Starting from scratch

fresh vegetables - quinoa saladcooking quinoaquinoa salad recipe  

My on-again, off-again relationship with my kitchen has been going steady for years, but my new gluten, dairy, and heck, everything free diet has forced me to spend much more quality time with my pots and pans as of late. 

I mean, I’ve always like the idea of cooking. But it just takes so long, ingredients can get a little pricey when you’re just cooking for one and it seems like an awful lot of effort to start from scratch after fighting traffic home from a long day at work. I knew if this month-long commitment for a healthier me was going to be successful, I was going to need a plan.

For the first week or so, I spent an afternoon making a huge bowl of white rice and grilling chicken kebabs with different seasonings so I could easily grab a perfectly-portioned meal whenever I was hungry or frantically trying to get out the door for work. Some vegetables helped liven up the rice every day, and I treated myself to the most adorable sectioned container to pack everything in. Luckily, my three years of work at an Asian restaurant also prepared me to not only eat, but enjoy rice for meals on end.

But nobody can eat rice 24/7, so this week I’m venturing into all the possibilities of quinoa. My experience with this grain can be summed up by the embarrassing fact I was walking around pronouncing it “Kwin-oh-uh” for far too long than I care to admit…My mind was blown to learn this is the exact same food as that grain everyone pronounces “Keen-whah”. Who knew?! Well, probably you did, but there you go.

I cooked this quinoa substituting half the water with chicken stock, then added basil, cucumbers, grape halves and a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Quinoa cooks just like rice, and I can’t stress enough to make sure you don’t add too much liquid. My first batch of quinoa came out a little lot on the wet side, which is not nearly as appetizing as the dryer, store-bought quinoa I’ve had before. I’d also advise drizzling the olive oil on top just before serving/eating, rather then mixing it in advance. Not only does this keep the salad from getting too moist, but it looks nice on the plate, too!

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Kicking a sweet habit

sprinkles cupcakes

Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a functioning sugar addict. I was living in a world dictated by cravings that controlled when, how often and what I ate. I was never satisfied or “full” until having something sweet, no matter how small, after every meal. I couldn’t say no to food junk that was anywhere within about a 25-foot radius or if I was alone, stop eating it until it was gone, I felt sick or both. I say “functioning” because despite this weak spot, no, weak crater, I still ate relatively healthy, well-balanced meals and have always been one those much-hated people who maintain a pretty thin figure with low to moderate exercise. I know…disgusting.

I even–this is embarrassing–resorted to eating cookies for breakfast…on more than one occasion. Thinking back on those times I can’t help but hear Kate Winslet in my head from The Holiday scene where she sniffs stove gas after learning douchy Jasper is engaged, “Low point…low point!”

I’ve read plenty before how damaging sugar and even “healthy” or “natural” sugar substitutes can be on our health. So, after some fear and quite a lot of skepticism of my own willpower, I made the commitment to give up sugar for three months. That’s right, I haven’t eaten added sugar, dessert or even food with over 5 grams of sugar (if I could help it) since January 4.

Of course, I’ve been dreaming for April 1 to come around, trying to decide which dessert will be my first back in the game, and let’s not kid ourselves, is there really any competition where Sprinkles cupcakes are concerned?

Meanwhile, I was still dealing with quite a lot of compounding chronic issues that were really starting to bring me down physically, emotionally and mentally. After countless hours of research and doctor visits, I finally landed on some au natural health solutions that have made a HUGE difference in how I look and feel every day. In addition to taking about 16 supplements and drinking 90+ ounces of water a day, making my own soap with baking soda and rinsing each load of laundry with vinegar, this treatment plan also includes a strict (and temporary, thank God) diet. Interestingly MIRACULOUSLY enough, after not eating processed food, wheat/yeast, dairy, sugar and so much more for only just one week, my issues have all but vanished along with literally all my cravings (which people claim disappear when you just give up sugar, but mine held stubbornly intact).

So ironically, today would have been the first day I could eat sugar again, and I actually don’t even want any. Ladies and gentleman, this is what real freedom looks like.

Another fun side effect of this new diet is the unavoidable need to get creative in the kitchen. So I’ll be having some of those tasty results coming your way soon. In the meantime if this sounds familiar, you want to jump on my health bandwagon or are just plain curious here are my two favorite resources: I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson (the e-book) and Allergies: Disease in Disguise by Carolee Bateson-Koch.

quote - she believed she could so she did