Category Archives: whole foods

Eating Out

It used to be when I would make a really tasty meal, I’d always say, “Mmm. This is good enough to serve in a restaurant.” Or my mom’s famous quote, “Do you know what this would cost in a restaurant?” But since changing my eating habits and incorporating real foods into my diet, I’ve lost my taste for restaurant food–at least most restaurants.

First off, once you start learning what is in the foods served in restaurants, it kills the desire for more. Two great movies to really ruin you on chain restaurant foods are Food Nation and Food, Inc.

Then, when you start cooking delicious REAL food at home, your taste buds are forever changed. For instance, I ate recently at an iconic KC restaurant with my mom. Although I’m currently limiting myself on grains, I figured just about any restaurant serves a plain old grilled chicken salad. I knew going into it that the meats would not be grass-fed, nor the veggies local or organic, but I thought a salad would offer the least of all evils. It was horrible: brown, dry lettuce, chicken that was obviously injected with some sort of “flavor enhancer” and served with a greasy grilled fried piece of bread–think Texas Toast.

I really was surprised that my taste buds, expectations and nourishment needs had changed so quickly. Simply put, it was a horrible “salad”.

So today I decided to have my first pasta dish in nearly a month. As I said, I’ve been limiting my grains, but was ready to incorporate some back in. I made a falling-on-the-floor-moaning treat that is better than anything served in most restaurants. While it seems labor-intensive making the pasta from scratch, the entire recipe (with extras to freeze), took me less than an hour. Here’s the recipe for the lemon whole wheat ravioli with chicken, spinach and artichoke filling, served with a basic tomato sauce. YUM!

First I started the chicken boiling while I prepared the filling:

In a food processor, pulse artichokes, garlic, onion, salt, pepp

er, splash of olive oil, spinach, basil, parmesan cheese and a small tomato. Set aside

I started the simple sauce simmering that included fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and a little olive oil.

After the chicken is cooked, chop and add to the filling.

Then I started on the dough:

2.5 cups whole wheat flour (or 1/2 and 1/2)

3 eggs

squeeze of lemon juice

Make a bowl in the flour mixture and add the eggs and lemon. Incorporate into the flour and add water as needed to form a dough. Knead until smooth. Let rest for 10-15 minutes. Roll dough into long strips, cut into squares, place a tablespoon of filling in each and crimp with another square of dough. Boil about 4 minutes.

Top the ravioli with the sauce and some grated parmesan.

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!

Joining a CSA

 

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 pick up fresh-picked, organic items as they come in season.

Its 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. 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.

Some of my favorites so far this season include the aforementioned strawberries, spinach, heirloom cherry tomatoes, chinese cabbage, kale, corn, celery, and so much more. Each week, the farmer throws in a special goodie like sun-dried tomatoes in the early spring when it seemed like I was getting mostly lettuce.

And the potatoes! There is nothing on this earth that compares with an organic, just-picked potato. Potatoes are one of the “must buy organic” foods because of the high amount of pesticides. I know I’ll never enjoy a grocery potato again now that I’ve tried the real thing.

The first week I picked up the leeks, I told Jill, the farmer, I’d never tried them. She suggested I make a potato-leek soup. One taste and I was in love with leeks. Here’s the simple recipe I created. Keep in mind, I rarely measure, so these are just personal preferences.

Sautee the leeks and some garlic in olive oil. Add organic vegetable or chicken broth. Throw in cubed potatoes and boil until tender. Add milk (or non-dairy milk of choice) and seasonings to taste. I found (and tried) several recipes for baked potato soup and other varieties that included cheese, sour cream and other items, but I liked this simple version best. Top with grated cheese if desired.

A great way to eat the kale is in a green smoothie. It’s a way to eat your greens raw–and tastes great. Put a handful of kale, a couple large chunks of pineapple and a banana in a blender. Add water, almond milk or orange juice and blend with ice to desired consistency. Yum…  The Best of Raw Food website has other great suggestions, as well.

Living Whole

As publisher of a magazine that promotes whole, local, seasonal and organic eating, I decided it was time to incorporate all of these healthy lifestyle choices into my daily eating. I tend to eat fairly well already: I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), purchase organic produce from the local farmer’s market, shop the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid heavily processed foods and home-cook nearly all my meals.

Still, I eat too much and occasionally, usually from stress or boredom, make poor food choices. So I decided to “practice what I preach” and completely change my eating habits. I plan to eat a whole foods diet, with mainly organic fruits and vegetables, pasture-finished meats and whole grains, with very little dairy.

As I am already obsessed with food, I’m excited to have the opportunity to share with you as I discover new foods, reap the health benefits of eating whole foods and lose weight in the process. I invite you to join me as I document my journey. Here’s to eating well!