Saturday, December 13, 2014

Organic Chicken Livers

My foray into the Wahls' Protocol thus far has been a trial and error learning experience. I've found that the Wahls' principles are best employed, for my system, with some caveats. I wasn't made to eat meat every day, though I do benefit from very high quality animal proteins on a regular basis, but only if they are organic. Non-organic animal protein palpably makes me feel worse. I mostly crave liver and fish, so that's the animal protein I eat. Dark leafy greens are once again the mainstay of my healthy diet. I feel that alternating animal protein vs. vegetable meals leaves enough room for the consumption of a sufficient amount of greens. With too much meat, I can't get enough greens because the system becomes so heavy.

Organic chicken livers aren't easy to find in my area. I've only seen them at Whole Foods -- once. They are featured in this photo. This dish, loosely based upon Dr. Wahls' recipe, was the most delicious liver I've had. I didn't use bacon, since my cholesterol, historically very low, has risen dramatically since I started eating meat. I did use onions, mushrooms and a little balsamic vinegar, and finished it all off with a bright splash of fresh lemon juice.  Mmmm -- I hope Whole Foods can find me some more organic livers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yoda's Swampy Chocolate Smoothie

Despite Dr. Wahl's warning against juicing, it's always made me feel so much better, so I continue to juice. But now mindful of the warned glycemic spike, I make an effort to take my time while consuming juice, and have also added smoothies (approved by Dr. Wahls) as an occasional alternative.

This swampy, chocolatey delight really provides a wallop of a wakeup in the morning, and is chewy enough to push all my supplements down the gullet choke-free. This smoothie is the perfect vehicle for 7 of the 9 required cups of fruits and veggies Dr. Wahls prescribes per day. Here's the recipe:

Yoda's Swampy Chocolate Smoothie

  • 6 cups raw greens of your choice, tightly packed in the Vitamix:  spinach is delish in this, but I've also enjoyed romaine
  • 1 cup frozen berries of your choice -- I like blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Raw Organic Cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Organic Hemp Protein powder
  • enough coconut water to get everything moving (I used 1 cup chocolate coconut water)
  • a drizzle of organic, local honey if you like, or molasses or real maple syrup -- be careful not to add too much: you just want a complement, not a dominant flavor
Grind it all up until smooth. You may find a couple of ice cubes at the end will enhance the texture. I've sometimes enjoyed this basic smoothie formula with a dollop of almond butter and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon. Even a pinch of sea salt might be nice with the chocolate. 

This makes more than a glassful, so you can share some or put a bonus lidded bottle-full in the fridge for a late-morning pick-me-up. Smoothie mornings are great for getting right to work. Doesn't my smoothie look exactly like something Yoda would have scooped out of his swamp for you? This glassful isn't pretty, but healthy and productive, it will make you. Listen to Yoda.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Wahls-Worthy Panful

Life has been abundant in surprising ways lately, with so many blessings but with time at a premium. In seasons such as these, it takes a bit more planning and work to keep the healthy food coming. This morning, by the time I remembered to eat it was almost lunch time. So I made a big, healthy brunch all in one pan. In coconut oil and organic, nitrate-free bacon, I sauteed mushrooms, garlic, two types of tomatoes and piles of broccoli rabe. I also cut open a bag of this:

and tossed it into the pan (the kelp noodles, not the air plant). Have you seen these noodles? It's fun -- you just rinse them off and add them to whatever you are eating.  They seem to be an awful lot like the "glass noodles" we sometimes order from our local Asian eatery. "Glass noodles" may be a marketing tool. Personally, I'd have been more enthusiastic about kelp. This was an easy way to get my seaweed fix. This panful was amazing, strengthening and sustaining.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


This beautiful salad I ate for lunch today was only reminiscent of the nicoise salads I enjoyed in days of yore. Here, grilled vegetables from last night's dinner stand in for the roasted potatoes found in a traditional nicoise salad. The piquant capers effectively transported my tastebuds to the rooftop restaurant in Athens, Greece, where I first learned to love this culinary genre. This was a delicious, empty-starch-free lunch.

My first impulse was to title this post "Nicoisish" but then the second syllable unlocked a random and almost forgotten memory of having studied an element of Neoclassical Decorative Arts called "Chinoiserie". My mind is all over the place today, but it's rather exciting. I am so surprised at what is coming forth. Most of these emerging memories had been faded, forgotten and potentially lost. Could it be that the Wahls' Protocol is beginning to work? I love thinking, and remembering. I've had a lovely life thus far and it'd be a shame not to know about it.

Along with a few of my fellow Art History Major compadres at my alma mater, William and Mary, I was fortunate enough to take a wonderful Decorative Arts class within the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, across the street from the College and historic Duke of Gloucester Street. "Chinoiserie" was one representation of European Neoclassical Decorative Arts toward the end of the 18th century. It is simply the Eastern influence in European designs in furniture, textiles and other decorative items created during that time. It was one of my favorite classes.  It was amazing to be able to study the actual items instead of slides in a sleepy, dark auditorium. How I'd love to do it all again -- even the dark auditorium part!

Fun fact: The historic building which houses the Dewitt Wallace Museum was formerly a sanitarium (modern euphemism for what used to be called an "insane asylum"). A former neighbor of my mother's was in residence there in her later years. The neighbor used to babysit my mom and her younger sister, and had always made mom uneasy. Currently there is a history museum to commemorate the building's former incarnation on the upper level of the building. True story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What is This?

You've probably guessed it: eggs! In this case turmeric/dill eggs. This was so much more fabulously delicious than it looks. The eggs look cooked to death, but don't let the rusty turmeric hue fool you. While lightly crisp on the outside, the yolks were still liquidy-warm inside.

Turmeric is so good for us! Regaled for it's integrative success in treating head-and neck cancers, it's also a powerful anti-inflammatory and, surprisingly, has been found in a clinical study to give Prozac a run for it's money in treating certain forms of depression. I'll not eschew any of these benefits, but I indulge in turmeric, in food and supplement form, for its anti-inflammatory role. For those of us with auto-immune disorders, anti-inflammatories are a valuable end-game tool. They not only alleviate aches and pains, they quiet the over-the-top immune response that usually accompanies inflammation of any kind. Despite our best efforts to avoid immune system triggers, it does happen. It's nice to have a few tricks up our sleeves for the inevitable occasional assault. I enjoy turmeric at least once every day, whether in curries, just sprinkled atop food as a seasoning or in a delicious mug of Wahls' Protocol Bone Broth with coconut milk and a little cinnamon. This healing, warming rhizome will be more and more appealing as the weather cools. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Spooky! + My Autumnal Garden

When I peered out my back window, I marveled at the leaf seemingly hovering in midair. Upon closer inspection:

This web was enormous -- stretching all the way across the path of our forest. The spider looked like a brown recluse, so I didn't get very close.  Looking at these photos, it's surprising to see how dark our forest is in midday. The leafy cover is very thick still, despite the season beginning to turn.

While the output of the garden has slowed, and the temperature is still summer-hot, there is a sepia tone to the plot which portends the coming of Autumn.

Look at how beautiful my rotten-cabbage-in-the-crisper-surprise turned out to be! I love how the water droplets sit still upon the frosty surface of the leaves.

These tomatoes are huge, but they refuse to redden. Because the trees around the garden have grown, they don't get as much sun as they want. I picked one anyway and set it upon my counter to see what would happen. I was surprised to see it turn red within a week. It certainly gets less sun inside my house than it did in the garden, and our indoor 74 degrees shouldn't be as conducive to ripening as the great outdoors' hellish 90's, but redden it did. My leading theory has to do with the lack of jungle-like humidity on the inside. If anyone has a more well-informed hypothesis, I'd be interested!

Bonus food shot: another recent breakfast. I know you've seen lots of eggs, but they are always so pretty I have to catch them -- in this case with arugula and mixed grape tomatoes.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Sustainable Source

Some time ago, one of the physicians with whom I worked at Atlanta Functional Medicine recommended a wonderful website for sustainable, sushi-grade, wild-caught fish: Vital Choice. At the time I was still mostly vegan, only occasionally partaking of sea creatures. As my diet has evolved, I've learned that animal protein is crucial for my health, but only organic animal protein. I can palpably feel the negative effects of non-organic animals. Though I have yet to accomplish a fully Wahls Protocol diet, I've incorporated as much of it as my system will currently tolerate. I do suspect I'll find the Protocol easier to follow as I adjust, but I'm not doing myself any favors by eating grocery store, non-organic animals.

Vital Choice is predictably on the pricey side, but there are ways to maximize savings by selecting random-sized pieces of fish. I chose four lbs. of wild-caught King Salmon frozen in individual servings, and four lbs. of Atlantic Cod, frozen in four large 1 lb. chunks. I will need to do some planning for the cod. Nobody here loves fish the way I do, but if I get creative, I bet I could sell fresh ceviche in addition to fillets on the grill, en papillote or sauteed with some of these lovely tomatoes or some fresh greens. I'll share future experiments.

Obviously the salmon in individual portions is easier to thaw and prepare on the fly, and I've enjoyed it so much -- so fresh and with no "fishy" or "off" scent or flavor. I normally like mine more rare than this one, but in the spirit of enlisting my husband in my fish-eating frenzy, I was grateful to have him grill a couple of filets. They were delicious with lemon and a pile of fresh dill. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Perfectly Protocol

What a delicious meal this was! I sauteed a large shallot in coconut oil, then seared a lovely piece of wild ahi tuna for only two minutes on each side, leaving it still rare in the center. Meanwhile, I fried broccoli and garlic at a fairly high heat in more coconut oil, turning periodically until crisp-tender. The broccoli was finished with a little olive oil once I took it off the heat. Finally, my very favorite replacement for starch: parsnip puree! I boiled peeled, organic parsnip chunks for about 12 minutes, then drained and processed them (in a food processor -- too dry for a vitamix) with a little of the boiling water, some coconut milk, salt, pepper and lots of nutmeg. The puree beats the heck outta mashed potatoes!

Each item on the plate was of such high quality in taste and nutrition, I was left with an overwhelming sense of well-being for having treated myself, followed soon-after by overwhelming regret that there was none left! No worries -- I'll be making this again!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stewed Heart is Better

Yep, I liked it much better stewed. In Midlife tradition, always kale-forward, the stew is down there somewhere.  It was a simple, ancient recipe from Nova Scotia: only chopped heart, a couple of onions, water and salt, simmered for about 4 hours. Unbelievably, the basic concoction was lovely, tender and delicious -- just like any favorite beef stew. The truffle- and olive oil rubbed kale was the perfect accompaniment. I loved it. Daenarys, eat your heart out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Heart of the Matter

Dr. Wahls says that she and Jackie consider heart to be like a fine steak. She suggests cooking it as rare as one can tolerate for the most health benefits and also because organ meats become tough with overcooking. So I was set up for a different experience than what I turned out to have. The flavor was delicious, and the healthful effect was immediate and palpable. It was just . . . so . . . chewy. The effect was of eating a very thick rubber band. The inside was still nice and red, so I don't think I overcooked it. The flavor -- I cooked it with bacon, onion, garlic and coconut oil, and garnished with fresh Italian Parsley -- was wonderful. Bacon and coconut oil are the cooking media at the top of Dr. Wahls' list.

This beef heart was mercifully already sliced and cleaned by the time I got it. I was a full vegan only five months ago, and the psychological shift is still slow and incomplete. This challenge was more difficult than most for me. But we do what we need to do to reclaim our health. Besides a myriad of minerals and proteins which are much more easily and fully assimilated than with other foods or supplements, heart is the best natural source of CoQ10, essential for regeneration of lost neurology and, ironically, heart health.

Vivica at The Nourished Caveman wrote an informative post about sauteing and eating heart which had emboldened me to give it a try. At the bottom of the screen of Vivica's post is a gorgeous photo of Daenarys ceremoniously chowing on a horse heart. When I had watched the scene, from "A Game of Thrones", I remember thinking, "Just get it over with -- how bad could it be?" Now that I, myself,  have ceremoniously chowed only about a third of a heart, to the tune of 30 minutes, I have a new appreciation for Daenarys' badassness. I think I might chop up and stew the rest of the heart.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Adventures in Bone Broth

Have you tried it? In our fast-paced world, it's a little different to boil bones with the dregs of your crisper for five hours. Dr. Wahls suggests boiling from 4 hours to 3 days. I stopped at 5 hours because I don't trust my slow-cooker to be unattended. It gets hot. The early part of the boil smelled pretty bad, but "Bone Broth" has turned out to be something that really seems to help me. I can palpably feel its benefits even as I'm sipping it. Dr. Wahls says it's wonderful for neurological regeneration, and I'm all about that.

Here are some of my experiments:

This mugful was prepared the way Dr. Wahls likes to drink it with a little organic coconut milk and some turmeric. I thought it was delicious, warm and energizing. If you are wondering, those are some of the boiling veggies in there. I didn't strain this mugful. The broth is so filling that it takes quite some time to drink, so I just walk around the house with it as I do housework, etc.

This chocolate milkshake was better than any other one I've had, pre-vegan, pre-Wahls Protocol -- ever.    In the Vitamix, I used a cup of bone broth, half a cup of chocolate coconut water (Zico was the brand I used) a frozen banana, a few ice cubes, some cinnamon and nutmeg. This was rich and thick and luscious -- I was so sorry to see it go. (For this one, I did strain the broth)

This ratatouille-bone broth soup was so easy. In the Vitamix, I blended leftover ratatouille with a cup of the bone broth and a pinch of salt. This would have been nice warm or cold, but I enjoyed it warm. I bet I'll be able to do this with lots of leftovers.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Buffalo Burgers

As with all ground meats, it's advisable to thoroughly cook ground buffalo meat. Even with high-quality meats such as this grass-fed, organic buffalo, there's no way to know how clean the grinder was. So we just cook it.

This Protocol-friendly meal featured buffalo meat incorporating chopped onions and one of our favorite marinades: Allegro. We've learned to only marinate briefly, as the food gets saltier as it sits. The burgers were well-grilled but still juicy, flavorful and tender. Andres had his on a bun, while I opted for a simple schmear of grainy mustard -- amazing! On the side -- a hefty pile of baby bok choy sauteed with garlic in coconut oil, and finished with a tiny drop of really good balsamic vinegar. Mmmmm.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I bought a large sheaf of dandelion leaves recently. These weren't the yard weeds from my childhood -- they were very long and robust, with no blossoms or fluffy seed pods. I enjoyed the pungent, bitter leaves in a salad, but nobody else did. Better was this preparation sauteed in coconut oil with purple onions and mushrooms, and finished with a little grass-fed butter. This saute mellowed the bitterness of the greens without eliminating it. Delicious!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Protocol Lunch

This fish salad is a perfect example of where the Protocol works well for me.  I never tire of wild caught salmon, and will enjoy it freshly baked in parchment for dinner and then again, cold, over greens the next day. Here the fish is accompanied by sauteed mushrooms and red onions over raw spinach. Just what the Dr. ordered!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pretty Chili

I just found this photo of a crock pot full-o-chili midway through the cooking. The organic beef was brown, the leftover veggies from prior meals were cooked but the fresh ones were still brightly hued. Isn't it pretty? As the colors muted the flavors melded into something glorious. I used Chipotle powder, cumin, a little turmeric, garlic powder and salt. Mmmmm.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breakfast on St. John

We've just returned from our vacation on St. John. See St. John on my other blog for more photos and info about this wonderful destination. The sun rises very early on the island. The ambient light began to wake me every day at 4:45 a.m., so I relished the quiet solitude and remarkable one-of-a-kind show of the sunrise, often complete with torrential downpours and rainbows, from the best vantage point imaginable. Everything is more expensive on this island, but I did spring for organic eggs and grass-fed butter. I made downgraded bulletproof coffee, with standard grounds and only butter (they've probably never heard of MCT oil on the island), stirred with a spoon. From my front-row seat, it was fabulous!

Some other mornings, oatmeal fueled my day, but here's another egg dish:

 I veered off course during the week with bean consumption and regular bread, But am now cleaning up my act again at home.

With gratitude for our week in paradise . . .

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bulletproof Update

Today I skipped the blender but upgraded my coffee to a Columbian organic roast with a low mycotoxin profile. I used filtered water and simply whisked the butter and oil into the cup. It was better than yesterday's coffee, less time consuming and loud and the finished product was nice and hot. I've found my system.

I didn't think you'd want to see another photo of a cup of coffee, so I hope you enjoy this little Chinese longbean blossom.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bulletproof Coffee

Have you heard of this trend? I don't know how I found it, but apparently this idea is pretty big in certain Paleo circles. The full story is here. Basically, a guy named Dave Asprey was hiking/climbing in Tibet and found himself completely depleted and dehydrated. A yak farmer took him in and gave him the traditional Tibetan drink of tea with yak butter. He was completely transformed. The hiker resolved to discover the science behind his rejuvenation. In short, he found that our bodies are starved for healthy fats -- medium chain triglycerides in particular. Absent a reputable source in this part of the world for yak butter, he advocates utilizing unsalted grass-fed butter along with MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil, which is basically highly refined coconut oil. I'm not sure where the coffee idea came from, but I suspect it makes the most sense from a marketing standpoint in the United States. I may try it with tea at some point -- apparently the Tibetan hosts used our lowly Lipton teabags, so I can probably even elevate the quality of my faux yak butter tea from the original.

My morning routine is already time-consuming with sorting and swallowing supplements and administering my injections, so I wasn't crazy about the idea of adding more to it. Nevertheless, the notion of fixing my most vexing MS symptoms (cognitive fog and fatigue) with one frothy cup of joe was compelling. I was turned off a little bit by the weight-loss and fitness slant of Dave's website. I'm not interested in losing weight. The label on the MCT oil bottle is similarly off-putting, so I thought of using coconut oil, which my doctor already prescribes (a teaspoon twice a day) but I've found that raw coconut oil causes an allergic reaction for me -- an itchy, uncomfortable feeling in the throat, while cooked coconut oil is fine. The MCT oil, highly refined and delivering a higher dose of the beneficial triglycerides, didn't turn out to be allergenic. As a former vegan, consuming butter on purpose was a mental shift, but anything for health at this point.

Here are the ingredients in the blender. I may experiment with alternate blending ideas, maybe a shaker cup or even a whisk. This blending will not always go over very well with family members who'd rather sleep in. Also, soaping and scrubbing the Vitamix in the morning doesn't appeal. Finally, the cold butter and blending action create a less than piping hot drink. I popped it in the microwave after blending, which I'm sure negates some of the good I'm trying to do. But here's the final product:

It was lovely. I don't care for sweet coffee, so I enjoyed the bulletproof coffee just the way it was. I was surprised at the different coffee experience. Instead of a jolt followed by a crash, the coffee delivered a slow buzz which was gentler and longer lasting. The fats alter the delivery of the caffeine, apparently. While Dave's system is the result of much research and testing, it is out of my budget -- but there are less expensive ways to enjoy bulletproof coffee. Just do a little research.

The verdict so far: This may turn out to be a worthwhile addition to my healthcare regimen. Apparently results improve over a few weeks as we ramp up our healthy fats. The coffee is delicious and the immediate and lasting effects to the system are appealing. I'm going to have to tweak my routine with this. The whole blender in the morning may not be worth it. Maybe I won't mind drinking my coffee with a floating oil slick on top. Updates will follow.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Meatballs, Round Two + a Garden Update

This is an example of how I strive to stay within the Wahls Protocol guidelines but fall short (sometimes on purpose) nevertheless. I recently reprised my organic meatballs -- just meat and gobs of onion and Italian parsley formed into balls, cooked in a little coconut oil, drained and then bathed in an organic marinara. I added this last part for my husband's benefit, who'd rather have his meatballs with pasta and his burgers with buns. I gave him most of the sauce, but the bit that remained on my own meatballs was lovely. A simple, undressed salad of spinach and fresh dill and basil from my garden was a great accompaniment. The herbs took the place of dressing. So far so good with the Protocol.

But I decided I also wanted succotash. I had a couple of organic tomatoes, yellow squash and onions which I first sauteed in coconut oil, then lazily opened a couple of bags of frozen organics: corn and lima beans (non-Protocol). At the end, I stirred in more of the aforementioned garden herbs and drizzled a little olive oil. I'm sorry, I don't feel too guilty about craving succotash. What a delicious plateful!

My herbs are prolific, but we are well into 90+ degree weather in the deep south so they will surely go to seed any day now. I'll keep using them anyway, of course, but there is a noticeable change in flavor when this happens. My first priority now is to cut as much chard and kale as I can. Greens get much too bitter to serve the way I like them (barely cooked) after the hot temps. They will still be great in long-simmered dishes like soups, however.

A gardening note: last year I utilized companion planting to thwart would-be marauders, be they adorable and furry or slimy and creepy. I planted marigolds and onions around the perimeter and throughout my small plot. It worked like a charm. This year I tried to get by with the onions alone. Cute little inchworms (not as cute as the chipmunks, though) got to my kale. I understood this AFTER harvesting a big armful as they floated to the surface of the soaking bowl in the kitchen. I guess I've got to start wearing my glasses to the garden.  Ah, the adventures of aging.  The worms don't seem to like the chard -- maybe the oxalates in it are doing their job? Unfortunately I believe these little green squirmies will grow up to be the giant, juicy saber-tailed tomato worms that have decimated that crop in days of yore. See Ay Desnudos!  for the backstory. Maybe it's time to erect an arsenal of marigolds around the tomatoes.

Here are some garden shots including my munched-upon dino kale:

I planted four tiny cucumber plants and forgot what garden bullies they tend to be. I've gotten creative and have set up an additional trellis for them outside the garden fence. Every day I check to see where the cukes are going and correct their course if possible. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Good Morning, Sunshine

You've seen the likes of this before, but it was so fast, easy and delicious that I had to share. Also, I think the photo is compelling. This is simply two organic eggs fried in coconut oil with organic tomatoes and spinach, salt and pepper. It took no more time to throw together than a bowl of cereal would have. What a way to start the day!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lamb Chops with Lemon

I have misty memories of the days of lamb and mint jelly, which I did enjoy as a child. It seemed back then that was the only way to serve lamb. I can't imagine using that much sugar now.

Still striving for only organic meats, I made use of these little organic gems last night. I marinated them in lemon juice and thyme from my garden for about an hour and then quickly fried them in coconut oil for 3 minutes per side. There were three of them and just one was the perfect amount for me. at 1.5" thick, this chop was smaller than my fist. Veggies made up the rest of my plateful: a melange of onion, celery and mushrooms and simply steamed asparagus. Everything was delicious.This was about as close to perfect for a Wahls Protocol meal as I will likely get. I felt well-fed and calm from this meal. I look forward to eating the remaining chop for lunch.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Easy Organic Meatballs With Tomatoes

This meal was perfect for me. It's an example of something that would fit into the Wahl's Protocol without challenging or stressing my system. My only regret is that I had no leftovers. The organic ground beef packets available to me weigh exactly a pound. When my husband and son saw what I was doing with the meatballs, they claimed the lion-share of the meat for two hamburgers they grilled (the best burgers they've tasted, they said!). 

Having no interest in bread myself, I was left with a paltry amount of meat which produced these five golf ball-sized morsels. They'd have been even smaller without the onion and parsley I added. Veggies cook down, of course, but when I formed these meatballs they seemed to have equal parts veg/meat. The meatballs are simply organic beef, minced onion and Italian parsley. I sauteed them in coconut oil over medium-high heat with some cherry tomatoes, turning them periodically so that all sides were browned.   Some of the onions fell out, making sort of a tomato compote for the meatballs. While I prefer meat on the rare side normally, for ground meats I opt to cook it thoroughly. There's no way of knowing the level of bacteria on a meat grinder, even with organic products. Being immune-compromised, I've learned not to take chances. The cooked meatballs were not dry at all -- probably because of all the onions. 

This plateful, with steamed broccoli, was luscious and was the perfect amount for my system, imparting the calm, grounded strength it needs. I miss this food already. Maybe next time I'll buy two organic meat packets. The leftovers would be wonderful with some kelp noodles or over spaghetti squash or sage polenta.  Mmmm -- inspired!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Breakfast Bowls!

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day. It's a tough holiday for me since losing my amazing mom, Jeanine McKenzie Allen. This was our third one without her.

There's the sweet Angel, just the way I remember her. Since it's a bit of a melancholy day now, we keep it kind of low-key. I cut my own bouquet:

Then I announced I was skipping short-order cooking for the day. We ordered Thai food for lunch and Mexican for dinner -- they were both excellent meals and for me, dairy- and gluten-free. For breakfast, I did cook, just for myself -- the bowl! Here's the cooking shot:

Two eggs in coconut oil, a tomato, some leftover sauteed mushrooms and spinach. Onto the top of the cooked bowlful I piled chunks of half an avocado. This was so nutritious, filling and energizing. It makes sense for me to make breakfast a priority. A lot of work goes into being me. There are my injections and supplements,

some of which are tough to keep down if my stomach isn't otherwise occupied. The process cannot be rushed effectively, in other words I can't just wolf it all down without feeling sick, so some days I work breakfast and supplements into and around laundry and dishes and by the time I'm done it is about 11:30. So the big bowls really serve as brunch. If I want more food around lunchtime a small salad or fresh green juice will suffice. The bowl above was so delicious -- the eggs came out perfectly, only softly set in the center. I toasted a piece of gluten-free bread at the end to sop up every remaining drop.

Here's another morning's bounty:

I love how the coconut oil makes the edges of the eggs so golden-brown and crispy! As you might imagine, a brunch bowl is an excellent vehicle for leftovers. I didn't warm the steak from the night before. I prefer it on the rare side and warming it would have likely spoiled it for me. I really enjoyed the warm and the cold together, and now that I know it is good for nervous system regeneration, I enjoyed the fatty gristle on the meat too. Give a bowl a try!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Restaurant Meals

Of course eating at home and knowing the source of your organic food is the best option for those of us being very careful about our diets, but sometimes a girl wants to  go out. I do it quite a bit, actually, since that is the chapter in which I find myself with friends and family, including a husband, teenage daughter and a son in college, none of whom have much interest in eating the kind of food I'm choosing. I do have one wonderful friend who is walking a similar dietary path to mine. Liat is vegan and gluten free, but she has previously tried a paleo diet and has always been conscious of maintaining health through natural means.

It was Liat who brought me to The Loving Hut last week. I didn't even know we had one in the Atlanta area! Though I have added meats to my vegan diet and have subtracted gluten, I found plenty of fabulous, delicious food there. Liat and I split a Basil Spring Roll appetizer with peanut sauce -- so delicious and fresh! We were starving, so I forgot to take a photo before wolfing down my portion. Next, at Liat's suggestion, I had this eggplant dish, gluten-free. It was so rich and fabulous, and I loved the fresh cucumber and tomato with the tamari-based sauce. I needed a doggy bag for most of the rice here. Liat chose a ginger baby bok choy saute. We each shared a little of our entree. I loved her food too, for totally different reasons. The ginger was strong -- just the way I like it. I can never have too much of that pungent root. Thanks, Liat!

Forgive the awful photo on this one. I'm not so great with my phone-as-camera after dark. In my defense, it is one of the older phones, though it did take the lunchtime Loving Hut photo above, so it's most likely user error here. I'm old fashioned. I'd rather use a camera as a camera, and a phone as a phone. But I digresse . . . My husband and I love a little restaurant in Roswell called Bistro VG. On my other blog, A Midlife Vegan+, I have blogged about many fabulous meals I've eaten there over the years. With my new diet I had to pull out my reading glasses once again to select the most appropriate food. I started with my all-time favorite salad -- Simple Arugula -- without cheese, and then dove into this yummy pile: broiled wild salmon (rare) atop an amazing quinoa and veggie concoction. I cannot say enough good things about this plateful. It was strange yet familiar. It tasted like health and decadence all rolled into one. It was sublime. They are putting my food on menus now! :)

Finally, I want to share some pretty darn good drive-thru my husband picked up for me. This is from Panera: The Chicken Cobb Salad With Avocado. I asked for it with NO CHEESE, and with the dressing on the side. The chicken is hormone-free, tender and flavorful and the rest of the ingredients, egg, bacon, tomato, romaine and avocado, hardly needed a dressing at all. I only put a little on the tines of my fork. Next time, I think I will opt for lemon and olive oil instead. Though the ingredients in the dressing had none of the "forbidden items" there were a couple of chemicals I didn't recognize. Why not choose cleaner next time? This salad was amazing. I really like that you can get menu, nutrition and ingredient details on Panera's website while your husband is sitting in line at the drive-thru. Another great option for the health-based diner!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

Doesn't this look like a fiesta? This lime slaw was a wonderful, crunchy alternative to the lettuce that many use in their tacos. Yes, I said tacos -- one of the big favorites around here since everyone has different tastes and they can each pick and choose. The Slaw was simply raw kale massaged with lime juice and olive oil until softened, mixed with raw purple cabbage and sliced scallions. A couple tablespoons of veganaise and another squeeze of lime finished it.

I had been dragging my feet about adding chicken to my diet. I had never liked chicken very much pre-vegan and never missed it as a vegan. During the vegan years, my months dabbling in macrobiotics and learning about the energies of food convinced me that chickens carry a nervous, frenetic, frightened energy. So preparing and eating chicken tacos for my family was a new mental shift.

Why eat it if you don't want it, you may ask. Well, I'm still out of my comfort zone with this new diet, and still tracking this new way of eating and how it affects my health hour by hour. Fish is my favorite animal flesh and eggs seem nutritious, but neither imparts the grounded strength of steak or liver. On the other hand, fish and eggs do not burden my system and sap my energy the way the heavier meats do. I want the strength and the regenerative neurological benefits of the meats, but I miss feeling light and fresh and energetic. One important side note is that my veggie intake has drastically dropped since adding meat. I am just too full. I have a hard time forcing myself to eat what my body doesn't want. I am still trying to find a balance and am not entirely happy with the diet just yet. So maybe it's worthwhile giving organic chicken another chance.

Back to the tacos . . . I marinated the raw, boneless breasts in nothing but freshly squeezed lemon juice for two hours. By the time I was ready to cook the chicken it had opaquely whitened like a ceviche! I realized that the lemon must have "pre-digested" the meat. I quickly sauteed the chicken in coconut and olive oils and it was the most flavorful, tender chicken I think I've ever had. I loved it, and it helped me to feel well -- strong yet energetic --  for a whole 24 hour period. I will be eating more chicken now.

Along with the chicken and slaw, I also offered hard corn taco shells and soft flour tortillas (I had one of the corn ones), cumin roasted chick peas, chopped tomatoes, sauteed red bell peppers and onions, avocado slices, radish slices, salsa, sour cream and cheese.

Back to my choices, briefly, I have been CRAVING chick peas, but not other beans. During this in-between phase of my eating-to-heal diet, I'm going to listen to cravings, and watch the aftermath. I loved the chick peas and I felt great eating them. I didn't have any dairy or flour -- didn't want it.

For the cumin peas, I mixed canned chick peas with olive oil, salt and cumin and roasted them for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, stirring once to dry the peas out evenly. The result was easy, delicious and addictive!

I wish I had a photo of the tacos. It was a veritable feeding frenzy once I served everything buffet style, so I missed snapping the tacos in the midst of my scramble to stuff a shell. Here's my round-two though:

One taco shell was more than enough for this health-seeker, so I had my second helping in the form of a taco salad. Delicious!

I enjoy vibrant colors, so I just want to share the rinse water from the cabbage with you. Isn't it lovely?