Fresh Tart Fresh Start 2016 + Clam, Halibut & Kale Chowder
Happy Birthday to me and to Fresh Tart! My baby turned 10 years old on January 6, how crazy is that? If you’re newish to these musings, this blog started as The Moderate Epicurean, reflecting my then efforts to indulge gracefully without compromising my health. It didn’t work very well, ha! In fact, in retrospect, I’m quite sure that my early food blogging indulgences – combined with the stress (for me) of a difficult family situation – hastened my descent into leaky gut, gluten and other food sensitivities, depression, joint pain, weight gain, inflammation, and autoimmune thyroid disease.
Given what I know now about the progression of autoimmune disease, I was likely headed there anyhow; if I look on the bright side, I’m grateful I got to the point and learned to tackle the dietary and lifestyle solutions necessary for good health for all of us, whether we have autoimmune disease or not. And to share what I’ve learned with you.
Thus The Moderate Epicurean became Fresh Tart in 2010 and my focus on fresh, whole-food, grain-free recipes began. What a delicious and healing ride it’s been. I’ve learned so much and best of all, met incredible people. Life-changing people. It’s almost quaint to look back at my earliest posts, when my daily concerns were volunteering at Nathan’s elementary school, coffee with girlfriends, home-making, travel, entertaining, and preparing daily meals for a family of four. I feel lucky to have this very public record of how far I’ve pushed myself in the last 10 years.
So…here’s to 10 more! Of course there is more change on the horizon, always. But the focus will stay firmly on the delicious and accessible, the fresh and the tart. Thank you for reading along with me, for sharing your food stories and feedback, for supporting Twin Cities Chef’s Table, and for showing up to cook with me at my classes. When I started blogging, I couldn’t have imagined that sharing my adventures would change me, my career, my health, and my whole life. Kablam.
A health update: as I cruise into 2016, I’ve successfully reintroduced several beloved foods back into my diet, including dark chocolate, eggs, butter, sprouted/dehydrated nuts, cooked nightshades (primarily potatoes), white rice, coffee, and wine. I eat all of those things sparingly, however, really more as condiments, with 80-90% of my calories sourced from autoimmune protocol foods, i.e. grass-fed/wild meat and fish, as many vegetables as I can (mostly fresh, small amounts of fermented), animal fats, bone broth, and small (very small) amounts of fruit. I eat out a fair amount and most often choose restaurants who use high-integrity ingredients. If I have wine more than one or two nights a week, I can see it in my eyes, skin, and around my waist, and feel my brainpower diminished. Waah. But there it is.
In what I consider The Great Carb Experiment, which is ongoing, I’ve once again concluded that eating starch and/or fruit every day is a no-go for me. I put myself through a month-long SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) protocol – outlined here – because in trying to reintroduce more carbs into my diet, I immediately experienced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) including fatigue, serious intestinal bloating, histamine reactions, and digestive distress. I decided to experiment on my own, because that’s what I love to do, but if the autoimmune protocol is not advancing your healing, and you’re experiencing IBS/SIBO symptoms, do read about SIBO (start here, here, here, here, and here) and find a practitioner experienced in testing and treating it (there are several suggestions in the linked articles/transcripts).
I personally followed an herbal antibiotic SIBO treatment for a month and it absolutely helped. I’m using Iberogast in the evenings as a prokinetic, and I take digestive enzymes with my meals. I’m also currently cycling carbohydrate intake by eating LCHF (low carbohydrate high fat) most days of the week (big salads, cooked vegetables, and meat or fish), with one or two days of eating less fat and adding a starch like sweet potatoes, squash, white potatoes, or white rice with my dinner, preferably on days that I lift weights. So far, so good. I’ve also settled on eating in a smaller window during the day, known as intermittent fasting because 1) it can help prevent SIBO relapse to eat less frequently, 2) I prefer just having coffee with grass-fed butter whirred into it first thing in the morning – I feel clear-headed and good, 3) I’m not hungry until late morning, and 4) the meal I most often cook and share with others is dinner, so it fits my lifestyle to have my biggest meal then. That said, if I had a light dinner the night before, and I wake up hungry, I eat breakfast. I just keep it protein- and vegetable-focused so it doesn’t kick off all-day hunger.
If you want to talk about these ideas in person, there are a couple of spots left in my Paleo Reset class this coming Friday, January 22, from 6:30-9:00 pm. The menu will be 100% autoimmune protocol compliant – not that anyone would know! Except wine if you like! There’s always the option to add wine and/or beer. But I’ll be serving a non-alcoholic sangria too, in addition to guacamole, plantain chips, and crudites. As a class, we’ll be making Healing Green Broth with Seared Sea Scallops; Steak with Chimichurri in Cassava Flour Tortillas; and Blueberry-Cherry Crisp with Banana Ice Cream. If you can’t make it, there are quarterly offerings, so come to another! I’m also happy to meet with you one-on-one to talk about whole-food meal-planning, shopping, cooking, or hosting private events or classes. Contact me for rates.
I leave you with a hearty and intensely flavorful cold-weather chowder. You don’t have to add halibut, but it sure is tasty. You can make this AIP-compliant by using sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes and full-fat coconut milk instead of cream. It’s so cold outside, you’d might as well play in the kitchen.
Here’s to a vibrant 2016! xoxo Stephanie
Clam, Halibut & Kale Chowder
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
4 cans (6.5 oz each; preferably Snows or Doxsee) minced clams
2 bottles clams juice (8 oz. each; preferably Snows or Yankee)
1 cup water
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped small
1 large Spanish onion, chopped small
2 large red potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼” dice
2 cups thinly sliced lacinato (dino) kale (center rib removed before slicing)
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
8-ounce halibut filet, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
½-1 cup heavy cream (to taste)
1/2 cup collagen powder, optional (I used Bulletproof brand Upgraded Collagen)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
Open the cans of clams and drain them over a medium bowl, reserving both clams and their broth separately. Add bottled clam juice and water to the clam broth. Set aside.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the kale and saute until wilted, about 7 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the reserved clam broth mixture. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the halibut and simmer until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the clams, cream, collagen powder, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and pepper to taste; bring just to simmer. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.