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!

What I Made Wednesday

Instead of doing one of the popular What I Ate Wednesday posts, I thought I’d show you some of the things I have made recently! I usually only post about recipes that I create but I cook a lot of recipes from other gluten-free bloggers. So today I’m featuring photos of my creations, a little about why the particular recipe rocks and a link to the recipe in the title! One thing they all hold in common though, is that they are all delicious and are great recipes for people who think eating Paleo means you can’t have yummy food. Spoiler alert: You can. For even more recipe ideas, be sure to follow me on Pinterest! 

Flourless Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

This is one of my favorite muffin recipes because the ingredients are super simple and ones that I always have on hand. It’s a quick and easy recipe that also happens to be delicious. I like to keep my muffins in the refrigerator and they are perfect for that pre-meal snack when you are starving but making something else, or a snack any time of day. I follow the recipe exactly but find that they take about 15 minutes in my oven, rather than the 10 the recipe suggests.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins GGGF

Paleo Pad Thai

This is a recipe that I have made numerous times now, including this weekend as my brother requested it for his birthday dinner. It really is that good. If you are new to spiralized noodles, or paleo cooking in general, this recipe is a game changer. With the tahini and almond butter in the sauce, it’s also super filling which isn’t always the case in paleo, vegetarian recipes. Another great thing is that you can prep the recipe in advance and then when guests come, or you get home from work, throw it all together on the stove and have dinner ready in 10 minutes.

Paleo Pad Thai GGGF

Paleo Nut-Free Chocolate “Peanut Butter” Cookies

Taylor makes amazing desserts and these cookies are no exception. Her original recipe calls for Sunbutter making them a great nut-free dessert, but because I can have nuts, I substitute either almond or cashew butter. I’ve always loved chocolate cookies, but there is something about the texture of these cookies that makes them unique. Even people who claim not to like chocolate cookies (I don’t understand them, but they exist) happen to love these little pillows of deliciousness.

Double Chocolate Cookies GGGF

Questions:

-What’s one of your favorite recipes right now?

-Would you like to see this as a new GGGF series?

Gluten-Free Spotlight: Pushkin’s Bakery

Oh, do I have the spotlight for you today. I’ve been saving this one because this is my favorite gluten-free discovery to date. As much as I love cooking and baking, there is something so fun about going to a bakery. I’ve been to a few gluten-free bakeries before that are great, but Pushkin’s Bakery easily became my favorite because everything is gluten-free and dairy-free. Jackpot. This means that I can eat everything in there and don’t have to ask which items are dairy-free. If you haven’t experienced life with food allergies, let me tell you, the opportunity to go into a restaurant or bakery and eat anything there is incredibly exciting and liberating! Pushkin’s is located in Downtown Sacramento which is a bit of a drive from the Bay Area but is totally worth it! For the sake of research for my blog post (ahem, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) I may have tried quite a few items so that I could report back on them.

Pushkins

Walking into the small storefront, you are met with a bevy of options ranging from muffins to cookies to cupcakes to something they affectionately call Awesomes. Spoiler alert: everything that I tried was absolutely amazing. When deciding what to order, my family and I all had things that were on our “must-try” lists. One of those was the Awesome, which is a miniature lemon poppyseed poundcake. I’ll admit that poundcake isn’t something that’s usually at the top of my list, but I wanted to see if they lived up to their name. And oh my goodness, they did. It was perfectly moist and had just the right amount of tart and sweet. Another breakfast-type favorite was the zucchini bread. I don’t think I’ve had zucchini bread since becoming gluten-free, and this was absolutely delicious. The ideal small loaf, this is the type of bread that you cut off a slice of, and then find yourself back cutting another one 2 minutes later. Also worth mentioning was the maple walnut scone which was fabulous and not too crumbly which is often the case with gluten-free scones.

In the cupcake arena, I’ve had some great gluten-free cupcakes before so I was going in with pretty high expectations. Luckily, Pushkins did not disappoint. We tried three of their vegan cupcakes: the Barracuda Cupcake (chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache), the chocolate coconut cupcake and the chocolate cappuccino cupcake and all were winners in my book. Also sense a theme here? Clearly my family likes chocolate.

Pushkins Cupcakes

All of the things I mentioned were fabulous, however, the star of the show was the chocolate crinkle cookie. First, a bit of background story. Of all the cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies have always been my absolute favorite. For about 7 years my Mom, Grandma and I would attend plays together and at intermission they would serve the best cookies. As soon as intermission came, you know I was standing in line for our cookies and hoping that I could get a chocolate crinkle before they sold out. They were perfectly moist and chewy with powdered sugar on top that I had to eat carefully so it wouldn’t get all over my outfit. Needless to say, I have many happy chocolate crinkle cookie memories. I’ve had a chocolate crinkle cookie since going gluten-free from a different bakery that was delicious but didn’t recreate that memory. Well that all changed once I tasted the one from Pushkins. Not only did it look like the ones I remembered from my childhood but it was every bit as good. I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best gluten-free baked good that I have ever had. I know that’s a bold statement but it’s 100% true. A few weeks later, I found out I wasn’t the only one with this opinion. Sacramento News & Review held a blind taste taste with three of their food critics to determine Sacramento’s best cookie. As the only gluten-free cookie in the mix, I think it came as quite a shock to many that it won! But that’s just further proof of what I’m saying- this cookie is the best of the best! (Sidenote: I’d suggest calling ahead and putting a chocolate crinkle on hold if you plan on visiting later in the day. I failed to do this last time and my beloved cookie was sold out. Next time, I won’t be taking any chances!) Also, they are now offering sandwiches that look absolutely amazing and I will definitely be trying one on my next visit!

Pushkins Crinkle Cookie