I am excited to be part of the continuing 30 Days to a Food Revolution blogging event initiated by Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution to make a difference, she asked 30 different bloggers to share ways to shift from processed foods or unhealthy foods to the foods our bodies need and love. From April 26-June 4, her blog was filled with these amazing bloggers sharing their wisdom, and it was such a pleasure to read! Since the event was such a hit, Diane wanted to extend the event past the original 30 days and recruited more bloggers to contribute for ongoing posts. I happily volunteered, and am so excited to be contributing to the growing real food movement.
My tip: Embrace change and shake it up.
My recipe: Raw Strawberry "Milk"Shake
Everyday, I try to shake it up a bit. Maybe I sit in a different bus seat. Maybe I jazz up an old dress with a new belt. Maybe I try out a new recipe. Sometimes it is a larger decision, like choosing to take part in a new volunteer event, starting a new writing project, or making changes to my educational or work timeline. Anyone who knows me will tell you: I thrive on change.
When I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and intolerances, a Candida albicans overgrowth, and chronic Lyme Disease, I was forced to confront a lot of changes. Not the least of these changes was reinventing my diet - I needed to eliminate gluten, sugar, yeast, and my many allergens, and make a full transition to whole foods cooking. I knew I had two choices: fight change and be miserable, or embrace change and discover joy in the unexpected.
In short? I could either get crabby or get creative.
Thankfully, I chose the latter, and dove headlong into my new diet plan. I already had so many dietary restrictions to work around, the last thing I needed was to further limit myself because I was picky or ignorant of my options! I started impulsively buying the "weird looking" vegetables I generally passed by in the grocery store. I started asking farmers at the farmers market what they like to do with stuff I didn't recognize. I bought a copy of Rebecca Wood's brilliant book The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia and read it cover-to-cover (she just published an updated version, lucky you!). I researched ethnic cuisines and new flavor combinations. I frequented ethnic grocery storess. I tried out different gluten-free flours and whole grains. And I started reading food blogs and buying more cookbooks, constantly searching for new inspiration.
I embraced change. I embraced newness. I threw out preconceived notions and redefined my own dietary patterns. Most importantly, the changes in my diet corresponded to changes in my health. Symptoms that troubled me for years faded away completely, or at least became manageable rather than debilitating. Each day I felt better was motivation to continue on my path. Whole food is powerful medicine, and it can feed the body, mind and spirit in amazing ways.
This journey, however, has not been with struggles and flops. It is hard to go to parties and restaurants, and I've made my fair share of recipes that don't make the cut. But has anything been so horrible that I just never recovered from the trauma? No! Did anyone get hurt because of my culinary endeavors? Nope! Did I learn something every time? Absolutely! Have I become a better cook? You bet! Has changing my diet saved my life? YES!
I know, I know, newness and change can be scary. But let's be honest - sometimes life is scary too! Every day brings changes, and we never know what is going to happen. Change is around every bend; get comfortable with it. Gather your courage, walk over to that garlic scape, that rutabaga, or that fresh organic chicken liver, and pick it up with confidence. You can change your diet and in turn, you can change your life. It starts with the moment you allow yourself to open your mind, think outside the box, and get more comfortable with uncertainty.
Ten ways to shake it up in the kitchen and embrace change:
In the spirit of shakin' it up, I'm sharing a recipe with you today that was born of total experimentation. Ireally wanted a shake one night, but didn't have any non-dairy milk, coconut milk, or any kind of non-dairy ice cream. I looked through my fridge and pantry for white and creamy things, found a jicama, and decided to give it a shot. Much to my delight, it turned out great. It is creamy and sweet, but is totally free of dairy, sugar, and grains. It's even raw! Ah yes, this shake has become one of my favorite nourishing treats, and I'm excited to drink it all summer long.
I hope you find courage in the kitchen and trust yourself to shake it up, starting with this tasty shake. Let's raise a glass and have a toast to Real Food!
Inspired? Here are more allergy-friendly, whole foods strawberry recipes:
Yield: about 2 cups
This raw "milk"shake is sweet, creamy, and thick, and full of awesome food energy. It provides a balanced mix of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates, and is a nourishing light breakfast or guilt-free treat. Feel free to elaborate on this basic idea and make it your own. For example, my mom uses banana instead of soaked nuts, ginger tea in place of water, and omits the chia and maca entirely, and absolutely loves it. If you have it, maca powder adds a malty flavor that makes it more like a traditional strawberry malt; it also adds energy boosting nutrients vitamins, and minerals. If you don't have it, no worries, it will still be delicious!
1 cup strawberries
1 cup peeled, chopped jicama
2 tsp chia seeds
optional: 1/2 tsp maca powder
15-20 drops liquid stevia, to taste (plain or vanilla flavor)
1/4 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring or 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 cup raw cashews or almonds (preferably soaked 2-4 hours), or 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/4 cup water
6 ice cubes
Place all ingredients except ice cubes in a blender, and blend on high until smooth. Let sit a couple of minutes to allow chia seeds to absorb moisture and thicken the mixture. Then add ice cubes and blend on high until smooth. Serve immediately. Original recipe by Kim Christensen of Affairs of Living.