Traci Anello

Food is art


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Living a Plant based lifestyle

Those of you who know me, know how celebratory I think food is. Those of you who haven’t met me yet will learn from me that it is just that,  celebratory.

My mission in life seems to be to discover ways that people can have the foods they miss because of dietary restrictions, self diagnosed allergies or just wanting to do nicer things for their bodies. This has been a life long process for me. I once opened a 100% gluten free café ahead of its time. There, people with gluten allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease, to name a few, could come in and have a full meal enjoying foods they thought they could never have again. It was a clean, peaceful, allergen free environment where food was enjoyed to its fullest without any fear of having tummy troubles later. My café was also dairy free and peanut free. It was a fun place and a creative place that most people referred to as “Anello’s Café” but to me it was my lab.

From there I started to research a more healthy alternative to reach a broader market. This brought me to experimenting with the “Elimination Diet”. For the record, I despise the term “diet” and prefer  “Lifestyle” but in this case, diet was appropriate. This “diet” consisted of no meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, gluten or alcohol. After one week I felt really good. The weight loss actually noticeable and my fatigue was turning into new found energy. I was on to something. The one thing I really enjoyed was eliminating the meat. Not eating cheese for me was like a life sentence. I went the entire month and really felt great. As time went on, I added a few things back in but meat and dairy were out for good. This “diet” was turning into a “lifestyle”. I began to research Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s China Study. I bought the book and watched his talks. My next step was to take his class at Cornell online and become certified in plant based nutrition. In the Spring of 1016, I did just that. It’s a wonderful course and the research was extensive. Rouxbe is a cooking school that offered a discount if you took this Cornell class. Rouxbe is a plant based school so I signed up. I highly recommend this course. The techniques and recipes will easily send you on your way to a nutritious lifestyle. You’ll learn how to cook a wide variety of grains and legumes as well as making delicious sauces and dressings from plants and plant products. You’ll learn correct knife cuts as well as the correct way to use a knife.  Check them out: http://www.rouxbe.com

Knowing how important food is to people, my chef background motivated me to learn a new way of cooking and eating. I was up for the challenge. Dr. Campbell’s son Tom is also a plant based doctor like his father. he explains how to reverse heart disease and diabetes and his documentary “Pure Plant Nation” explains it all. I highly recommend this film. His wife wrote a cookbook which is completely plant based. Her recipes are nothing short of amazing. I love reading about their family get togethers and how they all share this lifestyle.

My research then took me to Dr. Michael Greger. His vast knowledge and sense of humor were the beginning of a beautiful relationship with food. I purchased his book “How Not to Die”. It’s about nutrition, his “Daily Dozen”, what food does for you and the different illnesses it can help. He breaks food down into groups and explains how they work, why they work and the best way to consume them. He loves what he does and it shows. He also has his own pod casts which I love to listen to while I’m driving. The thing I love about this doctor is he gives you the information based on extensive research. The information is there. It’s up to you to you how and when you decide to use it. He’s not going any where. The information is there when you’re ready. his website is: http://www.NutritionFacts.org.

My best advice when thinking about trying a plant based lifestyle is to start out slow (unless you’re ready to commit 100%). I have done “lunch and learn” oncology talks.  My best piece of advice to someone who is just not ready to give it up is this: You don’t have to take it all out at once. If you’re eating 6oz of meat with your dinner, try 3oz of meat and double the volume of your vegetables. Then next time go down to 1 1/2oz of meat and a few more vegetables. Eventually you train your pallet to finally eliminate the meat all together. Then move on to the elimination of dairy. I felt my very best when I finally sent the cheese packing for good. I have never looked back on the casein train. Casein is that nasty protein that cause havoc in your digestive track.

Ready to give this a try? Add colors to your plate. Reach for the rainbow and try to add one of each color to your meals. There are a host of beautiful vegetables and fruits always at your local farmers market. I’ve been cooking for over 30 years and I can tell you I always find something new at the market. It’s a great way to meet your local farmers and they always have a wonderful way to enjoy their harvest. If cooking isn’t a strong point for you (yet), Indian, Japanese and Thai cuisine offer many plant based entrees that you can try first and then have fun recreating at home. There are many vegetarian restaurants and plant based as well opening up all over the country. They offer different ways to enjoy sandwiches, pastas and salads with a colorful boost. The internet is a host of recipes. You can learn how to make cheese spreads and sauces with cashews that are dairy free, nutritious and delicious. Once you see how easy this is, you’ll be making your own meals at home before you know it. I love making my own spreads and dressings. I know exactly what’s in them. You can also make them for friends and family to try. At my daughter’s wedding, I put out some plant based options and guests enjoyed them as much as the other choices. It opened up the group to talking about this way of enjoying food. recently at a cookout I made my sundried tomato and basil spread and the men were taking chips and dipping into it without realizing all it contained was sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, cashews, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, shallots, chopped red pepper and garlic. Honestly, they didn’t really care what it was. They just cared that it tasted good. Fair enough.

If you’re interested in giving this a try, visit the sites I’ve included or send me a message. One day at a time is the best approach. The food is rea, whole and wonderful. The people are supportive. The journey is definitely worth it.

#plantbased  #plantpurenation  #plantstrong  #chef  #cheflife  #farmers #farmersmarket #Chinastudy  #nutritionfacts #restaurants #healthy #wellness

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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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