tastes, part 2! . . .

by mulberryshoots

green tea

It’s been about a month now since I embarked on an immersion course to explore ways of eating to lose some weight and lower my blood glucose level. I’ve tested a panoply of new recipes including baking with gluten-free flours, alternative sugars and reading cookbooks by health gurus (Mark Hyman and Joel Fuhrman) plus “Superfood” cooking gurus such as Julie Morris and other cooking mavens.

After a three week precipitous drop in my glucose level which I was excited about, I was disheartened to find that it went up ten points after only one week of eating gluten-free muffins and gluten-free pasta, I learned the hard way that there are potentially MORE CARBS in gluten-free ingredients than in those with gluten. Moreover, honestly, the various muffins I tried tasted just awful even though the GF spaghetti was appetizing. So much for the large cardboard box of newly acquired gluten-free flours, coconut sugar, sucanet that I’ll remove from my pantry, hoping to find someone who’s gung-ho on using them.

I’ve decided that my modus operandi will be to AVOID baking anything for awhile. Period. But when the time comes, maybe in the Fall or around the holidays, I’ll make wonderful high puffed popovers and maybe a cake or pie or two. In other words, LESS (flour & sugar) might be MORE, health-wise, but it won’t just disappear from my life. And when these ingredients are called for, I’ll use unbleached regular flour and turbinado sugar – just as in the past and everything will turn out tasting delicious. And so, we’ll also know that we can continue to live a little. – just in moderation.

My brother has reminded me a couple of times that he lost ten pounds last year just by cutting out carbs and fast food. By eschewing gluten-free products, we’ll actually be cutting out carbs we didn’t realize we were using!

Another thing I discovered is that SMOOTHIES are just not my thing. It takes too many various ingredients for a single smoothie recipe; and a whole slew of other ones for a different smoothie. It also usually requires freezing a banana – and eating a whole banana (which has a lot of sugar); plus various bags of frozen fruit full of sugar which never get finished and cramp up the freezer. I also confess that I usually can’t finish the smoothie even though I make smaller portions AND it’s a nuisance to clean the blender (which can go in the dishwasher) or the Vitamix (which runs soapy water to clean it out. So, there go the packets of hemp and chia seeds and other exotic ingredients that I can’t even remember the name of them – substitutes for cocoa and so on– that will go into the same box as the gluten-free ingredients. I’m sorry that smoothies gotta go even though they look so delectable in Julie Morris’s “Superfood Smoothies” cookbook.

Although I realize I am sounding like a health food heretic, I am nevertheless now going to name the one food that has become the Holy Grail of healthy eating (even Bill Clinton!) and that is . . . KALE. I’ve tried massaging kale leaves with olive oil and/or dressing to help it absorb the flavor. I actually really like the LOOK of lacinato kale with its bumpy ridges and dark green color. I just don’t like the taste and I’ve tried it numerous ways: sauteed, in salads, in smoothies. It’s just not a vegetable that I feel compatible with. It almost feels sacriligious to type out these words: “I d-o-n-‘t  l-i-k-e  K-A-L-E!”

I don’t feel bad about these experiments though, because this journey is about gradually shifting our eating lifestyle to something we’ll want to keep eating.. We haven’t had any red meat in all this time and neither G. nor I have a desire to have any either. Our weekly menus have included wild caught grey sole which we enjoy simply cooked meuniere style with a little lemon butter and parsley.

Homemade vegetable soup once a week has supplied us with warm broth on chilly, rainy days as well as providing a “stone soup” concept for using up vegetables before they spoil. Making salads that are composed and attractive in a wooden bowl along with some new salad dressings have been a boon too. A fresh buttermilk peppercorn ranch dressing tops them all. To the online recipe, I increased the amount of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and sour cream, added lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, a dab of honey and six grindings of multi-colored peppercorns into the mix. We thought it tasted divine, unlike the sometimes gloppy ranch dressings we’ve had in the past.

I found that drinking a large pottery tea bowl of green tea in the middle of the afternoon is a good substitute for when I’m thinking about having a snack.

So, there it is: I’ve bought tons of baking and smoothie ingredients, read books and experimented with numerous recipes that have drawn me to these very personal conclusions: I’ll bake less often but when I do, I’ll use regular ingredients; I won’t be making smoothies in the near future but will use my blenders to process delicious cream of cucumber soup and other dishes. And finally, I’ll pass up buying lacinato kale and maybe even collard greens. But I’ll still fill up my basket with broccoli, cauliflower, English peas, romaine, arugula and butter lettuces, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, eggplant, artichokes and garden fresh spinach. We’ll wait until the cool Fall and Winter months to bake Japanese sweet potatoes, acorn squash and other starchy root vegetables.

I’m still feeling optimistic after these lessons learned. Unless we enjoy what we eat, a new lifestyle of eating won’t last for very long. I can’t just follow recipes of food that don’t appeal to our palate. And some of the recipes have long lists of ingredients that require more effort than the simple way that I like to cook. The tweaking I’ve described above feels good to me although they might not be for everyone. And I feel a little lighter now that I don’t feel forced to conform to foods (and fads) that don’t taste or feel right for the way we live and the way I like to cook.

Bon Appetit! To each our own!