My dear friend Cindy has been telling me about this friend of hers who helped create an organization called, Suppers for Sobriety. Her name is Cindy also. Cindy number 1 (my friend) gently and persistently reminded me about Suppers for Sobriety for over a year. Cindy 1 is not an alcoholic, but in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the reason she pestered me for over a year about Suppers for Sobriety is because she knows I have been a recovering alcoholic for many years (19 as of August to be precise) and she also knows I’m a foodie.
I met Cindy 2 at Cindy 1’s wedding this summer – finally. She apparently had heard about me too. She was very enthusiastic about Suppers for Sobriety of course and pitched hard to get me to attend a dinner.
This past Sunday I and the Cindys went to a monthly dinner held at the other founder’s home in Princeton, New Jersey.
What exactly is Suppers for Sobriety?
First let me say that Suppers for Sobriety also has other groups that cater to non-alcoholic folks who may have other health issues that are helped by nutritional vigilance and education such as diabetes or people with depression or blood sugar challenges.
It is really all about leading a healthier lifestyle. People in recovery from alcoholism tend to have nutritional and chemical imbalances (for obvious reasons), but while they are helped through the detoxification process and generally find help in support groups, such as AA, the ongoing maintenance of the physical side – other than staying sober – is dreadfully neglected.
Suppers for Sobriety (as well as the other Suppers groups) is a learn-by-doing program.
We arrived at Dorothy’s house in Princeton and had a tour of her extensive vegetable and herb gardens, which was to be the basis of a lot of our upcoming meal. This particular monthly group was small and there would only be 6 of us for the evening. We assembled casually in Dorothy’s very comfortable kitchen and she explained the process for Cindy 1 and I as we were newcomers.
She offers a basic assortment of whole foods – organic and local as possible (a lot from her own garden) – and the group decides what to make from it all and who will prepare what.
There is no prescribed diet – the only rule is that the food be as whole and natural as possible and that food allergies of anyone in the group be respected.
I love communal food preparation! It was a wonderful way to bond with these new women and exchange ideas about cooking while learning about each other in the process. Everyone fell easily to tasks suited to them and everything flowed rather nicely. They did not know of my reputation as a salad queen, but Cindy volunteered me for salad duty and made a fuss about my abilities and then the pressure was on . . .
That night we prepared a chicken stir fry, some Amish turkey sausage with beans, a fresh ‘slaw’, and I ended up making fresh fig and tomato salad (recipe below). Yes. Dorothy had a gorgeous bounty of figs in the garden. Who knew figs would be so happy in New Jersey!?
Like most 12-step style meetings, there was an opening non-denominational prayer said before settling in to indulge in our healthy bounty. Dorothy read from a prepared opening that discussed some of the basic concepts, two of which really struck me as crucial – 1. ‘Suppers will guide you along a gentle course of ‘nutrional harm reduction’. This means that you are in charge of which changes you make and how fast you make them; and 2. Biological Individuality – every one’s body is different. There is a lot more to these concepts and I would encourage you to go to their website and read more about them. They really worked for me.
Of course, there is a semi-structured discussion that goes on during and after the meal, which was very informative and engaging as well as encouraging in many ways. Only two of us were recovering alcoholics that night. The others were in Alanon or OA (Overeaters Anonymous) or undeclared as it were, but we all found common ground and I felt a warm kinship with these other women (although they informed me men often attend also – just not that night for whatever reason).
On the homepage of their website, Suppers has a questionnaire for beginners. Interesting. Try it.
They have been compiling recipes that have been created from these dinners on the website too. Here’s the one I created that was a huge success that first night:
Fresh Fig & Tomato Salad
2 c. Fresh Figs – sliced
2 c. Fresh Tomatoes – sliced
1 – 2 cloves Fresh Garlic – crushed
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper – to tasteDressing
1/2 c. Golden Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 c. Olive Oil
1 T. Tamari (wheat free)
1 t. Stevia Powder
1 T. Red Onion – very finely chopped
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!