If you spend any appreciable time around me, sooner or later – usually sooner – you’re going to end up eating SANE food, or at the very least watching me eat SANE food. Sharing a meal with others almost invariably segueways into curious questions about why I don’t eat grains or sugar, and why I just asked for double veggies and no starch. I have no shame or embarrassment about how I chose to eat, and I don’t give a flying fig what others opinions of my food choices are. Clearly it works really well for me, and because I make no apology for my actions I have found people are much more intrigued than they are critical. Come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone ever telling me that what I do food-wise is not healthy. The results speak for themselves.
“Don’t you like potato / bread / cake / rice / pasta / name your favorite starch or sweet treat?” I’ve been asked on countless occasions. “Yes, but I don’t eat it” is my reply.
Wildman made the mistake of saying to me, soon after we met, “So if you don’t eat grains, or wheat, or sugar, or pasta, or rice, or potatoes, what is there left? What do you eat then? I can’t just eat grilled chicken and salad every day for the rest of my life.”
Instead of just reeling off a list of all the things I do eat and excitedly telling him how delicious they are, I decided to show him. It’s really not effective to tell people how tasty vegetables are if their only experience of vegetables is awful. Over the course of the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve shown him. After a bowl of SANE ice cream, a SANE muffin, or any number of SANE meals, I say, “This is what I eat.”
There’s a very common misconception that healthy food must be tasteless and icky. On the contrary, when people try my SANE creations they typically tell me that it tastes better than the regular stuff they have eaten all their lives. I’ve lost count of the number of times Wildman and others (and you!) have exclaimed, “Wow! That’s the best XXXX I’ve ever eaten”, or “That muffin was better than any muffin I’ve ever had” or “OMGee that ice cream is absolutely incredible!” Slowly but surely people come to realize that truly healthy food tastes fantastic.
I was careful not to ram all this down Wildman’s throat. I wanted him to make an informed decision about his own health. And I didn’t want him to take my word for it, so I gave him a copy of The Calorie Myth and let him work through it in his own time and in his own way. It was very early on in the book, and while we were in Whistler, that he suddenly announced, “I don’t want to be fat anymore.” So he promptly named his belly Hugh (an amalgamation of ‘huge’ and ‘you’) and determined that Hugh’s demise was forthcoming.Over the next month as he read The Calorie Myth, he asked more and more questions about the food he should be eating, how to read labels, and how I put together recipes. I invited him over for The Friday Night Dinners – when I rustle up new SANE recipes and have someone over to taste test them before I unleash them on the world. By the time Thanksgiving was over he was asking me to show him how to cook some of my recipes, and a week later he was making up shopping lists of SANE staples to fill his kitchen with. He bought my cookbooks and a Vitamix. He was all in. He was ready. Wildman goes SANE.
He toddled off to the Doctor to get his blood work done, and hung out with a tape measure for a few moments so he could track his progress. Bear in mind that these numbers are a month into eating more and more SANEly, so they are likely better than they would have been had he done it earlier.
Weight: 214 lbs (Although we all know that it is not a good indicator of health, I know you all want to see the numbers. Many of you are changing to a *SANE lifestyle primarily to lose body fat and reduce your size.)
Around naval: 44″
BP: 140 / 84
Total Cholesterol: 194
Glucose: 117 (fasting)
Wildman is now committed to a SANE lifestyle. I’ll be posting an update from Wildman every week on things he’s noticed, things he learned, what he has struggled with, and how he’s feeling. Let’s watch his numbers and cheer him on as he goes!
PS. He says I can post before and after pictures at the end, but not at the beginning.
After 7 (!) Thanksgivings spent on the couch with a pile of kitties, a pile of movies, a warm, fluffy blanket, and a pile of turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches, Thanksgiving 2014 took a bit of a U-turn. Yep. It’s true. There was more than one human in the house on Turkey Day this year. Wild. Wildman to be precise.
Like me, Wildman has no family anywhere close by except for his outrageously funny mother who is in her nineties and lives in a delightful retirement community just down the road. Given that she has the capacity for not much more than an hour of exciting activity at a time, that left Wildman with about 12 hours to kill while most people were cooking up a storm with family and friends. Being the good friend that I strive to be, I invited him to hang out – with the couch, the kitties, the movies, the warm, fluffy blanket, but without the pile of turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches. Wildman is embarking on his own adventure towards a *SANE lifestyle, so I didn’t want to encourage him to derail just because it was a holiday.
Given that he would be having a turkey-fest with his mother mid-afternoon, I really only needed to provide one hearty dish of comfort food that could be consumed while movie-watching. I remembered Wildman mentioning – while we were on a label-reading training session at Trader Joe’s the previous week – that he had never bought a cauliflower. In his life. I am sure you can imagine the reaction that he got from the girl that “favors strange vegetables”.
Thus it was an obvious choice when determining what to make to fuel the movie-fest. It had to be cauliflower. However, I had to ensure that his first foray into the world of white cruciferousness was a winner if he was to be encouraged to dabble in those waters a second time.
I’d seen several recipes for variations of twice-baked cauliflower floating around the interwebs, and it seemed like that might be a good entry point into the world of cauliflower. So here’s my version. I made it ‘loaded’ because in my experience anything with sour cream, cheese, bacon, and scallions added cannot possibly be bad.
It’s heavy on the fat – because we’re not afraid of fat over here – but if that bothers you feel free to use low-fat cream cheese and non-fat sour cream instead of the full-fat varieties.
Leave the cream cheese (still in its packet) out of the ‘fridge overnight. This will make it much easier to use the next day.
Cook the cauliflower and bacon ahead of time and keep in the ‘fridge. This makes assembling the dish really fast the day that you need it.
The verdict? Wildman ate 1 lb. of cauliflower on Thanksgiving.
As I pried my peepers open one Sunday a few weeks back, and blinked slowly at the sunlight streaming in through the periwinkle sheers gently waving in the breeze from the air vents, I concluded that a miracle was occurring. For the second late-Fall weekend day in a row the sky was a brilliant shade of deep blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. At least not the bits of sky I could see from my supine position with a sea of blankets drawn up to my chin. I reached one arm out from under the covers and felt around the nightstand for my phone to verify that I wasn’t dreaming. And there it was, bold as brass on Weather.com: confirmation that I needed to haul my a** out of bed and go play.
First stop was a Big Breakfast Adventure in Ballard. I’d brunched at Bastille in times past – before my journey to *SANEity began, so I knew the food was good, I just needed to discover how *SANE it could be.
EGGS EN COCOTTE: Eggs baked in cast iron with Skagit River ham, kale, bechamel & aged Comte. With a side of bacon. And a cup of peppermint tea thrown in for good measure. Got to keep your liquids up.
So there you have it – *SANE right out of the gate, no substitutions needed. Admittedly there were not a lot of options that could be classified as wholly SANE, but I am confident that Bastille would have been more than happy to oblige some starch sub-outs. I made that word up. You know what I mean.
The ambiance at Bastille is as delicious as the food, and in the colder months the fire is so delightful. One of the best things about Bastille, though, is it’s location, with heavy wood and glass doors opening right onto the Ballard Farmers Market. It was a most perfect day to stroll amongst the stalls piled high with all manner of edibles from around Seattle – veggies to oysters, fruits to caramels, salmon to cranberry juice, wine to pickles. Wreaths, handmade leather journals, artisan jewelry, soaps, felted wool slippers. It’s all thatas far as Farmers Markets go.
Imagine the sparkling sunshine, being wrapped up in scarves and mittens against the crisp Fall air, and a hat crammed on your head. Come stroll with me.
There were samples galore. The smoked salmon and the cranberry juice – sugar-free! oh! my! taste buds! – were the highlights of the samplings. Oh, and the cheese. The cheese samples were goooooood.
I reveled in the cheery chatter, the smiling faces, and the easy-like-Sunday-morning feeling. Farmers Markets, I believe, are good for the mind, body, and soul.
The first Friday Night Dinner, which was a few weeks ago now, involved a whole bunch of herbs. There was sage and thyme in the Sage and Onion Pork, more thyme in the Celery Leek Stir-fry, and then tarragon added liberally to the green beans. I do love me some herbage – they can transform ordinary to awesome with a swift shake of the spice jar or chop, chop, chop of the knife. I like fresh best, but dried have their place in the kitchen, especially in winter when the Marmalade HQ herb garden has gone into hibernation. I’m already missing being able to toddle out onto the terrace to pluck fresh leaves, and my purse is groaning at the cost of buying fresh from the store. Roll on, Spring!
You can get the Celery Leek Stir-fry recipe in my Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides Cookbook. Actually, it is the recipe that graces the cover of the book. I discovered when I concocted the recipe last December that celery makes leeks better. I know, right?! Did you have any notion that was even possible? Me either. I love good surprises.
Let’s get back to the green beans. This recipe is – as many of the best are – very simple. A few ingredients, a few minutes of cooking.
Wildman, who was that particular Friday Night Dinners guinea pig has a penchant for green beans that runs very deep. I don’t know the back story – I just know that he loves them. I wanted to see if I could make him love them even more, and apparently I succeeded as he is still talking about these green beans several weeks later. I do love it when my food makes people happy, but really I can take no credit for slinging a few tasty things in a pan and heating them up.
I’ll be the first to admit that green beans are not my favorite, but since tarragon makes my heart beat a little faster and my nostrils perk right up, I was banking on me ending the night liking green beans a little bit more. I was not disappointed.
Pork, it seems to me, is entirely underrated, more often than not waiting idly in the wings while chicken and beef take center stage. Unless we’re talking bacon, of course. Everyone knows that everything tastes better with bacon, and given free rein a lot of us would gleefully eat bacon at every meal. When it comes to underrated I was thinking more of pork chops and pork dishes using other cuts.
So for the first Friday Night Dinner I decided it had to be pork, especially since Wildman was coming over and that man eats, in my opinion, far too much chicken. It t is true, though, that he is a masterful chicken griller, so I can see the appeal. He has a grill the size of a small kitchen island right there on his front deck and it seems like every time I catch him cooking dinner, he’s grilling up a chicken breast. At least he now has some SANE BBQ Sauce to spread all over it.
The idea of sage came to me while I was out exploring the Yakima River. It was a beautiful, clear late Fall day as I strolled over the suspension bridge, complete with hat, ski gloves, and a jacket built to withstand temperatures of minus 30. Yes, it was a tad nippy. I started into the canyon where everything was covered with a thick, sparkling frost, and hiked in the wintry sunshine. The air was heavily scented with sage, the cold air filling my nostrils with its sweet, woody aroma. I gathered up a bunch of sage and put it on the dashboard over the heater vent. I still get the most glorious wafts of gentle sage drifting up my nose as I drive. Thanks, Wildman – sage on the dashboard is a mighty fine idea.
And really, that was all it took. Sage it would be.
I served this simple Sage and Onion Pork with Tarragon Green Beans, and Celery Leek Stir-fry (coming soon!) Wildman was Happyman afterwards, especially over the green beans. He said they were the best green beans he’s ever eaten, and boy! he’s had a lot of green beans in his time.