December 31, 2013

Welcome to my Table

Can you imagine that you could cook, taste, 
and feel your way to vibrant health?

It's doable!
The Suppers Programs is a network of meetings where people
 prepare delicious meals together using whole foods. 

And at the same time, we support each others' personal pathways to a healthier lifestyle.

Here's how I see it:
Human beings and our food supply are not compatible. 
We have strayed from our evolutionary path.
It is this fundamental disconnect that inspires me to focus my life on 
the cultivation and preparation of whole foods, and the restoration of the family table.

Whether I'm helping children develop a palate for real food... 

...or teaching adults with diet-related diagnoses...

I'm called back to simple and natural solutions.
Nature knows how to feed us better than we know how to feed ourselves. 

 We need to return to the wisdom of the soil.

We need to prepare whole food from scratch.

 We need to restore the habits of the family table.

We need to value the produce of our local farmers.

And resist the convenience of processed foods, renewing our dedication to home food preparation.

Bottom line: 
Suppers delivers a corrective social experience that supports people who want to 
forge new friendships based on the mutual desire to lead a healthier life. 

Learn more about my work building communities around local food:

My companions on this journey:

February 24, 2012

How Long Will it Take To Get Better?

Suppers is not for people who expect overnight results. I would refer them to a doctor because drugs work faster than food.

But for the patient – or for anyone like me for whom medicine has many treatments but no solutions – the question arises: how long will it take to get better?

Rather than lecture you on biological individuality, I’ll share a few real answers from members (some names have been changed).

Audelle:  I’ve been a near vegetarian for almost a year and a half and my insulin dosage is down to 1/3 of what it had been (and even less on my really good days!)

Audelle’s solution: Beans and greens.

 Violet: My blood pressure dropped from 150/80 to 126/68 within 6 weeks of joining Suppers. My doctor was as happy about it as I was. My weight is just starting to budge. Renee is my muse and my role model: Get healthy first, then lose weight, not the other way around.”
Violet’s solution: social cooking.

Renee: “I was flirting with and following this way of eating for a year before I started losing weight, and now I have lost 35 pounds. It all started with a decision to change how I shop and incorporate more vegetables.”
Renee’s solution: Slaws!

Robert: Years of pain and frustration are slowly releasing as I eat the gluten free diet I need for my celiac disease. It took me about a year or so to get a handle on the details.
Robert ’s solution: a table of patient, understanding friends who love gluten free food.

Bernadette: "I thought I came to Suppers for my diabetes, but there’s something I needed more: a non-judgmental setting where I feel safe to speak.”
Bernadette’s solution: Anonymous meetings, facilitators who serve me the right portion and NOBODY holding a stopwatch..

Recipe : 7 ½ Minute Lentils and Kale

We timed it, it takes 7. 5 minutes to put this together and the stove does the rest of the work.

Assemble your ingredients:

1 pound lentils
1 bunch kale
vegetarian broth
hot sauce
salt, if permitted

Rinse the lentils and cover with an inch of water. Add a tablespoon of vegetarian soup base. Bring to a simmer and cook until nearly soft, about 40 minutes (or 4! in a pressure cooker). Add water as necessary.

Slice the greens thin, we used lacinato kale.

Add the kale to the lentils and simmer just long enough so the greens are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add hot sauce to taste, maybe salt.

Optional additions: If you are not avoiding fat, the recipe benefits from 2 TBS of a good fat like coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. Other vegetables like celery, onions or chopped pepper make nice variations and may be added while the lentils are cooking.

February 7, 2012

Mine Don’t Taste Like Yours (a Salmon Burgers Recipe)

Too often I hear at Suppers, "Mine don't taste like yours." So while I'm driving myself crazy trying to learn how to make my cell phone work like a camera so I can blog Suppers, I thought I'd try to do the truly impossible and and write a precise recipe. I never follow recipes. In fact, I seem to be constitutionally...I seem to be constitutionally incapable of following a recipe. It’s a blessing and a curse. It means every day I serve up something new (blessing); it means some one has to follow me around with pad and pencil to wrest a recipe from me (curse).

While making salmon cakes at Suppers this week, I heard the old refrain again, “Mine don’t taste like yours.” So today I’m at Camille’s house recreating salmon burgers (which are actually mostly vegetables) and taking my first stab at creating my own blog post. Take a look at the pictures and then follow the recipe.

Salmon Burgers Recip

Get all the ingredients measured and ready to go in bowls.

Form balls first, then gently level them.”

Leave lots of space on the frying surface for ease of flipping

NO PATTING. NO MASHING. ONLY ONE FLIP. Or you’ll be serving salmon hash (which sounds like something I should do on purpose sometime soon.) You may lift one to peak and see if they’re getting done.

Make enough for today’s meal plus some to reheat. While breakfast chili is still our #1 most popular recipe for stable blood sugar and mood chemistry, salmon burgers for breakfast is second. You can learn about the breakfast challenge here:

Plus, as one mom said, “My teenager hates fish, but she loved the salmon burgers.” The burger format may be the best weapon against fast food. Hmmmmm, broccoli burgers, Anyone?

1 large, 15 oz. can of salmon
½ box alfalfa sprouts or other fine sprouts
1 cup canned white beans, drained
2 eggs
olive oil
½ cup almonds, ground fine or almond meal
½ small red onion, minced
1 red pepper, slivered very thinly
2 carrots, grated
1 half bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp Dulse (sea vegetable) flakes or salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon
dash of pepper or to taste
½ tsp pepper or to taste
olive oil
Drain canned salmon and empty into a large bowl. Flake with your fingers.
Pull apart and mix in alfalfa sprouts so they are well distributed.
Process together beans and eggs.
Add a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well.
Mix all with almonds, veggies, Dulse flakes, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in large frying pan.
Form salmon mixture into balls and level them to form burgers and place in the heated pan with just enough olive oil to coat the pan. Do not disturb while cooking.
Fry burgers till golden on each side, approximately 5 minutes on each side.
May be served plain or with tomato salsa.
Makes 15 – 20, about 6 servings.

January 26, 2012

We Really Are Coconuts

Karen shared a video that is all about coconut oil and the brain. So my mind is now retrieving content from our book and a coconut recipe. Watch the video to the end - it's a real eye opener!
...then read Polly's story and enjoy the soup!

Polly’s Story: I Really Am a Coconut
It was in Suppers that I realized that I really am a coconut. My first stab at working the program was a dismal failure. I’m sure some members remember my being there, but I hardly do. I have been living in and out of serious brain fog and depression for years, a sane person in a crazy body. And while part of me recognized that this program was exactly what I needed, I didn’t have the wherewithal to pull it together.

Fortunately, the meetings went on without me, and were still going on when my friend drew me back in. One of the first meals we ate in my second round was a Thai coconut milk soup with salmon. Matching the discussion to the menu, we read some material about the therapeutic value of coconut for some people. It was very good news to me that coconut might actually be healthy for me, instead of bad because it’s fat.
I am now practicing nutritional harm reduction and well into the transition to a healthy diet. My body so wants to hold on to feeling well that I’ve developed an aversion to most junk food. The last time I had a fast-food burger, I got sick. I also feel repulsed by the sugary foods that I used to crave like an addict craves a fix. Fast food and sugar were my two big subtractions.

I also made some additions, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some supplements, including lots of fish oils and magnesium. And of course, coconut oil, which I take both internally and externally—I even use it on my face! Today, my eczema is practically gone and my friends say I’m glowing.

Some have asked why I am so hooked on Suppers. Well, who wouldn’t be excited by soaring energy! The brain fog and intense mood swings are gone, my debilitating PMS symptoms have disappeared, and I’ve had a dramatic decrease in allergies and inflammation. I also sleep much better. Joy and zeal are returning to my life!

The members of my group like the Thai dishes, but nobody else has pegged their recovery on coconuts as I have. It’s all about “biological individuality,” just as they say. I had to stick with the program long enough and observe my experience enough times to hear what my body was saying to me: I really am a coconut.

Polly’s Thai Coconut Milk Soup
Olive oil or coconut fat to coat bottom of pot
2 leeks, sliced
1 red pepper, slivered
15 large mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast or salmon, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 cans coconut milk (not lite)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 block tofu, cubed (optional)
1 large bag or 10 oz cleaned spinach, chopped
1/3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce if desired

Coat bottom of soup pot with oil or fat.
Sauté the leeks, red pepper, and mushrooms until soft.
Add chicken (wait, if using fish), coconut milk, and stock.
Simmer 15 minutes.
If using fish, add that now. Simmer five minutes.
Add tofu, spinach, cilantro, and lime juice, and heat until greens are just wilted.
Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
Serves 8

January 20, 2012

Recipe – Green Velvet Soup with Fresh Shiitake

The Monday Suppers lunch group loved the green velvet soup.  We had a bowl first, followed by a vegan lentil curry, turkey meatloaf and a great big slaw with red and white cabbage, carrots and lots of almonds.
Karen came up with some variations on the subject. She adds almonds and pumpkin seeds, uses edamame instead of peas, and throws in a handful of parsley. What is your variation?

Photo by Karen Rose Tank


1 bunch kale, coarsely chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
Good olive oil or fat of choice
1 onion, chopped
about 10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, coarsely chopped
1 TBS herbs de Provence or favorite herb blend
1 bag frozen sweet peas, or fresh in season
2 quarts vegetable broth
hot sauce to taste
salt, if desired.


Rinse kale and chard. Pull out and discard thick stem. Coarsely chop leaves. Set aside.

Heat enough oil in a soup pot to coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook until slightly golden. Add mushrooms, and stir fry 2 or 3 minutes.

Add greens, herbs and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes stirring frequently and stop cooking before the greens lose their brilliant green color.

Turn off the heat and add the peas. Let it cool enough to blend in the food processor (if it’s too hot, it will explode).

Return to pot to reheat and with hot sauce, and salt if desired.

December 26, 2011

Roasted Root Vegetables Soup

A satisfying soup from a Suppers meeting last week. Whenever you can, get beets with the greens attached. Soak the leafy green - stalks included - in cold water to get rid of the grit. Drain and incorporate into recipes as we did here.

1 bunch red beets, greens reserved - peeled and diced into large chunks.
4 turnips, peeled and diced into large chunks
4 parsnips, scraped and cut into large chunks
Kosher salt to taste (optional)
Dried herbs to taste
Olive oil to roast the vegetables and to start the soup
A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
Beet stalks and greens, cleaned and chopped
2 1-quart (8 cups total) cartons vegetables stock
1 bag (about 12 ounces) fresh spinach
2-4 tablespoons good quality cider vinegar to taste
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F.
In a large roasting pan, combine the beets, turnips, parsnips and enough olive oil to cover lightly. Toss until all vegetables are coated with oil. It’s OK if the beets color the other vegetables. Sprinkle with optional salt and dried herbs and toss again to distribute salt and herbs evenly.
Spread vegetables in in the pan in one layer and roast for 30-35 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from the oven.
Heat a stock pot with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom over a medium-high flame. Add beets greens and ginger. Stir to coat with olive oil and saute for about a minute. Add roasted vegetables and stock, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
Simmer for about 15 minutes and take off the heat. Just before serving, while the soup is hot, season with vinegar and some salt to taste. Add spinach leaves and stir until wilted. Serve immediately.

Carol's Story - A Carol Christmas

I do much better things with this holiday than celebrate it.

At least, after years of making myself miserable at the holidays, I’ve found a way to take care of myself. While my friends engage in what seems to me to be institutionalized abusive eating on a holy day, I choose to eat more simply at Christmas than I do all year. There’s no clearer, kinder amount than zero when it comes to my holiday trigger foods.

In Suppers I have learned to distinguish between treats – foods I can have occasionally – and triggers – foods that I can’t touch because they open floodgates. My diet program makes no such distinction. So for years I’d trigger binges at the holidays by tasting old family favorites I thought I could control by counting calories.

My formula for a perfect storm is being with my family combined with a buffet table. I have a history of eating to numb myself. I have a history of needing to numb myself when the family gets together. Confronted not only with Aunt Sally but Aunt Sally’s sweet potatoes with marshmallows, I’m likely to cave in and plough right through to the pies. I don’t even recognize marshmallows as food the other 364 days!

Sometimes I don’t feel related to my family. They seem to enjoy these family recipes without beating themselves up. Not me. Fortunately I’ve lost the taste for them as long as I avoid triggering situations. But that’s the key: avoiding triggers. In normal circumstances, even the sweet potatoes would be too sweet for my taste buds now that I’ve retooled my palate for whole food. In the old days I used to eat leftover mincemeat pie with hard sauce for breakfast!

Triggering was such a problem that for a couple years I had to avoid work-related parties entirely because I couldn’t manage social anxiety without starting a cascade of unhappy eating. Now I go but I arrive late and leave early. What’s the point of staying longer if I’m not eating and drinking myself into a stupor that puts me on the same level with everybody else? And with my family I’m having a Carol Christmas. I’ll prepare my favorite almond muffins -- a treat that isn’t a trigger -- to eat before I go so I don’t feel deprived. I’ll even light a candle and think about what this holiday is supposed to be about. Then, with a full belly and a kind heart, I’ll go and give everybody a hug, catch up with Aunt Sally, sing a few songs and head home before things start to deteriorate.

This is the best I can do this year to take care of myself. I don’t want to spend another holiday in isolation, nor do I want to trigger myself into several weeks of eating that require a New Year’s resolution and will power to stop. Maybe another year I’ll have the strength to remain with the revelers and not indulge. Not this year. My palate is smart enough, but my flesh is still weak.

Wednesday Night Suppers Meeting Recommendations

for Holiday Harm Reduction.

* Don’t ever go to a party hungry if you know you’ll be among people who use guilt to get you to eat the wrong food.

* There is nothing like planning ahead. I make doubly sure to have delicious food on hand at this time of year. I also plan emotionally in case I meet any saboteurs.

* Skip no meals.

* I have to work at giving myself permission to be my top priority. I keep the focus on my own needs. I take food I know I can eat and enough to share.

* Drink lots of water. It’s good for just about everything.

* Volunteer to bring the guacamole and bring veggies instead of chips.

* Avoid trigger foods 100%. Enjoy an array of treats that aren’t triggers.

* Remember alcohol breaks down all kinds of barriers. It may be harder to resist the canapés with a drink in your hand.

* Seek out the healthier choices like nuts, cut up fruits and veggies and hummus.

* Serve yourself on small plates.

* I stay in my process of self-reflection. I track my progress. There is something about tracking the changes in my taste buds and ideas about quantity that makes me feel stronger.

* Take your conversation away from the buffet table and chat at the other end of the room.

* My family is threatened by my success. They are invested in keeping me the same. I give them the choice of having me come and accepting that I eat differently or not having me there at all.

* I treat Christmas like Lent. If I give up one ingredient like sugar or flour, it’s easy to avoid the foods that get me into the most trouble.

* Take more yoga classes.

* If alcohol is the issue, visit when there’s least likely to be drinking, or maybe host a holiday brunch yourself (without the champagne).

* Guilt trip if you don’t clean your plate? Remember no food is wasted if you compost!

* If necessary, resort to little white lies and get out of Dodge.