Post 90 – What’s cooking

photo 3(32)

In my last post, I declared my intention to following a low FODMAP diet – no onions, garlic, stone fruits, avocados, wheat, lactose… the list goes on. I was determined to stick to this diet for the sake of feeling better and I was determined to share all of these creative and exciting recipes with you, but that hasn’t happened. I have been eating low FODMAP (with a few moments of weakness here and there), but I have mostly been relying on resources for recipes from other people’s blogs so I have not been re-posting them here. Keeping meals simple (but still delicious) has been my focus, as well as eating slowly, deliberately, and smaller, more frequent meals.

I am also continually reminded that nothing exists in isolation to the rest of the world. While certain foods may trigger my symptoms, there are other factors that play a role as well – stress, good relationships or lack of good relationships, satisfaction with life, and good or bad habits. Not everything can be improved with a quick change of diet and so I have begun to consider these other outside aspects as well in searching for ultimate health. I’m sorry that I haven’t shared exciting recipes or revelations, but I appreciate you sticking with me despite my challenges.

Despite not being able to always cook and eat what I love, I have still been cooking for others. Here are some photos of what I’ve been up to lately. For a food truck’s staff party that I catered:

photo 2(35)My signature pasta salad, potato and chive salad, summer fruit salad, roasted skirt steak with herb butter, and spinach, peach and feta salad with sweet onion dressing.

 

photo 1(38)

My mom’s brownie recipe (on a larger scale)

photo 4(22)

For the family whose home I cook in three times a week…

photo 2(34)Baked pork potstickers – made in mini muffin pans for ease of cooking and fun eating for kids. They turned out great!

photo 1(37)With some green peas and dipping sauce on the side

 

photo 3(31)Green veggie risotto with chicken sausages. Yum!

 

And last but not least, I have started doing some health and nutrition centered bulletin boards at the school where I work to provide some colorful and educational information about food. Here is my September board:

photo 4(21)Unfortunately I think the picture I took is a little crooked, but I am happy with how it turned out!

Have a wonderful weekend. Fall is coming!

 

Post 89 – Pineapple Pulled Pork

Welcome to my first official low FODMAP recipe – this delicious and easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

photo 1(36)

First things first, many recipes for meats or stews call for either garlic or onion or both, but both of these foods are fructans (from the F in FODMAP) and seem to be one of the highest offenders in the FODMAP group. Therefore low FODMAP recipes mean

No garlic

No onion

photo 1(35)

These two ingredients form the base of so many savory recipes, providing that umami flavor that is hard to replace. Do you know how many sauces, broths, and condiments already contain onion or garlic? Start reading labels and you will see that everything from ketchup to Worcestershire sauce to chicken broth all have at least one of these ingredients.

photo 2(32)

Since garlic and onion are found in nearly everything, to avoid them you often have to make your own sauces or go without. This recipe for pulled pork gets its flavors from the mix of spices (be careful of spice blends that contain onion and garlic), and some sweetness from natural pineapple juice. And the best part about slow cooker recipes is that they’re usually pretty hands-off.

photo 4(19)

Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Pork

inspired by this recipe

2 T. canola oil

3-4 lb. piece of pork butt/pork shoulder

1 T. brown sugar

2 tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup water

Begin by heating up the canola oil in your slow cooker on the “brown/saute” setting if you have it. If not you can either skip browning it or brown it in a pan on the stove. While it is heating up, in a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, salt, and spices. If desired, cut your pork down into 2 or 3 manageable pieces and remove any large slabs of fat on the outside. Rub your spice mixture all over the pork (you may not need all of it). When the slow cooker is sufficiently hot, add your spice-rubbed pork allowing it to brown on one side without moving it for a few minutes. You want a nice, crisp, brown exterior. Using tongs, carefully flip it over to brown the other side and cook for a few minutes (if you cut your pork into multiple pieces you’ll get more crispy, browned bits). If desired, flip to brown all sides (even the ends). Once browned turn the setting to low and add your pineapple juice and water. Cover and cook for 7-8 hours or until pork is tender and falling apart. Serve with barbeque sauce. OR For a stronger barbeque flavor, drain the juice after the pork is done cooking and add 1.5-2 cups of barbeque sauce. Let cook for another hour and taste.

Note: I found that though the pork was fairly tender after 8 hours in my slow cooker, I could’ve left it even longer (though I left mine in one piece from the beginning).

photo 3(29)

Remove from the slow cooker and shred. If desired, pour some of the juices over the pork or discard. Serve with your favorite barbeque sauce.

I paired mine with homemade gluten free cornbread found here (made with bacon grease) and low FODMAP barbeque sauce (although the pork is so good by itself you don’t need any sauce!)

photo 3(30)

photo 2(33)

Our upstairs neighbor brought us over some beautiful tomatoes from her community garden plot and we threw those in with our salad.

photo 4(20)

Yum! This was a delicious and low FODMAP meal, though the tomatoes might have been a little too acidic for me in the end. If this is the case for you, the pulled pork is totally delicious on its own without any sauces.

Bon appetit!

Post 88 – Prioritizing Health

If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t been feeling as well as I could lately. I love to eat and always have, but my love for food has begun to take priority over my health. My discomfort has been mostly internal, which makes it easier to hide and easier to deny. I am the one to experience all of the symptoms and whether or not other people around me are affected depends mostly on my experience of the symptoms. Is it bad enough that I am complaining constantly and no fun to be around, or do I discreetly hide my discomfort with a weak smile? Having digestive distress is embarrassing and awkward to have to explain to people. No one likes to talk about bodily functions (and dysfunctions) and no one wants to hear about yours. Yet if it affects your daily life, your social interactions, and your meals it is tough to avoid.

Since the fall of 2012 I have struggled with what first manifested itself as acid reflux symptoms, which I initially dealt with through medication. I have since decided that this approach is not sustainable and healthy in the long term. After doing a lot of research and reflection I have realized that I must change my approach to food and eating in order to change the way I feel. Eating should be about balance as well as pleasure Рnourishing your body and your spirit through the consumption of food, but also the company of others. When I am sad and alone I fill that sadness with food. When I am surrounded by those I love and I can appreciate the moment, food loses the center of attention. I can focus on being with people that are important to me while also savoring a meal. When I let my guard down, I convince myself that eating whatever I want (especially if everyone else is doing it) is okay despite the consequences that come later. Though I have tried several different remedies to alleviate my symptoms from medicine to eating gluten free to eliminating seemingly every category of good food, I still have not found the solution.

One category of foods I have been reading about for the past several months is a group of poorly digested carbohydrates known as FODMAPs. These foods are found across nearly all food groups, except animal proteins – wheat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, sweeteners, and beans and can cause digestive distress in certain people. My next step is to try eating a low FODMAP diet to see if these foods are the problem in addition to focusing on portion, context (am I really hungry or does that food just look good?), and stress.

I am sharing all of this information with you because I want to feel better and I need your support. My love for food has caused me to prioritize the pleasure I get from eating over my health (and the discomfort that comes later).

In taking the next step, I will focus on these goals:

1) following a low FODMAP diet

2) listening to my body to determine when I am hungry and when to slow down

3) finding ways to relax and be stress-free when eating (as much as possible) to allow for proper digestion

The weeks surrounding my wedding I enjoyed wonderful food, surroundings, and love from my family and friends. At the time I wanted to be able to fully enjoy those foods without restricting myself too much. Now the celebration has ended (though the happiness continues!) and I must recognize that prioritizing my health over my stubborn desire to eat whatever I want is a necessity.

As I’m beginning to learn, my problems come from not only what I am eating, but also how much and how often. One of the toughest challenges is adapting a healthy lifestyle within American cultural standards as we are a nation constantly on the go and eating junk. If you struggle with food issues, I invite you to reflect on the emotions surrounding food in your life and what you can do to change them. This is your one life to live.

Thank you for your support in this journey. I look forward to sharing my low FODMAP recipes in the near future!