Blog Post from May 2017: After 4 weeks of loads of travel, I am back home and getting back into real life. Interestingly, I have never been more organized with my content when traveling, especially before 4 weeks of on and of travel. I had plenty of content to share posts just as regularly while I was gone. From this time last month, until right now, I have been in Mexico, Portland Oregon and finally, Buffalo, New York. I’ve been down the road and back again, to say the very least.
This final leg of travel, which I just returned from last night, began as an innocent surprise trip home to see my family. I somewhat randomly selected this week, though it was my Mother’s birthday and my nephew’s first birthday, but it was just all a good excuse to come home and surprise everyone.
Sadly as the trip crept closer, I received word that my Grandfather had fallen ill and it wasn’t looking great this time. His body was failing him and it was his time. He was in Hospice. I kept checking in with my mother, from my trip to Portland, asking how he was and managing the wonder of what would happen if he passed if I was in Portland, mere days before my scheduled surprise trip. Could I book a rush trip back to New York from Portland? I would also have to spoil the surprise that I had worked so hard on and it would be a challenge cancelling a non refundable trip, just to come a couple days sooner.
Fruit and I have certainly had our ups and downs over the years. I like to describe our tumultuous connection using the Facebook relationship status of “it’s complicated”. In the past couple of years as I have worked very, very hard to get my gut issues under control, despite the usual suspects, I have come to find that many fruits, especially those highest in fructose to be one of THE biggest triggers in my chronic bloating, gas and general gastric upset.
This isn’t exclusive to me and it’s actually quite common with folks that struggle with bacterial imbalances in their gut, SIBO, leaky gut, etc. Fruits high in fructose can cause fermentation in the gut, which can lead to some not-so-pleasant after effects.
It took me some time to discover that fruit was one of the biggest culprits and more, it was hard for me to understand how a nutritious, healthful whole food, like fruit could be create such gnarly side effects. Seemed wrong. It was in experimenting with a low FODMAP protocol that I found some of the greatest relief and while there are still some fruits today, that I have to be careful with and mindful of how much I consume, it has changed so significantly over the last few years as I have worked hard to heal my gut and get my gut bacteria in better balance.
There is something so magical about the spring, all the beautiful new produce, the delicate, fresh and new little baby stuff especially makes me happy. It’s like seeing those adorable fuzzy little ducklings at the park following around their mama duck. They just suddenly appear out of nowhere and break your heart with sweetness. But, I also love that we still have the remnants of the long winter season, the hearty, long-lasting, robust foods of the colder time. Squash, the bright and fresh citrus, all the root veggies. Even though we are well into Spring at this point, the swing-season status of Spring lasts the longest of all, which I really adore. The crossover of produce makes for some of my favorite dishes.
We’ve been getting tons of beets in our weekly CSA boxes (community supported agriculture) from the farm and besides beet kvass, I have mostly been roasting them, as it’s my favorite way to enjoy the flavor of beets. The roasting actually brings out a subtle sweetness and takes down some of the earthiness for those that aren’t big fans of it. Plus roasting makes peeling beets a breeze, the skin literally slips right off. Beets are, in my opinion, a very underrated superfood, offering liver support by thinning bile to decongest a congested liver or biliary stasis or insufficiency. They also contain high levels of folate and manganese which support gallbladder function. Underground vegetables like potatoes, beets, carrots, etc – they also contain silica – important for collagen formation and for connective tissue’s elasticity and resilience. Silica also regulates calcium placement in bone and tissue. Beets also include fructooligosaccharides which is a great nutrient source for healthy micro-flora in the GI system. Finally, beets contain trimethylglycine, a methyl donor used in liver detoxification. Trimethylglycine is used by the body to detoxify substances by donating one of it’s methyl groups to the toxic molecule yielding a less toxic methylated substances and dimethylglycine. Dimethylglycine is also a methyl donor and is also used to stabilize toxic substances for further processing and elimination.
Each week, when our farmer Tony drops off our CSA box, besides gabbing about all the luscious, seasonal produce he has for me and his perfectly perfect fresh eggs, maybe talking about the weather and how business has been, we always spend a few moments sharing our stories of growing up Greek. We chat about our favorite foods and our fondest memories of the traditions and I try to impress him with the 3 or 4 Greek words that I know. I love it!
This past week when Tony dropped off the box and I saw that I got some of his beautiful green beans, we spent a good couple of minutes talking about one of my favorite Greek dishes, Fasolia (aka Fasolakia Fresca), a traditional Greek Green Bean Stew. As much as I wanted to make a large pot of that with these beans, the idea of cooking a hot steamy stew on the stovetop all day, it just wasn’t appealing to me, with this crazy heat.
I can say that in more ways than one – I truly am my father’s daughter. My love for food, eating and talking about both (or in general) – most definitely all come from my dad! Though I may not always like to admit it, I can be his clone in many ways!
As a Greek girl, (also from my dad) who has been gluten-free for nearly 10 years, one of the saddest things I have had to endure is saying good-bye to sooo many of my favorite classic Greek dishes – spanokopita, taramasalata, baklava, pita, gyro wraps, moussaka, pastitsio, melomakarono, loukamathes – oh my gosh I could go on and on and on (and now I am super hungry). Thankfully, a couple of these dishes can be made gluten-free, so I haven’t had to let go completely.
This dip isn’t something I grew up, like many of those aforementioned dishes, but rather it was a dish my dad had somewhere along the line at a restaurant and became obsessed with recreating. Since he perfected his recipe a few years ago, he has pretty much brought this dip to nearly every get-together and everyone that has ever tasted it – soon becomes obsessed, too! I myself am one of those people and I’ve taken to altering his recipe slightly and making it for my own dinner parties and other get-togethers. Since we moved out west last year, this dip has been a nice way to savor some of those flavors of home.
Sometimes, my love for food makes me feel like a real dork. A bonafide, way too excited, food-nerd weirdo! I geek out over spice blends, flavor combinations, discovering a new way to enjoy a food I have eaten a million times. I have been known to dance around my kitchen after just one bite of some random dish I created on the fly. I am pretty certain I could have a problem. (Maybe you should send help.)
This recipe may have just taken my food-nerdiness to a whole new level. I have been sooo insanely excited to share this recipe with you guys that I woke up this morning so excited to hit “publish”.
These tacos came out of a random idea I came up with on a bike ride. No seriously, Mark and I were on a long 15-mile bike ride a week or two ago, and on the way home we were riding into the wind and I was exhausted. I found myself quite agitated and struggling. My legs were tired from having worked out in the morning and I was starving. So instead of just breathing and taking in the sights, I did what most logical, food-obsessed people would do – I started dreaming up what I would make for dinner.