We all were reluctant to bring our Designed Health Series to an end. After setting the ground work for a new way of thinking about our entire approach to what is the best for us to eat and why, we were smack in the middle of reconstructing our menu content and sharing recipes when time ran out! But our link remains here until we meet again for follow-up sessions.
Have you made any “Magic Mousse” yet? There is nothing to it! It really is: just melt the chocolate while stirring in the water and dash of salt, then beat the melted mixture in a bowl placed in an ice bath for several minutes with a whisk attachment to your mixer and “Voila!” mousse appears! Check the Halloween post for details. You can do it! Use regular whipped cream if you have to, but the Coconut Cream is so yummy and dairy free!
Our early sessions had to do with our mind-set. Everything starts with that ole’ central computer! All of what we do, really, is a habit, so we deconstructed what habits were and how they worked in order to understand how to “tweak” them in a more favorable direction for improved health. Understanding that a habit “trigger” could be just walking out to get the newspaper each morning, which could easily be switched to jogging out and back to the mail box. Not a big deal but a little something in the right direction. With this cooler fall weather, it’s a cinch to jog out and back to the mailbox. Then, maybe, once the daily quick jog is second nature, longer walks or jogs could be added; maybe just around the house before returning inside to read the paper. Most of us are using the initial swish of water first thing each morning to be our trigger to drink 1-2 glasses of water. It’s a habit now, with no real thinking involved.
Something I am working on is finding the motivation to start a load of laundry. True confession: I tend to let things pile up in that regard until I am faced with marathon loads. So, I am starting a load of laundry now as I make my path to the kitchen to start the coffee. No decision making. No conversation with myself on if I want to start a load. Just, “what am I washing today?” So far, this has been very successful for me to incorporate into my daily pattern. We agreed that the goal is not the “Goal” but the process of minute gradual improvements that are consistent.
We began following Jonathan Bailor’s explanation of the Calorie Myth concept wherein counting calories is pretty pointless if that process is in exchange for looking at the quality and content of our food. Clearly, 300 calories of candy bar will have a different effect on the body than 300 calories of leafy green veggies or 300 calories of protein. He cited studies and individual cases where simply reducing the number of calories consumed each day—and possibly exercising more—was actually a recipe for failure at long-term weight loss and control. Disaster, really.
We studied what major nutrients are derived from food and how they interact with our body. Starchy carbohydrates and sugary foods not only cause great swings in blood sugar, but can actually feed the craving for more starches and sugars through the stimulation of the opiate receptors in our brains. Thus, starchy and sugary foods are not satisfying in the long term.
What is satisfying? What can we eat to “hold” us for hours? Proteins, whole food fats from avocado, coconut, olives, nuts/seeds, and non-starchy vegetables. Class participants shared how a veggie-filled omelet held them past their usual lunch hour! No toast, no bagel—just protein and veggies cooked in a pan with “good” fat—“happy butter” from grass fed cows, coconut oil, or olive oil.
We looked at what constitutes an anti-inflammatory diet. With virtually all diseases having roots in the inflammatory process, not contributing to inflammation through our food choices seems natural, basic, and what we were designed to do. Sugar is inflammatory. Grains are inflammatory. Grains—that includes wheat, barley, and rye to eliminate the gluten, and the other grains as well such as corn, soy, rice, and the legumes to eliminate the phytates which block absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and others.
While not everyone has the natural response to gluten which should be a total “no-go,” some of us have evolved to tolerate some level of the “poison” in our bodies. Which are you? How do you know for sure? There certainly are blood tests which are delineated on the Celiac.org website, but try going totally gluten-free for 30-60 days. Not only will you lose weight because of not eating starches at every meal, but you will likely discover a more pain-free body. Those achy joints won’t be crying out for more pain meds. You belly will be happier. Less bloating; less gas. Then, at the end of 30-60 days, see how going back to gluten works for you………….
One of my sweetest moments recently was when a Designed for Health class participant pulled me aside to show off her remarkably slimmer body; her decidedly slimmer face; and best of all, her ability to once again wear a ring! Getting off gluten and onto an anti-inflammatory diet clearly took away the inflammation in her previously swollen finger joints. She was joyous to don that precious family heirloom on her finger as a testament to how much better she was feeling!
We then started sharing how we were doing this. Recipes started flying around the room! Norman has much success grilling not only his meats but his vegetables—all coated with olive oil—even beets! Ellen described her carrot/beet/parsnip fritters. Someone else offered her recipe for chocolate pudding: ¼ cup cocoa, 1 avocado, 3 Medjool dates, ¼ cup coconut/almond milk all whipped up in a blender or food processor.
Speaking of beets….with much fear and trepidation, I bought my first EVER fresh, raw beets to use in fixing Ellen’s fritters. My childhood exposure to canned, diced beets used to stretch left-over stew into something called “Red Flannel Hash” had left me permanently traumatized! It would be hard to appreciate what it took for me to “man up” right there in the green goods isle at Harris Teeter to look at, touch, and put three fresh beets with long stems and admittedly beautiful leaves into my basket! But with Ellen and Norman’s words ringing in my ears, I did it!
We were leaving the class the last night and Ellen was trying to remember all of the ingredients to her fritters, and I added some onion as well, so here’s our recipe”:
Carrot, Beet, Parsnip Fritters
2 carrots- peeled and grated
1 parsnip- peeled and grated
1 beet- peeled and grated
¼ of a large onion- grated
1-2 large cooking/serving spoons of coconut flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place all of the grated vegetables into a bowl.
Add first egg and first large spoonful of coconut flour along with salt and pepper. Combine to incorporate all ingredients. If your mixture looks and feels like it needs more “glue” to stick together into patties, then add the additional egg and coconut flour. I did because the beet and parsnip seemed to be large.
Here’s the tricky part. I formed the patties by hand, squeezing a little extra as Ellen advised, but they still seemed a bit loose. Next time, I will be tempted to use a hamburger press. Just be aware that there will be beautiful red juice dripping out when squeezing and forming these patties, so have a juice catcher handy or squeeze over the sink. Amazing though. As beautiful and rosy red as the beet juice is, it never stained my counter tops! I’ve had strawberries stain my counter and I was prepared to have quite a time cleaning up, but there were no problems! Beets! My new friends!
Anyway, form the patties and place in a hot skillet with olive oil and fry a few minutes on each side.
In the meantime, slice up the beet tops and sauté in olive oil and season with a bit of crushed red pepper and sea salt.
When everything is done, you will have a beautiful serving plate full of color and nutrition! I was absolutely amazed at the mild yet wonderful flavor of the beet tops! And the fritters were such a treat.
This recipe ended up making a lot of fritters! I enjoyed them as-is as leftovers, but one thing I really loved was adding some of the fritters (or the crumbly parts that didn’t want to stick together enough) to my chicken soup. Turns out I was working on gradually eating a fresh “vat” of rich chicken bone broth soup that I have posted on before. By adding the beet fritters, not only did I add even more nutrition to my soup, but I instantly turned it into Borscht (Russian for beet soup)! What color! What flavor!
Beets are not just red. They are more like a deep raspberry red. What a great color! Now I have a new, powerhouse vegetable to love!
Until next time when I’ll share a great resource for kid-friendly recipes that are “Designed for Health” and two versions of gluten-free waffles. Just in time for a chilly morning!