“Just Say No” To Cake

Now that I’ve roped you loyal readers in with a few delectable recipes, I thought it might be worth it to throw in another video with some good info in it about sugar.

This video is brought to you by *I Ate Cake Today At Work And Regretted It So Hard It Hurt*.

Yeah, that’s right, one of our dear colleagues celebrated his last day at the office today, and he brought in THREE cakes from my arch enemy, Lagkagehuset (aka: the best bread, cake, and pastry place in the whole of Denmark), as a final goodbye gift to us.

These are the devil.

Danes really love their cake, and I blame it for the reason why I stacked on about 15 pounds when I moved to Denmark, actually.  So after begging and pleading with my colleagues to stop bringing it into the office, we managed to go two whole weeks without cakes or pastries sitting on our table in our department.  It was a glorious two weeks not having to fight any urges.

And so today, I rewarded myself with a slice of cake, because I like my now ex colleague, and it’s been a really really long time since I’ve had cake.  And then I had another slice.  And then I had a taste of a third.

Needlesstosay, five hours later I still feel sick (read: bloated, higher heart rate, lethargic, stomach ache, scatterbrained, can’t focus).  It was a bad choice, and I regretted it enough that I seriously considered bulimia for a hot second – not like that’s much healthier – so right now I can feel my body still trying to figure out what the heck I did to it this afternoon.

The above video breaks it down for you, and even though I know all this stuff already because I read about it in two very good books (that I cannot recommend highly enough), Why We Get Fat: and What to Do About It and Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, it’s nice to see it again and remember why I’m doing all this stuff.

You know how you know something’s bad for you?  When you cut it out, you feel great.  And then when you go eat that thing again after not having it for a while, you feel MISERABLE (think: first time you drank after not drinking for a while, and how mean that hangover was).  I won’t lie to you, it’s bittersweet, because now I can’t really enjoy mass quantities of sugar or flour (or beer, or rice, or oats, or alcohol) without feeling terrible, but what I CAN do is enjoy them in small proportions.  And knowing that this reaction is actually NORMAL, makes me feel really good about my decision.

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Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

I bet that title got you all sorts of excited, didn’t it?  Because who DOESN’T love chocolate chip cookie dough?

Certainly not me.  Especially when it’s in ice cream, but anyway…

In fact, as embarrassing as this is to admit, back in college when I paid almost zero attention to my health, I used to get those plastic wrapped rolls of chocolate chip cookie dough at the store (the yellow Nestlé one was my fave), and before even baking any, I’d make my way through half of it with a spoon, one bite at a time.

So I have good news, and I also have bad news.

The bad news is that you can’t really replace chocolate chip cookie dough with something that is grain free or sugar free or healthy in any way, shape, or form and have it taste the same.  The reason why it’s so good is because it’s SO SO bad.  So remember that.

The GOOD news though, is that I have something PRETTY close, and it’s wayyyyy better for you.

AND it’s been tried and tested by a circle of friends who, I should admit, don’t take much persuasion to eat anything I’ve cooked, but, THEN they came back for seconds.  🙂

These are a perfect snack, and today they were a guilt-free dessert at the first picnic of the year here in CPH.

RAW CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH BITES

I promise you won't feel guilty eating more than one of these.


Ingredients:
(check the resources page for tips on where to find them)

  • 1/2 cup creamy raw peanut butter (I chose the Green Choice brand found at Irma)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (these can also be found at Irma)

Directions:

Mix together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla until creamy and well blended in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut flour, ground flax seed and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well to combine.  Use your hands to knead the dough to thoroughly combine.  If it’s too wet, add a little more coconut flour.  If it’s too dry and doesn’t hold together well, knead in one teaspoon of water.

Fold in the dark chocolate chips.  Then, scoop out tablespoon-size portions and roll into one-inch balls with your hands to create a bite-sized treat. 🙂

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes about 10-12 one inch bites.

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Sautéed Shrimp with Cilantro Garlic Yogurt Sauce

When my boyfriend cooks, he likes to use greek yogurt to simmer down his almost obsessive over-spicing of just about anything.  Last night’s dinner being a great example, he dumped about half a jar of cayenne pepper onto some sautéed chicken with onions and peppers, and finally added a dollop of greek yogurt (with smashed blueberries in it – yeah, I probably never would’ve thought of that either, but it was pretty good!) on the side to soften the blow of the cayenne.  While it all was wonderful (especially the part about me not having to cook), there’s a reason why I’m normally the one in the kitchen.  🙂 

Anyway, about ten times a year, I get a severe craving for shrimp.

About three times a year I get ambitious and motivated enough to actually make the shrimp myself.  I’ll either stumble upon a recipe, or hear someone talking about it, and then decide impulsively to go home and make us some shrimp.  This time I was reading about a Cilantro Garlic Yogurt Sauce  (after experiencing B’s version with smashed blueberries and wondering what else you could do with yogurt) and how it goes well with sautéed shrimp on gourmet.com and, just like that, I was all kinds of sold on the idea.

Two hours later, I’ve finally finished shelling and deveining them (consider this your warning regarding prep-time).

You might be wondering why I didn’t buy de-shelled shrimp, so I’ll go ahead and confess this openly: I’m pretty cheap.  De-shelled shrimp is stupidly more expensive than shell-intact shrimp.  I also sort of take a sick pleasure out of doing things “the long way” even if it’s painful.  Finally, I haven’t found a place that sells uncooked de-shelled shrimp in Copenhagen yet.  If you know of a place, lemme know, because if I’m ever in a jam, dying for shrimp, but without 2 hours on my hands to de-shell them myself, I’d probably make use of that resource.  

The combination of cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, some cayenne, and greek yogurt in the sauce is sort of spicy and cooling at the same time, and the end result was exactly what I was going for tonight: something delicious that I can eat with my fingers (it’s been a long day).  This would be a great dish to serve as an appetizer at a party, because the shrimp can be served cold, and the greek yogurt sauce is still delicious at room temperature.  The greek yogurt sauce would also go really well with chicken skewers, which is probably what I’ll attempt to do with the leftovers tomorrow.

SAUTÉED SHRIMP with CILANTRO GARLIC YOGURT SAUCE

Best eaten under any circumstances, really.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups full fat greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves pressed garlic (you can finely chop if you don’t have a garlic press)
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt, to taste (I didn’t use any, because I didn’t think it needed it)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1.25-1.5lbs shrimp (500 grams), shelled and deveined

Directions:

Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl and then stick it in the fridge for about a half hour so the flavors can blend.

While the flavors of the yogurt sauce are blending, heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add shrimp and sauté evenly (about 3 minutes per side).  Season based on your preferences beforehand if you prefer a little zing (in the photo I have “marinated” the shrimp in a 4:1 blend of chili and garlic powders before sautéing).

Once the shrimp are done, remove the Cilantro Garlic Yogurt Sauce from the fridge and enjoy!

Makes 6-8 servings as an appetizer, or 4 servings as a main dish

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Strawberry Rhubarb Compote with Crème Anglaise

I have this thing about strawberries and rhubarb.  I strongly believe that if the word “foodgasm” was in the dictionary, there’s a possibility that the definition would involve a picture of someone having a mouth explosion of strawberry rhubarb amazingness.  Right now, I might even be willing to go so far as to say they are the most perfect springtime food combination.  Ever.  (Feel free to trump me on that one via comments…but I still have the aftertaste of strawberry rhubarb compote in my mouth, so it’s hard to focus on other possibilities at the moment.)

The best part about strawberries and rhubarb is that they are such an unlikely pair.  Rhubarb, a bitter, celery lookalike plant, comes into season mid-April, and promptly goes back out of season mid-June.  Strawberries come into season at the end of May and keep the sweet, fruity, juicy berry party going for pretty much the rest of summer.  There are precisely 14 days out of the ENTIRE YEAR where both of these magical fruits are in their prime at the same time.

And guess what?

My birthday happens to fall during those two weeks.

🙂

Can you guess what I have on my birthday every year?

I’ll be perfectly honest with you guys.  Despite my grain-free, sugar-free life, blog, evangelical preaching, I’m probably going to make an exception for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie come June.  I’m human, and once a year, it’s okay to eat pie.  Maybe twice, if you count Thanksgiving.  Certain traditions are just not worth messing with.  And maybe to be a good sport, I’ll make the pie with an almond and coconut flour crust and I’ll share it with you guys.  Or maybe it’ll be a rich buttery flour crust that I’ll regret eating afterward.  I’ll let you guys know how that turns out, of course.

In the meantime, because I keep seeing rhubarb everywhere, and I found some delicious strawberries at Torvehallerne yesterday (I think they were from Spain, where they’re clearly already in season), I decided to make dessert last night without all the grains.  I adapted my recipe from my favorite food website, Nourished Kitchen.  While I would like to advertise it as sugar-free, it does have raw honey in it, which can, of course, be replaced with Stevia if you’re sensitive to even honey.

Pro-Tip: if you are like me and are not used to eating much fruit, don’t overdo it on the compote, as large quantities of stewed fruit can have a laxative effect.

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COMPOTE with CRÈME ANGLAISE

Nature's Perfect Spring Duo

Ingredients:

  • one vanilla bean
  • 1 cup heavy cream (piskefløde), ideally from grass-fed cows
  • 3 tbsp raw honey, divided
  • 6 egg yolks from free-range, organic hens
  • 1 tbsp butter, ideally from grass-fed cows
  • 500 grams rhubarb, trimmed and diced
  • 500 grams strawberries, hulled and diced
  • zest and juice of one orange

Directions:

To make the crème anglaise, bring water to simmer in a double boiler or saucepan fitted with a bowl.

Scrape the contents of the vanilla bean into the cream and then pour the cream into the top of the double boiler.  Cook until hot.

Whisk in 1 tbsp of the raw honey, then transfer a tablespoon or two of the hot cream to your beaten eggs, whisking vigorously to temper them.

Transfer the tempered egg yolks into the cream and continue stirring slowly until the crème anglaise is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Transfer to a dish and allow it to rest while you prepare the compote.

To make the compote, melt butter in a saucepan over a moderate flame, then toss in rhubarb and sautee in butter until softened, about five to six minutes.

Stir in strawberries, remaining honey, and the juice and zest of one orange; reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook another three to four minutes until the berries are softened, but not mushy.

Transfer to ramekins and serve topped with the crème anglaise.

Makes 6 servings

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Yeah, you read that right, not only is it my first recipe on Vegetarian Rehab, but it’s also a recipe that DEFIES THE LIMITS of grain-free life.

I cannot express in words how bad I have missed pizza ever since I became grain-free.  I think B misses it too, but he doesn’t dare tempt me because of what happened the last time we had pizza.

To summarize, I had a bender weekend back in January, and it involved pizza.  After a failed attempt by my wonderful boyfriend to poach some air-dried, salted cod we bought while up in Northern Norway (it tasted *almost* like rubber…), we decided to order some pizza from the local (terrible quality) pizzeria.  One of the roughest parts about living outside of New York is that if you eff up dinner after 9pm on a Saturday night, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an open grocery store or other food place that offers something healthy to eat to replace it.  Even most restaurants stop serving dinner after 9:30pm.

And so we ordered pizza.  And you know how when you’re down, you might as well go ALL THE WAY down?  I had a beer that night too.

How’d that go, you wonder?  Let’s just put it this way: NEVER. AGAIN.

I have never been so miserable in my life (okay, that’s probably a small exaggeration).  But seriously, my stomach bloated so bad it made my back hurt (I imagine it’s kind of like the way being 8 months preggo makes your back hurt), and my heart basically started beating as though I had run a marathon, except that I couldn’t move, so obviously that wasn’t possible.  Then I got constipated for three days.  It was…awesome.

Needlesstosay, I had a weekend whirlwind trip to New York to see some friends (and buy my very first apple computer) back in February and despite my urging need to have pizza while there, I controlled myself and filled up on meat (and a few vegetables for good measure) at Plataforma Churrascaria instead (that place was fabulous, by the way).  And ever since that bloating incident, I’ve been scouring the interwebs for a decent Cauliflower Crust Pizza recipe that didn’t require a microwave.

I finally found one by a lady named Casey Cooke.  From what I know about her, she promotes low-fat stuff, and since that’s the opposite of the point of this blog, I’ll let you google her if you want to see what she’s about.

So without further ado…

CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA

Sausagey, cauliflowery deliciousness

Ingredients:

  • One head of cauliflower, stems removed and cut into one-inch pieces
  • 3 egg-whites (try it with the yolks too, those are good for you!)
  • 250 grams fresh mozzarella cheese (the real Italian stuff), divided in half and chopped
  • salt, pepper, dried basil, dried parsley and garlic powder, to taste
  • tomato sauce (if you’re buying from the store, be sure to check the label for sugar)
  • one red pepper, thinly sliced
  • one green pepper, thinly sliced
  • one half white onion, thinly sliced
  • 325 grams Italian sausage, encasing removed and broken into 1 inch pieces (I got mine here, and it had sage in it)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (225C).  Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a medium sized baking pan.

Steam cauliflower until you can easily pierce it with a fork.  Then drain it and put it into a food-processor and purée until smooth (I have a small one, so I did this in two batches).

Blend the cauliflower, one half of the chopped mozzarella, and egg whites in a bowl and mix well.  Add spices to taste (or in my case, to smell).  Spread cauliflower mix evenly on the parchment paper into a rectangle and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown and the center has set.

While the crust is in the oven, put the sausage pieces into a pan over low heat and cook until done.  Taste a few to, you know, make sure. 😉

Remove finished crust, let cool for a couple minutes, and then spread the tomato sauce on it, leaving an inch perimeter around the pizza. (I didn’t give a measurement in the ingredients because I feel like everyone has a different preference on their pizza sauce amounts.  I like my pizza drier, and especially since the cauliflower crust is already moist, I didn’t need more than about a half cup.)

Next, layer on onions and peppers, and then put the pizza back in the oven for another ten minutes until they are cooked through (longer if you don’t care if they’re crispy or not; we like them on the crispy side in our house).  Add the rest of the mozzarella cheese, and the cooked sausage and return to oven.  Beware that the mozza will melt quickly, so keep an eye on it this time, and remove when at desired level of doneness (if you leave it in too long, the cheese will begin to brown pretty quickly).

Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes so you don’t burn your tongue, cut into four squares, and then enjoy!

Serves 4, unless you’re really hungry like we were, in which case, it serves 2. 



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Butter

Have you guys seen this picture circulating the interwebs?

Clockwise from left: Reduced Fat Margarine, Regular Margarine, Butter

Not like I’m spending my time following ants around wondering what they will or won’t eat and following suit (by the way, when I was a kid, I saw ants KILL each other over drips of ice cream on a hot summer day, so they don’t always make smart decisions), but in this case, ANTS ARE REALLY SMART.

Did you know margarine started as a nasty tasteless product created to help make turkeys fat?  And then it became what you know it as today during the war when the government needed a butter-like substance that could be shipped overseas to feed to soldiers that wouldn’t spoil before it got there (why they didn’t go for local French butter, The Most Amazing Butter On Earth, I have no idea).  They obviously needed this stuff to taste like butter if they wanted the soldiers to eat it (the turkeys were clearly force-fed, so it didn’t need to taste good), so they deodorized it, bleached it, added in some food coloring, and artificial flavors, and BAM, you’ve got fake butter (aka trans fat), at a much cheaper price than the real stuff.

I find myself getting all evangelical whenever the topic of butter vs. margarine comes up in conversation (butter might as well be my religion.  Ask anyone who knows me.).  Much to my surprise, Danes have been bred to believe that margarine (and other vegetable oil butter blend lookalike spreads) is GOOD for you, and so, without fail, every Friday morning for “morgenmad” at work I see a tub of Arla’s Kærgården Fedtreduceret (ingredients: butter, water, unhardened vegetable oil, lactic culture, and less than 1% salt) purchased to accompany some bread and cheese (don’t worry, fellow Americans, I’ll write a whole other post about how bread and butter and cheese does NOT a breakfast make).  It’s not 100% margarine, sure, but I guarantee you that because it’s reduced fat (“fedtreduceret”) that means it’s at least 60% margarine.

The question I keep asking myself (and my coworkers) is: WHY MESS WITH THE REAL THING?  Not only is butter absolutely delicious (on everything), but it helps you absorb vitamins in other foods (yes, even from the bread and cheese you’re eating it with).  It improves the taste of anything you cook in it BECAUSE it makes those easier-to-absorb vitamins more bioavailable, and if you get it from grassfed cows (which you should), you’re getting an extra dose of the vitamins those cows are getting from eating grass that has been exposed to sunlight (hel-lo vitamins A & D, how you doin’?).  Do any of these amazing things happen when you eat vegetable oil?  No.  I’m pretty sure the only reason anyone buys Arlas Kærgården over Lurpak Smør (or some other brand) is because it spreads immediately out of the fridge, which means you don’t have to wait ten minutes for a stick of butter to soften before eating.  I guess I’m not really shocked that convenience has overshadowed quality.  In the case of Denmark, people may also go for the fake stuff in order to save themselves 2 kroner, because of the recently implemented Fat Tax (aka: the stupidest thing the Danish government has done in the past decade).

Lucky for you guys, you don’t just get to read my blog about why margarine (and other vegetable oils) are gross, you can read why it’s gross from a real doctor who just posted about it too: Canola Oil: The Blob That Ate Butter & Olive Oil.  In that article (and some of the follow-up comments), there is a breakdown of exactly why canola oil, and safflower oil, and rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil, and soybean oil, and corn oil, are all bad for you.  The only time they are not bad for you is if they have been pressed by hand, in which case you still shouldn’t use the oil to heat anything in it (because it oxidizes and mutates the cells when you do that, and then those cells get stuck in your arteries and make you a perfect case for a heart attack).

Rest assured that when I eventually start sharing recipes on this blog, none of them will include vegetable oil.  Please do yourself a favor and take after the ants: replace your margarine with butter.  Now.

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Sugar vs. Hormones

I read this article in the NYTimes yesterday and it got me all sorts of fired up: Puberty Before Age 10 – A New ‘Normal’?.

You guys, there is nothing NORMAL about going through puberty when you’re 6.  I can’t believe doctors can actually make statements like that just because it’s becoming more and more common.  The endocrinologist mentioned in the article, Robert Lustig, seems to be the only one who has a clue.

Here’s a 60 Minutes exposé he is in, by the way, while we’re on the topic: Is Sugar Toxic?

I didn’t get my period until I was 14 years old.  I was probably the last person I knew to get it, and it was so late that basically no one my age thought it was a novelty anymore.  My breasts didn’t really come until two years later (and then they came in full force!).  Suffice it to say, my hormones were pretty delayed and despite my intellectual interest in boys, my hormonal interest in them didn’t really join the party until midway through college.  And as it turns out, that’s not normal either.

I’ve learned some pretty crazy things about what sugar does to your hormones in the past few months.  It can directly impact your hormone levels in very simple ways (by way of altering your insulin response, giving you blood sugar spikes and crashes) or in more complicated ways mentioned in the NYT article, by creating estrogen outside of the ovaries, causing breast growth in 6 year olds.  It can also cause hormonal development delays in other people, like it did with me.

While learning about how sugar is linked with hormones, I also discovered that a lack of healthy saturated fats in your diet can cause more severe sugar cravings.  Makes sense I guess, doesn’t it?  Fat is an energy source, after all, but people have forgotten that in the past few decades.

As it turns out, some of these hormonal delays I experienced could be related to my low-fat diet growing up.  From about the age of 4, the moment I had the opportunity, I was hunting for sugar.  I would head straight for the cookies after church and stuff as many in my mouth as I could before I got caught, go to the candy jar at my grandparents house before even saying hello to them, and if I had any cash in my pocket, it went towards feeding the cravings.  I remember doing candy bar sales for fundraisers at school and eating half the box myself, having to then fund my fundraiser out of my own pocket.  I was like a heroine addict, always needing a fix.  It was a huge source of stress for my mom to try and control my sugar consumption.  See, she KNEW sugar was bad, and so she did everything in her power to keep it away from me.  What she didn’t know, was that part of the reason I had such killer cravings was because I didn’t have enough fat in my diet.  While we were definitely on the forefront of the healthy, organic food movement in our family, which meant no margarine or vegetable shortening in the house (thank god), we were also raised to understand that fat is bad like everyone else.  And when a growing child doesn’t get her energy from fat like she’s supposed to, she goes for the next best thing: the instant high of the world’s most favorite drug, sugar.

As an adult, those sugar cravings only got worse.  Especially after a couple years of eating primarily carbs (aka: sugar) during my vegetarian days.  It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend back in 2010 that it was not-so-subtly pointed out to me that having a blood sugar crash so bad I couldn’t function until I put sugar in my mouth at 3pm every day was NOT normal.  I had spent the past two years in New York at a stressful job where I mindlessly stuffed candy and chocolate into my mouth on a DAILY basis.  I didn’t even realize I was doing it.  And eventually I started to have side effects from it.

I had initially presumed that heavy cramps, spotting between periods, gaining five pounds every month before my period, and being emotional just went with the territory of being a woman.  I also blamed my copper IUD for the spotting and occasional heavier-than-normal-heavy periods, and even went to my lady-doctor a few times to make sure it hadn’t embedded itself in the lining of my uterus.

I have always been paranoid about anything related to my reproductive system because I can’t handle the idea of someday not being able to have my own children.  Poor Dr. L would get an earful about my latest goings on every time I came to her with a new concern, bless her heart.  Once we ruled out a reproductive problem, pregnancy, severe vitamin deficiency, the fact that some people (not me) just have irregular periods…the only possible solution could be stress.  I mean, I was living in Midtown, Manhattan, after all.  And working 60 hours a week in Finance.  Stress was obviously a factor here.

But when I moved to Denmark and my stress level all but disappeared, and the problems I had didn’t go away, I started to really worry.

One of the reasons why I ended up cutting sugar out of my diet last November in the first place was because I had read that sugar consumption effects your hormones, and I began to wonder if my recent increase in sugar consumption (by way of a mostly carb diet) since having become a vegetarian had anything to do with all those symptoms I was having, and that maybe it wasn’t stress after all.  I figured I was a perfect candidate to be my own guinea pig in order to find out, and so off I went, cutting sugar and anything that becomes sugar in your blood, out of my diet.

After two weeks of severe and miserable punishment by way of what I call The Drug Detox, I got my period a week early, with no cramps.  The next time I got my period, I only had cramps for one evening, and killed it with ibuprofen.  The next cycle was completely cramp-free, and so was the next, and so was the next.  According to my boyfriend, starting in about late January I stopped having such vicious mood swings (he’s thrilled about this part, and I have reason to believe it’s why he’s being so supportive), and finally, I’m not gaining five pounds every month anymore.

BUT HERE’S THE CRAZY PART.  I stopped spotting between periods also after that first cramp-free period.  And now, whenever I eat a good dose of sugar (no one’s perfect, and I’ve had a few benders), I spot immediately.  If that’s not a sure-fire sign that sugar was my problem, I don’t know what is.

So here I am, approaching 30, finally figuring out how I can control PMS after spending several cycles during my 20’s vowing to remove my uterus with my bare hands, and never leaving home without ibuprofen and extra tampons in my purse.  I feel like I’ve also found some resolve for why I wasn’t even remotely interested in being sexually active in high school like everyone else (though I will say, that was probably for the better).  For me, the fix was as simple as limiting my sugar consumption.

I would never go so far as to say that there is an “easy” button and that button is removing sugar from your diet.  Like everything, it’s a piece to the puzzle.  It’s also important to remember that our bodies are not the clean genetic slates that we like to believe they are.  So much of my quality of health was determined by my mom’s diet while she was pregnant with me, and also by her diet while she was young, and also by her mom’s diet while she was pregnant with her (this is called epigenetics, by the way, and you should read up on it).  And let’s not forget about the dads out there.  Most of us have several generations of the industrial revolution’s high-carb diet under our belts at this stage in the game, and at least one generation of the low-fat movement, so if we want to reverse any of those effects, it will take some time, and more importantly, a little dedication.

But signs of PROGRESS sure are encouraging, aren’t they?


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And So It Begins…

Back in 2007, I became a vegetarian.  This life-altering decision did not happen overnight, but was, rather, a process of unbiased elimination based on random things I had read at the time, and with a root goal of weightloss.

I guess we’ve all been there before.  College happened, and so did The Freshman Fifteen.  And if you’re me, a part-time job at Kentucky Fried Chicken ALSO happened, and with that, The Junior 40.  I liked to blame KFC for the weight gain, regaling my friends with stories of smelling like chicken fat when I got home from a work shift, and of how I actually didn’t even like the chicken, but instead, went for the biscuits, and the macaroni and cheese, and the mashed potatoes (and let’s not forget the bottomless soda I could drink while working).  {god if I only knew then what I know now!}  I thought I was doing myself a favor, avoiding potentially genetically modified chickens that were rumored to have been born with missing limbs and underdeveloped organs.  And I probably was, to be honest.  At least kind of.

Fast forward to my new and glamourous life in New York City post-grad.  Moving to New York slowly and subtly made me aware of my body mass.  Sardined like a heard of cows on the subway during rushhour, thighs rubbing together and chafing during those blisteringly hot summer nights, a wanton desire to wear clothes that didn’t come from the plus size department at Old Navy, and of course the less superficial things like wanting to feel good in my body, and worrying that I may someday end up with diabetes, or something worse…all these things and more provided me with the motivation to get my act together.

I thought it was about control.  I thought if I could just eat less, the extra fat would drop like flies, and I would magically become healthy.  I had Bikram Yoga to help me with that last part, because upon discovering that new obsession, I learned very quickly to not eat within three hours of class, because I didn’t want to puke.   And so began the weightloss.  I figured out that if I practiced Bikram Yoga six times a week (with an occasional double for good measure), and ate less than 1,000 calories a day, I’d inevitably lose weight.

And you know what?  I did.  After about eight months of regular practice, 30 pounds of Kentucky Fried Chicken Weight were finally behind me.

Encouraged by the weightloss, but frustrated by how terrible and unenergetic I always felt, I decided to follow in Beyoncé’s footsteps and do The Master Cleanse.  I figured I could probably use a severe detox after spending college and the two years afterward living off of fast food.  And detox, I did.  Admittedly, I turned grey after about 5 days, but mind over power, I made it to 13.

After completing the Master Cleanse, 20 pounds lighter and determined to keep off the lost weight, I took Stanley Burroughs advice seriously.  He urges in his book that people by heritage are hunter-gatherers, and lived off of nuts, simple grains, vegetables, and berries.  He suggests a lifestyle following this diet to the T.  And I tried to make it happen.  And that’s when I became a vegan.

After one month living off the vegan version of the real thing, I caved.  I gorged on cheese, and butter, and eggs and everything else I could get my hands on that wasn’t meat.  Not shockingly, I got constipated.  I thought it was because of the animal products.

Three years and three annual spring cleaning Master Cleanses later, I was sort of maintaining my weight (ie: gaining 15 pounds over the course of the year, and losing it with another Master Cleanse).  However, I began to notice that with each cleanse, I was seemingly becoming more and more resistant to weightloss.  Strangely, my cholesterol and blood pressure levels had also increased.  And my vitamin levels were decreasing.  I had developed a sort of eczema in my ears that never would go away.  And my PMS was getting worse.  And I began spotting between periods.  And then in the fall of 2010, I had an 8 day long so-heavy-I-bled-through-a-super-plus-tampon-every-hour period.

Clearly something was wrong.  Thanks in part to WebMD (I should be banned from that website, btw), I was certain I was developing an incurable hormonal disease.  I went to my natural leaning doctors and they confirmed that nothing was seriously wrong with me.  It must be stress.  Try to do some more yoga.  Make sure you get enough sleep at night.  Try cutting out gluten and see if that helps.

You know how sometimes even the people you hope can give you answers can’t give you the answers that solve the problem?  Yeah, it’s a major bummer.

So I moved to Denmark last March.  During all of this navigation of my health and vegetarianism, I had travelled to Mexico and met my current boyfriend on a train.  We fell in love, and I relocated.  It’s a beautiful story that I’ll save for another time.  And so starting last March, I started to eat like a Dane.  That meant pork was now commonplace in my diet.  Buh-bye vegetarianism, hel-lo omnivorism.  And with the pork, came cakes and pastries.  Before I knew it, I looked five months pregnant.  Only I wasn’t.  Again, I thought it was all the meat.

Conveniently, I stumbled upon a book right around the same time I diagnosed myself pregnant with a Food Baby, called “Why We Get Fat, and What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes.  Considering that I could feel myself getting fatter by the day and couldn’t figure out why, the title was obviously appealing.  I burned through it in about 4 days.  The resources I got from the book prompted a drastic change in my diet which started with cutting sugar out of my coffee last November.  I figured if I could live without sugar in my coffee, I could maybe live without all sugar.  So then I cut out regular sugar.  And fruit.  And fruit juice.  And potatoes.  And rice.  And corn.  And wheat.  And low-fat milk.  I essentially started replacing all those things with fat and vegetables.

As you can imagine, my body was NOT happy about this change.  I felt like I was going through a drug detox.  I went from having hardly any energy, to having no energy.  And I don’t think I have ever been so severely constipated in my life.

In a moment of extreme weakness, I sent a long email detailing all of these symptoms to my very dear friend and naturopathic doctor, Emma Andre, begging for advice.  And bless her, she gave me a TON.  She also suggested I pick up a book called “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food” by Catherine Shanahan to read as continued learning and support for my new lifestyle change.

Deep Nutrition blew my mind.  I won’t summarize it here.  Just read it.  ESPECIALLY if you think you might like to have kids someday, this book contains probably one of the most valuable bodies of information you could possess yourself with.

So now that the long story is officially not short (you’d be shocked at how much I actually left out), this blog is about this new path, and what’s been going on since November.  I’ll start by backtracking, and then once I’m caught up, I’ll move forward with stories of the adventures of carnivorism, share recipes I’m cooking, and offer up any sources I can find for making a traditionally fed lifestyle as stress-free as possible.  I live in Copenhagen, so I’ll start with the local stuff and expand from there.

Happy Reading!