I have been in a rut. When I was a bride I was a, resourceful cook. When I was a mother, I was a creative cook. When I started the BTD, I was an experimental cook. But since DD left home, I've cooked the same things over and over. It's healthy. It's BTD compliant. But it's getting boring.
So my one New Year's Resolution is to try at least two new recipes a week. I'm off to a good start, because I tried two recipes today.
The morning of New Year's Eve, I started soaking a pound of black eyed peas. The evening of New Year's Eve, I was getting them ready for the slow cooker when I realized I was out of onion. I always cook black eyed peas with onion.
Don't panic, I told myself. How do most people cook black eyed peas? The answer is with bacon or salt pork. Obviously I was not going to do that...but I had a package of Buddy's chicken sausage in the freezer. If you are not familiar with Buddy's, it is a company that sells hormone free chicken. Their sausage is free of nitrites and other preservatives. I put the frozen sausage in the slow cooker with the beans and 2 cloves of garlic. Served with a spinach salad, it was a perfect New Year's Day lunch.
For dinner, I was going to cook beets. Normally I season beats with ghee, ginger, agave. It is delicious. But remembering my resolution to get out of my rut - even if it is a delicious rut - I got out a German cookbook that I've had for years, but never used. There was a recipe for beets with orange sauce. Orange is avoid for both Type As and Type Os. I decided to substitute pineapple juice for the orange juice. The recipe called for cornstarch, but that is also avoid. I kept it simple tossing the cooked beets with a Tablespoon of ghee and a heaping Tablespoon of pineapple juice concentrate.
HH was watching football and I was reading during dinner. As he took his plate to the kitchen, he said, "That was a really good dinner." I'm not sure that it was all that good, but it was different. The fact that he noticed, reinforces my resolution.
As we drove home on a cold and blustery Christmas day, we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop for lunch. We were fortunate to find a place that was open. Most restaurants were giving their employees family time for Christmas. This Subway was inside a gas station, and I hope the employees who served us got a good Christmas bonus!
I had packed salmon, peas and carrots for my lunch. While my husband and son ordered their sandwiches I indifferently read the menu. I had no intention of ordering anything, until I saw chicken livers among the choices at the kiosk next to Subway.
I never ate liver as a child. I'm not sure whether my mother didn't cook it because she didn't like it or because she knew that I was such a picky eater that there was no chance I would get beyond the first bite. When I read my first book on nutrition (Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit) the author was very enthusiastic about liver. I learned that I liked liver in restaurants where it was a featured item. However, the liver I cooked at home was not very good.
I also learned that I like chicken liver better than beef liver, and my absolute favorite - before the BTD - was chicken fried chicken livers.
On Christmas Day, I approached the counter debating whether eating a little batter would be worth it to get the livers. Then I saw a tub of flour by the fryer. These was not a pre-processed, pre-battered food product. They made the livers fresh on site.
I had a brainstorm. I asked if they could fry some livers without batter. The poor server who was stuck working Christmas Day, looked at me like I was crazy. "Are you sure you want me to do that?" she asked. When I said yes she took my money. The livers were delicious. The oil made them slightly crisp on the outside, but there was no wheat.
I'm thinking I could do this at home. I have a mini fryer that I got as a wedding gift long ago. I haven't used it in years because oven frying is so much healthier. But if I used grape seed oil it might work.
Where did the tradition to have ham for Christmas dinner come from? We are celebrating the birth of Jesus - a Jew who never would have eaten pork in his life. Lamb would be appropriate, or fish. My sister's family likes steak for Christmas dinner. The Honey Baked Ham Company and other pork purveyors have certainly come up with a Christmas marketing coup.
For me personally, ham has always given me headaches. I remember as a little girl, being sick after eating ham. I liked the taste, but it did not agree with me. I do not see the point of eating pork ribs. They appear to be mostly fat and gristle. The sauce is good, but I'd rather have sauce on chicken or brisket, which is better quality meat. Pork chops were always to dry too be enjoyable. However, before the BTD, I really did like pork tenderloin.
There are two aspects to my decision about whether or not to eat pork - the religious and the nutritious. The Old Testament is pretty adamant about not eating pork. But the New Testament declares that all food made by God is allowable. So as a Christian, there is no religious requirement for me about eating or not eating pork. However, there was a lot of wisdom in the dietary laws given by God to the Jews in the Old Testament. For instance the rules about washing hands and utensils protected the Jews from the Black Plague in the 14th century. The prohibition against pork protected the Jews from parasites that were common in pork until the past 100 years.
From the nutritious standpoint, Dr. D says that pork is avoid for all types. When Dr. D and the Bible agree, that is good enough for me. I consider pork to be a double avoid.
Our Christmas dinner was a buffet at HH's Mom's house. His sisters had decided on ham and pork ribs. I didn't want to be contrary, but I wanted another option. I brought some deli sliced turkey. I rolled the turkey around fresh spinach and sliced it in one inch bites. I said they were turkey appetizers. At the end of the meal the platter was almost empty.
I found plenty of neutral and beneficial choices. There were sweet potatoes and baked beans. DD made pineapple cranberry sauce. She also made a pumpkin soufflé in a pie pan and called it crustless pumpkin pie. The only avoid I ate was a salad brought by one of our nieces. It was made with fresh grapes and walnuts tossed in a little dressing made from light cream cheese and light sour cream. I think at home I could do a dressing with almond milk custard that would make this delicious salad completely compliant.
We are home from a four day Christmas trip to see my Honorable Husband's family.
His Mom continues to recover from her broken neck. On top of her fragile bones, she has also battled mild nausea. The nausea is serious because it makes her eat less. Then she doesn't have the nutrients for her bones to heal, and she loses weight. The sisters told me that she had been back to the doctor and he suggested taking her off of milk, tomatoes, and cokes. He told her to take ginger drops. She is much better.
I told them I wasn't surprised; that tomatoes, milk, and cokes were all avoid foods for Type As and that ginger was beneficial. They looked at me like I had two heads.
It is hard to have knowledge that would help people physically, but they are unwilling to receive it.
There is an analogy here to the Christmas story and Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time. Salvation is offered as a free gift to anyone who will receive it. But I had to understand that good works are not enough to get me into heaven, recognize that I needed a savior, and accept that Jesus' death took the punishment that I deserved for the wrong I have done.
It's pretty simple, really. It is knowledge that would help people spiritually, if they were willing to receive it.
If you want to feel better physically in 2013, investigate the Blood Type Diet with an open mind.
If you want to feel better spiritually in 2013, investigate the claims of Christ with an open mind.
I doubt that anyone does the BTD perfectly all the time. Even Dr. D has written that he has his favorite avoids and he indulges from time to time. I had one of those indulgent moments last night.
A friend was in from out of town and we went to our favorite steak restaurant for dinner. I love this restaurant because they serve sweet potatoes. I intended to have a 6 ounce sirloin, a salad with olive oil for dressing, and a sweet potato without margarine. (The server confessed that even though the menu says butter, they don't use the real thing.) It was a good and beneficial plan.
Our friend ordered onion rings as an appetizer. When onion rings are covered in thick dough, they are not a temptation. But when there is a lot of onion and a thin coating of spicy dough, my mouth starts to water. A basket of almost perfect onion rings arrived at our table.
Each of us tasted one. Our friend said, "Those are really spicy. I don't like spicy onion rings." My husband was too busy eating rolls to eat many of the onion rings. So I ate one, after another, after another. They were delicious.
I don't eat a lot of avoids. When I eat them I like to make them count. I don't waste my time on a dinner roll or a piece of pizza, much less a piece of toast. If I'm going to eat an avoid, I want to savor every bite. It should be memorable.
The timing on this splurge was probably good. Christmas dinner this year is going to be pot luck. There are a lot of people coming, so I'm sure there will be all kinds of wheat. But none of it will be as good as those onion rings. I'm thinking that it will be easy to bypass avoids and eat a healthy Christmas dinner.
Wishing for you a joyful Christmas focused on the important things - love of family and worship of the Christ child.
My husband and I are involved with the Christmas music at our church. He is singing and I am playing clarinet. We had an extra rehearsal on Saturday morning. As we were driving home after the rehearsal, I saw signs for the Farmers Market.
I'm rarely in town on Saturday morning. I knew there was a Farmers Market, however I tend to think about it every day except Saturday. But yesterday - there we were, and I asked HH to stop.
I had three goals: find kohlrabi, buy lettuce, and get lunch.
Nine years ago when I started the BTD, I read that kohlrabi was a beneficial vegetable. I had never heard of it, but I found it at the grocery store. I followed a recipe and cooked it. In my opinion cooked kohlrabi tastes terrible. No one in the family liked it. I probably threw it out.
However another BTD blogger wrote that he grated raw kohlrabi, tossed it with olive oil and lemon juice, and served it like Cole slaw. I tried that and it was delicious. Unfortunately my family's initial experience with cooked kohlrabi was so bad that they didn't really give it a chance.
I experimented with several options for dressing, and wound up liking it so much that I ate it at least once a week.
Unfortunately, not enough people bought kohlrabi, and my grocery store stopped carrying it about three years ago.
I hoped to find kohlrabi at the Farmers Market. There were eight to ten booths selling vegetables. Only one had kohlrabi, but one was all I needed. This farmer had the green kohlrabi I was familiar with and he also had a purple kohlrabi. I bought the green after being assured that he brought both kinds to the market every week.
All of the vegetable booths claimed to be organic. What that meant was that lettuce was twice the price that I was used to paying at the grocery store. I bought some, realizing that I wouldn't save anything if I spent time and gas to get to the grocery store. I had high expectations for organic lettuce, but I was disappointed. It didn't taste any better than less expensive grocery store lettuce.
The lunch options were outstanding. I got my lunch at an Indian food booth. I had spinach that was coated with a spicy wheat free mix and cooked until it was crunchy. I also had garbanzo and chicken dish topped with a ginger sauce. HH got his lunch at a pastry booth. It was a pocket sandwich with a chicken filling.
I enjoyed "kohl slaw" for dinner last night, and I am looking forward to enjoying it in the future - if I can remember to drive to town on Saturday morning.
Two friends in my neighborhood have a cookie exchange every year at Christmas. It started small, but it has grown each year. Every one brings three dozen cookies. For the first hour we eat hors d'oeuvres and visit. Then we move into the "cookie room". We select three dozen cookies to take home. What fun to walk around the table selecting cookies to enjoy during the holidays. Most ladies print out their recipes, so as you pick up cookies, you can pick up recipes as well.
The first year I made one of my favorite recipes. It's a wheat free recipe with oats, pecans, and coconut. You bake it in a cookie sheet and cut it into bars.
The second year I took the power bar recipe that DD and I developed. It is a no bake recipe made with only dried fruit and nuts.
Both years my cookies were passed over in favor of cookies with fancy decorations and lots of sugar.
This Year the cookie exchange was in a week when I had lots of business appointments. There was little time for baking. The day before the cookie exchange I didn't even have a plan. I was at the store and saw a packaged peanut butter cookie mix. I bought it along with a bag of Hershey kisses. It took just a few minutes to throw the mix together. I baked them half way then stuck an (unwrapped) kiss in the middle of each cookie and finished baking.
At the cookie exchange a lot of the conversations revolved around health. Friends talked to me about diets that worked and diets that didn't work. I heard about surgeries, exercise, and undiagnosed physical problems. It seemed to me that most of the ladies were serious about making lifestyle changes to improve their health.
Then we went into the cookie room. I watched as those same ladies grabbed up the fancy, high sugar cookies. My plate quickly emptied. Not one peanut butter kiss cookie was left.
I got a few brownies for HH - a treat that I knew would put a smile on his face. But I was really looking for healthy cookies. They were easy to find, because they were left behind. Someone brought zucchini cookies. I took several of those. I found chocolate covered nuts - wheat free. I found no bake oatmeal cookies - also wheat free.
HH was happy because there was a plate of cookies on the kitchen table. I was happy because most of those cookies were relatively Type A friendly.
However, I couldn't avoid the observation that whatever people say, they will choose sugar over health, at least at Christmas time.
Right now it’s the middle of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. It commemorates a time in Jewish history when a small group of Jewish soldiers, called the Maccabees, defeated a much larger Greek army. Following the miraculous battle, another miracle occurred in the Great Temple. At that time, extra-virgin olive oil was used to light the large candelabra, called the Menorah. The Temple had been ransacked, and most of the lamp oil was desecrated, but one small jar of pure oil was found, just enough to light the Menorah for one day. At that time, it took 8 days to get more oil, though it’s not clear if it was an 8 day process to make the oil or if there was a large supply a 4 day journey away.
Miraculously, the small amount of oil burned for 8 whole days, until more pure oil was obtained. To commemorate this miracle, Jews all over the world light 9 branched candelabras called Menorahs or Hanukkias, and eat foods fried in oil. Some use actual olive oil for the Hanukkah lights, but candles are much more common. My family has always used candles.
For generations, Jews of European descent have eaten potato pancakes, called latkes, for Hanukkah. Israeli Jews usually have jelly donuts instead. My shul serves both. Wheat AND potatoes- what more can an O nonnie ask for?
I limited myself to water and seltzer at my shul’s Hanukkah celebration, though I let my children eat whatever they wanted. They’re healthy enough to handle a few “avoids” occasionally. I’m still detoxing from Hurricane Sandy and can’t afford any “cheats” right now.
At home, I’ve created some new holiday traditions. Before I found BTD, but had identified my problems with gluten, I made gluten-free potato pancakes. I started with boiled potatoes, mashed them, added salt and onion powder and eggs, then fried in olive oil and served with apple sauce and sour cream. The traditional recipe calls for grated raw potatoes mixed with eggs and flour or matzah meal, but I found a way to make it without the added wheat.
Not being able to eat potatoes presents an added challenge. I’ve successfully substituted sweet potatoes in other recipes calling for potatoes, so I did the same with my latke recipe. Start with cooked sweet potatoes, add salt, onions, and eggs, and fry in olive oil. It didn’t hold together very well, though, as sweet potatoes are much less starchy than white potatoes. A little rice flour in the dough fixed that right up.
On Sunday, Leah wanted to make latkes but we didn’t have any cooked sweet potatoes in the house. Instead, she grated raw sweet potatoes and mixed them with eggs, spices, and rice flour before frying in oil. They took longer to cook, but came out delicious! Monday I baked sweet potatoes to make latkes with my usual recipe, and found that they weren’t as good. It’s more work to grate them than it is to mash up cooked sweet potatoes, but I think it’s worth the effort. I plan to use the grated raw recipe for the rest of the week.
Another problem with traditional latkes is the applesauce served alongside. I buy unsweetened applesauce for my family, but O nonnies shouldn’t have apples. Last year I bought a jar of pear baby food to eat with my latkes, and it was delicious! This year, I wanted to stay away from the ascorbic acid added to jarred baby food, since I can’t guarantee that it’s corn-free. So I bought two large bags of pears: one for eating and one for cooking. I peeled and chopped the pears, then put them in my crock pot with a little water. I cooked them on “low” overnight, added a little nutmeg, and then blended with my stick blender before putting them in a jar in the fridge. I think this batch came out a little bit too runny; I think I’ll use less water the next time I make this. But overall the recipe is a winner- I’ll be making pear sauce for Hanukkah every year from now on.