What DO you eat??

I am so used to people wondering why I have so many dietary "restrictions" that I have stopped defending myself and instead I try to teach them WHY!!

How do I eat.  Okay, it's a long list.  First of all, I eat whole foods as close to the source as possible.  I eat very few processed foods, nothing with preservatives, food dye, food additives, msg, artificial or refined sugar, or carraggeenan.  I am gluten/dairy/soy/corn/egg/peanut free.  I also limit beans and legumes.  Yes, that's a lot.  I think that's the whole list, sometimes its hard to remember because I just know how I need to eat!!

Now for the WHY:

Gluten and dairy, beans and legumes too, are mucus forming.  Excess mucus in the body can create problems for the sinuses, bronchial tubes and lungs, and intestines.  When I eat mucus free, I breathe easily.  I truly believe that one of the reasons why I had asthma and so many throat and upper respiratory infections as a kid was because I was eating mucus forming foods.  Ditch the mucus, no more issues!!  I tell friends, family and clients all the time, if you can't go 100% free of these foods, at least stay away from them when you are sick.  Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a little kid with a runny nose drinking a bottle of milk.  They don't need the excess mucus when they're nose is running for 2 weeks straight :(

What about the other things??  Well, corn is very inflammatory and really doesn't contain a lot of nutrients.  I try to eat foods that have the most bang for every bite.  I went without corn for a week and then ate it.  I didn't feel good, so that was an indication that it just doesn't sit well with me.  Peanuts I stay away from because they are actually a legume, and they can be filled with mold.  They sit in storage warehouses for a long time before they are processed in to peanut butter, or chopped up and added to a variety of packaged foods, and mold forms on them easily during this sitting time.  They are also mucus forming since they are a legume.  Hmm, what else ... soy I just don't want to mess with.  Knowing that I work so hard to get my hormones balanced, and all the contradictory things I have heard about soy, I feel it is better for me to stay away.  It is extremely high in phytoestrogen, and most people already have so much estrogen in their body from using plastic, using body products with parabens, and eating too many foods that have rancid oil (fried foods) which are extremely high in omega 6.  Too much omega 6 raises estrogen levels due to the increase of an enzyme called aromatase.  So I just stay away from soy, and parabens, and plastic too, as much as I can.  As far as eggs, I have done an elimination diet and discovered that I react to eggs.  I feel mucus in my throat and weird in my gut when I eat them.  Most people who have had, or do have, auto immune issues (asthma is actually an auto immune issue) will react to eggs, or the protein in eggs to be exact.  Every once in a while I will bake with them, and not notice much if there are only 2 eggs in the recipe.  But I can't eat them whole, that doesn't do well with me.

Okay, so why would I want to eat this way??  Well, for starters, I really want to drive home the idea that just because something is "food" doesn't meant that it is good for the body!!!!!!!!  The human body is not designed to eat and thrive on CRAP (carbonated drinks, refined sugar, artificial ingredients, processed food).  We are designed to eat fresh, whole ingredients.  Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole gluten free grains (like quinoa, oats, amaranth, millet, etc), and pasture raised meats (if this agrees with you).  There are more vegetables and fruits than we can ever imagine.  What you see at the grocery store is probably only 5% of what you could potentially grow in a home garden or see at the farmers market.  We need to start thinking outside of the box and become aware that just because it's sold in a store, doesn't meant that it is good for us!!  I am 100% medication free, and have been for over 3 YEARS because of the way I eat.  If I had remained on the Standard American Diet (SAD), there is NO WAY I would feel as good as I do now, and I would probably still be getting strep throat and bronchitis all the time (which I haven't had for at least 8+ years). 

This does not have to be done all at once!!  I started small and worked my way up.  It has taken me 7 years of progress to eat the way I do now.  And I am still changing all the time.  But I have my standards that I will not compromise.  I will not eat anything that is GMO and I stay away from conventional as much as possible.  I do not eat any meat unless it is grass fed and pasture raised.  I only eat wild caught fish, and even then I'm careful to make sure that it is sustainably caught.  It's tough, and it's worth every second that I can invest in making better choices.  I refuse to be a victim of the salt, sugar and fat trap that the food industry has created in this nation.  I refuse to be overweight, have high blood pressure, or have diabetes just because I don't "like" how healthy food tastes.  I'm going to say this, you are not doing yourself any favor by giving in to unhealthy food cravings.  Yes, we all have them.  I have them too.  You have to be stronger than your taste buds!!  Know that it is only harming you and contributing to ill health if you continue to eat processed, sugary, fattening foods just because you "have to have them".  You don't, you can live without them.  I used to think there was no way I could live without naan (Indian flat bread).  Well, of course I miss it, but I'm fine without it and I know how my body will react and to me, that's not worth it.  It's important to have an emotion and a feeling behind making healthy choices.  If you say you're going to do it just because you think you should, that won't stick.  You need a WHY so strong and immovable that it guides your decisions every day so purposefully that you don't even have to think about it.

I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad or guilty.  I just want you to know that you control what goes in your mouth.  No one else can make you eat what you do, and if you truly feel that you have a food addiction or an unhealthy relationship with food (intense emotional eating, anorexia, bulimia) then I am asking that you seek out a professional who can help you.  Know that it is not your fault, and you are strong enough to overcome anything!

Anyone can eat healthy.  I am proof of this.  I grew up eating Oreos, Hamburger Helper, peanut butter full of sugar and trans fat, fast food, soda (I used to be addicted to Diet Coke, now I can't stand the thought of it!!), pizza and milkshakes just like everyone else.  But then I woke up and realized that I wasn't giving myself nutrients.  The body cannot function properly without nutrients.  You have been given an amazing gift.  If you have a mouth and can chew, you can eat healthy. 

Give it a try, and you will surprise yourself!!  Go to the farmers market, order in bulk from Azure Standard, try a new vegetable a week by investing in a local CSA delivery box (community supported agriculture).  Your taste buds will start to change.  You won't want the crap anymore.  And you will start feeling better.  Isn't that worth it??  Who doesn't want to feel better?!?!  You don't have to be a victim of your circumstances.  You have the power to change how you eat and how you take care of yourself.  You CAN thrive!! Just give it a try :)

Coconut Curry Veggie Dish

Coconut is so delicious!  I have been experimenting with whole, young coconuts (Thai coconuts) lately and whipped up this quick and tasty dinner.  It was really easy, I promise!  I don't like spending a ton of time cooking, even though I do love being in the kitchen.  And making everything from scratch can be tedious and messy.  But this recipe wasn't, so I will be repeating it in the near future for sure!  One pan dinner with very little clean up, yes please!!

I opted to use a fresh, young coconut to make coconut milk instead of using canned coconut milk.  Once you know how to open the coconut, it's actually pretty easy and quick.  It's cheaper or the same price as canned coconut milk, but it's not processed, and it tastes sooo much better!

To prepare, you need a young coconut and a knife with a blunt edge.  If you're not sure how to open it, check out this video tutorial here.  If you have a Whole Foods nearby, they sell their young coconuts with the husk cut off and a hole already exposed.  So easy!

Coconut Curry Veggies

Ingredients (organic whenever possible):

  • fresh ginger
  • fresh turmeric
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • onion
  • sweet squash like acorn, delicata, kabocha or butternut (I used white acorn squash)
  • romanesco or cauliflower
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 carrots
  • coconut oil
  • 1 young coconut
  • curry seasoning

First, make coconut milk

Open the young coconut by puncturing a hole and draining the water into a jar, bowl, etc.  Scrape out the flesh with a small silicone spatula.  Add all the water and all the flesh/meat to a blender, and blend until smooth and frothy.  There's your coconut milk!  It should yield anywhere from 12-16 oz, which is about how much a can of coconut milk is.  You will use it all in this recipe.

Next, to make the dish

Prepare the squash first because this is the most time intensive.  Peel off skin and cut in half or sections, removing the seeds by scraping them out with a spoon.  Cut in to bite size pieces and set aside.  If your squash is really big, use only half or part of it.  I used an entire white acorn squash.  

Chop up onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric finely.  I used 1/2 thumb size of peeled ginger and turmeric each.  Add about 2 TB of coconut oil to a saute pan and add onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric to the pan.  Keep on medium low.  Once they start to sauté, add a little bit of the coconut milk that you just made to the pan and continue sautéing.  Add curry seasoning to taste.  I probably used at least a TB of curry.

Now add the squash to the pan with more coconut milk and bring to a low simmer.  Cover with a lid and let it cook while you cut up the rest of the veggies.

Chop up romanesco or cauliflower (I used romanesco, I'm obsessed with it lately!), carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, and any other veggies that you think would be good.  Peas are also traditionally used in Indian food dishes, so you could add those as well.  

Add all veggies to the pan, stir and add the rest of the coconut milk.  Add more curry powder is desired.  Stir and keep veggies on a low simmer until they are done to your liking, 15-20 minutes.  I like the squash to be cooked soft, but the bell pepper and romanesco to be crisp tender.  You might like it different, so cook it how you want it!  

Let it cool for few minutes off the heat (the squash gets hot!!) before you dish out and enjoy!  This makes enough for leftovers for the next day (if you're only feeding 2).