Tuesday, November 19, 2013

(Guest Post-Suzanne) Confessions of a Foodie Sinner

I don't know what's gotten into me lately. 

I am a foodie. A Foodie with a capital F. I love trying fun new foods. I eat it all. 

(Well, almost all. My husband's delight in organ meats and odd bits kind of is my limit, and I think that raw celery was invented as a medieval form of torture). 

I dislike diet crazes. I rolled my eyes very hard at Atkins years ago. There is something wrong, to my mind, with a diet where you can't have carrots, but you can have all the bacon you want. 

The latest craze of gluten-free makes me irrationally annoyed. The comedian Chris Rock correctly pointed out that nobody in, say, Ethiopia, was lactose intolerant and that they'd be glad to eat a little gluten, you know, when your daily diet often consists of nothing. If the choice is between a loaf of whole wheat bread and rhabdomyolysis, what would you choose?

Of course I know about celiac disease, but there is a difference between that and avoiding gluten for vaguely defined 'health reasons'.  A smart doctor I know told me that removing wheat from your diet will certainly change how you are feeling, but if you remove anything from your diet it will have the same effect. Poor gluten has just become the latest culprit of food fear. 

Every time I talk about this, people come forward insisting that being gluten-free has changed their lives for the better, and hey, whatever floats your boat. But it seems rather a first-world indulgence to me still when you don't have celiac. I once said that the next time the dog decided to eat cat poop out of the garden, I'd be sure to knock on the cat owner's door and ensure that the cat was gluten-free. 

I recently read a horribly bizarre and sad pediatric case study where a 3-year-old child was fed nothing but bison meat, salicylate-free vegetables (whatever the hell those are), and chickpea milk, based on the idea that she had food allergies by her crazy parents, who hadn't actually taken her to a doctor or had allergy testing done. Said child turned up in an ER someplace with eye pain, was diagnosed immediately with corneal ulcers because of a severe vitamin A deficiency, had to have corneal transplants, and the hospital had to involve the child welfare authorities because her parents were determined to keep her from eating normally. This is a 3-year-old child in North America. It's horrifying. 

This is why food fad diets frighten me. If this is what it leads to, there is something really, really wrong with how we perceive food and how it affects us. 

That isn't to say I don't pay attention to what I eat; I do. Those of you who have read my goofy postings here know that I am a champion of local eating, of real food, of knowing where your food comes from and what goes into it, of eating meat that is raised as humanely as possible without hormones or antibiotics. This is why I have been a member of Linda's CSA for so long; there is such a difference in real garden food versus the anemic stuff they haul up from Mexico. 

That said, I can only be described as indulgent when it comes to food. I like cupcakes, and cheese, and pizza, and roast beef. I don't take good care of myself when it comes to food; not because I eat bad food, but because I'm just indulgent with the things I eat even if they are made from great ingredients. I will wholeheartedly admit that. 

There is also the fact that we like fun food, and go to places like The Home of the Brave (http://www.thehotb.com/) for dinner on a day trip to Toronto, where we ate homemade tater tots, crab cakes, broccoli and grits with mushroom gravy and smoked cheese sauce, and vanilla-bourbon red velvet funnel cake, to name a few dishes. 

I mean, it was delicious. And yet, somehow my appetite for such things has recently vanished. Perhaps it's the fact that I turn 39 soon, perhaps it's that I'm woefully inactive. Perhaps it is even everybody's favourite culprit, gluten. But, I feel rotten and slow, and tired, and my appetite for heavy, sugary, fatty things is suddenly gone. Suddenly I crave vegetables and water, small meals and apples for dessert. 

Like I said, I don't know what's gotten into me. But because I am overweight and feel gross, it's time to carpe the hell out of diem and make dietary changes before I hit the big 4-0. I think I owe that to myself. It doesn't mean I'll never hit the food trucks or start being paleo, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean it's time to try something else diet wise and do things right for a change. I'm not going to do any crazy food diets, but I am just going to eat better and get more active, and a big part of that is getting more vegetables into me. 

Since I've taken a swipe or two at kale in the past as well as gluten, here is a gluten-free and kale recipe to atone for my past foodie sins. This is from Dolly and Oatmeal (http://www.dollyandoatmeal.com/)by way of the Sprouted Kitchen (http://www.sproutedkitchen.com/).

| makes 10 cakes |   
inspired by Sprouted Kitchen
  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut lengthwise 
  • 1 cup purple kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped   
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 small-medium shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (ground from gluten free rolled oats in a food processor)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) 
  • neutral oil for greasing baking pan (grapeseed works the best here)
*also needed: a clean tea towel or cheesecloth to wring out squash
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more or less depending on how creamy you want it) 
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 medium shallot (or ~2 tablespoons chopped red onion) 
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • salt to taste
  • ~3-4 tablespoons water, to thin consistency

make the cakes
  • preheat oven to 400° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  cut the squash in half, lengthwise and scrape out the seeds (reserve seeds for toasting! totally optional, but also totally yum).  brush the flesh with olive oil and place face down onto the baking sheet.  bake for 35-40 minutes until knife-tender.  remove squash from oven and let it cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes.  this is a good time to prep the rest of your ingredients)
  • preheat the oven back to 400°.  once the squash is cool, use a fork to scrape the flesh into long strands.  one half at a time, place the scraped squash strands into a clean tea towel (or cheesecloth) and wring out as much liquid as possible (i was actually amzed how much liquid the spaghetti squash contains!).  place wrung out squash in a large bowl and repeat with the other half.  place chopped kale, cilantro, shallots and garlic in the bowl with the squash and mix until thoroughly combined.  add egg and combine once more. set aside
  • in a separate bowl, combine the oat flour, ground flaxseed, salt, baking powder, chili powder, cumin and cayenne (if using) .  pour the dry ingredients into the kale and squash mixture, and mix.  set aside
  • oil a large rimmed baking sheet.  using a 1/4 cup measure, pack it almost to the top and press the cake mixture into the cup measure to make compact.  turn measure over and tap out onto the palm of your hand.  place on oiled baking sheet, use the back of the measure, or your fingers, and press the cake down just a bit (it should be just under an inch thick).  repeat with the rest of the mixture until you have 10 cakes  
  • place baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.  at the end of 20 minutes take cakes out of oven and flip them over to brown the other side.  place back in the oven for 5 additional minutes.  remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  let the cakes cool for about 5 minutes, or eat them at room temperature.  top with avocado sriracha sauce and garnish with cilantro
  • store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
make the avocado sriracha sauce
  • place all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until desired consistency.  (you made need more water depending on how thin you want the sauce.)

I have no idea how this will go, but all I can do is try. I'll keep you posted. If you want to make this recipe, I am sure Linda's hoophouse will have some kale for you soon. It's a good recipe to tide you over in the long winter months when the ground is frozen and everything grows indoors. 

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