Lesson Learned

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. Mine unfortunately turned out a little different than expected as instead of celebrating my brother’s birthday, I was in the ER. You see, this past weekend I learned a very important lesson: if a food item doesn’t specifically say it is gluten-free, then don’t eat it. Remember how I was testing to see if I had an issue with gluten? Well I got my answer the hard way on Friday.

It all started Thursday night when I reached for a late-night snack. I never eat cereal (I find the one bowl is never enough so I gave it up years ago) but occasionally enjoy eating Crispix or Chex as a snack. Well when I saw Crispix sitting in the pantry, I wondered if it was gluten-free. I looked at the box and in my sleepy daze didn’t check for the GF label, but rather reasoned that because Chex is gluten-free, and because this is made of rice and corn, it must be too. Right? Wrong. Crispix actually contains malt flavoring which is NOT gluten-free.

The next morning I woke up feeling sick but went to work anyway. I knew my stomach felt “off” but I figured that it would go away by the time I got to the office. Unfortunately, that was not the case and I spent the majority of the morning on the floor of my office bathroom, (i.e. public- gross) repeatedly throwing up. As if that weren’t bad enough, I was in killer abdominal pain. My brother had to come pick me up on his lunch hour and my coworkers had to carry me out because I was so weak. I wish I could say that’s where the story ended. Instead, I proceeded to spend the next 8 hours throwing up uncontrollably. It was not a pretty picture and I was becoming severely dehydrated as I was unable to keep anything down- not even a teaspoon of Sprite! At this point, my family was getting worried about me as I was in screaming pain and had to go to the ER.

Luckily, after being pumped with fluids and medicines, the pain decreased and I began to feel a little better. One thing I didn’t realize was that a side effect of the gluten consumption was extreme fatigue (not to mention all I had gone through!) so I basically spent the rest of the weekend sleeping! Thankfully, now that the gluten is out of my system I am feeling much better. Given what happened and my history, it looks as though I have Celiac and I have a lot of emotions about this new diagnosis. On one hand, I feel encouraged and am hopeful that this will be the answer to all of my abdominal issues. But then there are times when I feel a little sorry for myself, that from now on, I’ll have to be conscious of every little thing I eat or drink. That I’ll probably never be able to have bread at restaurants or my Grandma’s Christmas cookies again. And let’s face it… that sucks. But it’s my new reality and I’m trying to have a positive attitude about it. I’m so lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who has been dedicated to finding me great, gluten-free products and is there for me with the range of emotions that follows a diagnosis like this. So from here on out, what changes can you expect to see on the blog? Well, a whole lot of gluten-free recipes and some of my favorite product finds and less french toast and carby brunches at restaurants. (I’ll save those for home!) Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Questions:

-Have you had to make any dietary changes for your health?

-Any other items that seem like they would be gluten-free but really aren’t?

-Positive stories about going gluten-free?

Southwestern Quinoa Filled Zucchini

Hi lovelies! Happy Friday! Do you guys have any fun weekend plans? I’m finally feeling better so I have some fun plans in the city on Saturday with the girls and am going to try to keep it a little low-key today and Sunday just to ensure I’m fully healed. Not only does my body feel better but I did a huge room clean on Wednesday and am feeling much better about things!

And remember how much I wanted to get vegetables back in my diet? Well I’ve done just that and after having a salad for lunch I decided to up my game a little last night. In the past I’ve mentioned that I’m not really a cook, but I’m trying to change that in 2012 and tonight was another step in that direction. After my successful quinoa dinner last week, I decided to use my favorite grain again in tonight’s dinner!

Southwest Quinoa Filled Zucchini

Inspired by Daily Garnish Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 5 Small-Medium Zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup Tricolor Quinoa
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes (Fresh could also be used)
  • 1 Small White Onion
  • Lite Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

1. Hollow out zucchini with a melon scooper (a spoon will also work) and save all the insides of the zucchini in a bowl.

2. Combine 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water (or broth) and boil. Once it starts to boil, cover and let simmer. The tricolor actually got done quicker than most and only took about 10-15 minutes for the water to reduce and the quinoa to fluff up.

3. While waiting for your quinoa, chop onion and saute. Once onion is soft, add the inside of the zucchini. You could chop up the zucchini scoops beforehand, but I just did it as they cooked with the end of my spatula in the pan.

4. Next, combine the zucchini and onion with the quinoa and add in the black beans and tomatoes. I drained the black beans prior to using but I combined some of the tomato juice with the mixture. Combine well and salt and pepper to taste. This would also be a great time to add corn or chilies!

5. Scoop heaping servings of your mixture into your hollowed out zucchinis. The only hard part about this step was stopping myself from just standing at the stove eating the mixture straight out of the pot… it’s that good.

6. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with a foil tent. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes and remove foil and bake for 10 additional minutes.

These are veggie and protein packed and so delicious! They would be great topped with avocado, salsa, Greek yogurt… the possibilities are endless! I kept mine basic because I’m kind of wimp when it comes to spicy stuff but for those who love the heat you could definitely add some spices to the mix. I packed some for lunch today and can’t wait to have them! (Oh and this does yield extra filling… I’m already imaging it on top of salads, in whole wheat tortillas, straight out of the container…)

Have a great weekend!

Questions:

-Do you like quinoa? What’s your favorite way to use it?

-Are you into spicy foods?

 

Quite the Contrast

Hi lovelies! Happy, happy Friday! I hope that you all have some great weekend plans in store. Are any of you watching the Superbowl on Sunday? Or better yet, making anything delicious for super bowl parties?

Last night as I started baking for a Girl’s night that I’m attending tonight, I got to thinking about the stark contrast between my two forays into cooking this week. I’ll let the photos (mostly) speak for themselves but tell you this– it’s all part of the healthy living balance and both were equally enjoyed!

I saw this recipe for Butternut Squash Quinoa on Pinterest and knew it would be the perfect one-dish meal. Healthy grains + veggies + cheese? Yes, please! This is gluten-free and could be dairy-free or vegan and was well received by all who tried it! I will definitely be making this again as it tasted decadent but was healthy!

And on the only decadent side, we come to what I took out of the oven at midnight last night… “Slutty Brownies” which were obviously another Pinterest find! I’ll post finished pictures on Monday but here’s a little preview…

Layer 1:

Layer 2:

Layer 3:

I hope everyone likes them! I’ll be sure to report back! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Questions:

-What’s your favorite healthy thing to make?

-What’s your favorite decadent recipe to make?

-Any Superbowl Sunday plans?

Can’t Catch Me, I’m the Gingerbread (Wo)man

Hi lovelies! Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s already 2012? I hope that you all enjoyed some time off and a great time celebrating! I had a wonderful New Years Eve (recap to come) but unfortunately now I’m sick. After a trip to urgent care today and downing orange juice and water, I’m hoping to kick this bug soon, since I’m traveling to New York on Thursday! I’m so excited but need to feeling in tip-top shape asap!

But let’s flashback to Christmas one last time! As I mentioned, making a Gingerbread house with my Daddy Jeff is one of my favorite Christmas traditions! This years creation looked like this…

My favorite part this year is the train!

I feel like pumpkin is to Thanksgiving as gingerbread is to Christmas! So when it was my job to make breakfast on Christmas morning, I knew that I wanted to make something with gingerbread. But I had a unique challenge in front of me… find something gluten-free and dairy-free that everyone would enjoy! So when I discovered a recipe for Gluten-Free French Toast, I knew it was perfect!

This is my just woke-up, no make-up, still in my robe look.

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Gingerbread French Toast

Ingredients:

-1 Loaf Rudi’s Gluten-Free Multigrain bread (Any bread should work, but I’d go with a denser variety that won’t fall apart)

-8 Eggs

-1 Cup Almond Milk (Or your favorite milk/non-dairy milk)

-5 Tsp Cinnamon

-4 Tsp Allspice

-4 Tsp Powdered Ginger

Directions

1. Combine eggs, milk and spices together in a large bowl. Whisk well until blended.

2. Spray skillet with Pam/coconut oil/etc.

3. Coat bread in mixture and put into a very hot pan.

4. Heat bread on both sides until browned.

5. Garnish as desired– I did fresh strawberries, powdered sugar and hot maple syrup!

As you can see, my cup doesn’t actually match the Christmas china, but that Nutcracker mug is my favorite thing to use over the Holidays. My best friend gave it to me when we were in the Nutcracker together as kids!

Oh, and the French toast was a hit!! The only problem was that I didn’t make more! It’s a recipe that I will definitely be making again and one that everyone loved! I didn’t reveal that it was gluten and dairy-free until the end and no one suspected a thing!

Questions:

-What’s your favorite holiday flavor?

-What was the favorite thing you made over the holidays?

Healthy/Unhealthy

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend and that your week is off to a great start! Unfortunately I was kind of down for the count this weekend with a bad migraine but am on the mend now. Though I was out of the blogging world this weekend, I saw something blog-worthy when I was at the pharmacy and it got me thinking about the healthy and unhealthy environmental influences around us! These are some I found:

Unhealthy:

Sorry for the poor quality iphone photo... I was trying to be sneaky!

This is the pharmacy counter at my local CVS and as you can see it is where they keep the health and fitness magazines. It also happens to be where they put a stash of candy. Since everything in these stores is laid out with a great deal of thought, they must have figured out that people are more inclined to buy candy when they are purchasing their prescription. But it seems so wrong that people would be tempted with this when they are trying to do things that are good for their health!

Healthy: Nutrition Fact Posting

In the past I used to be a little obsessed with reading nutritional facts and could name the calorie content of almost any food. Unfortunately, during this time I let food be defined by the numbers on the label and took that as the only information I needed to know. But now, I look at food in a whole different way, I find that nutrition facts can be helpful, not harmful. Since chain restaurants have been required to post nutritional information in California, I find that it’s really helpful to use the menu as a guideline. If I really want something that’s a little higher, I’ll order it. But there are always some surprises hidden in the menu that I appreciate knowing about so I can steer clear.

Unhealthy: McDonald’s Living Social Deal

I love discount sites like LivingSocial and usually find great deals for some really fun activities. But I was horrified when I saw the recent deal for McDonalds– for only $13, you could buy 5 Big Macs and 5 Large Fries. In a nation that is already fighting an obesity epidemic, Living Social is suggesting that $13 buys 5,200 calories. Here’s the truth and the sad part- nutritious, healthy food does cost more money, but it’s a choice that’s well worth it when we consider the costs of taking care of the one body we are given.

Healthy: Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program

In an age where physical education has been cut from almost every school, kids today just aren’t getting enough (if any!) exercise. But First Lady, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative is dedicated to solving childhood obesity within a generation! The program gives parents helpful information and fosters environments that support healthy choices as well as providing healthier foods and schools, ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food and upping children’s activity level. These are the kind of positive changes that we can be proud of!

Questions:

-Where do you see healthy/unhealthy things in your environment?

-Does your city/state post nutrition facts on the menus in chain restaurants?

The Power of Positive Thinking

Hi lovelies! Happy Wednesday! I hope that you are all having a great week so far. This week has been super busy and I got to thinking about the stress that we all have going on in our lives. Though we may not share it all on the blog, I am a firm believer that you never really know what someone is going through so you should try to never judge them and always be as supportive as possible.

The thing about stress is that we tend to think of it as purely an emotion or a feeling. But the truth is, stress finds ways to manifest itself in our bodies and can take a toll on our physical and emotional well being. So what can we do? Although we may not be able to eradicate all the things that are stressing us out, we can change the way we think about them.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits.” They know that one reason this works is that by having a positive outlook, you are better able to cope when faced with stressful situations. But even if you are a naturally optimistic person, you might be failing at self-talk: the inner dialogue for what you are experiencing. Though you might be your friend’s biggest cheerleader, when you find yourself worried or stressed, you might grow frustrated or mad at yourself, which consequently only leads to more stress. By giving yourself a break from chastising yourself and acting like a friend would, you are incorporating positive thinking into your life.

The two women that always cheer me up!

The thing is, we never know what’s going to happen or as I believe, what God has in store for our lives. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that we need to ignore the reality of the situations but just to insert some hope into our current thought process. When you’re really feeling stress this can be hard to do and I have had plenty of moments spent crying to my mom saying that I was never going to get ______ done or ______was never going to work out. And guess what? That’s ok too. When you are in those situations, that’s when you can rely on a friend or family member’s positive thinking and soon, you’ll be feeling your spirits are a little brighter too.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  ~Winston Churchill

Questions:

-Do you practice positive thinking?

-What do you do to cope with stress?

A Healthy Balance

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a great day back at work or school! Coming back from a day off is always a struggle but at least we are all rewarded with only 3 more days this week!

Last night I came home from work with a terrible headache. I’m migraine prone, so whenever I have a bad headache, I have to be very careful to prevent it from turning into a migraine. So instead of going to Dance Works as I was planning, I listened to my body and stayed home.

I treated myself to a hot meal…

Did you know you could make this in the microwave? I've been making it on the stove for a year and just discovered this!

some bad reality tv…

I think Graham and Michelle are going to win!

and my last square of this…

Happily, chocolate does not cause me headaches :)

It was exactly what I needed and when I went to bed last night, my head hurt but it was no longer pounding with the same intensity as it had before. I think that one of the great things about living a healthy lifestyle is that there aren’t any hard and fast rules. When I used to diet in the past, I would always find myself giving up because I couldn’t stick to certain plans. But now that it is a lifestyle choice, my attitude is so different as I genuinely enjoy making healthy choices every day. But there are also nights like last night, where you need to forgo your workout plans and curl up on the couch instead!

Questions: 

-When you aren’t feeling well or need a rest day what are your favorite things to do?

-Bachelor Pad fans: Who do you think is going to win?