Welcome to Day 10 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. Our guest blogger today is Sara from The Messy Chef. Sara and her husband used to lead “normal” lives – lives filled with sickness, disease, pain, obesity, and exhaustion. You name it, they experienced it. A miscarriage for Sara and a cancer diagnosis for herhusband gave them the wakeup call they needed and they decided to do something about it. They changed their diet dramatically and removed all of the chemically engineered “food” and Sara gave herself a challenge. Instead of getting depressed about not being able to cook and eat the foods they were used to, she decided to create all of the foods that they loved in a new and healthy way. And now the disease and sickness are gone and they both feel great.
Her blog, The Messy Chef, was created for all the messy chefs out there who want to cook healthy but are afraid or just don’t know how. It’s for people who are sick of being sick. It’s for people who have been on diet after diet after diet and continually fail. This way of cooking and eating isn’t a diet, it’s truly a lifestyle. Healthy is NOT low or no fat and tasteless. Healthy is delicious and Messy is the new black!
Sara’s Recipe: Caesar Salad
Sara’s Tip: How to snack at work without touching the vending machines
When I first heard about this 30-day project, I was so excited. I’m extremely honored to have been asked to participate. As a relatively new food blogger, I’m constantly amazed at the talent of all the other bloggers out there. I’m also touched that their stories are so close to my own.
Why is it that healthy cooking (and eating) is almost like a disease in the world we live in? You mention to people the kind of lifestyle you lead by eating a lot of vegan and wheat-free foods and people look at you like you have the plague and tell you the typical, “Oh, I could never do that.” People are so in love with their bottled dressings, packaged cookies, 1-lb steaks at every meal that they don’t stop and look at their own health. The “flavor” and “immediate satisfaction” are way more important than the resulting stomachache, 50 pounds they have put on in their mid-section, or worse the disease that is ravaging their body and they don’t even know it.
It’s for these reasons that it took me so long to switch over. The constant health issues were what caused us to stop and make the conscious decision that we needed a change. My husband was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. We’re both in our 20s – that isn’t supposed to happen to people in their 20s. I not only had the miscarriage, but also ovarian cysts and kidney stones. My husband took a sensitivity test and the results were that he was sensitive to wheat, casein (common ingredient in dairy products) and cane sugar – three ingredients that are in the majority of the American diet. He had also been struggling with kidney stones and gout, a result of high acid foods. What foods are highly acidic? Meat and dairy – two of our absolute favorite foods. So what resulted was a mostly vegan, mostly grain-free diet. Foreign soil anyone? Our families thought we were crazy, but as soon as we started the change to the “hippie diet” as we like to call it, our health began to improve dramatically. Fortunately our meals are way more than just granola and hemp. Normal people can cook and eat this way – it’s a lot easier than you think it is (and most of the time it tastes better).
So the challenge of this guest blog is to cook foods that most people buy pre-packaged and processed. What a better way to do this than making your own salad dressing. I used to think making your own dressing was impossible. Each bottle of dressing tasted perfect (yep, every drop of preservatives, sodium and high fructose corn syrup-laden creamy goodness) – how was it that I could match that? I started trying the so-called healthy dressings. They were disgusting. They tasted fake – either being too sweet, too bitter, or something just wasn’t right. So I took matters into my own hands and worked on many different versions and test recipes.
My absolute favorite salad in the world is Caesar salad. Unfortunately real Caesar dressing has anchovies and raw eggs in it – not exactly in the vegan plan. I researched several vegan Caesar dressing recipes and came up with my own. I have tested this on several non-vegans and they agree that this is by far the best Caesar salad they have tasted. Add some homemade croutons and you have an absolute hit.
The croutons were another challenge. I loved boxed croutons. But if you look at the ingredients, there are usually 30-50 items listed. I vowed to make croutons that were crunchy and tasted good so that my everyday salads could have added crunch. I usually use Ezekiel bread which is a sprouted grain bread. While this is not a gluten free bread, my husband has been able to tolerate the wheat content in it (the sprouted wheat is at its best form – lowest gluten content and the most nutrition it will ever have). If you have celiac disease and can’t handle gluten in any way, please DO NOT use this bread. Instead use your favorite gluten free bread, it will work just as well since gluten free bread usually toasts extremely nicely. In fact Elana of Elana’s Pantry has developed a wonderful homemade gluten free bread that is extremely tasty – it was so good that my husband and I ate the entire loaf in one setting.
I’ll give you a mini tip about my common substitutions. For mayo, I use Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise – a wonderful egg-free, non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) mayonnaise. Instead of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, I use Bragg Liquid Aminos. My go-to oil is grapeseed oil. It’s a wonderful oil that has a mild butter flavor (so it can be used in place of butter in baking) and can be heated to higher temperatures than olive oil (and doesn’t have the strong olive oil taste). Instead of table salt, I use organic sea salt because the only ingredient is salt – no added chemicals. These great ingredients should be staples in any kitchen.
- 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 Tbsp worth)
- ½ tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
- pinch of organic sea salt
- ¼ C grapeseed oil
- 1 head organic romaine lettuce, chopped
- Whisk Vegenaise, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, liquid aminos, sea salt, and oil in a small bowl.
- Toss with lettuce, making sure to cover the lettuce evenly.
- 1 slice Ezekiel sprouted grain bread (found in the freezer section)
- 1 clove garlic
- (Optional) Seasoning of choice and grapeseed oil
- Place your slice of bread in the toaster and toast it until its well toasted, but not burned (you want your croutons to be kind of hard, but its up to you how hard you like your croutons).
- Cut the garlic in half and rub one entire side of the toast with the cut end – this will give your croutons a wonderful garlic flavor.
- Cut the toast into your desired number of croutons. If this isn’t enough croutons, just make more – its that simple (and tastes way better than boxed croutons you find in the store, plus you just saved yourself $3.50 by making your own).
- Alternately (or in addition to the previous steps), make your toast and cut into the number of croutons you want. Put 1 Tbsp grapeseed or olive oil in and 1 tsp of your favorite seasoning. Place the croutons in the bag and toss to cover the croutons evenly.
My helpful healthful tip on how to snack at work without touching the vending machine: Go to your local grocery store’s bulk bins and fill a bag with one pound of your favorite nut – mine happens to be raw almonds. Put the nuts in an air-tight container. Take your container with you wherever you go. When you get hungry, pull it out and eat a few. This will tide you over until lunchtime, or in the middle of the afternoon when those cravings hit. The crunchiness of the nuts will keep you satisfied and will tide you over until your next meal. The $4 you spend on your snack will help out your appetite and wallet (since you probably won’t eat an entire pound of nuts in one setting), plus you’re getting vital nutrients with your nut of choice.
Visit The Messy Chef.
In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing. The more you do, the more chances you have to win!
- Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like. Each comment is an entry.
- Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
- Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
- Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you #30days2 #foodrevolution
When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.