If there is a drawback to being at the forefront of a revolution, it is that there are less places you can turn for ideas about how to proceed than are available for those who want to keep living like the herd. The revolution I am talking about is going forward without eating carbs in any significant quantity. For my entire life people have been eating breads, my Dad never ate a meal without sliced white bread to eat as a side dish. For my entire life I have drank sweetened drinks with every meal, from Kool Aid as a kid to Coke as an adult. For my entire life every meat entree was accompanied by some form of starch, be it potatoes, pasta, rice or gravy. Learning how to live without these things can come off as a form of denial.
Finding out how to live without is easier if you don’t think of it as living without. On April 1 of last year we went cold turkey off of sugar, and we stayed that way for a month. The abstention period was very helpful, because once your body resets from the sugar cycle you can then tell when you have eaten too much sugar, from physical symptoms. Deciding to go that route for the rest of carbs has only come recently. After reading “Why We Get Fat” and “The Big Fat Surprise” I am now armed with enough knowledge to know that a healthy diet does not have to include ANY carbs. That puts all carbohydrate energy in the “tasty but unnecessary” category of foods. For us now eating any starches is an option that we choose to take. That makes not eating carbs more than just a diet denying them to us. They become luxuries like dessert, almost. We eat dessert, we eat sugar, but we pick when we do so.
There is still the wonder though, every night, every meal actually, what do we eat for dinner? That is where the search for other resources comes in. I was on the Atkins diet once, around 2003 or so. I was on the ‘diet’ for quite a while and it ended when I went on a four night caribbean cruise. Back then I was very interested in what I could eat, and a great deal of the Atkins recipes that were out there were trying to replace the carbs on your plate with carb-like dishes. “Miss mashed potatoes? Try mashed cauliflower, it’s practically the same!” Except that it isn’t and trying to make bread without using flour is a practice in searching for boxed mixes that substitute the known for the science-fiction. I no longer eat boxed foods with artificial ingredients. What is different this time is I am making no effort to ‘replace’ carb dishes and side dishes with something to make the loss bearable. I am not missing the carb dishes.
Yet I ask again..what’s for dinner? Now we go back to the future. In the not-s0-distant culinary past of the US people didn’t eat carbs in every other bite of food. Need proof? Look in an old-time cookbook. Look at the menus from the bygone days. I have a copy of the Fanny Farmer cookbook dated 1896 from the Boston School of Cooking. In there are many dozens of recipes that do not call for a huge helping of carbs to round out the meal, or especially to be a feature player in the meal.
In my searches for foods we used to eat, I found a free ebook, provided by the Gutenberg project. It is a book for cooks in the VERY old tradition, entitled :
“Project Gutenberg’s English Housewifery Exemplified, by Elizabeth Moxon
Elizabeth Moxon. English Housewifery / Exemplified in above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions / for most Parts of Cookery (Kindle Location 1).”
In above FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY RECEIPTS, Giving DIRECTIONS in most PARTS of COOKERY; And how to prepare various SORTS of SOOPS, CAKES, MADE-DISHES, CREAMS, PASTES, JELLIES, PICKLES, MADE-WINES, &c.
Elizabeth Moxon. English Housewifery / Exemplified in above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions / for most Parts of Cookery (Kindle Locations 7-9).
My idea is that I go back and look at the old knowledge, accumulated through eons of cooking practice to a time before the potato and rice were readily available to us to eat. These things are written down, they are understandable still, though there are words that they used for ingredients that still have yet to identify. This particular cookbook has recipes separated by month! Why would they be by month? Likely because the foods you can get in January in the past are very different than those available in January in the modern US.
A SUPPER For JANUARY. At the Top a Dish of Plumb Gruel. Remove, boil’d Fowls. At the Bottom a Dish of Scotch Collops. In the Middle Jellies. For the four Corners. Lobster, Solomon-Gundie, Custard, Tarts.
Elizabeth Moxon. English Housewifery / Exemplified in above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions / for most Parts of Cookery (Kindle Locations 2219-2221).
See? No carbs other than those in the fruits. Of course, gruel may actually be a kind of grain dish, maybe corn or oats but I don’t know just yet. Their idea of jellies might be something very different that what comes to my mind when I read jelly. The point here is that our menus with a significant number of calories represented from the carbohydrate groups of foods is a new development. Because I grew up when I did, I wrongly think that meals have always been this way and to eat a different set of foods feels new and revolutionary–but it’s not. It’s old and probably the way we should still be eating.
I go on and on about why us eating the way we do is crazy. There are so many things that eating carbs and sugar cause that are just plain unnecessary. Tooth decay, indigestion, flatulence, fatness, diabetes, liver disease, maybe cancer and depression, MS, fibromyalgia…I could literally go to the next hundred words listing things that are being associated with food issues. These things are actually being related in labs all over the world with our diet. I know that ancient people died young, but it wasn’t from what they ate. They didn’t have vaccines, so measles, whooping cough, TB, flu, were things that killed you, and no one died died from what they ate. We are healthier in one way, and sicker in another.
I will keep poring through my ancient cookery books. I will post the great things I find by going back to the future. We will all benefit from ancient wisdoms and ways, because this day and age, the best resources for living without carbs are not trying to replace the things we eat with things we should eat, but replacing them with new kinds of old foods. I feel that the best no carb recipes will be found in places where carbs were not yet readily available. Check back and see how I am doing.