(I’m married, can you believe it?!? While I’m away on my honeymoon, sweet Carrie from Deliciously Organic volunteered to tell you a little bit of her story here. I love Carrie’s perspective on food and I love getting to feature her. Read more about her at DeliciouslyOrganic.net.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
This is my favorite dish to serve when guests come to visit. I want something that doesn’t pull me away from my guests, but is good enough to make them want more. The beauty of this dish is that you can make it ahead of time. This way, instead slaving over a hot stove in a kitchen dusted in flour and filled with dirty mixing bowls, you merely pop this baby in the oven and visit with your guests.
Accompany this with fresh fruit, coffee, and maybe milk for the kids. It’s filling, so no one will be itching for a snack an hour later.
Bacon, Tomato, and Cheddar Breakfast Bake
If you buy from good sources of eggs, butter and bacon (organic and grass-fed or pastured) they provide healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid. Sourdough made the old-fashioned or artisan way contains probiotics that are beneficial to the digestive system. Adapted from Food and Wine. Serves 8
1 pound sourdough (or a good gluten free bread), cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
12 ounces smoked turkey bacon (*or bacon–nitrate-free and pastured, preferred)
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and patted dry
4 cups cheddar cheese (**I prefer raw cheddar)
4 green onions, chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
Celtic sea salt
6 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350º and adjust rack to middle position. In a large bowl, lightly toss the sourdough and butter and spread out on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until bread is golden.
Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and pour out all fat except for 2 tablespoons.
Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Pour the onion mixture into a large bowl along with the bread, bacon, cheese, green onion, and stock. Stir until incorporated and season well with sea salt. Spread the mixture in a 9×13 baking dish and cover with parchment paper and then with foil (I do this so the foil doesn’t touch the food). (At this point, you can place the dish in the refrigerator and then bake in the morning.)
Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the foil and parchment. Bake an additional 15 minutes until the top is crispy. Remove the baking dish from the oven and, using a ladle, press 6 indentations into the bread mixture. Crack an egg into each indentation. Return the dish to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until eggs are set, but yolks are still runny. Serve immediately.
Bio: Carrie Vitt is the author of the cookbook Deliciously Organic and publisher of popular food blog, Deliciously Organic. Carrie focuses on recipes using unprocessed, organic ingredients with vibrant flavors and simple dishes everyone will love. She is the wife of an Air Force Test Pilot and mother of two daughters.
notes from Shanna:
*Re: bacon: While I stick to a kosher diet, I agree with Carrie that if you’re going to use bacon, look for the highest quality (I like Applegate farms, for example).
**Re: raw cheddar: I love grabbing mine at Trader Joe’s.