Wow what a ride the last two months have been. A friend of mine told me about a book called "Whole30 by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Whole 30 is available but the book has the best pep talk ever and also about half of it is recipes. It's about getting well and getting free.
I also bought a cookbook "Well Fed" by Melissa Joulan The Clothes Make The Girl she is an awesome cook!!! Rarely in my life have I followed other peoples recipes because no brag here I can cook. If you can cook then when you read a recipe the ingredients speak to you. You can imagine that this combination is going to be very good! As I read the books I thought to myself this food sounds really delicious. i followed her recipes and learned some great new dishes like Chocolate Chili! I just needed to get new habits that don't incorporate the inflammatory foods that are making me feel bad.
Can I tell you for just a minute just how bad I had been feeling? Chronic bursitis in both hips, back pain, whole body aches, plantar fascitis , awful stiffness, unable to walk up and down stairs without major effort and pulling the handrail with both arms.....crippled up!!! In the South they say, " I am jes stove up". I didn't want to do anything but eat. Which is crazy.
Food addictions can sneak up on us. We are not infants that need to be fed every two hours. The feeling of "wanting something", is not normal for adults. We ought to be able to go four hours easily without eating and without thinking about eating. Now that I have finished two rounds of Whole 30 I no longer think about food all the time. Guess why. I am not addicted anymore, except for coffee. Who doesn't have a serious love affair with coffee? I drink it black and enjoy it which makes me a real true coffee junkie. I have found ways to flavor coffee if I want. Add a little cinnamon or allspice to the grounds before brewing, or some cocoa....yummmmmmm
You may be thinking about now; "I thought this is about Thanksgiving" don't worry we are going to talk about food. Thanksgiving is also about being thankful!!! In our household we go around the table and say what we are thankful for before we eat. This year I have so much to be thankful for!!!!
We all have life changing experiences and some are more powerful than others. Some experiences are unforgettable. I will never get over going to Haiti. Having running water all I want when ever I want is something I will never again take for granted. There is so much that is a part of our culture of excess that we don't need and that we already have. When you see people who are naked or almost naked and starving and thirsty it wrecks you. SEEING in real life has an impact that media can never impart. Flesh and blood humans in your reach in deep need is shattering when you have way more than you can ever use up.
Whole30 has been a life changing experience. I am ready for Whole365.
That brings me to a philosophical issue about food. We in our wonderful land have way more than we need. Our materialistic consumer driven society has created a culture of not only waste but excess. If you do the Whole30 one of the first things one sees that is absolutely mind blowing is how much "food" in grocery stores and even health food stores, is NOT food. I won't sugar coat it. Whole30 is strict. If you cheat with even one bite you start at the beginning. The concept is to follow the plan exactly for 30 days and give your body and it's taste buds a reboot. IT WORKS!! I think it works because it's strict. I am not sure how they got to the 30 day formula because at day 21 I was still thinking about the stuff I was missing. Something happens in the last week that is pretty profound, and I would call it deliverance.
Not all diets are about weight loss. We are crazy nuts here trying to make invisible women. Voluptuous women trying to be beanpoles, women who have just given birth not giving themselves any reasonable amount of time to get back to their pre pregnant weights. Give me a break we need to get a life and ENJOY LIFE! I have lost weight 15 pounds. but let me tell you what I have lost that means so much more to me! I have lost chronic fatigue. I no longer wake up exhausted wishing I was just dead already. I sleep GREAT. I wake up rested and have a little pep in my step. I have ENERGY. I can walk up and down the stair without holding on like a normal person. I have lost the glue that stuck me to the couch. I no longer have cravings. I eat when I get hungry and I eat good food.
I have lost digestive problems. Ummmm I am a nurse how graphic can you take it? How about this? My tummy though still large is flat. I don't bloat. I don't make embarrassing and odoriferous noises. I do go to the bathroom every day. I no longer support Miralax. I don't burp, belch, and wish my stomach would quit rebelling; because it is quite happy :)
I could go on. Completely downsizing in my clothes. I am wearing stuff I couldn't even get my arms into or thighs for that matter. My actual body size looks like a lot more weight loss than the scale says. I think for the first time in my life with any diet that my body is shedding fat; not water and not muscle. WOWZAS if that isn't an endorsement....go buy the book.
OK now let's talk about FOOD! Thanksgiving and holidays and oh no what about pie?????
You are going to think I have lost my mind but I don't care about the pie. If you scroll down in my blog you will see lots of pictures of PIES. Don't get me wrong there is no denying that pie is delicious and lovely to look at; BUT I don't want to hurt. The slice of pie has too high a price to pay for me!
However, I love the flavors and seasonings of Thanksgiving. I didn't want new recipes. Stuffed mushrooms and all that. They are good yes but not Thanksgiving! I began experimenting. Sorry I got caught up in the creating and didn't take pictures. Next time I cook I'll snap some photos. Just engage your own imagination OK?
I still remember waking up early to the smell of sauteing onions and celery in butter. My mama cooked such a large bird usually 25 pounds she would get up at 6 am to start the stuffing and get the bird in the oven! The aromas were so heavenly. We used sourdough croutons and she was an amazing cook. My Danish grandmother was also an amazing cook. My mama started me helping out in the kitchen by standing me on a chair in the kitchen and put the knife in the hand of the 5 year old girl and taught me how to safely chop, mince, and slice. I am forever in her debt. We buttered the bird and seasoned it with salt and pepper. All the gizzards and neck would simmer in a saucepan for extra broth to make lots of gravy....mouth watering right?
Ok challenge! Taking out what isn't whole30....the bread and the butter. Putting in something else....how about diced veggies and fruits? Which veggies would be good inside a bird? Hummmmm
ok so starting with a skillet and you can use ghee or clarified butter or refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil does not taste like coconut. I keep both types on hand. It is available at Sams/Costco for a reasonable price and it's organic. Ok so first thing into the skillet to saute is the large whole onion chopped finely and the celery and why not use the whole thing? Apples would be delicious so a couple of those chopped and into the skillet; make it a BIG skillet!!!! How about some nuts? Walnuts or pecans or both...raisins.... and all the seasonings you like sans junk. PURE sage etc.. I like Mrs. Bells. and sage. Lots of sage. Guess what? THIS can go into the bird. I have experimented with eggs in this and I don't like the outcome. I think the best stuffing is just these ingredients seasoned deliciously into the bird. They will swell up and stick together. You can also add diced sweet potato. In fact you can put any vegetable you like in there!!! I wouldn't use broccoli haha.
Lather the bird in ghee or coconut oil and season it. Salt,pepper, and sage. Bake it like you always do smiles right? Now here is where I do a Whole30 NOT approved departure. BECAUSE I finished my 1st Whole30 without cheating! I do make gravy with a flour and water thickener. I don't want tomato paste in my gravy. I don't want anything in my gravy but the taste of gravy. I am a purist about some things that cannot be messed with! For me it is a sin to ruin gravy. You can have potatoes but not milk so how about making them differently? I have sliced, chopped, mixed and roasted. Seasoning is the key. Coating them and roasting them is almost a divine experience. Change it up with the seasonings. Salt and pepper only or salt and pepper and rosemary, or salt and cinnamon on a sweet potato. The other thing is to invest in fresh seasoning and good salt. I use pink Himalayan fine grind. I ground up my own black pepper in a coffee grinder and WOWZAS what a difference. You can have 2 coffee grinders or just clean it without submerging it. OK so we have meat, potatoes, gravy and now we need some kind of sweet potato thing. Guess what? You can whip them, roast them, or candy them without sugar. You can use pineapple, packed in it's own juice or fresh. You can use orange juice. You can use a small amount of dates or raisins and if you dice them up finely and simmer them in a bit of water until plump that is a heck of a sweetener! It is after all a holiday.
You can decorate the top of your sweet potato casserole with diced up pecans or halves and some shredded coconut and pumpkin pie spice. Oh yes mam it is good. I found ONE kind of bulk trail mix that does not have sugar. It is almonds, cashews, raisins, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds, it's tasty. I like to add unsweetened coconut to it. I have played with this stuff and added a diced apple, pumpkin pie spice (not a lot) and melted coconut oil to mix it together and then stuff it into squash halves. YUM. it could be dessert it is THAT tasty.....
and finally..ta ta da da...CRANBERRY sauce/ relish........can not have a thanksgiving meal without it right????? OK brain think hard because cranberries are so tart tart....how to make them with no sugar. You can NOT use anything artificial so forget about splenda and all those other nasty chemicals and no stevia either...jes fuggettabowtit. What is sweet in nature? Apples are sweet. Apple cider is sweet. Ok lets use apple cider instead of sugar and water. Next...what if that is not enough sweet? Mince up some plump, soft and fresh majool dates and add the cranberries; put all this into the saucepan to bring it to a boil. What else might taste good? I love orange in my cranberry relish but this was my first experiment and wasn't sure I needed another acid, but I have some Williams and Sonoma mulling spices for that holiday flavor. I added 1 tsp of mulling spices into a cheesecloth bag and put the whole thing onto the stove, brought it to a boil, turned it down to simmer and let it simmer for a short time about 10 minutes and set it to the side to set up. Remove the bag of spices before serving. This stuff is amazing!!! I need to bottle it, sell it, and make my fortune for real. I shouldn't share it but I just can't be like that..
Next...well that's it, menu complete. There is a lot not here yes...I did experiment and cook this whole meal and try it on my family. It was the first time my grandson ate the vegetables and cranberry sauce and he LOVED everything. He is our pickiest eater. No one complained about no dessert. Everyone felt very satisfied and surprised that they LIKED it. Everyone commented on the FLAVOR. Now it's your turn. Put your thinking cap on and recreate your favorite foods without sugar and without junk. No dairy, no grains, no soy, no peanuts, no artificial anything. If you can't say it don't eat it. Concentrate on what you CAN have and what you will GAIN; freedom from food addictions and pain. It is so WORTH it. Get cooking.