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

Send Me Gluten Free

As much as I love this digital world, I still love getting things in the mail. I’ll admit that I prefer to shop in-store but there is something so fun about clothes arriving at your doorstep. Nowadays there are so many fun subscription boxes out there but I’ve always felt cut off from the possibility of a food subscription box due to having Celiac. But then I heard about Send Me Gluten Free and was so excited by the idea that each month a box of carefully curated gluten-free items will arrive on your doorstep. I’m that person who loves finding out about new products at the grocery store, so having them arrive at my door is even better! What’s great about Send Me Gluten Free is that they are a totally reputable service as they are the same people behind the Gluten & Allergy Free Expos (which I’ve previously attended and you can read about here) and the Find Me Gluten Free App which I use on a weekly basis! This company really gets what it’s like to be gluten free and you can be assured that they are going to send you great certified items.

With this service, each month you are sent 8-12 new full size and sample size gluten free products that range from food to personal care to supplements! Like other subscription boxes, you can pick how often you want to receive this box be it monthly, 3x a year, 6x a year or yearly and the cost varies from $20-$30 a month depending on the subscription you pick.

Send me GF

I was really impressed with the quality of this box and the fun products that I’ve never had before! I’d seen Nogii bars before, but never this miniture Paleo one! The flavor was Nuts About Berries and it had a great consistency, reminiscent of a Larabar and only clean ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, fruit juice and honey. I will definitely be on the lookout for these in the future! I also loved the Chocolate Apple Chips. I eat apple chips all the time but have never seen the chocolate flavor and they were delicious plus the ingredients list was only apples and cocoa powder which was definitely appealing. Although I couldn’t eat the Lentil Chips because I don’t eat beans, I’m told that they were crunchy and salty and impossible to put down! There were also some great supplements that came in my box that I can’t wait to try out.

photo (49)

The one negative for me was that because I have multiple food allergies in addition to being Celiac, I wasn’t able to eat everything in the box. However, my family stepped in and loved everything they tried as well! I think this subscription service would also be the perfect gift for friends and family and would be ideal for anyone who is recently diagnosed with Celiac or gluten-sensitivity and isn’t sure how to navigate the gluten-free world.

If you are interested in trying the service, you can receive 20% off any subscription-length with the code BLOG20!

Disclaimer: I received this complimentary box from Send Me Gluten Free but was not compensated for this post and all views and opinions are my own.  

Paleo Quadruple Crunch Salad

Before I started cooking, I was known for my salad making abilities. People in the office used to see me assembling mountain high salads at lunch and always remarked how good they looked. Back then, my secret was in the toppings. I eat salads on a near daily basis and have a few favorites that I rotate, but this one is so good that I just had to share. This salad is also perfect for Fall as it features Granny Smith Apples which are perfectly crisp and deliciously tart these days. I also really recommend making the dressing that goes with it! I used to use bottled dressings but after finding out I had Celiac, I realized I didn’t like the taste of any gluten-free bottled dressings. Plus, once I saw the ingredient lists for those dressings, I decided to leave them behind and start making my own. I have a few favorites that I’ll be sure to share in upcoming posts, but this dressing works perfectly with this salad as it’s garlic-y, sweet and savory all at the same time. This is also a great one to impress guests with as it comes together quickly but tastes so delicious it will seem like restaurant-quality and will fit any audience as it’s naturally, gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo!

Paleo Quadruple Crunch Salad

Serves 4 Large, entrée size salads

Paleo Quad Crunch Salad GGGF

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch Lacinato Kale
  • 1 Bag Shredded Red Cabbage (or approx. 1 cup)
  • 2 Large Granny Smith Apples
  • 1/3 C. Roasted Unsalted Almonds

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 C. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 1/4 t. Honey
  • 1 1/4 t. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Meyer Lemon, juiced (or approx. 3 T)

Directions

1. After washing and drying the kale, remove kale leaves from the stem. If you haven’t done this before, hold the kale leaf by the stem with one hand, and using your other hand pull the leaves from the stem in an upward direction. It sounds more complicated than it is but I promise it’s really quite easy.

2. Cut your kale leaves into thin slices. I like to do this by layering a few leaves on top of each other, bunching them up a little and cutting them in small strips with a sharp chopping knife.

3. Next, cut your apples into matchsticks. This shape works perfectly with the salad and ensures the apples still keep their crunch factor.

4. Roughly chop almonds and combine all ingredients into a bowl.

5. Now it’s time for the dressing! First, juice a Meyer lemon in a bowl, so you have approximately 3 Tablespoons worth of juice.

6. Mince 2 garlic cloves and add to the lemon juice.

7. Next, combine honey and Dijon mustard with dressing.

8. Slowly add in olive oil, whisking the mixture together with a fork or whisk. At this point, I like to taste the dressing and make sure it’s got that perfect ratio of sweet and savory and make any adjustments as needed.

9. Pour dressing over salad and massage the dressing into the mixture with clean hands. This is a crucial part so don’t skip this step! By massaging the dressing into the kale, the cellulose structure breaks down and wilts the kale slightly so it is much softer (but still crunchy) and takes away the bitter taste.

10. Plate your salad and enjoy!

Real Talk: Beauty Pageants

At this time in history, women are doing amazing things. At the college level, women continue to outnumber men, at 56% of enrollment. In the business world, women hold 5% of the Fortune 500 CEO positions which is a number that continues to grow. And in Congress, women hold 99 or 18.5% of the seats with 79 women in the House of Representatives and 20 women in the Senate.

And yet, just last week a televised program aired that judges women based almost solely on their looks.

I’ll admit that I used to watch the Miss America and Miss USA pageants because I liked seeing the dresses and watching the interview questions. But how is it, that in this day and age where women are making leaps and bounds in society, we still have this type of National competition? For the ladies competing, 20% of their score is based on them parading down the runway in evening wear and another 20% is made up of the swimsuit portion. The time of the evening when women are asked to put on similar versions of the same swimsuit, walk the runway in heels and then stand next to each other while their bodies are judged by a group of men and women. When you break it down like that, the whole idea feels a little crazy and a lot archaic.

If you read my last Real Talk post, you know I discussed the great female-empowerment type of commercials that have been going around and yet, they are the direct opposite of these beauty pageants. Let’s face it, most women critique and criticize their bodies on a daily basis and if you decide to go into pageants, you have the unique “opportunity” of standing in front of a group of judges and letting them do that for you. There is just something so wrong with this! It also doesn’t help that the contestants all look very similar with what the media says is the ideal body type right now. And yet in pageantry, they get away with this by calling it “lifestyle and fitness”. This purports the idea that this specific body type is the only way a woman would look if she cares about her body and yet, there are so many women out there who eat healthy and exercise regularly but don’t look like the ladies walking the runway.

I think that one of the reasons that Miss America has made its way into the 21st century is by saying that they are the largest scholarship organization for women. There is a great video now circulating from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver‘s examination of the scholarship portion of the Miss America pageant that you can watch below. I won’t recap it all but I will point out two things that stood out to me. First, the Miss America pageant claims that it gives out $45 million in scholarships to women annually. This is a huge number and John Oliver’s team investigated it and found that in 2012, at the National level, Miss America only gave $482,000 in scholarships! If you start to include regional scholarships, the most they could come up with was $4 million in scholarships! The video below explains the disparity in the numbers but it’s really quite shocking.

And it gets worse. Although that number is grossly misrepresented, Miss America really is the largest scholarship provider to women. Apparently the other female-only based scholarships don’t even come close! And that just makes me sad. Sad that we live in a world where the “best” way to get a women’s scholarship, is to be judged on your appearance! Women have come such a long way since the Miss America pageant was started in 1921 and yet we still have televised programs where we compare women. It just feels like pageants and the like are setting women back and ignoring our brains and focusing on our bodies. Let’s change that. Let’s show the world the positive influence that women can have on every facet of society and that we have so much more to offer then just a pretty face.

Question:

-What are your thoughts on beauty pageants?

Long Hair Care Tips

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my hair has gotten long- like real long. My hair has always grown fast, but after my hair cut last year, I decided that I wanted to grow it out. Well fast forward to now and my hair falls all the way down my back. I’ve had it long for the summer which has been both fun and incredibly convenient as for me as I think long hair is the easiest to style, but a cut is in my future. I’m going to donate it to Pantene and a whole post about that will be on the blog after the big chop happens. But for those of you who are wanting to help your hair grow long, or just keep it extra healthy at the length it’s at, I’ve put together some essentials for keeping my hair healthy and looking good!

Long hair care GGGF

1. Deep Condition Weekly

I’ve always been a faithful user of a good conditioner, but it wasn’t until recently that I started deep conditioning my hair. This is great for any length of hair as it helps make it stronger and healthier but is especially essential for long hair, color-treated, or damaged hair which tends to get dry. I’ve tried a few on the market and my favorite is the L’Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm. This treatment does it all as it repairs split ends, weakness, roughness, dullness and dehydration. It claims to reverse a year’s worth in damage in one wash, which I think is a slightly lofty claim, but it really does work.

2. Embrace the Tangle Teezer

Since I was a little girl I’ve had hair that was pretty tangled when I got out of the shower, no matter what types of conditioner I used. I remember my mom would spray detangler in my hair and take a long comb to get it under control. So as my hair got longer, I realized that I needed to do something about these tangles! I went to Walgreens and CVS and in the aisles of beauty hair care products, there wasn’t a single detangler on the market! (However, there are now BB Creams for your hair…) I finally checked the baby aisle and found a detangler there, but was convinced that I couldn’t be the only adult dealing with tangles. Enter the Tangle Teezer. Oh my goodness. Essentially it’s a hard brush with firm rubber bristles that somehow slides through your hair when it’s wet, no detangler needed. AKA it’s a game changer! If you have curly hair, this is an absolute must too as it glides through just as easily when hair is dry and somehow doesn’t get caught, meaning no more falling out, breaking hair!

3. Dry hair with a microfiber hair turban

I remember seeing a commercial for the hair turban years ago and my mom and I laughing at it. We thought who would need such a product and the commercial specifically cited that you could “answer the phone” while you had it on as a plus. Well years later, I’m a convert. Basically, long hair takes a while to dry when you aren’t using heat products and leaving it wet down your back is rather uncomfortable. So after I’ve detangled my hair with my Tangle Teezer, I put my hair up in the Turbie Twist. Now, essentially, this is just like a small towel, except it really is great that your hair stays put while you are moving around and yes, maybe even answering the phone. As my hair turns curly, I leave it in there for about 20 minutes to get most of the water out, brush with the Tangle Teezer again, and then put it in a braid to dry the rest of the way.

turban

Make-up free selfie (though I did add a filter- guilty) rocking my turban!

4. Apply a Treatment

After you’ve taken your hair out of your glamorous hair tuban, I like to apply a treatment. From the drugstore, I like Garnier’s Damage Eraser Split End Bandage which strengthens hair and increases your damage resistance. Just use one pump and apply it to the ends of hair, combing through after with your Tangle Teezer. If split ends aren’t an issue (lucky you!) but you still want to give your hair a little love, go for Aveda’s Smooth Infusion which makes your hair smoother and silkier! Both of these products are great and won’t weigh down your hair, while making it softer and stronger.

5. Limit heat products and when you do use them, always use heat protector spray

This one is huge as I’ve always abused my hair when it comes to heat products. Having naturally curly hair, I have been drying it straight and straightening it since 7th grade. While I may like the look, my hair doesn’t like the heat, causing split ends so over the past year, I’ve kept my hair dryer in the drawer. I always thought that my hair would never get that sleek look unless it was blow dried first, but I’ve found that with some special steps, the same look can be achieved. Which means that not only is my hair not getting that 20+ minute blast of heat, but my arm is a lot less sore too! Although I do occasionally wear my hair wavy, I straighten it pretty frequently these days and have found that using a good heat protector spray is essential. I used to stay away from heat protectors as so many of them would make my hair wet (not what you want after spending so much time drying it) or make it crispy which no one wants. But I’ve found the solution to all that- the dry heat protect spray! Oscar Blandi is one of my favorite brands for dry shampoo and their Pronto Dry Heat Protect Spray is amazing and protects hair from up to 450degree heat!

Question:

-What’s your secret to keeping your hair looking good?

 

Gluten-Free Spotlight: Pressed Juicery

One of the things I miss the most from my pre-food allergy days is frozen yogurt. I have loved frozen yogurt since before it was “a thing”, always opting for soft serve as a kid over ice cream. Then frozen yogurt became uber popular and I was in heaven. Living in LA I would alternate between Penguins and Pinkberry and am not even embarrassed to say that fro-yo happened at least once a week. So when I found out that I had celiac and was allergic to dairy, I had to say goodbye to fro-yo (and without even a proper farewell)!

But that all changed this week when I went to Pressed Juicery for the very first time. In addition to their delicious cold-pressed juices that they are known for, they are also offering something new and very exciting… The Pressed Juice Freeze. They offer 6 amazing flavors and all of them contain no gluten, dairy or added sugar. They also are made with the same real ingredients as their juices. I may have sampled almost all of the flavors and here’s the breakdown:

Pressed Fro Yo Machines

Greens: Like their popular green juice, this flavor contains kale, spinach, romaine, cucumber, apple, lemon, dates and coconut meat. If you are skeptical of having a green juice in fro-yo form, I can assure you that it is absolutely refreshing and delicious!

Roots: I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about this flavor because I’m not a fan of beets in my juice, but you don’t even taste them! Instead what really comes through in this flavor is the ginger and it contains carrot, beet, fuji apple, lemon, ginger, dates and coconut meat.

Citrus: This was the only flavor I didn’t sample but as I’m typing this I wish I did because it sounds delicious and contains orange, apple, pineapple, coconut meat and dates.

Fruit: I wish I could adequately describe this flavor, but it’s difficult- it doesn’t taste like one particular type of fruit, rather just “fruity” and like the perfect summertime treat. This one contains only fuji apple, strawberry, coconut meat and dates.

Chocolate: Oh my goodness. I would have this every day if I could and it tastes indulgent and rich with only almonds, dates, sea salt and cacao!

Vanilla: I’m not one to usually choose vanilla (I’ve always been more of a chocolate girl) but this flavor is absolutely perfect. It tastes like a rich, creamy vanilla and contains almonds, dates, sea salt and vanilla and would pair perfectly with any of the other flavors!

*Also, if you aren’t a fan of coconut, I can assure you that you don’t even taste the coconut meat in the freezes, rather I think it just gives them the consistency.

Pressed Juice Freeze

Of course, I couldn’t leave with just a sample, so after much debate, my Mom and I both decided to get two flavors each for the full experience. Her pick was Greens with Chocolate, topped with Cacoa-Nut Freezing Drizzle (which was apparently amazing), shredded coconut and sunflower seeds. I went for Fruit with Vanilla, topped with almond butter, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Both were unbelievably amazing and they went entirely too fast! I really enjoyed the Fruit but I think next time I would go for the Vanilla, Chocolate or the Greens!

One thing that I noticed and happened to love was this sign on the wall, comparing the Chocolate Freeze with similar products from Yogurtland, Pinkberry, Skinny Cow and Baskin Robbins. I was especially surprised with how many fake and unnecessary ingredients the Pinkberry Chocolate yogurt contained, especially because Pinkberry is known for being the “healthy” option and yet it contained carrageenan which is known to cause inflammation in the body and is linked to cancer! Also shocking was the exceptionally long ingredient list from Yogurtland which contains pretty much everything under the sun, not to mention wheat and soy! Seeing these ingredients list for what they truly are, makes me all the happier that there is now an option out there like Pressed Freezes which offer clean, natural ingredients!

Pressed Juicery Comparison

After we enjoyed our freezes, we had to stop back at Pressed to pick up some fresh juices! At Pressed, they cold-press their juices daily, so although they are bottled, none of them have been sitting for more than a few hours. Another great thing is that they let you taste any flavor that you wish! I really appreciated that because sometimes I have purchased fresh juice from the grocery store with a hefty price tag and been disappointed with the flavor. But that didn’t happen at Pressed! We each got a Greens 3 (kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon and ginger)  which was the perfect green juice in my opinion, as well as a Chocolate Almond Milk which is out of this world good and puts store-bought almond milks to shame! I plan on enjoying mine this evening for an after-dinner treat!

Pressed Juice Cases

Gluten-Free Chocolate Macadamia Tortilla Torte

I’ll admit it, I’m a sweets gal, through and through. And sometimes at night there comes a time when you need a treat and your usual square of dark chocolate just isn’t going to cut it. A time when you want to sit on the couch, watch your favorite mindless entertainment and have something that is going to require more than 1 or 2 bites. But maybe you also don’t feel like making a batch of cookies or cupcakes. Enter this dessert- it can be customized using whatever you have on hand and is so delicious that your friends or family will want one too! That’s why this recipe serves 3, but can easily be customized to a single serving. Once heated in coconut oil, the tortillas have a fluffy and chewy texture and the combination of melted chocolate and nut butter is delicious! If you don’t have any chocolate on hand (sad!) you could use jam instead and call it breakfast… or you could make the recipe as written and call it breakfast too, no judgement here!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Macadamia Tortilla Torte

Serves 3

Tortilla Torte Close-Up GGGF

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Gluten-Free Tortillas*
  • 3/4 T. Coconut Oil
  • 3 T. Cashew & Macadamia Nut Butter (Or any nut butter to your liking)
  • 2 T. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1/4 C. + 2 T. Enjoy Life Chocolate chips

*Note: I recommend using Udi’s gluten-free tortillas versus a brown rice tortilla which tend to be drier and won’t become fluffy. If you aren’t gluten-free, you could easily use a flour tortilla!

Directions

  1. Cut 3-inch rounds from tortilla using cookie cutter, or glass, setting scraps aside.
  2. In a skillet, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat and pan fry tortilla rounds until golden brown on each side.
  3. Continue process until all tortilla rounds have been heated and place on paper towels to dry.
  4. In microwave, heat chocolate chips in bowl for 1 minute in 20 second increments or until melted.
  5. On first layer, spread macadamia nut butter on round
  6. Next, spread melted chocolate on tortilla round and sprinkle with shredded coconut.
  7. Stack rounds, alternating chocolate and nut butter tortillas until full stack of 5.
  8. Drizzle remaining chocolate and nut butter over stacks and top with coconut.