When you’re in need of comfort, there’s nothing better than delicious Southern soul food. And sometimes we need comfort from life-altering events like natural disasters. For my town, April 27, 2011 was one of those times.
Text by Sarah Vice
Most Alabamians know by now what happened on that date. A large EF4 tornado ripped through half of Alabama. But what you may not know is how the communities pulled together directly after the storm. A neighborhood beside my high school was flattened, but thankfully no lives were lost there. In the days after the tragedy, I witnessed how people show love through food, and how a meal can heal in the most necessary of ways.
The National Guard had brought in aluminum bags of prepared foods. Residents also donated all the canned goods they could offer. These weren’t exactly the kinds of comfort foods that we look forward to, but no one was complaining.
Volunteer Servers and Chefs
Within a few days, however, the local restaurants that remained unaffected were able to pull together enough volunteer employees to reopen. But they weren’t just reopening for business. They were reopening to provide meals to those who needed them the most.
These restaurant owners were members of this town. They lived with the people affected by the tornado and were set on doing as much as they could to help. The employees and owners worked hard making hamburgers, biscuits, BBQ sandwiches, key lime pies, tacos, and so much more. They piled the food into trucks to drive to a community center. There, they welcomed all to a warm, free meal.
People were visibly in tears. They ate hungrily. For many, it was the first full, hot meal they’d had in almost a week. But the restaurants didn’t stop at serving these delicious dishes. They also opened up fundraisers in unaffected nearby towns in hopes of bringing more supplies to the victims.
Neighbors who still had a home joined in. They baked several meals a day and brought the food to the community center. For weeks to come, their food, kindness, and generosity nourished my small town. It’s in these moments that we grow to appreciate the little things like comfort foods and the bigger things, like our communities, that become our support systems.
Deciding to go Paleo is a big step, but it might be worth it in the end. Read on to find out if the Paleo diet is right for you.
Paleo is a diet designed with human genetics in mind to help people stay lean, strong, and energetic. Most of what we put in our bodies these days is refined food, trans fat, and sugar. These three combined are thought to be causing some of the diseases that plague people today like obesity, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility.
What Can You Eat on Paleo?
When practicing the Paleo diet, there’s a list of the main foods you should be consuming. These include fruit, vegetables, lean meat, seafood, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds we get from fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are an example of phytonutrients.
These three in abundance can lower the likelihood of the dieter getting cancer, diabetes, or neurological decline. Paleo diet recommends you consume healthy fat like Omega 3 to reduce obesity, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
What Can’t You Eat on Paleo?
When on the Paleo diet, you can’t eat any dairy, grains, processed food and sugars, legumes, starches, or alcohol. This is partially because these are not foods consumed by early man, but it is also because these are all foods that are at odds with health. Dairy contains A1 Casein which can cause allergy. This combined with the IGF growth factor 1 in milk is thought to be cancer-causing by some. This growth factor means dairy can cause acne. Grains are thought to irritate the immune system. Legumes contain lectins and phytic acid which can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal distress overtime. They also trigger insulin release. Starches are high on the glycemic index scale and too many carbs. They can disrupt blood sugar levels as a result.
Health Benefits of Paleo Diet
Results from the Paleo diet can include improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmune disease. This works because the diet raises the level of nutrients you receive while getting rid of things your body does not need or things that are harmful to it.
People have reported better workouts, steadier energy levels, reduced allergies, reduced fat, more stable blood sugar, better and more consistent sleep at night. Improvement in skin and teeth health has also been reported.
Does the Paleo Diet Actually Work?
The Paleo diet has had many success stories. Studies show the Paleo diet has reversed insulin resistant type 2 diabetes. Dr. Terry Wahls even claims she reversed the effects of her multiple Sclerosis.
Because the foods you cut out when starting the Paleo will lower your calorie count automatically, there is no need to count calories. While you should definitely keep your portions under control, calorie counting is not sustainable. The paleo diet is actually sustainable, which means that it is a good option for long term health maintenance.
By Martha Kendall Custard
Fourth of July cookouts are one of the best ways to make fun out of the summer heat. There’s no better way to bring people together than with food. Whether you’re at the beach, the pool, or in your own backyard, consider incorporating these elements into your 4th of July cookout party.
Cook on the Grill
There’s a certain smoky aroma associated with the 4th of July, and it isn’t the smell of your uncle burning his eyebrows with cheap fireworks. Nothing beats being outside while the air is filled with the fragrence of food grilling over a fire. Cooking on the grill is key to throwing the best 4th of July party. The menu wouldn’t be the same without authentically grilled hot dogs and burgers.
If you are throwing a party with both kids and adults, you might want to try splitting up the menu accordingly. Kids love burgers and hot dogs, but the adults might prefer something a bit more special. One great idea is to light a fire pit for the kids. Give them skewers so that they can grill their own hot dogs. While this does require supervision, your kids will have a blast — and learn a little about cooking, too.
Branch Out with Your Menu
For the adults, you might want to try one of our premium cuts of steak. We also offer a variety of prepared sides, including summer BBQ classics like potato salad and pasta salad. Best of all, our pre-prepared meals give you more time to spend with your family. You could also consider adding in a shrimp boil. These are fun, tasty and they look amazing spread out on tables! Add a personal flare to your menu with different 4th of July recipe ideas.
Don’t Forget the Sweets
The most important sweet treat of this holiday isn’t a dessert at all—it’s watermelon! Watermelon is the best summer fruit. Its slight sweetness is not too overpowering for the summer heat, making it perfect for your cookout. Another key sweet treat you must include in your cookout is banana pudding. This classic dish is served cold, which makes it apt for the hot summer months. It’s also a fan favorite amongst the kids.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
As if banana pudding and watermelon aren’t enough, we have one more dessert option for you. There’s something special about the taste of homemade vanilla ice cream. Buying an affordable ice cream machine and putting your kids to work is a great way to enjoy this great taste while keeping your kids occupied and having a blast. To top it off, set up a topping bar so that guests can customize their homemade ice cream bowls.
Text by Martha Kendall Custard