Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Not a whole food

It's especially difficult in this culture to eat a whole foods diet, especially since most foods are refined in some way. Take whole wheat flour for example: conventional milling opens the grain, removes the germ and takes the endosperm away to be ground. The machines then put the pieces back together again in proper quantities to create flours with the right characteristics to create yummy, risen loaves. Grinding your own wheat still involves some processing because you take the whole kernel crush it. Granted, this process isn't nearly as detrimental as making something like corn syrup, a product whose creation cannot be reproduced in your own home but grinding wheat kernels into flour still exposes the vitamin and enzymes to air, leading to oxidation and denaturation of proteins. In fact, any food processing, such as cooking, baking or cutting in some cases, can lead to loss of nutrients. However, counting the minute loss of certain B vitamins when sauteing kale as a tragedy and pursuing an extremist raw food diet is not the answer either. Eating in such a way that the food is as whole and unadulterated as possible, while still loving the process of preparing and eating is the key to a healthy happy relationship with food and a healthy happy body.

This of course brings us to the faux Silk Creamer shown at the top of the page. I must have picked it up and put it down four times before purchasing it, and you know what, it actually tastes pretty decent. It will never, ever, in any way be true cream, but it's much better in tea than the hemp milk fiasco. Nothing makes a morning like having your "milk" curdle in your tea when your groggy and grumpy already. But purchasing such a product, whose ingredients include soymilk, palm oil, maltodextrin, cane juice, soy lecithin, potassium phosphate, sodium citrate, tapioca starch, natural flavors, and carageenan goes blatantly in the face of the whole foods philosophy which I hold so dear. As with so many other areas of life, moderation in all things, including moderation. Perhaps someday I will be able to give up my tea with cream and honey, but today is not that day. Having such a small, yet vital fragment of my former life makes me happy and so, let them drink tea!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's not so much living without as living differently

I was diagnosed with gluten and casein intolerance last Friday, which seems eons ago now. I have enough information to know that this is probably celiac's disease but I'm not going through any more testing for the sake of a label. I thought long and hard about getting the biopsy after two people who are close to me expressed their wish that I not go overboard with this and "allow yourself a treat now and then." I also have enough information from my tests to know that there was significant intestinal damage and a piece of birthday cake, however scrumptious, is less than a brilliant plan.

But on to the food! On Saturday I rampaged through the kitchen and pulled food that is designated "Autumn Only" (h0t chocolate, oatmeal, egg noodles) aside for charity and marked my darling's dangerous food with scarlet G's and D's. This took hours and lots of scrubbing on my part because apparently we are not clean people and areas like the top of the fridge were downright gross! I then took to the store and got fabulous things like brown rice tortillas, meat, vegetables, and tapioca flour. I'm not saying it's easy but it's not torture either. It's a matter of setting priorities and figuring out yummy food that won't send me to the bathroom. Last night's supper was quite a success, though I first under-cooked and then over-cooked the chicken. I sauteed the lacinado kale with olive oil, shallots, and drippings from the chicken. The most wonderful success of the meal were the mashed potatoes! In planning this meal I was paralyzed with indecision regarding the starch because mashed potatoes in my world are dripping with butter and cream. So, after an ungodly amount of time googling, I just went ahead and made them, no recipe, no fear. I used olive oil, a little chicken broth, water from boiling the potatoes, celery salt and garlic salt. And I have to say, they turned out lovely!

Unfortunately, my tea didn't fair as well as the mashed potatoes! My great-grandmother emigrated from England and in our family, the only way to drink black tea is with cream and sugar, which I have been doing faithfully since I was old enough to drink to hold a teacup. I've already experimented with soy and almond milk. It also appears that hemp milk does not do the trick either. I've switched my morning tea from this disaster to green tea, which doesn't require dairy, but I'm not giving up hope that this one small ritual can get back to normal some day!