6 Years of Healing

>> Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I began writing this blog in late 2009 -- I can't believe it's been that long. A huge chunk of my life is on the internet, shared for the world to digest. And throughout the years, my focus has shifted . . . often. From food to healthy living to food to fitness to a mix of all three, and now I write primary about food again. Thanks for sticking with me through it all.

I wanted to share a personal victory today that's about my journey with the eating disorder I vaguely reference occasionally, but never in full. I wrote more about it -- again, glossing it over -- in a couple posts, Skinny Versus Healthy I and Skinny Versus Healthy II, if you're interested in reading more. If not, the short of it is that I struggled with bouts of anorexia and bulimia from my mid-teens through early-twenties.

April 2014 marks a huge step in my move toward healthier habits, despite what diet and exercise might be happening (or not). It's been 6 years since I restricted or otherwise eliminated foods as a part of my disorder.

Looking back, the whole ordeal seems worlds away.

Like I can't even believe that this story is mine to tell.

Yet, it is.


I took this photo the day I decided to make a big change in my life all those years ago. I can't believe how young I look! I was 24. I was fed up with a life that was completely controlled by my weight, by binging, by the years upon overwhelming years of it all piling up and becoming my one-dimensional reality.

My life was my disorder.

This isn't to say I'm 100% better now . . . or will ever be fully healed. There will probably always be a part of me that will mentally struggle with some issues related to body image and eating despite any help I get (in the past I've met one-on-one with friends and even gone to a few support groups). When I speak with other individuals who are in similar boats, that sentiment is shared that an eating disorder is much like addiction in that way. It's a process of continual work and staying on top of things.

However, the physical healing from my own experience that spanned nearly a decade is incredibly significant to me. Like most people, I still have trouble making sure I get the right mix of nutrients or eat the correct balance of calories. I still have missteps with getting stuck on that number I see on the scale. I still make mistakes getting caught up in bad periods and good, but the promise I made to myself all those years ago was to let go of extremes. To let go of the unhealthy limits and unreasonable control. Let go of the physical ways I was hurting myself and my future by either not eating or worse.

So, it's been 6 solid, good years, and I finally wanted to share it with you. Though you didn't quite know you were all along for it, you were here with me every step of the way. So, thanks for your support -- voiced or otherwise (just reading here!). Thanks for sharing in all the ups and downs. Thanks for enjoying the recipes I create, as learning to enjoy food and cooking has been a huge part of my healing process. Perhaps the most important of all.

Here's to continued progress!

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Whole Wheat "Buttermilk" Biscuits

>> Tuesday, April 22, 2014

So, I emailed Aldi about the carrageenan conundrum and soon got a call from our local distributor of almond milk. The milk in our stores locally does contain the ingredient and there are no plans of taking it out. I don't really understand why it's in my milk and some of you said it isn't in yours.

But there you have it!


Not thrilled at this inconsistency, since there's so much good to say about the store and their products. I'll have add that as another thing I don't love about Aldi. But at least I know that I should take that item off my list for the time being, if not indefinitely.

// MORE INFO

I wrote more about carrageenan back when Ada was transitioning from breastmilk to hemp milk. Then we decided on organic cow's milk for this same reason. Basically, I found a handy website with comprehensive lists by food for which brands contain this carcinogen. I'm just super surprised it's in so many "healthy" and "natural" foods.

Anyway, I made the following recipe with my Aldi milk . . . but for those of you who are curious about carrageenan, you can find brands that don't contain this ingredient. We used Silk and Wegmans brands for years with no issues.



WHOLE WHEAT "BUTTERMILK" BISCUITS
Vegan. Quick to make. Sweet or savory.

What you'll need . . .
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cold Earth Balance, chopped into pieces
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk*
* Or whatever "milk" you prefer to use. Just do an equal ratio + you're golden!
Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the flour, cornmeal baking powder, and sea salt.
  3. Cut in the "vegan butter" with your fingers -- I simply dropped bits of the Earth Balance into the flour mixture and crumbled it together with my fingers until it formed a coarse meal texture.
  4. Then pour in your maple syrup, water, and almond milk. Mix until everything is moistened, but don't over-mix!
  5. Then turn onto a well floured (or I used more cornmeal) surface and flatten until around 1-inch thick.
  6. Using a round cookie cutter (I used a Ball jar lid ring), cut dough into 10-12 biscuits.
  7. Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Let cool before serving warm with Earth Balance or sliced strawberries, etc.

// HOMEMADE ALMOND MILK

For the immediate future, I'm going to make some batches of homemade almond milk to tide us over. We somehow have like 5 gigantic bags of raw almonds that we need to use up before they expire. I just need to pick up some cheesecloth or maybe one of these nut-milk bags -- as they are less than $10 and I could see one getting good use in our kitchen.

// MORE BISCUITS
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What's Great + NOT about Aldi

>> Monday, April 21, 2014

And here's an Aldi shopping update!


// GREAT

Some new + fun ingredients we're trying this week:
  • Organic Black Beans 
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
  • Dry Pinto Beans
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Hummus 
  • Prunes . . . Ada loves these!
  • GETBalance Crunch (like Kashi)
  • Almond butter (we tried last week -- good!)
And here's our receipt: $116.56


Not bad for a gigantic, bursting cart-load of groceries (including some weekend fund + extras for a brunch we hosted yesterday). We bought more than "normal" this week because our store was featuring some of those one-time buys, so we stocked up.

We are also trying to do the bulk of shopping for two weeks on one weekend followed by a lighter load. I'm now evaluating budget by the month for these reasons. I'll check in about that again soon.

// NOT-SO GREAT

1. Almond Milk contains carrageenan

I didn't realize this fact until a reader asked me to check the ingredients label. I was definitely dismayed because we try to avoid this ingredient, which is used for thickening or emulsifying foods (carcinogen).  I didn't think to check because I thought most refrigerated almond/soy milks didn't have this ingredient and that it was found more in the shelf-stable versions. Guess I was wrong . . .

2. Cottage Cheese contains carrageenan

I think a lot of cottage cheese brands contain this ingredient, so I can't go too hard on Aldi for the addition. I think I'm more frustrated that carrageenan continues to be used in foods if it's harmful.

3. Shredded Cheese burns easily, especially under broiler

Just my experience, but the shredded cheese just doesn't hold up as well for my cooking purposes. I think all shredded cheese has a coating so it doesn't clump together, so that must be it. Basically, it gets black and greasy very quickly -- so I use the block cheese and shred myself. No biggie, but still annoying. 

4. Produce is generally good, but really depends on shopping day

After weeks upon weeks of flawless produce, I got a bad batch. I had onions where half had gross soft spots. I had a green pepper with mold on it. A bunch of bananas that had black spots and were far too ripe (I divded them up and froze parts that were OK). We shopped on a different day that week (Monday versus Saturday), so I'm hoping that was the reason.

5. Frozen Stir-Fry sources from far and wide -- confusing

We love the taste and convenience of the Aldi frozen stir-fries, but when I was cooking up the last batch, I noticed the ingredients are from China, Holland, Guatemala, Mexico, and USA. I'm not sure how normal that is (to be from so many places -- but it IS processed, so understandable), since we aren't used to buying frozen mixes anyway.

6. Non-Food Items aren't as competitively priced

Some items are. Some aren't. But diapers are definitely not cheaper than at other retailers. I also got some paper plates (to lessen the dishes load on house-showing days) and they weren't impressively inexpensive. Garbage bags weren't any better than at our local discount shop, etc.

// I'D LOVE TO SEE

Still, I'm not scared away. The bottom line is the number that comes up at the register. We'll continue shopping there and just be choosey about the foods we buy, even if it means spending 30 cents more on almond milk each week.

That being said, if Aldi started carrying these items, I'd be able to shop there exclusively.
  • Tofu
  • Carrageenan-free almond + soy milk
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Flaxmeal
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Dairy-free ice cream
  • Earth Balance-like spread
  • Herbal tea
  • Veggie baby food packets
And today on WRITING CHAPTER THREE, I'm answering 29 "TMI" Questions via video! Now that this month has calmed down, I'm hoping to get more videos up (including cooking tutorials) on our YouTube channel.

More #unsponsored ALDI recipes/posts:
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