Attitude of Gratitude

As we close out 2014 and enter a new year, everyone’s minds jump to New Year’s resolutions. There are things that we all want or wish for 2015 to bring and parts of 2014 that we may be ready to leave behind. But what about the best moments of 2014? That ordinary day that you spent the evening laughing with friends. Or the day that you had a great phone date with a loved one. Or the day that the killer migraine you’d been fighting finally went away. In our assessment of the year, these aren’t times that we reflect on. Instead we focus on the bigger moments. The day that you graduated or got a promotion at work or the day he first said I love you. But when we breeze through the year and only look at these moments, we miss the small, wonderful ones in between.

For about a year now, at the end of every day, I spend a minute or two and write down five things that I am grateful for that day. Some days, it’s easy to think of the five and some days, it’s a little bit harder. And then there are the days that can only be classified as “bad” and it feels difficult at all to see the good. But no matter what, I find things to write about. Because in the end, you have something to be grateful for, regardless of what is going on in your life. You have a warm place to sleep or you have food in your pantry or you have clean water to drink. And on the really bad days, those are still really great blessings.

I’ve found that by writing these things down at the end of the day, I’ve learned to approach the day with an attitude of gratitude. Focusing on the good things not only makes you a more positive person, but it brings a lightness to you and takes the stress away a bit, even if it’s just for a moment. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that grateful people are happier, get sick less often, sleep better and have more energy. And aren’t those all things that you’d like to have in 2015? So I encourage you this coming year, to take the minute or two before you go to sleep and write down your list. Not only will it be fun to look back on in the future, but it could very well change your attitude, and in turn, your life.

Question:

-Have you ever done a gratitude journal?

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

Nautical & Navy GGGF2

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?