Feeding My Children in America

A Welcome By Dor

Dor photo by David Crow

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

“We have bad genes for diabetes.”  

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

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

Anu’s Story: Feeding My Children in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Applying Anu’s Tactics, By Allie

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

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

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

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

So let’s make that now, together.


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

 

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

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

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Chana Masala

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

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

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!

 

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!

 

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!

The Clean Program

for purple apron

A Welcome By Lee Yonish

One of the first questions people ask is, “Do I really have to give up coffee?” This seems to be a reasonable question, given that the Clean cleanse prescribes a relatively reasonable plan. Yet perhaps because The Clean Program allows for such a wide array of options, one automatically assumes caffeine may be one of them. Another sticking point for some are the liquid meals: the daily smoothie for breakfast and soup for dinner. Not being able to “crunch” on something can be tough to get used to.

Nonetheless, despite some of these sacrifices, this cleanse works wonders for many people, mainly because they get the opportunity to see how good they can feel — how light, un-bloated, energetic, clear-minded — when eating a variety of real foods, as opposed to a clear liquid diet or a restrictive food diet.

The Clean Program seems to be a highly effective mainstream cleanse, for folks who may not have any chronic health issues but who just feel “ick” from the holidays or from falling back on some old habits. Whatever the case, there is definitely a lot of planning and cooking involved, but mindfulness and a new appreciation for eating are certain to result if you can hang in there.

A Note From Audelle…

Currently the Dr. Junger’s website found here is hosting a 21 Day Detox with free support online and a lot of downloadable/printable information with registration. Participation in this detox started just a few days ago but registration is open. Sometimes cleansing with a group makes things a little easier to swallow. 

Power Smoothies by Allie

48465d_e59e795f6cb742439f1316e9dd4a1081When detox diets are like “you can eat these foods and these other foods but you can’t eat those foods or these things that pretend to be foods but aren’t really foods though” I’m like “you can eat food! Woohoo!” (fist pumping ensues). Lee mentioned that a point of contention folks seem to have with this detox includes the rule about sticking to two drinkable meals per day and zero caffeine. I can get behind the loss of caffeine thing because, well…because coffee. Hearts. However, smoothies (drinkable meals) are a brilliant creation.

The thing about smoothies is that you can nearly. Put. ANYthing. In. A. Smoothie. Do you have a blender? Good, because you can put anything in the blender (within reason) and then add a liquid and then press “On” and then drink what the blender makes. To me, that has always carved the way for more boosters in my diet. Boosters include:

Powdered seaweeds (Spirulina is my favorite because it’s naturally sweet)
Spices like Turmeric and Cinnamon
Chia seeds & Flaxseeds
Maca Powder (a superfood root veggie from South America, which might not be allowed in The Clean Program because of the starch/rootness)
Cacao Powder
Chlorophyl Drops (It’s like we extracted everything good and green from the inside of a kale leaf and put it in a little bottle with a little dropper. Don’t ever drop this bottle, it will dye ANYthing it touches green)
and more!

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Chia Seeds are an excellent source of Omega fatty acids and soluble fiber. They can be used as egg replacers in baking too! However, experts disagree on their overall value.

Don’t feel pigeonholed by the fruit industry when you are making your smoothies.
Veggies need love too. 

Spinach
is creamier than kale in a smoothie but kale packs twice the nutrients in half the serving. They are both high in oxalic acid so remember to eat your greens cooked often.
Carrots are great if you have a strong blender but if you don’t you can steam them, store them in the fridge, and add them to smoothies for a softer result.
In the summertime, Summer Squash adds a nice mild flavored, foamy bulk.
Cooked Beans add thickness, protein, and flavor.

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Once you have all of your desired ingredients, just throw them into a blender and blend until very smooth! Drink up quickly and revel in the fact that you have just injected a multitude of micronutrients into your system. One time I was really into my Jack LaLanne juicer and I juiced like…everything I could find in my kitchen and drank it. That wasn’t the best idea in the world because about five minutes after I drank like a liter of fresh juice I started running an insane fever, my face turned red, my heart started racing and I thought I was going to die. Probably too many B Vitamins all at once.

Smoothies have more insoluble fiber than juice so the nutrient extraction takes longer and doesn’t result in a Niacin Flush, which is what I think happened to me. Terrifying.

DSC_0783Clean Program Mango Lime Chia Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup frozen mango
1 cup greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 green apple, cored
3 baby carrots or 1 medium carrot
1 heaping Tablespoon Chia seeds
1 cup mango puree or fresh juice
1 cup water

Procedure

1.  Combine ingredients in a blender starting with frozen ingredients and ending with liquids.
2.  Blend until very smooth and drink immediately.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Dor photo by David Crow

A Welcome By Dor

Of the remaining nuisances I deal with related to mercury poisoning, by far the most troubling is the “brain stuff”. So this January I’ve decided to do the Terry Wahls protocol, which purports to be a highly neuro-protective elimination diet.  If you’ve never heard of Dr. Wahls, she is a medical doctor who was wheelchair-bound with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
She reversed the diagnosis on food and has returned to vibrant health and athleticism.  
I will be eating lots of colorful vegetables, bone broth, coconut oil, olive oil, and reasonable quantities of organic meats and especially organ meats. No nuts, seeds, greens, legumes nor processed foods of any kind.  I expect that this will be the first of many activities I do in preparation for Suppers meetings devoted to brain health
If you’d like me to include you on the mailing list of people interested in brain health, please email me. I would love to hear what you’re doing to support your nervous system.  Yoga? Meditation? Exercise? Or maybe herbs, vitamins and avoidance of your demon food triggers?  Making sure you get enough sleep and, of course, love in your life.
We’ll do this the way we do everything at Suppers.  We’ll roll up our sleeves, cook delicious food, get our education, share our experiences and write stories!  
Here’s one to get us started, how one member unloaded debilitating fatigue and brain fog…

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Anita’s Story – Be Careful What You Ask For

Be careful what you ask for. I thought I wanted clarity about what was causing my bouts of debilitating fatigue and brain fog. But when I sorted it out, it seemed like the end of the world, as I knew it. My food journal yelled at me in plain English that wheat was keeping me exhausted. I was my own source of data and I’d repeated the experiments many times. After a Suppers meeting, I was usually a little disappointed there hadn’t been bread or dessert, but I never got that plunging fatigue after a meeting. Any morning that I allowed myself a bagel I was yawning by 10a.m., barely able to prop my eyes open. When I went to an Italian restaurant, I could not eat just one piece of bread while waiting for my dinner. The world narrowed, if I tried, and it took incredibly energy and concentration to resist that basket on the table. I could ruin an entire evening out trying to resist 62 cents of flour, salt, and yeast.

I dutifully recorded my reactions, hoping that other explanations would emerge; chronic job stress, exhaustion from dealing with my teenagers, even chocolate would have been better news.

No. It was the wheat. How I feel is data and my body was telling the truth.

Before I tried giving it up, I asked some other members for pointers on nutritional harm reduction and recommendations from friends who had accomplished this feat. I’m including their suggestions in my story; maybe it will make things less daunting for somebody else in my situation.

I’m not saying these tips made it easy. I am saying doing these things made it possible to five up some of my favorite foods, the same foods that gave me a lift followed by debilitating fatigue. I miss my comfort foods less and less as I enjoy my new way of eating more and more. And I certainly don’t miss nodding off in the middle of the morning after bagel brain fog rolls in.

Anita’s Tips on Avoiding Wheat

Be ready with delicious foods and don’t count calories when you first go off wheat. You can think about calories later if you want to. Nuts, seeds, fruits, leftovers all work. Where I used to have a handful of crackers, I now grab a handful of nuts.

Use ground almonds for quiche crusts. Just oil or butter the pie pan and swirl around 1/2 of almond meal so it coats the pan.

There are some wheat-free breads at the whole food store that taste pretty good, especially if you toast them.

The health food store also carries gluten-free flours that work just fine for making gravies and biscuits if you can’t face life without baked goods.

Make pizza on flourless tortillas (but don’t call it pizza if you have kids), also available at health food stores.

Eat more protein and vegetables at the beginning of the day and see if that reduces cravings for baked goods later in the day.


 

Making Clean Soup for a Clear Head, By Allie

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If you can make a pot of coffee, you can make a pot of soup. 

The Suppers Programs

Soup is all about layers. What goes in first, second, third, etc. The layers don’t change fundamentally, they are only altered slightly in terms of specific ingredients.

At the same time, flavor is also about layers. What goes in and when affects the flavor of your dish. Flavor can always be changed slightly in the balancing stage at the end — essentially, unless you burn something we can always fix flavor issues. However in order to achieve a layered dish; one which begins tasting one way and then builds towards other flavors in other areas of your palate (mostly the front and back) you must layer correctly during the cooking process.

So you’re probably like “jeez get to the layers” so here they are:

Layer One: Alliums (onions, scallions, leeks, garlic, etc.)

These vegetables need to cook for the longest amount of time. If you are unable to cook a leek for the proper amount of time alone, or with its family members, its sweetness is difficult to extract, for example.

Saute Alliums with a pinch of sea salt, cook for a few minutes, then add DRIED herbs if you would like to use them. 

Hey, how do you cut an onion? I’m not gonna say there’s a wrong way or a right way but…this is the way I do it and it’s also the way Julia Child did it so…yeah. There’s that.

Layer Two: Other vegetables (carrots, celery, green beans, cooked beans, kale, tomatoes, parsnips, peppers, etc.)

These vegetables only need to saute for a bit in the soup process. What they really like doing is simmering in stock.

Saute five minutes until very fragrant. I often use a lid on this step to speed up cooking time and so when I open the lid and all the steam comes out I can waft the good flavor in my face or my loved ones faces. 

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Layer Three: Stock or Water (from mushroom to beef broth)

If you can’t use stock and you absolutely need to make soup, it is possible to use water — particularly if you are making tomato based soups — with some extra seasonings. My favorite “oh my god I don’t have any stock” seasonings are Bell’s, Savory Spice Blends, Onion powder, and Old Bay.

If you used any other pan for a saute (like meat, for instance) deglaze that pan with 1 cup of stock or water FIRST, then add those goodies to your pot. 

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Layer Four: Starchy Vegetables, Partially Cooked Meats, or Grains (potato, sweet potato, rutabaga, quinoa, millet, bulgur, etc.) Since these ingredients need to cook in liquid, if you want to use them then now is the time.

Layer Five: Balancers and Finishers — Fresh herbs, acids, salts.

These ingredients are there to help you to tune your soup to the right note. Acid balances salt so if you have been heavy handed with the salt shaker, try to add a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to reduce the saltiness. That works both ways so it’s likely you’ll end up going back and forth when you begin down your yellow brick flavor balancing road.

That’s it! Use the layers in place of steps and you will have this delicate, fantastic soup to enjoy.


 

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Anita’s Kale and Bean Soup (Variations by Allie)

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasonings

8 cups curly kale, de-stemmed and chopped

2 15oz cans beans, rinsed and drained

2 ½ cups tomato sauce

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 bay leaves

4 cups water, vegetable, or chicken stock

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium high heat. Saute onions and garlic about 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in sea salt and dried herbs, continue cooking another minute.

Stir in kale and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes until kale is very bright. Add beans, tomato sauce, fresh oregano, pepper, bay leaves, and water or stock. Bring to a simmer and simmer 15 minutes. Balance with sea salt and acid if necessary.

*optional: Anita adds 1 lb spicy Italian sausage or 2 cups chicken breasts, diced, to add protein. I did a vegetarian version of this recipe because of dietary restrictions.