“What you eat can impact your overall health,” says Emily Maxson, a Plymouth food blogger and the author of Emily’s Fresh Kitchen Cookbook. Transforming her love for tasty food into a passion for healthful eating, Maxson headed to the kitchen when her health took a turn for the worst.
One morning back in ’98, Maxson woke up with a debilitating pain in her abdomen. At the emergency room, doctors assumed she was having issues with her appendix. Unable to detect the source of the pain through an ultrasound, they sent her into the operating room to address what they thought was appendicitis. What was supposed to be a 45-minute procedure turned into a four-hour surgery to remove a small part of intestine damaged from her undiagnosed Crohn’s disease.
Climbing what she refers to as the “pharmaceutical ladder,” Maxson says she was constantly changing prescriptions just to feel OK. “Once you take a medicine, your body gets used to it and then it’s time to move on to a new one or [a] higher dosage,” Maxson says. To escape this endless cycle of consuming chemicals to feel better, she turned to the studies of Elaine Gottschall, the author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle.
For Maxson, this book was eye-opening. Its deep dive into the Specific Carbohydrate Diet—a clean diet focused on healing the digestive tract from disease, damage and bacterial imbalances—provided a natural solution for her body.
The subsequent 18 months on this strict diet encouraged Maxson to get back into the kitchen and find new ways to recreate her favorite recipes. To curb her longing for baked goods, she sought ingredient substitutions such as coconut or almond flour in replacement of wheat flour and honey or unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. “This can help anyone who wants to feel better through food,” she says about these alternative solutions.
Maxson believes clean eating is the first step toward generating a healthy lifestyle physically, mentally and emotionally. However, she emphasizes that diets are not one-size-fits-all. Each person’s needs vary, and each body is different. That is why she develops her recipes in a way that’s adaptable to a variety of diets such as paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan.
“Everyone has a different definition of what healthy means, but many agree that cooking healthy can be hard,” she says. “I wanted to share with people that it doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be easy, and you can create delicious food.”
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Originally used to treat individuals with celiac disease, this diet has since evolved to treat other bodily malfunctions such as cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis. This diet is completely grain-free, and low in sugar and lactose. Based on the molecular structure of carbohydrates, it works to eliminate substances that are too complex for the intestines to break down. If not broken down, the food is left behind and rots, eventually causing a buildup of “bad” bacteria. This diet works to allow the intestines to heal and essentially changes the “bad” bacteria into “good” bacteria.
Foods excluded: grains, milk products high in lactose, starchy veggies like corn, potatoes and squash, sugars and processed packaged foods.
Capturing the essence of summer, this recipe combines fresh seasonal ingredients with classic grilled taste for a deliciously light and simple meal. Maxson opts for grilled chicken in replacement of toasted bread for a healthier approach to the classic Italian flavor. For a bonus, she says you can make this recipe even fresher by sourcing the tomatoes and herbs from your own garden or the local farmers market.
- 3–4 boneless, skinlesschicken breasts
- 1 pt. of cherry tomatoes
- 6 minced garlic cloves
- 1 cup of basil, cut chiffonade
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 tsp. of sea salt
- balsamic vinegar, to taste
- salt and olive oil, to taste
- Preheat the grill to medium high.
- Cut cherry tomatoes into thin slices and place them in a strainer to drain the excess tomato juice.
- Chiffonade the basil. To do so, remove the stems and stack the leaves on top of each other. Roll the basil lengthwise (like a cigar) and slice the roll crosswise to create thin strips.
- In a small bowl combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and sea salt. Set mixture aside.
- On a clean cutting board, put one of the chicken breasts flat side down. Butterfly the chicken breast by placing the palm of your hand on top of the meat to secure it in place while cutting it in half horizontally.
- Repeat this cutting process with the remaining pieces of chicken.
- Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt to taste.
- Grill the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until it is thoroughly cooked.
- Drizzle with desired amount of balsamic vinegar.
- 3 cups of fresh or frozen pitted cherries
- 2/3 cup of honey simple syrup (see recipe below)
- 2 organic limes peeled, pitted and quartered
- 4 cups of water
- sparkling water
- Blend the pitted cherries and honey simple syrup on high for 8–10 seconds.
- Add in the quartered limes and blend on high for an additional 5 seconds.
- Strain contents into a pitcher.
- Pour 6–8 ounces into a glass with ice and top with 2 ounces of sparkling water.
- Stir and enjoy!
Honey Simple Syrup
- 2 cups of honey
- 1 cup of water
- Combine the honey and water into a saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, remove from the heat and let it cool.
- Store the syrup in a glass jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.