Holistic Health

Food + Grief = Growth

Real, whole food, organically raised: none of the words in that sentence even existed when I was growing up. The buzz words then were: convenient, easy, crowd-pleasing- which meant one thing- casserole! When I reflect on childhood meals, I remember eating together around the table; I remember laughing at my dad's bad jokes; I remember my mom eating what I had methodically separated, and I remember my brother having to wait until I was finished eating before he could escape with his friends. Basically, none of what I remember about eating was the food. 


Five years ago, my dad passed away after a battle with cancer. Just prior to that, we had made some changes to our schedule that had allowed me to be home more during the day. Feeling inspired, I began figuring out how to create at home the food that I had normally purchased.  In the kitchen, I am determined, methodical and s l o w.....it takes me for-ev-er to cut, chop, slice and dice. In short, my family would devour in less than 15 minutes what had taken me hours (and sometimes days) to prep and create. When my dad died, so did my love for all that food prep. 


Strangely enough, I grieved him through taste. Dad had an unapologetic love for donuts that I never understood. Yet, when I no longer had dad, all I wanted were donuts. Every single time we stopped for ice cream, Dad would get butter pecan. I never understood. After dad passed, I couldn't stop my cravings for all things butter pecan, including those strange 'maple nut goodie candies?! What was happening? How could I have gone from spending days preparing whole, real foods to sustaining myself on a variety pack of TimBits & Maple Nut Goodies (thank you Tim Horton's & Brach's, by the way). It was as if my mind and heart were at odds and somehow my food cravings were the mediators. After a few months, I prayerfully said out loud, "Dad, I love and miss you! And, I have to break up with the donuts. There has to be another way for me to grieve your loss." 


That time away from the hours of preparation allowed me to realize a few things: 1-it's not realistic for me spend hours making meals, 2-did anyone even realize all the time involved in making the meals and were they supposed to, and 3-I cannot live on donuts, alone.  


Fast forward to about 2 years ago. On a slow Sunday morning, Mr. Wonderful and I were watching a cooking show. There was a fantastic recipe called something like sweet potato hash. They had my attention at sweet potato, but 'hash' had me confused. My experience with food titled hash was more akin to...well...yuck. But, this recipe just roasted the sweet potatoes, added some spinach and served it with a fried egg. Wait. That was real, whole food that didn't require extraordinary preparation?! Wasn't that the best of both worlds?! 


That recipe was the turning point. Suddenly, Mr. Wonderful and I started using an hour of our Sunday together to peel, chop, and roast veggies for the week ahead. It happened! That one hour transformed how we cook, what we cook, even what we crave.  Maybe it's the fact that we prep together, or maybe it's that we have fresh, real, organic food that's ready to use for the week, simplifying all our recipes. Until this moment, I'm not sure that I even thought too much about it. But, what I know is that finally, we have found a way to create better meals, in less time that everyone loves- and wouldn't dad love to see that?! I bet he'd even have a joke about it.

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Jane Robrahn is a wife-mother-madrasta-educator-yogi-nutrition enthusiast. As an adopted person, she is an advocate for both adoption & autism awareness. Audrey met Jane, first, as a high school student, then, as a teacher, and eventually became deeply connected as healthy striving, writing-loving friends.

Follow her adventures of life as a late bloomer on her blog.

Six Weeks of Bowl Meals: Italian Broth Bowl

Um, what the heck is a broth bowl and how is it not soup? is the question I asked myself around a year ago at this time.  It seems the foodie term is trending at the moment—thanks to Panera Bread, but likely existed long ago and was derived from asian cuisine or soup containing mainly flavor-intense broth. Regardless of where it truly came from, and what sets it apart from soup, this week I chose to create my own version in hopes to improve upon the lack-luster dining experience I’ve had with it thus far. A broth bowl appears to be a balanced plate of food added to a bowl with broth ladled over top. I’ll go with it!

One of the core concepts of holistic health is the need to feed the human desire to be creatively expressive. I can’t help but applaud the individual who came up with the term “broth bowl”, which gets me thinking…As children we develop an internal belief system based on our experiences and influences in our lives. Much like many of the clients I work with, at the age of five, I can remember adding “not an artist”, “not creative” to my exponentially long and growing list of beliefs. My mom went to art school and my sister was following in her footsteps. Based on comparison, I wasn’t an artist or creative.

So what do you do when you crave creativity but believe you are not creative?

Just about a decade ago, I wrote down all the beliefs I had about myself—the limiting ones holding me back from living a joy-filled and authentic life. I burned the list then stepped into the kitchen. Yup, burned it. To hell with “I’m not creative” and the crap that followed…

It took four trials of creative expression to share this recipe today. Six if you count writing about it. It’s really good. My version of a broth bowl is not soup, but you may call it that or something different—whatever makes the most sense. My husband, Levi, has become my go-to judge for the majority of the dishes I come up with. His opinion serves to spark my creative process even when it’s what he calls “constructive criticism”. He loved the final two versions pictured, which happen to be extremely quick and simple to prepare—a balanced meal with broth ladled over top—or not if you haven’t embraced the trend quite yet.

My hope is mass amounts of people hit the kitchen to create this recipe all while burning the limiting beliefs on their list. By the time the cauliflower is done steaming, the whole process could be finished[write. burn. release. start over].

Italian Broth Bowl

By Audrey Byker Health Coach

Serves 4-6

For the veggies fat and protein

-1 pound Italian sausage(know your farmer)

-1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

-2 heads cauliflower florets, sliced

-2 cups kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped

-1/2 Tbls avocado oil or ghee

-Kalamata olives, sliced (optional garnish)

for the carbs and flavor

-1 tsp Italian seasoning

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-Sea salt, a few pinches

-Fresh ground black pepper to taste

-2 cups cooked rice noodles, potatoes or brown rice (optional)

-1 batch chicken bone broth or two cartons chicken broth heated

-Green onion, sliced(optional garnish)

In a large non-stick saute pan with a lid add sausage and begin to brown over med. heat. Add oil, peppers, and cauliflower after a few minutes. Stir frequently and brown over med. heat. Add the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Stir together then add lid. Turn heat to low then simmer and steam for 10-15 min.(preferred doneness). Heat chicken broth. Remove lid from large saute pan then add kale and garlic. Turn heat to med-high and stir and saute until garlic is fragrant—1-2 min. Remove from heat and dish into bowls. Pour warmed broth over each serving and garnish with olives and green onion(optional).