Plant Paradox Diet: Week 2 Wrap-up
Our family just finished the second week of Phase 2 on the Plant Paradox Diet and are feeling really good. We’ve been surprised by how far we’ve been able to push this diet for special occasions and are starting to understand why people on the diet don’t really see the need to go off it. We feel great, and have not felt as limited as when we started. During this time we’ve celebrated Easter and hosted a birthday party for my daughter with extended family. We went out to eat at a restaurant and ordered food that was compliant. We even made a compliant lasagna and cake!
The most important thing I realized this week is that I need to let go of the fear of making a mistake in order to be successful in the long-run. So I’ve committed to good enough. I’ll use as clean of ingredients as I can, making the diet work for my whole family. I really wanted to let go of the obsessive thinking about the next meal or snack for all of us. And I don’t want to give my kids an eating disorder and make them worry about ‘dangerous’ foods. And I was surprised at how easy it has been to stay on track. I’ve even lost five pounds in the past couple of weeks!
Not so fast: The return of heartburn
We had a bit of a setback this week, however. My husband complained of heart burn a couple of evenings and I was surprised because he rarely gets it. I’m the one that’s had chronic heartburn for 20+ years! It seemed especially odd since I hadn’t had a lick of heartburn since getting off Zantac at the start of the diet.
But then it showed up for me one morning. And it returned the next day after my morning cup of coffee. I realized that my Bulletproof style coffee (with ghee and MCT oil) and the green tea latte (which had the same fats AND a little cocoa butter), increased my fat consumption in the morning by quite a bit.
My husband had been putting MCT oil in his smoothies and on his pancakes. I had been cooking with a little more olive oil than I usually do because I’d heard Dr. Gundry say that he sees grains as an excuse to get more olive oil in his belly. I figured, the more the merrier!
After consulting Dr. Google, I found out that too much fat and/or a large meal can cause heartburn. The food sits in your belly longer and causes your stomach to produce more acid, which can irritate your digestive system and put pressure on the valve that keeps the acid out of your esophagus. Lesson learned! We cut back the fat and neither of us have had heartburn since. We plan to add in the MCT oil a little at a time, hoping to tolerate it better.
Another minor setback
For her birthday party, my daughter really wanted me to make her favorite blondie cookies. Before we started the diet, we agreed to this exception as a condition for her participation. And while I tweaked the ingredients to make them work a little better for us, that may be the last time we make them. They were good, but not worth it. Not only did they taste REALLY sweet after a couple of weeks on the diet, but we both felt sick almost immediately. She was sick to her stomach and felt a little nauseous. My mouth felt hot and itchy after taking a couple of bites, and that was enough for me to let it go.
My daughter later reflected, “You don’t realize how good you are feeling on the diet until you make an exception…” How insightful! It is great that she is so excited about how good she feels. It is motivating and has helped create a positive atmosphere in our home. I love her openness and creativity so much.
Some of our favorite foods this week:
I made deviled eggs for Easter and they are a great snack or light lunch with a salad. My kids love them and I like how easy they are to grab when we are on the go. I use a little mayo, mustard, and pickle juice with S+P in the yolks and stir until they are creamy. Easy to do in the Instant Pot at 12 min on Low Pressure and quick release.
I made the granola recipe from last week and improved on it. I used coconut, pecans, and almonds and then added some sesame, hemp hearts, and ground flax seed. I even added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa and it made it feel richer without being chocolatey. It tasted like a salted caramel pecan pie.The trick to getting it crispy is to cook it just until the coconut starts to brown, and then give it a stir and turn the oven off. I left it for another 15 min or so and it crisped up nicely when I took it out to cool. I really like it and plan to make it again before trying a different recipe.
I reintroduced my favorite popsicles from summer. I’ve been making these for a few years and we love them. I even found some frozen local strawberries in my freezer for one batch and that tasted extra special. I’ve included my recipe below.
We created a green smoothie recipe that we like that uses a green banana and no artificial sweeteners. I like to make a big batch and then freeze individual portions for my husband to take to work. They defrost in a couple of hours and are great to take in the car if I know I’ll be out for a while.
Cassava flour tortillas are saving our life! We love tacos, and I made a taco sauce with goat milk yogurt, lime, salt, and some chile powder that tastes so good. We pair them with fish or shrimp and some shredded cabbage and it is so good. I just use the recipe on the back of the cassava flour. I even bought a tortilla press to make this easier. I make them a couple of times a week and they keep well in a plastic bag on the counter. My daughter even likes to help now.
For Easter we went to my mom’s and I knew the kids would have a hard time avoiding the candy and cakes that are always part of our celebration. So I compromised and bought some organic berries and whipped up some goat cheese with a little honey to dip them in. We even found some flax seed chocolate brownies that had some sugar and safflower oil in them, but are better than jelly beans and didn’t make the kids feel yucky. I’m sure I will feel less guilty about ‘depriving’ them as we continue on this diet, but I also like the approach to easing into things and allowing my kids to make choices for themselves and see how they feel. Intellectually, I know that limiting potentially 'toxic' food is not depravation, but my nurturing instinct and subconscious programming are still at play.
My friend Holly found a clean meat delivery service and I’m so excited to try them out. Want to try Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op's pasture-raised meats? Here's a $20 coupon code. REFWLJA5R34U8
Holly also told us that you can pop sorghum in the microwave just like popcorn! Just put 1/3 cup sorghum in a paper lunch bag and fold it over. Microwave for 2 - 2:30 minutes, being careful not to burn it. They are so cute! We added some ghee or coconut oil, salt, and nutritional yeast. YUMMY and so fast. (Note: every time after the first time, we’ve burned it in our microwave! Not sure what is going on, but leave me a comment if you’ve figured it out.)
For her birthday dinner, my daughter wanted me to recreate one of her favorite meals from The Pink Door in Seattle, a mushroom pasta. And I did. I also made a lasagna because the in-laws decided to join us and I was afraid we’d run out. They were both really good and we laughed because we haven’t eaten this well in a long time and it was all compliant ingredients. I served it with a green salad with balsamic dressing and made this Cinnamon Coffee Cake for dessert. (I would cut back on the ghee next time, as it was a bit heavy and wet. I used some collagen in place of the protein powder in the recipe. We didn’t make a frosting, I just sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar before baking. It was plenty sweet for us, though we don’t like Swerve or Stevia.) Needless to say we were feeling very happy by the end of the night.
We managed to eat out at a local Brewery and were able to order Shrimp Louis salads, a burger without buns/tomatoes, and a Caesar salad. We got to hang out with family, ordering wasn’t that awkward, and we felt great afterward. A huge win! My daughter even made ‘lemonade’ with the lemons on the table and a packet of Stevia.
I found some dehydrated beet chips at Trader Joe’s that surprised me. I’m not a big fan of beets, but these were crispy and a little sweet. They paired really well with a garlic and chive goat cheese as a snack.
This week I am traveling to California for a girls weekend with my sisters. The rest of my family is headed to a baseball tournament 6 hours away. So I’m preparing lots of snacks that are portable and flexible. We are feeling much more confident about our ability to eat in a way that makes us feel good at a restaurant or on the road.
I am still feeling low energy and I’m hoping that picks up soon. I have, however, picked up some intellectual work I haven’t felt like I had time to tackle. I’ll consider that a win! And this past week I downloaded the Think Dirty app and tossed my toxic cosmetics and personal care products. So I’m having fun exploring new products that will further support my healing journey.
Curious about the Plant Paradox Diet?
If you would like more background on why this diet avoids lectins, please visit Lectin Free Mama and checkout this excellent summary. Now that we understand the underlying science, it doesn’t even interest us to add in many of these foods.
Delicious recipes I made this week:
Green Banana Smoothies for the Week
I make a week at a time and freeze them in mason jars. My son is not a big salad eater, but he will drink a green smoothie. I like to buy a bunch of green bananas and then peel and freeze them so we always have some on hand for smoothies or pancakes.
3 handfuls spinach
2 handfuls kale or lettuce
2 green bananas
juice of 1/2 lemon
2T MCT oil
Put the spinach in a Vitamix or large blender and fill with 3-4 cups of water (I fill mine about half way). Blend the greens until it looks like green water. This is the best way to not have chunks of greens in your smoothie.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Pour into mason jars and freeze. This makes 4-5 quart jars or a bunch of smaller ones.
Simple Coconut Popcicles
I’ve been making this recipe for a couple of years and my husband has one every evening instead of ice cream. It is a satisfyingly sweet treat with enough fat to feel indulgent. Because we use honey, these are technically not compliant, but you can substitute your favorite approved sweetener. These are great to have in the freezer for when you want a little something sweet.
3 (15oz) BPA-freecans of Coconut milk
up to 1/3 cup honey or Swerve
3 T vanilla
1/2 - 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (optional - this makes them more dense and amps up the coconut flavor but the texture is not smooth)
Dump everything in the blender and mix it up until it is smooth. (I make this to taste, adding a little honey at a time. Heads up: they don’t taste quite as sweet when frozen.)
Updated to add: Be careful not to over-mix your smoothie because you can whip the fat from the coconut milk and cause it to separate, which doesn’t taste good at all. Really you are just trying to mix these together. If you have big chunks of coconut that you want to make smoother in a Vitamix, blend first with a little water to get smaller chunks and then add the rest of the ingredients.
Pour into popsicles and freeze for at least 5 hours.
This recipe makes 12-15 popsicles.
Add 1-2 cups of frozen local strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries and reduce the amount of honey to taste. Alternatively, you can add a couple of green bananas for a tropical vibe.
Mushroom Pasta with Cream Sauce
This recipe would be enough to feed six people with a side salad. I prefer bitter greens with a balsamic vinaigrette to cut the fat and earthiness of the mushrooms. This recipe comes together very quickly and is a great week night dinner.
12-18 oz sliced or chopped crimini or a mix of wild mushrooms
1 shallot chopped finely (optional)
2 T ghee
1 T olive oil
2 T dry sherry or white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt + pepper
2 packages of Cappello’s Fettuccine
Chop the mushrooms how you like them. We cut them up in little pieces.
Warm a skillet to medium-high heat and add the ghee and olive oil. When hot, add the mushrooms and shallot and sautéed them until soft and just starting to brown. Add the sherry and cook for a couple minutes before adding the heavy cream. Continue cooking for a minute until it is the thickness you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, boil the fettuccini noodles and cook for 90 seconds. When ready, drain and add the pasta to the sauce to coat the pasta.
Serve immediately. Feeds 4-6.
Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Lasagna
I love lasagna, but haven’t been able to eat it because it triggers heartburn for me. I think lasagna feels like a big hug from your mama! While time consuming, it is the perfect thing to make on a weekend when you can take your time and put on some lovely music in the background. I love how this recipe keeps and makes as a yummy lunch for the rest of the week. I’d consider this a special occasion food, and balance it out with lots of salad or roasted veggies. You could feed a crowd with this, even your vegetarian friends.
For the goat cheese Alfredo sauce:
1 (4.5 oz) package Trader Joe’s Goat’s Milk Creamy Cheese (or Kite Hill plain cream cheese)
2 1/2 cups almond milk, divided
1 T tapioca flour/starch
1 T sorghum flour
4 T ghee
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
salt + pepper
For the layers:
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin on a mandolin
1 onion, sliced and caramelized in some olive oil
1 package goat mozzelerella, shredded
1 package Kite Hill ricotta
1/2 t garlic powder
1 T fresh chopped parsley (or 1 t dried)
1-2 packages of Capello’s Lasagna sheets, defrosted
additional shredded Parmesan, as desired
Prepare the sweet potatoes on the mandolin and cook down the onion until it is soft and starting to brown if you haven’t already. Grease a 13x9 pan with some butter or olive oil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add the ricotta, garlic powder, parsley, and some S+P. Mix until smooth.
Prepare the sauce. In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup milk, and the flour. Beat until smooth and the flour is dissolved. Slowly pour in the remaining milk and mix together until it is well blended.
Melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat (I used a non-stick pan). Add the milk-goat cheese mixture and continue to heat, stirring, until the sauce gets thick. This should not take more than 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, and some S+P to taste. Set aside.
Spread a bit of the Alfredo sauce on the bottom of your 9x13 pan. Add some lasagna noodles to cover sauce and start the bottom layer. (If you cut them a little short, you should have enough for 3 layers and a top. I had to open another package and use only one sheet out of it, but don’t plan to next time.)
Make a thin layer of sweet potatoes and spread the ricotta mixture on top with some of the mozzarella. Add Alfredo next to sweet potato layers to keep things moist. I then put another layer of sweet potatoes because mine were large. Continue layering your ingredients in this way. You can kind-of divide your ingredients in thirds, planning the finish with a layer of pasta, Alfredo, and mozzarella. I put some extra Parmesan on top to help it brown and get crispy.
Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
Note: I used a mix of tapioca and sorghum flour, but I think this would work with whatever approved flours you have on hand (except maybe coconut).
You could use almost any vegetables in this recipe. Next time I plan to use roasted brussel sprouts and a little crispy prosciutto. Even the mushroom sauce from the recipe above would be yummy. And a spinach and artichoke option seems like an obvious next step to me!