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Thank You Disillusionment

Picture it …the 1985 and highly impressionable version of me in my sweetly naive ‘I’ve got life by the tail’ repose. Vital stats at the time: 100-lb. weightloss, check! Golden tan, check! Approval from the world, check! Self-esteem…M.I.A.

Fixing the external only is meaningless. Internally, I was unsatisfied, adrift, confused, and in utter shock that dropping the weight didn’t magically bestow happiness upon me as had been the implication. Backsliding, bewilderment, regaining the weight plus more, feeling like a royal screw-up, and diving back into destructive eating patterns were inevitable. How else could have I found the real way to health and balance? 

Unbeknownst to me, that fateful August afternoon, there were many lessons to be lived. As I let the cascade of compliments from everyone around me bounce off my inner-turmoil, I knew I had only just begun to tap into the Truth.



 

 

 

Appearances can be deceiving…



So You Think Lasting Weight-Loss Is All About Food?

“Is there anything you think would put you in danger of re-gaining the weight?” my good friend Doug asked me one afternoon back in 2011. For much of our lives we both fought the war with the scale, and he knew my history of being a chronic regainer. The answer I gave Doug was instantaneous. “Yes,” I said, leaning forward across the table at lunch that day. “Men.”

Seven years ago I was fresh off my most recent victory with said scale: 180 pounds lighter and enjoying an understandably new way of existing. Having learned much from all of my past weight loss ‘failures,’ I knew in precise terms what did not work for me, so there would be no more buying into quick-fix seductions from the diet industry. This time, I conquered obesity and binge-eating through a mosaic of solutions: self-help books, therapy, 12-step meetings, meditation classes, even a soul-searching stint in a food rehab. And when the wounds were properly salved, I was ready to take on the physical leg of my journey, finding a form of movement I clicked with (DDPYOGA) and taking the advice of a reputable nutritionist.

There’s no magical, easy life once the weight is gone, however. I still had to live with myself…and my hang-ups and fears. 25 years ago a painful break-up sent me reeling. Determined to never be hurt again, I dove head-first into regaining lost weight and hiding from the issues of intimacy. I hid with copious amounts of food and by half-heartedly agreeing to a new relationship where I knew I wouldn’t be fulfilled or happy, but hey, it was about hiding from the truth, so I was all-in. My body and soul paid the price. It was only after I was aroused from this self-inflicted coma 20 years later that I took a step back and admitted how profoundly unhappy I was. What, did you think lasting weight loss was all about calories in/calories out? If only it were that cut and dry.

But don’t be discouraged. Please don’t be discouraged. All it takes is a little bravery. Once you wade into the waters of honesty you’ll discover it’s not only not excruciating, it’s freeing. After a year or so of taking time to reconnect with myself again, it seemed like the right time to think about dating. I assumed that with the weight off, a roster of dashing men would somehow find me and commence courting. They didn’t. Friends suggested online dating. I said no way, it was for losers who couldn’t meet people on their own. Another year went by and I wasn’t meeting people on my own. Humbled, I joined a dating site, knowing it would be more than a viable way to meet a guy – would provide a golden ticket to face my fears and slay them once and for all.

Did I experience rejection? Of COURSE! Were some of my hopes dashed? Yup. Was there a healthy percentage of players? Affirmative. But a wise friend imparted some powerful wisdom to me at the beginning of my online search that stuck: something along the lines of ‘no one can make you unhappy but you.’ Sure, people can disappoint me, but it was incumbent on me to mind my side of the street, properly interpret the red flags, and not get carried away in my head. And believe me, I was getting fed up with some of the shenanigans from some of my suitors. Perhaps it was time for a break…I was approaching the six-month mark, and my patience was set to expire with my membership.

But, at the 11th hour, I grudgingly agreed to go one one more coffee date before checking out. January 11 is the day the walls came down, not because I was invested in a fantasy, but all the years of trial and error, learning and discerning, and rising again after each dust-up had taught me well. I sensed goodness in the man who sat across from me that morning of January 11, 2012, and as it always is, my gut was correct.

So, cheers to not only 6 years, but to surmounting obstacles and smashing down walls that keep us hidden. Risks are soul-enhancing, and disappointment is survivable. This I know for sure.

 



Proving everyday that food and intimacy are compatible….

 

 

 

Carb Cravings & Winter Go Together Like…

…well, I can think of a number of enticing combinations that I won’t tempt you by naming. So let’s just say the two seem to be made for one another. And with good reason: the colder, darker days set up the psychological desire for comfort. Add the double-whammy of those of us in colder climates being biologically programmed to eat more to literally have some added protection from the frigid temperatures and you have a recipe for fantasizing about breads, rice, biscuits, and pastas of every stripe.  And that’s exactly why I decided it was crucial for me to have a cache of healthy carb options stashed for the coming months. Complete elimination always backfires on me. And despite what some nutritional and weightloss schools of thought may have to say on the matter of carbs, I’ve found it best to have them in moderation…and make ’em healthy.

 

Don’t eliminate, UPGRADE. White Quinoa is a beautiful and delicious thing….

 

 

For the healthy carb round-up task, I sought the help of nutritionist and functional medicine expert Nancy Guberti, who makes a living advising people on the effects (good and bad) that food can have upon our bodies. Nancy works with clients around the globe, thanks to Skype. But if you want a crack at her expertise, there’s no better time than January to go for it. That’s when her annual online seminar, the Look and Feel Great Method begins.  You can also catch her January 3 at 9 p.m. EST on DDPRadio when she’s the special guest. In the meantime, enjoy her advice on healthy carbs and how to get the most out of them this winter:

 

Nancy Guberti

“There are plenty of ways to handle carb cravings,” explained Guberti. “The key is to make them healthy and know what each one does for your body. Here are my top favorites:

1. Baked organic apples with cinnamon or nutmeg –  Apples are healthy for you! They are high-fiber, anti-inflammatory, and offer phytonutrients in the apple pulp and skin. Research links consumption of apples with reduced risk of certain cancers, obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and even diabetes.

2. Sliced sweet or purple potatoes or carrots – bake them on cookie sheet with a bit of light olive oil or grapeseed oil until slightly crisp. Sweet potatoes are excellent source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. They also contain potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus – pretty amazing!

3. Butternut squash soup – Scrape the baked squash into a blender or food processor, and toss in some cauliflower of peas or spinach…it’s creamy and dreamy all in one. Butternut squash contains fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice and anti-inflammatory . It provides significant amounts of potassium, and vitamin B6, which is essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems.

4. Baked zucchini slices with Organics minced onion on them to ‘bread’ them – The minced onion makes a crunchy coating when baked, so it’s a treat that tastes great and is nutritious at the same time. Zucchini is also anti-inflammatory, high in Vitamin C, Potassium, antioxidants, B Vitamins and helps digestion, heart health, maintains eye health and helps control diabetes. Did you know that 1 tablespoon of onion powder contains about 1 gram of dietary fiber and offers manganese, calcium and Vitamin C?

5. I love a medley of organic brown rice, carrots, broccoli florets and cauliflower sautéed in Braggs Coconut amnios (this tastes like soy sauce without the wheat or soy). Organic brown rice is anti-inflammatory, high in magnesium, and anti-inflammatory. Aside from being soy free and gluten free, coconut aminos is low glycemic index and packed with minerals, vitamin C, and B Vitamins. It’s high in amino acid, containing 17 different types.

6. Quinoa – It is versatile, filling, easy to cook, and loaded with nutrition. It’s one of the most protein-rich superfoods with an abundance of fiber (great for weight loss, digestion and regularity), it contains iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin/B2, and manganese.”

 

Thank you Nancy, and I couldn’t agree MORE about quinoa in particular!  Which brings me to one of my favorite recipes for it…hot cereal. To the naked eye, the top photo is an ordinary pot of white quinoa. Don’t be fooled. It’s much more than that. This pot of magic, ancient grain is soon to be alchemized into clean food favorites such as cream of quinoa hot cereal, quinoa pancakes, and quinoa tabouli. All are are heart healthy, Paleo, and delicious. And they don’t wreak havoc on my blood sugar and set off the domino-effect of inflammation, weight-gain (usually) and bloating (always) that ensues when I eat white carbs, even the gluten-free variety.

Check out Clean Comfort for Chocolate Quinoa Cake and Quinoa Tabouli recipes; and A Bowl of Comfort for my Quinoa Matzo Ball Soup recipe.

 

 

Not your Bubbe’s matzo ball…but give it a whirl!

 

 

 

Cream of Quinoa Cereal (Stacey’s riff on Cream of Wheat)

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa, warmed

1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk, warmed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon coconut oil

sweetener of choice (I use a few drops of stevia)

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or food processor and blitz until smooth. If cereal is too thick for your liking, add more milk. Serve immediately.

 

Sooo good for you in the morning…or whenever the urge to be comforted by carbs strikes.

Paleo Walnut Date Cake

As much as I love a good piece of cake or a cookie, I’ve always detested the use of nuts in baking. Both the taste and rocky texture jar me and interrupt the experience of the said treat’s inherent smoothness that should center only around chocolate, peanut butter, cherry, or whatever the case may be. But that’s just me. I do, however, adore, seek-out, and go ga-ga for treats made with nut flour. It imparts a heft and richness that you simply can’t get from a grain. My usual nut-flour of choice is almond flour, in part because it’s so readily available. Coconut flour isn’t technically a nut-flour, but it’s paleo, nutrient-dense, and delicious…and also a little too heavy to use on its own. Enter walnut flour, something I whipped up in my food processor when it was time to use a mammoth bag of them purchased at CostCo before they went stale.

About to be alchemized…

 

 

No special equipment is needed to turn whole walnuts into a golden-brown flour, other than a food processor or Vitamix. Blenders, I’m not so sure of. If yours has a wider-than average bottom to accommodate the accumulation, and you feel it’s up to the task, strength-wise, go for it.

And then…there’s the matter of dried fruit from the pantry that may be approaching a rather ripe old age. Often, I’ll stock up on dates and figs, forget about them, and when it comes time to enjoy them, find that they’ve turned bullet-hard over time.

 

So hard, they wouldn’t be out of place paired with a slingshot…

 

 

A problem if you’re eating them out of the bag – but for baking, I found the perfect solution:  A good soak! Setting them in a shallow pan and pouring hot water or tea (in this case a strong Roobios) will bring them back to appropriate plumpness. And the tea is an added flavor bonus for the recipe.

 

 

Post-tea bath and the dates are moist and succulent once again.

 

 

I must say, the walnut flour works beautifully and is a natural pairing with dates, figs, and carrots. This is a wet, dense sort of cake…think bran muffins, and you’ll see why you may need to tinker with baking time. The center should be firm, but with paleo baking, that’s still not enough. I always let gluten-free and paleo cakes sit in a cooling oven for at least 30 minutes. And since the carrots will add considerable moisture, it’s best to play the waiting game.

As you may have guessed, this is NOT a quickie recipe. But if you look at it as an investment in your health, it will become a labor of love. Wishing you all a Deliciously Merry Christmas and A Sweet, Bountiful New Year!

 

 

Worth the wait!



Paleo Tahini Cookies

These amazing cookies are inspired by a recipe from Joan Nathan’s cookbook, ‘Solomon’s Table,” a hefty compilation of Jewish cooking from around the region. Nathan discovered these Tahini-based cookies while traveling through Israel and immediately acquired the recipe. I can see why. I’ve never had anything quite like these…and I’m sure the combination of Tahini and butter has a lot to do with it.

 

Sophia wants in on the action…

I’ve made them paleo and grain-free by using almond flour. And as I often do when baking, cut back on the sugar. Tahini cookies are fantastic on their own, but they also work with a square of chocolate baked into the middle. Note: the texture is very delicate and dissolvable, but that’s also part of their intrigue. Because of their fragile nature, I discovered it’s best to bake these on the middle – not the bottom rack of the oven.

For storage: lay them carefully in a Tupperware-type container, placing wax paper or foil between layers. Refrigerate if keeping more than a few days. They probably won’t last that long. Hope these sweeten your Hanukkah or Christmas celebration in a wonderful way!

 

Delicious – with or without chocolate chips!



This one is for Great Lakes Collagen: