Meal Plan for Eating Disorder Recovery

Breakfast  
Thick sourdough bread slathered in real butter and strawberry preserves. Whole milk blended up with protein powder and almond butter. This is my Monday morning breakfast.

Wait a minute, gluten-filled bread? Real butter and whole milk? Blasphemy! This is a gluten –free and dairy-free blog, right?

That time has passed. I am welcoming in all the foods. No restrictions.

I have battled an eating disorder for ten years. Evidence of that is written all over this blog. Last fall I recommitted to weekly therapy sessions with an ED (eating disorder) specialist, and as I described Sparkle Kitchen in our first meeting the fog began to lift. My special protocols and elimination diets were blatantly feeding my disease.  


Snack  
Cheddar cubes and raw carrots. 10am snack.

My therapist recommends using the following guideline to avoid any ED triggers:

Breakfast
Snack
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
Snack

I was intermittent fasting when I met my current therapist. And I was spiraling into daily panic attacks and binging to calm myself. It wasn’t pretty. Any type of restrictive diet sets my eating disorder in motion so the daily meal guide above allows me to feel safe; safety in knowing that another meal is in sight and I don’t have to compensate for eating more or less.


Lunch
Salmon sushi with a mixed greens salad.

Sometimes food isn’t the solution.  I believed eating the most nourishing foods would cure my ailments. All the pain and discomfort of a leaky gut would resolve itself if I just followed the right diet.

Diet can help if you know what your body needs. But I didn’t know, I was merely guessing.  

I enlisted the help of a nutritional biochemist to run a full panel of testing. The results were more or less expected. Minor case of leaky gut, no gluten sensitivity, a bit of candida overgrowth, very low zinc levels and my thyroid T3 and T4 hormones were in the functionally low range.

Three years of sardines, organ meats, coconut oil, seaweed and bone broth and I still had these issues.

The nutritional biochemist suggested a series of supplements over a three-month period. No custom diet. I eat anything and everything.

My therapist explained how denying certain foods can put your body in shock when it does encounter a “forbidden” treat. Whether this is founded in science I’m uncertain, but I can definitely attest to the placebo effect. Sugar is/was my trigger food and every time I indulged I would feel awful, full blown sugar hangover. Ninety percent of that is/was guilt. Guilt of putting a “no” food into my body and the possibility of it impacting my weight.


Snack
Plain yogurt and banana. Or chocolate chips stirred into crunchy peanut butter.


Dinner
Sautéed bok choy, chicken burger.

I spent a week in the hospital in college. The result was misdiagnosed Crohn’s disease.

I’d suffered from severe abdominal pain since both my parents remarried at age ten. At the time, no one thought to correlate the two and I traveled from doctor to doctor for years with no accurate diagnosis.

Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies, taking shape in a myriad of ailments. Mine rooted in my bowels.  I didn’t have the necessary tools to process my stress as a child so my body responded the only way it knew how, stomach pain. While I suppressed the emotional pains of my life, my abdomen did the screaming instead.


Snack
Glass of milk and a bit of dark chocolate.

Improv comedy has the “Yes, and…” rule of thumb that I’ve incorporated into my eating philosophy.  I say “yes” to all the foods. And add a scoop of ice cream to my slice of pie.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Three more days until Christmas! Joy is officially in the air. I can even smell it. It’s a combination of pine, bonfire, cold air, cloves and fresh baked sugar cookies. Christmas has a distinctive scent that can’t be bottled into a candle. I did try to replicate it in this cake though.

Fruit cake is the butt of every holiday joke. Typically weighing almost ten pounds, filled with every fruit and nut imaginable and said to last forever, they are loathed by most. This cake is my attempt to change that. How can dried fruits and chocolate in a cake not be delicious? I was inspired by watching Nigella Lawson bake her famous Christmas Cake. She makes the holiday magical and it’s easy to fall under her cooking spell. The tiny, twinkle lights covering her kitchen will entrance you. Nigella calls her cake a trifecta of aromas, with fruits, cinnamon and cloves. Fruit cake is edible Christmas.

The tart cherry juice in this recipe intensifies each dried fruit. You can substitute apple, orange or pineapple juice if cherry isn’t your favorite. Coconut flour can be crumbly so be extra careful when removing the finished cake from the pan.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Makes 1 9” cake.

1 cup tart cherry juice for soaking fruit – I used Cheribundi brand.
1 cup currants
½ cup dried blueberries
½ cup dates – about 10 dates – chopped
½ cup dried peaches – chopped
½ cup dried apricots – chopped
2 ½ tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ cup coconut flour, sifted
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
4 tbsp cacao powder or good quality cocoa powder
1 cup mashed banana – overly-ripe
5 eggs
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil – melted

►Combine cherry juice, currants, blueberries, dates, peaches, apricots, lemon zest and ginger in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Then remove from heat and cover until all juice is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

►Grease a springform cake pan with coconut oil and line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper too. Set aside.
►Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
►In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and cacao powder. Set aside.
►In a separate mixing bowl, whisk eggs and banana with a hand mixer. Add in maple syrup and melted coconut oil.
►Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix well. Add in all fruit and stir until well combined.
►Bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
►Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Stacked Pear Salad

Stacked Pear Salad

Christmas came early this year. We had a pre-Christmas celebration with my family in south Florida last week. It was 75 degrees and clear, blue skies everyday. My body soaked up the sun, the humid sea salt air and the therapeutic beach sounds. The hubby and I were grateful to be out of the winter chill and have a peaceful place to relax.

I spent a few Christmases down there as a kid, yet it’s still odd to see palm trees decorated like candy canes. Going from the northeast to the tropics numbs the holiday spirit a bit. We managed to keep the Christmas music playing as a reminder that it’s still December. I was so disoriented until I heard “White Christmas” playing.

The highlight was our special Christmas dinner, surf and turf style. We stood in line for over an hour to buy the perfect lobster tails. The guy selling them had a solo operation in a parking lot. Fresh caught in the morning and selling it all by noon. Word spread fast that he had the freshest seafood in town and we were willing to wait.

It was just four of us for dinner so I wanted to make this Stacked Pear Salad for a showstopper dish. We needed a light salad to begin our heavy meal. The tangy dressing matches perfectly with the pear’s sweetness. I baked the pears slightly to soften them a bit. Otherwise, I think they’re too hard to enjoy. Everyone loved it and it may have stolen the spotlight from the lobsters.

Stacked Pear Salad
Stacked Pear Salad
Makes 4 servings.

4 ripe Bosc pears
2 cups arugula
½ cup sweet onion – thinly sliced
optional: ½ cup Maytag blue cheese or goat cheese

Red Wine Vinaigrette
3 tsp raw honey
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

►Combine all vinaigrette ingredients except the olive oil. Allow to sit for a minute. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk together.

►Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
►Using a paring knife, core each pear from the bottom. Make sure to remove all seeds. You may need to cut a flat bottom to ensure the pear stands upright without falling. Slice each vertically into four sections. Then stack back together and place in a baking dish. Bake 7 minutes until just slightly soft.

►To assemble, place the bottom pear slice onto a salad plate. Top with arugula, onion and drizzle with dressing. Repeat until all sections are stacked. If you include cheese, you can use it like a glue to keep the sections together.
►Serve immediately.

Stacked Pear Salad