Friday, June 27, 2014

A Big BIG Secret Revealed

I’m sure that many of you have noticed that I haven’t been able to blog much lately. It’s been hard to keep it a secret from you all, BUT I’ve been working on a top secret baking project with my favorite person in the world: Parrish!

This baking project has taken up so much of time – but now, 10 weeks later, I’m so excited to finally share it with you!

Parrish and I started the project 4 weeks before my Vermont trip. In fact, I’m pretty sure that all that baking was a big reason why my race didn’t go as I expected.

While some of the ingredients are too personal to discuss, I can tell you the add-ins I’ve been using lately:

Ginger

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SO MUCH GINGER. Ginger Chews, Crystallized Ginger, Ginger Ale – I’ve tried it all. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite get me the result I want.

Almond Milk.

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Ice Cold Almond Milk. I can’t get enough – I think this will really help the overall project too, it’s so rich with calcium!

Plain Gluten Free Bagels with Cream Cheese

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I know it sounds weird to add a baked good to something I’m already baking….but trust me, the bagels are SO important! The past few weeks, the entire project has left me nauseous pretty much all day long, and plain bagels are one of the only ingredients that don’t leave me gagging.

Aside from the nausea, the hardest part about the baking project?

It won’t be fully baked until January 2015!

It’s going to be hard to wait that long….but yesterday Parrish and I were able to take a peek into the oven and it was amazing.

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AND it will be so much easier to wait these next 7 months now that you guys are all in the loop!

Baby Ravelli – Coming Soon – January 29th, 2015

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Struggles with Eczema

As much as I love Social Media – seriously, Instagram addict right here – I often feel like it gives the wrong impression about my life.

It’s not often that you take a selfie when you’re sad or mad or just having a really hard day. And honestly, with the right filter, even a bad day can seem not so gloomy.

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So often on Instagram, I get comments about my skin. Flawless, Glowing, Smooth and while those sentiments are sweet, they aren’t always true. Due in part to genetics and in part to the gallons of water I drink in a day, I am blessed with mostly great skin….on my face. I get break outs like everyone else (and I make them worse by picking at them) but they are few and far between.

However, the rest of my body is pretty much a constant war zone of eczema.

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This past winter was definitely the worst battle yet. What started on my left shin, spread to my knees, my outer right quad – even my elbows. As soon as I would get one spot under control with a prescribed steroid cream, a new spot would crop up. Then a few weeks later, the original spot would be back! It seriously felt like a daily battle to get my skin under control, and I was losing.

Even today, the spot on my quad is still there. My knees and elbows have cleared, but my shin is threatening a flare up. And honestly, I have no idea why I never discuss this issue on the blog. Maybe because it makes me feel so negative to even think about it – who knows.

It is definitely tied to having Celiac Disease. Folks with Celiac are 3 times more likely to be affected by eczema, which by the way, affects close to 30 million Americans!

Most of my shin flare ups start with an instance where I get glutened. In fact, my most recent issues stemmed from my last bad experience in Vermont. I’m also greatly impacted by stress – my job isn’t exactly stress free – and I’m not the best at dealing with mounting pressure. My skin typically shows this pretty quickly.

How do I deal with eczema?

1. I try really hard not to scratch. Which is SO HARD because it’s SO ITCHY!!!! And it feels so good to scratch it – but scratching makes it worse. So. No scratching.

2. I make sure ALL of my bath and body products are gluten free. Shampoo, body wash, lotion – everything.

3. I switched to a vegetable based laundry detergent for sensitive skin. I really, really had high hopes for this switch making a big impact, but unfortunately I don’t think it has.

4. I keep my skin hydrated. In addition to drinking tons of water, I now make the time to lotion my entire body as soon as I get out of the shower.

5. Steroid Cream. It took my doctor and I a few times and tests to find a cream that works for me, and I’m only able to use it for a few days at a time, but when a flare is really bad, a steroid is the only thing that works for me.

I know that nothing can “cure” eczema, but I definitely feel like everything above has helped me get my flare ups in to a more manageable place.

And at the end of the day, while I do feel incredibly lucky and blessed by God daily in my life, I never want my social media accounts to portray an image of perfection.

What about you? Do you struggle with eczema? Do you have tips for keeping it under control?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chimichurri on Everything

Have you been watching much soccer lately?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but Parrish LIVES for soccer. I’m used to watching a bit of soccer on the weekends, or recording games when we leave the house. BUT there is nothing like the World Cup!

For the next month, it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’ll be watching soccer every single day, and you know what, that’s fine with me! What an exciting World Cup it has been so far!

Last night Parrish and I had big plans to watch the USA VS Ghana game, and I planned a special treat for supper to celebrate.

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Grilled Sirloin Steaks topped with fresh chimichurri – so good!

Since we don’t actually eat a lot of red meat, anytime we grill steaks at home it feels like a special treat.

And the chimichurri, well that just takes it over the top!

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Delicious on steaks, grilled or roasted veggies, even buttery toast, chimichurri is crazy EASY to make!

In a food processor: one cup parsley, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 2 cloves of garlic, 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (or 1/2 if you don’t like spicy), 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. salt

Process all of the above  ingredients until the parsley and cilantro are finely chopped.

That’s it! So easy and so good – in fact, last night was Parrish’s first chimichurri experience and he’s in love!

Expect to see this sauce all summer long!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Current Obsession

I have been OBSESSED with these Vanilla Cake Berry Parfaits lately:

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They are so easy to prepare ahead of time. Plus it’s berry season here in NC, so I’m trying to incorporate strawberries and blueberries in to everything!

vanilla cake parfait

Funnily enough, when I was going through the blog this morning to find the original post, I was tickled by the date. June 17, 2013. What can I say…..summer heat brings out the best recipes in me!

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You can find the original post HERE. 

They are oh-so-easy to make. If you haven’t tried Udi’s Double Vanilla Muffins, what are you waiting for?! They are CRAZY delicious. Seriously. They taste like pound cake. Plus I can buy them at my local Harris Teeter, which makes picking up a pack super easy.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Goal: Finish and Have Fun

After my race in Vermont two weekends ago, I was a little bit nervous about racing again. I was worried that the side stitch was here to stay, and the thought of logging anymore miserable miles wasn’t very appealing.

But I had another race on the schedule!

One week after my Vermont race, I had signed up to run the Running of the Bulls 8K in Downtown Durham. Parrish and one of his friends had decided to run it together, and I just had to tag along.

But I felt hesitant.

On Wednesday of last week I did a short 1.5 mile run and felt strong. So I told myself that I would run half the course on Friday morning, and if I still felt strong then I would run on Saturday morning. Lucky for me, I ended up feeling great – the Running of the Bulls would happen!

We woke up at 5:30 on Saturday morning and headed to downtown Durham for the race.

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The start line was right beside my local YMCA, and started with a slow incline. Parrish and I assured our friend Loren that while we were starting on a hill, the course overall wasn’t too hilly.

We found the porta potties, chatted with a few friends we ran in to at the start line, and just like that it was time to run! 

Parrish and Loren paced together, and left me right around the .25 mile mark. I was keeping it at a slow and steady 10:00 mile pace for at least the first mile. Right around the 1.5 mile mark, the side stitch reappeared, so I slowed my pace more and took a few walking breaks.

Luckily, I was able to shake it out. I didn’t have any time goals for this race. I literally just wanted to finish. I had calculated the race course, and I could go as slow as 18:30 pace and still finish. It might take me a long time, but I could finish!

At the mile 2 mark, I realized these three sweet ladies near me were pacing together and they were spot on where I needed to be. I huddled closer to them, and started chatting away. I call these three ladies my angels, because they were able to give me the push I needed to stay positive.

Especially towards the end of the course! There were quite a few hills toward the end, so I feel pretty blessed that I had a cheering party right there with me.

And just like that, the race was over!

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The best part of the race? Post-race watermelon!

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The BEST post-race fuel by far! I went back for seconds and thirds!

Overall, I LOVED this race! The majority of the race course was in the downtown area which I love to run in, and the fuel stations were well thought out. You ended the race in the old Durham Bulls Ballpark (the park featured in the movie Bull Durham) and so that added an instant fun to the finish line.

I’m learning a lot about the types of races I like to run, and realizing that I don’t do well with time goals. And honestly, I’m never going to be the fastest runner.

So my new goals are: finish and have fun!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Yep, I Got Glutened

So. About that gluten bloat….

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On my last full day in Vermont, after the race and the cheering, I was starving. It was nearly 2:30 in the afternoon and I could feel a headache coming. I needed to eat fast!

Luckily, another Cabot Fit Teammate, Deanna, was also hungry. So she and I ventured out looking for the closest restaurant. Since our hotel was right in the middle of the marathon madness, we had to walk a few blocks before we found anything without a huge line.

We ended up at The Ice House Restaurant on Battery Street in Burlington. It was a seafood restaurant, but I spotted quite a few salads on their menu and I was starving – so we ordered.

I ordered a starter of guacamole with corn tortilla chips, and then started asking the server about the garden salad with salmon.

Is the salmon marinated?

It was. But the marinade was simple: olive oil, fresh dill, lemon, salt.

Do you know what’s in the dressing?

We have a few different choices, but a simple olive oil vinaigrette would be good.

So I ordered the Ice House Garden Salad with no dressing (his explanation of dressings just didn’t cut it for me) and I added the grilled salmon.

I explained at the end that I’m gluten free. I’m highly allergic, so could he let the kitchen know.

And here’s where I now know the first mistake was made. After looking up this restaurant online, I have found out that THEY HAVE a gluten free menu! At no point in explaining that I was gluten free did the server mention that they had a gluten free menu.

And you know what IS NOT ON THE GLUTEN FREE MENU? The guacamole and the salmon! The salad is on the menu, but you do not have the option to add salmon or chicken.

Ugh.

Deanna and I waited for a bit and honestly had a fabulous lunch just chatting away on the water. We were seated on the outdoor deck, overlooking Lake Champlain. It was beautiful.

When our food arrived I still felt pretty confident.

Honestly, if I hadn’t been traveling – if I hadn’t ran a race that morning – if I hadn’t been out in the sun all morning cheering on my teammates – if I hadn’t had a tiny hunger headache – I wouldn’t have added the salmon. But I felt like I desperately needed the protein, so I added it.

I ate the entire thing. The salmon had clearly been grilled, and I’ll admit that that did make me feel a little uneasy. Cleaning grills isn’t easy, and I worried for a minute about the potential for cross-contamination.

After eating, my headache had passed and Deanna and I walked back to the hotel. I laid down to take a nap but within thirty minutes of laying down…..

the diarrhea started.

And I knew. I knew that I had been glutened.

There is nothing quite like Glutened Upset Stomach. It is violent and feels never-ending.

The diarrhea continued for 4 hours. 1 hour in I developed a KILLER MIGRAINE. 2 hours in my stomach had quadrupled in size.

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I felt nauseous. My entire body ached. I couldn’t believe it. I was SO MAD!

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And sad. I stayed in bed the whole night. I drank as much water as I could muster, hoping to help everything pass through quickly.

I woke up constantly throughout the night. The migraine raged until 5am and my belly was SO TIGHT and hard.

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I didn’t have access to ginger ale, since I honestly couldn’t get out of my room due to that light sensitive migraine, but I wish I had had some. That may have helped with the nausea.

The next morning I finally got out of bed at 5:45 – I had a flight that morning. My bloating had subsided a bit…

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but not all the way. I still felt bloated but I was just HAPPY that my migraine and diarrhea had passed!

In fact, I was bloated for 5 days total. Definitely a record long period for me. Actually, I think that bloat may be a record too. I ALWAYS get bloated when I get glutened, but I think this may be the biggest I’ve been in a long time.

Photo: Even better. Left: Sunday evening about 3 hours after getting #glutened Right: Thursday morning #ugh #thattookalongtime #glutenfree #glutenfreeblog

You guy left me so many sweet comments and sent me tons of kind emails. Thank you so much for that. I was amazed by how much great and different advice you all had for helping the symptoms pass.

So let’s share them here!

How do you deal with getting glutened? Leave your advice in the comments, and I’ll compile them in a list for everyone.