Guest Post: Learning to Cook and Eat All Over Again

I’m delighted to welcome my first guest blogger – a high school friend who shares her recent (ongoing) experience with a drastic lifestyle/diet change. Love Kellie’s can-do attitude – she gives way more than the 110% she gives herself credit for!

By Kellie Peters

Up until early December of 2014, I spent Sunday evenings preparing my work-week of breakfasts and lunches by simply counting out 5 lime yogurts in my fridge…done.

Each morning, I would toss back a large cup of coffee (loaded with cream and sugar) as I scrambled to get ready for work. I’d have another coffee when I arrived at work (an hour later). I’d eat some carbs covered in dairy for breakfast, have a yogurt for lunch, another coffee after lunch, and some pretzels and chocolates or candy for an afternoon snack. Dinners were typically meat and starch with occasional veggies.

It is now nearing the end of February 2015, and my Sunday evening prep has changed dramatically…. It takes a bit longer to prep for the week, but it is now a time during which my family lurks or assists with great curiosity, and I am filled with the satisfaction of knowing I’m creating breakfasts, lunches, and snacks that are the optimal fuel for my body (healing, boosting, strengthening, and combating).

This prep shift stemmed from a January discovery of a few health issues that would require a dramatic food shift: Candida overgrowth (likely having caused Leaky Gut), pre-diabetes, two major food allergies, and some 40-odd food sensitivities.

I went from a Sunday of coffee, cream, sugar, cheeses, Danish, fruits, cookies, brownies, breads, milk & cereal, oj, cream cheese spreads, eggs, yogurts, ice cream, etc. etc.,…to a Monday of eye-opening eliminations: allergic to all dairy, allergic to eggs, the need to eliminate all sugars, all caffeine, all things fermented (all condiments, all fruit, anything preserved or smoked, etc.)…and the elimination of all 43 foods on my sensitivity list, including, among many others: gluten, rice, potatoes, honey, coconut, sesame, ginger, cashews, peas, beans, lettuce, cocoa, apples, peanuts, and the list goes on and on.

I was determined to tackle this head on! I would give 110% ! I would tap into every resource I could find and, most importantly, carefully coach my family respecting this huge shift and getting them on board to row this boat with me. It’s a slow but sure process. I found myself feeling very resentful at first as they doused their ice cream sundaes with chocolate sauce and chased them with big glasses of milk…or had heaping mounds of pancakes dripping with maple syrup. It seemed too much to bear until I took the bull by the horns and scoured the Internet (and friends) for recipes that not only I could eat, but that my family might also enjoy. The key: to find recipes that mimic “theirs” and to hope and pray for the thumbs up response of, “Mom, is this ‘your food?’ It can’t be, it tastes too good!” I’ll never forget the turning point when I made a gluten-free batch of waffles that they all loved! Then, a few days later, we whipped up some ground chicken and avocado burgers…and again, they loved them. There have been some big flops, but I just keep experimenting, creating/cooking, sharing, and teaching.

I’ve had to learn to cook (and grocery shop) all over again.

Some of my strategies:

  • I’ve created a large binder filled with recipes and notes.
  • I carefully read every label on food I buy.
  • I’ve created an entire shelf in our pantry (and section of the fridge) that holds all the gluten-free and “mom” items.
  • I’ve swapped out anything with which we typically cook, for things that are healthier and okay for me to eat: got rid of canola oil, now use almond; got rid of cow milk, now use almond milk; got rid of white cane sugar, now use date sugar or maple syrup (or apple sauce). I no longer cook with eggs (for me) and continue to experiment with either soaked chia seeds or applesauce.
  • I’ve posted a list in the kitchen of all the items that make healthier substitutions.
  • I’ve found a few key foods/recipes that helped me survive this shift: gf, dairy free, eggless flatbread; gf oatmeal with almond milk; almonds; a great dressing/marinade with raw apple cider vinegar, lime, and almond oil, to name a few.
  • I’ve reached out when I’m feeling overwhelmed and let my family and friends know when I need support or guidance. (Many, many thanks to Liza Baker, Brian Truskowski, and Carrie Levine!)

Note: my 13 year old daughter just made us a ‘bedtime snack’ of gf oatmeal cooked in almond milk with vanilla and cinnamon. Success.

10420162_10153170323838112_1546647998323801508_nAbout Kellie Peters: As a kid, I spent all of my time divided between gardening with my mom in the scenic mountains of Vermont, pretending to be a teacher to my little brother, caring for my pets, drawing, painting, writing stories and doing gymnastics. As an adult, I spend all my time gardening with my wonderful (13 year old) twins, being a teacher for gifted and talented elementary school students in the beautiful midcoast of Maine, caring for my pets, drawing, painting, writing and publishing children’s books, and helping to run our family oyster farm. I make a point to carve out a little time for myself and my many other passions: cooking, horticulture, goldsmithing, stained glass work, yoga, martial arts, ancestry research, photography, studying foreign languages, and taking trips with my kids to new and exciting destinations.