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Breakfast of Champions

I’m always searching for a recipe for something “bad” that isn’t bad for you. I avoid high-carb starchy breakfasts, but occasionally crave the filling goodness of whole grains with a bit of sweetness. I found this perfect blend in a recipe for rye pancakes with fruit syrup. I substituted almond milk for the buttermilk–fantastic!


1 c. rye flour

1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

pinch salt

2 eggs

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 1/2 c. almond milk

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then blend together. Cook on preheated griddle until brown.


2 c. mixed fruit

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1/2 c. honey

Simmer ingredients in saucepan until thickened, about 10 minutes.


Spring Time and the Farmers Markets

     I’ve been waiting for this moment like a child anticipating Christmas morning: the opening of the new season at the farmers markets. And with this eager anticipation, I’ve set a personal goal. This year I intend to purchase only local, seasonal produce (except for those near-and-dear necessities for me, such as grapefruit and avocados).      With the opening of the markets this month, I’m looking forward to returning to some of my favorite markets (Rosedale, Shawnee, BadSeed, Merriam), as well as trying new ones each week (Brookside, Westport, City Market, Lawrence and Overland Park). It’s always fun meeting different farmers and sampling their produce—and determining who, for me, has the best of each item.

     The healthiest indigenous peoples create their diets around local, seasonal foods, versus the processed, factory foods Americans consume. Rather than taking an otherwise healthy cuisine, like Asian, Italian or Mexican, and Americanizing it, I plan to create my own local, organic feast.

     A great book I recommend on eating locally is The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest   Diets from Around the World—Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home by Daphne Miller.

     Happy Spring to all—and I’ll see you at the markets!

Winter–The Fresh Food Blues

It has been a rough winter. As I write this, we are experiencing one of the worst snow storms in years. The weather alone isn’t the cause of my distress; rather, the lack of fresh, organic, local produce has caused my dilemma.

     Winter is such a time of scarcity, especially when it comes to fresh produce. I dream of the heirloom tomatoes of last summer. The produce I put up in the fall are gone. I still get sweet potatoes, squash, red kale and a few other items from my year-round CSA, but other than that, all I have are my sprouts to sustain me.

     Through the winter months, with little fresh produce on hand, and much chill in the air, I crave hearty, rich foods, instead. Soups and homemade bread are my mainstay during the winter months. And these “comfort” foods do bring comfort. So until the frost breaks and new growth begins, I’ll savor the savory flavors of winter—and dream of the coming bounty.

Community Supported Agriculture

     This is my first year participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). By buying a “share” of a local farmer’s produce, each week I receive fresh-picked, organic items as they come in season.

     It’s been one of the highlights of my summer. Grocery store produce simply can’t compare to local, organic produce. I never realized how darn fresh food really can taste—and it’s so much fun to see what’s available each week. I was sad when the strawberries were finished, but thrilled that potatoes had come in.

     The greatest fun for me, though, has been trying new foods. These are items I wouldn’t normally purchase, simply because I didn’t know about them. But now I do… Kale, leeks, fennel and so many more items are now part of my cooking repertoire. Jane Van Benthuson offers a great article on the glory of kale this month, so if you’re unfamiliar with this exciting green, she’ll help you give it a try.

     Some of my favorites so far this season include the strawberries, spinach, heirloom cherry tomatoes, chinese cabbage, kale, corn, celery…  Part of the fun has been creating new recipes using whatever is in season. While the tomatoes were abundant I made a tomato-artichoke soup that is probably the best I’ve ever tasted. The recipe is included in this issue.

     And the potatoes! There is nothing on this earth that compares with a home-grown potato. Since potatoes are on top of the must-eat-organic list, it’s even more of a treat.

     With the end of the growing season approaching, I wondered what I would do in the coming winter months for fresh produce. Luckily, I found there are year-round CSAs available through farmers such as Little Muddy Farm. Thank goodness!

Cravings and Emotional Eating

It’s amazing what a little awareness can do. As a consequence of paying attention to what I eat and why, I feel empowered. I never fully realized the impact emotional eating has on my choices.

For example, on day two I had a ferocious craving. Not just for something sweet, or fatty, or baked, but for a specific item. And I couldn’t let it go. For hours I was consumed. I wanted Mrs. Baird’s little bitty cinnamon donuts and a glass of milk. And nothing else would satisfy me. Although I felt this passion for a milk, sugar, fat, flour combo for a few hours, it was by paying attention that I found relief.

As the compulsion grew, I thought well maybe I’m hungry? I’ll eat some fruit. But I didn’t want fruit. I really didn’t want anything, because I wasn’t actually hungry. If I had eaten the sugary mess I would have felt an instant of comfort, but it would be short-lived–because I wasn’t really hungry. How many times do we eat out of habit or craving when our body is not truly hungry? I know I’ve done it all my life.

Food has always been a reward, a friend, a way to show love. I am a compulsive cooker and love nothing more than to feed other people. But what I want to feed them are comfort foods: mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade sourdough bread… Not once have I thought, oh, the kids are coming over for dinner. I’ll make them a smoothie! In my mind, previously, healthy foods weren’t nourishing, comforting and ways to show affection. However, I do have to note that we can be conditioned because my grandkids LOVE my smoothies.

Still, it was a powerful moment when I realized that I wanted the donuts not because I was hungry, but probably because my body was going through withdrawal from all those substances–sugar, white flour, fat, dairy. It makes sense. So from this awareness I convinced myself that it would get better. Because I do know the feeling of craving a fresh piece of watermelon, or a grilled veggie kabob. I’ve felt that, as well, and know that once I get past the sugar cravings I will crave natural, wholesome, foods, as well.

I’ve also found that when I want something comforting, a savory dish will feed the craving. Last night I made turkey meatballs simmered in fresh tomatoes, onions and green peppers, plus herbs from my garden, and served it with broccoli. Eating the rich, savory (but low-fat) sauce, was completely satisfying.

Yesterday I didn’t have a single craving. And this morning, a friend told me she had a chocolate croissant recently. Instead of thinking, yum, I thought that sounds disgusting! So, maybe there is hope for me yet.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for differentiating hunger from craving and emotional eating. Thank you to all who have posted comments on my Facebook page. If we’re not friends already, please join me. I’m eager to hear from you!

Tomato-Artichoke Soup

The soup recipe I mentioned earlier is pert-near divine! I had to share because it’s one of the best soups I have ever tasted. The recipe below serves two.

Puree in food processor:

2 large just-picked tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 can artichoke hearts

a bit of olive oil

Pour into pan and simmer with one cup broth. Season with a squeeze of lime, sea salt, pepper and basil. I kept mine tomato based, but I’m sure it would be wonderful as well with a bit of coconut or almond milk for a cream-based soup.

Prepare to moan!

Diet–Day One

I would say the cupcakes in the cabinet are calling me, but those were cleared out months ago. In preparing for my “diet”, I eliminated anything processed from my home. The freezer, once filled with frozen pizzas for the nights I didn’t feel like cooking and ice cream for when I needed comfort, now contains meat, vegetables and fruit. Period. I cleaned out my pantry after reading Nancy DeVille’s book, Death by Supermarket a while back. Gone are the chemically-laden boxes of instant death. So like the lady who lived in a shoe, my cupboards are bare except for a few canned goods, whole wheat flour, dried herbs and stevia.  

To get ready for the big day today, I stocked up at the Sunday farmer’s market. My counters and refrigerator are overflowing with fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, greens, beets, peppers, lettuce and asparagus.

The basic plan of my diet is this: eliminate nearly all dairy products except for some white cheeses; eliminate processed foods; eat pasture-finished, low-fat meats; and while I’m in the weight-loss phase, only one grain carb a day (breakfast or lunch). It’s a healthy way of living that I believe will also allow me to lose weight.

The biggies that I’m cutting out? It’s not the cupcakes I mentioned. I’ve always preferred homemade food to processed. It’s the sugar and the dairy that I’ll miss. Luckily, several months ago I made the switch from sugar to stevia in my coffee. As that was my main sugar problem, I’m not having to go through that withdrawal again. As a consequence, I don’t care for coffee as much, so I’m drinking less. Milk is my current adjustment. This is the first time in my life where I open the refrigerator and don’t see that comforting jug of hormone-laced sugar-water calling my name. Instead, I have almond milk and coconut milk. It will take a little time, but I’m sure it won’t take long until my taste buds crave these, instead.

So how is it going on day one? I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s an adjustment. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and had breakfast by 6:00. That meant I was ready for my morning snack by 8:30 and starving for lunch at 11:00. Eleven o’clock and I’ve already had three of my five meals??? Panic nearly set in wondering how I would make it through the long stretch of the rest of the day. My solution? I took a nap. It took me through the afternoon hours, after which I woke up and enjoyed a snack of fruit and nuts–and I am now again satiated. Tomorrow, however, I plan to start my breakfast a tad later and have at least three hours between snacks/meals so that I don’t have the same problem.

I believe I have a fear of hunger. Because in all honesty, I really haven’t been famished today. I’m simply afraid to be famished. So, there’s something I can look at in the future. In the meantime, I have dinner to look forward to. And it will be glorious. I’m marinating chicken breasts in lime and my infused olive oil (basil and garlic) as well as pesto mushrooms and asparagus to grill. I found a recipe for a tomato, artichoke soup I plan to try, as well. And I can’t imagine, diet or not, a better meal to look forward to!