April 3rd is a noteworthy day for a few reasons. For one, it is the birthday of the woman who created the food-obsessed individual who is writing these words (love you, Mom).
But April 3rd is also remarkable because it is National Chocolate Mousse Day.
Yep, that’s a thing.
So I guuuuueeess we’ve gotta eat some!
With two cups of heavy cream, traditional chocolate mousse is obviously not something to indulge in on the regular. But what if we waved our wellness wand at the recipe and gave our mousse a makeover? Filled it with heart-healthy fats and ditched the refined sugar? How about if we made it dairy- and egg-free too for our food-sensitive friends? Then we all could eat it often.
Every day, even.
Maybe it won’t come as a surprise that avocado is the base for this rich rendition of the classic. Avocado is used in a lot of healthy desserts because it’s so creamy and its mild flavor goes virtually undetected. I’ve made this for clients whose minds were blown when I told them what they were eating. And the ultimate test: kids! My favorite “little” had just finished devouring a bowl when I told her what it was made out of.
“But I hate avocado,” she insisted.
“Not anymore,” I replied, tap dancing just a little.
This luscious dessert is so rich, no one will ever guess it’s healthy. Serve small portions (1/3 to 1/2 cup) at room temperature for maximum fluffiness, and garnish with unsweetened, whipped coconut cream and fresh berries.
1 ripe avocado
4 ounces dark chocolate ***check that it’s dairy free for vegan
Ok so I know the title of this post contains the word “diet,” and that’s likely to send at least a few of you running for the hills. I, myself, have a tendency to rebel against things that are limiting, so I feel you, I really do. But if there’s one thing I would encourage every person I care about to do in this lifetime, it’s to try this Elimination Diet, even just once.
I could go on and on about its benefits, and at its most basic, the diet will cost you two weeks of your life. That’s a small commitment to exchange for feeling better than you ever have in your time on this earth, no?
Just in case you need a push, here are five reasons you should consider picking up Tom and Ali’s book The Elimination Diet and giving it a try today.
1) Sometimes–maybe not always–but at least part of your life is spent dealing with any of the following symptoms: bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, migraines, skin problems, joint pain, foggy thinking, anxiety, depression, sinus and lung problems, unexplained weight gain, low energy, insomnia.
Hey guess what? It’s not normal to feel bloated and gassy after you eat. You may have gotten used to it, but there is nothing more liberating than discovering that you can eat a meal and feel nothing but amazing afterwards.
Or maybe your digestive tract feels like a well-oiled machine, but you deal with severely dry skin or eczema. I’m willing to bet you my firstborn that two weeks of following this eating plan will reduce that inflammation.
Think it’s way too farfetched of a notion that your diet can affect how moody or anxious you feel? Okay, that’s fair. But aren’t you willing to try just about anything to get those feelings to go away, if such things are possible? Wouldn’t that include eating whole, organic foods combined into some of the most delicious meal combos to ever alight upon your palate?
2) Food allergies have increased 50% from 1997 to 2011—said the CDC in a 2013 study.
And no, this doesn’t just mean that people whine more now. For one, more people are starting to realize that constantly being miserable after eating is not a normal state of being. More and more doctors are recognizing the legitimacy of food allergies—especially those with backgrounds in Eastern medical theory—and are suggesting an approach to health that embraces the philosophy that “what you put in, is what you get out.” This is totally different from the Band-Aid approach we’ve become accustomed to, where your doc scribbles out a scrip for yet another “magic pill,” in an attempt to cover up your symptoms.
We have learned that 60-75% of the world’s population doesn’t have enough lactase after the age of 4 to digest the lactose in milk, so that probably means you. And if this urges you to go get a “scratch test” and discover your allergies that way, just know that food sensitivities and intolerances (as opposed to full-blown allergies) are less well known, often undetected, and can’t be tested for. They usually create a subtler, simmering sort of distress that leads to chronic symptoms.
When you can’t process a type of food, you lack an enzyme, nutrient, or organism to properly digest or metabolize. Each time you eat this food, more of the undigested particles build up in your body, feeding harmful bacteria and yeast in your digestive tract. Your body views these particles as foreign invaders and attacks them, putting your system on alert and causing inflammation. If you are constantly inflamed, your body is poorly equipped to handle actual foreign invaders—things like seasonal allergies, colds, or even cancer.
3) Maybe you’re like my roommate and you have an iron stomach, are vital as a stallion, and claim you’d gain no benefit whatsoever from doing an Elimination Diet. Okay, fine. Do you crave cheese? Caffeine? Sugar? Would it be hard to give these things up completely because the cravings would be too intense? After two weeks on the E-Diet, you will have completely reset your system, and the bacteria in your gut that leads to cravings for the afore-mentioned foods will be completely wiped out.
Don’t suffer from food cravings? Then you, my friend, are far stronger than I. But do you drink? A little? A lot? If that’s the case, your liver could use a detox. Trust me, your liver sent me a letter begging for it, and it thanks you in advance for your consideration.
4) Calories (and fats) don’t count!
Say what? Every time I pour coconut milk into my coffee, my mom cringes. “It’s so full of fat!” she proclaims. And that’s completely accurate. But! Coconut is one of the most heart-healthy fats out there, and this diet embraces these types of fat in spades. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut butter, coconut milk and oil, avocados and nuts (once reintroduced) will become staples of your diet.
Mom is coming from the perspective of years of diet advice claiming that counting calories or fat grams is the best way to lose or maintain one’s weight. But the E-Diet embraces clean, whole foods that come from the earth, and is therefore low in additives, sweeteners, coloring and preservatives, so it follows that you can literally binge your face off on these things and worry not one iota about your waistline. In fact, this diet is almost assured to cause you to lose weight. I can’t imagine anyone following it strictly and not seeing similar results. Personally, I simply love that I can eat to the point where I am almost uncomfortably full and still wake up the next day looking slender and lean with absolutely zero tummy bloat.
5) You get to eat things like Butternut Squash and Sage “Stuffing,” Chickpea Curry with Potatoes and Kale, and Mustard-Herb Lamb Burgers. This isn’t just a bunch of rabbit food here people. No boring iceberg salads drizzled with lemon juice, yeuuck! In fact read my post here about how I ate like a food champ during my last E-Diet.
The recipe below, for example, had me at hello. After tasting these little nuggets of deliciousness, I vowed to never eat store-bought, highly-processed breakfast sausage ever again, especially since processed meats have now been linked to cancer.
Chicken-Apple Breakfast Sausages
1 medium tart apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 T fresh sage leaves
1 ½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ lbs organic skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for cooking
Place the apple, green onions, sage, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with the “s” blade and pulse a few times. Then add the chicken and process until the chicken is ground and the mixture starts to form a ball, about 30 seconds.
With oiled hands, form the mixture into about 8 patties and set them on a plate. Heat a large skillet of medium-low heat and add 1 T oil. Place four of the patties in the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining patties.
These keep in the fridge for about 5 days or can be frozen and reheated in a 350-degree oven.
Now trust me when I tell you making these bad daddies–and just embracing the Elimination Diet in general–is inarguably doing something delicious! And just because I love you so much, I’m even including a link to an awesome guide to shopping for the right ingredients to support your E-Diet. You’re welcome!
Find the perfect response to the statement: Why not just do the scratch test at the Doctor’s office? That sounds sooo much less terrible.
When everyone around you is running a marathon or giving up alcohol for 30 days or doing the Insanity workout, you start to feel the need to demonstrate that you’re is not an irresolute schlub.
This is how a girl who hates diets and rules ended up on the elimination diet food plan. Meaning a 6-week (minimum) eating regimen that removes all possible allergens from your diet, reintroducing them slowly–after a cleansing period–to test the system for reactions.
Why Is This A Good Idea?
There are so many reasons to give this eating plan the old college try, not the least of which is gaining a general sense of feeling “better.” I chose to follow The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen’s guidelines; the site is beautiful and the recipes, delicious sounding. Nutritionists Tom Malterre and Ali Segersten really manage to sell this “diet” in a beautifully photographed blog that just might entice you to take the challenge yourself. When you visit their site, you’ll read about all which conditions can be remedied by eliminating allergenic foods and reducing the accompanying inflammation these foods cause.
So my reasons?
*I’ll stop suffering from food hangovers. I live to eat and not the other way around, so its time to take this bull by the horns.
*I’ll discover what my triggers are (pleaseohpleaseohplease don’t let it be cheese), so I can carefully pick and choose the moments to eat them.
*To learn a lot about more about food and discover some new flavors (as a cooking instructor, it’s important to always be learning, right?).
*I might lose weight.
3 Potential Road Blocks
*If you try this, accept that you will not be fun for the next six weeks. For the first fourteen days especially, the response to remarks like, “oh you can order a salad,” when everyone wants to go out to dinner, will still be, “no, I can’t.” Planning is of the essence.
*The food might be so boring or bland, I might fall instantly and firmly off the wagon. *Being deprived may make me feel the need to remodel the bathroom with an axe. This possible outcome is based upon a history of starvation-induced offenses, leading Fiancé to mandate that I NEVER be allowed to do anything requiring actual fasting.
Reasons to Stay Tuned
*I’m a real person, so I’m likely to mess this up from time to time, in ways that might even be humorous. Plus I hate rules remember, so I may even cheat out of spite, and then you’ll know whether or not it works for real people, or whether you have to be a hyper-focused zen master in discipline in order to reap the benefits.
*I believe there are delicious realms to be discovered my friends, and I intend to send all that lusciousness your way.
Meantime, check out my slightly less than successful first days of the Elimination Diet below.
Day 1: Put off diet for an additional week and ate half a pound of cheese. And leftover Easter candy. This is going to be hard.
Day 1 (again):
All delicious things, no?
Green smoothies ONLY for two, very long days. Green, meaning chalk full of vegetables, the flavor of which is only slightly masked by the meager handful of fruit the recipe calls for.
Discovered I hate smoothies. Not even just the veggie kind—I don’t really even like fruit smoothies. It’s a texture thing, apparently. Felt hungry and tired all day long. My stomach cramped and I lay on the couch and whimpered to evoke sympathy from Fiancé.
I cheated repeatedly to entice myself to drink down 2 blenders-full a day. A dried apricot as a reward. A gluten-free zucchini cracker to provide an alternative to the salsa-esque consistency that had been in my mouth all day long. A bowl of smashed warm raspberries (what the what?) because they didn’t taste like kale and were well, warm.
I also had a headache all day long. I never get headaches. I thought I was going to feel like superwoman, not like I’d been poisoned.
This cleanse sucks.*
Looks better than it tastes.
This post is finally going live after I’ve actually been doing the diet for a few weeks. It’s worth muddling through the tough days at the beginning–I promise! Furthermore, upon researching my first few days of “symptoms,” everything I experienced is a common effect of a detox (which is why I do the research after, not before, so that I don’t have a chance to talk myself out of things).
I just wish I had had a cheerleader to tell me this stuff during the first few days, rather than a bunch of health-nymphs hopped up on wheat grass fluttering about saying things like “green smoothies are delicious and energizing! I could drink them all day,” and “here are 1 billion invigorating recipes!” when all they really are is kale and a bunch of other good-sounding things that are, in fact, not good because all you taste is kale. Blech.
Ever tried one of these programs yourself? How’d you get through it? I’d love to hear your tips and war stories.
And then in celebration that you’re not suffering through this yourself, go do something delicious!