How a near disastrous lunch turned into a new favorite recipe.
This adventure started at the grocery store last week when they had frozen packaged cod on sale. I’m talking really on sale - 60% off. The expiration date was fine, so I bought several packages.
This morning I took one of the packages out of the freezer, planning grilled cod and vegetables for lunch. The house is cool (we keep our thermostat on 68-70 in the winter) and the cod was thick, so it was still mostly frozen when I was ready to cook. That was ok. I put it in a skillet on low heat and started washing produce.
Maybe I was hungry, but it seemed to be taking a long time for the cod to thaw, even in the skillet. I was concerned about it sticking to the bottom of the pan, so I added a chopped onion and the juice of one lemon to increase the moisture.
The next time I peeked under the lid, there was too much moisture. The fish was thawed, but it was falling apart, more like ground meat than a fillet. I took a taste. The flavor was nice, but it did not look at all appetizing.
Soon the fish was cooked, but it looked like mush. How was I going to serve it? Gumbo came to my mind. I added a sprinkle of Creole seasoning. Then I opened a small can of tomato paste. I tossed in a little celery seed. Remembering rice left over from last night’s dinner, I divided it into two bowls, and called my Honorable Husband to the table. - - - He loved it.
He said, “I think I would rather have fish in a casserole like this, than have a chunk of fish on my plate.” I was stunned. Moments before I had been considering making him a peanut butter sandwich to hide my embarrassment, now we were brainstorming about how to make this accidental fish casserole better the next time. I suggested okra; he suggested broccoli; we both thought of carrots.
I have several packages of frozen cod to experiment with. Perhaps I will measure and come up with a real recipe. Or perhaps I will just wing it - that technique certainly worked well this time.
This is not a Christmas blog - - though Joy to the World is my favorite Christmas Carol and at Jesus’ birth the angels brought “Good tidings of great Joy.”
It seems to me that in every culture eating and mealtime are supposed to be occasions for joy. Food is not just fuel that you pump into your stomach like gasoline into a gas tank. Food is supposed to bring pleasure. There are ethnic recipes, holiday traditions, and etiquette standards. There is companionship, hospitality, and round the table conversation.
Yet when I talk to people who are trying to follow a diet they fret about what a hassle it is. All too often I read people on the Forum who are ready to abandon the BTD/GTD because it stressful.
If I ever had the chance to sit down with Dr. D for lunch or a cup of green tea, I would have a thousand questions. One of them would be – are people on the BTD/GTD destined to a life of stress? I am guessing, based on his books and mp3s of speeches, that the answer would be a resounding NO! In fact I could site passage after passage where he writes about the damage that stress does to your body and how to use exercise, sleep and food to minimize stress.
So if stress is the antithesis of what the BTD is supposed to be about, what can we do on a daily basis (and especially as we enter the Christmas season) to find pleasure rather than panic in the kitchen and dining room?
Relax if you are new to the diet. It will take a while to remember what foods are beneficial, neutral and avoid. Embrace the beneficials. Try new foods. Focus on building health. Don’t be fearful of making a mistake. You ate wrong for your type for years…now you are getting better.
I believe that people are more important than things. I strictly follow the rules at home; but when I am with family or friends, I am a gracious guest. There are three advantages to this. First it makes the BTD less scary and more appealing to friends who might be considering it. Second, it preserves relationships, rather than offending those I care about. Third, I get to enjoy a treat.
Be a little flexible and not too legalistic. I believe that when strict adherence to rules about food becomes legalism, it is counterproductive. You are trying to reduce stress, not add stress. A slip up with an avoid is not going to kill you.
Here is how it works for me. I was invited to a neighborhood cookie exchange this week. I made Type A & O compliant cranberry apricot bars to share. I did not eat appetizers that contained wheat, because there were lots of other choices. I tried several cookies and they were delicious. I brought a variety of cookies home which makes my husband, who feels the loss of cookies at Christmas time more deeply than I do, very happy. It was a joyful evening – full of laughter, companionship, and friends. The next day I was back to my own routine.
It would make me very sad to think that someone would abandon the BTD/GTD entirely because of pressure to be perfect. Stress should not be part of this diet. Eating right includes enJOYing your food.
I am afraid I have been guilty of perpetuating what Dr. D, in one of his recent blogs, accused his detractors of saying
Here is his quote:
"(They say) the diets are dangerous. This statement is usually proffered by experts concerned that, by restricting certain foods by blood type, people will develop nutrient deficiencies. However, each diet variant (A, O, etc.) is a carefully engineered balance of foods that ensures full nutritional value."
When I started the BTD and got wheat and milk out of my diet, the improvement in my health was immediate, dramatic and permanent. Like most newbies, in had an insatiable desire to learn more. I began to read in the columns and later in blogs and on the Forum, that many Type Os were virtually grain free. Since there were no beneficial grains for Type Os, (except manna bread, which is more of a product than a grain) I decided to try it.
It seemed to work. I had a little rice bran in my breakfast mix, and on most days that was all the grain I ate for eight years. I felt good, my weight was stable, I had lots of energy, my immune system was working. This appeared to be the way for me to go. I have blogged about this many times and have encouraged other Type Os to do the same. Shame on me!
After my colonoscopy last summer which found two polyps, one of them the precancerous type, I wrote a blog about reevaluating my diet. Susana sent me this quote from Dr D.
"Grain and legumes are about the only sources of phytates, which are anti-oxidant mineral chelators. There are pros and cons to phytates (some people would argue that they block mineral absorption) but they do have fairly potent anti-cancer effects in the colon, which in the case of GT1 Hunters is a bit of an Achilles heal."
Since then I have been adding grain back into my diet. I compared the grains that were neutral on the BTD with the grains on the GTD that are beneficial for either Hunters or Gathers. Those are the grains I am focused on.
I am pleased to say that my weight has not increased with the additional grain. The only change I have noticed is that the craving I had for nuts is diminished. This has let me get my nut portions more in line with Type O recommendations.
I plan to go back through my blogs and edit out all references to grain free. And if I see references on the Forum advising Type Os to be grain free, I will counter them as adamantly as I do references to avoiding neutrals.
As Dr. D said in his quote at the beginning of this blog.
“each diet variant (A, O, etc.) is a carefully engineered balance of foods that ensures full nutritional value."
I like these delightful days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fall decorations are still up. I won’t get out the Christmas tree until the first of December, and I haven’t started listening to Christmas music, but I did do quite a bit of internet shopping over the weekend.
We missed our Darling Daughter at Thanksgiving – she had to work on Friday, so she couldn’t come home. Our Strong Son, however, had a long holiday weekend to spend with us. Three of his friends came home with him for Thanksgiving dinner. They were like DD – living too far to be with family and still get back for work on Friday. What a delightful group they were! The conversation around the table was interesting and thought provoking.
I worried a little about how our guests would respond to my slightly nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner. SS assured me that they all embraced an active and healthy lifestyle and that they would be more receptive than average young adults.
I spent a little more to buy a hormone free turkey. I put onions and celery in the cavity before I roasted it, and it was delicious. I cooked cranberries with honey and pineapple juice, and they were just the right mix of tartness and sweetness. The green beans were seasoned with garlic and basil. I made the same pumpkin pie that I made last Thanksgiving, using ground walnuts as a crust. The twice baked sweet potatoes were exceptionally good.
As in years past my biggest BTD compromise on Thanksgiving food was going to be dressing. When DD is home, we have tried several avoid free dressings, that were tasty. But my favorite will always be the cornbread dressing that I ate first at my grandmother’s house and later at my mother’s.
Because my Honorable Husband has dealt with pre-diabetic issues in the past, the BTD Diabetic book says corn (neutral for Type As) is an infrequent neutral for him. I double checked the food lists and was surprised and delighted to notice for the first time that corn, which was always Type O avoid on the BTD, is only a limited toxin on the Hunter diet (though it is still toxic on the Gatherer diet.) That means that the Hunter half of me can feel good about eating something that I was going to eat anyway.
What a Thanksgiving bonus this is! While we will still not eat corn often in our family, we can truly enjoy dressing at holidays. And we will probably have an occasional ear of corn on the cob or a bowl of air-popped pop corn while we watch a movie.
My family always made rather dry buttermilk cornbread. I love sweet, moist cake-like cornbread. I went on the internet to see if I could find a wheat free, cake-like cornbread recipe. I could not. However, I found several recipes that were close, and I combined them – making the best cornbread I have ever eaten.
Here is my Hunter cornbread recipe.
2 cups cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1/3 cup light olive oli
1/3 cup honey.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine them and stir fast – just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the sides of the bread begin to pull away from the pan.
This is delicious by itself. When you use it with homemade rye spelt bread to make dressing, you have the finale to a healthy holiday feast.
I am thankful for a lot of things in this Thanksgiving week. One of the biggest items on my list is the restoration of DD’s hormone balance.
If you are a long time reader of this blog, you remember that in her senior year DD began to deal with body image issues. You can search the archives if you want to know all the details, but I’ll summarize. DD was never anorexic. She never stopped eating. But she cut her calories back and became obsessive about exercise. She lost too much weight and threw her hormones all out of balance.
I was firmly convinced that this was a spiritual issue with her, not a psychological issue. She was rejecting the way that God had made her. She needed to deal with Him about that, not have someone play games with her psyche.
She is a smart girl, and when she went off to college, she said all of the right things, but in her mind, she was still determined to remake her body in her own image. Not surprising, she got worse before she got better. She eventually agreed to a daily accountability e-mail with me. While this stopped her weight loss, it did not result in her gaining weight.
Though she was exercising too much and not eating enough, she was extremely committed to the BTD. So the food she was eating was almost all beneficial. I think that is one of the things that protected her from worse effects on her health.
God allowed her to have a couple of health scares. He also brought some incredibly wonderful and supportive people into her life. She met some other girls who were dealing with the same issue, and as she got to know them, she began to see her own behavior for what it was. He also brought a wonderful young man into her life (I’ve called him ESS in my blogs) who loves her exactly the way God made her.
But most of all, God confronted her every morning in her Bible study. When I read back through her accountability e-mail, I am amazed. Some days He reminded her how much He loved her. Some days He forced her to face her rebellion and sin. Some days He showed her that he created her with a purpose and had a plan for her life. She listened, and her mind was renewed.
Not overnight, but gradually she changed her habits and began to gain weight. It took a long time, and a few setbacks along the way, but she got her weight back to a normal BMI. However, her hormones were still not working.
Our family doctor was more concerned about some hormone levels than others, and the one that he was most concerned about was her low thyroid. DD and I did enough reading to know that thyroid function drops in people with eating and exercise disorders for the same reason it drops in people faced with famine – it is one of the ways our bodies preserve life. When there aren’t enough calories, all body functions slow down.
She resisted taking thyroid hormone for a long time. She tried increasing iodine and several other natural remedies. Our doctor eventually convinced her that her other hormones were probably not going to return to normal until she got her thyroid working properly again.
For three months now, she has been restored to good health. She wants to wait a few more months, and then talk to the doctor about a safe way to wean herself off of the thyroid medication. Thankful hardly begins to describe how she and her dad and I feel.