Eureka! – A New Challenge

Will start the post off with a few housekeeping items…

1)      As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve added a few things to the right-hand side of the page. I’ve linked my Facebook and Twitter pages to the blog – feel free to follow me! (Warning: Twitter is addictive. I’ve officially been on it for a week and I cannot stop. Think there’s going to need to be Twitter rehab in my future.)

2)      New Page! Look up…see it? I’ve added a page at the top that links to some of  my favorite Blogs. Most of these are Gluten-Free ones…but they’re all phenomenal! I’ve got a lot to learn from these pages. Make sure to check them out!

3)      Have suggestions? This blog is intended to not only fulfill my need for therapy, but to hopefully benefit you as well. If there are things you’d like to see added to the site, topics you’d like me to discuss, or things you’d like me to shut up about – I want to hear it! I want this to be an evolving site…hopefully getting better and not worse. Your feedback is always encouraged!

Ok that’s it for housekeeping…phew! That was tough! I don’t think I’ve done that much housekeeping in 6 months! I kid, kid! Or do I? :)

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So how was my week? Well…I had an absolutely incredible epiphany this week. Major light bulb moment…and a bright light too. Before I get into my slap-in-the-face moment for the week…I’ll get the bad part out of the way.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is an increase in weight.  Not making excuses for it – just feeling really positive about some changes in thinking that I think will pay off big time in the weeks to come.

As I’m typing this, Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” is running through my mind. (Dad – I know you’re impressed by that Midnight Special era reference.)  Just in case you’re not sure what song I’m talking about…here’s your soundtrack for the rest of the post…Listen now!

I’m sure your bummed it’s not me singing instead. Your ears will thank you!  :)

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Without further adieu – on to my Eureka Moment:

I can thank 2 people for my “moment” this week. One, an incredible author. The other, a Facebook friend.

It’s no secret that I have a love for food. I’m a Hayes. I’m pretty sure an icon for food is part of our family crest.  And I’m not only referring to my love for eating whatever is in front of me. I’m talking about my caviar taste with my Cheez Whiz budget.  I love good food. Quality food. Food that has been braised for hours. Food that has so many different levels of taste that your mouth doesn’t know what to do. Food that evokes so much emotion. Food that is so good, that if you ever were lucky enough to have it again, would take you right back to that first time it touched your tongue. Food that I’ve been replacing with nutrition-less, processed garbage.

One of the blogs I follow regularly is Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. The author, Shauna Ahern, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease after many, many years of struggle.  I received Shauna’s book (“Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back and How You Can Too”) last week. I have not been able to put it down. All that emotion and passion that I have for food – she also has. But she writes about it in a way that is far better than anything I have ever read in my entire life.  She is someone who has the ability to make you feel like you’re experiencing the taste of fresh lemons, or crusty (GF) bread, or the rich essence of truffle oil solely by reading the words on the page – and it deserves serious props. She has helped me to completely change my take on food and what I put in my body….more in a minute.

Second person (thank you, Jason) made a comment in response to my tantrum from last week that really opened my eyes to the way I have reacted to this diagnosis:

“Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can.. if you can cover all the base nutrients your body needs, it will cease food seeking behavior..”

And he’s right.

Both Shauna and Jason are spot on. What have I been doing focusing on all the things I’m not allowed to eat? Look at all the things I can eat! Am I crazy?! How preprogrammed for processed food am I?!

With their input – I discovered something about myself and my body. I don’t crave fried food. I don’t crave bologna or packaged products. I don’t crave frozen meals or fast food. For the first time EVER in my life…I’m craving what my body needs. Fruit, vegetables, olive oil, grains, meat. I’m craving vegetables fresh out of the ground, meat straight from the butcher, fruits that smell like paradise, seafood that has the smell that takes me back to my summers spent at Fripp Island. I’m craving olive oil so green it looks like grass, basil so sweet you want to put it on ice cream. Honey with the comb still in the jar. Cheese fresh from the farm. These are the things I want. These are the things my body wants.

These weeks since the diagnosis, I’ve been doing what I can to continue on the same path I’ve been on for years. Focused on making unhealthy gluten-free substitutes for the unhealthy gluten-full choices I was making before. That’s not what I need. That’s not what my body needs.

Great, so I can still have shredded cheese from the store. But I thought about it…The cheese is shredded in a factory, packaged, labeled, sent to a distribution center, possibly sent to another regional distribution center, and then eventually makes it to the grocery store shelf. How many nitrates and 35-letter preservatives are pumped into that cheese to make it last through all those steps? That’s not taking care of my body. That’s pumping it with foreign substances.

I want to believe that fruit from the grocery store is fresh. Bananas don’t grow in Greensboro…so how much time has passed between the time it was picked and the time it makes it to my plate.  If I didn’t pick it myself, I want someone to have done it a few hours prior.

I want a dab of fresh churned butter, rich and nutty, instead of half a stick of something called butter that is pumped full of a substance similar to Vasoline and completely flavorless.

I want fresh ground smoked paprika…not something McCormick bottled when Clinton was still in office. (Have you ever noticed how all cheap bottled spices smell the same?) I want fresh thyme and rosemary…the grassiness of flat leaf parsley. Not the nasty “Italian Seasoning” concoction that seems to outlast most water heaters.  (I bet Giada DeLaurentiis would shoot someone before having that in her house!)

I want meat that was cut away from the bone earlier that day. I want steak so fresh it almost moos. I don’t want the saran-wrapped beef on a red Styrofoam tray that sits on top of that curious, black, menstrual pad-looking sheet full of liquid. I want shrimp pulled from the NC/SC coast, still briny with delicious Atlantic Ocean saltiness, not something farmed in the middle of Taiwan.

I want the absolute best. I deserve the absolute best. And I welcome you to my new mission: Operation Unprocessed.

I from here on out, will do everything in my power to ensure everything I put in my mouth is as fresh and as whole as it can possibly be. I owe it to my insides.

Will this be slightly more expensive? Yeah probably. Getting meat from a butcher isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Buying high quality olive oil isn’t cheap…but if I only have to use a tablespoon of rich, delicious oil vs. a ¼ cup of the store-brand to evoke an incredible flavor profile – then I do come out cheaper in the end, and healthier.

The Farmer’s Market will be my best friend. I went this weekend. And this may be one of the dorkiest things I’ve ever said, but being there made me emotional. I was amongst hard-working farmers. Men and women with callused hands – evidence of tough, daily labor. Proud of their crops, eager to hand out samples of fresh raw corn and bright red tomatoes. I had visions of recipes running through my head. Thoughts of ways to use the turnips, poblanos and crowder peas. I was overwhelmed in a good way. A very good way!

I made my first purchase for Operation Unprocessed. Brilliant heirloom tomatoes. A huge bunch of basil for $1. Dirt flecked, firm potatoes. Fresh honey (one of my most favorite things in the entire world.) Sweet ears of fresh corn picked that morning. Silky, tart Camembert cheese from the Goat Lady Dairy farm. I was in absolute heaven.

Needless to say, the first meal on my new quest was divine. See for yourself….

Heirloom tomatoes, Camembert cheese and homemade basil and arugula pesto - delish!!!!

Not bad, huh?

How is that restrictive?! How is that a tough way to live?! I’ve been doing this all wrong. Operation Unprocessed is exactly what my body needs. This epiphany has unlocked the door to getting past my lifelong, manic problem with food. I no longer want to live to eat, I want to eat to live.  Who wants to take the challenge with me?

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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3 thoughts on “Eureka! – A New Challenge

  1. This is confirmation for my thoughts. I met with my trainer yesterday and he told me everything I could it. He didnt tell me what I couldn’t and that set him apart from all of the professionals that I have ever been to. And please tell me you got the corn from the man at the farmers.market that cut it off the cob and told you to taste it. If you did you are in for a treat it excellent. I love the farmers market!!

  2. Hannah, read some MFK Fisher if you want to get even more inspired… or early Julia Child. Or if you want to get really excited about “Operation Unprocessed”, watch Babette’s Feast, especially the last of the movie when the most fabulous dinner ever is prepared and served. (One of my goals in life is to prepare and serve that same meal for a very special occasion.)
    Your best blog by a long shot. Congrats!

  3. Sometimes we need that litte face to face in the mirror to remind us of our missions and goals. Still proud of you! I LOVED the part of going to the farmer’s market and seeing them with the dirt on their hands…Try gardening now…you will see how fun it is to also get dirt on your hands…you will understand how special it is to make those things grow! :) Keep up your mission and keep taking those baby steps to reach goal. Love you bunches…And!!!! It’s YOUR Birthday week! Celebrate with the new foods you love! Love, MOM

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