Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sober Kitchen

I've recently reacquainted myself with The Sober Kitchen: Recipes and Advice for a Lifetime of Sobriety, by Liz Scott. The Sober Kitchen is not only a great coookbook - it's a great recovery tool. Liz is a professional chef and a recovering alcoholic and she speaks candidly about the daunting prospect of abandoning her career to protect her sobriety. Luckily for us, she decided to create a context in which her sobriety and her love for cooking, and sharing healthy and nourshing food, fit together hand in glove. Everything following in italics is a direct quote from the book.

I also know that developing healthy eating habits and attempting a new lifestyle are goals that need to be attained through small and significant steps if they are to have any long-term impact. Changes in diet cannot and should not be thrust upon us, particularly as some magical solution to our addiction. We all know there is no quick-fix dietary answer to getting and staying sober and enjoying the recipes from this book will not guarantee your sobriety. What I am hoping is that you will discover how including good food in the recovery process may play a significant and often overlooked part in its success and, at the very least, help to make the ups and downs of the journey a bit easier to understand and accept.

We are often told that being proud of our recovery is an important part of our progress, but being proud implies that we shouldn't feel ashamed of our disease. Too many of us are compelled to make up socially acceptable reasons why we no longer drink rather than admit to the reality of our illness. Maybe having a cookbook and eating guide that addresses the specific issues we face will convince us , as well as the rest of the world, that we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Liz divides the cookbook into three phases of recovery:

Phase One - Saving Your Life and Staying Sober includes beverages, snacks and sweets, soup and easy dinner solutions. During this early stage of recovery, which lasts anywhere from six months to a year and a half, there is only one real objective and that is to not drink.

Phase Two - Getting Comfortable and Feeding Your Inner Child has breakfast and brunch recipes, comfort food, side dishes and desserts. By Phase Two, what has changed is nearly everything! Cravings are fewer and farther between. Time away from home to attend programs or meetings has lessened. We're hopefully feeling a lot more confident and healthier by having removed alcohol from our lives and are discovering the satisfying and happy life of sobriety. This isn't to say that we feel great every day of the week, but it does get better.

Phase Three - Enhancing Your Health and Becoming a Sober Gourmet showcases salads, vegetarian cooking, food as medicine and sober makeovers of classic recipes. By Phase Three, generally reached by the third or fourth year of sobriety; we have come to an important point in our recovery when, more often than not, life is good, physical and mental health is greatly improved, and we are easily able to face the trials of life without reaching for a chemical substance to get us through them.

Exploring this cookbook has been so much fun and every recipe I've tried has been great! I'll post a few here in the coming weeks starting with the one below. This rediscovered tool fits in perfectly with my East work on the medicine wheel and the self-care I'm implementing. I would recommend this cookbook/recovery tool to anyone.

The Road to Recovery Trail Mix

Simply combine all the ingredients in a canister or zipper-lock bag and toss well. Store any bags of unused nuts and seeds in the fridge or freezer to retain freshness.

2 cups roasted soybeans

1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds

1 cup shelled sunflower seeds

1 cup dried banana chips

1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Makes 12 1/2 cup servings.


vicariousrising said...

I'll have to check out this book. Food and cooking have always been a big part of my life, and have become even moreso in sobriety. I've added vegetable and herb gardening and local farm shares to the mix, and it's even more exciting. It's paying attention to and caring about what goes into my body. Plus, I find I care less about wine the more I focus on the taste and texture of food.

julesgp187 said...

This sounds fascinating. I would be so curious to see whatthe recipes are like.I discovered after I started seeing the nutritionist that while I wasn't consuming alcohol sugar any longer most of what I was eating was sugar!

Gabriella Moonlight said...

I am so ordering this book, I had no idea anything like this! Thanks for posting this!!!


thailandchani said...

Looks like some good recipes! When I first got sober, I used to cook a lot to fill my time. All those empty evenings. :)


Angela said...

Thanks, you guys. I really love her approach to recovery. It's so very pragmatic and real. It is a really cool book.

miss*R said...

this book sounds fantastic. I have been interested in and aware of what goes into my body since my cancer.. it is difficult sometimes but the small and signifcant steps is what counts.

I think also to cook for ourselves is a small step in living the simple life.. and Ayurvedic practice says 'not to eat anything that has not been cooked for you with love'