Lucas Oswald, my son, Author & Content Manager / Photo Journalist with Emerson Collective
Luc, me & Cougar in India
Great Pure Joy healthy options; a herb packed Ku Ku Sabzi & GF crusted fava and tomato tart.
FOOD and HOME MAGAZINE originally printed Fall 2005 Lessons from Luc By Lynette La Mere, Pure Joy Catering, Executive Chef Healing Crohns Disease with Food
My year began as it always does with a lofty list of plans laid out like a child’s letter to Santa, only mine is to the Universal Powers that Be and, mostly, to myself. I intended to go through the process of finally reverting to my maiden name, grow my company another 25%, extend the passion and creativity in my work and somehow diminish the 90 hour work weeks. Be brave I’d written; challenged instead of overwhelmed, midway it states “I will parent with love and respect” along with what most would consider an insanely ambitious group of endeavors for the proprietor of a very healthy business and a single mom with sole custody of two lovely teenage sons. Nowhere on there did it say I would face a monster named Crohns Disease with Luc, my thirteen year old boy; Luc’s year began very differently. Soon into January he began having occasional stomach pain, it quickly got sever. He would often buckle over and moan horribly after eating, one night I woke up to screaming and found him rolled into a hard sweaty ball yelling with pain in his sleep. “Don’t touch me, it hurts so much!” he was like a woman giving birth & then suddenly ok and still sound asleep. This continued. He couldn’t seem to eat anything with success. Luc had always been a big, strong, very healthy boy born 10 pounds 4 ounces. Suddenly he was literally dissolving before my eyes and no one could tell me why. Within ten weeks he lost twenty-five pounds. My fifteen year old son, Cougar, and I were terrified. When we finally got the diagnosis we both crumbled with fear, that first night I will never forget. They told us Luc had an incurable disease called Crohns. What the hell is Crohns? I was so devastated I drove to the first home of a friend I could and literally fell apart. Then I went to work. I studied everything I could get my hands on, that first week alone I finished three books. Crohns disease is an inflammatory disorder involving the small intestines. It may also impair other parts of the digestive system, causes an autoimmune deficiency, malabsorption, and inhibits maturation and growth. There is no cure for Crohns disease. I went on a relentless search for alternative answers, it seemed the only solution the Doctors had for him were a lifetime of pain, steroids and surgeries. He had gotten so skinny and frail, and there were days when I felt like I had no skin at all but I just plowed forward seeking a solution. It is a digestive system disorder yet the medical community insists there is no dietary solution. Luc, Cougar and I all committed to finding a diet that didn’t “hurt”; food he could eat without getting pain, stop the inflammation and heal his body literally with food. As an ex-hippy and a chef I had always feed the boys good sourced natural foods, but over the years of working so much I had begun to cut corners and their diet had diminished. What we finally found is working for Luc. He has not yet taken a single pill with the exception of a massive amount of nutritional supplements, A.M.P. Molo-cure and Probiotics. According to UCLA Children’s Hospital his disease is now fully in remission with no pain and he has maintained his weight now for about three months.
(Update 11/29/11 Luc turned 20 today and is 6’2” tall and a very healthy Stanford University student still in remission thanks to his incredible diet and his dedication to health and being well). (Update 8/30/17 Luc is 26 now and still a very healthy man. He now has 2 degrees from Stanford & is a Content Manager / Photo Journalist for Emerson Collective. Its been 13 years since his diagnosis and he has still never taken a steroid nor had any intestinal surgeries). Luc’s response to all of this has been so open to learning and change, so remarkably brave and willing. Cougar and I are still in awe of his level of acceptance and his ability to completely alter his life in order to heal. How can such a logical, seemingly obvious response be so unexplainably rare? He has spent most of the year getting acupuncture treatments two or three times a week from an incredibly loving and healing woman named Pamela Grant. He has become very spiritual, studying Buddhism and meditation. He absolutely avoids eating foods that don’t work for him; he is so dedicated to feeling well it is a lesson to all of us. He has given up all sugar and wheat and replaced them with a nutrient dense array of vegetables, fruits, legumes, alternative grains, ground nuts and proteins. The following are some of his original “crohnie” treats; foods he loves that have helped him heal and a few others. These two first recipes in particular are things I will feed the people I love forever, they are very special. Even friends who “don’t like nuts” love these. So many people have told me these recipes have to be shared, Cougar and Luc’s friends will tell you these are really delicious even if you don’t have an illness to fight, they are healing and extremely nutritious for all of us.
Cashew Cookies These are addictively delicious.
1 cup raw almonds 1/ 2 cup extra virgin coconut oil 1 cup natural pure cashew butter 1/ 2 cup local honey ¼ t. salt 2 eggs 1/ 4 t. baking soda 1 t. vanilla Pour the cup of almonds in a blender and grind to a flour. Mix this with the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate the dough. Once hard it can be scooped out and baked on a vegetable oil sprayed cookie sheet at 350 degrees until golden, about 8 minutes. Cronie Brownies These are magical; deeply satisfying, yummy and healing. 3/ 4 cup raw almonds 5 1/ 2 oz. virgin coconut oil 1 cup local honey 3 eggs 1 t. vanilla 1/ 2 cup well-packed unsweetened natural cocoa powder 1/ 2 t. salt 1/ 2 cup chopped walnuts 3/ 4 t. baking soda Blend it all together and bake at 350 till solid and "done" smelling. Excellent and oh so easy Banana Bread I like to bake this in a shallow pan but a loaf pans ok too, just be sure you bake it all the way, don’t pull it out too early. 3-4 ripe bananas 1/3 cup coconut oil 1 cup honey or dried maple sugar 1 egg 1 tsp. vanilla 1 tsp. baking soda Pinch of salt 1 ½ cup oat flour ½ cup broken pecans if you like Mix it up, spray the pan with olive oil and bake at 350 till very brown and done. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the almonds in a blender and grind to a flour. Mix this well with the rest of the ingredients. Spray a 9x9 inch baking pan with vegetable oil and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Vegetable Lasagna Serves 6 I know Luc’s not the only one avoiding carbs out there so this is a good one for lots of us. I was surprised how very satisfying lasagna can be without pasta. Really any combination of vegetables would work well here, these are just suggestions. Lactose is another evil for him but a nice hard, aged parmesan cheese has a very low lactose level that he can tolerate. With proteins we look for natural sources and a low fat content, and we love the lean vintage natural beef for the flavor and integrity, however Luc no longer eats beef so tofu is a perfect alternative. 1 pound zucchini olive oil spray 1 onion, diced 6 garlic cloves, chopped 1 cup sliced mushrooms 1 1/ 2 pounds lean vintage natural ground beef or tofu 2 cups grated aged parmesan cheese (has very low lactose) 25 ounces of your favorite bottled marinara sauce with no sugar 8 sprigs fresh oregano, stemmed 1/ 2 bunch fresh basil, stemmed and torn Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stem the zucchini and the slice length-wise in 1/ 6 inch wide long pieces. Spray with olive oil a standard 3 quart lasagna pan and then line the bottom with a layer of zucchini slices, season with salt & pepper. Sauté the diced onion in a hot pan sprayed with olive oil till translucent then add the garlic to the pan and remove after a few moments. Set that aside then spray more olive oil as needed and sauté the mushrooms then the beef seasoning well with salt and pepper as you go. As the beef browns break it up and add olive oil as needed. You’ll find the lean vintage beef doesn’t give off a lot fluid as it cooks so it browns well & smells great. Sprinkle 1/ 2 cup of the parmesan on top of the layer of zucchini, top with 1/ 3 of the marinara sauce then layer on the onions, garlic, mushrooms and fresh herbs. Top that with the rest of your sliced zucchini, season with salt & pepper then the beef, marinara sauce and the rest of the cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes.
Lynette La Mere, Pure Joy Catering Executive Chef and Mother of Luc & Cougar
Recommended reading; Patient Heal Thyself by Jordan Rubin, Breaking the Vicious Cycle (Intestinal Health Through Diet) by Elaine Gottschall