Sunday, July 31, 2011

Self-Care Retreat for July: Nourishment Through Creativity

This virtual self-care retreat is to inspire you all to make July a month of reflecting on self-care and the many ways to nourish ourselves.   We encourage everyone to participate in this event in a way that feels appropriate to them, whether through personal reflection, journal or other self-care.  If you would like to share your experience with self-care, we would love to include you in the experience, whether you join us for one week or every week.  You can write generally about self-care, or focus on one of the themes (movement, food, family/friends/pets, creativity and meditation and mindfulness), or write every week about each of the themes.  We ask that you link back to this post so that more people can learn about this retreat, and leave a comment for the weekly theme host, too!  If you would like to be included in our  roundup, please email a link to your post, along with your name and blog name, to us at selfcareretreat at gmail dot com by July 31, 2011.  Feel free to use the badge in your posts.  Non-bloggers who would like to contribute, please email the full text to the same address and it will be included in the roundup.

I dance. I do it without judgment. Without fear or thought that someone will find my movements awkward. When I dance, I twirl like a child and jump around. I pretend I'm a master of modern dance, and I throw my body in whatever direction my soul is calling. I become a lady in red, waltzing to the tune of Frank Sinatra. I listen to my body, and hear what it needs. Sometimes this isn't to go to the gym, take a walk, or do yoga. Sometimes it needs to move the way it used to as a child. With abandon.

I draw. I throw my emotions into my arm and allow my fingers to draw what's in my heart, my head, my body. I release my frustrations onto the page. My crayons draw hearts, stars, soft curves, and angry zig zags, depending on the day. I stop telling myself that art has to look a certain way. I stop telling myself that I'm creating art at all. I just look at the page, and let my fingers move. The results are often childlike. And when I'm done, I feel at peace.

I write. I sit and I write until my hand can write no more. Until I must shake my wrist to get the tightness out. I admit everything I've been holding in, all the thoughts I've been too ashamed to say. All the judgments I've made and felt guilty over. All the confusion and fear that cause tightness in my chest. I also write to let happiness come and perch on my shoulder. I write poems, though I am not a poet. I write the beginnings of stories, knowing I'll never finish them. But they're not being written with a purpose in mind. I'm simply writing because there's something in me that needs a way out. Sometimes I write blog posts. Sometimes I publish them. Sometimes I erase them. In the end, it doesn't matter. It simply matters that I get the words out.

I take photos. I tune out the world and focus on a blur of green and blue, searching for a new angle, a softer light, a different way to see the world. I think for a moment that all there is in the world is what I see in front of me. My worries disintegrate. I don't try to take a great food photo. I simply play. I let time stop.

In order to take care of myself, I must be creative. And when I pursue creativity in the art of self-care, there is one thing I must do above all else. Let go of judgment. Self-care through creativity is not about creating art to display for the world. It's about letting yourself be in the moment without pursuit of anything. Without pursuit of perfection, completion, accomplishment. By letting go of the desire to produce something "worthwhile," I can let go of my fears. I can just be.

How do you nourish yourself? If you're not sure, put on some music, grab crayons and paper, or pick up your camera and talk a walk. Be with yourself without judging the results. Draw with the intention of throwing the paper away after, or erasing your photos. Dance as you might after having one too many glasses of wine. Be you. Without judgment.

Last month, I was invited by Valerie and Cheryl, creators of this virtual Self-Care Retreat, to be a host. They asked me to write a post on self-care through creativity and to post it on the 30th for the last post of the month. You'll notice that the 30th was yesterday. I missed my deadline, and I hate missing deadlines. But I have been stretching myself so thin lately that I haven't had time for any self-care, much less doing something creative. And in letting go of my self-care routines, I can feel my health slipping backwards, both physically and emotionally. So I'm using this post as a reminder to myself, as well as for all of you, that self-care is not like a vacation. It's not something we do when we have the time and money saved up. It's something we need to do every day, just as we brush our teeth or eat dinner every day. It's something we need to see as non-negotiable. We need to care for and nourish ourselves just as we would our loved ones.

Check out the rest of the posts for July's Self-Care Retreat: 
Self-Care Through Movement
Self-Care Through Food
Self-Care Through Reflection
Self-Care Through Family, Friends, and Pets

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm Doing Something I Never Do

No, not talking about my deepest, darkest secrets of food and bingeing. I do that plenty.

I'm doing something I really don't ever do. Willingly putting myself on video camera. And asking for your help. You see, I have a secret (not a secret at all) obsession with Scotland. I spent a semester there during my junior year in college, and I've always hoped to go back. Now, with your help, I could have a chance. Bob's Red Mill is holding a contest to send one lucky cook to Scotland for the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship. Didn't know there was such a thing? Neither did I, but being the strange duck that I am, I jumped at the chance to enter.

Did you know I also love Bob's Red Mill? (I swear I took this photo way before I ever heard of this contest.) That bag of sorghum flour is already halfway gone.

So I hate to ask, which is why I normally wouldn't, but today I'm shamelessly asking you to go to the Bob's Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle page and like my video. You'll have to ignore the fact that my video isn't exactly is my first ever, after all. Learning to edit it was not as easy as I expected!

As an added bonus, if you check out my video, you'll get my recipe for Savory Oatmeal with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Pecans. You can eat it for breakfast, as a side dish, or even better, as a substitute for your regular turkey stuffing. This stuff is good...and seriously good for you too!

Okay, ready? Set... Like my video! And I'll love you forever if you tell your friends too! (Yes, shameless I know...)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gluten-Free English Muffins (Vegan, Yeast-Free, Sugar-Free)

"I don't care what you call them. You can call them pancakes for all I care. They just taste like biscuits." He said this with his cowboy accent, which is completely affected as he doesn't have an accent at all. 

I am referring of course to the assistant, who was in turn referring to my English Muffins. In truth, I couldn't decide what to call them. They remind me of English Muffins, with their tiny little craters that are perfect for melted butter to find their way into (of course I'm not eating butter these days, so that image just makes me sad). The assistant swears they have the taste and texture of biscuits. And this morning, when I toasted one with tuna, I decided it would make the perfect hamburger bun. Which suddenly leads me to think that if shaped differently, they might also make wonderful hot dog buns. (Hmm...)

Whatever they're called, they work. And they work without gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, or yeast. Yeast was the big one for me here...I miss bread and rolls, but when I recently tried to make yeast bread for the cookbook, I could tell immediately that my body couldn't handle it. An instant head-cold, puffy face, cloudy head feeling came on. You know that feeling, right? It's not fun... So I've been leaving the yeast breads to Brittany, and focusing on yeast-free breads myself. Call me crazy, but I think this is one recipe where you won't even miss the yeast. 

This particular recipe is a spin-off of another recipe you'll find in my book. I've been having so much fun with it that I couldn't wait for the book to come out to share it with you all. So I've adapted the book recipe into English Muffins (er...biscuits...hamburger/hot dog buns) for you all.

Give them a try. I think you'll be very happy.

Gluten-Free English Muffins (print friendly option)

180 grams blanched almond flour (1 1/2 cups)
115 grams potato starch (3/4 cup)
30 grams Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)*
2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum or guar gum**
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup oil***

*I love the texture that Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal gives, but corn meal would work fine here too.
**A reader let me know that she successfully made these with 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground chia seed.
***I use olive oil, but any mild flavored oil would work fine. Olive, grapeseed, canola...

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Stir water and oil in a small bowl. Pour into dry ingredients, stirring until completely mixed.
  4. Grease a cookie sheet and scoop the batter up into heaping 1/3 cups. Makes 6 scoops. Bake for 40 minutes. You want the edges to begin to turn golden brown to make sure the insides are cooked thoroughly. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting in half.
Makes 6 English Muffins. I save rice cake bags to put them in, and leave them out for a few days or freeze for weeks. Like most gluten-free baked goods, they do get dry, but microwaving and toasting works great for reheating. The microwave especially helps restore moisture, and I would recommend that if you're using them as a hamburger bun, whereas the toaster oven works better if you want more of an English Muffin like texture. 

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Gluten-Free Wednesdays

Monday, July 18, 2011

Baked Fruit Pockets (Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Optional)

The Daily Dietribe family has been growing. Earlier this month, I introduced you to V, my new gluten-free product reviewer (and beautiful housemate). And today I'm introducing you to someone that I've been bouncing ideas off of for months. I have to tell you in all honesty that since I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to my recipes, I usually ask for his advice and then promptly ignore it. Yesterday, I finally let go of some of my legendary control in the kitchen and asked him to help me create a recipe.

It started with a batch of cherry scones. I thought they were okay, but needed work. He and V (he needs a name, doesn't he?) really liked them. In fact, at one point he asked me, "Is it bad that I keep eating these?" I'm pretty sure he meant, are they bad for me, and I assured him that he could have another one guilt-free.

He decided they reminded him of fig newtons, and that we should make them again as little fruit pockets. After some thought, we determined they needed a tad more maple syrup (the scones only had 1 tablespoon), a little more rise (enter an egg and baking powder), and some sort of fruit filling (he made a cherry filling and a raspberry filling). I had to take a deep breath and a leap of faith when I decided to ask him to work on the filling rather than making it myself.

Letting go of control around food is one of my goals for this year. As you might know if you've ever had problems with disordered eating, there's a tug of war inside you for food control. Letting go of that control helps me with eating normally more than anything else does. Writing a cookbook is the ultimate exercise in control. You have to have extreme control over all of your recipes, ingredient amounts, baking time, etc. You pretty much have to be a little OCD. On the other hand, you're faced with baked goods on a daily basis and if you're facing down the binge monster with your iron control every day, you're going to exhaust yourself really fast. A couple of years ago, there's no way I could have handled this. Even now, I can't deny it's difficult. But I'm learning to let go. Let go of my fear that there will not be enough food and I must hoard it all. I do this by literally letting go (i.e. giving away my baked goods). Let go of the fear that there will not be enough money to buy more supplies and food. Again, I do this my giving my food away and remembering this quote: If you continually give, you will continually have. Let go of the need to be perfect and the fear of showing my flaws. I do this by giving away baked goods that aren't up to my standards yet rather than eating them out of fear of someone knowing all of my recipes aren't amazing.

Yes, writing a cookbook is an exercise in control and the art of letting go. So is sharing your blog. I started The Daily Dietribe at an extremely difficult point in my life. During a time when I was feeling lost, I found a part of myself I never knew existed. Out of that, this baby blog was born and has grown into a nice upstanding, adult blog. It's giving birth itself to a cookbook (will that make me a grandma?), and I've started my journey towards a career and life that I love. I don't think it's exaggerating to say that none of this would have happened if not for a random day when I started eating gluten-free and wrote my first entry in this blog. So of course it tugs at my heart strings a bit to invite others to be a part of it. But it also makes me happy that I've created something that others might want to be a part of. It's all a part of letting go. Which of course allows me to simply be, without all of those inner battles tugging me in one direction, then the next, and ultimately leaving me tied to one spot.

And now back to my original point...

As is often the case, it was not my intention to write so much here. I simply wanted to introduce you to someone new. Someone who has the same passion for food that I do, but comes at it from a different angle. He challenges me to try new things and isn't afraid of my evil eye when he tells me he doesn't like something I've made. This is occasionally annoying, but good for all of you since it means I have to work even harder to create recipes that your average non-gluten-free person will like. Of course, there will always be recipes that I'll love and post even if he doesn't like them. After all, I'm an artist right? I can't be a slave to the masses! (Um... Iris, get ahold of yourself here.) And for the most part, The Daily Dietribe will still just be me, dancing around in my kitchen and baking to my heart's content. But don't be surprised if there's mention of someone new helping me out here and there.

Perhaps we shall just call him: the assistant.

Did I mention that the assistant has been gluten and dairy free for the last three days? Are you wondering how long that will last? So am I... (I'm hoping it sticks!)

So without further ado (because there's been a lot of ado here already), I give you Baked Fruit Pockets. They look like pop tarts, but I won't call them that because the assistant nixed the idea. They also don't taste like pop tarts, as they have a much heartier (and dare I say, healthier) flavor. They would, however, be a perfect pop tart substitute if you're looking for a sweet breakfast. This recipe makes eight fruit pockets, and while I haven't experimented with freezing the leftovers yet, I'm guessing you could freeze them and then grab one and toast/microwave it for a quick breakfast. Or take your time and enjoy it for an afternoon snack with tea.

I also have to be completely honest here and say that I think these would be amazing made with melted butter or melted coconut oil rather than extra light olive oil. I made them with oil because I'm not doing dairy right now and coconut oil is a tad expensive to be using all the time. But now that I've got the recipe down, I'll probably try these with coconut oil the next time I make them. In the meantime, if you make any adaptations to these, be sure to come back and let us know what you did and how they turned out! If I had all the time and money in the world, I would test my recipes with a number of variations because I love for you to be able to make them no matter what your dietary restrictions are. As it stands, I've made these egg-free and sugar-free, and I've included variations in the instructions.

Happy baking!

Baked Fruit Pockets
Print-Friendly Option


2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (275 grams)
1 cup brown rice flour (130 grams)
1/3 cup tapioca starch (40 grams)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup extra light olive oil (subs: grapeseed oil, melted butter or melted coconut oil)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups chopped fruit or berries (cherries and raspberries both work great)
3 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt
(optional) 1-2 tablespoons honey or 10 drops liquid stevia

1 tablespoon unsweetened milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Start by making the filling. In a medium saucepan, bring the fruit, water, and salt (and honey or stevia if using) to a gentle simmer on medium heat. Let reduce until thickened (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Once done, set aside to cool. 
  3. While the fruit is reducing, whisk together the almond flour, rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. 
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg, applesauce, olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. *
  5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until well combined. 
  6. Form dough into a ball with your hands. Place the dough in between two large pieces of wax paper. Roll the dough out until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Cut rectangles about 3 x 7 inches. Place a large spoonful of the fruit filling on one end of the rectangle. Fold the other side of the dough over it and pinch the sides closed with your fingers so it makes a square pocket. (Don't feel you have to be too precise with the sizes here. You can make them exact, give them a more rustic appearance, or even play around with making different shapes like the assistant did. A fun baking project with the kids, perhaps?)
  7. Place each square on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, take the baking sheet out and brush the pockets with the maple syrup/milk wash. Place back in the oven for 2 minutes. Take out and put on a cooling rack. Let cool before eating.
Makes approximately 8 pockets. 

* To make these egg-free: In step 4, pour 3 tablespoons of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal. Let sit for a minute, then add the rest of the wet ingredients and continue with the recipe.

** To make these with stevia, leave out the maple syrup, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of liquid stevia to the wet ingredients, and increase the olive oil from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup. Add stevia to the filling as noted in the ingredients instead of maple syrup. Skip the maple syrup wash or simply do a milk wash.
Roll the dough and cut out rectangles. Put a large spoonful of fruit puree on one side.
Fold over your squares and pinch the ends closed. Pretty, aren't they?
Ask the kids to make fun shapes. Be aware baking time will differ...

Let cool, then gobble up. Or let go and give them away.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Fruit and Herb Salad with Cucumbers

I have this light, refreshing summer recipe for you. I've been holding onto it for over a week because every time I sit down to write, no words will come. It's not that anything's wrong. I just have a case of writer's block which is fueled by an overabundance of baking for the cookbook. Not to make you feel left out, I've also made English muffins and cherry scones for the blog. But they both need to be retested before I can post the recipes. All of my baking has also helped me immensely in the kitchen, and I have plans to go back and rework some old recipes. Recipes that, at the time were the best I had come up with. Now I know I can do better. That will take some time, of course. Rest assured though, new recipes are coming.

In the meantime, I figure you're probably more interested in this recipe than my ramblings anyway. So until I find the words to explain all the thoughts racing around in my brain (thoughts which, thanks to Diane Eblin, are now racing around on broomsticks like Harry Potter characters in a Quidditch game), I'll simply leave you with this Summer Fruit and Herb Salad with Cucumbers. It is a) delicious, b) full of antioxidants, and c) delicious. Yes, I know I said that twice. Writer's block, remember?

Summer Fruit and Herb Salad with Cucumbers

1/2 cup blueberries
3 ripe plums, cut into thin slices
1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 large cucumber, diced
1 navel orange
1 green onion
1/2 lime
1 cup packed fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, parsley)
1 inch chunk of ginger
5 - 10 drops liquid stevia or 1 - 2 teaspoons honey
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly grated black pepper to taste

  1. Start with a large salad bowl. Put the blueberries, plums, strawberries, and cucumbers in the bowl. 
  2. Cut the orange in half. Section one half and place the pieces in the bowl. Juice the other half over the bowl.
  3. Thinly slice the green part of the green onion and add that to the bowl. (Save the rest for another recipe). 
  4. Juice half a lime over the bowl. 
  5. Mince or chiffonade 1 cup of packed fresh herbs. I like to do a mix of parsley, cilantro, mint, and basil, but you can use whichever of these you have on hand. Add to the salad. 
  6. Finally, zest the chunk of ginger, and add that, along with the stevia (or honey), salt, and black pepper to the salad. Toss and let sit for 15 minutes to marinate. 
Serves 4. 

This post is linked to Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free at The Whole Gang. Not surprisingly (at least not if you know Diane), the theme is Harry Potter related.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger (Tasty Eats at Home): Birthday Cake, Blueberry Smoothies, and Cucumber Salad

On June 28th, I turned 29. I had an amazing birthday party, complete with one fabulous birthday cake. Inspired by all the the cakes in my June Birthday Cake Challenge, my housemates made me Alta Mantsch's Vanilla Cake. Instead of her carob frosting, they chose a strawberry coconut cream. There was only one slice left the next day, which I happily gobbled for breakfast. I mean, it was a pretty healthy cake, all things considered! And the fact that it disappeared so quickly amongst a bunch of gluten-eating folk is a testament to Alta's baking skills.

Ignore the bad photos and appreciate the beauty of my housemate's cake decorating skills. If only I had her talent!

Of course, after all that cake eating (and some brownie eating, not to mention all the cookbook testing I've been doing), I've been needing a lot of light meals to keep myself in check. Once again, I looked to Alta, author of the blog, Tasty Eats at Home. I've been reading Alta's blog for years now, and I knew that she would have exactly what I was looking for. One of my favorite things about Alta's recipes is that they are so versatile. She goes from baklava to gumbo to chicken curry, and she does it all gluten and (now) dairy free. I have a number of her recipes that I've bookmarked to make, but today I wanted something fresh and full of vegetables. Enter Alta's Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie.

I'd practically given up on smoothies since realizing that bananas give me heartburn and contribute to my headaches. I'd tried smoothies without bananas, but wasn't very impressed. Until today. This was a simple recipe, but whether it was the blueberries or just the correct ratio of liquid to fruits and veggies, it tasted perfect to me. I didn't miss the banana at all!

I followed this with a light Cucumber Herb Salad. I have a cucumber salad recipe here, but what intrigued me about Alta's recipe was the inclusion of fresh tarragon. Now, I hate to admit it, but I've never used fresh tarragon before. I didn't even know what it tasted like! But that hint of tarragon gave the cucumbers an extra depth and bite that I absolutely loved. I'll definitely be making a lot more of this salad!

As always, there were so many more of Alta's recipes that I wanted to make, but the warm winds of summer lured me outside to bask in Seattle's glory. So I'll leave you with a few of the recipes I would have made had it been cold and dreary and I were more inclined to be in the house.

Broccoli Cheese Souffle
Strawberry Blueberry Pie
Vegan Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote
Moroccan Inspired Vegan Quinoa Skillet

Thanks Alta, for keeping me inspired in the kitchen, and for the delicious birthday cake and even more delicious post-birthday detox snacks!

For more amazing recipe ideas, check out Celiacs in the House, where Wendy is hosting Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger. She adopted Brittany Angell this month, my cookbook co-author!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

V's Reviews: Love Grown Granola

Happy July My Dearest Readers!

Today, I want to introduce you to a new face at The Daily Dietribe. V (a.k.a. Venessa Frysztacki) is my housemate and a fellow nutrition student. She's also my top taste tester. In fact, she joked today that she's going to gain a pound of gluten-free goodies now that I've started working on the cookbook. I'm constantly running to her room with cookies in hand, asking for her opinion.

As you may know, I have a number of dietary restrictions, which makes reviewing products relatively difficult. More often than not, I end up turning down offers to review gluten-free goodies. But I remember feeling overwhelmed by the expense of all the food when I first started eating gluten-free. I hated spending a lot of money on something that didn't taste good! So I thought it would be nice to let you know what's worth the money and what you should leave at the store.

Enter V. My lovely housemate knows gluten-free: the good, the bad, and the inedible. After all, she gets to taste everything I make, including all the recipes that never make it onto the blog! Luckily for her though, she can eat gluten. Which is also good for us because her product reviews will give you the perspective of someone who's used to eating regular food all the time (although I don't know if I should say "regular." V eats super healthy!).

V's Reviews will be a monthly review posted on the first of every month. Today, we're starting with Love Grown Granola. You can read more about V here. And here's what she thought of Love Grown:

Shortly after I agreed to this new venture, my first assignment arrived in the mail – a generous care package of four different flavors of gluten-free granola from the folks over at Love Grown Foods in Colorado. Love Grown Foods is passionate about creating natural, healthy and delicious granolas, free of ingredients that begin with words such as refined, trans, and artificial.

With so much granola to share, a little breakfast/granola sampling party was in order. We tasted the granolas with soy milk, but they would be great with any kind of milk or yogurt, as a topping for fresh fruit, or however you like your granola! Here are the most popular comments for each of the flavors:

Cocoa Goodness – This flavor was the most popular! The cocoa is very lightly sweetened for those of us who do not want too much sugar in the morning. One of the tasting crew said it should be called “Cocoa Goodness-a-Rama”, and another said it would be amazing with sliced banana.

Raisin Almond Crunch – This was my personal favorite!!! So yummy with delectably prepared whole almonds, raisins, coconut flakes, and a nice shake of cinnamon. A very fine flavor indeed!

Sweet Cranberry Pecan – Nice tartness from the cranberries, balanced with coconut, cinnamon, and sweetness from agave and honey.

Apple Cinnamon Walnut – Unfortunately our pooch pal Conan the Barbarian got to this variety while we weren’t looking and devoured the contents. He did look very pleased with himself afterwards so I am pretty sure it was another tasty flavor!

These granolas do contain agave, but if you are not on the anti-agave brigade they are a great choice when you want a tasty gluten-free granola. Love Grown Foods is still a growing company so check their website to see if they carry it at a store near you.

Thank you to Nick, Nico, Mike, Vic, and Conan the Barbarian for helping me review this line of tasty granolas!


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