Mayo Madness Turns Very Vege

Whenever anyone I’ve met decides to go on this healthy lifestyle diet, they (including me) have at least one or two favorite foods (or ingredients) they trip up over and go into shear agony knowing their cravings will no longer be satisfied. For me, it was Tillamook cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. I would eat them separately or together, it didn’t matter. I always kept a healthy supply in my frig for whenever I got the urge to indulge. Mayonnaise, I could eat by the spoonful. I have never been shy about generously slopping it onto sandwiches and burgers, or mixing into salads and dips. (Oh, and deviled eggs! Yum.) So when I was told about this mayo alternative—Vegenaise—all I could do was sigh. An alternative?! Give me a break. Nothing can replace the goodness of real, artery-clogging mayonnaise.

But out of desperation and commitment to giving this diet every chance for success, Grapeseed Vegenaise was one of the first items to go in my shopping cart at Whole Foods. I was anxious to rush home and give it a try, which is exactly what I did. And I haven’t looked back. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it is so similar in texture, color, and flavor, I believed that Steve wouldn’t even notice it wasn’t mayo on his dinner salad that night. And he didn’t.

What’s really been exciting is, I can eat all I want, guilt free. It’s actually good for your body in many ways. Here are some things I’ve learned:

Vegenaise is egg, dairy, and gluten free. It’s also corn, yeast and starch free. It is low in sodium, very low in saturated fat, has no cholesterol, and no hydrogenated or transfats. The kind I enjoy (there are 4 other kinds) is made with grapeseed oil which is known to raise HDL (good cholesterol), and in turn, lower LDL (bad cholesterol). Grapeseed oil is also an excellent source of natural vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

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I am hooked for life. I gave my brand new giant jar of mayonnaise from my last Costco trip to my neighbor. I almost felt bad for giving it to her. To me, it was trash—to her, it was treasure. (It’s amazing how a lifelong perspective on something can change so drastically once you do a little research and experimentation.) But I didn’t want to throw it away! I will need to share this post with her. Later. After she’s eaten it up. J

Here is one of my favorite salads made with Vegenaise. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Turkey Salad

3 cups chopped turkey breast

1 cup mango, cubed

1 cup purple grapes, halved

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup coarsely diced celery

Enough Grapeseed Vegenaise to nicely bring the ingredients together

½ tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the cumin and salt & pepper into the vegenaise and mix into the meat mixture. Spoon over a bed of fresh baby spinach and arugula.

Bon Appetite! 

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20% off at P.F. Changs

In case you hadn’t heard, P.F. Chang’s has a kick-butt gluten-free menu! Since it’s a national chain, it’s one I always look for when I’m traveling for a guaranteed gluten-free meal. I get promotional e-mails from them and thought I would pass the savings along to you–for anyone who wants some spicy chicken or Mongolian beef with their basketball games this weekend! Enjoy!

Cute As a Button Cookies

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These adorable Gluten-Free Coconut-Lime Shortbread Cookies are over at the Bob’s Red Mill blog today, recipe courtesy of the creative and talented Christen at Life:Styled. I love that they’re so colorful and that they include a healthy dose of coconut flour to up the protein and fiber. I see a batch of these in my near future. As a native Oregonian, I’m a huge fan of anything Bob’s Red Mill, and their alternative flour options and baking mixes have been a godsend as I’ve transitioned to being gluten-free. Check out Bob’s and Life:Styled. You won’t be disappointed!

Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole: Perfect for Company!

I found this recipe for crock pot breakfast casserole several months ago on Pinterest. I’ve been meaning to try for ages but didn’t get around to it until this weekend. We tend to have a lot of house guests, and last weekend we were able to enjoy the company of one of my best friend’s in-laws who were in town for a birthday. Saturday night I managed to pull myself out of my allergy fog long enough to throw together this quick and easy recipe.

You can see the original recipe here, but I made a number of modifications. One thing I love about is that you could adapt it and try lots of things with it. Because there were only four of us, I cut the recipe mostly in half. Only three of us ate the next morning, and it was plenty for that and for leftovers for me and Josh.

You’ll need:

7 eggs (If you’re not buying cage-free, I highly recommend; you can taste the difference)
2/3 a cup of milk (I used coconut almond milk)
A pinch of dill
2/3 of an 8 oz block of cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
1/2 bag of hash brown potatoes
1/2 a package of your breakfast meat of choice (I used gluten-free, all natural Hormel honey ham)
veggies of your choice (I used green onion from my garden and fresh mushrooms)

I sauteed my veggies in a little coconut oil for just a few minutes and set aside. I rubbed the inside of my crock pot with coconut oil, more on that later, and then began to layer the casserole. Start with a layer of potatoes and then add your meat, cheese, and vegetables. Repeat. In my medium-sized crock, I got about two full layers. End with cheese on top. Beat together eggs, milk, and your pinch of dill. The recipe called for dried, but I snagged some fresh from my garden. Pour the mixture over the layers, and you’re done! Set your crock to cook on low, and you’ll have a yummy breakfast waiting when you and your guests get up in the morning.

One thing I will change is the timing and the crock I use. Her recipe says 8 to 10 hours on low, and we erred on the side of caution to make sure it was done because we had to eat early before church. We all thought it was delicious, but in my opinion it was a little too done. (Per my note on coating my crock with coconut oil; it wasn’t quite enough. Because it was a little too done, it was also a little too stuck to the sides. Coat generously.) Next time, whether I make the large version or the small, I’ll put it in my bigger, automatic crock and set it for 8 hours so it goes to warm if we’re not up yet.

Enjoy!

A SALUTE TO CAREGIVERS

Week before last my husband had major surgery on his neck—he had two disks replaced and three vertebrae fused together. He’s had to wear a Darth Vader-looking neck brace and was instructed not to stoop, twist, turn, bend, lift, lean or lay more than 30 degrees in any direction. So I, of course, embraced the role of caregiver, as well as chief cook, washer, bather, errand runner, house cleaner, and encourager. I also brought work home to ward off falling behind on my deadlines.

No problem, I thought, I am good at multitasking and I like to serve (especially someone I love). But by mid-week last my usual sense of control and tower of strength crumbled, and, piece by piece, it fell into an abyss of weariness. My spirit felt defeated and exhausted. I actually felt bewildered—so very unusual for me.

As my inner crumbling started, I couldn’t help but think of what full-time caregivers face. The mom of a special needs child; the wife or husband whose spouse has a long-term illness or handicap; the adult child who cares for their aging parent.  Every single day is filled with constant tending to the needs of another, with no break, let alone time for them self.  I’ve only had a taste of what they go through day-to-day, and I found myself teary eyed with new-found compassion. They have captured my heart. They have my grandest wishes for all the hope they can find for respite, for a helping hand, and for physical, emotional, and spiritual renewal. They are all heroes in my eyes and, hopefully, the eyes of those they care for.

During one night of calling out to God, Psalm 34:18 came to mind. I clung to the words because, well, deep in my heart I know they’re true: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (niv) Even though my heart isn’t really broken (my husband’s condition is temporary), I know that there are many caregivers whose hearts are.  I imagine they have a list of broken dreams and visions of what they thought life would be like before their new role. And if they’re like me, they’d have broken hearts for the person they are caring for—surely the afflicted have dreams that got shattered or wiped off their road map of life. But we have the lasting hope and comfort of knowing He is near, and that alone is enough to get each of us through another day.

By this last weekend Steve began to show sudden and great improvement. A bright new light began to shine on both of us—we knew we were both moving on to healing and relief. So to celebrate the week on a high I asked Steve what he’d like for dinner, and he said “Stroganoff! I would love a bowl of your Beef Stroganoff!” So that’s what I made. It’s normally something we enjoy in the fall since it’s so rich and creamy, but this would be a willing exception. And I even took pictures and wrote down my recipe so I could share it with you today.

I must say, it was delicious, and it was especially grand to see that ear-to-ear smile on Steve’s face while eating it. So here you are, my Beef Stroganoff, gluten-free of course. And maybe when you give thanks for what you are about to receive, you can offer up a prayer for any caregivers you know. Maybe even take them a batch to lighten their load for one evening.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. stew meat, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

1 ½ lbs. mushrooms, stemmed and quartered

1 large sweet onion

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup beef broth

1 16-oz sour cream

2 Tbsp. GF flour

Coconut oil, grass fed butter, sea salt & pepper to taste

GF wide egg noodles, cooked to package directions

  

Directions:

Melt about 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a large skillet on high heat. After the pan is really hot, add 1/2 the stew meat and let sear for about 2-3 minutes without stirring. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Once the meat turns crusted and brown on the bottom, give a quick stir to cook for another minute. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. (It’s okay if you still see a little pink—the meat will continue cooking.) Add the second ½ of the meat and repeat. Right before you give the meat a stir, add the minced garlic. Stir and let cook for about a minute. While it cooks, turn the burner down to medium. Remove meat and set aside.

Now sauté the mushrooms, adding butter as needed, until they are a rich brown color. (I cooked my mushrooms in 3 batches so as not to crowd the pan. You don’t want them on top of each other or else they won’t brown properly and produce the rich and toasty flavor you’re looking for.) Once the mushrooms are done, add more butter as needed and cook the onions until they begin to turn translucent.

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When the onions are done, turn your burner to med-low and add the meat and mushrooms back into the skillet, along with the beef broth, and stir. When the burner temp has had a chance to reduce, add the sour cream and gently stir to mix.

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The sauce will be slightly too liquid for clinging to your pasta, so, in a measuring cup, add enough water to your GF flour until it’s the consistency of pancake batter—easy to pour but still thick. Mix until there are no lumps. Add a little of the batter mixture at a time, stir, and wait to see your sauce thicken. Add batter until the sauce is a nice and rich consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon over your pasta and enjoy!

How to Be Gluten-Free and Still Have a Social Life

I know I usually post recipes on Mondays, but since I’m on Phase One for a while I’m not making any of my decadent comfort food favorites for a few weeks. Phase One has brought my allergies down to practically nothing–seriously, I can breathe!–but it isn’t the most exciting, food-wise. So I thought I would take this opportunity to address a facet of the gluten-free lifestyle that is often overlooked on blogs and in gf-books: How to be gluten-free without alienating your friends and family.

All too often our social lives revolve around eating or drinking. You meet friends out for dinner, are invited to parties with buffet tables laden with goodies, bring a dish to your church potluck, grab drinks and appetizers with your co-workers at happy hour, or double-date for brunch. So when you go gluten-free, these once fun outings turn into a slow and specific form of torture. Your friends want to go to a fun new martini bar or hit up a brunch spot that specializes in delicious-looking pancakes, and, while they are catching up, you suddenly can’t think about anything except snatching that doughnut off of your bff’s plate and devouring it whole–which wouldn’t be good for your stomach or your friendship. These situations can be very tricky to navigate. Here are my tips for socialzing sans gluten:

  1. Eat before you go out. I try to always eat something filling before a night out, so that I can order a small salad if there are no other gf options, and not be starving.
  2. Always keep some emergency food in your purse or car. Gf-granola or protein bars are perfect to have on hand. That way, I’m so much less likely to give into a craving and eat something that will make me sick.
  3. Call Ahead. If you know where you are going, call ahead and ask questions about the menu and how they prepare their food up front. Let the restaurant or bar know when you’ll be coming in so that they can take any measures they need in the kitchen to ensure you don’t get sick.
  4. Volunteer to coordinate nights out. That way, you can pick the restaurant and ensure you can actually eat dinner!
  5. Volunteer to be the designated driver. It can be tough to find a gf alcoholic drink option. While wine, rum, and tequila are generally safe (but always check your labels before imbibing!), gin, vodka, and cider can be harder to safely consume, and beer is out. When in doubt, volunteer to drive so no one can pressure you to drink something that may make you sick. It will also keep you from giving in and having a G&T when you know it’s a no-no.
  6. Invite everyone over to your place and treat your friends to awesome gf-food. This is a great way to get your friends excited about your new lifestyle. After all, who can criticize the lack of gluten when they are eating something gf and yummy?
  7. Don’t be embarressed. This is the hardest one for me. It’s tough to be the picky person who has to ask a bunch of questions before you can take a single bit, but the sooner you get over it, the sooner your friends will.

Speaking of your friends, not everyone will be on board when you first announce your lifestyle change. A big lifestyle change can cause some tension, especially if you spend a lot of time with your buds. Changing your life automatically will mean changes in theirs if you are attached at the hip. High school and college are particularly tough times to go gluten-free, since socializing often means coffee shops, diners, frat parties, and cheap restaurants–none of which are known for being gf friendly. Chances are your friends will fall into one of these categories:

  1. The Enabler–the Enabler will not be pleased about your lifestyle change. She may pretend to be on-board, but her true colors will show through the first time she wants to go out to eat somewhere with no options for you. This can be a case of immaturity, someone who is jealous that you haven the willpower to embrace a new, healthier lifestyle, or someone who just dislikes change, but it happens far more often than you might expect. After all, you’d assume that all of your friends would be thrilled that you found a way to be healthier, right? Wrong. This friend will encourage you to cheat on your new diet at every opportunity and will probably eat your old favorites in front of you, even knowing that you are struggling. She may make fun of what you’re eating or make comments about how gross those kale chips look. The best thing to do is ignore her and not rise to her bait. If she persists and is really snarky, you may need to have a heart-to-heart talk with her or schedule dinner with other friends until she comes around to the idea. Usually, though, this friend will come around and eventually be supportive (if prone to eye-rolling) in the end.
  2. The Doubting Thomas–this friend will be openly doubtful of your new diet and all of it’s benefits. They will probably label you a “hippie” or “hipster” when you suggest an organic, vegetarian taco place, and laugh at you when you ask the waiter too many questions. The best approach is to sit this person down and have a heart to heart ASAP. If they can’t get on board, learn to ignore this person’s mean comments or find a new dinner companion!
  3. The Unintentional Betrayer–this friend will be super gung-ho and ask tons of questions about your new diet. She’ll be encouraging and thoughtful and probably invite you over for dinner, all gf, of course. But, as much as she thinks she gets the whole gf thing, she doesn’t and chances are you will go home sick to your stomach. The best option with this friend is to plan nights out. She’ll be happy to let you pick the restaurant and split a gf-entree with you, just avoid letting her cook for you. Even numerous explanations won’t help because she thinks she understands and nothing you can say will get through.
  4. The On-Board Cheerleader–this friend is a one in a million. Not only will she ask thoughtful questions and be encouraging and supportive of your new lifestyle, she’ll do her own research and scout out yummy gf products and restaurants for you to try. She is thoughtful, meticulous, and not likely to accidentally poison you. Spend extra time with her!

The more cheerleaders you have in your life, the luckier you are, but it can still be difficult. Just remember that your true friends will come around and be supportive (even if it make take them a little while to adjust), so give them some time. If that doesn’t work, you can always try making them gf cookies, since those will get just about anyone on-board with the gluten-free way!

A Day in the Life, Phase 1

Good gravy. Three of our four GFG team members have been clobbered by the out-of-control pollen in middle Tennessee this last couple weeks. I feel bad that we’ve all be suffering, but I take some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one. Some solidarity goes a long way. I think we’re all looking forward to a new week and to feeling normal and healthy again. In an effort to make that happen, Molly has gone to Phase 1 for the time being, and I think it might be smart for me as well. So let’s talk about how to survive Phase 1 (click here for a refresher on the rules for Phase 1).

Phase 1 kicked my butt at first. Then I whined and had dreams about bread and potatoes. And then it kicked my butt again and more and harder. I was starving all the time during those first two to three weeks. My body (more likely my brain) didn’t know how to feel full without grains and dairy. My body was going through quite a detox and what I now realize was a healing crisis. I already felt so crummy because of the allergy and autoimmune issues. Add detoxing, and it felt like climbing a small mountain every day just to do the shopping and prep work. I believe that the addictive properties of certain foods also contribute to a feeling of withdrawal. I was definitely experiencing some French fry and coffee DTs on any given day during those first weeks.

In order to survive, I decided to stick to a small number of repeated meals. I didn’t want to get bored, but I also didn’t feel well enough to get creative and grandiose with my meal plans. Sticking closely to the restricted diet was the most important thing to me. I needed the allergic reaction to stop, for the inflammation to go down, for my thyroid to start working, and I desperately wanted to feel better. It was difficult though! All my go-to foods of the past were off limits—potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, cheese, yogurt, coffee, Coke, ahem, Chick-fil-A. Food prep does take longer with this lifestyle; be prepared for that. One of the easiest ways for me to stay on target was to repeat my breakfasts and lunches. It’s not the end of the world to eat the same breakfast and lunch every other day! If and when I do Phase 1 again, I’ll have new ammo in my arsenal. I already know which foods to rely on, and I will add juicing and smoothies now that I have both a juicer and a Vitamix. Just adding juicing and smoothies would greatly shorten the withdrawal time, I believe. I also have some recipes with coconut and almond flour now (as well as using almond flour to bread chicken). Many more options!

Below is a very basic breakdown of the foods/meals I relied on for the first eight weeks. Anything in italics will eventually have a recipe posted. Please be patient. I don’t have recipes for some of these things and will need to retrace my steps and update this post occasionally with recipes. Most of these are no-brainers (everyone knows how to make a good veggie scramble, right?), but if you have questions, just let me know in the comments. I’m happy to share cooking tips, recipes, etc. 🙂

Always have food with you. That is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember during Phase 1 (and always, really). Very little pre-made food in grocery stores or restaurants is acceptable, so you need to be prepared at all times.

On hand for snacking:

  • raw almonds and other approved nuts and seeds
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • fruit and vegetables
  • almond butter
  • Kind Bars (but only in case of emergency, as these have cane sugar, dried fruit, and puffed rice)

Breakfast:

  • green tea with a little stevia or agave (I switched to half-caf coffee after a few weeks and now prefer that with a bit of unsweetened almond or soy milk and no sweetener)
  • sliced apple with almond butter
  • banana and berries topped with slivered almonds
  • hard-boiled egg and tomato cucumber salad
  • veggie scramble
  • turkey wrap (veggies, goat cheese, and homemade vinaigrette wrapped in slices of Boar’s Head turkey)
  • fresh-pressed juice or smoothie (add approved protein powder as desired)

Lunch:

  • salad with loads of veggies; chicken, steak, or tuna; goat cheese; and homemade vinaigrette
  • homemade soups (no grains, potatoes, or pasta)—the options here are too many to count!

Dinner:

  • veggie scramble with goat cheese and salsa (sometimes with turkey sausage too)
  • steak or chicken and veggies
  • stir-fry with cauliflower “rice” (no soy sauce, no rice)
  • paleo pancakes with butter, almond butter, and fruit
  • oven-roasted veggies with over-easy eggs and crumbled goat cheese on top
  • salad

Bedtime:

  • herbal tea with stevia or a little agave (don’t go bonkers with the agave though)
  • fruit and nuts or eggs

I know this probably doesn’t look very exciting, but keep in mind that every lunch/dinner dish includes veggies, and the options there are pretty much limitless. Do lots of peppers in your veggie scramble one night; the next, roast broccoli and asparagus with poached eggs on top. Do a chopped salad one day with olives, artichokes, tomatoes, and turkey; the next, do spinach, raspberries, goat cheese, and almonds. Flavor options are endless, really. There’s no reason to be bored by this plan. Remember, you are cooking everything in coconut oil or butter only and using olive oil only for making vinaigrettes.

Recipes to come . . . Happy eating!

* All pics are from Phase 1 meals. They look pretty tasty, huh?

Allergy Fog

I wish I had pictures of a fantastic gluten-free dish I just created or a beautiful post on my garden-in-progress. Truly, I’d be happy with a coherent thought. Sadly, I just have an allergy fog, allergy meds that do nothing to help, and a terrible cough that will not let me sleep.

I’ve had small allergy issues in the past, but never anything like this. Apparently our pollen count is 400 bazillion or something this week. People can’t breathe and all the cars are yellow. It’s awesome.

So anyway, please stay tuned for future posts that have really interesting recipes, fantastic gluten-free health benefits, and clever, correctly formed sentences.

I’m going to go stare at wall and cough some more.

Strawberry Muffins: Gluten-Free and Fast

Sunday evening I was in the mood for a snack or dessert, but I wasn’t sure what, and I didn’t want to put a lot of effort into anything. (This was about six hours after my allergy crash of 2012.) I got out my Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix and checked out some of recipes on the package.

She includes several recipes, but I decided to go with the muffins and put strawberries in them. Not only were these really fast and easy; they’re actually quite good. I used agave instead of honey or sugar, and I doubled the batch to make twelve instead of six.

I’m excited to learn how to do more official gluten-free baking, but I have to say, I’ll probably keep Pamela’s mix around for last-minute fixes. Warm muffins with butter and a cup of tea were just what I needed.

Phase 1: Detoxing for Dummies

I didn’t know what to expect when I first started seeing Dr. WooWoo. After that initial allergic reaction, I’d been on a prednisone and Benadryl bender and generally felt jumpy, sick, and miserable. Any kind of solution that didn’t involve a drug was exactly what I was looking for. Someone who had seen Dr. WooWoo a couple years prior had shared some of the diet changes, so I knew some restrictions were coming my way. This was all a little bit scary to a girl who had been on a junk-food-a-palooza for the five months prior.

Let me tell you: those first weeks were hard. Some nights after work, I would wander around Whole Foods, sniffing loaves of bread, whispering sweet nothings to the boxes of pasta, cradling wedges of brie, looking longingly at everything in the deli cases and food bars, all of which I couldn’t eat. The doctor wasn’t kidding about how saturated all our foods are with these three key food groups I had to cut out for the first eight weeks. I learned pretty quickly that the absolute only way to hold to this eating regimen was to cook for myself–and to set aside adequate time for all the prep, which was a little daunting at first.

You’re probably thinking, Hey, Jen. It’s so rad that you’re telling me about this terrible eating plan that is so hard and made you miserable. Sign me up!

I’m really selling it, huh? No cheeseburger-colored glasses here! I just want to put it out from the get-go that that this isn’t a piece of cake. (See? Already I’m preparing you. There is NO CAKE in Phase 1.)

But there is a huge and compelling reason to give this lifestyle change a try: you will feel awesome after a couple weeks. This gluten-free thing for me is about more than finding cheats or replacements for all my former favorite foods. I’m trying to change everything about the way I care for my body, and I can tell you that it has made a huge difference in my well-being. Some days are harder than others and I’ve had to re-learn and re-think many things, but the payoff has been undeniable. Take what you will from this, and feel free to ask me questions! I do love blabbing about this stuff . . .

Some notes:

  • The goal of Phase 1 is multifaceted: a gentle detox from all the garbage that has built up in your system (refined, processed foods; empty white products; SUGAR; bad fats), an overall reduction of inflammation in the body, alkalizing your system, and kind of a reset button on your cravings (especially sugar).
  • This isn’t a “diet.” You are not depriving yourself. It’s not some kind of fad or quick-weight-loss gimmick. It’s not low-carb, sugar-free, cabbage soup, or any other get-healthy/thin-quick plan. There is no counting of points, no carbs vs. protein, no “fruit is bad.” It’s a new way of life based on whole foods, the way they’re found in nature.
  • Some of the elements might seem counterintuitive to you. I understand that. Americans have been programmed to consume low-fat, high-grain, high-dairy. I challenge you to research anything on this list that doesn’t fit your current mentality. I think you’ll be surprised, like I was, about how truly backward many of our mind-sets are.
  • Try to shop organic if you can. Refer the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen so you can make some distinctions. Be prepared to shell out a little more dough at the grocery store. I don’t know what to tell you: real food is more expensive. But I think you’ll find relatively quickly that you are spending less eating out and that you are in a pattern that is doable. There are ways to make lower-cost items go further (eggs for example), and once you get to Phase 2, costs should go down further. Prepare to shop more often as well since you’ll be consuming so many perishable items. Here’s a good reminder: if it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, skip it!
  • Remind yourself that this isn’t forever. Phase 1 is only eight weeks. You can do it! And remember that you are giving your most valuable resource–your body–a chance to heal by truly feeding it, maybe for the first time, with real and life-giving foods. If anything, look at this as a vacation for your body–a chance to revel in easily digestible and healing foods.
  • Try new things! The Internet is a wealth of ideas and information. Look for recipes. Try new produce. Open your mind. It’s kinda fun, people.
  • Complete legalism will only make a person stumble. Give yourself a couple cheat meals every week. It makes a huge difference to allow yourself this in the early stages. Down the road? Those cheats will likely become less intriguing.
  • I’m only going to share a rough outline of what the naturopath and many sources online laid out for me. If you want more specific or thorough details, I suggest you find a Dr. WooWoo of your very own or take charge of your health and start doing some research. I’ll answer as many questions as I can, but I’m not an expert by any means. I will lay out what NOT to eat, a few key things to add, and a basic list of foods you can have on Phase 1.

Here are the three big things you will AVOID during Phase 1:

  • DAIRY (anything from cow’s milk)
  • GRAIN (all grains; that means NO bread, pasta, no rice, and pretty much all packaged foods)
  • SUGAR (anything refined–this does not refer to fruit)

Here’s a big “no duh”: NO artificial anything. This stuff is poison. No fake coffee creamers, no diet soda, no artificial sweeteners, no “low-fat,” no “fiber added.” For now, you also won’t be having “gluten-free” products–no mixes or pre-made stuff. You will naturally be eating gluten-free by cutting out all the grains. Don’t add any empty GF stuff in Phase 1. And no fast-food, chips, candy, soda, or any of that other junk.

Here is what you will be eating:

  • GOOD FATSstart cooking with coconut oil! I’m serious. Your body needs fat. It’s just doesn’t need garbage fat. America has this all backwards. Coconut oil is incredibly healthy (see Lisa’s torrid love letter to coconut oil), full of medium chain fatty acids and healing properties. The only fats you should use for cooking are quality coconut oil and butter. Use olive oil only for dressings (lower smoke point = carcinogens. You feel me?).
  • MEAT: (NO pork or roast beef; if you buy deli meat, buy quality preservative-free and nitrite-free ).
  • EGGS: you might be eating a lot of these.
  • GOAT’S MILK PRODUCTS: chevre saved my life. I’m not kidding.
  • NUT/SEED MILKS: almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk.
  • NUTS/SEEDS: (NO macadamia nuts, peanuts (butter), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios).
  • VEGETABLES: (NO potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, jicama, waterchestnuts).
  • BEANS/LEGUMES: (NONE on Phase 1!).
  • FRUIT: a few restrictions here based on glycemic level; otherwise the sky’s the limit! (NO dried fruit, canned fruit, apricot, cantaloupe, dates, figs, grapes, guava, kiwi, mango, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, quince).
  • CONDIMENTS/DRESSINGS: (NO pre-made); make your own vinaigrette (I’ll share recipes later!).
  • SWEETENERS: agave, honey, and stevia for now, and even these should be limited.
  • BEVERAGES: water, green or herbal tea, fresh-pressed juices.

I know it probably looks like I’ve just given you a long list of NO. Believe me, the list of YES is so much longer! Just go the produce department and wander. Do you honestly consume everything that is there for the taking? I think you’ll be surprised by how much delicious whole food you’ve been missing out on.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of my meal plans from those first eight weeks. (This isn’t as fun as cookies and Yumm sauce, but I think it’s important! You’ll get to these things in time.) Believe it or not, I’ve been out of Phase 1 for over two months, and I still haven’t added back dairy, sugar, or most grains (I do enjoy occasional brown rice and quinoa). I feel so much better and am so satisfied that I haven’t felt the need or urge to add these things back in. I’m truly shocked that this lifestyle change has stuck . . . but it has. I feel so much better that the bread/brie/pasta makeout-fest I dreamed of all those months ago mostly leaves me cold. Amazing, no?

Now I’m off to enjoy a veggie scramble with goat cheese and a quiet evening of cuddles with my fat cat. See you here again soon!