Nourished in Disney – Planning Meals 180 Days in Advance

As if my life didn’t revolve around food enough as it is, I am currently 181 days out from a Disney vacation. For those of you not quite as obsessed with all things Walt, that countdown means that beginning tomorrow, I can start making dining reservations for my trip in June. As crazy or OCD as it may sound, finding yourself without reservations during this busy time of year could mean waiting in a 30 minute line for a fast food hamburger in the parks. Other vacation planners are just as obsessed as I am, which equates to crashes on the Disney Website as we all try to make our reservations at the same time. Disney is a money-making machine, and I’m just the type of person that helps them oil the gears.

Like Alice with nothing to drink at a Tea Party

My plan is pretty simple, actually. I’m going to spend the next 12 hours or so with my eyes glued to the computer screen. Since my husband and I have committed to eating organic/nourishing foods, the stakes are higher and the challenge much bigger. More than likely we will be participating in Disney’s Deluxe Dining plan, so we’ll try to eat at numerous Signature restaurants. As mentioned in a previous post, eating organic at Disney is much easier when dining at the more exclusive restaurants, and even some of the regular table service restaurants are beginning to have items such as a Sustainable Fish of the Day on the menu. Read more


The Maker’s Diet Phase Three – Approved Foods

And so concludes our foray into strict eating – what comes in Phase Three of the Maker’s Diet is what we’ll be sticking with indefinitely. This morning marked the beginning of this, and my husband toasted the sunrise with chocolate milk and Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread topped with a fried egg. The milk was an indulgence, but it’s his favorite. When we spotted the low pasteurized/non-homogenized drink at our local Whole Foods, I couldn’t say no to his pleading yet hopeful face. Like I’ve mentioned before, this diet has brought out more cravings in the boys than the girls!

While not drowning in a river of rich chocolate, my husband was at least allowed to quench his cravings with a glass of Chocolate Milk (organic, of course)!

As for the girls, we’re getting back to the more familiar territory of our former eating habits in many ways, with the exception of exclusive organic foods and very limited grains. What we CAN have though, is so numerous that I’m sure we won’t miss out. Plus, there’s the fact that since purchasing my food processor and dehydrator, I’ve managed to make not only tortilla chips, but also pizza dough, sweet potato chips, and cookies (all made with almond meal)! Personally, I would have been content with only Oatmeal and Sweet Potatoes, so the foods available to us seem generous, indeed. Read more

Creating a Wonderland in His Image

This morning I made homemade mayonnaise. After one failed batch, and the loss of half a bottle of olive oil, I can now say that I’ve come up with a decent recipe that tastes like store-bought (because in this instance, homemade WASN’T better). Now that that’s under my belt, I have chicken stock simmering in the crock pot, made with veggies and the bones of the chicken I roasted yesterday. A batch of soaked almonds that has just come out of the oven are cooling off, just waiting to be ground into flour. What can I say, I’m a convert to Real Food now.

It's Beautiful What Egg and Oil can Create

What I’ll also say is that since the inception of my family’s Maker’s Diet makeover, I’ve received some flack, not only from people that have heard of it and can’t fathom life without a Big Mac, but also from close friends. Is this a case of fearing what you don’t know? I can only wonder as I move towards a liberating, healthy lifestyle that will be good for my health now, and on down the road. The food is tasty, the ingredients wholesome and nourishing. Yes, it’s harder; yes, it’s a bit more time consuming than popping some Easy Mac in the microwave. But it TASTES better, makes me FEEL better, and I’m even willing to do some of the work for others, just so that they can benefit, as well!

What’s healthy about man-made protein powders and energy drinks? Why the need to hit the gym and work yourself into a stupor, just to go home and eat what you’ve been told is “the best food to build muscle and trim fat.” Everyone’s an expert, everyone can pinpoint something you’re NOT doing right. And when the protein fails, and the low fat diet causes you to crash, those experts can then point to some other area you need to improve on – maybe this time it’s your carbs, or your saturated fat, or the meat you had for dinner. Maybe they just don’t know. The only person who truly has the answers is God. We can’t constantly worry about creating ourselves into the images found on runways and in movies, we can only try to mold ourselves into His image. Man-made foods designed to “fix” our imperfections are costing us our health.

So please, don’t call it obsession that I’m creating a nourishing lifestyle; one that God himself outlined for us. Call it passion. A passion for food that doesn’t need an ingredient list, without fillers and “low fat” labels. A passion for the art of making something from nothing. I am a writer, a painter, and a cook. I may not be a culinary chef, but I can create an edible work of art that others enjoy. And while I’m doing it, I am healthy. I’m allowing my body to heal from years of abuse. Phase Two of the Maker’s Diet saw a change in sugar cravings, energy level, and satisfaction. Now that Phase Three is looking me in the eye, I can take it on without batting an eyelash, knowing that this phase will be for the long-haul.

This blog is also featured in Real Food Wednesdays, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop. Go check out all of the Real Food ideas!!

Maker’s Diet Phase Two – Approved Foods

Put Augustus Gloop on a diet and you have one short-tempered child. That is what all four of us experienced this past week while on Phase One, so you can imagine our joy at deciding to move on to Phase Two and discovering that we can eat nature’s candy – Fruit! My inner fat kid was jumping for joy at even the prospect of a sweet potato. Phase Two allows for a greater variety of nuts, some beans, and much more fruit than the first stage. Hopefully this will keep us fuller longer, and help us overcome the horrible cravings for sugar we’ve experienced in just one week!

Fruit is nature's candy, yet actually good for you!

I’m including the additional foods for Phase Two – notice that while grains and most carbs are still not an option, fill-you-up foods like beans and Dairy products have been added. Now to just locate some raw milk in Nashville…any suggestions are appreciated! Read more

Life Without Carbs – Not For the Faint of Heart (or Willpower)

The first week of Phase One on the Maker’s Diet is coming to a close, and I immediately picture us walking through the dessert with an Oasis in sight. Dramatic? Perhaps you wouldn’t think so if you had taken every ounce of sugar and carbohydrate from a diet that had previously consisted largely of grains and chocolate. With the four of us giving it all we have for seven days straight, we came to one major decision. First and foremost – there’s no way we can do Phase One for another week.

Before coming to any conclusions about a lack of willpower or weakness on our parts, let me state that we’ve all noticed a significant increase in appetite, decrease in energy, and loss of weight. Being hungry even after a large meal, we knew that it wouldn’t be healthy for us to continue in this pattern for much longer. If so, our goal of making this a lifestyle change would burn out and we would probably be found in a dark pantry somewhere, stuffing our faces with Twinkies and Wonder Bread. Jointly, it was agreed that Phase Two would allow us a few more complex carbohydrates that would keep us a bit fuller, and also offer us more choices so that we didn’t fizzle. Since the Maker’s Diet clearly states that even beginning at Phase Three would be the best decision you’ve ever made for your body, I’ll say the new plan will work wonderfully.

Starting tomorrow, we will be on Phase Two for one week, and then switch to Phase Three from there on out. And what better time to decide this than right before the holidays? With sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes steaming in glistening dishes that seem to shimmy and shake to get our attention, it will be much better to make my own healthy alternatives and bring along with me – by that phase I can add Sweet Potatoes and other ingredients that the cold weather calls for!

Never have I seen my husband and brother so excited at the prospect of eating a greater variety of nuts. With our only option being almonds and some seeds last week, both guys eyed the trays of Macadamia nuts, Hazelnuts, and Pecans with wonder as they lay drying after being soaked. Sour Cream, Cow Milk and Cheese, and Apples have taken on an almost sacred appearance, and everyone is rejoicing at the idea of a Phase Two Celebration dinner tomorrow night including Chili, Sour Cream, and Baked Sweet Potatoes.

For me, the Maker’s Diet was started as a means of liberating myself from modern food, allowing me to become healthier while also eating real foods and getting away from the body image issues that consume most women. Phase One of the program did not allow me to do that, instead consuming me with thoughts of my next meal even while putting away my dishes from the current one. Weight loss was not an option for me, and even though my pants aren’t much looser, even a slight change was enough to alert me that changes should be made. Today I purchased Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and I am excited to share recipes and information with you as I progress in this nourishing lifestyle! Now, on to Phase Two!

Maker’s Diet Phase One – Approved Foods

The final day before the diet, and I felt like Augustus Gloop. Here I was, being given my “last supper” so to speak, right at Halloween. The candy didn’t just tempt me, it had me. Remember the scene in Willy Wonka, where Augustus gets sucked into the Chocolate River? That was me. Eating everything in sight like a person sick in the head. Honestly, if anyone needed a detox after that, I did!

To Some Extent, I Really Was Eating Like I Was Never Going To Have It Again. I Relate to Augustus!

Phase One of the Maker’s Diet is all about getting you back to basics. Stabilizing your blood sugar, reducing infection, balancing hormones and enhancing digestion – it sounds like EXACTLY what I need! So in order to fix all these imbalances, the diet calls for a temporary hold on even healthy foods such as fruits, whole grains, and honey. Keep in mind that the book also mentions that if you are very overweight or have health issues, Phase One is for you. If you’re extremely healthy, or even want to improve on your health, you can skip on over to phase three. Jordan Rubin does recommend everyone practicing Phase One for at least a few days, in order to balance out all those issues.

Now on to the Food. For two weeks, you can eat a wide variety of meats and vegetables. I’ve decided to provide you with a full list below, because it really can’t be found anywhere online! Read more

The Maker’s Diet – Making a Believer Out of Me

I used to wonder how my 99-year-old Great-Grandmother could eat only the “white meat” of steak (aka the fat), every single day, with biscuits and sausage gravy rinsed down with glasses of whole milk, and still maintain a very slim figure throughout her very long life. Now I realize, it’s because the food she existed on is now in danger of extinction.

Channeling my inner Julia Child, I began a foray into yet another food adventure yesterday. Adventure is the key word, as it always involves a certain amount of risk. Ultimately, I’ve set a goal for myself that the Maker’s Diet will be more than just the standard 40 day plan indicated in Jordan Rubin’s book of organic, sustainable, and mostly local foods. The risk in this adventure is not to make it a “diet,” but a lifestyle change. Calling it an adventure is an understatement, however – trekking through Farmer’s Markets, weeding through dubious information online, and delving into the world of raw milk and grass-fed meat has been nothing less than mind-boggling.

But, hopefully I will be able to make things simpler for those of you that either a) simply don’t have the time, b) are skeptical about making this work in today’s world, or c) would just rather have someone else give you the information. 🙂

Meryl Streep, playing the convincing role of Julia Child as she shops for fish at a French Market

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Eating Organic in Disney World

The availability of organic food seems to be more accessible, and  generally more affordable, than ever before. Combine that with the fact that tidal waves of information keep sweeping in about the FDA and the truth about products we once considered healthy and nutritious, and you have an equation for restaurants going green – right? Surely restaurant owners see a niche and want to fill that with sustainable, organic foods that consumers are now expecting – after all, there are many diners that would be willing to invest a bit more if the food served could be trusted to nourish (take note, restaurants everywhere).

Like a poisoned apple, food that isn't organic could contain more than meets the eye

After finding a handful of restaurants in my area that were latching onto the idea and riding that wave, I started looking elsewhere to see if it was merely a trend, or if it could be the beginnings of a new way of dining out. Apart from traveling to locations that are known for healthy, sustainable living, what about vacation destinations where food and entertainment enthusiasts converge? What about Disney World? Read more

A Gluten Free Bridal Shower

I’m the first to admit that I can be a picky eater. It’s not that I don’t like certain types of foods, but at one point or another in my dietary history, foods haven’t liked me…or at least that’s what WebMD and a few homeopathic doctors have told me. At different times in my life I’ve been off sugar, off meat, off dairy; the list goes on and on. Perhaps that’s why when planning a shower for my brother’s bride-to-be, I took it as my own personal challenge to provide her with a fantastic assortment of food, even though she is Gluten intolerant.

With the recent boom in gluten-free foods, choosing a menu wasn’t as hard as I had originally imagined. I spent the entire budget at Whole Foods Market, where I splurged on a smorgasbord that not only she would be able to eat, but that the rest of us would enjoy, as well. After consulting with the experts that worked in the bakery, cheese shop, and produce section, I settled on a Wine and Cheese shower. Judging by the amount of food consumed by 25 ladies in only two hours, I’d say this type of shower is a much bigger hit than the traditional Jordan almonds, pastel mints, and sheet cake variety!

Always a crowd favorite - Brie with Fig Spread and Marcona Almonds

The wines were the easy part. I am a red wine lover myself, but many women prefer white, so there was one type of each to choose from…with multiple bottles of reserves waiting to be dispatched for the occasion. We picked out a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay, because neither are too strong nor too sweet to distract from any of the cheese.

Because of my love of food, the breads and cheese were the difficult part to decide on because of the sheer magnitude of options. I did my research, and discovered that most wine and cheese events call for at least one cow, one goat, and one sheep cheese. In order to present the food in a more asthetic way, I chose five varieties. Read more

Chef TJ – a Renowed Disney Chef with a Cult-Like Following

I have a hard time remembering the names of chefs in my hometown of Nashville, much less one located in a completely different state. I’m not proud of this; in fact I hope to be on a first name basis with the people behind the food at my favorite haunts at some point soon. But when it comes to Disney World dining, I’ve noticed that I am not alone in sometimes choosing a spot to eat based upon the chef alone.

Look at any Disney dining blog, forum or website and you’ll notice a trend. Where special diets are concerned, there is an overwhelming majority of people who will heed one man’s name above all other qualified candidates. Chef TJ cannot be beat when custom-creating a menu that not only exceeds expectations, but goes well beyond the quality that a Disney table service restaurant is known for.

Chef TJ from his Boma days at Disney

A native to Indonesia, Tjetjep Sudiswa, otherwise known as Chef TJ, has been impressing resort guests at Disney World for more than 15 years. Starting at Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, TJ then moved to Ohana, where he has been stationed ever since. The teaming of chef and restaurant here was magical, to make even more use of that well-loved word.

Entrance to Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Resort

At Ohana, this chef had a following of Vegans, Vegetarians, and Special Diet diners (Gluten, Lactose, and Tree Nut intolerance being high on that list) that seemed almost cult-like in their devotion. Mothers raved about the attention given to their children, and twenty-something couples celebrated anniversaries at Ohana just to be fed by the man they deemed worthy of the special occasion.

The uproar of fans occurred just over a month ago, with message boards packed with topics such as “Where oh Where has Chef TJ gone?” and blog headlines screaming “Chef TJ – No Longer at Ohana!”. As rumors gave way to truth it became clear that Chef TJ was in fact no longer employed at Ohana; but where had he gone? Read more