Malibu Beach Recovery Diet™: A Delicious Way to Help Sustain Long Term Sobriety
While teaching the cooking class last Sunday at the Center, I looked at our clients, all busy chopping and dicing, and as usual marveled at how quickly they start looking and feeling healthy. I’m talking shiny eyes, glossy hair, and glowing skin within 7-8 days of arriving at an alcohol and drug treatment center.
The Malibu Beach Recovery Diet is one of three spokes in the holistic wheel which makes our treatment program unique. The other two spokes are the yoga breath work and food supplements (we currently have most clients taking synaptose, a very effective food supplement developed by Dr. Kenneth Blum. PhD to correct imbalances in the brain’s reward system by reducing cravings and creating an overall feeling of well-being).
This holistic overlay, developed in Europe, expedites brain repair and allows clients to quickly achieve enough clarity to get maximum advantage from the program of individual therapy, family therapy, process groups, and the 12 step work which are also integral parts of treatment.
Just as when you have hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes, changing your diet and getting more exercise of the right kind can influence the numbers, we have found that our alumni stay sober if they continue to follow the principles of the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet, do some kind of yoga each week, take recommended food supplements and attend AA or NA meetings.
The basis of the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet is the Gycemic Index (“GI”), a scoring system that ranks foods based on their effect on blood sugar levels. The GI covers only carbohydrates—most of the foods you eat — such as fruits and juices, potatoes, rice, pasta, breads, and cereals that contain sugars, starches, and different types of fiber. That’s because foods that are high in carbohydrates have the greatest impact on your blood sugar. Other foods, such as fats and proteins, have little effect on blood sugar.
When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down in the mouth, stomach, and intestine to smaller units that the body can use for fuel. These units are a sugar called glucose. Glucose supplies power to every cell in the body. Without it, you wouldn’t be alive.
Scientists have learned, though, that different carbohydrate foods cause blood glucose levels to rise at different rates. Some foods cause glucose levels to rise quickly after you eat them. The result is a virtual “gush” of glucose into the bloodstream. Other carbohydrate foods cause glucose levels to rise more slowly—a “trickle” so to speak. The GI is a system that separates the “gusher” foods from the “trickler” foods. By eating less of the gushers and more of the tricklers, you can keep your after-meal blood glucose levels more in check.
Because the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet is not about losing weight, we don‘t ask alumni to count calories or pay attention to the values of the GI index. All they have to do is follow some simple rules designed to keep their moods balanced and their blood sugar at normal levels. The goal of the diet (combined with the daily yoga breath work and food supplements), is to raise and sustain the chronically low dopamine levels of addicts and those suffering from depression and anxiety. Over the years Dr. Blum’s research has concluded that it is not only alcohol, street drugs and prescription drugs that depress endogenous Dopamine levels (dopamine is one of the most important “feel good” brain chemicals) but poor eating habits.
The Malibu Beach Recovery Diet is based on eating three meals a day and several snacks, comprised of an abundance of allowed products which enrich and enhance the culinary possibilities and introduce ingredients that may not have been a habitual staple in their past nutritional habits. No more endless cups of coffee and energy drinks, no more fast food, no more candy and sugar.
To keep it simple, alumni have access to an online cookbook which includes all the rules of the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet, simple but elegant recipes, shopping lists for what to buy from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and standard supermarkets. We will be adding shortly advice on how to order when dining out.
Many people – incoming clients and professional visitors – have confessed that the first time they were invited to the Center for a meal, they filled up enroute with a Big Mac or Subway sandwich. They were expecting a “diet” that was healthy but tasteless, composed of foods they would never voluntarily eat.
I don’t remember anyone leaving without complimenting French chefs Cyril Landrat and Yannick Marchand for an amazing food experience. This includes the delicious deserts the chefs have learned to make without white sugar, brown sugar, or even honey.
Many also remark on the attractive ways foods are presented. I find that after spending 30 or more days at the Center, clients begin to appreciate the value of presenting each meal in an eye-appealing, appetizing manner. When I went to visit Rachel C., one of our alumni now living at no frills sober living in Los Angeles, she was tasked by the house manager to prepare lunch. She apologized that the food was not gourmet or even healthy by Malibu Beach Recovery Center standards, but it was beautifully plated: Several slices of apple were turned upward so the color of the bright red skin complimented the white of the tuna fish sandwich, and the orange Doritos. Good going Rachel!
Here are recipes for a meal we recently prepared in cooking class. Bon appétit.
Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Glaze
We love balsamic vinegar reductions, which gives this simple dish its unique flavor. The vinegar fulfils the dietary requirement that each meal include something acidic to rehabiliate the PH balance of the digestive system.
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (1-pound) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Reduce heat to medium; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 18 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile grill or sauté chicken breasts in 1 T of olive oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme. Serve over onions; drizzle all with balsamic glaze.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces chicken, about 1/4 cup onions, and about 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze)
Green Beans With Lemon and Browned Garlic
This is a fabulous, easy recipe. Green beans are available year round, with a peak season of May to October. The best and freshest are from your local farmer’s market.
3/4 cup water
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Bring water to a boil in a large nonstick skillet; add beans. Cook 3 minutes; drain and set aside. You can also steam the beans. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and beans, and sauté 1 minute. Add juice, salt, and pepper; sauté 1 minute.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
Baked Apples Stuffed with Dried Fruit and Pecans
An apple for dessert produces a slower and more subtle rise in after-meal blood sugar levels.
4 (6-oz) red apples such as Gala or Rome Beauty
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons dried currants
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon softened and 1/2 tablespoon cut into 4 pieces)
1/2 cup unfiltered apple cider (small bottle of Martinelli’s)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Special equipment: an apple corer
Preheat oven to 350°F. Core apples with corer. Stand apples up and make 4 evenly spaced vertical cuts starting from top of each apple and stopping halfway from bottom to keep apple intact. Brush inside of apples with lemon juice and stand apples in a 9-inch ceramic or glass pie plate.
Toss together apricots, currants, pecans, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Rub softened butter into dried-fruit mixture with your fingers until combined well, then pack center of each apple with mixture. Put a piece of remaining butter on top of each apple. Pour cider and vanilla around apples and cover pie plate tightly with foil.
Bake in middle of oven, basting once, until apples are just tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until apples are very tender but not falling apart, 20 to 30 minutes more.
Transfer to serving dishes and spoon sauce over and around apples. Serve with whipping cream.