Kitchen | recipes for real food
Changing my diet (what and how I eat every day) changed my life. I firmly believe that no matter what your health condition, diagnosis, or treatment plan, there is a way to maximize your results with natural whole-food nutrition. Sadly many doctors are uneducated in nutrigenomics and gloss over the importance of dietary changes in taking control of your health. The specific eating habits most useful for any individual are going to be different for everyone, but for everyone, it's going to include eliminating refined sugar and mostly eliminating processed foods.
While you may feel that spending so much time in the kitchen is out-dated, I like to think of it as a revolutionary act that puts incredible power back into your own hands, using God's good gift of nature. Harnessing this power gives you so much leverage over your healthcare costs, mental health, stress, relationships, and lifestyle. It's a paradigm shift that will reverberate through your entire life. It's hard. It's ugly. There's a steep learning curve. But it's also magic.
- Real food does NOT TASTE LIKE processed food! Eventually, you will find that it tastes better, if not in the least because it makes you feel better (especially if you ditch Teflon!). But even the best SWYPO recreations are NOT going to taste like the original. I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME THIS! A black-bean-avocado-medjool-date birthday cake DOES NOT TASTE LIKE the Betty Crocker mix you remember, I don't care WHAT the author swore up and down on their celiac kids' lives! What I think happens (what happened to me, anyway) is that when you cut these things from your diet for a very very long time (years) and recalibrate your taste-buds, you can find a similar satisfaction from the health food hacks as the processed favorites you remember - particularly in the texture. If you are in the beginning stages of transitioning from a Standard American Diet to a real unprocessed diet, I highly recommend NOT looking for "healthier" versions of junk food like cake, cookies, pudding, etc. You're likely to be disappointed, grossed out, and scared away from healthy cooking, much to the detriment of your physical and mental health. Whole30's SWYPO / Pancake Rule is a REALLY GOOD ONE! Let this serve as a disclaimer for all my recipes that might be deemed "healthier versions of a classic."
- Recipe development and food photography is a THING! It's a full-time job with its own set of skills and demands, and I do not have the required qualifications or patience! What I hope to do here is simply share what I cook; my dishes never taste exactly the same, depending on what ingredients I have on hand and what's in season. Please graciously consider these recipes as guidelines, around which you'll build your own set of preferences for flavor, texture, and methods. I waste little time photographing my food - I prefer to eat it. What you see is what you get.
- This is a guide to cooking for sensitive individuals, who may react to even small amounts of additives and preservatives. When using pre-packaged or processed foods, the key to all of this is rejecting all unnecessary additives, no exceptions. I hope someday we can all be free of restrictions, and eat anything with gratitude and a gracious digestive system, but for many of us, there will be a healing period of strict eliminations in order to reset our digestive and nervous systems. Keep this in mind - I'm not dictating rules for everyone, forever. This is how I eat, and not all recipes are good even for me at all times. I prefer to follow the flow of my body according to principles of Chinese medicine, integrating warming, neutral, cooling, drying, or moistening foods on an as-needed and seasonal basis.
- IGNORE nutrition labels (numbers) and focus on ingredients labels. Learning about the ingredients (and your body) will automatically tell you whether the nutritive effect on you will be positive or negative. Thinking in micronutrients and numbers is toxic for the body and life.
- NO citric acid, ascorbic acid, vegetable oil, dextrose, maltodextrin, unspecified natural flavors, corn-derived products (in their many hidden forms) or yeast, in addition to avoiding the usual villains of added sugar (in its many forms), MSG, artificial coloring and flavors, -ates, -ites, and anything you can't pronounce or draw a picture of.
- NO iodized table salt - it contains additives, usually derived from corn. Use sea salt or Himalayan salt.
- CHECK all ingredient labels, especially herb and spice blends, condiments, canned and frozen goods. The forbidden additives hide in almost everything.
- NEVER use vegetable oil with soy, corn, or peanut oil. Check all blends for addition of these. Preferably ALWAYS use olive oil, coconut oil, or pastured animal fats.
- The best way to ensure optimal nutritional value and lower inflammation is to source all meat from local farms, or find pastured, grass-fed, free-range, wild-caught proteins (cage-free and organic are useless buzzwords.)
- Recommended reading (no affiliation):
"Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford
"It Starts with Food" by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig
"In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan
"Sugar: The Bitter Truth" presentation by Robert Lustig
"Think and Eat Yourself Smart" by Caroline Leaf (religious)