Traci Anello

Food is art


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Anti-inflammation journey update :)

I used to be the person who started something with all of the intension of making it work, over and over and over again. Something had to change.
Prior to a month ago, I was talking with a nurse about her new food choices. She decided to take white flour, sugar and processed foods out of her daily meals.A chef I know also decided to do the same thing. They are two different friends that work in two different places and just happen to be doing the same thing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for just about ever. So I read a great article by JJ Virgin and Dr. Andrew Weil and decided it was time. My body wanted it. My body needed it.
Once I decided my body deserves this, I was going to do this. And I have.

I’m into week 5 and the way my body has responded has been astounding. I’m down a size in jeans, I’m sleeping better, my skin looks healthier, no joint pain and my mind seems much clearer. I tried so many crazy ways to lose the weight. Even Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig weren’t helping. The article I read by JJ Virgin said her clients who felt they were eating very healthy and in moderation had trouble losing weight.She suggested the 7 trouble foods that could be the culprit: Gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, sugar and soy. She suggests for 21 days to take all of them out and then slowly add them back in one at a time. I thought it had to be the gluten. I’ve been working with gluten-free clients for years. My specialty is creating recipes for people who can not have gluten in any of their meals. It’s a very different lifestyle. From celiac disease to joint pain, skin rashes, tummy troubles and eczema to children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. I have seen the remarkable effects removing gluten can do. Why did I not think this applied to me? The answer was right there the entire time through the work that I have done for years. Within three days, I stopped a nagging cough I had for 5 weeks. Dairy?? I started sleeping through the night better. My skin was beginning to look healthier. My body is happy. My insides want to dance but right now it’s still working over time on repairing the damage I’ve caused over the years. It will dance soon.

I decided to take my favorite wine out while I was on this journey. That was a bit tougher than the gluten. After the first week, I really didn’t want one so something was working.

Now that I’m into week 5, I have decided that this is my new lifestyle. I love the way I’m enjoying my meals. I love what I’m learning. I especially love what I’m able to share. I’ve said before that one of my friend’s is a chef who has no adopted the same lifestyle. How lucky am I! We talk often about different ways to prepare vegetables, proteins and great delicious ways to add various types of beans. I’m very happy with how everything is going. One of my favorite things is to make a topping with artichokes, tomatoes, kalamato olives, onions, green peppers and jalapenos. It’s something I keep in the fridge and add to fish, chicken and salads. Today I added garbanzo beans and pinto beans, sea salt and a wonderful piece of sliced turkey.

Every morning starts with a great tasting shake: Organic raspberries, baby spinach, flax or hemp seeds, almond milk, RAW protein powder and spring water. I love it! Every morning it’s a great way to start my day! Mid morning is an organic gala apple with two tablespoons of almond butter with sea salt.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is this has been a wonder journey! It’s one that I just started and one that I’m going to love to continue. I’m looking forward to my physical next month and full blood work. My body is happy. When your body is happy, it certainly tells you.

The best news right now is starting next month the farmers markets open up. I can’t wait. last year I was a regular customer buying veggies to juice. This year I will be that regular customer except it will be more than just juicing vegetables. This year I’m going to seek out new vegetables to try. I love my salads and I love creating new sides for fresh fish.

It’s a wonderful new beginning. I’m happy that you’ve taken the time to read my blog and I hope it inspires you to give this a try. Your body will love it.

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My anti-inflammatory journey…Day 14

Today I’m happy to say completes 14 days into my anti-inflammatory journey.

The benefits I have experienced have been nothing short of amazing for me. I’m finally losing the weight, no joint pain and my skin is looking much better. I’m finding more energy and I see and comprehend things much clearer. What I finding to be very exciting is what I can’t see that’s going on inside. I’m sure my body is in extreme repair mode. I guess that because I do have some periods of exhaustion and after what I’ve put this body through with years of unprocessed foods, I would be exhausted too.

I started with an article from vegetarian magazine that turned me on to JJ Virgin’s book. From her book I found a wonderful challenge. Seven days, seven foods, lose seven pounds.Then I was at the book store and saw Dr. Andrew Weil’s magazine/book about the anti-inflammatory diet. educations makes all the difference.

Now I have one more week to go before I start adding in one by one the seven foods I took out. Honestly, I’m good. I really don’t have any one of the foods I want to put back in. I’m considering eggs but so far so good without them. The real challenge has been reading the labels and making sure non of the seven foods are in anything I consume. The one food I think is the real culprit? Gluten. There is no doubt in my mind. dairy is the close second. For almost six weeks I had a cough that wouldn’t go away. My doctor said it’s going around and you have to wait it out. I hate taking over the counter meds but this cough was annoying. I was hooked on Mucinex DM. It really was helping but I was taking it like a multi vitamin. Once I started this new way of eating, within three days, the mucus and coughing stopped. I mean completely. I woke up one morning and realized I didn’t cough all night and I didn’t have to clear my throat. That was my first good sign. The second was I noticed no joint pain in my knuckles. This is pretty cool. There’s something to this new “lifestyle”.

I’m fortunate to have a supervisor at work who is doing the same thing as I am. The fact that he’s an excellent chef is simply a bonus. I think the hardest thing is to make dressings for salad. After a few discussions and bouncing ideas back and forth, he had some pretty good suggestions. Sometimes a dressing is as easy as fresh lemon juice or a quick Dijon dressing. use olive oil and whisk in some Dijon to make it creamy and then a little cracked mustard seed dressing for fun. There are some really good balsamic vinegars out there as well. This whole new eating lifestyle is about taking fresh whole foods and creating what you want. Even a fresh squeeze of an orange with balsamic can be a nice treat on a salad. For dinner tonight I had roasted Brussel sprouts, sautéed green beans, turkey breast and lentils (see picture). It was more than enough. It was wholesome and delicious.

Eating healthy actually can be affordable. We’re coming into farmers market season. I can’t wait. In the mean time I find Trader Joes is very helpful place to shop. I buy my organic beans there as well as almond butter, avocados and apples. Another tip is to go to the various organic companies and print our their coupons. That’s been a big savings. I drink unsweetened coconut milk and love organic greens. There are coupons for them online. Since I have the room for my own little garden, I’m going to grow the vegetables I need to juice: Kale, parsley, spinach, cucumbers and beets. Luckily I live in New england and we’re still expecting snow this week, so I have time to finalize a plan.

One of the hardest things about doing all of this is trying to explain it to people you love with hopes they will give it a try. It’s like any life change. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean everyone else is ready. All you have to do is just share what you’re experiencing and then maybe it can be helpful.

I guess in time. It’s all about education. Sharing Dr. Weil’s magazine has been a nice way to give someone the choice. Facebook is a good tool for posting articles and various stories about anti inflammation.

In the meantime, I’m very happy with my new lifestyle. I feel healthy. My walks are more vigorous. My nights are relaxing with a new article or writing some new recipes. I have a book ready to be published with gluten-free and dairy free recipes that will make your life so much easier and taste better. Now I have the motivation to write a new book with recipes for the major allergens. I’m a chef who has been given the gift to create recipes for people who thought they could never have their favorite foods again. This is a gift I love to share.

Sometimes it all starts with an article. Then by just applying it for one day at a time, you can accomplish more than losing a few pounds. Making the effort seemed like a big accomplishment for me. After completing 14 days, I have one more week to go to finish the twenty-one days. Life is good and staying on this path means it’s just going to keep getting better.

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This was no coincidence…

Today completes day 7 in my food intolerance journey! I couldn’t be more excited for a few reasons. One, I actually completed something I started. Two, My body has been pampered for 7 straight days. I’m sure my major organs and my gut are celebrating their first vacation from horrible intruders. It’s amazing how I actually look at food now.

Today is my day off from the hospital so I knew I wanted to spend it researching more about inflammation, which I have dubbed the new buzz word. I decided a trip to the book store would be a treat. This is my reward for completing 7 full days. My daughter and I drive to Portland (about a 30 minute ride) so I thought it would be a good time to talk to her about what I have learned. She listened and was actually interested so I was pretty happy and received. There are so many things we could have talked about but I knew this was important. We have a very close relationship so if she had told me that she wasn’t exactly interested in this subject, I would have probably changed it. But…she was all ears! I found myself saying things like “I feel really good” and “I’m sleeping better than I ever have” and so on. it was saying affirmations. After our conversation, she was very interested in creating a plan that could work for her.I couldn’t ask for anything more. she already knows that gluten is a poison. When she was in college, she took gluten out for almost a month and realized she wasn’t getting her usual migraines. I was fixing her meals for her then and she was also shopping at Trader Joes which was very helpful. But as college went on, the gluten was reintroduced and the problems started all over again.So knowing that it has worked in the past is good reason enough to give this a try.

We get to the book store and head to the magazine section. I notice she is looking at outdoor magazines and canning and self sustainable living magazines. Ah ha! She was listening. I head over to the natural food and health section to see who else is chatting about inflammation. I pick up a couple and flip through them but nothing really catches me. Then I see a Dr. Andrew Weil magazine and the top says “The Anti-inflammatory Pyramid in-depth”. I looked over at my daughter and said,”Is this the new buzz word? Is this that word I’m going to see everywhere now? How weird is this?”.I pick up his magazine and flip through it and every article is about inflammation. This was exactly what I was looking for. This was no coincidence. There are hundreds of magazines to choose from and this one catches my eye. It’s wonderful too! It’s very in-depth. I include a picture copy of the magazine below so when you look for it, you’ll recognize it.

I’m convinced that I’ll be reading some of his books now. As a chef, I will also be creating new recipes to share. This is what I do. I find foods that people feel they no longer can enjoy and recreate them to their specific allergy so they can enjoy them. After all of these years, why wasn’t I ever doing this for myself? Why did I not feel I deserved to treat my body with the utmost respect? I’m ashamed. But I’m also happy that I have finally woken up to realize this is about me too. This is self-care. So why not take the gift I was given and share what I know with everyone.

I decided to share my first recipe with you. It’s full of flavor, gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, sugar-free and corn free. I use this mediterranean dressing on everything. It’s wonderful on chicken and fish or just over rice and lentils.

Mediterranean dressing

In a medium bowl, chop and combine:
1 Vine ripened tomato
1/2 Vidalia onion (or red onion)
1 can artichoke hearts
1 small green pepper
12 kalamata pitted olives cut in half

Combine and add:
1 tablespoons of the olive juice (for the salt)
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 cup of good olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Mix in with the bowl of pure goodness. let sit overnight.
It’s wonderful!! Add fresh herbs if you want too. I chopped a few chives in there because I had them. I also cut up an avocado for the salad.
You can also spoon this over flatbread and add goat cheese (For those people who can tolerate goat cheese) and broil until the cheese melts.

This such a nice recipe. The colors are beautiful. In season, chop fresh parsley and maybe even a red and yellow pepper for more color.

So as my journey continues, I have two more weeks to go to complete the 21 days. As I said before though, I’m in no hurry to put any of these foods back into my body. They just don’t belong there. The fact that I saw Dr. Weil’s magazine was simply re-enforcement that I’m on the right track. It was no coincidence. Here’s to whole foods and positive cooking.

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Inflammation??

There comes a time when you have to take complete responsibility for your own health. A doctor is a handy person when something feels broken or not quite right. That’s the ‘go to” person when it feels like it’s someone else that needs to make the decisions for you. It usually starts with routine blood work. You get the blood work back and everything looks good. That’s good news right?? Until you decide to Google the results and see what they actually mean. What are these letters, abbreviations and numbers? Less than and positive signs that you learned in elementary school. Together they all mean your health status but together to the untrained eye, they’re whatever the doctors tells you they are. Fair enough.

Not good enough for me at that particular moment. I notice one that looks to be a bit higher than the Google results say it should:CR-P. What is this?? So I call the doctor and I’m fortunate enough to talk to one of his nurses. She says it’s inflammation. So I ask what that means and she says it doesn’t pin point the source. She said it’s a little high but not to worry. So we end the call and of course, I worry. As time goes on, I’m at ease with the thought that maybe it was from a sore back or a head ache and next time it’ll be fine. Fast forward three years and I go for a routine blood check as part of a physical. Well, well. Once again the CR-P comes back “a little” high. It’s the first thing I ask the doctor to look at. Once again, she asks me if I have any pain or if I’ve had a headache. I say no and it’s dismissed anyway. this just didn’t sound right to me. I was having trouble losing weight even though I was going to the gym. I was exhausted more than usual. I just couldn’t concentrate. None of these were red flags?? So I decided to pay more attention to my body.

I was at a local health food store and saw a magazine that caught my attention. It said “The 7 hidden causes of weight gain”. So I picked it up and that night I made a cup of tea and sat down to relax and read my magazine. What kind of help could this magazine possibly bring. The article really got my attention. One word in particular: Inflammation. There’s that word again. Certain foods become an intolerance. I’m very familiar with gluten and the host of problems it causes. There it is on the list along with dairy, soy, eggs, sugar, peanuts and corn. It dawns on me that a few years ago, I had taken the gluten out for quite a while and remember not having any joint pain. There’s some validity to this article. I read the entire thing and I’m convinced I need to try this. They recommend a book by JJ Virgin so I download the book and read it in two days. In the meantime I find two co-workers are taking out flour and refined sugars. I’m happy that one of them is a chef so I know we can bounce some good ideas off of each other. They seem to be doing pretty well.

I thought “I can do this”. Then I started to think about what I had to give up. I love cheese. Taking dairy out is like ripping the pacifier out of a baby’s mouth. And bread?? Wait, eggs with cheese too?? This was a good time to go for a walk and think about what I was about to get myself into. It didn’t take long. The compromise is weight loss and no joint pain. I CAN do this. I get home from my walk and immediately throw away what’s in the fridge. The new groceries I had just bought earlier that morning got bagged up and given away. Back to the grocery store, Trader Joes to be exact. I love brown rice and lentils. I can have that along with organic meats and fish. Every morning I make a breakfast shake with organic spinach, raspberries, coconut milk, spring water and some protein powder.

I want to say that today is day 6. I feel pretty good. I have periods where I feel like crashing. My co-worker says that the support group he goes to talks about that as a common occurence. the support group leader explained that your body is working over time to repair the damage. That will exhaust you from time to time. Makes sense to me. I never weigh myself because I refuse to measure my accomplishments with the scale. there are so many variables with a scale. For me, it’s how I feel. JJ Virgin says “7 pounds in 7 days by taking out the 7 foods”. I had a pair of jeans that I was hoping to fit into. I have to say, they fit pretty good!! That’s the motivation I needed. More importantly, it means there must be a lot of really good things going on inside. Things I can’t see but I sure can feel.

You’re supposed to keep these 7 foods out for 21 days and then slowly re-introduce them back into your system one by one. Tonight I decided that I actually like this new life style. I like knowing I’m doing really good things to my body.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to listen to your body. If it doesn’t sound right or feel right then you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel as though your doctor isn’t listening to you, then find a new one. That’s what I did and my new doctor is wonderful. She’s open to listening to what I have concerns with. She gives me the time to explain and then she gives me very good advice. She’s open to natural remedies and doesn’t pick up the prescription pad as soon as I say the word “discomfort”.

Inflammation is not a kind word. It’s something that I have decided to pay more attention to. I can only hope that through diet and education, I will continue to improve that number with my next physical’s blood work. Every single thing I put in my mouth is my decision. I enjoy whole foods and juicing fresh vegetables. I love making new healthy dishes that I can share. I’m looking forward to going to the “Farm-acy” as soon as the farmers markets open up. I’m doing good things for my body now. I need to take the best care of it because it’s the only one I have. As long as I keep in mind that what goodness I put into my body I will get out, I’ll do okay.

Love these new jeans!

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