It looks like pudding. It tastes better than pudding. It’s like a thick, creamy custard of amazingness.
My sister and brother-in-law made this recipe up while working through the 21-day sugar detox with me. My sister made up the original recipe, which was more of a smoothie quality. Her husband Joe decided he wanted something a bit more like a pudding consistency, so he messed around with the ingredients a bit and came up with what’s posted below. When I visited last weekend, Joe whipped it up for us. Twice. In 2 days. We ate all of it. Twice. Over 2 days.
As Joe warned me: Once you make this, you will have an extremely difficult time not making it multiple times a week. This is not (much of) a problem if you adhere to a strict paleo diet and/or are living on a diet like mine, which excludes refined sugars and a whole bunch of other things. It’s full of good fats (coconut milk and nut butter) and if you’re like me, it’s an excellent way to 1.) get in some good calories before a workout 2.) eat a dessert when you’re craving something sweet and 3.) makes an awesome breakfast or snack. It’s so good that I plan on making it this weekend to bring as a dessert for a super bowl party.
The recipe is super simple. Just combine everything from the ingredients list below and blend blend blend. Joe and my sister have a (dreamy) Vitamix, but I don’t, so I plan on trying to make it work in my food processor. It might not get as creamy as it would in a Vitamix, but I think I can come close. The goal is to blend it enough that it’s thick when you take it out of the blender, almost like a super thick smoothie. Then, you have to put it in the fridge for a few hours until it settles into a perfect cool custardy treat. Joe served it up in regular glasses (pictured) but I’m going to try to make it in small ramekins. It’s a bit rich (at least, it seems rich to me, but my sweet tooth isn’t so strong anymore). I couldn’t eat an entire glass-full in one sitting: it’s one of those treats you can keep in the fridge and keep taking bites of all day.
You can mess around with the ingredients depending on whether or not you like more cinnamon flavoring or maybe want to try almond or peanut butter. I think the cashew butter gives it a really great consistency without overwhelming all the other flavors: there’s a hint of cashew, but not too much.
Change Your Life Paleo Custard
1 can coconut milk
1 cup nut butter (cashew)
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 full tbsp cocoa
1. Blend all ingredients until thickened and smooth. 2. Pour into glasses or ramekins and leave in refrigerator for a few hours until thickened. 3. Devour.
I’d really love to start this post with I did a 21 day sugar detox and I killed it but instead I’m going to say that trying to do a detox when your diet is already incredibly limited was a lesson in what not to do when your diet is already incredibly limited.
For starters, my diet is currently already limited to the following list:
*veggies (minus hard to digest veggies like cabbage. and brussels sprouts.)
*occasionally: grains like rice and quinoa
*coffee, tea, some liquors (I hate sweet drinks, so I drink all beverages with no sweeteners, even mixed drinks.)
The detox I attempted to do limited my diet to:
*veggies (but no potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets or other naturally sweet and starchy veggies)
*grapefruit, granny smith apples, not yet ripe bananas, lemons and limes
*meat, fish (but not cured meat)
Avoiding refined sugar is not hard for me. Unless I can find a dairy and soy free chocolate bar, there’s almost nothing sweet I can buy that is free of gluten, diary, soy and eggs. I also am not a baker, so making sweets is rare. Trying to cut back on my sweet tooth meant eating less fruit, not eating sweet potatoes, and not drinking wine. Ok, no problem.
Here’s what 21 days eating this way (above) translated to: not eating until 2 p.m. (or sometimes 4 p.m.) because I didn’t take time to figure out what I could eat on the detox, so instead, I just drank coffee and didn’t eat until the evening when I’d make a massive meal and go to bed with a headache from not eating all day. Really. Dumb.
Here’s the good and bad of what I learned over the last 21 days:
1. Bad: I already have to plan ahead for every single meal I eat. Trying to limit my diet even more especially when I’m busy translates to: It’s too much work. I’ll eat half an avocado and a latte and call it breakfast/lunch. This move over a number of days translates to massive headaches. That last for days. It basically moved me from eating Larabars and lattes all day to not eating and drinking coffee all day. Not healthy. Ridiculous.
2. Good: I don’t need to learn to eliminate sugar. I hardly eat it anyway. I used to have a major sweet tooth but I don’t as much any more, so why exactly am I trying to do this…? The detox was about limiting cravings. I already have a biologically built-in inability to digest so much that limits and cravings mean very different things to me now. Learning this about myself was really awesome.
3. Bad: Sure, giving up alcohol if a few weeks is probably healthy. When I crave something sweet, I crave a glass of wine, a bowl of coconut ice-cream, or a rice cake smothered in peanut butter and my mom’s homemade raspberry jam. (She makes a special one with less sugar for me now because she rules.) The only thing I craved on this detox was sweet potatoes and wine. These things are not inherently bad for me. I’m not sure avoiding them did me that much good.
4. Good: Avocados in smoothies are always a good idea. New favorite: 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, coconut/almond milk, 1 big spoonful of peanut or almond butter. Tasty good fats. Also, bacon and parsnips are a perfect combo. Who knew?
5. Bad: It’s day 22 and I ate 2 Larabars and an almond milk latte and called it breakfast/lunch. Clearly, I did not kick my Larabar habit. I’m not clear if this is a bad thing or just my reality right now.
6. Good: It was awesome to do this diet with my sister, brother-in-law, and friends. I created a private Facebook group for people doing the detox with us and it was so great to share all our recipes and cheer each other on when we wanted to face-plant into a pile of Oreos. (Or, if you’re me, into a glass of wine and a baked sweet potato.) My one thought is that if you are ever going to attempt to change anything in your diet, get a buddy. It’s easier with a buddy. I know this after 5 years of having to eat drastically different from everyone else. Having two siblings who eat like me makes me feel “normal” when it comes to eating.
7. Super Duper Bad: After 10 months, I decided to try eggs last week. It was a disaster. It deserves its own blog post. I’m currently reading up on the science of egg allergy testing to I can write an informed post on egg allergies. Needless to say, the science is not conclusive.
I think the good out-weighs the bad on the last 21 days. It made me realize that it’s okay to go gentle and remove things from my diet, but only if they really make sense for my well-being. Is a sweet potato and a glass of wine here and there really going to wreck me? No. But I think that given how little sugar (refined and natural) I actually consume, limiting myself more than I already have isn’t really all that worth it, especially if it only causes me more stress. (What the hell am I gonna eat? Answer: Nothing.) I think I’m going to stick to my sweet potatoes. And Pink Lady apples. And ripe bananas. I really really missed ripe bananas.
I committed to this detox to see what it would do for my skin and stomach aches. My skin is no better, but I know enough to realize 21 days is not going to change my skin. Eggs wrecked my stomach. I don’t consider the last 21 days a failure, though. I think of it more as a kick-starter to eating with a “restore” state of mind: gentle foods that heal and give your body some rest. I’m game to keep going with this. Only with ripe bananas.
Happy New Year!
It’s been over 4 months since i wrote here last. Time flies! I got lost in my dissertation proposal and didn’t come up for air until it went to committee Saturday, December 21st. I’m about to dive back into months of solid non-stop dissertation writing so I can graduate in 2014 (woohoo!), so I’m starting the new year with a “restore” diet for a few weeks to jump start the semester and rid myself of the massive amounts of sugar and booze I consumed over the holidays. I’m calling it a “restore” way of eating or diet rather than a detox because 1. detox diets are often very short and I intend to eat this way more generally for longer than 21 days 2. this diet is less about “detoxing” and more about feeding my body gentle, nurturing foods that restore energy and balance. Last year, I wrote a lot about sugar-free eating. Over the last 6 months, my functional wellness doctor and acupuncturist (my go-to women for both eastern and western health perspectives on my health) are strongly urging me to get rid of the sugar in order to help deal with my most persistent issues: stomach aches (post too much sugar), consistent skin issues (mainly acne like i’m 13 when i’m 34) and headaches, both caused by hormones, which sugar loves to mess with. I’ve resisted this complete elimination for 6 months because given how limited my diet already is, giving up sugar, even natural sugars, is not appealing.
I’m excited about dropping most sugar because the goal is not to loose weight or try to determine what might be a cause of chronic digestive pain (like in the past). The goal this time is to lessen my sweet tooth and sweet cravings by limiting all sugars: refined, natural, carbs, etc. and to see if it helps with headaches and my chronic skin issues.
Lucky me, I’ve enlisted my sister, brother-in-law, and some lovely friends to join me on the 21-day adventure. We are using Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox book because it has a lot of science-based info on sugar’s impact on the body, lots of recipes, and 3 different levels you can work from so you can figure out how hardcore you want to be based on your current diet. (I’m a level 3 because I’m already so restricted in my diet.)
Today we are literally getting dumped on by snow, which I spent some time shoveling. It was like shoveling endless mounds of confectioner sugar. All I could think about was sugar and how I was getting in a solid workout pushing so much of it off our super long driveway. (And regretting that we didn’t hire someone to plow this year.) Lucky us, I had roasted a chicken, so we came inside to yummy smells. I loved this dinner because it combined some of my favorite things: fennel, avocado, lime, mustard and horseradish. Looking forward to the left-overs after more shoveling tomorrow.
I adapted ideas from the book to create this dinner. I created a mustard glaze (p. 114) to use on the whole chicken (although this glaze could be used on any poultry pieces) but added in horseradish and used olive oil instead of coconut oil. The citrus salad ideas came from the grapefruit salad (p. 166) although the only similarities are the grapefruit, avocado pieces and lime juice. This recipe makes plenty for two people plus left-overs.
Roasted Chicken with Avocado Citrus Salad
1. In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients together. (See ingredients list below.) Brush all of the glaze over the chicken breasts, wings, and legs. This glaze can be used one a whole chicken or breast or thigh pieces. If you have any spare veggies laying around, through them in the bottom of the roasting pan around the chicken. I used a few carrots that came out with a yummy mustardy flavor. Roast chicken until skin darkens and meat is cooked through.
2. While chicken is roasting, prep salad. Chop parsley and scallions and place in a small bowl. Add chopped fennel, avocado wedges, and small pieces of grapefruit. Toss everything with lime juice, olive or avocado oil, salt and pepper. Place everything on top of fresh salad greens.
3. When chicken is done, carve and be sure to pour juices at the bottom of the pan on top of chicken pieces. Mix with salad and devour.
2 tbls olive oil
2 tbls spoons mustard (i used horseradish mustard)
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
small handful of parsley
3 scallions (more or less if you like salads onion-y)
1 fennel bulb
juice from 1/2 lime (or full lime if you like a lot of citrus)
1 tbls of olive or avocado oil
salt and pepper to taste
mixed salad greens
*super relieved to say that last week’s doctor’s appointment went excellent. the test results showed that i’m low in protein and vitamin D (who isn’t?) but for the first time ever, my vitamin B levels are (almost) acceptable. the only additional thing i have to drop: eggs. turns out my body hates egg whites. so, no more eggs. i get to try to reintroduce them in september. this brings my enemy list to: gluten, dairy (except goat products), soy and eggs.
*this puts a major damper on my plans to break last year’s record (5) and eat 6 cupcakes from Ellie’s on my birthday next week. i’ve decided that in place of 6 cupcakes, i will dial down the sugar free-for-all and try only eating a little bit of coconut ice cream.
*last week, i tried 2 new things: venison & honey goat cheese.
*oddly enough, despite growing up in the country, i never ate venison; my family is not a hunting family. a friend of mine hunts and gave me venison steaks and some venison sausage that he made. they’ve been sitting in my freezer for at least 5 months. i’ll admit the only reason i wanted to eat any of it was because some one i knew actually killed the deer.
*it was surprisingly good. i overcooked it:
*second try was more pink and much better:
*another friend of mine found honey goat cheese that is (gasp!) animal rennet-free! now i can add this lovely Canadian cheese-making company to my list of goat cheeses made with vegetable rennet. note: my list had only 1, so it wasn’t much of a list.
*it was my first time eating goat cheese since christmas. i remember now why everyone loves it. after my salad, i just sat there eating it out of the package with a spoon.
*i’m still technically on the elimination/restore diet. i’m supposed to slowly add things back in every week or so. i can’t think of a single thing i miss eating right now, so that’s good news.
*in exactly 7 days i will get the full test results of all 9 vials of my blood work.
*the old me would have decided that i have exactly 7 days to eat every possible thing that i got tested for so that i can eat it just one more time before i’m told i can never have it again. i did this with gluten years ago: in the 3 weeks leading up to getting my test results i ate a lot of bread. i remember sitting with one of my bffs an hour before i was supposed to get my results in and saying “this might be my last real amazing sandwich for the rest of my life.” an hour later, no more gluten.
*the new me has decided that it’s not worth the pain. i tried to add in corn two weeks ago and it went very very badly. i paid for that mistake for 5 days. after recovering from that, i tried nuts because i thought i missed them. turns out i don’t miss them enough to be that bloated. (i also didn’t eat soaked nuts, which might have helped.) last weekend i went for some eggs. i had a stomach ache for hours.
*now, i realize that after 9 weeks, adding foods back in isn’t necessarily going to be easy. i was a bit surprised by the stomach aches with eggs and nuts. not so much with corn. i’m still hoping that my blood work will come back saying there’s nothing else going on and my reactions to corn, nuts, and eggs are just a natural part of adding foods back in to my diet that i haven’t eaten in 2 months.
*i hope corn is not an issue, although the only real corn i eat is the occasional tortilla chips. i love corn on the cob but in NY state the season is pretty short for fresh corn, so i won’t complain about it. nuts are another story. i like almond milk, although this elimination diet has made me LOVE coconut milk. i’d be sad to give up nuts for life. giving up eggs would just suck, especially because they are a huge source of protein for me and i like to avoid too much meat. god forbid i have to go corn, nuts and egg free. good. lord. that would be crazy.
*i am extremely happy to say that the last 9 weeks have been the best 9 weeks of my digestive life: i’ve never had more energy and felt better. so, i must be doing something right.
*one new food i found that i love: go raw super cookies. despite being called cookies, they are not sweet. a handful of these are an awesome snack.
*i just bought the lemon ones. so good.
i’m trying really hard to stay on the elimination diet. it’s getting easier. i’m getting used to eating the same things over and over again. i’m bored. but i’m trying to stay motivated. i’m happy it’s grilling season. and that C bought me a sodastream for my birthday last year. when i’m bored, i’m drinking a lot of soda water with lemon or adding drops of these amazing bitters i bought in seattle last year:
i’ve gotten into the habit of sautéing an entire bunch of kale and a full fennel bulb for lunch or dinner most days of the week. add spicy mustard or lemon and it’s perfect.
yesterday i went to the grocery store and filled my shopping basket with kale, fennel and apples. then i went and stood at the coconut milk ice cream for a solid 5 minutes. i read the back of all of the so delicious sugar-free pints of ice cream. i got scared by the ingredients i didn’t recognize and decided it wasn’t worth the risk of a stomach ache, especially because i have been pain free for exactly 29 days. this is amazing. i settled for an iced mint green tea chai coconut milk latte instead. i drank it and tried to imagine that it was as good as coconut milk ice cream.
i’m currently roasting an entire butternut squash, beets, broccoli and sweet potatoes in batches (because our oven is so tiny) because i need to stop living off of rice cakes, apples, kale and fennel.
mustard is happy that i’ve been grilling salmon a lot more lately:
in San Francisco, i was sad to miss out on my favorite things, like: french fries with aioli:
amazing donuts, although i will admit i felt like i could taste them because they smelled so amazing:
i loved seeing the latte art other people got to enjoy:
twice i cheated and ate bacon. it was worth it.
once, i couldn’t find anything to eat while out walking through little italy, so i ate an entire shrimp cocktail all by myself for lunch:
i also discovered that i love honey and cinnamon on grapefruit and i miss eating figs. i also miss eating honey.
overall, i did pretty good though. i cheated on: honey, bacon, booze, a few chips, and i ate an entire pint of coconut milk chocolate peanut butter ice cream in 24 hours. i can’t believe i didn’t get sick.
i did, however, get a massive head cold on the 5th day and am still struggling to get rid of the congestion.
i have exactly 5 and 1/2 weeks left of this diet before i get to start adding things back in for real. now that i’m home, the temptation to cheat isn’t very strong. i’m struggling to get enough protein most days. i miss peanut butter and eggs. i’m adding those back in first.
in other news, my sister has been doing the same diet (has already adding some things back in because she breast-feds her two kids) and has lost almost all of her pregnancy weight. last i checked, my brother-in-law had lost 18 pounds doing the diet with my sister and i. nutty!
also, my birthday is july 5: you better believe i will be eating at least 3 cupcakes that day.
*been getting really bored with this elimination diet and it’s only day #14. i’ve been trying to find some new recipes to spruce up my otherwise boring days of roasted veggies, chicken, crispy rice with coconut milk, and fruit.
*i was trying to find a smoked salmon i could eat, but i haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t contain sugar. finally landed on one at Trader Joe’s that didn’t have any. score!
*today’s lunch recipe is rockin’–ingredients list below.
Smoked Salmon Salad
*smoked salmon pieces, torn/cut
*half a fennel bulb, chopped
*half a cucumber, chopped
*half a granny apple, chopped
*1 tbls fresh dill, chopped
*half an avocado or use 2 tbls of avocado oil
*1/3 lemon, squeezed on top
*salt and pepper
combine all of the above ingredients and toss with a couple of handfuls of salad greens and spinach
It’s back: the restore diet. Aka: the comprehensive elimination diet. Aka: eat nothing but veggies, fruits, rice, chicken, turkey, fish, coconut milk, olive oil, and tea diet.
Turns out my last bout of gluten contamination over 3 weeks ago wasn’t contamination. It lasted for about 2 and a half weeks and was some of the most intense pain I’ve experienced in my life. I actually mistook the pain for a kidney stone last Sunday when I was laying in bed, realizing I couldn’t stand up straight and everything felt like it did the month leading up to my last kidney stone surgery. Thankfully, the intense pain subsided after 48 hours, but I spent the better part of a solid week laying in bed with a heating pad on my abdomen and sleeping 14 hours a night, plus naps. I’m amazed I slept that much. If you see me and I look tired, it’s because I am.
So, I met with my functional wellness doctor last Tuesday and I have a host of blood work ahead of me to test for additional food sensitivities and intolerances. The good news is I’m in less pain now and I didn’t have to have surgery again. Yippee! I do have to go back on the restore diet I was on 2 years ago (read all about that here) for 6-9 weeks (minimum) and start drinking powders labeled “medical food” and completely avoid my favorite things (like coffee, booze, almond milk, eggs, and honey). But I’m on day 3 and feeling positive. Although my first time back at the gym this morning was brutal. (Haven’t been in 3 weeks.)
Other awesome restore diet things:
*I get to drink smoothies with unsweetened coconut milk, which is always yummy. I’m using this supplement to boost my protein, since I can’t have my main protein sources (nuts, eggs) and have to start eating chicken, fish, and turkey again. I’d highly recommend it. It’s vegan and it’s yummy.
*Turns out coconut milk on rice crispy cereal and in tea lattes is quite tasty. Matcha in banana coconut smoothies is also awesome.
*My amazing sister and her husband are being ultra supportive and doing the restore diet with me for at least 6 weeks. We all plan on loosing our love-handles in the process and constantly text each other pictures of the recipes we make up to get through the massive amount of veggies we eat all day. This level of support is amazing.
*My mother called to tell me she went grocery shopping and is currently cooking me a bunch of things off the restore diet list and driving it all out to me tomorrow. Seriously: I have an amazing family.
*Again, I can’t express enough how happy I am that I’m not: in the hospital and/or getting another endoscopy and/or colonoscopy. I’ll take the restore diet over any of those things.
*I also have a possible new diagnosis: leaky gut. I’ve had numerous doctors and natural health practitioners suggest this to me in the last year but I haven’t done much research on the science behind it. My doctor explained it to me on Tuesday and I’m still in the process of learning what it actually means for my body. (You can read a general synopsis here and here.) It would make sense, given my chronic digestive issues, food sensitivities/intolerances, and the chronic pain I’ve been having, which my doctors think is caused by inflammation in my digestive track. So, I’m feeling hopeful that doing the restore diet for a while will help me reset things and begin to build me back up in time to enjoy the summer months.
*I leave for a week in San Francisco in 14 days and I’m slightly worried that traveling on the restore diet is going to be frustrating for the first 5 days when I’m in a hotel and don’t have access to a kitchen. I need to find a place that will make me smoothies with coconut milk in the Union Square area. Suggestions for any places that make smoothies and a mean salad would be awesome!
coriander + cumin + cayenne pepper + turmeric + cumin seeds + paprika + garam masala = indian spice heaven
still making a lot of chana masala. having a hard time with my split peas: they were in a crockpot on low for 6 hours and were still not cooked. moved them to a stove on low for another 6 hours. still not cooked. what am i doing wrong? this didn’t happen last time…
*i got this sweet potato in my very last farm share last week. it’s about 9 inches around and 8 inches long. if my farm share wasn’t organic, i’d swear something creepy made this thing grow this large:
*here’s a funny thing: now that i’m cooking again, i can’t stop eating. can’t. stop. i think it has something to do with making up for lost time, working out again, and being able to eat whenever i want because when most of what i eat all day is veggies, beans & lentils, i can eat all the time and never have to think about gaining weight or being full. it’s lovely.
*i’ve added three things in: tomatoes, lentils, and some beans. as long as i soak the beans overnight, i’m good to go.
*i’m becoming addicted to indian spices. my mouth is on fire with curry, masala & cayenne pepper.
*if it’s orange, i’m eating it.
*it’s amazingly inexpensive to buy organic bulk beans, lentils & peas. i’m happy to be eating less meat and getting my protein from some new sources.
*it’s also a lovely orange:
*my toes have been so numb over the last 2 weeks that i’m wondering if i’m deficient again…slacking on supplement intake lately.
*my latest cooking spree forced me to finally replace my cast iron cookware. i’m sad to see it go, but hoping to give it a good home soon.