Don’t Discriminate

It is no secret that I love the Food Network. I want to be on it, I watch it constantly, and I could probably tell you more about the lives of the chefs on that channel than I can about Oprah Winfrey or George Bush.  Some people are obsessed with movie stars and famous athletes, while I’m busy stalking Alex Guarnaschelli, Aaron Sanchez and Giada DeLaurentiis on Twitter.

I want to secretly discover an invitation to participate on Chopped in my mailbox and would likely have a panic attack if I ever got into an elevator and saw Bobby Flay standing there.  But I have to be honest – the FN chefs like some gluten in their cooking.  I’ve tried to mentally come up with gluten-free versions of all the recipes that I see made, but the truth is, a channel devoted 100% to cooking is a shitty place to go when you can’t eat many of the things you see prepared.

What if a GF chef wanted to be a judge on Iron Chef? Or a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef? I just don’t think it’s possible. Imagine being a child of Paula Deen’s and having Celiac Disease? Would she acknowledge them?  I wonder if she’s got a secret daughter hidden off camera that was ousted for never being able to eat fried chicken or biscuits and gravy. Would Mario Batali disown his child for having to stay clear of pasta?

And so it got me thinking – why don’t we see chefs with Celiac Disease? Granted cooking GF is a niche thing, but there are plenty of shows on cooking for the vegetarian lifestyle that I’m sure non-vegetarians watch. I want to see something that I can enjoy! I want it GF and I want it now!  (And yes, that last sentence should be said with your best Veruca Salt impression.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Why is All-Purpose flour the thickening agent choice for every chef that has a cooking show? Why not try corn flour or rice flour? Why can’t Rachael Ray dredge her chicken in cornflake crumbs instead of panko? I seem to remember a low-carb show….a low calorie show. How about a GF show? Hire me to do it!!

Stop discriminating against us!!! (Ok so I’m not saying it’s discrimination…just saying it would be nice to cater to all dietary needs every once in a while.) I will continue to watch the Food Network like it’s my job…and continue to secretly dream that it really was.

And while on the topic of cooking…I have a recipe that you really must try…if you’ve never had quinoa – this is certainly a great way to eat it!

 

Big thanks to Gluten Hates Me for the recipe! Amazing GF recipes and a fantastic blog as well!

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As for the weigh-in – although slight, there was another loss this week.

 

Getting closer and closer to being under 200 for the first time in a long time…looking forward to celebrating that milestone with you!

 

Until then, you can find me in the kitchen…

 

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

– Harriet Van Horne

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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

Box Office Flop

Happy first week of June! My favorite month of the year…official start of summer. My birthday month. End of the fiscal year. Beach weather. My birthday month. 🙂

I had the displeasure of making a video of myself this week. Ugh…talk about a buzz kill. Video may have killed the radio star but it also killed my confidence.  (Hope to be able to share the reason for the video with you soon…don’t want to jinx myself.)

I have always had this weird quirk about my personality when it comes to people embarrassing themselves…often when they don’t mean to – but I cannot muster up enough courage to watch it…especially if I don’t know the person.  (I know – that’s so backwards.)  During American Idol I have to turn my head away from the television when someone sings – good or bad. During talent shows I have to hide my face I’m so anxious for the person auditioning. I don’t know what it is…it’s like I can feel their nerves. Sometimes I wonder if I’m more nervous than the person standing up there belting out a horrendous rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly”!

With that being said – when I have to watch myself on film, like I did this weekend, then forget it. I wanted to bury my head in the sand. I thought I had issues with myself in still shots…haha – you have no idea how bad it is in motion.  Voice doesn’t sound normal…and my appearance….Well – camera is not currently doing me any favors! Certainly wasn’t sitting there watching it play back thinking: “Damn, I’d shag me.”

Oh well…that’s what I’m here for, right?! To make baby steps to get to the point where I look amazing on screen…should I have the opportunity to get back on camera that is. Keep your fingers crossed!!! (Wink wink.)

So the scale….oh the scale. Four months in….and apparently we’re carrying the “baby step” theme right on through to the scale numbers. Down just a skosh…

Sorry – looks like I took this picture in dense fog…216.4 is the official number.

So glad that I picked the hottest week of my life to decide to set a goal to “start” working out….went for a walk a few days. No, wait…I didn’t walk for a few days – I went for a few walks….whatever – you get the point!  But this heat is craziness. I was sweating just thinking about walking outside and standing in the sun.

I did decide to bust out a little Shakeweight action this week….I can only imagine what that would have looked like on camera. I’m sure it would have been America’s Funniest Home Videos worthy. While it does look like the stupidest, most ignorant piece of exercise equipment on the market (2nd only to the Thighmaster of course) – I’m baffled to report that it actually works. (There’s a great how-to video on YouTube if you need it. Although the motion is pretty self explanatory.) And my torso is extremely sore.

Hold on…I just said my torso is sore…this is for arms…Ok, so very clearly I am doing it wrong. But it’s moving something around in there. Or just twisting it weird. Wow…I’ve always known I was uncoordinated…but too uncoordinated for a dumbbell you jiggle?! Only me!! 🙂

Week was relatively uneventful otherwise…Gluten is staying where it belongs…OUT of my digestive system. And I’ve had some great recipes again since the last post.  Alex at Natty’s outdid himself again…Fried Green Tomato (coated in cornstarch for a GF girl like me), topped with jalapeño pimento cheese, black eyed pea relish and a shrimp.  Delicious! This tasty morsel, ladies and gentleman, warranted a bigger mama slap than the pork belly!!

Love how this has started to turn into a GF food blog…oh well – at least I’m not gaining! So, Alex…and any other chef/cook that wants to make me their GF guinea pig – I welcome the challenge!!!  Bon appetit!

“A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.”  ~Author Unknown

A Lesson Learned…

First off…I want to thank all of you for your continued support. As of this morning, I’ve had over 3,020 visitors to my site and the number keeps growing! All the support, comments and encouragement I’ve received have me incredibly humbled. I feel like I’ve got over 3000 therapists out there waiting for me to spill my guts.  I may not always reply to each message I receive – but trust me, I read and reread them often. Thank you again for making this journey so worthwhile.

And now…a few mistakes I’ve made and lessons learned…

  • For some reason, almost all overweight African-American women get upset when you call them “Precious”
  • Only one person to a treadmill at the gym
  • It doesn’t help to get salad dressing on the side if you get three cups of it and use it all
  • All your clothes didn’t suddenly shrink in the wash
  • Brushing your teeth with Dr. Pepper isn’t such a good idea
  • A caramel apple a day doesn’t necessarily keep the doctor away
  • If you eat a meal replacement bar, you need to NOT eat a meal
  • There is no such thing as one bite of movie theater popcorn
  • Wheatgrass is a superfood; Peanut M&M’s are not
  • Personal trainers generally don’t like to be paid with a bucket of loose change
  • Playing on Facebook for eight hours is not the same as sleeping for eight hours
  • You’re probably supposed to eat 2,000 calories per day, not 20,000
  • Free samples aren’t necessarily free
  • Most employers don’t recognize a “Vitamin D break,” so I guess you need to take up smoking in order to get a little sunlight during the day
  • Despite the word Diet in its name – the Hot Dog Diet is not effective
  • Standing up while eating does not make your food digest faster – it makes you look stupid at dinner parties
  • Even though hemorrhoid/hydrocortisone cream is often used by body builders and fitness models to tighten up their abs before a photo shoot – it does not work if there are no abs to rub it on…But it does relieve itching
  • Fun-size candy bars = No-fun-size thighs

I did lose weight this week…a little bit anyway. So close to the 30 pound mark!

But this week was extremely tough for me. I am in the midst of severe meltdowns. Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m so pissed off that I my convenient life is gone. I’m ticked off that I have to be so OCD about everywhere I go – questioning what idiot line cook might have touched my food immediately after grabbing a hamburger bun. I’m feeling like I’m going to have to be a hermit. Feeling like family functions are going to be impossible unless I’ve sat every family member down for a 2-week seminar on what I can and can’t eat and ways to avoid cross-contamination. So yes, I am pouting. I just want a freaking Ritz cracker!!!

In the back of my mind, I know I need to get over it. I know this could be much worse. (Thank you Wx DA for reminding me of that this weekend.) I can still live my life with relative ease. There are soldiers back from Afghanistan who have lost limbs. Their lives will never be the same. I can eat rice crackers to get over my poutiness about gluten…they don’t have an alternative option. Cutting gluten out of a diet has not killed anyone (that I know of anyway). Time to put my big girl panties (ugh – can’t believe I just used that word) on and keep going. Bitching about it night and day is certainly not going to change the diagnosis. And thus…another lesson learned.

Despite being accidentally gluten’d on Friday night – I have found that going places where I’ve got a personal relationship with the cooking staff makes a huge difference. I’d like to give props to one chef in particular, who despite thinking I was doing this gluten-free diet for fun at first (not sure who the hell does this for fun), has since made me some amazing gluten-free treats.  If you’re ever in Greensboro – Alex at Natty Greene’s makes some amazing dishes on the fly. Favorite so far: Greek chicken, homemade cucumber sauce (best I’ve ever had), and sliced cherry tomatoes on top of a cucumber slice…you will seriously want to slap your momma!

Ok…so after reading that last paragraph…maybe this isn’t so bad after all. Despite my occasional Dorthea Dix worthy tantrums, I’m being forced to eat better…my weight is dropping…I’m at the receiving end of a few amazing test dishes at a restaurant…and I still feel more amazing than I have in a long time. So Celiac…Bring. It. On.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” ~Unknown