Recipes 3/3/19: Women of Power

Why hello! Here are some older recipes too:

Women of Power on a No-Sugar Journey


My wonderful dental hygienist was a deeply spiritual sensitive lifestyle coach. At every session she challenged and encouraged and inspired me to give up white sugar. At one point, with her support, after many white-knuckle attempts I launched out and lived sugar-free for one entire year!

Last February she joyfully began her second vocation as a yoga teacher.
I was happy for her, but didn’t know where to find such a caring person to hold me accountable and to notice every little success. It’s been a long year of eating chocolate day and night, and being afraid that there was no more living without it.

Then at the library I spotted Mark Hyman’s The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet. I read the case stories of people delighted by their own success. I was impressed (and downcast) at the author’s insistence that we need support to go through this. I showed the book to my friend Sandrine, confiding that I needed to take this step myself. To my happy surprise, she decided to join me.

The day before our 10-day challenge, I prepared by eating up all of the chocolate stashed in the house. Then feeling deprived and unnerved, I went out and bought more chocolate, and ate that while walking to another store to buy more chocolate, and ate that too. It tasted terrific.

Day 1, 2/19: Sandrine and I agreed that for now we’ll just give up sugar and chocolate for now. We won’t worry about gluten, dairy, caffeine or anything else for this 10 days.

One helpful Mark Hyman idea was making a big batch of thick protein shake for breakfast. I concocted this version, inspired by one of his recipes:
Soymilk 1-2 cups
TJ’s pea protein powder, heaping Tbsp
cranberries 2/3 cup
blueberries 2/3 cup (or, today, apple and orange instead)
almond meal 1/2 c
sunflower seeds, soaked overnight 1/2 c
bit of chia seeds
bit of flax seeds
coconut flaked 1/2 c
coconut oil, 1 heaping tsp
1 avocado
lemon oil extract

Virtually non-sweet, yet surprisingly satisfying. Sandrine and I ate ours as a substantial filling breakfast.

Day 1 was physically uncomfortable and depressing. Throughout the day I kept thinking that this was hopeless, and I might as well buy more chocolate.
Of course, eating it would be letting down Sandrine, sitting in the next cubicle!
Luckily, she found us some sugar-free Norwegian crackers from Trader Joe, hard pressed square wafers made of mainly crushed seeds and nuts. They were good in a pleasantly hard tack way. We also shared our homemade soups and salads brought from home.

The 3:00-4:00 slump was especially hard. I ate too much all day — beans, raisin oatmeal, sweet taters, nuts, fruit.
It meant going to bed with a stomach ache and waking up with heartburn.

Sandrine and I resolved that Day 2 was going to be better.

2/20, Day 2:
Still obsessed with chocolate all day.
Still eating too much of everything else. But, we ate our protein shakes (this one with avocado, and an apple) and hung in there all day.

The afternoon slump was already better. I bought some Brie cheese, and doled out little slices of that for breakfast over the next few days.

2/21, Day 3:

It was great to have a good night’s sleep without a stomach ache or excess acid.
Also, chocolate caffeine makes me wake up at 2:30 in the morning with a racing heartbeat, and that hasn’t happened in three days. These are blessings to be grateful for. I did have troubled vivid dreams, one of them a terribly sad moment watching myself die on a bed, and feeling wracked with guilt before God about how little I have achieved in life with all of his gifts. That feels like a genuine deep emotion that I’ve never felt so strongly before. Well, something to work with and pray about.

Sandrine fixed up a nice display of fruit on her desk, ready for us to eat when we’re hungry. She also had the great snack idea of sugar-free peanut butter on celery and apple slices.

The 3:00 slump was better, although a problem to solve at work really had me baffled and I wasn’t thinking well. I took it on faith that this brain fatigue was going to improve.

At one point I was really really going to break into a stash of leftover dark chocolate that I hid well out of sight. But it really felt as if that would affect Sandrine’s success too, even if she didn’t know about it. That night I had a vivid dream about walking down a lovely country road, pouring milk chocolate chips into my mouth. Then in the dream I thought “Wait, I can’t do this to her!” and I woke up very relieved that it was only a dream.

Tonight while fixing tomorrow’s meals I had three hopeful thoughts.

1. One is that if it were not for my addiction to Eating Chocolate or Bar Chocolate, a very recent invention, I could gracefully strategize my way around sugar and refined carbs. Sugar-free living does take real planning, but I certainly have the resources and skills and interest, so it’s really just the chocolate that has me hooked so much.

2. One is that after only 3 days, it’s gotten easier to feel contented versus climbing the walls. Sugar-free comfort snacks help. One is soaked prunes with chia seeds and coconut and raw oats, shaken up with almond meal and left to soak until afternoon snack. One is sugar-free almond butter with apple and red pepper slices. One is TJ’s whole-wheat pita bread — flour, yeast, salt, sesame seeds; it’s like eating a soft matzoh.

3. One thought is that given my interest in traditional living, going sugar-free would be a great portal into historic cooking. For inspiration I watched a video on the James Townsend & Sons YouTube channel:
“Baked Beans – 18th Century Cooking Series at Jas Townsend and Son”

In Indiana, Mr. Townsend makes handcrafted men’s clothing from the 1700s. As a side specialty he films 1700s cooking show clips.
This recipe looks great for company at a holiday dinner. (For sweetener I’d probably use just some homemade applesauce with a lick of molasses for the flavor. That background music by the way is “An Giolla Ruadh,” or “Red-Haired Boy.”)

2/23, Friday, Day 4:
For breakfast I made a grilled cheese sandwich with Trader Joe plain sugar-free whole wheat pita breads, and TJ’s shredded almond mozzarella. Warmed up slowly in a pan brushed with a drop of olive oil, covered at the lowest heat, this came out crisp and very tasty. When brushed with a spoonful of salt-free organic stewed tomatoes, this tastes like pizza.

I tackled that workplace problem again, and solved it easily.

On the way home today I passed our corner grocery.
They carry a full assortment of chocolate chips (and by the way, during our winter storm the store shelves emptied out, and there were zero chocolate products left except for the darkest chocolate; people left those on the shelves). They also have full displays at the cash register of a whole assortment of dark chocolate bark with a pinch of coarse sea salt. It’s excellent, too. There’s one with pumpkin seeds, one with coconut, one with almonds, one with mint, one with sunflower seeds.

So I stopped and looked at the store. I wanted to go in and buy chocolate so badly that I felt really uncomfortable, shaky and chilled. I envisioned a drab gray future without chocolate. It felt absolutely overwhelming. So I walked home, kicked off my shoes, grabbed my down comforter, and fell asleep on the floor within seconds. I slept for 15 hours, waking up only briefly to roll out the blanket roll, change clothes, and grab a cup of miso soup.

In the morning on Day 5, after no food for 18 hours, for breakfast I steamed up rutabaga, turnip, and carrot slices. It’s unbelievable how delicious they tasted — really clean and sweet.

2/24, Day 5:

I was apprehensive about a weekend without chocolate.
But the day felt light and optimistic. I was able to click through problem solving at the bank, then on to the library to get my taxes done with volunteers from the AARP, then home to balance accounts and pay bills and file papers.

My ankles are better. Often they swell up and itch, but without chocolate they feel more comfortable. I haven’t had any night time leg cramps either.

I made vegetable soup stock, chicken stock, lentils, raw green salad, and daikon hash.
For dessert there were dates and blanched almonds. I finished supper early, then really enjoyed watching a Dutch TV version of “Pride and Prejudice” from 1961. It was wonderful to have such a contented productive day.

2/25, Day 6:

Lentil soup, raw green salad, and a quick batch of homemade borscht with sauerkraut made great meals.

I went to our lovely church up the street, but left early with a sudden wave of serious loneliness. It’s hard to be surrounded by all those happy couples and families. It dawned on me that loneliness really disrupts my blood sugar. So at home I grabbed a quick snack of chicken, almond cheese, and nuts — and headed out for a good nature walk.

After a couple of enjoyable hours in nature, I caught a bus to the dollar store.
Yikes! They had a Valentine’s chocolate clearance sale, plus a special sale on chocolate Easter bunnies even though it isn’t even Lent! Wow, I really wanted that chocolate! I hurried through my purchases, and hurried out of the store. I texted Sandrine. She texted right back with strong encouragement.
Just then, the rain stopped and the sun burst out and a bald eagle appeared and circled right overhead!

So feeling much better I walked over to the Goodwill Store to look for clothes and Bible study books. Instead all I found was a book of road signs with mistranslations from one language to another. For only two dollars I had a good read and good laughter. Sandrine will like this book too; she has a great sense of humor.

At home I made a delightful rice pudding. Leftover soft-cooked jasmine brown rice, simmered with raisins, soy milk, and cinnamon. I folded that in with coconut cream and pureed banana. It was fluffy and creamy and comforting.

Tonight’s Sugar Research: In this documentary, minutes 6:00 to 14:00 describe the effect of sugar in the 1500s on the English middle class, people who had never tasted any before. It took their tastes by storm, and derailed their health.
Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home (Tudor Documentary) | Timeline

Looking forward to Day 7 tomorrow in our learning and growth experience!

2/28 Day 10

This day brought a flight to a nearby city to give a talk, then back to the airport for a flight home.

TSA needs to veto homemade cooked food for air travel. The officers explained that if a substance can be made into a paste, then it can be used in making explosives and so must be counted as a liquid. (I learned that in Denver in 2017. The inspectors very politely asked me to leave behind my beans and brown rice.) So for three meals (and a possible overnight airport stay, given the weather reports) I brought new unopened sealed items instead, at Trader Joe:
Whole wheat pita bread, no sugar
Norwegian flatbread crackers, no sugar
Bag of miniature individually wrapped waxed cheeses.
Bag of pistachios
Bag of sugar snap pea pods

and took a chance on bringing these:
2 wee clementine oranges
2 apples
raw broccoli stem and carrot sticks, in clear plastic baggie

TSA officials have a difficult job, and they need to take every precaution for our safety; my snacks caused them extra bewilderment, but I appreciated their extra scrutiny. They let them all through this time. Obviously next time they may have shifting priorities and alerts, so those items might not pass muster. It was worth a try though, since airports sell mostly processed sugared foods.

At my destination I was kindly given the use of an office — well stocked with a big bowl of chocolate-covered peanut butter cups on the desk! My first coping strategy was to curl up for a refreshing 20 minute nap. Then I filled my water bottle and stayed hydrated. Then I texted Sandrine a photo of the chocolates. She texted right back: “Chocolate is poison!” with a little row of skull head emojis. That was good for a laugh.
My hosts took me to lunch. What luck! It was an excellent little restaurant with delicious vegetable soup, and a wonderful chef salad. I texted a picture of that to Sandrine too.

On the flight back, for the first time in my life, I declined with thanks the tasty airline cookie.
“They’re free of charge. And are they good!” said the flight attendant.
“They are, I’ve enjoyed many before,” I told her. “But I’m on a 10-day no-sugar challenge.”
“No sugar!” she exclaimed. “What day are you on?”
“It’s day 10.”
The flight attendants were so excited for me! They wished me luck with it, adding “Not me. I could never do that.”

Home again late that night, I munched on a little bone broth gel and some blueberries with coconut cream, then went to sleep.

Day 11, Friday 3/1

Day 12, Saturday 3/2
Since going back to sugar last March, my Saturday mornings edged into sleeping in and feeling overwhelmed by household chores.

But this week I woke up at 5:00, cleaned the apartment, scrubbed bathroom and floors, shopped for groceries, washed my hair, cooked chickpeas, and made a fine batch of hummus all by 9:00, then went off to spade the garden for spring.

My dear dental hygienist, now in happy retirement, sent me an email! She included a link to an online essay. It was a testimonial I’d written about her, and submitted to her employers. I had no idea they would publish it online that way.
What a delight to read again that story of how she’d helped me embark on one whole sugar-free year, back in 2015. It was just the right inspiration for the day.

Hummus: chickpeas, one package, cooked in homemade vegetable stock, tahini, garlic cooked in chicken bone broth, Bragg’s aminos, Bragg’s vinegar, lemon, cumin, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, and a tbsp of honey.

Day 13, Sunday 3/3

Woke up from a vivid dream about living in a large university. In the dining hall there was an enormous amount of food available.
But first, before eating anything, I stopped in the middle of the cafeteria and yelled “I’m really just lonely! I want relationships! I need a HUG!”
People gathered around, looking concerned. Lonely? What’s that?
Finally one of the students came over and gave me a tentative hug.
When I turned back to the serving counter, all the food was gone. For the rest of the dream, I wandered through the empty cafeteria looking for something to eat. The only scrap left was a plate of stale blue-frosted cake from some other woman’s wedding.

This morning I looked at my work meetings and commitments, and plotted out times for accomplishing them using our online company calendar. Tomorrow I can print it all out for my supervisor and me. When people stop by with requests, I can show them the calendar and pencil in a time to do it all.

Off to buy topsoil today, and spread it on the garden to prepare for new cold-hardy pansies and primroses.


2/9/19: Daikon Hash
At dawn on our big snow day I strolled over to the grocery with an interest in seeing which items were swept off the shelves in the pre-storm stampede, and which were still in stock. In the produce aisle, the daikon radish was the winner. There was a whole display left, sturdy white roots half the size of a Louisville Slugger.

In winter I keep daikon on hand as a useful decongestant; the raw juice is good for clearing sinuses, and so are homemade daikon pickles. The juice heated up with rice milk and honey is a soothing brew for a sore throat or cough and chills. Cooked daikon is supposed to help the body get rid of extra fats and water too.

After a long snowy afternoon walk I started supper, and thought back to winter dinners from childhood. One treat was corned beef hash. Sometimes Mom made her own with the meat grinder. Sometimes Dad opened a can of it, and fried eggs to go on our hash with a side order of baked beans and toast. Oh boy! I’d make a hash & ketchup nest for my fried egg, and after eating the egg would munch on the hash, patting it into smaller and smaller animal shapes. Good times.

Thinking about winter hash, I peeled the roots off a daikon, chopped it up, spun it in the food processor to make a grainy puree, squeezed off and drank the radish juice, then fired up the cast iron skillet with a brushing of olive oil. I sauteed the radish pulp with ground up mushrooms, carrot, celery, and a small apple and sauteed it all with a shot of Bragg’s aminos and fresh ginger juice. I let that cook all the way down in its own juices.

This makes a tasty hash, hearty but still light. Onions and garlic and sage would work in this; you could beat an egg and cook that with the vegetables too. This was good with lentil-kale-tomato soup.

1/10/19: Back to Basics
This past week I had a little routine medical checkup involving conscious sedation and some prep: two days of fiber-free white and beige foods with no legumes, no corn or peas, no nuts or seeds, no bright natural pigments.
Then, a three day fast of clear liquids only.

So, two days of corn flakes and white bread and ramen noodles. Then three days of clear liquids. Finally, rapid consumption of a one gallon prescription of cold polyethylene glycol solution, salts, and aspartame. Then, off to the medical center.

Afterwards, it was quite a comfort to come home again.
For the first meal in several days I stewed root vegetables, mushrooms, seaweed, and chicken legs. Once the vegetables were cooked enough to mash and the chicken was done, I cut up the meat for the freezer and boiled the bones for 12 hours with a little vinegar, to make bone broth. Here’s the before and after, enough for 4 days of main meals. What a privilege to be resting at home with miso broth and soft soothing mash. It was a lot to be thankful for.

chicken soup 1

chicken soup 2

12/7/2018: The A1C Project

The A1C Project was inspired by a blood test on October 31, showing that my hemoglobin A1C level had worked its way from 5.4 up to a 5.9. What!
It’s my responsibility to make amends for that, and earn a lower A1C score before the next blood test.
Well, and hopefully lose some middle padding and gain more muscle mass at the gym.

See you in the produce aisle!