Freshly cut Queen Anne’s Lace and ripening apples are the best part of August. The aroma is a lovely denouement to summer. The growing season has brought all sorts of adventures at Smith Meadows Kitchen. I’ve been knee deep in herb cultivation for over three months. Now that my pantry is almost completely stocked with dried and frozen herbs, I have returned to focusing on menu planning and recipes.
Age 40 to 50 is, quite simply, a very rude awakening. To cope with this new season in life, many of my friends and associates are initiating personal Renaissances in all sorts of ways. Most often they change their diet and exercise plans to cultivate and embrace their middle age. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and other elimination diets are hard for Italians. We have a passionate relationship with food that stems from a landscape and agriculture rich with possibilities. To eliminate any of that potential upsets my energetic equilibrium. With a history of diabetes, cancer and obesity in my extensive family, however, I do often wonder how diet plays into this history.
My most recent experiments with health are focused on inflammation. Inflammation is often associated with obvious outward manifestations like festering wounds or swollen sprains. In fact, inflammation is much more subtle. A look into cellular biology has helped me appreciate the precision in human metabolism. Refined forms of any sugar or carbohydrates (even if it originally grew from the ground) are going to mess with your insulin receptors. This will then create a chain of responses in your body that will lead to storing extra energy you don’t use as fat. The manifestations of this are not just getting chubbier. This extra sugar in your blood can lead to joint pain and stiffness, heart disease, diabetes and generally a stressed out neuroendocrine system. In short, you will look and feel out of balance.
What’s an Italian girl on an animal farm who loves her pasta and red wine to do? On a recent trip to our local Berryville herbalist, Geo, she recommended a simple formula. For every 1 part good carbohydrate or protein, consume 2 parts prepared fresh vegetables and fruits. This formula is also known at the TQI (To Quiet Inflamation) Diet or The Abascal Way. For three weeks you are to eat gluten and dairy free, in addition to cutting red meat and pork from your meal plans. Lamb, interestingly, is allowed on the 3 week elimination phase. Hold on, what about grass fed beef? If our cattle are on the TQI diet, doesn’t it stand to reason that eating Smith Meadows beef would also reduce inflammation?
For three weeks, I have stuck to the diet in every way except for two small bowls of ice cream, a bunless Smith Meadows burger, and braised short ribs. My results: I have lost 6 pounds, my hands are no longer swollen, my ankles and back are not in pain in the morning, and I actually feel like running. Although I do have the TQI meal plan book, I decided to come up with some of my own recipes. With peaches, peppers, greens, beans and squash in season, it has not been hard to eat well. Below are a favorite new recipe for each meal of the day. After the three week elimination phase, I plan to return to my pasta one to two times a week for lunch. As many of my customers and mother have reported, when you eat Smith Meadows whole grain fresh pasta, it simply does not affect you in the same way as other pasta. My diabetic mother’s sugar levels do not spike, and she eats it only at lunch. My gluten sensitive friends can eat our Spelt and Oat pasta without any of the joint pain that normally accompanies a carb binge. As I continue with the TQI diet, I will report again on other recipes I discover, as well as tips for meal plans. Until then, enjoy these!
Breakfast: Crepes with Banana Chocolate Pudding
- 2/3 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large Smith Meadows eggs
- 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
- 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
Mix all ingredients on high in a blender. Heat a griddle or a crepe pan with a little coconut oil. For each crepe, pour about 1/3 cup batter into the pan. Flip when a uniform layer of pores appear and the batter is no longer shiny. (makes 10 crepes or 5 servings)
Banana Chocolate pudding
- 1 large banana
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tsp (or more) unsweetened cocoa
Mash the banana with the coconut milk and cocoa until you achieve a pudding like mixture. Put half mixture into each crepe and roll. Ideally served along with a bowl of fresh sliced peaches.
Lunch: Quinoa Risotto
- 2 cups zucchini sliced into half moons or dices
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- a handful of basil chopped with scissors in a cup
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
Slowly cook the onions in the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the zucchini after the onions are wilted and somewhat golden. Cook the zucchini and onions together for 2 minutes. Add the chopped basil, salt and pepper, Stir well. Add 1/4 quinoa and 1/2 cup water. Cover the skillet and cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is al dente. (makes one large portion that is ideal to serve with a fresh salad)
Dinner: Braised Short Ribs
This recipe is adapted from BON APPETIT. I did cheat with the red wine, but I simply ate a much smaller portion than the suggested serving with a huge salad. IT WAS WORTH IT! and I had 3 meals for my family with the left-overs…
- 5 pounds bone-in Smith Meadows beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2′ pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 tablespoons garbanzo flour
- 3 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 750-ml bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs oregano
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 4 cups water