Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Stressful Gluten-Free Day

My Stressful Gluten-Free Day As Told Through Pictures:



Pineapple Cooler and gluten-free waffles
for breakfast-the waffles were based on my coconut
waffle recipe, but I used millet flour instead of rice,
skim milk for the coconut milk, and added in a pureed

sweet potato, my leftover pineapple sauce, and some
chopped sunflower seeds
.





A post-yoga snack of two slices of ham rolled in lettuce.



I recognize that this isn't food. It is, however, the cause of my stress.
Studying for a chemistry exam. You'll notice my laptop is closed in the
background. If I leave it open, I end up reading blogs and getting
zero studying done.



Lunch was a hard-boiled egg and my pinto bean
enchiladas. I made these by sauteing carrots, bok choy,

pinto beans, and canned diced tomatoes. Then I spread
tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish and
layered rice tortillas and the beans/veggie mix, topping
it with a rice tortilla, tomato sauce, and a light sprinkling
of cheddar cheese. Then I baked it for 30 minutes at 400

degrees.



I make sure I'm taking my vitamins every day now
that I'm eating gluten-free. I take a multivitamin
and a B-Complex from Nature Made.



Dinner was brown rice and pureed
butternut squash, mixed with
sauteed
green beans and a turkey hot dog. Plus a couple of dried
cranberries for extra flavor. It's an easy meal to take to school and
eat between classes because it tastes good cold.




My much needed post-exam treat. A mashed banana with a
sprinkling of coconut and raw almonds.


My Stressful Gluten-Free Day As Told in Words:

Today was just one of those days. Not one of those, everything's going wrong days, but more like one of those, I feel anxious and yucky and would prefer to stay in bed with the covers over my head days. Know what I mean? We all have them. These are the kind of days that used to send me to the fridge, searching for food to binge on. I'm more aware of this now though, and I know that the fluttery feeling in my stomach isn't true hunger. It's just anxiety, and no amount of food is going to make it go away. I think it's that knowledge of the consequences of bingeing that stops me now. Right now I feel stressed out, but good about myself. If I binge, I'll still feel stressed out, and on top of that I'll feel tired, uncomfortably full, and mad at myself. Not really worth the (very) temporary stress relief, is it?

A few years ago, a therapist asked me what I felt when I was bingeing. I thought about it, and answered, "nothing." "Hmm..." she replied. "That's very interesting." I think that was the first time I realized that bingeing was simply my way of getting a reprieve from my thoughts and feelings. If only for five minutes, I could be so busy eating, I wasn't thinking about anything else. Now, I've learned other ways of coping. My anti-bingeing list is still on my fridge, right there for me to see any time I want to reach for food when I'm not really hungry. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of deep breaths to remind myself that I'm not hungry and to change my way of thinking. I want waffles with gobs of butter becomes I'm going to brush my teeth and go lie down with a good book.

Tonight I came home after an exhausting day knowing that I still had a couple of hours of bill paying and blog writing (at least that part's fun) before I could go to sleep. My chemistry exam had started an hour and a half late (apparently my professor was having a bad day too), and I came home relatively convinced I hadn't done very well. But instead of reaching for those waffles and butter, I made myself a nice treat of a mashed banana with a sprinkling of raw almonds and coconut. Then I brushed my teeth before I could think about it.

Now I'm going to bed, still cranky and wishing I didn't have to get up for work tomorrow. Still convinced I did badly on my chem exam. But at least I didn't binge. At least I still feel good about myself...and I guess in the long run, that will do a lot more for me than an A on an exam.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gluten-Free On A Budget

When I first moved to New York, I was in grad school and living off of loans. I've always been pretty cautious with my money, and I tried to live frugally (or as frugally as one can in this city). When school ended and I started working as a weight-loss consultant, I had the pleasure for once of making money and actually being able to save some. But I still watched my pennies. When I moved in with my boyfriend, I insisted we keep track of everything we spent. He didn't really mind except for my monthly freak-out when we added everything up. Eventually I realized that was causing us both needless stress, so we stopped saving all of our receipts and just bought what we needed without worrying about it. And that worked fine.

Until I decided to go back to school...again.

I have a master's degree in Psychology, but I had been aware for a while that if I wanted to have a future in nutritional counseling, I would have to go back to school. So this fall I bit the bullet and starting taking pre-requisites so I could apply for nutrition programs. Without a background in science, I have a lot of classes to make up and it will be a long road, but I know it will be worth it in the end. In the meantime, I cut some hours at work and am taking Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology. Yikes! Do those sound scary to anyone else or is it just me? The last time I was in a Chemistry class, I think I was 14!

With all these changes, I've had to reevaluate my finances. I don't splurge on clothes or cute bags, and I only get my hair cut about twice a year. I don't go to expensive restaurants (although I do go out to eat at least once a week, so I might have to work on that). What do I do? I splurge on groceries! I am a gluten-free food blogger, after all! Well, realizing this, my first panicked thought was that I would go hungry if I had to cut my grocery bill down. Being a former binge eater, I have an irrational fear of hunger that I know isn't rooted in reality. But then I calmed down and started thinking of this in the same way as when I realized I couldn't eat gluten: as a challenge.

I stumbled upon the perfect blog to help me with my challenge. The Grocery Cart Challenge is a blog about how one woman lives on $60 per week to feed her whole family of 6! Can you believe that? That's $10 per person! My bag of spinach alone costs $6.99! Now, I have two things working against me here: 1) I live in New York City, where everything is more expensive, and 2) I eat gluten-free. So I knew there was no way I was going to make it on $10 per week. But I looked at my bills to see, on average, how much I had been spending on food in the last couple of months. The number actually shocked me. In my blissful ignorance, I had been spending about $80 per week! And that was just for me! My boyfriend mostly does his own grocery shopping. What was I thinking!?

With that number in mind, I decided to limit myself to the amount I had tried to spend each week when I first moved to the city: $25. The best tip I took from The Grocery Cart Challenge was to look in my pantry first and figure out what I could use and then just buy what I needed to complement what I already had. Then I made a grocery list of exactly what (and how much) I needed. I knew I would have to make some compromises (no more Larabars for a while), but there were two things I wasn't willing to compromise on: having healthy meals and buying as much organic as possible.

So how did it turn out? I spent $24.27, and with the week almost over, I have enough to last me until my next grocery trip. My only problem was that I wasn't particularly creative this week, and I ended up having to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner every day. Thank goodness for the coconut waffles I had made! At least I had one exciting thing to look forward to every day! This week, I have to find a way to keep my grocery bill under my $25 limit, yet still have creative meals to eat. I'm thinking about making a bunch of enchiladas I can freeze, each with a different filling. I'll let you know how that goes. For now, I'm just happy I "saved" about $55 dollars this week.



The Grocery List Rundown:

Can of Pineapples 1.59
160z. organic spinach 6.99
bag of organic sweet potatoes 3.99
applesauce 1.99
3 organic apples 2.07
frozen pineapple tidbits 1.59
3 oranges 1.17
half dozen organic eggs 2.19
2 6-oz containers nonfat yogurt 1.58
2 green peppers 1.11

Total: 24.27

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-free Coconut Waffles (Is That A Mouthful Or What!?)



One of the things I've missed the most since I started eating gluten-free are my homemade waffles. I used to make big batches of whole wheat waffles and freeze them for a quick breakfast in the morning. At first, I replaced them with Trader Joe's wheat-free waffles, but they just weren't the same. I love making my own waffles, and playing around with different variations. So tonight I got out the old waffle iron (and I do mean old - my mom used to make us waffles with it when we were kids) and gave it a good cleaning. And then I set out to work.



I had breakfast for dinner tonight. It was a rare splurge, but needless to say, one I thoroughly enjoyed. This was my first attempt at gluten-free waffles, so I googled a lot of recipes before deciding on this one to use as a base. Ever since I made my Ginger Coconut Vegetable Soup, I've been playing around a lot with coconut milk. So I decided to go with a tropical theme and make coconut waffles with a pineapple sauce topping. The waffles turned out amazingly light and crispy. I actually liked them better than my whole wheat waffles! And the pineapple sauce was a nice topping since I didn't want to add butter and maple syrup to my sugar-free and dairy-free waffles. I think banana ice cream would also be a delicious and healthy way to top these waffles. Maybe I'll do that next time. Although in all honesty, they were so good I think they would be fine eaten plain.



Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-free Coconut Waffles
Print-Friendly Option

Ingredients:
1 cup brown or white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 egg
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tsp agave nectar

Directions:
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and whisk until no longer lumpy.
  2. Spoon evenly onto waffle iron and cook, in batches, according to the iron's instructions.
Serves 8 (2 squares each)

Pineapple Sauce
(This is basically a fat-free, sugar-free version of this recipe)

Ingredients:
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. applesauce
1/8 tsp. salt

Directions:
  1. In a saucepan, combine the juice from the pineapple can (minus 1/4 cup which was used in the waffle recipe), agave nectar, cornstarch, applesauce, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring gently.
  2. Turn the heat down and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the pineapple and continue to simmer another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Spoon on top of your waffles.

This is my submission for Simply Sugar & Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Mondays...head over to check out some other slightly indulgent recipes. I'm also linking up to A Gluten-Free Holiday: Breakfast and Brunch at Ginger Lemon Girl.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pineapple Cooler



Sometimes the best things in life really are the simplest. In this case, I'm talking about my latest green smoothie, the Pineapple Cooler. It's so easy it doesn't need a recipe. You just blend 2 cups of spinach, 1/2 cup of pineapple (frozen or fresh), and 1/2 of a banana with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. The result is a creamy, frothy tropical drink that doesn't pack on the pounds. And pineapple is a natural laxative, so this is the perfect drink for those of you who deal with chronic constipation. I know I know...we don't like to talk about these things in public...but let's be honest, being healthy starts from the inside out, and this drink will help keep you feeling cleansed. It's a great way to start - or end - your day!

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Top 10 Favorite: Fat Free (Flavored) Yogurt Brands

I have a thing for fat free yogurt. And it's not just a passing fling; it's true love. It all started when I moved to New York and began craving yogurt with peanuts. It was (and still is) a winning combination. It came out of nowhere, but four years later and twenty pounds lighter, yogurt and I still meet for a rendezvous every day. Sometimes twice a day.

Although I try to stick to plain yogurt and avoid all that extra sugar, sometimes a little flavored yogurt love is all I need to curb those nighttime cravings. And after years of taste testing, I present to you my favorite yogurt brands. Although I'm a romantic and believe that love is something you can't explain, I'm also a pragmatist, so my choices are based on: taste, nutrition information, whether it's organic, and of course that all-important factor, price. The results speak for themselves.


10. Brown Cow Yogurt. I kind of like this yogurt just for the name and the pretty cow. According to the website her name is Lily, which incidentally is my childhood best friend's name. Not that that means anything.

Brown Cow Yogurt is slightly higher in sugar and carbs than some of the other yogurts on this list. But the flavors are delicious, and it doesn't have any icky sugar substitutes like aspartame (which would automatically have kicked it off this list).




9. This is Trader Joe's first appearance on the list, but it won't be the last. What can I say? It's cheap, natural, and has that little g right on the container to tell me it's gluten-free. What more could I want?









8. Stoneyfield Farm was my go-to yogurt before Trader Joe's opened up. I'll always have a special place in my heart for this brand. It's organic, it tastes wonderful, and the new Smooth and Creamy yogurts are exactly that. Smooth and creamy. I wish I could be more poetic, but that really says it all.







7. Wallaby surprised me. Perhaps because of the bright containers, I expected it to taste too sugary. But it was good, and as far as organic goes, it was comparatively cheaper than most.









6. Stoneyfield Farm gets to be on this list twice. Why? Because their Fruit on the Bottom yogurt is different from the Smooth and Creamy variety. Actually, I like to think of Fruit on the Bottom as the original yogurt. I got scared the first time I went to the store and found the new Smooth and Creamy yogurt. I thought they had discontinued the original flavors. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I found Fruit on the Bottom. As much as I enjoy Smooth and Creamy, I lived on the original yogurt for years. It has less sugar and tastes slightly more natural to me. Note to Stoneyfield Farm: Please don't discontinue the Fruit on the Bottom yogurts!



5. My first taste of Greek yogurt was a revelation. A fat free yogurt that doesn't get that watery layer and tastes like it's full of fat? Could it possibly be true? It was true, and Chobani = love. My only criticism is that Greek yogurt tends to have a very slight chalkiness to it. Has anyone else noticed that?







4. Like Chobani, but organic. I don't know what else to tell you. It's yummy. I eat it a lot.











3. Again, basically the same taste as Chobani, but slightly cheaper and with less sugar.











2. Although Cascade Fresh came in at #2, I think of this as the real winner here. A Cinderella story if you will. I had never heard of Cascade Fresh until about a week ago when I decided I needed to try every yogurt brand I could find. I figured Stoneyfield Farm would be at the top, but Cascade Fresh beat out (almost) every yogurt on my list. Cascade Fresh tastes pretty much the same as the other yogurts on this list (which means amazing), but is lower in calories and sugar than many of the others. It's also the cheapest yogurt on this list. And if I were giving out bonus points, I would have given it some for stating clearly on their label that it is gluten free. I love any product that doesn't require research before I can buy it. If you haven't tried it yet, go for the Orange Cream...



1. And the winner is...Siggi's! I have to be honest with you here, I had trouble giving first place to a yogurt that sells for over $2. But it beat out the other yogurts in every category. Low in sugar, high in protein, and sweetened with agave nectar, it's really a yogurt snob's dream. And I am a yogurt snob. It's also the best tasting yogurt I've ever tried. For taste, there's no comparison. It may be expensive, which means I can't eat it every day, but for a special healthy treat, there's nothing like Siggi's. A word to the wise though, although my picture features the grapefruit flavor, it's actually the one flavor I don't recommend. Grapefruit and yogurt just don't go together. On the other hand, pomegranate and Passionfruit mix perfectly with yogurt.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ginger Coconut Vegetable Soup



My little sister is not so little anymore. She's graduated from college, living in California with her boyfriend, going to graduate school...and cooking up a storm. I've always loved cooking for her, but now it sounds like she's become quite the chef herself. Last night she told me about a curried chicken soup she was making, and I immediately wanted to hop on a plane and go join her for dinner. Since that obviously wasn't possible, I did the next best thing and used her idea as inspiration for my own soup. What I came up with was a Ginger Coconut Vegetable Soup. It's not as hearty as hers, but rather a light appetizer soup.

Ginger Coconut Vegetable Soup
Print-Friendly Option

Ingredients:
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (make sure it's gluten free)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped red peppers
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. red chile pepper flakes (this makes it spicy, so use less if you don't want that)
2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce (wheat free)
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 lemon wedges

Directions:
  1. Spray a large soup pan with cooking spray and heat on medium heat. Add the carrots and celery and saute about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the red peppers and mushrooms and saute another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the ginger and spices and stir completely.
  4. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, and coconut milk, stirring the whole time.
  5. Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pour into 4 individual bowls and squeeze a wedge of lemon into each bowl directly before serving.
Serves 4


Ginger Coconut Vegetable Soup

Dietary Exchange Per Serving
1/2 fat, 1 vegetable

Thanks, Grace, for the inspiration!


Grace's Inspiring Curried Chicken Soup

And if you have time, head over to Linda's blog carnival, What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free for more great ideas! The theme this week is appetizers, so I guess my soup kind of counts...

Head to Flipping Fast Fridays for 30-minute meals!

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