When I (Ashley) first started my journey towards eating disorder recovery, I recall one simple phrase that I thought to myself over and over again: “What the hell do I eat now?”
Having followed various food rules for so long, I was at a point where my brain felt inundated with contradictory, confusing nutrition information. Not only that, but I was just dipping my toes into intuitive eating, a way of eating characterized by tapping into your inner hunger, fullness, and satiety cues to guide eating in a way that works to prevent bingeing and promote wellness; but how was I supposed to eat “intuitively” when starting at the fridge felt like walking into a battlefield? I knew I was supposed to be giving myself unconditional permission to eat all foods, a tenet of the intuitive eating model, but I still held onto so much fear around foods that had felt almost addictive during my eating disorder.
I was desperate for guidance; for someone to tell me what to do, what to eat, and the “best” way to move forward. This entire line of thinking of course was still highly disordered, begging for the structure and rules that dieting provides. But I couldn’t go from the impossible demands that dieting and eating disorder behaviors enforced straight to the no-rules-zone that was intuitive eating. It was too much, too fast, and it paralyzed me. Luckily I was able to find a coach who told me what I needed to hear: “You have the tools. You know what you’re doing. You just need to trust yourself.” I had finally been given explicit permission that it was my own guidance I needed, not the guidance of a food plan or a pre-packaged grocery list. Not everyone has access to such support though, and that in-between phase can be frightening.
So how do we ensure that we are being adequately fed when we first enter eating disorder recovery and start to explore intuitive eating, but have no idea how to access our intuition around food and our body yet? We seek out recipes. We search high and low for someone to tell us what to eat. But the kicker is that this can send us right back into disordered eating, because so much of the current mainstream rhetoric around recipes and food is coded with moralized language and focused on the “health” benefits of this, that, and the other. So how do we support people entering recovery, curious about intuitive eating, scared and bewildered at where to begin, and still vulnerable to triggering language floating around in the media? We create a resource; a food and recipe resource that provides examples of different snacks and meals that someone might like to try. We give people an opportunity to explore flavors, textures, and combinations that they otherwise may have been too nervous to seek out, or too out of touch with their own flavor preferences to even consider. We inspire people to try, try, and try again, in a space free of health talk and triggering numbers. We are not here to prescribe meals, calorie counts, or rules. We are here to give you some options; help you feel out the waters of this brand new lived experience. We hope you find it useful.
Most people want to avoid cooking as much as possible in the summer, myself included! One of my favorite ways to limit my time in the kitchen is to make meals that do double duty. So this Recipes for Recovery segment is going to focus on recipes that work great as day-after leftovers! Enjoy 🙂
Chickpea Salad with Red Onion, Sumac, and Lemon, recipe sourced from The Kitchn (Serves 3)
- 3 cups uncooked chickpeas
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large red onion, sliced very thin
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves finely chopped
- 1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
- 5 to 6 sprigs fresh mint
- Cover the chickpeas with water in a large bowl and soak overnight. Or do a fast soak: Cover with an inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and soak for 1 hour.
- Drain the soaked chickpeas. Cover with fresh water and stir in the garlic cloves and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 60 minutes to 2 hours, or until just tender but not falling apart. You can also cook them in the pressure cooker for about 40 minutes (or according to your pressure cooker instructions). When cooked, spread on a large baking sheet to cool.
- Recipe Shortcut: You can also substitute 4 cans of canned chickpeas. Drain and rinse thoroughly before using. I do encourage you to use freshly cooked chickpeas; they are creamy and tender in a really different way than canned garbanzos.
- While the chickpeas are cooling, peel and quarter the onion. Shave it as thin as possible into a large bowl, using a very sharp knife or a mandoline. Stir in the sumac, chili powder, and salt. Use your hands to massage the spices and salt into the onions for several minutes. Drain off any liquid that develops in the bottom of the bowl.
- Add the chickpeas and chopped parsley to the onions and use your hands or two forks to toss everything thoroughly. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and pomegranate syrup and toss with the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue tossing until the onions are fully incorporated and no longer in small clumps. Refrigerate until serving (this salad gets better overnight).
- Just before serving, finely chop the mint leaves and sprinkle over the salad.
Goat Cheese and Swiss Chard Pasta Casserole, recipe sourced from The Kitchn (Serves 4)
- 1 large head Swiss chard
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chopped well-drained canned plum tomatoes
- 1/2 pound whole wheat shells
- 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons olive tapenade
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the Swiss chard, drain very well, and chop it into chunky pieces. It’s going to get cooked down, so no need to be too precise here.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until just slightly tender. Stir in the garlic, add the tomatoes, and then add the Swiss chard. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the chard has just wilted. Be careful not to overcook the Swiss chard; it will have the opportunity to bake in the oven as well.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Remove the chard and tomatoes from the heat and stir in the goat cheese, kidney beans, olive tapenade, capers and half the amount of parmesan. Fold in the pasta and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the pasta mixture into a 1 or 2 quart casserole dish and sprinkle remaining Parmesan on top. Bake until heated all the way through, about 15 to 18 minutes.
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Written by Ashley Seruya, BA