I wrote about our family's health journey all last year. Part of it consisted of learning to live gluten free due to my daughter's allergies. What that meant was that I had to learn how to cook all over again - and I really hate to cook in the first place.
My challenge to myself was to find twenty 5-ingredient meals that the whole family approved of to go on The List, and they had to be gluten free and healthy. It took me six months of failed experiments to get it done. At the end of a meal if I heard four "Put it on The List!" responses, I knew I had a winner.
People feel bad when I say we have to eat gluten free because of Cecelia's allergies. I used to feel bad for us too! But here are some of the things the things that have disappeared from our life since we changed our diet: allergies, eczema, depression, and a sensory disorder. Do I want a loaf of french bread with my soup? Of corse I do. But do I want those health issues to return as a trade off? No bread is that good.
It struck me when I interviewed Donna Jackson Nakazawa of The Autoimmune Epidemic last week what a gift my daughter had given us. One person in twelve now falls on the autoimmune disorder spectrum (arthritis, irritable bowel, depression, autism, ADHD, and thyroid have all joined the autoimmune category along with conditions like Lupus and Graves). Donna said in our interview, "I follow thousands of cases, literally thousands. I'm going to go on record right now and say I have never seen anyone get better who didn't follow a Paleo diet."
It takes some creativity. It takes a little getting used to. But, if there really is an answer out there, even if its not the one we want to hear, isn't that good news?
So here is our family List of twenty meals. I have a few more that aren't on here. Every Sunday I roast a chicken for dinner and then make bone broth for the week out of the carcass. We also try and eat something fermented every day. If a recipe calls for noodles, I use gluten free noodles. If it calls for frozen or canned veggies, I use our own from the garden or find organic. If it says tortillas, I use corn. Hope I can inspire some of you to make your own list.
Why twenty? Because that means I have 5 meals to make every week for four weeks each month. The other nights we are eating out!
Crawfish Ettoufee - Found an organic creole seasoning pouch at kroger to use instead of individual seasonings.
Chicken and Dumplings - I use my own broth and chicken
Corn Bread Pie - hard to find organic, non-gmo corn or tomatoes that don’t come in a BPA white inside can
Beyond The List
Most of you know that I spent last year learning how to cook all over again once our daughter's wheat allergy sent us to gluten free living. I shared The List of my most basic 5 ingredient or less, family approved recipes a few months back. We've been getting by. We aren't starving or totally left feeling cheated after meals now, but I wanted to take it to the next level. I wanted to learn how to make some really good gluten-free foods. Ones you look forward to like you do a New York Bagel.
I enlisted Alyssa Davis to help me. After hearing her online Health Makeover series last month, I knew how passionate she was about healing foods. She said in one talk, "If it doesn't taste great, you are doing something wrong!" I had no doubt that I am often doing something wrong when it comes to the kitchen. My friend Marion says her food tastes so good because she infuses it with love. I am usually pissed off while cooking, hence my totally average results at best. Nevertheless, I was ready to try.
Just a back story. Alyssa had Crohn's Disease so severely that by the end of high school she had received two operations and was on numerous medications. They weren't working. Down to 90 lbs and desperate she set out on her own research journey and discovered how to heal herself through food, lifestyle, and supplements. That was five years ago. She's been doctor and symptom free ever since. She became a health coach to help others find their way to a happy, healthy life. I am so totally impressed with her results that I asked her to come over and teach me two days last week.
The first day we made gluten-free Sloppy Joes and flax seed chocolate chip cookies. While this might not sound gourmet if you eat gluten - believe me it is! So many of our American favorites rely on the carbohydrate and sugar that accompanies them. To fill these simple foods with taste and nourishment is an accomplishment. Alyssa explains while we are baking that combining the protein of flax and almond meal in the cookies regulates your blood sugar from spiking from the honey and chocolate chips. I am fascinated by all the things she shares off-handedly as we work.
The next day we made a roast chicken and veggies with a marinade so tasty I almost fell out, along with sweet potato bread and berry cobbler. Finding marinades and desserts that don't have gluten or high fructose corn syrup is really hard. Learning to make a few simple ones is a big boost for taste. She has a bunch listed on her website.
Because I don't cook well, I don't know things like mixing the wet ingredients together first before you add them to the dry ingredients matters. Substituting different gluten-free flours means different measurements. I don't know how to cut a lemon restaurant style. I don't know that letting something cool completely if the recipes calls for it means the difference between success and a total flop. I am learning, but these things mostly require patience, of which I am in in short supply.
What I am in long supply of is reality. I want us to eat five dinners a week at home. This is crazy-hard with three kids in after-school activities. On some nights it means we either eat at 4:45 or 8pm. I am not even going to kid myself that we could eat more than 5 meals a week at home. But it occurred to me that I could pay Alyssa the same amount I pay for a crappy Pepper's meal once a week and have one meal taken care of. Yes, she delivers!