Yes, I started to exercise. And with that exercise comes a new way of eating. Minimal if no grains, sugar, and dairy. I look at food and instead of saying "Get in my belly now!" (any Austin Powers fans out there?), I think about where the food came from, and how far from its natural state it has morphed. I'm sticking to a high protein/low carb way of eating. Lots of veggies, fruit, and meat/fish. Struggling with the fish thing, since I'm not a huge sea creature person. After 5 weeks eating this way, my guts feel better, and I've managed to stamp down my cravings for sugar and breads. I will continue to eat this way for the foreseeable future because it is working for me. I'm losing weight and I feel good about the choices I'm making when I eat. Drinking lots of water, too. I'm an emotional eater, and I didn't really discover that until I was in my late 20's. Until then, I could eat what I wanted and nothing ever stuck. Grief from losing loved ones, as well as a work schedule that had me working all sorts of hours made my eating a mess. Now I've finished school, have a routine work schedule, and the time to work on undoing the mess I've made of myself. It's not easy, but I've seen a change and that is motivation to keep going.
But--I still admire people like Jessica Fechtor who have such rich memories of cooking with family and associating dishes with special times. I think we all have that--those cookies Grandma made; the special dishes Mom made at the holidays and only at the holidays. Those memories and that food brought Jessica back from a horrible medical situation that could have killed her.
Jessica was healthy and in shape. She was at a convention, and running on a hotel treadmill when she had a sharp pain in her head and found herself lying on the floor next to her treadmill. A trip to the hospital and a stay in ICU turned into a nightmare: she had experienced a brain aneurysm, and had a bleed in her brain. Surgery was required.
Jessica's journey to health was a rocky one. Even though that surgery was a success, she had quite a few setbacks: partial blindness meant a return to surgery within the day to fix her skull; an infection a few weeks later meant another major surgery on her head. Through all of this, Jessica's husband Eli and her family kept her company, encouraged her to eat, and willed her to get better. She never gave up, and neither did her family. She shares recipes in her memoir for dishes that have a special place in her heart, and helped her heal. Some are as simple as roasted chicken, biscuits, and pasta with morels and peas. Others are a bit more work, such as the Cleveland Cassata Cake.
It got me thinking about dishes that I hold dear to my heart, and are the ultimate comfort for me: chicken soup, scalloped potatoes and ham, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. We all have our favorites. And they can heal our physical selves and soothe our battered souls.
Jessica's tale is amazing and a lesson in perseverance, faith, and the healing comfort of home. She's a food blogger, and you see the birth of that as well. Visit her blog Sweet Amandine to get some great recipes and see Jessica's life today.
Rating: 7/10 for a tale of food, medicine, and home.
Available in paperback, hardcover, audio, and e-book.