What’s left to eat? (A day in the life of a low-carb, dairy-free, meat-free, virtually sugar-free, nearly 100% gluten-free, woman.)
After reading the headline, you could be saying to yourself “the answer is nothing!” Yes, my diet has changed drastically! Thank goodness, as it frightens me to imagine what state of health I would be in if it hadn’t. Today, I’m striving to eat as clean as possible. I have come a long way and there is still room for improvement. I continue to tweak my choices as I learn more about food, how it’s grown, and the journey it takes before it reaches my table.
I’m in no way implying that everyone eat like me, as everyone's nutritional requirements are as unique as they are. I am, however, often asked what I eat, so I though I would share what an average day looks like without dairy, meat, sugar, and gluten. At least for me.
Upon rising, I generally have 1-2 large glasses of warm water. Waiting about 20-30 minutes before eating or drinking anything else supports digestive health, and I've developed a routine until it's time to have coffee and breakfast. I grind enough organic coffee beans to make a cup and some days I'll have a second one later in the morning. I do what I can to reduce my toxic load and regular coffee contains an incredible amount of chemicals. I’ve tried drinking coffee black, and hats off to those who have been successful in doing so! I held on to my love of adding 10% creamer (known as "blend" where I come from) for years, which I argued was THE only way to drink it. Today, unsweetened rice milk is my “blend” of choice.
Those who follow my Instagram and FaceBook posts already know that I have a delicious high-fiber breakfast. Well, at least I think it’s delicious! Day to day, flax, chia and pumpkin seeds are in the bowl, but I sometimes add walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. The healthy fats in pre-ground nuts and seeds are often rancid by the time they are purchased (especially if they haven’t been refrigerated), so I buy mine raw and whole, store them in the fridge, and grind as needed. It really does take only a few seconds for this step. My breakfast can easily be turned into a smoothie; however, my digestive system has let me know that it prefers for me to chew my nuts and seeds, so I grind the flax seeds and toss the pumpkin and chia seeds in whole. I love the taste of cinnamon, but I add it more for its many health benefits. My breakfast is eaten just as you would a bowl of cereal, and I use unsweetened rice milk or homemade oat milk. Being nutrient dense, such a meal sustains me all morning.
Lunch generally consists of a large salad with a lot of greens. And I mean a lot! Protein choices vary from fish, seafood, and eggs, to plant-based, such as nuts and seeds. Other toppings include carrots, cucumbers, fresh cilantro/parsely, onions, etc, depending on what I have on hand. Dressing options include a combination of any of the following: dried herbs, garlic, apple cider vinegar, mustard, cumin, coriander, turmeric, masala blends, etc. Lately, I’ve developed a liking for mild hot sauce (what an oxymoron!). I check labels carefully and avoid anything with sugar and other chemical additives. I blend my seasonings together with mashed avocado. I very rarely add oil; there’s just no need. I sometimes turn my salad into wraps using Asian rice paper.
If lunch was early and hunger strikes in the late afternoon, I’ll have a few raw carrots or a handful of nuts. Otherwise, I generally don’t eat between meals.
Dinners vary depending on the time of year, what’s available locally, and who else is at the table. My meals are basic, easy to prepare and made with simple ingredients. My repertoire includes roasted vegetables (cauliflower, sweet potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, kohlrabi), veggie stir-fries (onions, mushroom, broccoli, fresh garlic, grated ginger) with a healthy homemade sauce, coconut curry stew (with or without prawns), re-fried bean tacos with homemade gluten-free wraps or flat bread, and salt cod sweet potato fish cakes. One of my favorite meals, especially if company’s coming, is a tapas-style dinner. It’s a smorgasbord for the senses. So many colors, flavours, and textures!
As for desert, if I’m still a bit hungry, I’ll have a second helping of dinner. I don't like how my body functions when I eat sugar, so I cut it out of my diet a few years ago. No more cakes, cookies or candies for this gal. It’s a fair trade for improved sleep and tons of energy, to name only a few of the positive outcomes I have noticed since dropping it. Plain New York-style cheesecake is my all time favorite, and I can honestly say that I have already eaten enough of it for two life times, so I’m good!
I thoroughly enjoy food preparation, but even with my dietary restrictions, I still love the experience of dining out. Moods and conversations change when we step out of our own kitchens. There’s just something special about it. Whether it's an upscale dining room or the little place around the corner where orders are taken at the counter, eating away from home is a chance to experience new flavours, and learn new ways to combine or prepare food. For the most part, servers are knowledgeable with the menu and are quite accommodating with dietary requests. It’s become almost expected for patrons to ask for baked instead of fried, salad instead of potato, or to please hold the sauce. Being a realist however, on the rare occasion I'll indulge and enjoy a French fry, or two, with mayo and mustard on the side.
I think that there’s plenty left to eat on a low-carb, dairy-free, meat-free, virtually sugar-free, nearly 100% gluten-free, diet.
This is Janice, inspiring change