Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can You Have Your Cake And Still Keep The Weight Off?


Tully's Vanilla Mini-Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing


And by cake, I suppose I mean cupcake. I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been eating a lot of sweets lately. I took a break from work last week to check out Tully's cookie and brownie samples. This week, I made a Raw Pumpkin Cheese Pie and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Cream. And to top it all off, Tully sent me a dozen of her delicious mini-cupcakes. So while I've loved every minute of my week of desserts, I think the question has to be asked: Can you maintain your weight (or even lose weight) while continuing to enjoy the desserts you love?

What a tricky question. And one that has a different answer depending on who's answering it. At work we give our clients an eating plan that allows for one 150 calorie treat per day. Those who follow the plan do great and are still able to lose weight while enjoying their desserts. And studies have shown that when people enjoy a small treat daily, they're less likely to feel deprived and go overboard when they're around sweets. So for some people, the answer is that yes, they can have their cupcake - every day if they want - and still maintain their weight. As long as it's a mini-cupcake.

However, that's based on the average person. As we know, food affects everyone differently. Some of my clients tell me that having that one treat satisfies them and takes away their cravings. Others tell me that they can't handle having those treats in the house because they can't eat just one. I understand that completely. With my history of bingeing, one thing I've learned is that I don't respond to certain foods the way many others do. If I try to have a small piece of something every day (to take away its power as a special item), what happens is this: the first day I eat one piece, the second day I go back for seconds, the third day I have three....you see where this is going, right? So if you're like me and you can't just eat a small piece and put the rest away, what do you do? Never eat dessert again!?

I suppose that's an option, but it's not a very fun one, and my guess is that it would lead to some major binges in the long run. Some people find that cutting sugar out of their diet is the answer. But don't worry, this doesn't mean cutting out dessert! Sugar alternatives like agave nectar can be substituted. Amy, at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free found that when she cut out sugar and flour from her diet, it calmed her cravings and helped her to stop overeating. She still enjoys plenty of treats, like her Chocolate Cannoli Cupcakes, but they're all sugar-free.

Don't want to give up sugar? You're not alone. My answer is to make desserts an occasional treat rather than something I enjoy daily. And since I know I can't just eat one piece, I do my best to keep them out of the house. I have a couple of rules I stick to when it comes to desserts:
  • I try to plan desserts into my day so that I can eat healthy the rest of the day. If I had mac and cheese for dinner, I shouldn't have dessert. But if I know I'm going to have dessert that night, I can choose to eat something healthier for dinner to compensate.
  • I try not to let myself feel guilty if I eat a decadent dessert. Bringing guilt into my relationship with food gives it way too much power. I eat it, enjoy it, and move on.
  • If I start to feel out of control, the trigger food's gotta go. If this means I have to throw a dessert away, then sadly that's what has to happen. As much as I hate throwing anything away, it's going to do me a lot more good in the trash than in my mouth.
  • And on the same note, if I start to eat too many desserts (like this week), I cut them out for a while and get back into my regular eating routine.

Since I know that everyone has a different way of dealing with desserts, I thought I would ask Tully, the lovely cupcake baker, how she keeps in shape while baking desserts all day. That's one job I know I couldn't handle!

Whenever I see chefs on TV, I wonder how they manage to stay thin when they're cooking (and tasting) all day long. Has that ever been an issue for you? How do you manage to stay in shape while baking all the time?
Working in a kitchen can definitely be hard. I worked in catering for four years, and all the food was so tempting. I always have a healthy snack (like an apple) to keep me busy. It's also important to exercise regularly so you can make up for the extra bites here and there.

What suggestions do you have for people who love to bake (and eat) desserts, but don't want to gain weight?
Bake all you want, but only save one or two servings for yourself. Give the rest to your friends or co-workers. They will love you for it!

How often do you eat your baked goods? Do you find it challenging to have them around?
When I first started baking for my company, I probably ate a few too many cookies, cupcakes and brownies! But now that I'm used to being around my products all the time, I don't really crave them anymore.

Do you have a regular exercise routine?
I work out 3-5 days a week depending on my schedule. I feel it's important to make exercise a priority, even when things get busy.

Thanks Tully! Now that you know how Tully, Amy, and I all deal with desserts, I'll pose the same questions to you. How do you handle desserts? Do you enjoy a little every day or save them for special occasions? What tips do you have for having your cake and keeping the weight off?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Cashew Cream



I love sweet potatoes. They're one of my favorite foods, and lucky for me, they also happen to be really good for you. I used to eat a lot of multi-grain bread (I miss you, Vermont Bread!), so when I started eating gluten-free, I didn't have an affordable alternative. The gluten-free bread was a) expensive, b) white rice based, and c) a little bit flavorless. I'm sure there are a lot of great options out there, but I wasn't excited about paying so much for bread. What to do? Sweet potatoes to the rescue! I was already a sweet potato lover, but they have become my go-to carb of choice. Need something easy for breakfast? Mashed sweet potatoes with nuts and dried fruit! Need a healthy lunch? Chicken and green beans with a side of baked sweet potato! Need a healthy dinner? Well, you get the idea. They're delicious any way you make them, but my favorite way - and the simplest - is simply to bake them until they start to caramelize, and then put them in the fridge. They make an easy grab-and-go snack because they taste just as good cold as they do hot from the oven.

Despite the tasty simplicity of a baked sweet potato, I decided to try something a little different with Thanksgiving around the corner. These Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Cream are a perfect filling for a sweet potato pie, or make a great breakfast or dessert on their own. I've tried them hot from the oven and cold from the fridge, and I can't decide which way I like them better. I'll let you be the judge!



Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Cream

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups pureed sweet potatoes (about 4-5 medium sweet potatoes)
1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
2 dates
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
small pinch allspice
small pinch ground ginger
6 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
  1. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork a few times (leave the skins on), and bake in the oven at 400 degrees until the pierced spots start to ooze and caramelize (40-60 minutes depending on your oven). Take out and puree them in a food processor. (If you don't have a food processor, you can use a potato masher). Take out of the food processor and set aside in a mixing bowl.
  2. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
  3. Put the raw cashews in the food processor and begin to blend them. Slowly add the dates, agave nectar, spices and water. Continue to blend until completely smooth. Spoon into the mixing bowl with the sweet potato and stir the two together until evenly mixed.
  4. Spoon evenly into a greased 7 x 7 x 2 in. baking dish.*
  5. Sprinkle the top with the pecan pieces and dried cranberries.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Serve hot from the oven or chill in the fridge. Serves 4.

* A slightly bigger or smaller baking dish would work fine. These would also be great baked in individual souffle dishes.
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Stop by Friday Foodie Fix, where the secret ingredient is...yep you guessed it! Sweet potatoes! Then head over to Finer Things Friday and see what's cooking over there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spicy Chicken Tacos

First off, don't forget to enter here for a chance to win a box of Tully's delicious gluten-free cookies. And for those of you who have had so-so experiences with commercial gluten-free cookies in the past, you haven't tried these yet! You can check out my review and then leave a comment here letting me know which cookie/brownie you would like to try.

And now on to the main course...

SPICY CHICKEN TACOS



The truth is, I don't generally cook with meat. You might have noticed that most of my recipes are vegetarian. But if I want to make something that my boyfriend will actually eat and enjoy (usually he makes his own dinner and I make mine), then I know that Spicy Chicken Tacos are the answer. And since I use the small corn tortillas and leave the cheese off mine, they're also a healthy, portion-controlled meal for those of you watching your waistline. Pair your taco with a healthy salad or grilled vegetables and you've got a delicious and healthy meal that will make everyone happy. And if you don't eat meat, tofu substitutes easily for the chicken in this dish.

Spicy Chicken Tacos
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Ingredients:
8 5-in. corn tortillas
1 lb. chicken breasts or tenders
2 green peppers, thinly sliced
1 container mushrooms (10 oz.), sliced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 batch garbanzo bean guacamole or your favorite guacamole
Your favorite salsa (as much as you like)

Chicken Rub Ingredients (adapted from this cookbook):
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, diced

Directions:
  • Mix together all of the chicken rub ingredients. Place them with the chicken in a plastic ziplock bag or container and shake to completely coat the chicken. Grill the chicken (I use my George Foreman Grill), or if you don't have a grill, you could saute it as well.
  • Put the cooked chicken on a cutting board and use two forks together to pull the meat apart, shredding the chicken. Set aside.


  • Spray a pan with cooking spray, and saute the garlic, green peppers, and mushrooms until tender.
  • Heat the tortillas in a microwave (about 10 seconds). Place on a plate and spread with guacamole. Top with chicken, vegetables, and salsa. Roll up and enjoy!



This post is linked to Real Food Wednesdays and What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free. Linda's featuring Mexican this week too!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Raw Pumpkin Cheese Pie



Before I gave up gluten for good, I wanted to try all the NYC foods I'd never get another chance to eat. I finally went to Grimaldi's Pizza where I had to wait in line for thirty minutes before getting a seat - and it was worth it. And I stopped by the bodega on the corner for my favorite cookie - I have no idea what they're called but they're the best! Unfortunately I never made it over to Junior's for a last slice of strawberry cheese pie. I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when I stopped at Junior's to buy a slice of pie for my boyfriend's birthday. I really don't mind being gluten-free. The truth is, I'm having fun revamping old recipes and trying new ones. But sometimes I want to eat cake with everyone else. That was my thought when I decided to make a dessert today. I've been watching everyone else eat cake lately...it was time to make one for myself! However, in honor of Raw Sundays and the Fall season, I made a raw pumpkin cheese pie instead of a more traditional cake. Why? Just for the fun of it. I'll make a more traditional cake next time. Today, it's raw pumpkin cheese pie for me. And it's delicious!



Raw Pumpkin Cheese Pie
* I found some amazing inspiration for this pie from two of my favorite blogs, Choosing Raw and Veganlicious

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 1/4 cups raw pecans
10 dates
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch salt
1 tsp.-1 Tbsp. water

Cheese Pie:
1/4 cup chopped raw pumpkin
2 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hr
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 dates
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
small pinch allspice
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. water

Topping:
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries

Directions:
  1. To make the crust, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor except for the water. Process for a few minutes until well combined. Add the water slowly until the mixture is like the consistency of a cookie dough. Spoon into the bottom of an 8.5 in. spring pan* and press evenly with your fingers. Put in the fridge while you make the crust.
  2. For the pie, combine all of the ingredients except the water in the food processor. There are a lot of ingredients so you might want to start with a few ingredients and slowly add the rest (my processor threatened to burst open on me when I tried to process everything at once). Add the water and process for a few minutes until a smooth consistency is reached.
  3. Spread the mixture on top of the crust and sprinkle with the dried cranberries.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
*This is a delicate pie. A spring pan was all I had, but if you have individual tart dishes, that might be an easier way to serve and eat these.
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And finally the giveaway...did you think I forgot? (Update: This giveaway is now closed)

Yesterday I reviewed some delicious desserts from Tully's Gluten Free Bakery. Now, you have a chance to try them yourself! The lovely Ms. Tully herself is offering a lucky reader a free sampling of her baked goods. The winner gets to pick between a box of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, or oatmeal cranberry cookies.
  • For one entry, leave a comment telling me which dessert you would like to try if you win.
  • For a second entry, link back to this giveaway on your blog (and leave me a comment letting me know you did so).
  • For a third entry, tweet about the giveaway and leave another comment letting me know.
You have all week to enter because I'm leaving this open until Sunday, November 1st at 9pm. Yep, that's right...November 1st. Is it really almost 2010?!

This post is linked to two of my favorite blog carnivals, Slightly Indulgent Mondays, and this month's Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free, hosted by Life, Gluten Free. Check them out!

Stop by Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays for some great dips and much more! And because blog carnivals are my favorite way to find new recipes, stop by Tasty Tuesdays for even more ideas. Have you noticed all the pumpkin recipes everywhere?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Gluten-Free Bakery In Manhattan!


Tully's Gluten-Free Bakery

If you eat gluten-free, you've probably had this experience. You go to the store and spy a box of gluten-free cookies. The picture on the box shows a big cookie that looks soft and chewy and straight out of your dreams. So you fork over more money than anyone would spend on regular cookies (let's be honest; gluten-free is generally not cheap), and you bring your box of cookies home, anticipating that first chewy bite. You get home and open the box (or if you're me, you do this on the subway because you're too impatient to wait), take out that first cookie and take a bite. And then...

Disappointment. Not soft. Not chewy. It doesn't taste anything like the pretty picture on the box that made you think of your mom's baking. Sadness.



Luckily for us, gluten-free baking is undergoing quite the revolution, and new bakeries are popping up everywhere. When I learned that a new bakery was giving away free samples only a few blocks from where I work today, I had to run over. Actually, I snuck over on my lunch break, hoping none of my clients would spy me eating cookies and brownies. Tully's Gluten-Free brownies and chocolate chip cookies did not disappoint. The chocolate chip cookies tasted just like home baked cookies from the oven, and the brownies had that fudgy, rich flavor of brownies that have been taken out of the oven five minutes early. You know what I mean...when they're still a little gooey in the middle. Mmm...brownie heaven! I actually overheard one guy ask, "How can these be gluten-free?" I guess that says it all. If you don't know you're eating something gluten-free, then you know it's gluten-free as it should be.



*If you live in NYC, you can find Tully's baked goods here. And if not, you can order them online. They're worth the wait.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Garbanzo Bean Guacamole



Is there any greater bean than the garbanzo bean? I think not. And is there any greater dip than guacamole? Again, I think not. So it's only natural that the two would come together to form a delicious, protein-packed dip. This is as simple as it gets, but it's a great source of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fat. I like to use it as a dip for raw veggies or, like I did tonight, as a sauce for raw zucchini pasta. Of course it would be great with corn chips too, but since going gluten-free, I think I've been overdoing it a bit with the corn chips. So I'll leave those for my boyfriend and stick with veggies for myself!


Garbanzo Bean Guacamole with raw sunflower seeds on a bed of raw zucchini

Garbanzo Bean Guacamole
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Ingredients:
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 avocado
2 sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup marinara sauce
juice of half a lemon
dash of red pepper flakes

Directions:
  1. Pulse the garbanzo beans in a food processor. Add the other ingredients and pulse until completely smooth.



*Hop over to Finer Things Friday for more fun fall ideas.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Traveling Gluten-Free, Take Four

How many trips does it take to learn how to travel gluten-free? This weekend was my fourth trip out of town since going gluten-free, and while I'm certainly no expert yet, I've learned a few things since my first few traveling experiences. When I went to San Diego for my sister's wedding earlier this summer, it was a gluten disaster. Within days of arriving, I had given up trying to eat gluten-free. While in the long run, it helped me make my ultimate decision to give up gluten for good, it also taught me how not to travel gluten-free.

This past weekend, I was in Ohio for my fifth wedding in five months. I didn't do everything right, and I might have had a moment or two of gluten panic, but as far as I know I made it through the weekend gluten-free. Here's what I did, and what I've learned:
  • Have a complete breakfast the day you leave. Even if it's 5:30 in the morning! I started my day off with a hard-boiled egg, a green smoothie, and my hearty apple cinnamon waffles. It's a little bit more than I normally eat for breakfast, but it kept me going for the rest of the day.


  • Bring more snacks with you than you think you'll need. You can always bring extras back home with you. I find that I generally don't pack enough because I don't want to spend the extra money on gluten-free snacks. Then when I run out, I end up spending even more money (and time) than I would have otherwise. On this trip, I brought some tried and true snacks, like:







  • Mary's Gone Crackers crackers
  • a bag of nuts and dried fruit
  • I also tried a couple of new snacks. Some were instant favorites. Others didn't quite make the cut. Sadly, Nana's No Gluten Ginger Cookie was a dud. My experiences with store bought gluten-free cookies haven't been all that wonderful to date. But this one looked so soft and chewy that I was really excited to try it. Unfortunately, it wasn't so much soft and chewy as it was soft and crumbly. Most of it crumbled in the bag, and the ginger flavor was too overpowering.




  • On the other hand, this brownie from Frankly Natural Bakers was a winner. With an almost fudgy chewiness that I loved and the bite of chocolate chips, it was a perfect treat. I like to bring my own dessert to events like weddings when I know everyone else will be eating cake, so this is definitely something I'll be buying again.


  • Since eating healthy on the go is always a challenge, give yourself at least one healthy meal by making a salad to take with you for your first day. My lunch on Friday was a broccoli slaw salad, crackers, and a carrot-apple-ginger juice I got at a juice bar.



  • Let your hosts know about your dietary needs ahead of time. Accomodations can't always be made, but when they can, you'll be grateful for it. I asked the bride and groom ahead of time about the possibility of a gluten-free meal at the wedding, and it turned out that the caterer's wife has Celiac Disease, so making me a gluten-free meal was no problem. So I ended up with my own delicious gluten-free meal (Thanks Jess and Danny!!).


  • Take advantage of naturally gluten-free foods. I grabbed some bananas from the hotel, was always able to get fruit and veggies, and had eggs for breakfast. There was also cheese everywhere I went. While not necessarily the best food for my waistline, I was grateful for it when I needed a little protein boost.










  • And last but not least, trust the grocery stores to have gluten-free items. Gluten-free food has definitely become more popular recently. I've noticed a gluten-free section just popped up in the Key Food near me, and at the Kroger in Ohio, there were a bunch of great options. Now that Betty Crocker makes gluten-free cake mixes, I imagine you can find something gluten-free anywhere you go! I got an Amy's pizza with rice crust, which I had never tried before because they're a little pricey. But since I was on vacation, I figured I could spend the money. It was really good, although the crust was a little dry, and for over $8, I think I'd rather try my hand at making my own crust. But for a meal when I'm away from home, it was perfect. And since I'd been missing pizza lately, it was exactly what I needed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Basil Thai Noodles a.k.a. A Semi Homemade 30 Minute Meal



There are nights when you plan a creative meal, when you comb the grocery stores for the right ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen making it just right. And then there are nights when you have to come home from a long day at work, wash the dishes from last night, get some quality time in with your friend who you hardly ever see even though she just moved to the same city as you, and then do your anatomy homework. Oh, and somewhere in there, make dinner. And use up all the basil before it goes bad.

This was one of those nights.

Enter my Basil Thai Noodles. The Thai Kitchen noodles are a staple in my apartment. They make an easy, fast, and portion-controlled meal. Just add some veggies and a scrambled egg and you have my Easy Thai Noodle Soup. Tonight's dinner was inspired by the bunch of basil threatening to wilt in my fridge. That and the fact that I needed to make something quick and healthy when I got home from work.



Basil Thai Noodles
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Ingredients:
2 Thai Kitchen Instant Rice Noodle Soup packets (I like Spring Onion but any flavor will do)
2 carrots, chopped*
1 cup chopped cabbage*
1 cup packed basil
1 garlic clove
3 sun dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. wheat free tamari
2 eggs

*Or any veggies you have on hand. As usual, I just used what I had in the fridge tonight.

Directions:
  1. In a food processor, blend the basil, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and olive oil. Put aside.
  2. Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray and saute the carrots and cabbage until tender.
  3. Stir in the fish sauce and soy sauce.
  4. Add the noodles, 1 packet of seasoning (save the other packet and the oil packets for another day), and the water. Turn up the heat to medium-high so the noodles cook through. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender and the water is cooked out.
  5. Add the basil mixture in and stir.
  6. In another pan, scramble 2 eggs. Add to the noodles and stir in.
  7. Serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 2

*This is linked to What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free. Head over for more delicious ideas!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Overcoming Binge Eating



I don't generally read or write book reviews (and this will probably be one of few on this blog), but since I recommend this book often to clients, I thought I should do so here as well. If you've been reading my blog, you know about my history of bingeing. And I know from some reader responses I've gotten that some of you reading this are also dealing with disordered eating. In grad school, I met with a therapist who helped me tremendously in a relatively short period of time. While doing research on my many papers on eating disorders (my thesis was on eating disorders in men), I realized that the techniques and homework assignments she was giving me most likely came from this book: Overcoming Binge Eating, by Christopher Fairburn. If you do any research on eating disorder studies, Fairburn's name will doubtless pop up. He's a leading researcher on the topic, and this book has been clinically tested. It has two parts: the first is background information on bingeing; the second is a self-help manual that can be used alone or in conjunction with a therapist. I actually requested this book for Christmas last year. Can you imagine my family's response? It was pretty funny actually. My mom got it for me because no one else wanted to...it's not exactly a "fun" present. But for me, it was one of my favorite gifts, and I was eager to read it.

The background information in the first section was pretty much old news for me, having studied it so much. But I've heard from one of my clients that she learned a lot that she didn't know. For me, the self-help section was what I was interested in. The main step is keeping a journal of eating, but this journal includes the what, where, when and why of what you ate. Much like my therapist had me do, you keep a journal that helps you pinpoint your triggers. The goal of the book is to help you get to the point where you can be around those "trigger" foods without bingeing. This is one point where I haven't quite decided whether I agree with Fairburn. Many people who binge refuse to keep certain items in the house because they can't handle it. In Overcoming Binge Eating, you stay away from those foods at first, but eventually reintroduce them. While I agree with the idea of learning to eat everything in moderation, I do believe there are some foods that are more likely to trigger binges for some people. For instance, I occasionally buy peanut butter, but I've found that the more I eat it, the more I crave it. So for me, I feel it's better to limit it.

I thought of this book today because of a particular client of mine. She recently began reading Overcoming Binge Eating and is already starting to make connections between bingeing and certain triggers of hers. She's also lost over 30 pounds, and I'm proud to say is now under 300 pounds! (Keep it up! You're doing so great!) Despite my personal experience and educational background, there are times when I feel like I don't have all the knowledge I need to help my clients. And these are the times when I'm happy if I have a good resource I can rely on. Overcoming Binge Eating is one of those resources, and because it's a self-help manual, it's one that I highly recommend if it's a problem you're dealing with yourself.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Raw Sundays and Pasta With Tomato Basil Sauce



I enjoyed eating raw so much last Sunday that I decided to do it again today. I had originally worried that if I tried to eat raw, I would get too hungry and end up bingeing. But raw food can be surprisingly filling. And when I eat raw, I seem to be more likely to stop when I'm full, rather than continuing to eat past the point of satisfaction. For me, that in itself is a good enough reason to eat raw.



I started today off with a ripe pear and a green smoothie filled with bok choy (I'm getting more adventurous with my smoothies), spinach, a banana, frozen pineapple, unsweetened almond milk, and spirulina. It was tough because we had guests, and my boyfriend cooked up a savory breakfast of scrambled eggs, ham, potatoes, and english muffins. The smell alone had me reconsidering my raw plan. But I knew I was going to feel much better if I had my own raw breakfast, so I stuck with it.


Do you see what I was up against?

For lunch, I made Gena's Cashew Ricotta with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil. This is the first time I've tried it, and I was amazed! I honestly had to stop myself from eating it by the spoonful. I spread it on lettuce leaves and topped it with carrots, then ate it like a rollup. Delicious! And with all that cashew in it, deliciously filling too!



Since I started my day off late, there was no time for a snack in between meals, and I found I didn't really need one anyway. For dinner, I made raw pasta out of zucchini and spaghetti squash, and topped it with a fresh tomato basil sauce (recipe below).



And dessert was another of Gena's concoctions, Raw Chocolate Pudding, to which I added a banana and a sprinkling of shredded coconut. Does it get any better than that?





Raw Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce
Print-Friendly Option



Ingredients:
1/2 spaghetti squash
1/2 medium zucchini
1 medium tomato
4 large basil leaves
1 sun dried tomato, chopped
small handful of spinach
1/4 garlic clove
1 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. To prepare the pasta, cut the spaghetti squash in half (you'll need a really good knife for this). Scrape the seeds out. Then, using a spoon or fork, scrape the insides into your serving bowl. For the zucchini, I used a peeler to slice it thin, but you could also use a grater.
  2. For the sauce, place the tomato, garlic, basil, and spinach in a food processor and process until it's the consistency of salsa. Stir in the sunflower seeds.
  3. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serves 1

*This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Mondays. Head over for more delicious recipes with a healthy twist.

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Deborah at The Brown Couch who won the Betty Crocker fruit snacks giveaway for her nephew! The new Create A Bug snacks were my favorite! And thank you to everyone who commented! Come back for future giveaways.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hearty Apple Cinnamon Waffles



When I get on a food kick, I tend to stick with it for a while. Lately, my kick has been waffles. It's the perfect breakfast to toast up and eat in a hurry before work. My first gluten-free waffles were delicious, but since they were made with white rice flour and coconut milk, they were better for a special weekend breakfast than for every day. So I set about to make a hearty "whole grain" waffle that I could feel good eating on a daily basis. The result? These Hearty Apple Cinnamon Waffles. They're high in fiber and low in saturated fats (but high in heart healthy fats). And with no added sugar, they're a great way to start the day!



Hearty Apple Cinnamon WafflesPrint-Friendly Option
Dry Ingredients:

1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 egg
1 medium sweet potato, baked and pureed
1 medium apple, grated or chopped in a food processor
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Directions:
  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix completely.
  3. Spoon evenly onto waffle iron and cook, in batches, according to the iron's instructions.
Serves 8 (2 squares each)

This post is linked to What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free? Check it out for more great ideas!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gluten-Free Snack Giveaway!



*This giveaway is now closed.

My Blog Spark is a great way for bloggers to review new products, and for those of you who are gluten-free, they include you too! Check it out if you haven't already!

This week, they're giving out Betty Crocker's Fruit Flavored snacks! We've all probably had fruit roll-ups, fruit gushers, and fruit by the foot before, but now we can eat them knowing they're gluten-free! Included is also their fun new Create A Bug snack. Now, I recognize there's a certain irony to me reviewing and giving away fruit flavored snacks a.k.a. candy on this blog since I promote naturally healthy food. And I can't in all good consciousness recommend these as a great buy for your child's school snacks. You know me...I'd much rather you send your kids to school with actual fruit. But I do think these are great for a couple of occasions:
  • Halloween! If you have kids who can't eat gluten, these are a great option so they don't feel left out when they go trick-or-treating.
  • Movie night! I've been feeling a little left out myself when I've gone to the movies lately. Although I don't generally buy candy, I have to admit there's something about watching a movie in a big theater that makes me want to have a treat to go with it. I used to pick gummy snacks, but since going gluten-free, the only gluten-free snacks I could find were super expensive! This is an affordable option, and I'm excited to save some of these snacks for my movie nights (if I can keep my boyfriend from eating them all).
How can you try these for yourself? Just leave a comment telling me what your favorite childhood snack was (and maybe good luck wishes for my two exams this week...I'll need it!). If you don't have a blog, leave an e-mail address where I can contact you too. The giveaway ends Thursday October 8th, at 9:00pm.

This post is also linked to the Fall Giveaway Carnival at Heavenly Homemakers. Stop by to check out other great giveaways!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A (Mostly) Raw Gluten-Free Day

In my efforts to cut down on cooking time during the week, I've been making most of my meals on Sundays and freezing them to eat throughout the week. It's been working surprisingly well, but yesterday I realized that I haven't eaten any fresh vegetables (outside of my green smoothies) in a while. Since Sundays are my stay at home and study days, I thought today might be an easy day to try getting some fresh fruits and veggies in. I've been inspired by all of the raw food blogs out there, and thought I could use a little extra mental clarity today while I studied. So I figured, why not try to go all raw for a day? Or at least mostly raw. To my surprise, it turned out to be one of the tastiest days I've had in a while.



Breakfast was a green smoothie as normal, but instead of using store-bought almond milk, I used the water that I had soaked sunflower seeds and almonds in overnight. And instead of half a banana, I used a whole one. Frozen pineapple and lettuce made up the rest of the smoothie.



I was heading to the gym, so I knew I needed something else in my stomach before I left. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to choose from since I hadn't been to the grocery store yet. So I had another banana and sprinkled it with flax seeds, raw sunflower seeds, and dried coconut. (I know...two bananas in one day!? This is not the norm for me! But just wait...there's another one coming.)

While at the gym, I wondered where that burst of energy was that people always talk about when going raw and having green smoothies. I guess my smoothie wasn't exactly up to par since it was more fruit than vegetables? Either way, there was no energy burst and I left the gym very hungry. But after a trip to Trader Joe's, Key Food, and the Fruit and Vegetable stand, I was ready to make some fabulous raw food. First off, a salad. Who can go wrong with that?



Remembering how much I used to love my Grandma's broccoli slaw (although hers included ramen noodles), I made a salad of broccoli and carrots, chopped spinach, dried cranberries, raw walnuts, and a tangerine. Plus a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I love the taste of walnuts and dried cranberries together!



My side dish was my attempt at pretending I'm a fancy chef. Cucumber and radish rounds with a mushroom, almond, and sunflower seed pate, topped with green peppers and pickled carrots. I can't lie...I was pretty impressed with myself. My boyfriend's verdict? "Has a good flavor, but too healthy for me." Yeah well...



After lunch, it was time to get back into study mode. I have two exams this week, and I think I've forgotten how to study. As is often the case when I get into schoolwork, my mind turned to munchies. Although this time I was still genuinely hungry. My lunch was delicious, but I didn't feel particularly full after.



I finished up the cucumbers, carrots, radishes, and cabbage I had pickled earlier this week, but there wasn't much left. This is where banana #3 came in. I don't think I've ever eaten three bananas in one day, but I knew I needed something a little heavier than vegetables to satisfy me at this point. I thought about baking a sweet potato, but didn't want to wait. So I cut up a banana and topped it with everything I could find: raw walnuts, raw sunflower seeds, flax seeds, dried cranberries, and dried coconut. Deja vu anyone? I was really wishing I had something else on hand I could top the banana with since I had already eaten those things earlier. Not that it didn't taste good...



This is when I finally got full. After I finished my banana medley, I realized I had succumbed to a case of My-eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach-itus. For the next few hours, it kept feeling like I was getting fuller and fuller. I considered not even having anything for dinner, but eventually my appetite came back. And I'm so glad it did because dinner was the best meal I've had in a long time!



It was simple, but made me so happy I think I might have to make another one to bring to work tomorrow. I used two pieces of lettuce as the base for my wrap, spread pureed canned chickpeas on top, then added pea shoots and carrots, sliced pickles (I cheated a little here on being super healthy because these pickles have high fructose corn syrup in them, but they were so good it was worth it), and a sprinkling of Eden Shake (a mix of sesame seeds, salt, and seaweed...I went over my budget to buy this last week, but it's my new best friend in the kitchen).

I'm getting ready for bed now, and I'm feeling pretty good. Eating raw was a lot easier (and tastier) than I expected. It definitely has me inspired to make more salads and lettuce wraps this week. I didn't get a chance to make any meals to freeze today, so the salads will actually be helpful until I have time to bake something (I have black bean and sweet potato enchiladas in mind).

Now....time to watch True Blood!

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