Last week, Sørina Higgins shared her story of her husband’s illness. She wrote: “My husband struggled to go to work every day and came home completely wiped out. Construction on our handmade house ceased. Travel plans were canceled.” Even when a specialist finally got to the root of the problem, Sørina’s husband still had weakened immune and digestive systems and couldn’t eat without nausea and pain. To remedy this, the Higginses adopted a strict healthy diet:
- Low sodium
- Low oxalate
- Sugar free
- Lactose free
- Gluten free
- No red meat
- Oh, and no Stuff He Doesn’t Like.
One of the most difficult challenges has been what to eat for breakfast on such an insanely limited diet. I spent months making fresh omelets every morning, but chopping vegetables before my eyes were fully open was no fun. Then he fell back into the habit of eating boxed cereals, but it’s nearly impossible to find one that fits all seven of those guidelines above, and besides, it’s boxed cereal. Might as well eat cardboard.
I may finally have found a solution, and I share it with you here. My sister came to visit, and together we adapted our mother’s granola (which she had, in turn, adapted from the 1979 More-with-Less cookbook) for our needs. Here it is. Remember, it’s not a recipe: just an inspirational idea.
- Rolled oats: lots!
- Puffed rice: half as much
- Sunflower seeds: half as much again (can substitute any nuts if oxalate is not a concern)
- Raisins (optional; can substitute any dried fruits)
- Sunflower seed butter (I use Once Again Organic Sugar and Salt Free; can substitute any nut butter if oxalate is not a concern): a good glop
- Maple Syrup: about as much as the sunflower butter (can substitute honey or molasses)
- Vanilla: a teaspoon or two
- Cinnamon: a hearty dash
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Combine oats, puffed rice and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Combine sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until liquefied but not bubbling. Be careful that this mixture does not scorch.
- Pour liquid mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring immediately and constantly until all pieces are covered (more or less) equally. You can leave lumps or not, depending on the texture you like in your granola.
- Pour the granola into a large, nonstick baking pan (I use a CorningWare pan about 10 X 18 inches or so; a brownie tin works, too). Level it out.
- Bake for about 10 minutes without stirring, then stir thoroughly every 5 to 10 minutes until the granola is evenly browned all over and crispy without being burned. Watch carefully throughout the baking process, and rely on your nose.
- Cool, then add raisins or other dried fruits.
- Store in an airtight container and enjoy with coconut milk (or any other milk, depending on your dietary needs and preferences). Fresh fruits or berries are a wonderful addition.
So there is one meal that we can indulge in without any unhealthy repercussions on our strict diets. I am evolving many other dishes throughout this process, too, and moving towards accomplishing a few more food goals: I would like to eat fewer things that come in cans, boxes and bags; buy more meat and produce from local farmers; and (big dream!) stop thinking about “What not to eat to avoid getting sick” and start thinking about “What to eat to be healthy.”