Easy Peasy Eating
When I was working, I had to be super creative in order to cook our meals from scratch. And, being that they were dairy, gluten, and corn free (DGC-free), I had to be intentional with my extremely limited time. Oh, and did I mention that my husband traveled three-four days a week? Oh, yes. Our world was food chaos.
I was obsessed with the idea of creating delicious DGC-free meals that tasted as good or better than the original dishes. That’s a tall order but it was a challenge I accepted. I stayed up late at night testing out recipes (and throwing most of them out because they tasted like cardboard). I tried my hand at creating cheese out of cashews and making homemade chocolate out of carob, until I found out carob comes from corn. Ugh.
I used up and wasted massive amounts of precious time, so my family wouldn’t miss out on all the comfort foods they craved, while still creating anti-inflammatory recipes to get us all on the road to health. I also tried REALLY hard to like kale. I made kale in a million different ways, desperately trying to feel a kindred spirit with it the way half the healthy world seemed to have decided. I made green muffins once. I don’t recommend it.
After a few dozen complaints from my family about the nastiness of my food, my never-ending crankiness, and especially my constant absence because I was always in the kitchen, I had a sort of epiphany. A voice came to me inside my head. I think it was the voice of Molly who said, “Mama, can’t we just have NORMAL food?”
Hmm. Why can’t we just have normal food? What I was cooking was clearly not normal. I classify normal as something my Granny would have made for her family to eat 75 years ago. So, I went on a new mission to find foods that were already gluten, dairy, and corn free, tasty, and easy to make into a meal. There have to be some of those, right? I got to work.
What could we eat that’s already ‘clean’ – unprocessed and healthy? Vegetables! Every veggie is open to us, except for corn. Easy! What else, what else? Fruit! Yes, we love fruit. Put that on the list. And, let’s see. Meat! We are definitely meat eaters, so meat made the cut. Rice, quinoa, oats, eggs, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, seafood, and a slew of other ‘normal’ foods made the list, as well. We were even able to throw in some sheep cheese which did not bother Molly’s tummy.
Sheep cheese. Who knew?
Next, I needed ideas for easy, healthy meals without having to do things like soak almonds overnight and then save their nut pulp. Been there, done that. Not going back. So, one day as I was planning our evening meal, I decided to marinate some chicken thighs for a couple hours. I like soy sauce (gluten free) and everyone likes honey. Easy. I tossed it all into a bag together with a little olive oil and let it sit. When it was time to eat, I grilled it and wrapped some asparagus and olive oil in tin foil and grilled it, too. Then I boiled quinoa in chicken broth and added salt and onions. Twenty minutes later, dinner was served. And it didn’t take me hours to prep or turn my brain to mush. It was super simple and delicious, and we devoured it.
There we go. One meal down.
The next night, I made burger patties and added chili powder and onions to them and tossed them onto the grill. I also wrapped up little potatoes in tin foil and tossed them on the grill, too. I sliced up some avocado, onions and tomato and served the whole thing up. We used lettuce on either side of the burger patties instead of buns. Another big score. Two points for me.
Night number three. I’m sick of meat. So, what to do, what to do? Aha! Fried rice. I cooked up my rice and veggies, tossed them in a pan together, added some gluten free soy sauce and scrambled eggs. Meal number three. Took about 20 minutes.
Oh, people, not only was I beyond thrilled that I had just freed up about two hours of my time every night, I was finally feeling successful in my cooking ventures. And, I realized that it’s really not so difficult to eat healthy and clean. It’s easier. And simpler. I was sold.
After that, it was meal planning was a snap. Bacon wrapped scallops with broccoli and cauliflower, spaghetti made with brown rice noodles, salmon with honey glazed Brussel sprouts with a side of quinoa – these and many others made the list. And some nights, we would just have ‘veggie smorgasbord,’ where we’d steam, sauté, and grill a hoard of veggies and have at it. Easy peasy. Molly’s tummy healed, her body gave up being constantly inflamed, and our ‘new normal’ way of eating, which was really the only normal several decades ago, became old hat.
Now, let me end with this: If you do decide on this way of eating to heal your body, it’s imperative that you go full out for at least year or more. Sounds intimidating, I know, but it’s not. Believe me. We’ve been there. But, after your body is not in a state of inflammation, you’ll be able to veer off every now and again for a treat or two, as long as you pop back into eating clean. And, a huge bonus is that you’ll get a good look at how certain foods make you feel. We thought it was only Molly who needed healing, but it turns out it was me, too. So, when we decide to treat ourselves with pizza night, the next day, Molly’s tummy is just fine. Mine? Not so much. But after a day or two of eating clean again, all is right with my digestive world.
Eating clean is much easier than you think. Meat, veggies, fruit, and gluten free grains. There are hundreds of possibilities and combinations. You can do it.
And if you need a little kick start, here is a super easy option for summer:
Beef and Veggie Skewers
1 Pound Stew Meat
2 Red Peppers
1/2 Large White Onion
1 Container Full Mushrooms
1 Container Fresh Pineapple
1 Package Bamboo Skewers
Fire up your grill and let it get nice and hot. I put mine on about medium heat. While the grill is heating, cut your meat into chunks and your veggies into large pieces. Slide each piece onto skewers starting with the meat, then onions, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, and then start from the top again with meat until the skewer is full. Make as many skewers as your supply allows then place them, single file, onto your grill and close the lid. I like to check mine every 5 to 10 minutes, then flip the skewers over at around 10 to 12 minutes, depending on how you like your meat cooked.
Cook until meat is hot and ready, then pull off the grill and let them cool. We eat ours with a little ketchup and mustard, and they are glorious. Enjoy!
Kristen Feighery is a self-taught folk artist, originally from southeastern Kentucky. She spends her days painting anything not nailed down (and some things that are), chauffeuring one daughter to sporting events, having tea parties with the other, and writing a blog. She's also married to a rather large Irishman and has a pub in her house. Really.