Tag Archives: food

The Difference Between Dependence and Compulsion (and why it’s important)

Addiction is a layman’s term. Often it’s used to describe substance dependence. It’s also sometimes used when referring to compulsive behaviors such as gambling, shopping or sex.

The DSM-IV, the book of diagnostic criteria for all manner of disorders, uses two terms with regard to what you probably think of when you hear the word addiction. Those terms are abuse and dependence.

Let’s use alcohol as an example.

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Spinach Shirred Eggs

Another egg recipe.

I do believe this exhausts all the fancy ways I know to cook eggs. This being the fanciest.

Shirred eggs is a fancy-pants way of saying baked eggs in cream. These are rich and delicious and way easier to make than they look.

The cream in the bottom of the cup makes the whites turn to velvet and taste as good as the yolk, or even better. No, really. Scrumptious.

The best thing about this recipe is that its totally adaptable. I’ve seen shirred eggs made with bacon or ham in the bottom of the cup. You could use a different veggie. You can also change up the kind of cheese you use.  A larger cup lets you cook two eggs at once for less clean up later.

Also, if you put these eggs in the oven and forget about them until you can smell them cooking 40 minutes later, they still taste great. They’ll have a hard yolk (as you can see in the picture), but we like them that way. Twenty minutes gives you a hard yolk, too. The only difference I saw with letting the eggs over cook was that the cheese was crunchy, instead of gooey.

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Review and Give Away: Crunchmaster Gluten-Free Crackers

Warning: This review is going to read like someone paid me to write it. Because I’m reviewing a product that was already one of my favorites before I was sent some to review for you. Since I’m in love, I contacted the company to see if I could get some of their product to share the love with you. This is the result:

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A New Food Revolution

There are two ideas that are kind of coalescing into a cohesive whole for me lately. They are:

1. I can trust myself to eat what I want, when I want, until I’m full.

2. Number 1 is a completely counter-culture, revolutionary statement.

I mean–who am I to eat what I want, when I want, when the vast majority of everyone I know is on a diet of some kind or another? Who am I, at 340 pounds, to not count calories or cut carbs? I’ve noticed some people taking my decision not to diet fairly personally.

My personal belief is that some people are so deeply engaged and invested in the obesity-as-epidemic mindset that they truly believe that nothing tastes as good as thin feels (or would feel, if they are serial diet failures like me.) Change is rarely easy, although it feel amazing sometimes once you give in to it.

It took me a little while to get into the swing of number one. I’m still working on it, although it’s recently become dramatically easier. Giving up my food journaling did that. At first I was afraid (I was petrified . . .) that not writing down every bite would mean that I wouldn’t be able to stop eating. That I’d wind up in a food coma surrounded by a sea of greasy napkins and empty candy wrappers.

Then I remembered–oh, yeah! I like Brussels sprouts. A lot. I also like sweet potatoes and fish and Indian food and oatmeal for breakfast and oranges.

In other words, I honestly enjoy a wide variety of foods. Turns out I don’t have some mystical food disease that makes me only want to eat gluten-free chocolate cake with strawberry filling and whipped cream frosting. The problem is that I’d restricted my cake intake to the point that my desire for it was escalated.

I mean, I’ve literally never had the thought that I better eat up as many Brussels sprouts as possible because I plan to never eat them again, EVER NEVER, after this one time.

In this post, the Fat Nutritionist (whose blog is amazing and should be read if you haven’t yet) talks about shifting from food rules that someone else has come up with (what you should or shouldn’t eat) to establishing a relationship with food where you think about how it makes you feel and basing your choices on that. She listed her how food observations. Here are some of mine:

I’m not hungry for at least an hour after waking up. This has a lot to do with years of unintentional misuse of my digestive system due to undiagnosed gluten intolerance. I really (really) like Greek yogurt, the full fat kind, with granola for breakfast. Some mornings, though, I want eggs. On those mornings, I almost always make them poached in spicy tomato sauce with feta cheese with corn tortillas. If I’m going to have a full on eggs/bacon/hash browns breakfast, I want it at a restaurant at a brunch time.

For years I thought I really liked cheese. And I do. But I’m finding that, once I’ve given myself full permission to eat my fill of it (instead of cutting and weighing out one ounce and wishing for more), I don’t want or need as much of it as I would have thought. I like strongly flavored cheese, like blue cheese or sharp cheddar, the most.

Too much dairy makes me feel mucusy and not good. I never drink milk by the glass.

I feel best if I eat a hearty lunch. This is the meal where I struggle the most with staying gluten-free as well. Especially if I let myself get too hungry. Sometimes I eat the guts of a sandwich with GF crackers or corn tortillas, but if I’m really hungry I get resentful about my choice not to eat food that makes me really sick. The everyone-else-gets-to-why-can’t-I mindset threatens at times like that. So I make a conscious effort not to let myself get too hungry in afternoon.

I could, of course, eat a sandwich if I wanted. I can eat whatever I want. I choose not to eat gluten because, while it is glorious going down, it makes me very ill.

I have a history of binge eating and letting myself graze, or just eat randomly rather than at meals, still can feel a little out of control to me. I’m working on this. It’s one of my HAES final frontiers.

I like sugar, a lot. Especially chocolate. Not dark chocolate, either. I like creamy, smooth, milk chocolate. I eat it when the mood strikes, which is often. I can not recall sugar ever making me feel strange or hyperactive in anyway, however I have noticed that there is a point where I’ve had enough. At that point, my body starts to crave protein.

When I’m on my period, I need chips and salsa to function happily. I had a lovely revelation yesterday that there is a definite delineation between eating enough chips and salsa to satisfy my body’s obvious desire for fat, salt and spice during this time of the month, and then continuing to eat them until I feel sick because I might as well since I’ve already gotten started.

I like spicy foods. They satisfy me in a way that blander foods don’t, usually. There are some blander foods that I really enjoy and identify as comfort foods. When I want one, the other will not do, no matter how much of it I eat.

I’m going to mention my delicate digestive system one more time and say that it performs better when I eat enough fiber, but not too much. A couple of pieces of fruit a day makes all the difference.

If I have a choice, I choose foods that do not have a lot of chemicals, preservatives and flavorings. One reason for this is because it is often harder to know if these kinds of highly-processed foods are gluten-free and they are rarely worth feeling sick over. Another is because I enjoy knowing what I’m putting in my mouth.

That being said, there are some foods for which there is no substitute. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups come to mind. Salt and Vinegar potato chips do as well. When I want these, I eat them without guilt or fear.

Eating is becoming a joy again. Food is slowly moving away from being my best friend or my worst enemy–and toward being just being food. Just. Food. Morally neutral food.

Food is morally neutral? There are no good or bad choices? There is no bad food?

I can eat enough of whatever I want to eat to be full, without shifting into guilt and binging?

Hell, yes. I’m ready to be a revolutionary. With a fork. And milk chocolate. Bring it on.



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A Culture of Rules

(Warning: This post addresses ideas about dieting and food rules.)

I picked up a skinny little book at a thrift store when I was in Las Vegas called Wake Up! You’re Probably Never Going to Look Like That … How to be Happier, Healthier and Imperfectly Fit by Michelle Pearl.

The whole book is only 100 pages and on first glance seemed to be about how a person could workout until they were dead and still not look like a supermodel/body builder/ideal role model.

So, I sprung the 50 cents and bought it. And then I read it.

Pearl, it seems, lost more than 100 pounds. Twice. The first time, she lost 120 and gained it back. The second time, she lost 150, went to Mexico to have her excess skin removed, and has kept it off for several years. She’s a fitness trainer now.

On page four, Michelle explains that she is always hungry and has found ways to handle the hunger.

At first I thought–this is clearly a self-published book and maybe she just needed an editor to clean things up so that it didn’t read like she had figured out how to be okay with always feeling hungry.

But then I got to the part where she talked about what she ate. She has so many rules. So many rules. One of them is that she won’t eat a certain sandwich at Subway because it has (gasp) almost 400 calories. Her favorite lunches have less than 300 calories and no fat.

No wonder she’s always hungry.

One of her favorite parts of her day is when she eats fat free/sugar free pudding with fat free/ carb free nondairy whipped topping and a few nuts with her husband. I’m all for tradition, and I fully understand that people find their comfort where they can. My favorite night of the week is my husband’s first day off when he makes gluten-free pizza and the kids watch American Idol with us.

But the nuts on her fat free/ sugar free/ carb free treat are the only part that seems like food.

As I was reading the chapter with her food rules, I started thinking about my work with addicts and alcoholics. When I was evaluating someone, I would always ask about their patterns of use.  And often they would say something like they only used on weekends, would only have two drinks if they weren’t at home (except that one time, when they got a DUI and ended up in my office), never drank and used in the same day, never drank or used until after noon/work/dinner.  And because they, mostly, followed their own rules, they did not believe they were addicts.

Here’s the thing. If you have to make a laundry list of rules to regulate something, it might be a problem.

I don’t want to be like Michelle Pearl.

I don’t want to have rules that regulate every bite I put into my mouth. I don’t want to be so terrified of getting fat again that I have to learn to cook without potatoes, rice or pasta. I certainly don’t want to have to drink a constant flow of non-fat, sugar-free hot cocoa to stave off the desire to eat dinner/popcorn at the movies/ french fries.

When I was a counselor, most of my clients were clean most of the time. They had a big motivation to be that way–they were urine tested nearly daily and if they came up dirty they went directly to jail. Too many of those and they went to prison. But despite not actually drinking or using dope, they still acted like addicts. They drank an alarming amount of energy drinks in order to feed their brain the stimulant it craved. They either smoked more than they had before or took up smoking if they didn’t already.

Often times, they needed these things to feel like they had some kind of control over something that felt too big to handle.

A meth addiction that has escalated to the point where you’ve lost your children, your job and your teeth is one big boulder hanging over your head.

And maybe losing 150 pounds by dieting is, too.

I’m not sure what I think about food as an addiction. I used to firmly believe I was addicted to food. Lately, I don’t like that thought much. I’m still forming my opinions on it.

I’m challenging some of my own food rules lately. And sometimes, there is a lot of anxiety that comes with that in the beginning. But that anxiety is always followed by a deep sense of relief. I can eat french fries without turning into a raving, binging fast foodaholic. I can eat a handful of peanut M&Ms without finding myself later that night in a food coma amidst a liter of candy wrappers and empty ice cream cartons.

It seems silly, I guess, for the idea that given the opportunity to eat whatever I want I won’t always choose the richest, most processed foods available to be a revelation. But it is. Turns out, it only feels that way because those are the foods I’ve either restricted or felt really guilty about eating for the last couple of decades. (Ever since Susan Powter taught me the fat formula.)

Those are the foods I have always had strict rules about.

Okay–follow me on this thought.

I don’t want sugar free/fat free hot cocoa to become my energy drink. My substitute for the real food my mind and body will crave until I die.


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Green Chile Tacos

A few weeks ago I was supposed to go out of town for four days for work.

When that happens, which it does every couple of months, Ruby goes to visit Kevin’s parents. She is their only grandchild, and they love to spoil her. She loves the attention. Kevin doesn’t have to worry about an over-night babysitter since he works the graveyard shift. We meet in the middle, in a little town called Alamo, Nevada.

There is a little restaurant in Alamo that makes delicious homemade food, and has a sweet little bakery inside. Kevin and I stopped there for lunch after his mother and Ruby left for Las Vegas. Kevin had a French dip.

And I had green chile tacos.

Oh my goodness. They were so very, incredibly delicious. Just crunchy enough, just spicy enough, and just amazing all around. I had never heard of such a thing, but I knew I had to try to make them. The restaurant is 150 miles away!

Green Chile Tacos

For three tacos you’ll need:

  • 1 40z can whole fire roasted green chiles
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  • 6 small corn tortillas
  • olive oil
  • toppings of your choice

I used canned chiles because fresh peppers are out of season. I’m waiting patiently (impatiently) for summer so that I can make these with fresh roasted peppers.

A 4 ounce can holds 3 full peppers. Increase the recipe as needed (of course.)

In a medium frying pan, heat a tablespoon or so of oil. When it’s hot, add the peppers and cook a couple of minutes on each side. Mine didn’t brown at all, but got pliable when hot.

Set them on a plate near by and start making the shells. Lay two tortillas on the hot, now lightly oiled and chile-flavored, skillet. Use a brush to put a little oil on the other side of the tortillas. When both sides are soft and very lightly browned, sprinkle a tiny amount of cheese on one and stack them. (This is my trick for making them stay together. You can skip it if you like, or just use one tortilla per taco. I think having two really makes a difference. It makes the taco chewier and more satisfying IMO.)

Slide the double decker shell over and put one of the chiles back on the skillet. Let it get warmed through, and then put it on one half of the shell, top with some cheese, and fold over.

Push that taco over to one side and start another one. I was able to get three tacos cooking together in one pot, but only just.

That’s it. Just let the shells cook on each side until a nice golden brown.

Tacos are scrumptious every day of the year, but in the winter the traditional toppings are not in season (no fresh tomatoes for a couple more months.) I topped mine with sour cream, salsa, and some lettuce that was hanging around from before we decided to do only seasonal cooking. (Not the freshest and in retrospect I wish I’d left it out.)

The verdict: Delicious. I think next time I’d use those three peppers to make 6 tacos, because the whole chile made a sort of double layer that slid when trying to eat the goodness. I’ll also use cabbage for a topping instead of lettuce.

These tacos work for me. And I just don’t have a post in me this morning, so there is more WFMW here.

More recipes here. And here.

And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.


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Great Depression Recipe: Poor Man’s Meal

I love this video.

Go on, watch it. I’ll wait.

Back? Okay, good. How fabulous was that? I love Clara.

And I wanted to try one of her recipes. Nick helped me pick one, and Poor Man’s Meal it was.

This recipe made me think of Stone Soup. You know the story of the traveler who comes through town and says he can make soup out of a stone, but wouldn’t carrots make it better? And a turnip? Maybe some chicken bones? And each person adds something to the soup, making it both enough to feed everyone more than they had and something infinitely better than it would have been without each person’s contribution.

I think in hard times, maybe Poor Man’s Meal could be like Stone Soup. Everyone adds what they have, and before you know it your Poor Man’s Meal is something pretty spectacular. Especially considering the humble ingredients that starts it out.

I started with a few potatoes, like Clara did. I had three remaining polish sausages from the pricey but ethical pack I bought last week, so I used those instead of the cheese hot dogs that Clara uses in her video. As I was looking at this in the pan I thought, what about a non-potato veggie? Green beans. I only had canned, which combined with the pantries from my cold storage made this a pantry meal. Sweet.

So I stirred them in, taking a departure from Clara, but holding to the idea. A Poor Man’s Meal. Something hearty and nutritious, but inexpensive and simple.

So was this cheap? My pan of potatoes, onions, sausage, and green beans was easily enough to feed six. A pound of storage potatoes, ten cents. An onion, twenty-five cents. Sausage, (1/3 of a $7 package)  $2.35. A can of green beans, 35 cents. Total: $3.05.

Yeah. I’d say that even with expensive sausage, it qualifies as a Poor Man’s Meal. And if you needed to feed more than six? Well, add a few more sausages or hot dogs. Or another meat. Maybe a different vegetable. Stone Soup! (It didn’t hurt that my kid’s reaction to this meal was the good grubbin’ back-of-the-throat moan. I wasn’t expecting that.)

Poor Man’s Meal

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 regular Idaho potatoes
  • 12 ounces of smoked sausage (or 4-6 hot dogs)
  • green beans (I used canned, but fresh would be amazing in this.)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Start by putting a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a big pan, and letting the onions cook while you cut the potatoes.

Clara peels her potatoes, but here’s how I did mine. I cut a little sliver off two long sides of each potato to take away a lot of the skin. Then I cut each potato into lengthwise slices about 1/4″ thick. Then into French fry shapes, and finally into 1/4″ cubes. Ruby helped me put it into my big measuring cup so I could be more specific than just ‘potatoes.’ You want about four cups of potato cubes.

Add the potatoes to the onions, and let them cook up some while you cut the sausage.

Just cut the sausage, or hot dogs, into slices. It’s obvious in the video that Clara’s hot dogs are frozen. That’s a great idea, because it was a little difficult to cut my sausage into even pieces. It was too soft.

Add the sausage to the pan and give everything a stir.

Add about 1/4 cup of water and cover the pan. Let everything cook about 10 minutes, so that the sausages will heat and the potatoes will be nice and soft. If you’re using canned veggies, add after this step and just let heat through. If you’re using fresh, you might want to let them steam with the potatoes.

There you have it. Not the most beautiful meal in the world. But tasty goodness just the same.

Thank you, Clara.

More recipes here. And here.


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