The Most Important Meal

Remember that time we went to Spain…and I could eat anything!?! Boy, I do. I really miss churros and palmiers and sandwiches…and, most of all, not having to worry that something I eat is going to set off a headache or muscle aches, or worse. It was heaven.

Sadly, we weren’t prepared to stay in Spain forever. Not that I wouldn’t consider it…but we had a home and friends and family to return to. The only problem? Since we’ve been home, it seems like my food issues have gotten even worse! Ugh. Le sigh! El sigh? Los sighs?? Suffice it to say, I’m sighing…heavily.

I’ve contemplated food allergy testing – skin and/or blood tests – though, I’ve said all along that I believe my reactions have much more to do with the way we farm here in the U.S. (i.e. with the heavy use of chemicals and antibiotics) than the foods themselves. Would allergy tests even reveal the true root of my problems? The other option is an elimination diet. That’s how I was able to identify the impact of wheat and/or gluten on my health. I’ve just been so daunted by the prospect of cutting out the remaining foods I enjoy. Of course, what’s the point of eating anything that makes me feel like crap?

My friend RK suggested I look into The Abascal Way. Several friends recommended it to her as a potential way to address her migraines. She hadn’t yet tried it, but thought it might be a good way for me to suss out some of my issues. So, I went straight home and bought the books.

Formulated by Kathy Abascal, who has a background in biochemistry, nutrition, and herbal medicine, the diet is designed “to quiet inflammation”, or TQI. It’s not a true elimination diet, however, many similar foods are cut in the first 5 weeks – wheat, corn, dairy, beef, pork, etc. – with an emphasis on eating loads of fruits and vegetables instead. There is no calorie counting or portion control. The idea is that, if you are eating the right foods, foods that don’t spark a cytokine response, your body will recalibrate to meet its own equilibrium. Testimonials claim weight loss, improved sleep, fewer aches and pains, lower cholesterol, reduced sinus congestion, and more.

I’m not ready to jump full force into the plan. We have a vacation on the horizon, and I think it will be nearly impossible to follow this approach without cooking at home…almost all the time. Instead, I’m dipping my toe in the water, preparing to attack this method head on in May. First up, breakfast.

While I do eat the most important meal, aka breakfast, every day, it’s not always super nutritious. I’ve fallen into a gluten-free bagel habit lately, and I don’t really like to eat much processed gluten-free food, especially since it’s known to harbor a lot of hidden sugar. So, I thought The Abascal Breakfast Muffins would be a good place to start.

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There are two versions, a more traditional muffin with bananas and butternut squash, and a savory alternative that replaces the banana with a mix of sautéed onion, carrots, celery, and sun-dried tomatoes. I bought the ingredients for both, but ended up making only the traditional version today.

On one hand, I will say that these are pretty easy to make. On the other hand, many kitchen tools were dirtied in the process…and that is my true test of ease!

As with any muffin, you mix your dry ingredients (2C almond flour + 2t baking powder + 1/2t salt) separately from your wet ingredients (4 beaten eggs + 1C banana + 1C squash/pumpkin/sweet potato) which are easiest to mash/whir together in a food processor or blender. Combine two two, stir, and spoon into paper cup-lined muffin tins.

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Bake at 400-degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife can be cleanly inserted.

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As you can see, they rise well and brown nicely. I am always concerned that these sorts of recipes will be like little bricks, but they were nice and fluffy. The egg helps, I’m sure – which, of course, means that these are not vegan. I’m not yet sure where Kathy stands on egg replacers of any sort. I do know that these muffins are not to be eaten alone. Anytime grains (or other carbs) are eaten, they should be accompanied by fruits or veggies – as many as you want to feel sated. So, I had some fresh berries with mine.

The muffin itself was a bit plain. It didn’t taste of banana or squash (I used frozen butternut) but was rather egg-y. The cookbook includes add-ins that I would definitely consider in the future, things like walnuts, poppy seeds, etc. I think they could use a little cinnamon too, but again, I’m not yet sure where Kathy stands on spices. Still reading…

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I will be enjoying these for at least the next week. They can be frozen, so perhaps I’ll try these for awhile then add a batch of savory to the mix.

Have you tried The Abascal Way? Let me know if you have any advice! And I will keep you posted as I dive further into the plan.

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