Honestly, any diet that allows me to serve a fruit swimming in a shallow lake of butter and maple syrup or honey is a diet that I can on board with. And I realized that on Tuesday I didn’t really describe WHY we are doing what we’re doing. At the risk of offending anyone, I’ll admit that we aren’t doing what is referred to as the “paleo” or “ancestral” diet, primarily because the science doesn’t convince me, but secondarily because I think the entire thing is pretty illogical. However, the fact is that our diet–like, I think, most Americans’–has revolved around grains and meat. This is natural, considering that grains are a “staple” food–they make up a fairly large percent of, I think, most diets worldwide. But while some people may not have a problem healthily integrating their grains with large amounts of vegetation, we are not those people.
We, like many, can make entire meals out of macaroni and cheese, or bread and a roast chicken. This isn’t because we don’t enjoy vegetables, though. On the contrary, when prepared properly they can be just as enjoyable as grains, and sometimes even more enjoyable on their own. I guess it’s because grains are easy and we’re so habituated to them being a staple, and because preparing grains, meats, and vegetables all deliciously without restoring always to one-pot meals can get exhausting. And finally, we eat far too much refined sugar.
I wanted to make this a change of habits, not just a change of ingredients. If I just swapped out the ingredients, we would no doubt be eating copious amounts of cauliflower “rice,” almond flour, and coconut flour. And let’s be honest, even if those options are healthier, would it really be healthy to have a diet comprised heavily of those items? I doubt it.
As I suggested, there may be a few exceptions to the “no-substitute foods” as time goes on. One is granola, which we are using to top our fruit crisp in the mornings, and which has been made of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pineapple, dates, and coconut flakes. Another is crackers, which I will be making out of lentil and/or chickpea flour. Another is our homemade “Larabars,” since my husband was making a meal out of his Clif bars until now anyway and it’s what works for him. And finally, at some point I will probably dip into the vast pool of grain-free, nut-free bread options, choosing something with as few ingredients as possible (I’m looking at you, sweet potato buns or butternut squash flatbread) to help me conquer those insistent bread snack cravings without messing up what I’m trying to do here…
Which is ultimately to see. Just…to see. If it does anything. If it changes anything.
For day three (of 42):
Breakfast: cup of garlic soup with poached veggies and egg; “baked” apple with maple syrup and butter
Snack: a little of my parents’ leftover chinese food (mostly onions, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms); a half-portion of our leftover pumpkin chipotle chili from last night
Dinner: mushroom cabbage wraps
Mushroom Cabbage Wraps
(serves 2, with some leftover mushroom mixture. might perhaps serve 3 or 4 with additional cabbage leaves. if you don’t have any pre-cooked vegetables, mince or process the same amount of raw veggies, and cook with the onion mixture until softened before adding the mushrooms.)
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 t fresh ginger, grated
- ~20 mushrooms (enough to fill a 10-c food processor bowl)
- 2 c cooked vegetables (we used carrots, celery, radishes, turnip)
- 1/4 c teriyaki sauce
- 2 T chile-garlic sauce
- 1 T soy sauce (or to taste)
- 2 t sesame oil
- 2 t rice vinegar
- 2 t lime juice
- 1 small cabbage, leafed
- carrot and daikon pickles, if desired
- fresh green onion, if desired
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook several minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
- Meanwhile, add mushrooms to food processor and pulse until chopped finely, about 10-15 one-second pulses. You may have a few mushrooms that stay stubbornly whole–if that happens, remove the chopped mushrooms and re-process the whole ones.
- Add mushrooms to saute pan. Stir frequently, cooking until the mushrooms have released their liquid and cooked it off, and are beginning to brown and crisp again.
- Meanwhile, add cooked vegetables to the food processor and pulse until chopped, about 2-3 one-second pulses. Add to mushrooms and stir until well combined.
- Add remaining ingredients (to taste) into the mushroom vegetable mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it has reached the taste and texture you desire. It should be wet enough to hold together on a spoon, almost like sloppy joes.
- Serve with cabbage leaves for rolling, as well as the carrot and daikon pickles, green onion, or any other garnishes you desire. In the picture I snapped, you can see my husband has helpfully added chicken to his, which you can certainly do (although I prefer pork).