Nautical and Navy

This summer, I was all about neon pink. But as the weather has gotten cooler, I’ve put my brights away and have returned to my real love, neutrals. In the past, I’ve always gravitated towards black and I’ll admit that it makes up roughly 80% of my wardrobe. Yet lately, I’ve found myself buying lots of navy, a color that I never used to wear. With more navy skirts and dresses in my closet and the drop in temperatures, I was on the hunt for a navy coat to pair with it all. That’s when the company eShakti reached out and asked if I would like to try one of their items. When I spotted their navy cotton sateen belted trench, I knew it was meant to be. The awesome thing about the company is that their clothing can all be customized and made to your measurements. If you’ve ever experienced the high of online shopping and the low of discovering that what you ordered, doesn’t indeed fit, then this company is for you. It truly takes all the guesswork out so when it arrives, you know it will look great. For my coat, I chose to keep the sleeves the standard length, but if you are petite and sleeves are often long on you, then that can be changed. I did customize the length to the “mini” length, as I knew that I wanted a coat that would be long enough to wear with dresses, but would also work well with pants. When it arrived it fit perfectly and I was so pleased to find that the coat is a medium weight which is ideal for California winters. I have to admit, that after this experience I’m totally sold on custom clothing. If you are stumped with what to get for a woman in your life this holiday season, I think a gift card for eShakti would be an amazing gift. And if you’re like me, you might find a few things you have to buy for yourself too…

Nautical & Navy GGGF

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Nautical & Navy GGGF5

Nautical & Navy GGGF4

What I’m wearing:

c/o eShakti trench, Old Navy dress (similar here), Loft necklace (similar here), Ralph Lauren clutch (similar here), INC ankle boots (similar here)

Question:

-What color is most prominent in your wardrobe?

Paleo German Chocolate Cake

When I first found out that I had celiac, one of my inital thoughts was of all the things I was never going to eat again. Most of that was unnecessary thinking because there are great companies out there that make breads and pasta and treats. But what about those traditional family recipes? The favorite in my family is my Grandma’s German Chocolate cake. Every birthday growing up, my siblings and I would request it and no other store-bought version could ever compare. For my brother’s birthday this year, I was making him dinner (his fave paleo pad thai) and wanted to make him a cake as well. But because my kitchen is completely gluten-free and I can’t handle gluten ingredients, making him the original was out. So I decided to challenge myself a bit and see if I could transform Grandma’s traditional cake into a paleo one. I scoured the internet for recipes and couldn’t find a single one for a paleo, two-layer, German chocolate cake! Finally, I found this recipe for the chocolate cake but instead of making it as a bundt cake, I made two traditional 8-inch round cake pans. But the frosting was still alluding me because nothing looked like my Grandma’s recipe, which was always the best part and star of the cake. Working from my Grandma’s recipe I transformed it into a paleo one and was so pleased with the results. It had the same amazing flavor and stayed together perfectly on the cake! One thing to note is that this isn’t a truly healthy recipe, it’s definitely one for a treat! But since it was his birthday, I was going for paleo + taste above all, rather than how healthy I could make it which is how I generally cook.

German Choc Cake GGGF

Paleo German Chocolate Cake Frosting

Gluten-free, dairy-free

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Coconut Sugar
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread or Coconut Oil
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • 2 2/3 Cups Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Cups Chopped Pecans

Directions

  1. Mix coconut sugar, coconut milk, egg yolks, coconut spread/oil and vanilla in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly for 45 minutes to 1 hour. It’s a serious arm workout and all stoves are different, but it took mine about an hour to thicken up.
  2. Once thickened, combine saucepan mixture with shredded coconut and pecans in a large bowl.
  3. Mix all ingredients together until well combined and frosting sticks to a spoon when you lift it up.
  4. Leave to cool and set on the counter for 20 minutes.
  5. Frost cake!

German Choc Cake2 GGGF

My Grandma always uses a double batch of frosting (that’s what the above is) so that there is lots of frosting on the cake. When you go to cut a piece, there should be a very generous amount of frosting in between the layers and on the top and sides. When it all came together, I was so happy with how it turned out and then it was time for the true test- did my family think it tasted similar? It was met with rave reviews and was absolutely delicious! It’s not the easiest recipe, given how long it takes to stir the frosting, but it is definitely worth it, so pull up a chair and start stirring. I promise it won’t disappoint!

German Choc Cake3 GGGF

Question:

-What’s your favorite family recipe?

Must-Have Appliances for the Gluten-Free Home

As a kid, I was fascinated by infomercials. While most people would change the channel, I loved hearing about all the amazing cooking gadgets out there and the numerous things these tools could do. I was constantly telling my mom all the new things we needed and how they would make life so much easier. What can I say, they worked on me. As an adult, my love of infomercials has waned (do they still exist in the age of DVR?) but my love of kitchen gadgets has not. Over the past few years of having celiac and multiple food allergies, I’ve fallen in love with cooking and finally found a way to justify having lots of kitchen gadgets. I have many that I love and own, not to mention a few on my wish list, but the below are my top three that I think are essential for gluten-free cooking. They will expand your options, allow you to get lots of nutritious vitamins and make your life all around more delicious.

Breville Juicer

Breville Juice Fountain

One of my all-time favorite things is a green drink. Not only do I love the taste, but they are the perfect way to get so many essential vitamins and nutrients. I’ve tried lots of bottled green juices from the grocery store and while most were good, none have been as delicious as fresh green juice made at home. A few years ago, my family decided we wanted to buy a juicer and after reading countless reviews, we settled on the Breville Juice Fountain Elite from Williams-Sonoma.  It’s super powerful and has a wide mouth meaning you don’t have to pre-chop a bunch of ingredients! We also love that it extracts 30% more juice than other models meaning the money you spend on produce isn’t wasted. We love it so much that my brother and his wife purchased the same one as well! (If you are trying to decide which juicer is best for you, Williams-Sonoma has a great juicing resource page that can help!) I’ll admit that it took a few tries to fine tune the perfect recipe, but what’s so great is that you can easily adjust it to suit your tastes! If you like your juices sweeter, try adding an apple, or if you prefer it tart, go for a lemon or lime or if you like a little kick (or are feeling a cold coming on) add in some fresh ginger! I’ll be sure to share my favorite recipe soon but I can tell you it is a combination of kale, spinach, collard greens, celery, parsley, green apples, lemon and ginger. If you are new to juicing, it might seem a little intimidating, but really the hard part is the prep work. To save time when you are in a rush, separate out your ingredients and prep them as much as you can in advance and store them in separate bags. That way, when the juice craving sets in, it will only take a few minutes to make! I’m a huge fan of green juice, but my family also loves carrot-orange juice. While that’s not my personal fave, I save the pulp and make muffins from it that are amazing and full of nutrients! Juicing at home is definitely cost-efficient too as the pre-bottled stuff can run up to $11 a bottle! It is such a great step to take for your health as juices are easy to digest and absorb (super important for celiacs with damaged small intestines) and full of anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamix Blender

Vitamix

 

One of my most used appliances has to be my Vitamix. I used it yesterday morning to make my protein smoothie and last night to puree some delicious Cauliflower Leek soup (recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo). While enjoying the healthy yet creamy soup, I got to thinking about how I survived before my Vitamix. I wanted one for years but could never seem to justify the price. But that was all before I knew that the cost per use would be so low because I use it on a daily basis! Thanks to the super powerful motor, it makes creamy smoothies that leave no sign of ice cubes or spinach behind. It also allows you to make really thick smoothies which are perfect for a smoothie/acai bowl without adding tons of liquid. For pureeing soups, it’s just the best too. After a 2nd degree burn a few months ago thanks to my immersion blender/crock pot disaster, I’ve been pureeing in the Vitamix, accident free! Not only does it keep the hot liquid contained, but it purees within seconds. Oh ya, and the motor is so strong that it heats up the soup too. I mean, can it get any better than that? It’s also great for Paleo baking recipes that call for using a nut butter as a base (like these Lemon Poppyseed Muffins) because it combines the thick nut butter with the other ingredients way better than my arm ever could! If you are debating a food processor or a Vitamix, I completely recommend the Vitamix because it really can do everything a food processor can.

Spiralizer

paderno-spiralizer

Spiralizers are all the rage these days and for good reason. After all, turning vegetable into noodles is ideal for people following healthy or restricted diets! I’ve never been a big pasta person anyway, but gluten-free rice pasta was just never something I craved. But now that I use zucchini noodles for a base, I eat traditional noodle based dishes all the time. Zucchini noodles are the base of the Paleo Pad Thai I love and it’s a great recipe to start with for anyone who isn’t convinced about noodles made from squash. I also was on a Chicken Zoodle Soup kick last year and it’s the perfect thing for when you are sick. This past year I’ve expanded my spiralizing with the help of Ali from Inspiralized and have found that spiralized butternut squash might just be my new favorite thing. It also is the definition of guilt-free eating because you are ultimately eating a big plate of vegetables. I use the Paderno Spiralizer which is easy to use and a cinch to clean up. As you can see in the picture above too, it also makes three different types of noodles which is great depending on the dish you’re preparing.

Question:

-What’s your must have kitchen appliance?

 

Hair Donation Q&A

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen that I recently underwent a major haircut! I’d been growing out my hair for a while with the express purpose that I wanted to donate it. There are so many people out there who are battling cancer and sometimes it feels like there aren’t too many things outsiders can do to help. But when I thought about donating my hair, I realized that it was something I could do and felt that if my hair can help even one woman who’s struggling, then I am more than happy to do it. I thought that some of you might have questions about hair donation, so I decided to do a Q&A rather than my traditional blog post format.

What company did you donate to and why?

The hair donation company that everyone thinks of is Locks of Love, but I decided to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I chose Pantene because I really liked that they donate their wigs free of cost, which isn’t the case with every organization. I also like that Pantene is geared towards women with all types of cancer and is very inclusive.

How many inches did you donate?

I’ll admit that I went in thinking I was going to donate the minimum, which is 8 inches. However, once I was in the chair, my stylist and I decided to just go for it, and I donated 15 inches of hair!

How long did it take for you to grow your hair out?

My hair grows really fast and grew over a foot in just over a year. To keep it healthy and growing, I tried to really limit heat products and if I used them, always used heat protector. For more info on how I got my hair to grow, check out this post with my top 5 tips.

Pre-chop

Can I donate if I have colored hair?

The last time I colored my hair was more than a year ago, but the length was obviously still included. I think most people think that if you have colored hair, then you can’t donate but that isn’t actually the case. The restrictions are for bleach and permanent hair color, and unless you are covering gray, most hair stylists use semi-permanent color on hair, which is what I had in the past.

How do you donate the hair?

It’s actually really simple! You just have your hairdresser make a ponytail and cut above the hair tie. Then you take your dry ponytail and send it in a padded envelope to the address Pantene provides.

How did you feel when the chop happened?

I was really excited but of course, a little nervous too! Prior to going in, everyone was telling me how much they loved my long hair which made me feel a little conflicted but I remembered why I was donating and stuck to that! When my hair stylist cut the first part of the ponytail it felt kind of odd and much lighter… I also knew at that point that there was no going back!

How short do you have to go?

Your haircut can be any length, as long as the ponytail you are donating is 8 inches of length, not including layers. When my stylist cut my ponytail, my hair naturally fell in an a-line shape and we both loved it immediately so we decided to go for that!

Post-hair donation

How are you adjusting to the short hair?

When I first came home from the salon, I absolutely loved it! I was so happy with the finished product and excited for something new. That lasted until the next morning when I woke up and looked in the mirror and realized just how short my hair really was! There was about 36 hours where I wasn’t sure of my decision, but after that I started loving it! It’s been a really long time since I have had short hair and I love how swingy it is! It’s also super healthy, looks thicker and makes me feel sassy! Also, because it’s not long enough to pull into a bun or braid (it can fit in a small ponytail) I’ve started finding new ways to style it which has been really fun!

I hope that I answered any questions that you might have about hair donation! If you have any others you can email me or comment below and I will update this post with them! If your hair is long enough, I highly recommend donating it to such a worthy cause. It takes at least 6 donations to make a wig, so every donation counts!