Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This week, I did a "detox" using juices from the amazing NYC vegan restaurant Blossom. I know these are not designed for weight loss, but to get rid of toxins -- but I *have* actually lost weight and feel lighter and brighter inside.

Those of you who have no issues with weight, read no further! This will sound crazy. Maybe it is. But for those few who do occasionally think about food and dieting, this little story may help -- and I'd love your insights, too. I don't think I would have been able to do this without a long conversation (over lunch, of course) with a friend.

The second day of a detox is apt to be really, really yucky -- headache, unable to think clearly, kind of weak, weepy.....detoxing has this affect on lots of people. At least if you believe in the mind body connection, it makes sense: you're releasing toxic emotions as well as things stored in your fat cells.

Be that as it may (and who knows if these things are even true?) I decided to think of this as a sign that a new start and a new me was on its way and use some of that "releasing" energy to get rid of stuff OUTSIDE of myself as well as inside: throw things away! Donate them! This had an energizing effect.

By Day 3 (the last of the detox), I was writing and doing lots of yoga -- though I admit to also thinking about food quite a lot, since I couldn't eat anything, only drink the juices. So, remembering the conversation about why I eat too much, I decided to use that day to plan meals and menus for the next week or so -- when I have healthy meals in the right portions READY, I eat sensibly.

But I hardly ever plan ahead enough. I run out of things. I make everything, always, from scratch -- there is no such thing as just eating something from a package or can or box in MY house. Plus I usually (even food-loving as I am) get absorbed in what I'm doing, especially around lunch time. I don't want to interrupt what I'm doing to cook -- so I skip lunch. If I'm babysitting, I skip meals because there's nothing in the house I can eat -- I'm gluten-intolerant and everything in the house has flour in it.

(Sample meal of one child in one household: Frito sandwich -- hot dog bun, spread evenly with Fritos on both sides).

The result is that by the end of the day I'm ravenous. This is my real dieting downfall -- getting so hungry that I eat mindlessly. Once I get that ravenous, it's all over.... If I'm that hungry (or upset or whatever), and DECIDING at every meal, I'll make bad choices. Also I think letting your blood sugar get that low really ruins your energy level for the rest of the day.

The solution:
1) spend some time every week planning, cooking. and packing things into single-portion containers
2) type up a menu and put it on my refrigerator
3) stick to it as rigorously as I've stuck to the juice fast.

If I do #1 and #2, (believe it or not), #3 will be easy, because I will have made one decision ahead 0f time, a decision that accounts for each meal and snack. Then I can and do stick to it, as I stuck to the juice detox. It's the getting really hungry and THEN deciding (or rather acting completely impulsively) that ruins everything.

So here's to new beginnings, which is what Easter and all the other spring-time fertility festivals all over the world are really about. (Alvina took this picture at an Easter BRGs gathering four years ago.)

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be posting the best meal of the week, with recipes -- and very briefly reporting on my progress. Since today I'm still fasting, I shall post what some of the kids I babysit for (not the frito-sandwich boy) call

(makes 4 scones)

NOTE: Working with gluten-free flour is really different from working with wheat flour, which is why these directions are so detailed. Once you get the knack, the recipe takes less than 10 minutes of work, another 15 or so of baking time.

1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder (still searching for one that tastes good --recommendations, anyone?)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tablespoons butter OR Earth Balance buttery spread, original -- cold
2 1/2 tablespoons cream OR Silk Soy Creamer -- cold
1 egg -- the better the egg, the better the scones! If you can get fresh eggs, please use one
scant tsp. brown sugar
1 or 2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 bowls, rubber spatula, pastry blender or two knives, rolling pin -- I use the Finnish kind, which is tapered at the ends and allows you to roll really lightly -- pastry brush

preheat the oven to 400, assemble the ingredients

1. Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and baking powder.
2. Beat the egg with the cream and vanilla and sugar in another bowl.
3. Cut the butter or Earth Balance into the flour. Don't touch it: just use the pastry blender or knives to break it into small pieces (pea size with some smaller). Don't cream it -- the buttery bits should stay distinct.
4. Pour in the liquids.
5. With a rubber spatula, scrape up from the bottom until everything is blended and the dough SORT OF sticks together into a ball.
6. Still using the spatula (gluten free flour is much more tender and delicate than wheat flour), flip the dough gently a few times.
7. Sprinkle some flour on the clean counter, and roll the dough out from the center VERY LIGHTLY, once or twice on each spot should be enough, until it forms a thick pancake.....about the size of a salad plate.
8. Cut it into 4 wedges and place on an ungreased pie tin or cookie sheet. Brush the tops with the left-over liquid.
9. Bake at 400 until the scones puff up and turn golden brown.

If anyone is interested, I will get someone to video me doing it.

NEXT WEEK: My progress, and either
*yam noodles (made with a Spiralizer!) and cashew cream sauce
*Thai-inspired curried broccoli soup that uses coconut WATER instead of coconut milk or cream (much less fattening).

Meghan! I know you are rolling your eyes if you've even read this far, these vegetables are not your thing. Some people wouldn't like them, I know, but some people, I also know, will love them. They've eaten them and said so!

Lastly, I say this has nothing to do with writing; but really, it does. Working on a novel is like a long-term, gradual diet -- I can't write a novel in a few days any more than I could lose 3o pounds on a three day crash diet. It takes steady, persistent effort to make progress. And eating healthy foods in sensible amounts will give me the energy I need to finish.


Naomi Canale said...

Thank you for the recipe, my friend is gluten free. I'm always trying to find good recipes for her for when we all meet up for dinner/breakfast. Can't wait to try. Also the egg picture IS beautiful. I'm going to try polka dots now on my Easter eggs this weekend :)

Libby Koponen said...

Oh, Naomi, thank you for telling me that this is useful. I wondered a lot about posting it but if it's useful to one person, I'm glad I did. And I hope your friend likes the recipe!

And please feel free to email me with questions once you start: it took me a long time to learn how to use gluten-free flour. I think you have to start by accepting that it's not like regular flour!

Naomi Canale said...

Okay, thanks Libby, I will! And I'll let you know how they turn out :)