If you had two girls under the age of two, and your husband, a fighter pilot, was flying cover during a war in Iraq, would you be thinking about converting your diet to organic, whole foods? I wasn’t. My life had enough stress without another distraction. But, that’s what happened in 2003.
Daily Migraines and medications at 25
Two years earlier, after the birth of my second daughter, I began having daily migraines. I was 25. As migraines often are, they were both baffling and debilitating. They started with the birth of my first daughter, but were infrequent and not as severe. I often had to lie down in a quiet dark room, which was almost impossible with toddlers to care for.
I was taking several medications to manage the pain just to get through the day. They continued, though, four or more a week. After two years of struggle, my neurologist suggested adding yet another daily medication to my prescription regimen, a treatment that wasn’t working anyway. I kindly rejected her suggestion and drove home thinking: There must be another way.
The same day I saw my neurologist, a tiny newsletter article caught my eye while going through the mail. It was about the benefits of organic foods. I knew migraines could be related to diet, so I wondered if changing to organic foods might help. I was at the end of my rope and willing to try something different.
At the time, I was eating lots of vegetables to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight. I replaced my lettuce with organic. It was my first step. I picked lettuce because it was the food I ate the most of. Within a week I noticed a significant difference. The frequency of my migraines decreased, and it was now easier to care of my kids. I didn’t need any more encouragement. I next switched all produce to organic with the intent of increasing the amount of pure and untreated food in my diet and decreasing my pesticide intake. As I dug deeper and learned more, I continued making changes to my pantry and refrigerator. Over the next year and a half, I converted my family’s diet to whole, unprocessed, organic ingredients.
transitioning to organic, real food
As I began using organic, unprocessed ingredients, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I had a hard time finding recipes that were equivalent in flavor to what we were accustomed to. Nevertheless, I avoided such ingredients as white sugar, white flour, and partially hydrogenated anything. Recipes using whole grains were especially challenging. We weren’t ready to leave the world of paninis, pasta, and pizza, but just substituting ingredients didn’t exactly work out. As my husband likes to say, we ate some terrible pancakes during the transition. This was disheartening because I had grown up with a great love for cooking that I inherited from the women of my family.
I’m blessed and grateful to be a part of a line of wonderful cooks going back generations in Louisiana. From this rich, generational heritage I discovered the bedrock value of simple, delicious recipes paired with creativity and boldness in presentation. I decided that if we were going to eat organic and traditionally prepared dishes, they were going to taste every bit as delicious as the ones I used before.
Over time, I shared with my friends and family how I overcame my health problems. And then I told others. Many were earnestly interested in learning more or in making changes to their own diets. I continued to tell my story, share my adapted recipes, and give encouragement through my blog, Deliciously Organic and my recently published cookbook, Deliciously Organic.
Through organic, unprocessed food our family of four was able to overcome: severe asthma, eczema, IBS, and migraines. No drugs. Just good, natural, real food. Then three years ago, I had an amalgam filling removed and unfortunately the doctor didn’t take the proper precautions during the extraction. As a result, my thyroid absorbed many of the heavy metals and months later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. The disease ravaged my body with hives. Once again, the doctors didn’t have any answers and in fact, they told me there wasn’t anything they could do. I once again turned to nutrition and began a grain-free diet rich in healthy fats, meats, and vegetables to begin the healing process. I’m happy to say the disease isn’t controlling me anymore and my blood work is looking better by the day. One day, I hope to announce that the disease has been defeated. I’m not too far away from that joyful day.
If organic, whole foods are something you’ve thought about I encourage you to give it a try. I hope you’ll discover, as I have, that eating food direct from the source of the earth uninterrupted by fewer chemicals and less processing is not only perfectly doable and beneficial but also perfectly delicious! And don’t be surprised when your friends and the whole family (including the kids) say, a I can’t believe this is organic. It’s delicious!
carrie’s grain-free carrot cupcakes
Moist and rich with the flavor of carrots, honey, coconut and cream cheese, Carrie’s grain-free cupcakes are a real food treat that you (and your kids) will love. Like most grain-free baked goods, these muffins call for almond and coconut flours as well as coconut oil which are increasingly available at health food stores; however, you can also find them online (see sources). For more simple, wholesome and healthy organic recipes, be sure to check out Carrie’s book: Deliciously Organic.
Grain-free Carrot Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- 1 pound carrots (scraped and grated)
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 cup honey (divided)
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup full-fat yogurt (room temperature)
- 3/4 pound mascarapone or cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream (whipped until soft peaks form)
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with muffin liners.
- Place almond and coconut flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the beater attachment, combine the ingredients on low for about 20 seconds. Add grated carrots and beat on low for about 30 seconds until incorporated.
- Pour eggs and 3/4 cup honey in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process for 20 seconds. Add melted coconut oil and yogurt and process for an additional 20 seconds until smooth. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and beat on low until combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups making each about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are just golden brown. Cool completely.
- Whisk mascarapone or cream cheese, remaining 1/4 cup honey and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer until smooth. Using a spatula, fold in whipped cream. Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting. These are best served the day they are made.