Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Journey Of Health

Some of you already know why I wrote my cookbook, but for others new to me or this website, here is my story and point of view as I share them in the Introduction section of my book:

I love good food and I especially love dessert.

But, a number of years ago, I learned that I, and others in my family, had serious food intolerances that knocked out most of our favorite things. Foods like pasta with creamy sauces, pizza, breads, pies and chocolate cake. Living without these for the rest of our lives just wouldn’t do.

So, I got creative. I experimented. People started saying “Oh! I really want that recipe” and telling me about relatives or friends who couldn’t eat dairy or gluten or both. They didn’t know what to cook for dinner or any meal for that matter. Many told me I should write a cookbook.

Over the past 10 years I have recreated favorite dishes, desserts, muffins and sauces to taste great and at the same time to be healthy. This book contains recipes to make real foods that don’t just fill our stomachs but feed our bodies’ systems so that they can function the way they were intended to. All of these recipes exclude gluten, the protein in wheat, casein, the protein in dairy, lactose, and refined sugars.

In recent years, more people are realizing that there is a real connection between the foods we are eating and the pandemic increase of obesity and disease. The focus has moved beyond the low-calorie, low-fat diet to seeking a level of nutrition that will help address symptoms like problematic digestion, brain fog, low energy, headaches and even aggressive behavior in children, mood swings in adults and inflammation which makes us susceptible to arthritis and disease. We know that medication is not always the answer. Not only are we understanding the dramatic way food affects us, we’re discovering that a large part of the equation involves eating gluten-free, dairy-free and free of refined sugars.

In my own experience with family and friends we have seen the dramatic, undeniable effects, both good and bad, caused by what we eat. For example, we have witnessed the most remarkable improvement in aggressive behavior and other autistic symptoms by simply removing gluten, dairy and, in some cases, eggs from the diet of autistic children. This has made the difference between not being able to cope socially and now being able to go to school and be successful. Knowing what to eat, what not to eat and why, has made all the difference.

So many of the people I come across now eat gluten-free, dairy-free or both. Most also recognize the need to lower their intake of sugar. But we still want to eat the delicious foods we love like lasagna, fettuccine with creamy garlic sauce, luscious quiches, moist, flavorful muffins and soft, warm cookies fresh out of the oven. Those packaged ones from the health food stores just don’t cut it! What we need is a new version of these foods that is healthy. So, let’s compare chocolate chip cookies.

When we replace regular chocolate chip cookies with my healthy ones, we have a cookie that will fuel the body instead of wage war against it. The traditional chocolate chip cookie is made of bleached, processed white flour, refined white sugar, refined brown sugar and the unhealthy forms of fat from butter, margarine and shortening (some of which are hydrogenated). Not only are these devoid of any nutritional value, ALL of these ingredients wreck havoc on our bodies.

Happily, my chocolate chip cookies are made of almond meal (100% almonds, a valuable, nutritious food high in protein and omega 3 and omega 6), coconut flour (very high in fiber, low in carbs, metabolized as energy not fat, and a good source of protein), coconut palm sugar (natural and low on the glycemic index and high in nutrients), agave nectar (a natural plant derived sweetener with an equally low glycemic index) and grapeseed oil (one of the healthiest, beneficial oils with a very high smoke point).

Here, you have a delicious cookie, which is also a nutritious food. Even people who are not “healthy eaters” love them and can’t tell that they are gluten-free, dairy-free and free of refined sugar. Another great example is my Black Bean Brownies; their main ingredient is an entire can of black beans. My elegant Chicken de Provence sauce is creamy and rich but it’s made out of cauliflower!

Who would have thought that getting a diagnosis that meant being restricted from eating breads, cheese, creamy sauces and rich chocolate desserts would lead to so much good and benefit so many people? But that is what has happened. I believe that even in difficult circumstances, there is a purpose and a blessing. My circumstances led to this cookbook. It’s been an adventure to learn a “clean” way of eating by replacing the “foods” we used to eat with real foods that have none of the detrimental, unhealthy baggage.

And now, I want to share this with others. It has been my privilege and pleasure to compile a book of delicious, healthful recipes in a variety of categories from “comfort foods” and family favorites, to foods we thought we would never be able to eat again, and even more elegant, festive dishes. My hope is that this collection, along with my blog, will help you and your family to improve and preserve your health and quality of life while enjoying the foods you love for the seasons you celebrate. Let’s put the joy back into cooking and eating, free of the stuff that makes us sick...Delightfully Free!


About Delightfully Free: Delightfully Free is a gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cookbook of 141 recipes. It includes delicious resources for autism, celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity and just plain healthy living. It contains 114 color photographs, 114 vegetarian or vegetarian compatible recipes, and 103 vegan or vegan compatible recipes.