Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let’s Eat Gluten Free on Thanksgiving

Oh Thanksgiving.

How you scare us all with your plethora of pies, stuffing, rolls, and breaded onion casseroles.

So how can you Eat, Drink, and Be Merry with all those gluten landmines?

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Especially if the cooking is out of your control!? Eesh! It seems a little daunting, no? But hopefully with a little support and preparation, you can enjoy Thanksgiving without worrying about gluten coming to get you!

Help Me, Help You: If you’re spending the holiday with close family and friends, then help them create their gluten free menu. Let your family know the ingredients that are safe for you. Provide a list with gluten free cooking stocks or better yet, give the cook a few boxes. Give them the gluten free bread for the stuffing. Whatever you can do to inform and help will make it easier on everyone.

The Early Bird..: gets the ingredients! Show up early. Help in the kitchen. That way you’ll know what ingredients are in what items, and you can even help substitute to keep it gluten free.

Get Cooking!: Offer to make a side item or dessert. That way you’re helping lighten the load and ensuring you can eat that offering!

Show up Packing: When all else fails, make your own gluten free version of items you’re unsure of. Order a few inch thick slices of Boar’s Head turkey from your local grocer. I’ve been known to bring my own cupcake to a birthday party…..

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and I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my own dessert to Thanksgiving! Make sure you can enjoy your favorite part of the holiday – whatever that is.

Stick to Veggies: Mashed Potatoes are cool without the gravy. Greens and such should be cool. Cranberry Sauce? Check!

But most of all, don’t forget: it’s not about the food.

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Make new traditions for Thanksgiving that don’t involve stuffing and gravy. Create healthy habits that will be good for you and your family!

Still looking for gluten free foods to help you celebrate? Click the photos below for the recipe!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Power of Persuasion

Another early morning for me thanks to pregnancy insomnia, but you want to know the craziest part: the past two days I’ve actually enjoyed it!

Parrish is traveling for work, which means that I have the house all to myself. So when I wake up at unnatural hours, I can embrace it. And….write a blog post two days in a row!

Yesterday and today I have crawled hoisted out of bed and let the dogs outside while I make my treasured morning cup of coffee and toast two slices of gluten free waffle.

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I’m telling you guys, that GIANT batch of waffles is paying off – I am in love with having fresh, homemade waffles in less than 2 minutes.

After the dogs have finished their business, I get back in to bed and start my morning off suuuuuuuper slow and for me, that’s just as good as sleeping in. I’m still giving my body rest but I’m not fighting the fact that brain is awake.

Which has also helped my mood. So much of how I feel these days is based on perspective and projection. For example, I made the decision last week to stop being brutally honest when everyone asks me how I feel.

Because here’s the thing: EVERYONE asks pregnant people how they feel. It’s just one of those small talk topics – I’m not even sure they actually care. And what I noticed was that when I was honest, it didn’t feel good to tell my tales of woe. Instead it just felt like wallowing.

So now I’m saving my true feelings for close friends and family who are here to support me when I tell them that if I throw up one more time I might scream, or that some days my belly feels so tight that I think it might pop. For everyone else, “I’m doing good…today.”

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And just saying that out loud has honestly started to make it feel true. In my daily life I interact with TONS of different people, so I say that “I’m feeling good today” or “I am so blessed to be having a healthy pregnancy” around 20-30 times a day. Call it the power of persuasion or fake it till you make it, but I will never stop being amazed by the power of words.

Fear is a story we tell ourselves.

That simple fact shattered my life the first time I heard it because at that point, I had been living in fear for years. I was afraid that I would never lose the weight that I had gained, that I would never be a truly happy person deep down, and from that fear sprang doubt in myself and my abilities.

For me, Zumba brought me back to life.

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It shook me up and exposed a confidence in myself that I hadn’t felt in such a long time. The more I exercised, the more I felt like feeding my body properly. The more I fed my body properly, the happier I became. The happier I became, the more weight just fell off.

In this pregnancy, I’ve had to scale back my workouts tremendously. No more bootcamps that make you nearly puke (in a good way) or long runs with Parrish on the weekends. I’ve had to put that part of myself on hold. I can still exercise, just not in the same way.

But what I’ve realized is, I still need to tell myself that I am a kick ass athlete. I need to feel confident in myself and my abilities – now more than ever actually because I have to get a baby out of my body pretty soon…..

So much about how we feel about ourselves, is what we tell ourselves. I love this quote:

I couldn’t have said it better myself First Lady!

So I’m choosing to feel better about myself, even when I can’t use exercise to get me there.

Want to read more about My Journey through weight loss? Find those posts HERE.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Homemade Gluten Free Freezer Waffles

Happy Monday friends!

Did you have a good weekend? Hopefully the weather cooperated with your weekend plans – we had a cold but sunny weekend. Too bad today’s weather didn’t follow suit! It’s a chilly and RAINY day here in Durham but I guess it could be worse, it could be snow!

Once again, I had a great balance of work and play over the weekend – here’s hoping I can keep that balance up through the holidays.

I started Saturday morning off slow with a GIANT stack of gluten free waffles:

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It was my first time using the King Arthur’s Gluten Free Pancake Mix and I mistakenly didn’t realize that the directions are for making the ENTIRE BOX! So I had more than my fair share of waffles. Luckily, they freeze beautifully – So I’ve been toasting up a few triangles since Saturday.

I really like the King Arthur mix! Have you tried it?

After breakfast it was time for a bit of work, followed by brunch with dear friends! Complete with adorable mugs…

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and tasty gluten free treats from Daisycakes!

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Yes. I am completely spoiled – I am so blessed with amazing friends…and Daisycakes!

After brunch, I had a bit more work through the afternoon. Luckily I was able to relax for the rest of the night and get in some much needed snuggle time with Max and Hazel.

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I’m trying to soak up as much one on two time with these snuggle bunnies before Baby Ravelli makes his arrival. Hard to believe that I have anywhere from 8-12 weeks left in this pregnancy – CRAZY!!

Sunday started bright and early with work. During the holidays, my organization hosts sales at area churches to share Fair Trade Goodies with a wider audience. I had my homemade gluten free freezer waffles to power my morning and a gluten free grilled cheese to get me through lunch.

After working for most of the day, I headed over to MOH’s house for Baby Ravelli’s Durham Baby Shower!

Complete with Hand-knitted Bunting:

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Burp Cloth Crafts:

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and completely adorable Onesies to paint:

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So much fun! In fact, I had such a good time and spent most of the night laughing so hard that my throat was raw last night! That’s how you know it was a good party – when your face hurts from smiling and your throat hurts from laughing.

And now it’s Monday. Time for more work but not before I finish my morning coffee!

Happy Monday!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gluten Free Sweet Treats

Happy Monday friends!

Did you have a good weekend?

My weekend was a good mix of work and play. AND much like Friday’s post, I had some yummy new gluten free foods – I mean, what better way to highlight a weekend right?!

Saturday started out pretty early. I’m dealing with some weird insomnia, and sometimes I stay in bed and try to ride it out and other times I just get out of bed and start my day.

So my Saturday started at 4:30 in the morning, but I took the opportunity to catch up on the latest episodes of Parenthood, Scandal, and Grey’s Anatomy! Paired with a Chai Tea Latte, it ended up being a relaxing morning before Parrish and I headed off to a breastfeeding class.

After baby school, I rewarded myself with a sweet seasonal treat:

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Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Candy Cane Joe-Joes! Essentially a peppermint version of an Oreo. My first taste wasn’t love at first bite. Much like other gluten free Oreo substitutes, you can taste the gluten free starch. BUT dipped in Vanilla Almond Milk, these were heaven. LOVE!

I woke up Sunday morning feeling super rested – I slept in until 7:30! Yippee! After puttering around the house, I headed to work for the day. Little did I know my sweet friend Diana had left me a treat at work:

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Absolutely LOVE AT FIRST BITE! Angie’s Holidrizzle Iced Gingerbread Kettle Corn. Yum! I LOVE Boom Chicka Pop, I wasn’t surprised that I loved this holiday flavor.

Found at Fresh Market, I was so excited to try this seasonal popcorn. I’m telling you guys, I am OBSESSED with seasonal food! I am basically every marketers favorite consumer; just slap a candy cane or holiday cookie on the package and I’m sold.

I loved the popcorn and can’t wait to nibble on it all week. It was nice to start my work day on such a high because it got pretty low as the day went on.

I had taken my current favorite, Pacific Brand Vegetable Quinoa Soup, to have as a quick lunch. It’s loaded with quinoa and vegetables and it requires no prep! But halfway through my bowl, a twig of sorts (why does that happen in vegetable soups?!?!) got caught at the back of my throat. So I gagged. And then gagged again. And then threw up all of my soup.

So frustrating! I am so tired of having food aversions and a quick trigger gag reflex. Plus, tomato based soups aren’t great coming back up. Let’s just leave it at that.

I finished out the work day and headed home to throw myself a tiny pity party. At this point I just feel like I have been sick and pukey for so long, I’m talking SEVEN ridiculous months, that it feels like it will never end. Which, as someone who loves food, is not easy.

Luckily my supportive husband wasn’t going to let me wallow and he surprised me with Baby Ravelli’s all time favorite:

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Gluten Free Tavern Double Cheeseburger from Red Robin. So good! And after going a few hours on an empty stomach, it really hit the spot!

Speaking of stomachs, do you know what has surprised me the most about the baby bump? The bloating! As a gluten free person, I am well aware of bloating from food. I mean, my Vermont trip really summed that up right?!

But as a pregnant person, my digestive system has really slowed….like to a glacial pace. So I may wake up with the belly on the left, but I end the day with the belly on the right:

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Crazy. (The belly gets bigger but the hair gets better Winking smile)

Luckily pregnancy bloat doesn’t come with the same side effects as gluten bloat! And I get adorable kicks and punches with this belly – with gluten belly I just get upset stomach and migraines.

I’m trying to be better about drinking more water, as this helps my digestion tremendously. But with holiday hustle and bustle at work, it’s hard to remember!

Do you guys have any tips or tricks for remembering to drink water when you’re busy?

AND what’s your favorite seasonal food?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Gluten Free Shopping at Target

I LOVE finding new gluten free products!

You would think that after all these years since my diagnosis, that the excitement in the grocery aisles would have worn off – but not for me! I still get excited….and yes, I do still squeal when I see a really good product.

This past weekend at Target, I let out quite a few squeals when I found some of my favorite gluten free products on the shelves for the first time. No more driving 30 minutes to the big fancy Whole Foods!

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My absolute FAVORITE Veggie Burger: Hilary’s Eat Well and the Veggie Bites! I LOVE these burgers! You prepare them in your toaster, how easy is that?! And instead of being full of soy and strange meat substitutes, Hilary’s are full of real, whole food! Soy Free, Gluten Free, and full of veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.

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Alright, so this picture is super blurry…..but it’s still exciting! I love Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods Oatmeal for on the go meals and snacks. I first found these at my local coffee shop and was impressed with how easy they are to make. Just pour boiling water in the cup, cover with the lid, and wait – then eat! I like to keep a few on hand at work for early mornings when I’m rushing around and lose the time to make breakfast at home.

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Do I even need to explain why I love these toaster waffles?! PUMPKIN!! All day, everyday!

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I first heard about LIVE Kombucha Soda from my gluten free friend Chandice and I was so excited when I saw them at Target!

Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been missing my occasional cocktails and glasses of wine, so it’s been nice to have a fun drink to treat myself to. I love the different flavors of LIVE soda, but I’ll admit that I can only drink half! They’re a bit too sweet for me, but it actually works out perfectly because I get to share with Parrish!

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My last find at Target: FAMILY SIZE Chex! Bonus: Each box is only $3.99!!

My favorite way to start the holiday season: indulging in Chex Mix!! So the Family Size box comes in handy. This past weekend I made a batch of Chocolate Caramel Chex:

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and Traditional Chex Mix:

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for a work party. So good!

And no, I wasn’t paid or asked to blog about gluten free grocery shopping at Target….I’m just that excited!

What about you?

Have you found a gluten free product lately that got you excited?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Reflection on My Second Trimester

And just like that, I’m 28 weeks pregnant!

While the first trimester of my pregnancy seemed soooooo SLOW, the second trimester definitely FLEW! As each week ticked by, I felt like I could barely blink before another week passed.

If you read my reflection on My First Trimester, then you already know that pregnancy has not been easy for me. Unfortunately, the second trimester didn’t offer much relief. BUT it hasn’t been all bad, so let’s recap these past few months before I forget!

PHYSICALLY

I looked forward to my 12th week of pregnancy SO MUCH. Everything I had read – everyone I had spoken to had indicated to me that at the magical 12 week mark my nausea would disappear.

Nope.

12 weeks came and went and I was still nauseous. In fact, I pretty much felt like puking everyday until 24 weeks. But now at 28 weeks, I am living in a cloud of bliss without all the gagging. And if I’m being honest… I have forgotten how bad it was….a little bit.

Although, this memory loss may have something to do with my newly found insomnia.

Between getting up to pee 2-3 times a night and waking up every time I need to roll over, I’m finding it harder and harder to fall back asleep. I cannot shut my brain off! Perfect example: I’m writing this post at 4:30 in the morning!

Another physical accomplishment of the second trimester: passing my glucose test!

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I was a little bit nervous taking the test – eating can already be hard, I didn’t want to count sugars and carbs on top of gluten free.

But I guess the BIGGEST physical change has got to be the BABY BUMP!

25 weeks:

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26 weeks:

26 weeks

27 weeks:

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Hard to believe I started HERE:

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Which brings us to the next topic for reflection:

EMOTIONALLY

Who knew that growing a baby would be so emotional?!

Well….I guess everyone. Everyone knows that growing a baby is emotional. However, what I didn’t expect was how emotional I would be about gaining the weight.

While in the first trimester I spent all my time comparing myself to others, my second trimester consisted more of listening to stupid comments made by others. Literally in the EXACT SAME DAY I had one person tell me I was huge for my week mark and another person tell me I was tiny.

Here’s a good rule to follow when talking to a pregnant person: Say NOTHING about their belly. It’s not too big or too small and it definitely doesn’t need your comment. Because guess what, they know it’s there – you literally can’t get away from it.

Luckily, my midwife does a great job of keeping my baby bump growth in perspective. I am actually, as of week 28, measuring perfectly! For a few weeks, week 20-25, Baby Ravelli was measuring ahead. Over Achiever!

BUT if I were still measuring ahead of my week mark (note: I said AHEAD not TOO BIG) the baby’s health is the only thing that matters! Speaking of, let’s get to the big topic!

BABY RAVELLI

In the second trimester, we found out that Baby Ravelli is a BOY!

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Which was exciting to say the least.

He continues to grow and develop in to a healthy baby, measuring a bit over 2 pounds this week!

We’ve been busy busy busy getting his room ready with the essentials: crib, cloth diapers, and inspirational wall art. And we took a Birthing Class at Week 26.

Which by the way, further proved that everything is more fun with Parrish!

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The class was informative, long, and at times a bit overwhelming…..but Parrish kept it as light as he could and filled me with positive (reassuring) energy at the end of the day.

EXERCISE

I didn’t talk much about my personal fitness in my First Trimester Recap…mainly because after I ran that 8k race at 7 weeks, I pretty much avoided the gym all together. Luckily, the second trimester has seen much more physical activity!

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Weight Lifting, Running, Hiking, Walking – all good things that I’ve been able to reincorporate in to my routine on a much more scaled down version.

And even though I can’t push my limits in bootcamp right now, it does feel good to move. It helps me feel more like my old self!

Coming Up Next:

This Weekend: Breastfeeding Class!

December: Hospital Tour

January: Baby Ravelli’s Due Date on the 29th!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Game Day Chili Party with Vegetti

Autumn aka College Football Season is by far my FAVORITE. I love watching games outside in the cooler weather and tailgating with comfort food.

So when Vegetti contacted me about throwing a dinner party full of spiralizing fun, I immediately knew what I would do.

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Making a big pot of delicious chili is super easy. There are tons of great recipes, but my personal fave is the Signature Spicy, Smoky, Sweet Chili from Iowa Girl Eats.

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While the chili was simmering, I got to work on spiralizing a few different toppings for my guests to choose from. I had decided to try two different crispy potato options, which I knew would be easy enough in the oven. Then for a challenge, I chose a third option of crispy onion straws.

For the potatoes I used two large russets and two large sweet potatoes. The russets went through the Vegetti perfectly. The sweet potatoes, being a bit harder, gave me an arm workout!

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After the spuds were spiralized, I lightly tossed the curls in olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I spread them evenly on baking sheets covered in parchment paper and let them bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

The results:

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Deliciously crisp potato curls, thinly spiralized to perfection! I topped the russets with chopped scallion post baking for an extra kick.

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Guests could lightly or generously top their chili with potato curls,

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but most of us found ourselves using the chili as a dip and going back for more!

The potatoes were a big hit BUT the Crispy Buttermilk Onion Straws stole the show!

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The key to spiralizing onions: small onions! I specifically chose onions that would fit the Vegetti, giving me the perfect spirals.

After spiralizing the onions, I placed the thin straws in a bowl of buttermilk and let them soak in the fridge for an hour. After soaking, I tossed the straws in my favorite gluten free all purpose flour ( Equal Measure ) until they were well coated.

In a large pot, I heated 4 inches of vegetable oil over medium high heat. I fried the onion straws in small batches, letting them cook until the batter was crisp and golden. I transferred the onion straws from the oil and onto a cookie sheet lined with cooling racks while I fried each batch. To finish them off, I lightly sprinkled the straws with salt.

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These did not last long. They were delicious dipped in the chili:

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or just devoured by the handful!

The best part of the food was surprising folks when they asked for recipes by handing them their own Vegetti!

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Ontel provided me with enough Vegettis to share, and I loved giving these away to friends. Plus, we ended up needing a second batch of potato curls half way through the big game – so I was also able to demonstrate how easy it is to use.

Thank you Ontel for hosting my Game Day Chili Party!

Disclaimer: I was provided with compensation towards ingredients to host a dinner party featuring The Veggetti® and additional Vegettis for guests from Ontel.

Want more information about cooking with a spiralizer? Read my first post using the Vegetti here, including a recipe for Zucchini Noodles Pad Thai.