The dietary restrictions of a GERD diet are a little terrifying when the doctor first gives you the diagnosis. I always fancied myself a great cook. The dietary limitations were shocking:
No citrus WHAT????
No tomato products
No raw onion or garlic
No bubbly liquids (in my mind: does this include champagne???)
No fried food
Before this bit of news, I was waiting in the doctor’s office for my final diagnosis about how bad this all was, you know the “come-to-Jesus- talk”. I was pretty scared.
At the previous appointment, she said “take off 50 pounds NOW”. So, waiting for the final diagnosis, I went to the gym and found a personal trainer (see previous post “Why You Need a Personal Trainer”). I wanted to show my doctor that my blood pressure had already dropped from working out for 2 weeks (!), so I hadn’t had my coffee that morning. Yet. Got to keep those numbers down.
Coffee. My husband and I called it morning liquid ice cream. Delicious. And I was a caffeine addict. Waiting for me after the appointment in a thermos, was some lovely Lavazza coffee I had just brought from a business trip to Italy, organic milk and sugar.
Then the dietary restrictions she gave me hit me like a left hook in the gut.
I walked out of the office knowing that that that coffee would be my last coffee because I was choosing not to feel sick anymore. Because I was tired of hospitals, doctors, tests and meds but more importantly, I was afraid. I was afraid of esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, any form of cancer. So, I walked out, sat in the car and drank the last coffee of my life. Seven years later, I can still taste it. It was lovely, creamy, and scrumptious, but I had to make the sacrifice. This is the part of being a warrior about this disease. One must make the commitment to wellness and be unswerving.
Humans are magical creatures. Don’t worry, no emoticons here. We become enured to pain slowly, adaptable beings that we are and do not even realize we are in pain. I never had the typical symptoms of GERD: heartburn or burping. No, that would have been easy. I just thought I was always hungry. So, when that “feeling” came on, I would start eating crackers or bread, muffins, cookies, ice cream, anything to “fill” that space that I thought was a hunger pain. But it was acid churning in my stomach.
The recipes that I want to share with you became a journey of my life through many countries and cultures. I had to think outside the Food Network and all the fabulous foodie magazines, but I did develop some great recipes. The change to a GERD diet is easier than one thinks. It is healthy and full of nutrients. So, let’s start with a dinner tonight that is non-combative and healing.
First stage: The beginning, healing diet indicated with an “H”
Second stage: A maintenance diet when the inflammation is gone and you are moving into a gluten and dairy free diet indicated by an “M”
Third stage: Paleo indicated by a “P”
Green Beans w/Red Onion
(If you are doing this dinner menu tonight, start the rice now. See recipe below.)
This is a great go-to week night recipe for families, athletes, single people, GERD sufferers. I guess that means everyone!
H M P
Take one skinless, boneless free range chicken breast (meaning that if the whole breast is in the package, you will separate the two halves) and pound it to a thin paillard between a piece of wax paper.
Drizzle with a little olive oil, add salt and pepper.
Grill for 3” to 3”30 on each side. Let the chicken rest before you serve it so that the meat can relax and the juices stay inside instead of running out on the plate. I like to serve this with a little splash of balsamic vinegar. A little acid is just the thing to make a great dish. Enjoy!
Green Beans w/Red Onion
H M P
Wash and prepare fresh green beans. Cut stem ends. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with 2 tsp. of salt. Add 1 ¾ lb. of green beans and bring again to a nice simmer, uncovered for 5-6”. The time will differ according to the freshness of the beans, variety of beans and the season. Check them!
Meanwhile, slice one red onion, mince 1-2 garlic cloves. Sauté the red onion gently either with olive oil cooking spray or 2 tsp. of olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté for 1”. Take off the heat.
Prepare a water bath to shock the green beans: in a large mixing bowl add ice to cold water.
When the beans are still toothsome, drain them, plunge them into the ice bath and cool completely. Drain again and add the beans to the skillet, heat all the way through. Slosh a good quality balsamic vinegar on the beans and add freshly ground black pepper at the end to taste. Correct seasoning.
While I was teaching in a tiny town outside of Asolo, Italy, we only had a small tabac that had some fresh vegetables. One day, all they had were beautiful fresh green beans and red onions. This was the fresh result.
Rice is a wonderful way to begin the transition away from wheat and other grains that you may be either allergic to or that you have an intolerance for. This pilaf can be used with any of the following types of rice:
Short grain brown rice
Long grained brown rice
Brown basmati rice
Wild rice blends
Be adventuresome! You know what they say, if it comes in a box and needs to be microwaved, you probably should re-think what you are cooking tonight for dinner. This is the time for that change.
Generally, the cooking time is 50” for these types of whole grain rice. The ratio of rice to water is 1 to 2. Bring water to a boil, add the rice, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. I do not add salt at this point. Salt is a blog entry unto itself! For 4 portions, try 1 c. of rice and 2 cups of water.
I used a medley of rice from my local whole foods stores of long grain brown, short grain brown, wild and black Japanese rice.
You will need
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
Choose any or all of these vegetables:
Chopped Green pepper (any color is wonderful!)
Grated ginger, a little cayenne pepper (Optional)
Sauté the onion until it is transparent, adding the fresh green vegetables half way through the cooking process. Add garlic and sauté 1”. Add the rice and stir. Slosh about 1-2 T of Tamari into the rice mixture and add the frozen vegetables. I shake a little cayenne in everything although it is classified as a spice that GERD sufferers should not use, especially in the healing diet. But a little helps the taste. I have also squeezed a little fresh lemon juice on it after I was on the M diet. Taste and adjust seasoning.
There is the first night!