Archive for June, 2018

June 27, 2018

What’s Your Favorite Summer Cover-Up?

What’s your favorite summer cover-up? It’s summer & time for the beach. You may have a beach cover-up, but what about your food? Sometimes it can use a good cover-up too!

As we approach the 4th of July, I’m dreaming of slow cooked ribs, smoked pork butt, burgers blackened on the grill, salmon and corn covered in grill marks, and because it’s hot, ice cream for dessert! All of these are delicious simply seasoned with herbs and spices, but this year I think I’d rather slather them until they’re covered in sticky goodness. 
grill
The question is, what cover-up will I choose for a rack of tender ribs? Actually, I may cheat on this one. My lawn care man has promised to deliver a sample of his newly created BBQ sauce. He describes it as tangy & spicy. Those are the qualities I prefer in BBQ sauce and his is getting rave reviews from friends.

Purists may prefer only Memphis-style dry rub on their ribs. I like them rubbed and then basted with a thick sauce that caramelizes on the edges. This only applies to ribs. I want my pork butt covered up after it’s put on my plate if I cover it at all.

For variety, I like mango salsa or sauce, you might prefer apple, apricot, peach, plum, or strawberry. I want to try a cherry based sauce or possibly a mixture of sweet cherries and raspberry. In my head, pineapple sounds like a good compliment to cherries and raspberry, but I’ll have to do a taste test to see if it works like I think it will. Orange might work better.

Moving on to the pork butt, I think I’ll shred the meat and cover it with slaw. Mayonnaise and vinegar cabbage coleslaw is probably the most common version served with pulled pork. I’m going to use my mom’s vinegar coleslaw recipe.

Mom’s Cabbage Slaw

2 large heads of cabbage, shredded
6 or 7 white or red onions, grated or finely minced
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 3/4 cups salad oil
1 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons celery seed
Fresh ground black pepper

In large bowl, combine cabbage onion, sugar, and salt. Toss and set aside.

In saucepan, combine oil, vinegar, dry mustard, and celery seed and bring to boil.

Once cabbage has produced juice (about 5 minutes), drain it through a colander, then place in large bowl. Pour the boiling dressing mixture over drained cabbage. Add fresh ground black pepper and toss with a fork.

Allow to sit until cool. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours prior to serving.

I’m going to keep the burgers homestyle as well by mixing Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning into the meat. Homestyle? Well, not for everybody, but this blend of 13 spices and seasonings originated in my hometown and was always in our pantry. When I was a kid, a glass jar of Cavender’s was a standard Christmas gift for relatives who lived far away and could not purchase it in their local stores. I don’t think they have the glass jars anymore, but the seasoning is still tasty. For a light touch, I’ll serve the burgers with thinly sliced seedless cucumbers and tzatziki.

Honey glazed salmon sounds appealing. Salmon can handle some strong flavors. I often feel like what I’m served in restaurants is under seasoned. A good dose of salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon or lime along with the honey should give me moist, full-flavored salmon.

I really can’t think of a better cover-up for corn than butter. If the corn is sweet & fresh, I’ll skip the salt and just use salted butter. Anything else seems to detract rather than enhance.

Now, for dessert! Obviously, there are hundreds of ice cream topping choices. I prefer fresh fruit or chocolate or a combination of the two, but rather than limit my friends to my choices, it’s easy to set out small dishes of shredded coconut, a variety of chopped nuts, cookie pieces, cereal, fruit and chocolate sauce. I make them all gluten-free so I can enjoy any leftovers.

Truthfully, most of this is long-term planning. This 4th comes on the heels of too many months of family caregiving to make the actual execution sound appealing. I think I’ll choose a mindless float in the pool. Nonetheless, I’m excited about the ideas!

The 4th of July will come around again next year. Maybe that will be a good time to invite a few friends over to enjoy a favorite summer cover-up!

https://greekseasoning.com/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=cole+slaw

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

June 19, 2018

Notice What Feels Good to Improve the Feeling in Your Gut

When you’re in distress, it’s hard to notice what feels good. If your head hurts, it draws your attention. If your tummy hurts, it draws your attention. If you suffer a loss, the resulting sadness, emptiness and fear draw your attention. When four or five difficult things happen during a short period of time, the feeling in your gut may be so stressful it can become increasingly difficult to notice what feels good.

I suppose it’s the same phenomenon as the squeaky wheel. If some part of us is screaming for attention, that’s where our energy goes. Unfortunately, over a long period of time this shift in focus can become a habit. When the focus on distress becomes intolerable, we tend to do anything we can to avoid feeling it. We often numb ourselves with work, shopping, sex, exercise, binge-watching, gaming, alcohol, or drugs.

Is there a way to feel the good in the midst of hardship?

You’ll find a lot of things written about practicing gratitude. I’ve written some myself. You’ll find a lot of information about being present in the moment. You’ll find resources on showing up authentically and practicing vulnerability. You’ll hear psychological professionals toss around the term self-care. You’ll hear religious leaders espouse prayer. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There is merit to all of these practices, but if you’re white-knuckling yourself into doing them, you may need to go backward to go forward.

Over the past few years as I’ve become able to sit still, able to practice yoga, able to know that intellectual insight will follow trusting my body’s signals, I have become increasingly aware that ease, comfort, stability, and balance are often present when I slow down and shift my focus.

After noticing a feeling of tension in my back, I may notice a feeling of ease in my right abdomen. If I hold onto that feeling of ease, I may feel my back relax. When I feel anger or agitation begin to bubble up, I may notice that synchronizing my movement and breathing causes the tension to quickly dissipate. Remembering that when some part of my body is working, another part is at ease allows me to shift my focus to notice ease more often.

It is this noticing of physical ease and comfort that helps me unknot the discomfort in other parts of my body. The unknotting of my mind always follows. Yes, always. The shift is often tiny. The key is making the space to notice. It is in the noticing that I reconnect with my body. It is in the noticing that I reconnect with real emotions. It is through breathing that I build resilience, confidence, and safety.

Notice that the only connection here is with myself? Notice there is no analysis required? Notice that I don’t try to figure anything out? Notice that I am not forcing myself to do anything? I can simply breathe and notice. Breathe and notice. Breathe and notice.

I have gone back to absolute basics. It sounds so simple. It is and it isn’t. If you’re like me and surrender feels like giving up, it’s one of the hardest concepts in the world! It has literally taken me years to even begin to surrender and I am still a beginner.

If you stabilize your world through control, hold your breath, or muscle through difficult situations, this post may seem like the most ludicrous thing you’ve ever read. When you reach the point that all of that muscling through leaves you with anxiety and constant panic, come back. Read it again.

The bottom line is, yes there is a way to feel good during hardship. It comes from what some would call receiving. That term confuses me, so I’ll call it noticing — noticing breath, ease, comfort, accomplishment, a feeling of solidness your legs provide, a feeling of strength, a feeling of contribution, a feeling of connection, a feeling of competence, a feeling of possibility, and a feeling of power.

When you’re noticing those things, you are not noticing a feeling of tension, a feeling of heaviness, a feeling of pain, a feeling of sadness, a feeling of loss, a feeling of fatigue, a feeling of panic, a feeling of overwhelm, a feeling of anger, a feeling of powerlessness, a feeling of helplessness, a feeling of loneliness, a feeling of worthlessness, a feeling of doom, a feeling of bracing for the next shoe to drop, etc.

You are not wrong for feeling any of these things, but in an odd way, noticing the opposites will allow you to stop avoiding, fighting, numbing, or trying to move away from “negative” feelings (feelings are feelings and all are okay). All feelings can then move freely instead of remaining stuck in our physiology and psyche.

How all of this works is understudied, but we are learning that yoga practiced specifically to reconnect trauma patients with their bodies affects change in their brain scans. We are also learning that gut neurons communicate with the insula in the brain — the area believed to control compassion and empathy, perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience.

Body, brain, emotions, and perception share a complex relationship. We can’t necessarily think or talk our way through an emotional problem, set good boundaries, or move on from trauma without reconnecting with our bodies. When we reconnect, our gut flora may affect our perceptions.

The easiest path I know to feeling better is to start with basics – eat a variety of as fresh as possible food with minimal sweets, stay hydrated, sleep at least 8 hours per night, incorporate yoga for trauma and/or guided meditation into your exercise plan, and strengthen your boundaries.

Then…
Notice the feeling of being nourished by your food. Time your eating so that you never feel distressed by hunger.
Notice how you feel when you awake rested and how you feel the first moment you become tired. Do not push past your tired feeling. Take a nap or go to bed.
Choose yoga that emphasizes your control over the process, moves slowly, and has an instructor with a soothing manner and voice.
Practice giving yourself permission to prioritize yourself. Notice how that feels.
Use a physical boundary to help yourself visualize your limits. Verbalize your boundaries when needed.
Notice a feeling of ease each time you notice a feeling of tension.
Notice how you feel when you make a decision that’s unlike previous decisions in similar situations. If you feel peaceful, calm, relieved, energized, freer, happy, joyful, or even neutral

With these simple steps, you may be surprised how quickly you begin to automatically notice what feels good! That can have a very positive effect on the feeling in your gut!

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

http://besselvanderkolk.net/the-body-keeps-the-score.html

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/yoga-perfect-home-workout/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/gratitude-is-my-best-defense/

June 11, 2018

Lactose Intolerance and Celiac Disease Go Hand-in-Hand

If you have Celiac Disease, it’s good to be aware that lactose intolerance and Celiac Disease go hand-in-hand. When your gut is healing, it’s sometimes hard to determine where intestinal distress originates. This can be frustrating when you’re diligently eliminating gluten from your diet, but still experiencing symptoms. Before you’re tempted to give up on a gluten-free lifestyle, perhaps it’s time to explore the possibility of lactose intolerance.
lactose
Lactose is a sugar found in milk. This disaccharide is composed of two simple sugars – glucose and galactose. Our bodies use an enzyme called lactase to break down glucose. Lactase is secreted by the villi in the intestine. We produce more of this enzyme as infants because human milk is high in lactose, but some adults produce enough lactase to tolerate milk. Others do not. Those with Celiac Disease may have significant damage to the villi in the intestine. This can affect lactase secretion resulting in secondary lactose intolerance.

How do I know if I have lactose intolerance?

The symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, gurgling and rumbling, diarrhea, and nausea that appear on average from 30 minutes to two hours after consuming milk or milk products.

Depending on your sensitivity, you may not recognize that milk and milk products are causing the problem. The connection may not be as direct as drink one glass of milk = all symptoms appear. Your symptoms may be related to the amount of lactose you consume.

One cup of whole milk contains approximately 12 grams of lactose. That 12 grams may not cause symptoms, but an added bowl of ice cream may put you in distress.

Can I still drink milk?

Drinking milk may make you miserable, but it does not cause damage to your intestine even if you’re lactose intolerant. If you want to drink milk, but don’t want to take the risk of embarrassing symptoms, there are lactose-free dairy products available. Another option is to increase the lactase in your system by taking a lactase enzyme pill.
lactaid
What should I avoid?

To limit your lactose intake, avoid:
Milk
Cream
Buttermilk
Sour Cream
Ice Cream
Sherbet
Evaporated or Condensed Milk
Hot Chocolate Mixes
Milk Chocolate
Malted Milk
Cream or Milk Stout (beer)
Soft and Processed Cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Farmers cheese, queso fresco, cheese foods or cheese spreads
Cheese dip
Yogurt (unless you make it and let it ferment for at least 24 hours)
Whey
Gravy
Cream Soups
Alfredo Sauce
Béchamel
Instant potatoes
Mashed potatoes (unless you make them)
Bread, muffins, biscuits, rolls, pancakes, waffles, and crackers (read labels)
Ranch dressing
Cheese flavoring (read labels)
Other creamy salad dressings (read labels)

Can I have any dairy products?

Some dairy products have minimal amounts of lactose and are fine to consume. These include butter, aged cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, provolone, or Swiss. Homemade yogurt that is allowed to ferment for 24 hours will break down all of the lactose into unharmful lactic acid. Fresh cheese made by draining this yogurt is also safe to consume. When in doubt, read the label, ask the chef, or make it yourself.

The easiest way to know whether your food contains dairy products is to make it yourself. In a restaurant, you can ask the chef or baker. If you have Celiac Disease, you most likely have lots of practice with this. You are also most likely an excellent label reader and are aware that milk is one of the top 8 allergens required to be listed on packaged products in the US.

It’s always disappointing to consider eliminating another category of foods if you’ve already eliminated gluten. At least with lactose, you have the option of taking enzymes to counteract the symptoms.

I’d have to say, I hate a stomach ache enough that I’m willing to endure lots of diet revisions in order to avoid one. I can’t think of a single roll, doughnut, cake, or even ice cream (and I love ice cream) worth the pain.

If you have Celiac Disease and continuing pain, it’s good to remember that Celiac Disease and lactose intolerance go hand-in-hand. This could be the secret to ending your abdominal pain.

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/lactose-intolerance

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose

https://www.drugs.com/cg/lactose-free-diet.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaccharide

https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm106890.htm

June 4, 2018

Make Sure You Get Your Share of Prune

When you’re in New York City, make sure you get your share of Prune! When I was reviewing this year’s James Beard Award winners and saw Gabrielle Hamilton’s name, I was reminded of my first visit to Prune.
prune
It was 2003 or 4. My boys and I were traveling together. It was their first time in New York City. We had a memorable limo ride from the airport to the Algonquin Hotel. Our driver was a boxer who had sparred with Mike Tyson, swore his father had illegally entered the US in the wheel well of an airplane…twice, and asked the stranger with whom we shared a ride whether she liked threesomes. There were a couple of moments that I questioned my judgement during that ride, but ultimately it was one of the highlights of the trip.

Another highlight came a couple of days later at dinner. I don’t remember exactly where I heard or read about Prune. It seems like some publication had listed it as “the place to be seen” a few months before our trip. Nonetheless, I became aware that a reservation was very hard to get.

The boys and I decided to make ours in person. We walked miles and miles down through Greenwich Village to Battery Park, up and over to Little Italy and Chinatown experiencing the city, then on to 1st Street and 1st Avenue to secure a seat for dinner. Ben was tired. He hit the subway headed for the hotel to take a nap.

James & I continued exploring the city. We arrived at Prune on time. They agreed to seat us at a table by the large front windows where we could enjoy the night air even though Ben wasn’t there yet. The menu at the time included sardines & crackers and overcooked southern vegetables.

While we were perusing it and discussing our options, the landline phone rang (remember those?). Someone behind the bar said, “Cheri?”. I looked back and raised my hand. “You have a phone call.” This was unexpected! I made my way to the bar.

On the phone was Ben. He had gotten off the subway, turned the wrong way, and walked away from the hotel hours earlier. He had finally arrived at our room and realized it was almost time to meet us. There was no way he’d make it. He wanted to know if we could bring him something to eat later. I agreed feeling bad that he was missing dinner with us and amused at his lack of navigational ability. He and his brother are exact opposites in this area.

James & I focused on choosing our food and absorbing the atmosphere. Prune is small. It brings an odd tension between high end and intimate cushioned by a sense of humor and ease. It thinks too much of itself to be a hole-in-the-wall, but not so much that it won’t serve sardines & crackers or fetch a customer to the phone as if all customers get phone calls. It’s the sort of place I love.

Looking at the current menus, the dish descriptions read a bit fancier. I don’t know if the food itself has changed; it has always been simple and upscale (another dichotomy that’s not often done this well). The overcooked southern vegetables I chose from the menu all those years ago may have sounded like the description of typical soul food, but lacked a good 20 minutes of cooking to reach the texture I grew up with in the South.

Over time, I’m sure the restaurant has evolved as all businesses do. Owner and chef Gabrielle Hamilton has written a book, won at least 3 James Beard Awards including Outstanding Chef this year, and is writing a second book all while writing a weekly column for the New York Times magazine and running her restaurant. As her experience has grown, I’m sure it has been reflected in the restaurant. That’s what keeps a small business vibrant.

And vibrant Prune still seems to be. When you visit, expect to sit close to your neighbors. When James and I were dining, the table arrangement was so snug our waiter stepped out the front window onto the sidewalk and then back in to serve the table next to us. There simply wasn’t room to walk between them. That step out the window wasn’t awkward. It seemed perfectly natural and added to the charm of the whole experience.

Some people just draw you in. Some places do the same. These are the people and spaces in which you just may find inspiration. Prune could be one of those places. When you travel to NYC, make sure you get your share of Prune!

prunerestaurant.com

https://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/the-2018-james-beard-award-winners

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/dining/prune-review.html

http://www.algonquinhotel.com/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=restaurant

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”