When I was offered a free trial of Real Recipe Plans, I thought, “Great! This will help me to be organized!” So, I began the membership by promptly vacating my own gluten-free cooking zone for a suspect kitchenette in the Alps, which is a less-than-stellar way to begin any new endeavor.
I came back from our marathon festivities, which included a close-encounter with Austrian cheese, to find a backlog of recipes along with a sinking sensation that I had failed before I’d begun.
I needed help, and Real Recipes Plans offered it to me.
Not only do I receive five simple, gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian recipes each week, I also get a handy shopping list I can download to my iPad. The only way this service could be improved would be if I could highlight, check or delete items as I go along. But I AM happy to have the list because all I have to do is pick up the ingredients and then rest soundly knowing that even if I’m stuck behind a parade of tractors on my way home from Crossfit, a fresh, whole foods dinner will still be on the table in a timely manner.
But more than just the ease of using this service, Real Recipe Plans encourages me to add new things to our dietary repertoire. I’ve gotten into a Vegan rut recently, serving the ‘usual’ garbanzos with coconut milk, sweet potato tacos and if all else fails, rice and beans. While these recipes are good ones, some members of the family say things like, “It’s Monday, we must be having mango black bean salad.”
Thus enters Real Recipe Plans to revitalize the Wellman family palate.
One of the first recipes I made called for capers. I was under the impression capers were a type of little fish, like an anchovy or sardine. Fortunately for my children, I googled it before doing the shopping, and thus, the Wellman family had their first capers in a quinoa salad that did NOT taste like fish and had nothing to do with Muppets (our only prior experience with the word).
Most of the recipes are perfect as is, but sometimes, such as in the Farmer’s Market Bowl, I added some fresh ginger and garlic: not only to spice it up a little, but because I am a firm believer that fresh ginger and garlic ward off colds, flus and unwanted houseguests.
Even though I haven’t yet stuck with the ‘plan’ of making one recipe per day, and even though I can’t always find some of the ingredients here in Germany (like kale, since it is a seasonal crop and won’t be seen for several more months) Real Recipe Plans has encouraged me to try new things and has helped me out of the gluten-free Vegan doldrums.
I have friends who scour the internet for recipes and have APPS that create shopping lists for them, but I am too busy/distracted/interrupted to do this myself. I would much rather pay someone ten bucks a month to send me the recipes (and the lists) and know that dinner will be more than just a can of beans.
Real Recipe Plans is a great service for those of us who value fresh, whole foods but need a little help in the organizational department. Thank you, Chef Kimi, for the great-tasting, easy-to-make, real-food recipes!
I don’t often do this, but I thought I’d share this note from Master Chef Kimi Reid, of Real Recipe Plans, who sends easy, healthy and delicious recipes to my inbox once a week. The blog of my experience with this service will follow soon, but I was encouraged this post because I agreed with SO much of it.
Why Gluten-Free? Why Real Recipes? Master Chef Kimi Reid explains.
“We live in a fast-paced society and healthy food is not always accessible or affordable! There are so many alternatives to cooking at home, and I realized that there needed to be a simple solution to take-out. An alternative to delivery. A downright easy way to avoid common food allergens. We need to get back in the kitchen…asap…go, now!
So I created Real Recipe plans, which provides busy people like yourself with a simple plan every week. After spending 9 years in the professional culinary world, I can tell you that the only way to avoid processed foods and many common food allergies, is to make the food yourself.
My food philosophy is ‘Naturally gluten, dairy and soy-free,’ because I understand the challenges associated with food allergies. I personally follow this eating philosophy and have found incredible anti-inflammatory and digestive success eating this way. And honestly, most of my subscribers have been astounded how easy it is to keep these foods out of your diet…just focus on the real ingredients, and follow our awesome recipes.
I personally have sensitivities to gluten, dairy and soy, and have found that I feel much better without these ingredients. It can be easy to eat gluten-free, but there is a whole world of gluten-free products out there, which will not necessarily help anyone reach their health goals. I honestly feel that eliminating common food allergens from your diet, opens up your world to a plethora of exciting, real ingredients…but not everyone knows how to cook with real ingredients these days. Real Recipe Plans shows you how to cook with real ingredients in new, fresh and delicious ways. Yahoo!”
*Bonus: ‘Like’ Real Recipe Plans on Facebook, and try the service for FREE for one month!
Over the years, I have learned what you can expect as an American visiting a German health clinic, and I have thus outlined the following procedures for my fellow Americans abroad:
Step 1: The “Appointment”
Appointments here are similar to invasion plans. If your appointment is at 10:00, this means that you and fifty other people show up at 9:45, grumbling about the people who got there at 9:44.
Plan to get there at 9:00 or 8:30 if you want to be seen by 10:00. Nobody has ever seemed to care what time I’ve shown up.
Step 2: Take a number
I can’t stress this enough: TAKE A NUMBER. Even if you have the first ‘appointment’ in the first wave of the first day of the first month; even if you hold open the door for the sleepy-eyed receptionist as she makes her way into the clinic, TAKE A NUMBER. Your appointment is really based on the number you have.
Step 3: Waiting room #1, also known as the Upper Circle of Hell:
My number at the clinic Monday morning was F9, and by 9:40 they were at E 87, which actually wasn’t too terrible.
I felt badly for the people who had the 10:00 appointment who actually showed up at 10:00. They barged up to the reception desk and were promptly told to take a number. They said they had a 10:00 appointment. They were told to take a number. They said they had driven 30 kilometers. They were told to either come back tomorrow or take a number.
Meanwhile, thirty other people had taken numbers in the time it took them to complain. So please, for your own sanity: take a number!
Step 4: The delay
If you are an American being seen at a German clinic, your paperwork will automatically take a minimum of half an hour to figure out.
In all fairness, I do NOT expect that any German receptionist, especially in an area where the American presence is down to one lonely family, should know how to fill out American paperwork. It is just that she doesn’t know what to do with you because you’re not like the thousands of other people she sees on a daily basis.
Plus, her computer often doesn’t input the weird things that are on our American paperwork, such as the mysterious AE (Armed forces Europe) listed on my address. She asked if I was from United Arab Emirates, which really made me smile.
So, keep smiling, send out good vibes to the poor Frau, and use every German word you know because even if you sound like a three year-old, every little bit of information helps. Eventually between the two of you, the paperwork will be complete and you can move on to…
Step 5: Waiting room #2 also known as Purgatory
If the receptionist takes pity on you, she will walk you to the next waiting room. Otherwise, you will wander in the hallway until you see F8 or F7, or a dazed E 98 and you follow them.
You give your paperwork to any guy who looks official, possibly a janitor, and he will stack your medical record at the bottom of a pile, while you wonder how many people got in front of you while your paperwork was being worked out.
The second waiting room is smaller, but you see a lot of familiar faces. There is generally more room here and more people talking (complaining) about something. If your German is good, you can contribute. If not, then bury your head in your book and wait for your name and ‘kabine’ number to be called rapidly over a loudspeaker.
Step 6: Winning the Lottery
When your name is called, collect your belongings with a smug look on your face and go to the room number they said. If you weren’t paying attention, but you THINK you heard your name, still get up with a smug look on your face and wander in the hall until someone says your name and directs you to the right place.
If they did NOT call your name, you will be shuttled back to the waiting room, where it is best to either avoid all eye contact, or dramatically pantomime that THEY had made a mistake, not you.
Step 7: Der Arzt
If your name WAS called, and you have made it into one of the many little examination rooms, AND you are at a University Hospital, expect to see 4 people wearing white lab coats. The one who is not smiling is the doctor.
He is also the one sitting at the desk, who gets to touch the computer. It will be hard to distinguish him from the other guys, because they all look to be the same age as your firstborn son.
Step 8: Communicating your problem
Because I understand enough German to say ‘ja’ or ‘nein’ in many of the right places, people tend to think I’m German. But after they hear me defile their verbiage, they ask if I speak English, to which I joyously reply ‘ja!’
I am thankful for this, because while I can order two scoops of gelato in a Becher from the Italian guy in Rothenburg, I’m not so good with medical terminology. And I love the words that some of the fluent English-speakers use. The doctor said that the idea of my finger having an infection was a ‘fantasy.’ Yes, Germans can be rather poetic.
Step 9: Diagnosis, maybe
I genuinely liked this youthful doctor and his band of Lost Boys.
He told me that I may have ‘early’ arthritis. But he didn’t want to SAY arthritis because if he did say ‘arthritis’ and I was referred to a Rheumatologist, they would do surgery, which would be worse than living with my current symptoms.
He thus gave me a detailed description of arthritis and the terrible prospects for my future, including surgery, which apparently makes the problem worse, before smiling and shaking my arthritic hand.
The doctor gave me anti-inflammatories and because I’m “slender” (HIS poetic license, not mine, which…yes, made me feel slightly happier), he also gave me stomach medicine. So basically, I would need medicine FOR the medicine to help the problems from the drugs that are helping the problem.
He guaranteed that the drugs would work and then added, “But if they do NOT work, come back in 3 months.”
I went ahead and took a number.
Step 10: Denial
At this point you will either go back to the American clinic and ask for a referral to a bigger American clinic, ask a friend or relative who is somehow affiliated with the medical profession, or do a quick google search.
I opted for the google search, and it turns out that my doctor is probably right.
It Gets Personal
I was hoping for a quick fix, but since that’s not possible, I am going to leave my drugs in their foil wrappers and instead try a strict, nutrient-dense diet for 6 weeks to see if it will help my arthritis, as Dr. Fuhrman in “Eat to Live” says it will.
I am skeptically optimistic, if there is such a thing.
So, this is where you find me, an American Guinea Pig in Bavaria, eating a no-gluten, no-meat, no-dairy, no-oil, no-sugar, no-refined anything diet, for a minimum of six weeks.
I am sharing this with you, my friends, so you can help keep me honest. And know that if I have to decline a bratwurst or pommes mit mayo (Alas, poor Pommes, I knew them well, Horatio), it’s not because I’m worried about my waistline.
It’s because I don’t want to become the claw-fingered old woman someday, I want to be the Oma Ultra-Marathoner!
Why would a woman who has gone for three years without beer or brezen or apfel strudel or any other form of gluteny goodness decide to also do away with dairy, meat, candy & any so-called food created in a laboratory?
My food journey begins with a guy named Daniel. He was from a war-torn city; and he & some of his buddies were taken away as captives. But instead of living in tents in the burbs with the other prisoners, these guys were brought into the largest, most powerful city in the world at that time.
These young men were special–chosen to learn the language and literature of the place which was to be their new home. As an added bonus, they were to live in the palace, which was pretty snazzy student housing.
My kids & husband & I stood next to these very same palace gates–still shiny cobalt blue and adorned with the popular gods of that time. I craned my neck back and tried to imagine the hot desert sun & bright blue sky above, rather than the pale autumn sun trickling in through the sky lights of the museum.
These ancient city walls were built in order to symbolize, for anyone who could see, the greatness and supremacy of the king. I mean, who could argue with the king of the world?
As I maneuvered to get pictures of the kids without a thousand other photo-snapping tourists in the picture, I thought about Daniel & his friends, walking through these gates as humble captives.
After Daniel had settled into the palace, the king ordered that these chosen men were to be given the same food & drink that the king himself ate.
It was a really nice gesture, but in spite of the fact that a king who could build such an impressive foyer probably had some great-tasting grub flowing through his kitchen doors, Daniel wasn’t good with it.
The servant in charge of the buffet table was concerned that Daniel would starve & look terrible if he DID NOT eat the king’s food. So Daniel asked him for ten days to prove that the fruit & veggie tray really was better than anything from the all-you-can-eat menu.
As you’ve probably guessed, Daniel & those on his fad diet looked like movie stars compared to the guys sucking down milkshakes and bacon double-cheeseburgers.
But here’s the important point that many people emulating Daniel overlook: after the ten days, Daniel did not jump on the king’s gravy train. Rather, during his three years of studying in the palace, he continued to eat healthy food. And he ended up being the wisest man in the kingdom.
I’m not saying that eating veggies is going to make you gorgeous and brilliant–but seriously, it can’t hurt!
I am two weeks into plant-based eating, and though I had 2 cappuccinos (with real milk), the veggie plan seems to be working small wonders already. My skin is soft, my complexion is better, I have more un-caffeinated energy, I don’t need to consume as much food to actually feel full, I eat when I’m hungry, and I’ve lost 4 pounds. So, I’m going to stick with it for a while–especially since I have a marathon (possibly two) in my near future.
I anticipate that I will eat meat sometime this year. And that’s okay. Meat is there for us if we want it. If you are at all interested in the Bible, then you know about the feast days, which sometimes include things like lamb (which means I can justify the occasional doner kebap). On other days, people did actually eat fish, though it probably wasn’t battered and deep-fried.
In ancient times, only rich people (like kings) could kill the fatted calf every day. For the average working slave, it was only a couple times a year–if that. And I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure the normal ancient person didn’t die from heart disease or type 2 diabetes–not when there were so many natural things that could kill you.
My nutritional journey began with Daniel, but the more scary food documentaries I watch, the more I want to stick with plant-based eating.
I’m not the only one doing this. For thousands of years, entire people groups were eating this way. And while words like “vegan,” “organic,” and “whole foods” conjure images of people who tie-dye t-shirts in the bathtub, I believe that the more plant-based food I eat, the healthier I will be.
And if I want to be the great-grandma who wins her age division in the ultra-marathon mountain race, I’ll need all the eating wisdom I can get.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach Baba Ganoush
Inspired by a whimsical purchase of Portobello mushrooms (because I’d never bought them before), and a whimsical batch of baba ganoush (because I liked saying the name–and I had eggplants getting a little too soft). I added spinach for good luck, and voila! a new favorite was born.
The Raw Materials
6 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed
2-4 medium eggplants (depending on family size)
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup thawed, drained frozen spinach or finely chopped fresh (more if you like it, less if you don’t)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke the eggplants with a fork. Lightly oil them and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until they look withered and the flesh is soft (30-45 minutes). Remove eggplants from the oven and let them cool.
When the eggplants are cool, remove the pulp from the skins. Squeeze pulp gently to remove excess water. This process will remind you of gently squeezing a squid, but bear with it. Chop the pulp very fine. Combine with the remaining ingredients. Taste the mixture and adjust ingredients to your liking.
Brush mushrooms lightly with olive oil. Fill mushrooms with eggplant mixture and bake until you can smell it–8-12 minutes.
These are most excellent served on a bed of rice (long grain or wild).
What did we do over the holidays?
We baked goodies, snacked, baked more goodies, feasted, ate leftovers, and gained at least ten pounds. Well…only some of us gained ten pounds.
We did enough eating to last an entire year, which is part of the reason we began the new year with a fast.
To kick off the new healthy-eating lifestyle, the adults in the family went 24 hours without eating anything. By the end of it, we were thrilled with our dinner of potatoes and broccoli. The complete fast truly made us appreciate the rabbit food we are now eating.
In all honesty, it feels great to purge the clogged cupboards. There are many scary things in industrial food, and I feel better simply taking a few steps away from it.
So even though I currently cannot eat gluten without getting sick, I am also avoiding meat, dairy (for a little while), refined sugars, high-fructose corn poison, and any oils that can stick to my arteries.
Even though we didn’t force the kids to fast with us, they did give up certain foods for a few days; and since their mini-fast ended, I’ve seen them reaching for healthier alternatives. By having healthy snacks on hand (and by pitching the junk) the kids will be healthier too.
It seems so simple.
I’ve had some glorious successes, such as the gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free blueberry-banana pancakes; and I’ve had some failures, like the garlic-tofu-mashed potatoes, but the challenge has been fun.
This week, our family has eaten a lot of things that are unusual to us–eggplant, butternut squash, soy milk & red lentils. And I’m finding that in order to eat better, I have to plan better, which is not always easy for me.
Though I love wearing aprons (I have one for cooking & one for cleaning), I’ve never thought of myself as the “meal-planner” type. Just saying “meal-planner” brings to mind June Cleaver.
But with 4 growing kids and this newfound desire to eat whole foods, I might advise Webster to slap a new picture next to the term “meal-planner.” Gone are the high-heels & pearls; in are the barefoot trail shoes & yoga pants.
Now that my kids are learning about nutrition through real-life example, rather than some phantom mom in my imagination, the majority of my children want to eat better (though one young mac & cheese addict is hopeless); and all of the kids are starting to exercise on their own accord.
The younger kids beg & plead with me nightly to lead them in simple weight lifting; and Noah (my only runner) wants to do a 5k with me this spring. We already began training.
It is a new year, full of new possibilities.
And we’re off to a fast start!
Yesterday, I did a lot of thinking about running. I also did a bit of writing about running. Did I mention I thought about running—a lot? In fact, when I stuck my head out the door to let out the dog , I REALLY thought about running, until the north wind greeted me with an icy slap in the face. I shut the door and left the dog to natural selection. By the time he was whimpering at the door, I made up my mind: it was time to write about running.
To keep the children busy, I began them on their schoolwork for the day. But they had forgotten to tell me it was “Ask Your Teacher a Question Every Sixty Seconds” day. And since I happen to be their teacher, it didn’t make for the ideal writing environment. It was like fartlek for writing: a frantic jotting down of ideas, and then slow to sound out a new phoneme; more writing as fast as my neurons could pop, and then leisurely define “Constitution;” a mad dash to elucidate my main point, and then relax to convert square yards into square feet. But, I pushed through it all, and finally finished the blog about running. Then it was time for lunch.
I had a bowl of hot, cooked quinoa, a bundle of raw broccoli intermittently dipped in Ken’s Steakhouse Ranch (gluten-free, thank you, Ken, whoever you are), a liter of water, and a Super B vitamin, which, I’m hoping will eventually give me special powers.
After lunch, it was time to walk the dog, so I let him out on his line again. I watched through the glass door as the wind made the tree limbs bob up and down. I measured the amount of sway, trying to determine if the wind was enough to cause frostbite. The dog came in, shivering as he waited for his treat. That settled it—I would do the treadmill.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for treadmills. And doing the treadmill is better than sitting at the computer, wolfing down peanut m&m’s; a hypothesis I’ve actually tested scientifically. But since I began running outside last spring, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the mill itself—and the feeling is mutual. That thing hates me.
As I donned a thin layer of high-tech spandex, which goes under things very well but is actually not suitable as armor, I thought about how dark it is in the basement. And even if it’s just about the only time I watch TV, I would prefer running up and down the stairs while pulling out my hair, to getting on that thing. Then I saw it: my Supersuit, folded and sitting patiently on top of the clean laundry pile.
I bought my Supersuit last month when we had a thaw, and all of the cold-weather running gear plummeted in price. It’s cozy, tight, and black with crazy turquoise zigzags across it. When I put it on, I feel like one of the Incredibles.
I looked outside at the swaying bushes. They didn’t seem to be dancing as violently as earlier. The sun was shining, and just maybe, if I ran into that blasted wind, the way back would be okay? I am solar-powered, after all.
I took off my treadmill shoes and grabbed the pair with last fall’s dirt still on the bottoms. With my Supersuit, ear wrap, stocking cap, fuzzy scarf, gloves, and a light vest, I headed out to combat Ms. Icy Wind.
It turns out, I had miscalculated the bobbing trees. The wind wasn’t that bad—especially with the sunshine urging me on. Halfway through the three miles, I picked up my pace, the wind pushing me home.
Terrain: The high crown on the gravel portion of the farm road was a problem for my right ankle, which is still a little tender from my battle with the treadmill last week. I ran in the middle of the road, which was fairly safe, since the farmers are currently hibernating. The B-road, asphalt, was icy in spots, which meant a little Lippizzaner stallion type maneuvering. There were patches of snow too, but it was navigable as long as I followed the rabbit tracks. After a circular detour through the sugar beet field, I ran to one of the neighboring villages: a route with a lot of long, fairly steep hills.
Heartrate: I kept it in the 80 percent range, not wanting my enthusiasm to hijack the training schedule.
Overall feeling: it was a good, easy run. No humans or animals were harmed in the training.