I was never a cook. It just didn’t matter to me. That is, it didn’t matter until it had to – until my health, and the direction of my life, depended on it.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. This autoimmune disease of the digestive tract is commonly believed to be incurable. After dealing with digestive issues for years and seeing dozens of practitioners and doctors, to have the grand finale of this diagnosis left me with little hope that anyone would be able to help me. And so I took on the challenge myself.
At 26 years old, with a promising career in advertising, I left work to focus on healing (with the number of sick days I was taking, it was my only option). I got to know my kitchen – and began reading everything I could on autoimmune disease, digestive healing, stress, and emotional wellbeing, along with both conventional and integrative treatment options. I eliminated all the foods that could potentially exacerbate my condition and indulged in the foods that were believed to be healing. This was surprisingly freeing. I no longer had to fear food, or spend hours grocery shopping to read all the labels. Most of what I was eating didn’t have labels. It was simply whole, real, unprocessed, chemical-free food.
I began meditating every day, and committed to a regular yoga practice. I released my attachment to being who everyone else needed or expected me to be, and the result was that I fell into myself. I felt like I was suddenly exhaling after holding my breath all my life. Within a few months, I was more than just symptom-free from this disease; I was healthier than I could ever remember being. I have remained symptom-free since then.
I did one simple thing: I UnDieted my life.
The UnDiet philosophy is about looking at the world through a fuchsia-coloured lens, finding the awesomeness in any given moment, and using that perspective to know that we each deserve the best of the best in everything we do. I tuned in. I paid attention to my life – the things that made me feel good, and what made me feel bad; and that included food, work, relationships, and media. I began to recognize and experience happiness at a totally different level.
And that is ultimately what inspired me to head back to school to study nutrition, so that I could understand what I had achieved with my health. I took this in-depth foundation in holistic nutrition into my kitchen and began developing therapeutic recipes, which evolved into classes.
That directed me to the work I am now doing with the books I have written, and as the founder and director of The Academy of Culinary Nutrition. My goal from the start has been to share this knowledge and teach everyone who seeks my guidance how to be their own best teacher.
UnDiet living frees us from the barriers and worries we create around our health. Here, the first focus is on enjoying our food, connecting with our friends and family, getting a good night’s sleep, moving our body in ways it wants to be moved, and finding passion in the work we are doing.
UnDiet was born from my own experience. I was sick, and left essentially on my own to figure out what to do. My first book, UnDiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health, is a lifestyle guide that helps readers find their way back to health, and invites them to become their own best health expert.
The UnDiet Cookbook takes those foundational principles and invites the lifestyle into the kitchen, to our dinner parties, tea parties, picnics, early mornings, late nights, and even our home spa. The recipes in The UnDiet Cookbook invite us to celebrate life and, in the process, the sweetness of healthy and awesome living.
The following recipes were excerpted from The UnDiet Cookbook: 130 Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy and Awesome Life by Meghan Telpner. Copyright © 2015 Meghan Telpner. Photography Copyright © 2015 Maya Visnyei and Catherine Farquharson. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
This recipe takes the vegetables that people hate the most – the ones they plug their noses at, claiming they taste like feet (Hi there, Brussels sprouts), dirt (I’m talking to you, beets), or rotting trash (Yes, you cabbage!), and turns them into a dish that I feel confident could become the new favourite in your house. (Serves 4, or 6 as a side dish)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 – 45 minutes
- 4 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 to 5 loose cups Brussels sprouts, ends cut off, outer peel removed, and cut in halves or quarters
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, avocado oil, or organic ghee
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
This is one of those awesome, simple family meals that will make everyone happy because they get to customize their own sweet ’tater. This recipe also offers both protein-powered Paleo and vegan options, so everyone wins. It works great as a main event dish for dinner, and I personally love having half of a dressed sweet potato for breakfast and finishing the rest for lunch the next day. (Serves 4)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 – 60 minutes
- 4 organic sweet potatoes
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil, coconut oil, or organic ghee
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- One 14 oz can organic beans of choice, drained and rinsed*
- 6 cups greens, trimmed and sliced into ribbons
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Make-Your-Own Sambal (see The Undiet Cookbook, page 206), or red pepper flakes, or your favourite hot sauce
- Sea salt
Sometimes chocolate is so great you have to say it twice. These pancakes are a decadent and delicious start to the day – or perhaps even better – a sweet end. Try them with my Special Syrup featured in ‘The UnDiet Cookbook’. (Makes 8 – 10 pancakes)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes (or 5 – 8 minutes per set of pancakes)
- Dry Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Wet Ingredients:
- 1 egg or 1 serving Chia Paste (1 Tbsp ground chia + 1/4 cup water)
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1/3 cup organic unsweetened applesauce or Simple Apple-sauce (The UnDiet Cookbook, page 204)
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil or organic ghee, softened
- 1 Tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips