Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My New Favorite Takeout Order

We love lazy Sundays. This area hasn't had a reliable Chinese/Thai restaurant which offers delivery for some time, so I am keeping my fingers crossed on a new one which recently popped up. Now that I'm gluten-free and phasing out "filler foods" such as rice noodles, I wanted different proportions of ingredients. Pho fits the bill! This was fabulous. The broth was packed separately from the toppings:

 Here we have fish, chicken, roasted garlic, mung bean sprouts, mint, cilantro, jalapeno, onions and limes, along with two little sauces -- the one on the left seemed to be a homemade sriracha, and the other one was sort of a sweeter barbeque sauce. I only used the sriracha. Oh, and this was all on a bed of glass noodles. This provided two full meals for me and there were still plenty of noodles left which I didn't eat. It's probably the best takeout food I've ever had and was a good fit with the protocol.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter + Grinch Soup

Easter was wonderful. We had our son home from college, it was just the four of us in our pajamas all day watching movies together. Since dinner was going to be heavier, I decided to make something light and health-giving to offset the morning's sugar-binge (I didn't have sugar, just the rest of them). This is my Green Soup, which changes according to whatever I have on hand. Here is how I made it this time:

Green Soup (Grinch Soup)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn into pieces
1 bunch collard greens, stems removed, torn into pieces
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1/2 c. cooked rice
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. cooking sherry
a few shakes of chipotle powder
a few shakes of nutmeg
salt and pepper
purified water
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Over medium-low heat, saute the onions in the coconut oil. Allow the garlic to sit on the cutting board while the onions slowly caramelize. Dr. Wahls says this allows the sulfur to stabilize so that less of it is lost in the cooking process. Once the onions are translucent and browned on the edges, stir in the garlic, greens and rice. turn the heat up to medium and cover the greens, stirring occasionally until they reduce in volume. Once they have cooked down, add enough water to just cover them. Simmer until the greens and rice have softened. Stir in the sherry. Season with chipotle powder (careful - a little goes a long way), nutmeg (you can add plenty of this, which goes nicely with a creamy soup) and salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender or other blender, blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings and finish by stirring in the olive oil.

For dinner we grilled filets mignon, roasted asparagus and risotto:

This is Alicia Silverstone's Risotto with Leeks and Spring Peas from her The Kind Diet. Everyone loved it and I made the leftovers into a Chicken and Cheese Casserole for the dairy-eaters in my home to eat the next day. It's self-explanatory: the risotto + cooked chicken + shredded cheese, reheated and melted all together. It was also a hit.

I decided that Grinch Soup made sense for Easter because the Grinch is associated with Christmas which is all about Jesus so, by the transitive property . . .

Back in the Land of the Living

I like the serendipitous color combo of this cabbage in the spinner. So -- I'm back! It turns out that my malaise was from a nasty intestinal bug that a grandchild had brought to the crawfish boil. It honestly knocked me down for a week! Thinking about the little one who also suffered, I wondered how he could have lived through it, but then I remembered that I am the one who is immune-compromised and I'd also been recently stressing my system with the extreme diet change. There were two days I consumed nothing but ginger ale (only 2 cans during that time -- that was all I could manage) and I didn't eat much the rest of the week, having no appetite and wanting nothing but sleep. I lost 5 lbs. and am still much weaker than normal. But I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

With this imposed "digestion reboot", I've had a chance to reassess my whole-hog (no pun intended -- Wilbur!) leap into the Wahls Protocol. As motivated as I am to optimize health, I need a more measured approach. I've always been able to read the body's signals in real time, and I need to remember this. I may not be the person who can consume 9 cups of veggies a day along with the amount of animal protein prescribed. I am still the person who craves fresh green juices. I don't have them every day, but they are so delicious and deliver such palpable energy and wellness that I'm not sure I will ever feel motivated to discontinue them. I know juiced veggies are not supposed to count in our 9 cups, but I wonder if my 10 cups of raw veggies which became 3 cups of juice could possibly count for three of the required cups?

It's been about a month since I began "dabbling" in the Wahls Protocol, and a couple of weeks of being completely gluten-free and legume-reduced. Some dramatic changes are apparent in this short time. At first I thought it was my imagination, but now I am sure my skin is less saggy-- more elastic. The dryness of my skin has also gone away -- most noticeably on fingers and toes, which leads me to wonder if the animal protein or the lack of gluten is improving circulation. Finally, I have been losing a lot of hair! I attribute this to the "shock to the system" that a diet change presents. Stress has always manifested in loss of hair for me for some reason. It grows back once things normalize, but these cycles are long, so it is harder to pinpoint cause and effect than with the skin changes.

That's enough note-taking for today. Next post will be about food!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Setback

I've been eager to share lots of good food we ate for Easter, but on Monday I succumbed to what I have to assume was food poisoning. There was a high fever which passed after a day but the intestinal issues have been slower to move on. In the last 48 hours I have consumed 2 cans of ginger ale, a piece of gluten-free toast and a bowl of broth with a couple of kale leaves torn into it. That's all.

Without getting into the reasons why (you don't want me to), I am certain the offending food was not from anything I cooked.  My husband does suggest that I may have been taxing my system with the amount of animal protein I've introduced. He has a point. Going from nothing at all to a couple of times a day has got to be jarring to the system. I must say that, now that the nausea and cramps have stopped, I feel more comfortable than I have since starting the Wahls Protocol. I'm reluctant to eat anything at this point, but of course I will, albeit gingerly.

When I get my strength back I'll share Easter!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


As expected, Saturday was a pretty low-energy day, and I had no appetite. Here's my breakfast which was lovely (gf bread) but I can't really remember what else I had. Weekends are non-stop around here, and we were getting ready for a quick visit from our son who is in college. I know I didn't cheat on the diet, not even questionable choices like a bean or juice. I didn't eat much.

We went to a neighbor's crawfish boil Saturday evening. It was a lot of fun to do something different, and we all enjoyed the company of old friends. I ate 3 crawfish tails, a half an ear of corn and a potato.

I may not have eaten any veggies at all Saturday, but there may have been a salad. There's always a chance for a fresh start tomorrow.


On Friday morning I was again bloated, sluggish and lacking energy. The brain fog seemed to be back.  I hadn't slept well. It's time to start considering the foods. Thursday I felt so well after eating cold steamed bok choy and berries. The last food before the sluggish Friday morning was the frozen salmon meal which included a pilaf of rice and quinoa. I also had beans. I'm not drawing conclusions yet, just noting the foods.

Food for a foggy start: a 2 egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms. Raw, the veggies were about a cup. I used coconut oil, and drizzled olive oil at the end along with a generous shake of nutritional yeast -- delicious! I felt well-fed, but still unfocused. I did myself no further favors with my further Friday food choices -- I poured myself a delicious glassful of carageenan-loaded coconut milk mixed with dark chocolate almond milk. Can you tell I wasn't thinking straight? I have trouble choking down all my supplements each day without becoming nauseous, and something thick like this glassful sometimes helps. But it didn't help anything else.

I ate the same old leftovers for lunch -- they are all gone now -- stew, cauliflower and greens-n-beans. I am indeed seeing a pattern.

For dinner we had some fun. My husband and I went to a tapas bar where they feature wine pairing suggestions. You can order a sip, a half a glass or a whole glass, or the whole bottle, of course. Dining out has always posed challenges for me as a vegan. Being gluten- dairy- and legume-free is a different kind of challenge, but I was excited to try some things I haven't in years. This was my favorite dish -- seared tuna with a passionfruit glaze. It was wonderful -- not sweet at all, pleasantly tart, and the meat was prime. I also shared a flank steak plate with my husband and duck confit tacos. The steak was great, the duck was not -- stringy, gamey, dry and on crisp flour shells which I did not eat. I dug out the unappealing meat and purple cabbage and ate it with a fork. I liked the cabbage. We always get papas fritas when we go to this restaurant -- exquisite fresh potato chips with a drizzle of truffle oil. It used to be one of the only things for a vegan. The potatoes were amazing, but empty filler food, of course.

Veg tally for Friday: only about 4 and a half cups. It's a bit of a vicious cycle where I was foggy from not planning the right foods, so therefore I set myself up for the next fog. We shall see what tomorrow brings. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014


When will I blog in close-to-real-time? Not sure. There's a pretty big learning curve here and I'm documenting everything while still reading the book, figuring this out on the fly -- recording mistakes and all, so I can track any patterns when the results come flying in. Truly, it would be better for me to catch up a bit since memory fades if too much time goes by. A jotted note and a blurry snapshot isn't enough sometimes.

Here we go:  Thursday morning, after the stew extravaganza of the evening before, I had another bloated and sluggish start. TMI perhaps but I feel I should clarify: when I say "bloated and sluggish" I do not mean constipated -- everything has just slowed from the instantaneous digestion of the vegan days, not stopped -- I just literally mean bloated and sluggish in terms of energy level. Lucky for me, I had just enough steamed baby bok choy leftovers to cut that sluggishness with a clean-veg vibe. No protein though -- I wasn't feelin' it. I ate two cups of b.b.choy cold. It was delicious and my body was happy. For a little treat, I ate about half a cup of frozen mixed berries. I like them still icy.

By lunchtime I was ready to pile on the heavy food again. I fixed a big bowlful of mashed cauliflower, raw spinach and oxtail stew leftovers: one cup each. The stew was mostly devoid of meat at this point, but I did gnaw on a couple little cartilaginous bones. Since I was watching the final episode of Breaking Bad, I kept eating, slowly -- a few seaweed snacks and a store-bought Kombucha. WOW! What a finish to an amazing show.

For dinner, my husband was grilling chicken thighs. Here is where my vegan>Wahls Protocol psychology doesn't make sense: I cannot bring myself to eat chicken (it just doesn't appeal and feels more anatomy-apparent) but yet I happily gnawed on cartilaginous tailbone during Breaking Bad. Since I wasn't having the chicken, I made a big pot of garlic (about 5 cloves) and collards, sauteed in coconut oil with {cheat} navy beans. I can almost hear you: Of course you are bloated and miserable. Why not try the real Protocol? I hear you -- I'm working my way there and tracking the changes and my mistakes as I lean in. Gluten-free is a huge step, and I'm putting that ahead of ridding the pantry of beans.

It was really, really good. You can see it's mostly greens. Some of those white specks are garlic. I am justifying, spinning, but this is my daughter's favorite thing I make. Jury's still out about giving up this dish. Needing a little more beastly, anti-chicken protein, I found this in the freezer:

Doesn't that seem to fit the bill? I even prepared it in the oven instead of the microwave. The grains and veggies were pretty good, but the salmon was disappointing -- only food as medicine. I love salmon, and prepare it well when I have a plan. Moral of the story is . . . get a plan.

Veggie tally for the day? another strong 6 and a half cups, with seaweed bonus!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Better the Next Day

After a very long sleep, I did finally wake up feeling better and not so sluggish. To recoup lost ground, I started the day with some nova salmon with capers, pepper and lemon with a side of 1 cup of cold, sauteed ruby chard leftovers. It was delicious.

For lunch I enjoyed 2 cups of spring onions, mushrooms, red bell peppers, and collard greens quickly sauteed over a cup of rice noodles.

Dinner was amazing -- I was inspired by this recipe:, but I was confused about the roasting of some of the veggies, so I just put them all into the crock pot after their initial saute. The stew was delicious and rich, but I bet the separate roasted veggies would have made it even better because of the high fat content of the meat. Once I realized my mistake, I recovered by inventing a recipe of my own which filled the place of the veggies I didn't roast. Here it is:

Mashed Cauliflower with Sauteed Shallots
1 head organic cauliflower, cut into large chunks
2 shallots, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance
Tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk coffee creamer
garlic salt to taste -- I used about 3/4 teaspoon

Boil the cauliflower for 15 minutes, making sure all parts of the florets are submerged. Meanwhile, saute the shallots in the olive oil over medium-low heat, until translucent. In a large bowl, put the Earth balance. Drain the cauliflower and pour it on top of the Earth Balance so it melts. Begin mashing the cauliflower into the "butter" with a pastry cutter or ricer, or a large sturdy fork. Add the shallots and olive oil and mash more. When the texture is becoming homogeneous (some small lumps are fine) incorporate the coconut coffee creamer. Finally, season with garlic salt. 

{You Wahls Protocol afficianados will notice an error in my invention. After I created this recipe I learned about the carageenan that is in the coffee creamer - YIKES - I've since ordered a case of the good coconut milk and will use it next time -- I'm still learning!}

The mashed cauliflower was so delicious and creamy, yet light enough to offset the rich stew. This bowlful gave me a cup and a half of cauliflower and a cup of stew veggies. On the side, we also had this:

It's Alicia Silverstone's recipe from The Kind Diet: Steamed Baby Bok Choy with Ume Plum Vinaigrette. It's self-explanatory, except I didn't even make a vinaigrette. I just put a drop of Ume vinegar on each piece and drizzled a little olive oil over all. I only steamed these lovelies for four minutes. I ate a cup's worth, which brings my Wednesday tally to . . .  6 and a half cups! It's not 9, but it's getting better.

Tuesday's Food

Tuesday, Tax Day, I was still uncomfortably full from Monday's food and really craving juice so, as I already mentioned, I gave in and whipped myself up a lovely batch.

I started with kale, green cabbage, romaine, a lemon, an apple, and a knob of ginger. There were about 6 cups of raw veggies and fruits, and the yield was about 18 oz. Here are the first 12 oz. This was so delicious and easy to get down. Isn't it pretty too? I had to have it, and got loads of energy from it but still was not hungry at all until lunch, when I had the rest of it with a boiled egg and some seaweed snacks. Finally, for dinner I had some rice noodles with sesame oil and about a cup of cucumbers and a cup of raw spinach, topped with toasted sesame seeds. I still wasn't hungry enough to eat any more than that, and was very tired so was in bed by 8:30.

I know I did a terrible job of the Wahls Protocol Tuesday, but at least I was gluten free. The food is just not moving through my system quickly enough right now for me to eat more.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Monday's Food

As Dr. Wahls suggests, keeping a diary of foods and tracking the effects or any improvements in health is a good idea as we endeavor to implement the Wahls Protocol. I'm by no means fully into the protocol at this stage, only "leaning into" the changes for now as my system catches on. As a four-year vegan, certain parts of the protocol are surprisingly difficult to implement. I explain more in The Back Story. For now my priorities are to avoid gluten altogether and add carefully chosen bits of animal protein as I can tolerate them. Luckily, dairy isn't an issue for me. I've been dairy-free already for four years and see no reason to ever go back.

Though I've been dabbling, adding things here and there since beginning to read The Wahls Protocol, Monday 4/14/14 serves as the first documented diary day. I started the day with a cup of ruby chard sauteed in coconut oil. I didn't think I would like the flavor combo, but the coconut is shockingly tasteless. I quickly fried a couple of grass-fed, organic eggs in the pan juices. This was lovely and satisfying.

For lunch I sauteed collards, purple cabbage, mushrooms, onion and almonds -- again in coconut oil. Multi-colored and sulfur veggies are represented here.

Knowing I should incorporate more animal protein, for dinner I opened a can of wild-caught tuna and ate it atop raw spinach with capers, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Also, at the Natural Foods Warehouse I found some delicious potato chips cooked in avocado oil (!) and flavored with lime -- I had a small handful of those fabulous morsels.

The eggs are now working out fine for my system after a dubious start over a week ago. I am still challenged with fitting in 9 cups of veggies per day. I need to better understand the measuring system of Dr. Wahls, who measures after cooking. Does this mean this cup of raw spinach only counts as half a cup? If so, on this day I only ate 3 and a half cups! Obviously the potato chips were a needless filler, but I still blame the slower rate of digesting animal proteins for not being able to process more food. I love vegetables, I'm just still accustomed to eating smaller amounts throughout the day. The tuna was very good and energetically grounding.

I miss my juice and what it does for overall well-being, and had to go there on Tuesday. I know Dr. Wahls does not count juiced vegetables in the 9 cups, but as I am currently unable to consume the 9 cups anyway, I really feel I need a jolt of veg in a form that is easier on the digestion from time to time. Homemade veg juice is one of my favorite things -- I am bristling just a tad at the thought of giving it up. We shall see how it goes.