt to taste

1. Rinse lentils and remove stones and bad beans.
2. In a large pot, cook lentils in water plus one inch to cover.
3. While simmering, add tomato sauce or chopped fresh tomatoes, and chopped vegetables. Add broth base and water or broth as needed so lentils do not dry out. Simmer until lentils are tender. (Pink lentils take 20 minutes or so, green lentils may take up to an hour. You can reduce cooking time by soaking overnight first.)
4. If you like more zing, add curry paste and/or salsa during the simmering. Salt may not be needed if you are using broth. Taste before adding.
Makes 8 serving.


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Allie’s Pink Lentil & Sausage Stew

1 cup lentils
1 heaping Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon (Beef Base) or stock
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
celtic sea salt and black pepper
dried thyme
1 lb. pork sausages
1 15.5oz can chopped tomatoes
2 heaping Tablespoons tomato paste

1. Rinse lentils and scour for rocks, stones, and bad lentils. Place in a large pot and cover with about 1 inch water or stock. If not using stock, bring water to a simmer and stir in Better That Bouillon.
2. In a large cast iron pan or skillet, over medium high heat, melt coconut oil and add vegetables to sear. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme over veggies and stir frequently for at least 5 minutes, or until veggies have become a little tender and a little brown. Make a space in the middle of the pan by pushing veggies to the side of pan.
3. Add sausages to space and sear 3-4 minutes per side. Lower heat and remove sausages to chop into bite sized pieces. Return to pan of vegetables and stir, then add sausage mixture to lentils pan.
4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to lentil mixture and maintain a medium low heat. Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes and as long as you like. Balance with salt and acid and serve hot.

As always, visit our website at The Suppers Programs for all of your recipe needs, curiosities, and to join a meeting today. Don’t forget to follow us on our Instagram or like our Facebook!

 

No Help at the Hospital

A Welcome From Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Just about everyone we see at Suppers has — to a greater or lesser degree – “eaten their way” into the problems that motivate them to come to our program.  

The exceptions are our friends with Type I Diabetes. I had a special place in my heart for diabetics long before my son was diagnosed four years ago, in large part because of my relationship with Karen, who has been facilitating Suppers meetings almost as long as I have.

The learning curve for dealing with this disease is practically perpendicular because the consequences are so bad if you don’t take care of business. What surprised me most was how uninformed health care professionals are about what it’s like to live inside a body with diabetes and how the folks who do so need to be accommodated. We aren’t just cooking with our diabetic friends. With the help of our Board member Dr. Adi Benito and facilitator Fiona Capstick, we’re now training facilitators to use glucose monitors and to expand the availability of Suppers for people who feel lost in this diagnosis.

For our friend Lydia, there wasn’t any help where she worked, and she was working at  a hospital.


Lydia’s Story: No Help at the Hospital

I am a registered nurse and have enjoyed working in medicine for over 20 years. At the age of 50, I developed Type I Diabetes, and entered a world I was completely unprepared for in spite of all my experience in health care.

The people at work all know I have diabetes but they are clueless as to what that means in practical or personal terms.

I haven’t hidden the diagnosis, but I do conceal many of the details of what I have to put up with. There is no help at the hospital for people who have to maintain high standards of professionalism while living with a chronic disease.

Here’s an example of my predicament. I have been in the habit of letting my numbers run a little high because if I go at all low in the O.R., it’s a big problem. My brain gets fuzzy. There are lots of times when a nurse can’t drop what she’s doing to fiddle with pumps or take a sugar pill.

So the short-term needs of my profession conflict with my long-term need to keep the numbers as low as possible without going so low that I lose my ability to concentrate.

For the uninitiated, it may be hard to understand why it’s so tricky managing blood-sugar levels. There are so many different variables confounding the decision of how much insulin to take.

  • Eating carbs raises the dose, so now I have a PhD in the carb content of every mouthful of food.
  • Exercise – even walking – lowers the dose.
  • The volume of the food on my plate raises the need for insulin even if the carb content is low. I didn’t know about that before. It explains some past experiences I had after eating large but low-carb meals and ending up with high blood sugar since I did not take enough insulin to deal with the issue of volume.
  • Stimulants, like the caffeine in coffee, spike my sugars too, even if I have no carbs.
  • And too much stress messes everything up and makes it hard to know what to do, especially since my first reaction to stress is to look for chocolate. In general, stress also raises my need for insulin. 

I wouldn’t wish Type I Diabetes on anyone (although there are a few people at the hospital who I wish could have it for just one day). Even when I follow the directions, my blood sugar numbers are all over the place. So hearing others with Type I Diabetes talk at the Suppers table about how they resolve their issues prompts me to try new approaches. For one thing, we are all becoming skeptical of the party line that says go ahead and eat 45 carbs at a meal and cover it with insulin. The one person at our meeting who got her A1C (a three-month measure of blood sugar regulation) below the cut-off for diabetes doesn’t eat that many carbs in a whole day! The new pumps and monitors make it easier to track the consequences of my behavior. It’s fascinating to eat a low-carb meal at the Suppers table and watch the graph line on the continuous blood glucose monitor stay flat as we enjoy our blended asparagus, fresh garden salad, and grilled salmon. 


Lovely Quiche For Lydia, By Allie

But first, let me tell you about Insulin 

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081The Insulin/Blood Sugar thing is one of those biological mathematical equations that – despite logic and a doctor’s best “I-think-I-definitely-understand-your-body” face – doesn’t always add up. I used to think it was pretty straightforward, after all it seems like it would be amazingly straightforward:

X carbohydrates + Y units of insulin = Z (Normal Blood Sugar)

Carbohydrates are molecules that break down into glucose molecules. Each glucose molecule contains 32 units of ATP, adenosine triphosphate, or cellular energy. (By the way I TOTALLY spelled “adenosine triphosphate” correctly BEFORE looking it up on Wikipedia for spellcheck. No one saw me do it so I’m telling you guys so you can be proud of me.)

Insulin is a hormone, a protein, produced in normal circumstances by the pancreas. It is excreted when glucose is found in the bloodstream, either through eating food or through the release of glucose storage centers (the liver, our muscles, and in extreme cases, fat) when the body is under some form of stress (like exercise, being chased by a clown, taking a test, or starvation.)

Insulin’s singular and incredibly important job is to shuffle individual molecules of glucose into our cells so that our cells can eat. (Cells gotta eat too, guys.) Insulin is specifically equipped to do this job because it contains (is shaped in) the form of the very “key” which fits into the cell’s “lock” (like a neurotransmitter).

In the case of Type I Diabetes, the pancreas stops producing Insulin and the body absolutely must get Insulin from outside sources or else all cells will starve.
In the case of Type II Diabetes, many cells have developed a resistance to Insulin and are no longer allowing their doors to open – in fact, that “lock” has often become warped on the outside of many cells and Insulin’s “key” doesn’t fit. In this case the cells are also starving so even if a typical Type II patient is overweight – their cells are in fact malnourished. 


 

It seems as though that’s a pretty straightforward explanation of a seemingly complicated biological reaction. Well, let me re-complicate that for you: the math doesn’t work exactly like that for everyone. There are a few reasons:
Food doesn’t just contain carbohydrates. Fat, fiber, protein – these things slow down the breaking apart of foods on a molecular level and therefore slow down the release of glucose.
We have different metabolisms! Some of our metabolisms are naturally zooming fast (and those metabolisms belong to people who I am more jealous of than happy for) and some are slower (like mine, which reminds me, I need to work out more).
Our lives are different, too. For Lydia, who is often in a high-stress environment, her cellular needs and blood sugar levels are guided more by her Adrenal System (hormones) than they are by the foods she eats and the exercise she completes.

Like Lydia said, she had to really, really learn her body, ever-changing through the days and nights in terms of what it needed. She had to learn her trends, learn her tricks, and most importantly learn something that everyone learns through attending Suppers – that she is not alone in her plight at Suppers even if she feels alone in her medical community. 

Join Suppers, learn your experiments, perform those experiments, and emotionally prepare yourself to be constantly amazed by your body. It’s the only one like it in the whole world, even if you are an identical twin.


So, but, like, what’s most likely to hold me over for awhile?

Well, probably protein rich food but in what form? Only you can know that. Eggs, meat, vegetarian protein – I don’t know what will work for you! But eggs are a good one to try out. So why don’t we try something easy to prepare and, obviously, delightfully scrumptious? Like quiche. 

I LOVE QUICHE. It’s fabulous, it’s classy, and Julia Child likes it and I love Julia Child. Look at her pegboard. Look. At her pegboard. 

Julia-Childs-Pegboard

Omigod. I love her so much. Photo credit goes to these folks. I want Ned to make me a pegboard for our new kitchen and first he was like “pegboards look stupid in kitchens” and I was like “uh, no they don’t, have you ever even heard of Julia Child?” and then showed him that exact photo and he was like “fine.” Me = winning (again). Let’s do this.

Step One: Forget everything you know about making a Julia Child quiche crust. We don’t want gluten or butter making a debut in this experiment dish when we’re trying to test rice and eggs.

Cook brown rice in a rice cooker until it’s done. On the side, prepare a mixture of:
1 small minced onion
1 egg or 1 flax egg (1 T. ground flax + 2 T water + stirring)
2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (or skip the cheese if you want)
sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Mix them all together with the rice and press into a deep dish pie pan. Bake in the oven for awhile so the quiche filling doesn’t fall through the crust.

Step Two: Prepare vegetables of your choice to go into your quiche. Today we are using roasted red pepper, garlic, and spinach. Another great combination is kale, portobello, onion. Get creative – what veggies do you like?

The trick is to try to get as much moisture out of the vegetables as possible before mixing them with eggs. 

Step Three: Whip eggs together and, honey, I mean WHIP those eggs. If you’re making a good amount of quiche, use a blender to mix eggs. Dor has a great, great tip for adding some good fat, silky texture, and wonderful flavor to dishes like these – mix eggs and canned coconut milk in a blender on low speed until very well mixed. 

Today we will be using eggs by themselves. (I used 7)


When done, fold in veggies and pour over prepared crust. If it doesn’t look like this and the egg mixture sort of gets sucked up by the rice, you didn’t bake the crust long enough and will definitely remember for next time.

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Step Four: Bake, remove, cool, slice, enjoy!


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Brown Rice Crusted Vegetable Quiche

For the crust:
1 cup brown rice
1 small onion or 1 small bunch scallions
1 egg or 1 flax egg (1 Tablespoon ground flax + 2 Tablespoons water)
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese (*optional)
sea salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil

For the filling:
1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups spinach
2 Tablespoons roasted red pepper, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper
6-8 eggs

1. Grease a deep dish pie plate and preheat oven to 375.
2. Prepare rice in a rice cooker and set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, stir together egg or flax egg, parmesan cheese, sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. While rice is still warm, stir egg mixture into rice being careful not to cook the egg. Press into a greased pie dish and place in oven. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 or until firm.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add spinach, red pepper, and minced garlic. Cook until spinach has wilted and remove.
4. Blend eggs together in a blender or using a whisk in a large bowl. Fold in spinach mixture and pour filling over crust. Don’t worry if filling comes up over quiche crust (or if you want the crust to be over the egg, make sure to press crust up higher on pan)
5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until egg mixture does not jiggle when pan is gently shaken.

As always head to the Suppers Recipe Index to find the recipes that YOU want to experiment with! Today it’s all about you – and, when it comes to food, that’s every day!

Dor Is in My Fridge

Dor photo by David CrowA Welcome From Dor

If all that gets in your way of making the healthier choice is convenience, take a look at Joni‘s grab and go list of essential items to have on hand.  

For Joni, education was not enough.  She knew exactly what she was supposed to eat. But the crazy busy schedule of a full-time working mom meant that she raced to make everything happen except meeting her own needs for nourishing food.

Even fear of the cancer that ran in her family didn’t translate into good self-care.  It took the community of Suppers to make sure that her fast food was the healthy food.

Joni’s Story: Dor Is in My Fridge

When I first arrived at Suppers it was fear that drove me. There is way too much breast cancer in my family, and I’m at an age where I’d be foolish not to pay attention to my diet and lifestyle.

I am no newcomer to eating healthy whole foods. I’ve known what to eat for years.
My problem was not lack of good information but lack of the wherewithal to do what I know is best for me. Even fear hasn’t been enough to make me stay on the right path consistently.

When I got to Suppers, I wasn’t so much looking for information as for support. The Suppers form of sponsorship is called therapeutic friendship. It means we step in and help each other with whatever kind of support is needed: phone calls, walking partners, cooking dates, etc. I needed help staying on track to buy only good food and keep it on hand and ready to grab. To reinforce how important it is not to let ourselves get too hungry, we often cook extra food at meetings and bring jars so we can take some home.

Stress is a familiar companion for me. I have a busy practice. I’m also on the run keeping up with the schedule of an active teenage son. And I have problems with blood sugar and am already pre-diabetic. So I can rely on crashes happening if I’m not right on top of eating regularly and making good choices. But good choices are hard to make when inconvenience, time pressures, and carbohydrate cravings combine to sabotage my best intentions. One day, sensing a crash would come over me if I didn’t eat, I yanked open the fridge door looking for a fast solution. And there, facing me, was Dor in my fridge.

Dor is the leader of my Suppers group – the Suppers founder, in fact – and she offered her therapeutic friendship to help me establish new habits. She’d sent me home with a few jars of chili and soup from the last meeting. Well, wouldn’t you know, sometimes things work exactly as they’re supposed to work.

When I opened the fridge, there was a delicious, protein-rich chili in a jar from Dor’s kitchen. My “fast food” was healthy food. There would be no automatic choices today. I was sticking to the plan. I said a five-second prayer of gratitude and downed the chili before dashing off to the next appointment.

There are far too many social pressures, too many soccer games to race to, too many clients in need of my services, a husband who deserves my time, and too many internal impulses for me to get this right without lots of support. Obviously, slowing down has to be part of the long-term plan. But for now I need regular meetings, like-minded friends, and the right food in the fridge to manage this busy life without crashing.

When I reported to my Suppers friends how their support was helping me lead a healthier life, they asked me to make a list of “must haves.” Here is my list of things I must always have on hand because Dor won’t always be in my fridge:


Joni’s Grab & Go List of Essentials 

2 kinds of unsalted nuts: Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts
Pumpkin Seeds or Sunflower Seeds
Hardboiled Eggs
2 kinds of easy-to-grab fruit: Apples, Pears, Sliced Melon, and Berries
Sliced Raw Veggies (can be kept in a jar of ice water, tupperware, or ziploc)
Hummus or Vegetable Dip
Broiled Chicken and/or Sliced Turkey
1-cup servings of whatever chili or soup I make on the weekend
Pitcher of filtered water: NO Soft Drinks!!!
Flourless Tortillas, Frozen or Chilled
Whole Grain Crackers
Cubes or Slices of Cheese
Butter
Almond Butter and/or Peanut Butter
Small, wrapped servings of dark chocolate for special occasions 


Booster Bars For Joni, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081I was at Target the other day getting some new gummy vitamins, a.k.a. fortified candy, and as I browsed the vitamin aisle I noticed something on the other side: like a zillion different brands of bars. It seems nowadays that with every fad diet comes a fad “bar”. A processed, mushed together set of ingredients, which, when combined with the literature and merchandised processed foods sold through one fad diet or another, will help you to lose X number of pounds. While researching for this week I wondered a few things about these bars:

  1. How costly are they in comparison to similar mushed together ingredients (granola bars)?
  2. How popular are they? Do they really sell?
  3. What ingredients in these make them different from other bars?
  4. Can I make them at home?

Then I wondered – why doesn’t everybody do this? Making protein bars for my family is something that I have done for fun for years. Now that I have the opportunity, I want to tell you this first: you too can make your own bars. It takes about 10 minutes and they last about two weeks. Want to know more? Keep reading.

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Step One: Choose your things.

Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, etc.
Seeds: Sunflowers, Pumpkin
Grains: None, oats, cooked quinoa (needs to be refrigerated), other cooked, needing to be refrigerated grains. (Hint, grains are unnecessary)
Dried Fruit: Dates, cranberries, apricots, golden raisins, figs, mangoes, apples, etc. (basically any dried fruit you can find)
Powders/Boosters: Chia, Flax, cacao powder, cinnamon, spirulina (needs to be refrigerated) orange zest, lemon zest (uhh, did you know that lemon zest has more vitamin c than orange juice?), cardamom (any spice you want really)
Sweeteners (optional): Honey, Maple Syrup, Alcohol Free Vanilla
Flavor Boosters: Sea Salt, Lemon Juice, Fresh Herbs (needs to be refrigerated)

Step Two: Blend your things into a mush. Basically, put all of your things into a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse, until you feel as though all of the things have made friends with each other and then turn your food processor off. The “dough” should “relax” at this point – or, in other words – pull away from the sides of the bowl. At this point, you are ready to turn that “dough” onto a parchment lined baking sheet and start to press it all into a squarish/rectangularish shape and begin to mold the “dough” into a cuttable thing.

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Step Three: Eat your things

It’s that easy. Protein bars are inexpensive when made at home, contain more boosters when made at home, and are more delicious, grab-able, and impressive when made at home. Best part – you can avoid all inflammatory-you foods when you make your own bars. Just like your smoothies, these You Bars can contain ingredients that are you-friendly and don’t cost so much when shopping at Target.

Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t shop at Target cause….well, Target has great clothes sometimes. And the sunglasses. So good.


 

You Bars

1 cup nuts and seeds of choice: almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pumpkins, sunflowers, etc.
1 cup dried fruit of choice: dates, cranberries, figs, raisins, apricots, mango, etc.
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon spice blend of choice (cardamom, coriander, etc.)
1 teaspoon booster of choice (spirulina, chia, flax, etc.)
1 orange or lemon, zested
pinch sea salt
dash honey *optional

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Turn on and pulse several times to incorporate. Turn on and process until dough “relaxes” against sides of bowl when processor has been turned off.
  2. Turn onto a parchment lined baking sheet and shape into a rectangle. Chill 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Remove and slice into 2X2 inch squares. Store in proper tupperware or freeze and enjoy one bar each day when hunger bares its teeth.

As always always, head to Suppers for all of your recipe needs, support, and to look for new meetings to visit! Suppers offers educational support for you to transition towards a healthier lifestyle. We would love for you to join us today! Check out our calendar now!

 

Latkes

A Welcome From Dor

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

Dee and Stella’s Story: Latkes

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

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

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


Mindfulness Exercise

Please take a breath and let it go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Vegetable Latkes

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

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

 

Salmon For Breakfast

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David CrowOne of our first facilitators was a near vegetarian whose body periodically required some fish for her mental, physical and emotional stability. When good fats and protein are what your body needs, nothing else will do. Although Casey’s imaginary world revolved around the croissants she could pick up in town, her ability to hear her body’s message broke through. She marched herself a few storefronts down to get the much-needed but less-desired salmon for breakfast.
The first principle of Suppers is to actively practice non-judgment.  And it starts with oneself.  
Each of us starts with highly individual, non-negotiable needs that have to be met. If you’re a determined carnivore who sniffs at a green smoothie for breakfast or a dedicated but depressed vegetarian or a patient who follows orders even when you don’t feel well, you can learn something from Casey: You have an innate wisdom that is trying to speak to you, if you would just sit for a few minutes and allow the message to come in.

Casey’s Story – Salmon For Breakfast

A few weeks ago I was on my way to the facilitators’ training for Suppers and I left the house without having a substantial breakfast. I had grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds, which satisfied my appetite almost until the end of my driveway.

The drive is about 25 minutes, so you can imagine that by the time I reached town I was focused not on the meeting but on food – eating – now! I made a beeline for the bakery. I could smell the fresh-baked bread before I got out of the car. I actually sat there for a few moments while thoughts of warm buttery croissants took over my brain. I thought about how many I would order. One for now, one for the car ride home, and maybe just one in case.

But something happened at that moment, as I played out the whole scene in my head. I wondered if this was such a good idea.

I allowed myself to mentally go into the shop, purchase the croissants, come back to the car and eat one of them. I took a moment to think about how I have felt in the past after doing this exact thing. I remember feeling like having another immediately and spending the rest of the day in a coffee-and-junk-food-consuming downward spiral. Not to mention the brain fog and fatigue. What could I do?

I thought of the Suppers Breakfast Challenge and discussions we have had at meetings about avoiding the trap of automatic choices and the importance for most people of consuming a high-quality protein in the morning. I am one of those people.

I have become familiar with my personal biochemistry over the years through proactive nutrition education, and I now know that omega 3 fats work well for me. So I did something I have never done before: I ate salmon for breakfast. That’s right. I marched myself down the street and bought a piece of pre-cooked salmon from the deli and marched right back to my car and sat there and ate it up. Within ten minutes (no joke, ten minutes), I started to feel focused, energized, happy, satiated, and altogether good about my decision. 

I had no trouble driving away without a bag of croissants. Perhaps I showed up at my meeting smelling like fish, but it was worth it. I told this story at the meeting because I was covering the concept of automatic choices, “the choices you make when you aren’t consciously participating.”

For me the most important words in the description were “consciously working on change,” “support,” and “time.” Consciously working on change is an ongoing process. It’s what I was doing in the car that day. Support has been the key.

I have studied Nutrition and for years have known what I needed to do to change my life, but without support I was not able to act on that information. Suppers has supported my change process without any pressure about which changes to make or how fast to make them. As for time, I told the group that three years ago I would not have paused for a second before buying those croissants. That day in my car, I may have taken 15 minutes to make a good decision. I was able to slowly work through it and come out on top (that day). My hope for myself and us all is that a couple of years from now, I (we) will be making healthier choices without a second’s pause. 


 

Stuff You Put On Stuff For Casey, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081A Chef is a cook with a mind full of tricks. Some chefs are super, super good with their trickery but the magic is based mostly in logic, mildly in chemistry, and includes the freedom of creativity. I say these things not to expose folks in the industry (you guys, I’m in the industry, I’m an industry person you guys) but to empower YOU.

Here’s a very common trick, for instance: If you want stuff to taste good, put good tasting stuff on your stuff!
In other words, it’s all about the toppings. I don’t want to trigger anybody here but think about a wedding where they have one of those mashed potato bars. It’s like a martini glass with some mashed taters in there and then bowls of good tasting stuff to put on the tater stuff. I think the thought process there is: potatoes are good but they’re WAY better loaded up with all sorts of horridly delicious ingredients.

Let’s apply that to you, Casey, me, and this moment. First of all I have, like, zero issues with eating salmon for breakfast. My breakfast is most often the leftover dinner from the night before. So if I’m making healthy breakfast choices then I am probably eating pretty “weird” things for breakfast, most often in front of my sister – who stares, horrified by my process – but that’s what works for me. Humongous salads, salmon, cold chicken, hard boiled eggs, sauerkraut, pestos – that’s what I am looking for in the morning. Plus coffee.

My advocacy for leftovers-for-beginnings is that any protein that was prepared in my home kitchen was also already sauced or topped off so it’s ready to eat but not chemically processed

The point here is to focus on making health-supportive toppings to place on
you-supportive ingredients – that is, to say, ingredients that keep you grounded, centered, and present. 

SO. If you are a person who is heading down your path towards vibrant health and your vehicle of choice is salmon, let’s chat.

Good Tasting Stuff Choices For Salmon

Sweet, Sweet Fruit

  • Cooking fruits down in acidic juice (like lemon or orange) with ginger root, turmeric root, and/or a dash of honey adds a sweet tang to your steamy fish.
    Salmon-friendly cooked fruits: plums, apricots, apples, tomatoes, dates, citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and grapefruit, tamarind (use the paste)
  • Chopping fresh fruits for a raw preparation is also a lovely direction, especially as we move towards warmer months. Toss with some lime juice and spices, you’re golden.
    Salmon-friendly raw prepped fruits: mango, all melons, pineapple, stonefruits

Get Yo Veggie On

It might help you to know that the season of salmon is spring and early autumn – however it is available year round in our magical land of abundance – so pair your salmon with seasonal veggies from the farmers market. The possibilities range a lot more here.

Spring: 

  • Arugula, Spring Greens, Stored Cabbage, Celeriac, Mint, Peas, Sugar Peas, Spinach, Asparagus, Garlic Chives, Radishes, Morel Mushrooms, Ramps (these are foraged locally in New Jersey but so far no forager I know has ever taken me with them foraging hint hint wink wink hint hint hint. Also Fiddleheads.
  • The farmers markets usually open around April the earliest. Find your way there to find out what’s actually in season for your zone.

Summer:

  • Bell Peppers, Tomatoes (I know, tomato is a fruit), Cucumbers (raw or pickled, also a fruit FYI), BASIL and other herbs, Sunchokes, Summer Greens, Shiso, Mushrooms, Scallions, Asian Eggplants, Corn, Golden Beets
  • Go to your farmers market and start experimenting. There are hundreds of summer pairings – including especially fruit, which is best eaten in its ephemeral season.

Autumn: 

  • Eggplant, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Peppers, Carrots, Celery, Onion, Leeks, Thyme, Potatoes, Flat-leaf Parsley, Spaghetti Squash
  • Go to your farmers market, honey.

Winter: 

  • Chestnuts, Marjoram, Winter Savory, Potatoes, Celeriac, Cabbage, All Types of Beets, Kale, Flat-leaf Parsley, Winter Squash, Swiss Chard
  • Don’t forget about your Farmers Market (yup, the markets continue on through at least December if not into January)

Go Nuts!

Since so many herbs pair so particularly well with the full, rounded, oily fish flavor of Salmon, we need to start thinking about herb based, nut based sauces like, ahem, PESTO.

Pesto
You are not limited to basil. Try spinach, arugula, kale, parsley, cilantro, or anything that looks green and is a leaf and then pick a nut and add GLOS (Garlic, Lemon, Oil, Salt).
Some combos include:
* Basil + Walnuts + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Basil + Thyme + Oregano + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Spinach + Oregano + Rosemary + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
* Cilantro + Pistachio + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt
Flat-Leaf Parsley + Pine Nuts + Almonds + Garlic + Lemon Zest/Juice + Olive oil + Sea salt

* means it’s one of my favorite go-to’s

Cashew Cream
You can find the recipe in two places: on the Suppers website or here on an older Blogpost
Don’t lean on cashew cream too much, it’s so rich that it might be too heavy in the mouth and on the palate – try to break it up with another bright sauce.
Some combos include:
Cooked Apricot + Onion + Cayenne + Lemon + Honey + Dollop Cashew Cream
Raw Asparagus + Lemon + Scallion + Garlic + Tamari + Dollop Cashew Cream
Raw Cucumber + Dill + Shredded Carrot + Scallion + Dollop Cashew Cream

Are you getting the direction I’m going in terms of flavor? Here’s the main point: BRIGHT TASTING STUFF balances RICH TASTING / FEELING STUFF.

Bomb The Stuff With Flavor

Using a bunch of strong stuff in a small portion, thereby bombing your dish with flavor, is the secret weapon for Chefs and for Suppers alike. It’s like an atomic food bomb. These dishes are made of strong tasting stuff, like herbs or roots, citrus, and alliums, and they have an atomic-like effect on otherwise mild or plain foods. They’re great for soups, stews, casseroles and, of course, toppings.

A pesto is one example of an atomic food bomb. Another atomic food bomb I would like to address with you is Caramelized Onions. The process of caramelization extracts natural sugars from foods, and then gently, deliberately, burning those sugars. So, in the case of an ingredient like an onion, it is possible to make onion jam which tastes as sweet as a ball of date paste. Also, a ball of date paste almost qualifies as one but I think technically you’re supposed to have more than just one ingredient.

In closing, Caramelized Onions are like THE BEST THING to have on hand in your kitchen. They are a make ahead! Make one large batch and then keep in a tupperware in your freezer!!!! Now I think that we’ve finally exhausted this “stuff that tastes good on salmon” subject, let’s actually cook something already. Amirite?!

Now We Cook

Step One: Choose your topping(s). I choose, based on things I see in my refrigerator:
Caramelized Onions + Asparagus + Lemon + Garlic + Cashew Cream + Micro Greens

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Step Two: If you already have caramelized onions, skip to Step 5. If not, keep reading.
How To Caramelize Onions

Start with a large bowl of onions and three hours of being at home. Just at home, not necessarily in the kitchen.

Slice about 10-12 cups of onions into thin half-moons. The half moon slice on this is important as it slices against the grain and allows for more breakdown. If you slice the onion with the grain it doesn’t fall apart as well. Just FYI.

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Step Three: Over low heat, melt a bunch of coconut oil in a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add all of the onions at once and a healthy dash of salt (at least 1 full teaspoon) and turn the onions gently with a pair of tongs to coat with oil.

Place lid firmly on pan, set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes, and walk away. Seriously. Go read a chapter of your book or work on your blog 😉 or watch an episode of Mozart In The Jungle or,  I don’t know, have a dance party or something. Go relax.

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Step Four: Upon your return you will be amazed by how much liquid has been created. Give the onions a good stir with a wooden spoon to prevent anything sticking to the bottom of your pan. Then replace the lid and reset your timer. That’s literally all you do, on repeat, for about 2 1/2 hours or until the onions are brown enough for you. Here’s your list:

1. Return when timer beeps
2. Remove lid
3. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking
4. Replace lid
5. Set a timer for 20 minutes
6. Go away

Step Five: Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepped salmon filet on parchment and set aside.

Chop everything else you are using and toss together with lemon juice. Make a layered crust on salmon starting with a nice spread of caramelized onions, then chopped asparagus “salad”. Roast salmon at 400 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes, check for doneness and maybe add a few minutes depending on the size of your filet.

Step Six: Plate roasted salmon and top with a nice dollop of cashew cream and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Add micro greens to look fancy if you want. Enjoy.


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Onion Crusted Salmon With Asparagus

1 lb. salmon filet, de-boned and skinned
1 cup caramelized onions, pre-prepared
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, basil, or other herbs, minced (*optional)
1/2 cup cashew cream, pre-prepared
1/4 cup micro greens (*optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place prepared salmon filet on parchment lined sheet and slather caramelized onions over filet, making sure to spread evenly to each part of salmon. Use more caramelized onions if you like.

2. Prepare asparagus by tossing together chopped asparagus, smashed garlic, lemon zest, juice, sea salt, and black pepper. Spoon salad on top of onion crusted salmon filet. Roast at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Check for doneness in the middle and add time if necessary.

3. Remove and sprinkle with fresh herbs and a wedge of lemon if desired. Slice into large servings and add dollops of cashew cream and a small pinch of micro greens to each. Enjoy immediately or store for future meals!

FYI: If you are cooking for one, use:

6oz Salmon
2 Tablespoons caramleized onions
4 stalks asparagus, chopped into small pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste
1/4 lemon, zested and juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh herbs, minced (*optional)
2 Tablespoons cashew cream, pre-prepared
2 Tablespoons micro greens (*optional)

As always, always, look to Suppers for all of your salmon related recipe needs! And remember, we are here to support you. Join us at our Suppers table and find the support that you need to address food driven health challenges and achieve vibrant health!

 

Play It to the End

A Welcome By DorDor photo by David Crow

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

Ed’s Story: Play It to the End

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

The issue was self sabotage.

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

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

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

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

Ed’s Exercise: Play It to the End

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

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

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

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

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

The Best, Worst Diet Ever, By Allie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our subject:

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

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

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

Jokingly, I said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step One: Toast almonds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tamari Toasted Almonds

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

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

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

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

Varsity Player

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

Who identifies with this statement: “I told my teenager to eat healthy food and he did it.”

Nobody, right? It’s hard enough when they’re little. It’s tough duty serving up tastes of the same unwanted food that requires the requisite 10 or 15 times before a small child accepts a new food. (Unless, of course, your tech-savvy neophobic 3-year old is surfing the net for evidence-based articles on feeding picky eaters.)

At Suppers, we learn that there is strength in numbers. What one mom can’t do alone, we can accomplish if we make it a team sport. We wouldn’t need to connive, collaborate, and form support groups if we weren’t immersed in a food supply that’s as addictive as street drugs. But we are.

Here’s what one Suppers mom did to fight the good fight: she went Varsity.


 

Lena & Todd’s Story – Varsity Player

My son plays varsity football at the local high school. He is a husky lad, and it takes a lot of food to fill him up and keep him fueled for all the activity he demands of his body.

I’ve always had kids in sports. Over the years many of us parents have expressed concern about what the boys are eating, and in the past year or two there has been an increased sense of urgency. Changes we tried individually at home to improve the quality of the food were not embraced, to say the least. 

So this year we decided to feed the boys as a team before games. I shared information from the Suppers program about how to increase energy and stabilize mood with good nutrition. The other parents were very receptive, and we created a menu for pregame breakfast or dinners that included fruit, whole grains, yogurt, eggs, and lean meats. Together we prepared and served the meals for the players, coaches, cheerleaders, and band members. 

What none of us could accomplish individually, we managed to do as a group.

Those hungry kids accepted nourishing meals. If they missed the white flour and sugary foods, they didn’t complain. As the season progressed, the kids realized they had more stamina and energy in the fourth quarter of the game.

There is no doubt in my mind that starting the day with a good breakfast made a difference. I feel very positive about organizing the parents and, as a group, coming up with a formula that worked:

  • Make sure there is only healthy food around when they’re hungry.
  • Make it delicious
  • Couch the discussion in terms of stamina on the field.

The parents won’t need to do any persuading once the kids feel the difference in the fourth quarter. 


 

Stew: It’s What’s For Dinner, said Lena, By Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081When summer comes, my time is spent attempting to educate local youths on gardening, cooking, nutrition, and more. Each warm and beautiful day we prepare a healthy lunch together with freshly harvested ingredients from our garden, sit down at a big table set by the participants, and enjoy a meal they made almost entirely themselves.

So when it comes to the “I don’t like greens,” or “Ewww what’s that?!” or “I don’t eat salad!” I’ve literally heard them all, a zillion times. My response is always,

“You don’t have to like it. You do have to try it.
I get to say that at least twice a day for 40 weekdays straight, all summer long. Would my solidarity break if I had to say it twice a day for 365 days straight? Oh, definitely. So Lena’s story is as inspiring to me as it is impressive.

At Suppers, we encourage bio-individuality and emotional, community based support to provide a person with the strength required to address food-driven health challenges. My theory, which is not very different, includes identifying the smoothest path towards empowerment for a child and then gently but firmly nudging them down that path. They think they’re walking alone but that’s because they’re kids and your presence embarrasses them. It’s better when they think those healthy choices were their own idea anyways. Who cares about “I told you so’s” when the 9-year old is happily eating stewed swiss chard and munching on kale chips? 

Like Lena addressed in her story, children at a private family dinner table are more “show runners” – more inclined to refuse food, have one of those precious, precious attitudes, and demand unhealthy and processed non-food substances from their exhausted parents.

However, in my experience, children in a larger group — even teenagers and perhaps especially teens — WILL try new foods! They will even encourage each other, comfort each other through the process, and – this is huge – if the healthy food tastes delicious then it doesn’t take much to get them to chow down.

So with that in mind, let’s get to work. Here’s a recipe for revamped Chicken and Sweet Potato Dumplings that is sure to please because of it’s natural fatty, saltiness, but is very simple to prepare and allows for your creativity to make slight variations as well. And just so you know, my students go totally nuts for this one. So yeah. It’s kid tested.

Step One: Rinse chicken parts and pat very dry so that spices will stick. Prepare a spice blend of black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, kosher or sea salt, and Bell’s Seasoning (this is key) in a small bowl. On a chicken safe cutting board, sprinkle spices and rub slightly into chicken. Let chicken marinate a bit and come up towards room temperature. 

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IMG_2898Step Two: Sear chicken in coconut oil or another high-heat cooking oil (in case you were wondering, avocado has the highest smoke point if you happen to be a gagillionaire and can use avocado oil for cooking). Sear meat 3-4 minutes per side, then add to a stockpot and cover with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

Hey, do you ever have that experience when you have to literally fight with seared meats that stick to stainless steel cookware? Me too! There are things you can do: 

  • Don’t take meat straight from a refrigerator and place in a pan. Cold meats stick more than room temperature meats.
  • Use the proper amount of oil and heat – not too much, not too little – to create what’s called The Maillard Effect, which causes water vapor to be released from foods, essentially “lifting” that chicken off the pan after just a few minutes.
  • Use cast iron or even enameled cast iron as much as possible for browning meat since it has a constant layer of oil and the groves in the pan are ideal for Maillard Effect.

Step Three: Chop all your veggies and stuff. This is stew, don’t go all nuts about getting like a perfect brunoise or whatever. Don’t worry, Thomas Keller is not going to come get you. Now let’s save you some time — rough chop, Chef! Throw those veggies into the simmering chicken & stock.

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Step Three: The dumplings. Traditional chicken and dumplings are made with Bisquick, duh. Obviously we are not going to use white flour BUT let’s think about what makes biscuits so yummy! Starch, a mild sweetness (from the milk) and doughy happy happy time. So…..let’s use starchy sweet vegetables to create our perfect super dumpling!

You can make up all sorts of variations on these dumplings too — be creative! Just pick a veggie that can be boiled or roasted, then mashed, and mix it with nut flour, egg, a sticky fiber like flax or chia, and seasonings! Nut allergy? No problem — use chickpea flour instead. Veggies include:

  • Rutabaga
  • Cauliflower or Broccoli
  • Celeriac or Celery Root
  • Butternut, acorn, kabocha squash, etc.
  • Carrot
  • Get your kid involved by giving the dumplings job to him or her — it’ll take it off your hands and you’re sure to get a lot of different, interesting ingredients in there.

Step Four: While soup is simmering happily, use two Tablespoons to form small dumplings from the bowl. Drop them gently onto (not into) top layer of soup. Continue creating and placing dumplings on soup until all batter is gone. Leave stew simmering uncovered another 5-7 minutes. If dumplings are firm when poked, you’re done.

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Chicken and Sweet Potato Dumplings

Ingredients

For the stew:

1 whole chicken, cut into parts (or about 4 lbs. chicken parts), rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Bell’s Seasoning (or Old Bay)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock or more if necessary
1 large yellow onion (makes about 2 cups chopped)
1 cup chopped carrot (about four small carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (about four stalks)

For the dumplings:

1 sweet potato, roasted, peeled, and mashed
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 egg
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 cup almond flour, chickpea flour, or gluten free flour
sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure

1. Place chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle with seasonings. Rub dry spices into chicken slightly and make sure each piece is evenly coated. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate and increase in temperature slightly.
2. In a large stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium high heat, melt coconut oil. Sear chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes per side and place in a clean stockpot until all chicken pieces have been seared. Deglaze chicken pan with stock and pour over chicken. Add stock to chicken pan until liquid just covers meat. Bring to a simmer.
3. Chop stew vegetables and add to simmering chicken and stock. Place a lid over stockpot and allow to simmer about 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare dumplings by placing all ingredients into a bowl and using a fork to mix thoroughly. When ready to drop, use two Tablespoons to form dumplings (or your hands if you prefer) and drop one at a time, very gently, on top of simmering stew. Avoid allowing dumpling to drop too much below the surface of the liquid -as that will disintegrate the dumpling- what you want is for the stew to “steam” those dumplings. Allow to continue cooking 5-7 minutes or until dumplings feel sort of firm when poked.

*Keep your simmer low at the end – the dumplings don’t always want to stay totally together. Try to keep dumplings away from angry bubble places, off to the side is best. Turn once with a fork if possible!

*Traditionally Chicken and Dumplings is served over wild, long grain rice. If you would like to add this to your recipe, go for it. I don’t do the rice because I like the dumplings so much and having rice too would be too much for me. However, that’s the tradition and if you would like to add a whole grain to this recipe, I won’t stand in your way.
Just don’t cook the rice with the chicken and vegetables because it will blow up to a huge size and won’t be a delicate carpet for your stew. 

Thanks for reading! As always, head to our website at at Suppers for more healthy recipes to feed your family with delicious, nourishing meals.

 

 

 

 

Why Am I Crying?

A Welcome By DorDor photo by David Crow

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

Ruby’s Story: Why Am I Crying?

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

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

Why was I crying?

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

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

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

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

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


 

Foods to Dry Ruby’s Tears, by Allie

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

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Ingredients

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

Procedure

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

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

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