I was in a terrible food fog yesterday. A food fog is paralyzing. It means you have nothing to eat that really appeals to you, mixed with a bit of fear that there is something detrimental about every choice you might make. We have read so much lately about the AIP for autoimmune issues, the MMT for mitochondrial health, the Grain Brain whole life plan to ward off Alzheimers, the Paleo ”eat like your ancestors” diet, and the Ketogenic anti-cancer diet that we could almost give up on food altogether (if we were not so hungry). There are similarities between them all but they don’t intersect completely, and each one of them seems to do away with one of my favorite foods. Boo.
I realized that having to fix something for myself and the husband to eat was causing enough anxiety to become its own problem. I decided that since we were fearfully and wonderfully made (no lie) that I’d just give the problem to God. My prayer went something like this:
God, make us hungry for the things that are good for us, that are available and as unpolluted as possible, and let us not obsess about figuring it all out. Help us to be smart in our choices, but also trusting that you are smarter and will keep us healthy as long as you need us to be. Amen.
(I don’t know if it’s the Spirit’s leading or not but cupcakes are suddenly on my mind… probably not him.)
I’m feeling a bit better today. I replenished my supply of grass fed beef yesterday and did some cooking. I also had a breakfast “win” this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in cookbooks so I’m going to share it here.
There’s been much said about using cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes or rice – same color and general consistency when cooked and blenderized- but how about substituting it for grits? Being raised in northern climates I’ve never done a lot of cooking with grits but I’ve had some I really liked, so this is what I did:
Cauliflower florets, steamed and pureed in blender with
Cream or Half ‘n Half, just enough to keep the food moving in the blender
1 Tbs. of butter, added to blender to melt in
1 egg, lightly cooked in butter, not hard
Put desired amount of cauliflower for one serving in a bowl, dot with another pat of butter and put the egg on top. A little pepper makes it pretty, and salt if you don’t have reason to avoid it. This was so good, so quick (because the cauliflower was left over and already prepared) and a very good nutrient profile for anyone following a ketogenic program (or not – good no matter what!)
“This is the first time in my 35 years that I have heard that peanuts are not nuts.” he said.
Esther’s friend made dinner for us tonight and we were standing around in the kitchen talking about “the diet project”, the AIP. He had been interested enough to read up about it and had chosen a couple recipes from our cookbook to make, giving us the night off. He did a bang up job and we appreciated it, a lot!
We have been following the AutoImmune Protocol for almost two weeks now, and although I think it is going fairly well, we are starting to have serious cravings for things on the “no” list, things we used to love to eat, things high on fun, satiety and comfort, but low (possibly devoid of…) nutrients. It’s a little early to know if we feel healthier, but how could we be otherwise? That’s what I’m asking myself.
For certain, more food has come through the door of this house in the last two weeks than in similar time periods. We seem to be shopping all the time. Yet, it’s a struggle to figure out what to eat when mealtimes come around. Sometimes what we have is not the mental picture of a meal that we have been used to, so it doesn’t seem like a meal. Thankfully, mental pictures can be changed – in fact, that is what it’s all about when you decide to take on a new way of eating. Can we stick with it until we’ve had time to change our ideas of satisfying eating? Good question.
Breakfast is a difficult meal because traditionally, it’s all about grains, dairy and eggs of some sort, none of which are on our diet. We have avocado, sweet potato, turkey bacon. We need to work on our smoothie repertoire a little more.
We knew we were going to have to use more coconut in various ways so Esther ordered two young coconuts in our Amazon Fresh order. I googled instructions on how to get into them because, frankly, looking at them doesn’t give a clue. The steps seemed simple, just hack away the outer white layer until you see a light colored “spot” where you can press your knife and make a hole. I made quite a mess doing all that cutting and got to a rock-hard layer where no more cutting was possible. But, someone forgot to put a “spot” on my coconut and I had to drill a hole with the tip of my knife. So I had a hole, but nothing was coming out of it – until I made a second hole for air to come in. See, when you learn stuff like that in Physics class they don’t tell you that you’ll need it when you encounter coconuts.
There was at least 10 ounces of coconut water inside this coconut so Esther and I both had a good drink. However, there had to be more to eat than just the water. I knew it would take more than tiny holes to get the insides out so I took it out on the sidewalk and smashed a big hole with a hammer. The inside of a young coconut is soft, shiny, semi-translucent and white (pretty really). I like it. Esther… not so much.
Esther has discovered which meats she is able to tolerate most easily, and I have to hand it to her. For a vegetarian, she is doing great. She has had some kind of meat protein almost twice every day. As a vegetarian, she would eat burgers made of soy or black beans, and she would eat fake bacon, also a soy product. As an AIP girl she is bothered least by fake soyburgers (read real beef burgers) and fake soy bacon (real meat bacon) because they look similar to what she has grown accustomed to eating. See, it’s all in your mind. She eats tuna. I don’t know what it is about chicken though. For her, it begins with the smell and only gets worse with the sight and taste. I’m afraid I will be eating the roast chicken all by myself. Getting to like chicken will take some work.
I love meat and have no problem with cooking it, but I wish it were less messy. What to do with all the fat and how to get it off the dishes and counters is a battle. I’ve made three batches of bone broth but so far, no one has gotten into drinking it straight. It is kind of piling up in the fridge. I froze some of it in our ice cube trays, causing a near unhappy moment when Esther went to get ice cubes.
What else hasn’t worked… yes, the coconut Greek yogurt. I’m not sure you can make yogurt out of anything other than real milk, but there was a recipe, so Esther tried it. The black probiotic culture she added to it looked strange but we were able to think of it as specks of vanilla bean (also not on the diet). After culturing overnight in a warm place it was still coconut cream liquid. But it tastes great poured over bananas or the apple/cranberry compote we made. Fake yogurt, this also will take some work.
I don’t mean to say that we haven’t discovered some really good, simple recipes that I am happy to add to my regular cooking line up. I wrote about the Nomato Sauce in a previous post. Tonight we had a cauliflower dish that easily takes the place of fried rice, and some steak flavored with coconut aminos that was so flavorful. One good thing we have both noticed is that we do not feel distressed after eating, no uncomfortable fullness, and of course, we are not gaining weight. I am happy to see Esther able to tolerate meals without pain, and she is eating more good, nutritious food than I have ever noticed before.
Youngest daughter and I are tackling a big project. We are learning about and transitioning to the Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP). There are many autoimmune conditions these days, growing in number all the time. There are so many things in our food and our environment that cause inflammation in different parts of our bodies. We have increased stress in our lives. These things get our immune systems ramped up and so sensitized that they turn against us – they think our own bodies are the enemies and start attacking. Have you noticed the numbers of people who are gluten intolerant? How about psoriasis and eczema? Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, digestive issues, allergies, asthma, frequent infections… all of these can be conditions of autoimmunity.
For years as a teen, my daughter experienced stomach pain in conjunction with meals, fatigue, and mild depression. We went to doctors looking for answers but it is difficult to diagnose a problem that presents itself differently depending on the person, their particular genetic predisposition, their stage of life, their lifestyle, and many other varying factors. She’s had other symptoms since, and many more doctors, but no real solutions.
Putting the pieces together has taken years for Esther, but maybe she is getting closer, understanding more. We are trying the AIP because it is an elimination diet – it will help us identify the foods that are causingher symptoms of inflammation. Initially, all foods known to cause inflammation are excluded, giving the body time to heal. Then some of those foods are carefully re-introduced in order to identify the culprits.
We have several good books to teach us and provide meal plans and recipes – that makes it a bit easier – but it is still a hard transition. Enter bone broth, one of the “good” foods allowed on this diet.
I have heard for years that chicken soup is good for us when we are sick. Turns out, properly made meat broths are healing for us for quite a few reasons. I decided to get right into it and make some bone broth for us. I’ve never had to hunt grocery stores for bones before, but I found some. I think bone broth is becoming a trend and the ingredients are more widely available. I found beef short ribs and beef marrow bones, brought them home and put them in the pot to cook for 24 hours, along with some vegetables for flavor. I’m not giving specifics here because you can google the recipe if you desire.
Youngest daughter is not used to eating this way at all (neither was I) and that is why it was suggested that we investigate the diet, together, while I was visiting this December. It involves cooking your own food at home, which is hard for Esther with her work schedule. It involves not eating any processed foods. And it involves eating meat, which is a real problem because she has been a vegetarian for many years. I think the way she describes it is being “existentially opposed” to eating animals, so it is rather daunting for her to look at, buy, touch, smell, or eat any meat. I made her stay away from the broth makings.
I stored the broth in quart jars and refrigerated it. Most of the fat from the meat had been skimmed off but the part remaining came to the top of the jars and solidified. I opened a jar this morning and saw this.
Although I do not believe in omens, this pretty much symbolizes Esther’s view of a diet with a preponderance of animal products . But for the sake of feeling better at long last, she eats what I make for her. I’m just sayin’, this is going to be a project, for sure.