Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gluten Free White Birthday Cake (Refined Sugar Free, Vegan)

Hi Folks,

It's Iris here.  First of all, I cut my hair! This has nothing to do with being gluten free, but everything to do with body image and how we women perceive ourselves. Thinking I may end up writing a post on it (but it will be on if I do). I'll put up some pics on Facebook soon because I don't have any to share here today. 

It's been very strange to be setting up posts every day this month, yet not be writing my own here. I have been writing the Mind*Body*Spirit Exercises of the Week, so I hope you're trying them out and finding them useful.

I would love to get some feedback on how you're getting along with the Gluten Free Health Challenge so far: what you like, don't like, want more of, less of. This is all an experiment (isn't all of life, really?) so I imagine I'll be tweaking things as I go along. I have to thank all the coaches and challengers for committing themselves to this, and I'd also like to thank everyone who's joined the GF Facebook support group. If you haven't joined the group yet, we've been sharing a lot of ideas, recipes, and support around the ideas of body image and taking care of your body without being unkind to yourself or getting into the "guilt trap" around food.

(Speaking of food and guilt, I'll be running a program soon on releasing emotional eating, and those of you in my GF Facebook support group or on my Fairy Angel mailing list will hear about this and other upcoming programs first. I haven't finalized all the dates yet, but I can tell you that I will only be accepting a very small number of people into the program this time around, so if it sounds like something you might be interested in, make sure you're getting the info first!)  

Friday was my birthday, and so I made a cake. A gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan cake of course. My goal was to make one with minimal ingredients and not too many "fancy" ingredients. I didn't want you all to have to go grocery hunting in order to bake this. It didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped. I was going for a lemon cake, but found the amount of lemon I used barely lent any flavor at all. And it's not particularly sweet, so for those of you who like a lot of sugar in your cake, you'll want to add a sweet frosting. I'm sharing the recipe with you, not because it's perfect yet, but because it's a really good base to start with. With so few ingredients, it would be easy to tweak this to your liking. I'll include some ideas on that below, including how you might turn it into a chocolate mocha cake... I'm salivating just thinking about it. 

Wondering how I turned this into a 2-layer cake? I had some not-so-perfect moments with this recipe. First, I baked it in a 9 inch cake pan and it overflowed. Not pretty. Then I ran out of ingredients and didn't want to buy more for a second layer. So I just cut it in half and made half a cake. I spread blueberry jam in between the layers, and frosted it with a version of this vegan frosting from Whole Life Nutrition.

Basic White Cake (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan)

2 2/23 cups white rice flour* (300 grams)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 13.5-ounce can full fat coconut milk, room temp
1/2 cup maple syrup, room temp
1/4 cup lemon juice, room temp
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temp
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. Start by having all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and rice flour a 10 inch cake pan (if you only have 9 inch, fill it about 2/3 full and make cupcakes with the extra).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, applesauce and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until thoroughly combined. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing. 
 Makes 1 10-inch cake layer. 
*Superfine white rice flour is ideal. I find mine at the Asian grocery store.

Substitutions: Keep in mind that I haven't made these substitutions. They're just a guess at what might work.

Rice flour: I think you can replace this with a gf flour blend or another light flour like teff or brown rice flour. You may have to adjust the amount of liquid. You want a typical cake batter (sort of like the thickness of pancake batter).

Coconut milk: Replace this with any liquid. If you use juice, it will increase the sweetness of the cake. You might want to use a little less liquid since full fat coconut milk is so thick.

Maple syrup: Replace with honey, agave nectar or coconut nectar. Or use a granulated sugar instead, increasing the amount to 3/4 cup of sugar, and increase the liquids used by 1 tablespoon.

Applesauce: Any puree or fat will work here. Pureed sweet potato, pureed pear, yogurt, butter or oil are all options you can try here.

Lemon Juice: Just like with the coconut milk, you can replace this with any liquid. If you want a cake with more lemon flavor, you can also try adding lemon zest to ramp it up.

Pure vanilla extract: Try a different extract like almond or lemon. 

To make this chocolate: Try using 2 cups of white rice flour and 2/3 cup of cocoa powder. Replace the lemon juice with room temperature coffee for a mocha cake.

To make it completely sugar free: Try this recipe, which is very similar and uses stevia. 

Lots of love to you all,

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Inspirational Gluten Free Stories: From SAD to Primal

Today's Inspirational Gluten Free Story comes from Robin Gregory. Robin runs the Facebook page, Primal Healthy Steps, a group for those seeking a community that encourages and supports one another to be whole in spirit, body, and soul. She shares recipes, fitness tips, inspiring words and more. 

If you had asked me five years ago if I was healthy, I would have emphatically said, "YES!" Even though I was forty pounds overweight and felt about ten years older, I was eating the SAD (Standard American Diet - love that acronym) assuming that I was doing the best that I could for my health and the health of my family. Since birth I have had a serious food allergy to fish and nuts, and a number of environmental allergies (including a few years when I was actually allergic to polyester). I spent many nights drinking warm tea to "settle my stomach" while covered in pink calamine lotion (slight exaggeration but not much). My mother even often described me as having a "weak" stomach. When I was excited or stressed, nervous or worried, happy or hungry, I had a stomachache. While on my own in college, I continued to have discomfort on a regular basis. However, I just found a way to cope and mask the symptoms; I never considered that maybe there was something that I was doing to contribute to my constant condition.

Fast forward five years to when I was pregnant with my son. I thought a precious way to connect with my unborn child was to have a treat at Dairy Queen and wait for the show. He would twist and turn and virtually do flips in my stomach. I would think, "Boy, this baby LOVES ice cream!!" After his birth, he began to show signs of intestinal distress every time I nursed him. He was literally writhing in pain after every feeding. We learned that his impressive acrobatics in the womb were evidence of a painful reaction to dairy.

I eventually had to completely refrain from eating/drinking dairy products while I was nursing to relieve his constant pain. As he grew, it became more evident that he was suffering from a lot of the same symptoms that I had experienced as a child; he also began to develop allergies to almost everything. His body was in distress and there was not much that the medical community had to offer as a solution.

During this same time, my father was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. He too had suffered since childhood with constant digestive issues and with lactose intolerance. A pattern began to emerge, and it was time to get to the root of what seemed to be an apparent genetic predisposition.

In April of 2011, I started reading Mark Sisson's book, Primal Blueprint, and learned what foods contributed to internal inflammation, a symptom that my son's endoscopy revealed. Next I read Wheat Belly by cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, and followed up with The Good Fat by Fran McCullough. These books helped me to begin the process of learning all that I could about what foods we should eat to enable our bodies to work optimally. It was truly a paradigm shift to accept that what I had previously learned about nutrition may have been contributing to all of our conditions.

To wipe the slate clean and "reset" my body, I started with what is essentially a Whole 30. According to their website, on the Whole 30 you "cut out all the inflammatory, insulin-spiking, calorie-dense but nutritionally sparse food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the 'reset' button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you've been making." That's exactly what I needed!

I focused on quality proteins, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and occasionally a little dark chocolate. I ate a wheat free and grain free diet, and I focused on eating as many nutrient dense foods as I could. My daily goal was to make sure to eat vegetables at every meal. I watched just about EVERY food documentary on Netflix. I was a sponge. I discovered Pinterest at the same time and added boards devoted to Paleo/Primal recipes and wheat-free desserts. I became obsessed with coming up with acceptable alternatives to feed my family so that they never felt deprived. I was absolutely thrilled to learn about alternative flours that I could use to still feed my family pancakes, waffles, and biscuits like "normal" people. I never wanted to be without ideas or inspiration to cook and eat the best food for my body.

Honestly, my family had a much harder time adjusting. They were not as enthusiastic about the nutritional changes as I was. But I was committed, not just for my sake, but also for theirs. In eighteen months I slowly shed thirty pounds, but more importantly, I gained invaluable insight about how to feed our bodies and how to listen to cues that are meant to protect us. My son is now a healthy eleven year old who rarely suffers intestinal distress the way he used to. My dad is currently doing well and manages his symptoms with a diet tailor made for him. We listen to our bodies and feed them accordingly. I am not saying that we ALWAYS eat clean. However, we understand and accept the consequences of deviating from eating whole foods. Sites like The Daily Dietribe have helped us to continue to enjoy a variety of foods that fit our wheat free, grain free (by definition gluten free) lifestyle. 

You can follow Robin on her Facebook page, Primal Healthy Steps.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Creamy Coleslaw with Arame (Gluten/Grain Free)

Today's recipe comes to us courtesy of Sarah Dochow, health coach for Marie on Team Gratitude. Sarah will share healthy gluten free recipes with us every 4th Friday of the month through November. You can also find more gluten free recipes here.

We're celebrating summer by joining in on The Great Big Gluten Free Barbecue, hosted by Mary Fran Wiley at Frannycakes. Check out her blog today to see all the other bloggers joining in with recipes. 

I can't pinpoint exactly when my love affair with coleslaw began, but it has gradually become an obsession over the past year. I didn't always love this tangy, crunchy, creamy, sweet salad, but I'm glad I gave it another try. As with many recipes I try, I like to add new ingredients to increase the nutrition and flavor of the dish. This coleslaw recipe is no exception. I've added a rather unusual ingredient for coleslaw: arame seaweed. If you aren't used to seaweed, you might be turning up your nose right now. But I urge you to give it a chance. Its saltiness and unique flavor create a coleslaw that is not only delicious, but provides healthy minerals as well. I love to take this salad to potluck gatherings. It also makes a great lunch with some chickpeas thrown in or with roasted chicken on the side.   

Coleslaw is not a dish that you can just whip up in 15 minutes. That being said, it is rather easy. You just need to give the cabbage a little time to sweat to prevent ending up with soggy coleslaw. I used a mixture of both green and purple cabbage in my coleslaw because I like the way it looks. Of course, I always end up with extra cabbage which I then use to make sauerkraut. You can prepare your sauerkraut while waiting for the cabbage to sweat for your coleslaw.


Creamy Coleslaw with Arame Print-Me
An original recipe by Sarah Dochow of Nurture Nutrition

2 pounds cabbage, green or purple (or both)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (if you use raw, you'll add probiotics to your salad!)
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup dried arame seaweed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 carrots, grated

  1. Cut your cabbage right down the middle. Make a V-shaped notch in the center to remove the hard, white core. Take the cabbage that is left and cut it into quarters. Turn it on its side and chop into 1/8 inch strips. Add the salt to your cabbage and mix. Put your salted cabbage in a colander and put the colander on a plate. Put a bowl on top of the cabbage and put some cans in it for weight. Allow the cabbage to sweat for about an hour. 
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the honey and apple cider together, and add the diced red onion to it. Allow to sit while the cabbage is resting. This helps take away some of the pungency from the red onion. 
  3. Next, take your dried seaweed and soak it in cool water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
  4. Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, caraway seeds, and black pepper together and set aside.
  5. Once the cabbage is ready, squeeze out extra moisture with your hands and put in a large bowl. Add the carrots, marinated onions, rehydrated seaweed, and mayonnaise mixture to the bowl and stir well. Store in the refrigerator.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quinoa Salad (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Today's recipe comes to us courtesy of Shirley Plant, health coach for Rose on Team Avocado. Shirley will be bringing us healthy gluten free recipes every 4th Thursday of the month through November. You can find more gluten free recipes here.

Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wa," is one of my favorite foods. It is known as the Mother of all grains. Truthfully it is not a grain, but a tiny seed belonging to the goosefoot family, which also includes spinach and beets. It was the main staple food for the Incas thousands of years ago and is now an organic crop that is grown in Canada and the Unites States. Vegetarians would do well to incorporate quinoa into their diet, as it contains all eight essential amino acids that make up a protein.

Quinoa is very versatile and can be added to soups, stews, ground down into flour to make cookies/pancakes/muffins, and is gluten free. As quinoa has a mild flavor, it is best mixed with herbs and spices.

By eating one cup of quinoa, you will consume:
  • 220 calories (70 percent carbs, 15 percent fat, 15 percent protein)
  • 40 grams of carbohydrates (13 percent daily value)
  • 8 grams of protein (16 percent daily value)
  • 3.5 grams of fat (5 percent daily value with no saturated fat)
  • 5 grams of fiber (20 percent daily value)
  • 20 percent daily value of folate 
  • 30 percent daily value of magnesium
  • 28 percent daily value of phosphorous
  • 15 percent daily value of iron
  • 18 percent daily value of copper
  • Almost 60 percent daily value of manganese
  • And it has a low glycemic load!
So whether you are working out or simply trying to add in more healthy foods to your diet, try adding quinoa to your menu planning today. Here is a recipe to give you a head start.


Quinoa Salad Print-Me
An original recipe by Shirley Plant of Delicious Alternatives

1 cup uncooked quinoa (250 ml)
2 cups water (500 ml)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (2 ml)

1 teaspoon sea salt (5 ml)
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil (80-125 ml)
1/3 cup lemon juice (80 ml)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped (125 ml)
2 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped (500 ml)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 red pepper, diced

  1. Wash quinoa well and drain. In a pot, cover quinoa with 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, and lower heat to simmer. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once done, fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool. 
  2. Mix dressing ingredients together in a bowl and pour over cooled quinoa. Mix well and refrigerate. Serve on a bed of lettuce with radicchio, or just on crackers or bread. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quinoa Tabouli (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Today's recipe comes to you courtesy of Ellen Allard, health coach for Rebecca on Team Fuji. Ellen will share a healthy gluten free recipe with us every 4th Wednesday of the month through November. You can find more gluten free recipes here.

When I found out, early on in my gluten free days, that the tabouli recipe I'd been making for years wasn't gluten free, I wept. Big crocodile tears. No more bulghur for this gluten free diva. And then I discovered quinoa, and seismic changes were made in my gluten free world. I'm talking LOVE. And for more than one reason.
  1. It's a no-brainer. Sub quinoa for bulghur and you have Quinoa Tabouli. 
  2. On a flexibility scale, quinoa gets a 10 when you use it to make Quinoa Tabouli. You can dress it up or down, adding different vegetables to the final mix, depending on what you have in the fridge. Though don't think that you can use that gnarly looking scallion you found hiding under a bag of carrots! Scallions are key and they've gotta be fresh and perky. 
  3. Quinoa is gluten free. Bingo. Say no more. And WAY full of protein. 
  4. Quinoa comes in three different colors. Red. Black. Regular ol' beige. Can you even believe it? 
  5. Quinoa is ridiculously easy and quick to cook. You can microwave it, cook it on the stovetop, or throw it into a rice cooker (don't blink, it cooks really fast...not kidding). 
  6. When the temperature doesn't climb much out of the single digits and I need to wrack my brain to remember what summer feels like, Quinoa Tabouli comes to the rescue. Nothing brings me back to the dog days of our New England summers more quickly than this gluten free gift to my repertoire of summer recipes.

Quinoa Tabouli Print-Me
An original recipe by Ellen Allard of Gluten Free Diva
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained*
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic

*Don't skip this step. Quinoa has a bitter coating call saponins which can be rinsed off. 

  1.  Cook the quinoa per the directions on the package. Chill thoroughly. 
  2. Add scallions, parsley, mint, and tomatoes to the quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic until blended. Add to quinoa and veggies, and mix until thoroughly combined. Chill before serving. 
Serves 6-8

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Community BBQ Slaw (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Today's recipe comes to us courtesy of Eryn McEntee, health coach for Marisa on Team Chocolate. Every 4th Tuesday of the month, Eryn will share a healthy gluten free recipe with us. You can find more gluten free recipes here.

When most people think of BBQs, coleslaw is probably one of the food items that readily comes to mind. I would even venture to bet that it is in the category of "BBQ Foods" on Family Feud. I must admit I have always eyed it with suspicion and some "foodie self-righteous thinking." What a sad excuse for a vegetable dish! So what I offer here is a variation on your requisite BBQ dish. Now you can sign up to bring the vegetable dish and deliver something I'm confident even your "BBQ traditionalists" will enjoy.

BBQ Slaw

Growing up I kept copious food journals in attempts to track symptoms in relation to food - mental, emotional and physical - and the abbreviation BB was my standard shorthand for blueberries. These antioxidant powerhouses are not only delicious but a burst with bioflavonoids, antioxidants that help decrease inflammation in the body. Here in the Pacific Northwest, BBs unfortunately are not available locally grown in June. However, if you are anything like and thoroughly enjoy the fun of BB picking, you've stocked your freezer full with these luscious morsels and are just waiting for new creative ways to incorporate them into meals. No longer relegated only to the breakfast or dessert table - possibly in dishes than many gluten free folk may no longer be able to enjoy - BBs are delicious for any meal.

The Q stands for quinoa. A traditional Incan grain, in the last few years it has migrated its way up and has made a remarkable impact on North America, especially in gluten free kitchens. Readers may be surprised to learn that quinoa is in fact a "pseudograin." It is technically/botanically speaking a seed of a plant in the goosefoot species rather a member of the grass family in which the great nemesis of us all resides: wheat. It is actually more closely related to beets and spinach than it is to wheat. It is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein in itself containing the essential amino acid lysine that is often missing from grains. In its natural state, it contains a saponin or soap-like coating. A natural glycoside, saponins help protect quinoa out in nature, thereby necessitating less artificial protection. However, saponins can be toxic in large quantities and should be removed prior to eating. Lucky for us, removal is as simple as rinsing the grains prior to cooking. You will see some bubbles arise; this is the soapy quality of the saponins. Two rinses is generally sufficient. Alternatively, you can find quinoa in packages that have already been washed of their coating and are labeled pre-rinsed: Ancient Harvest Quinoa is one that I know of with this specification.   

BBQ Slaw Print-Me
An original recipe by Eryn McEntee

3 organic cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon organic Italian herb blend
Splash red wine vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup uncooked red quinoa, rinsed (a fine sieve/strainer works well; leave in the device after rinsing; there may be leftovers)
1 cup water

1 large bunch organic lacinato/dino kale (red russian kale is another option)
Juice of 1 organic lemon, freshly squeezed (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 large head organic red cabbage, coarsely shredded
2 organic carrots, peeled and shredded
2 organic scallions, snipped (kitchen shears work well)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (microplane works well)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup organic blueberries (fresh, frozen and defrosted or unsweetened dried)

  1. In a 1-quart sauce pan, sauté chopped mushrooms about 3 minutes on medium heat until they sizzle but do not brown. Add dried Italian herbs. Stir to prevent sticking to pan; add a splash of red wine vinegar if desired.
  2. Add rinsed red quinoa and stir to combine with the mushrooms. 
  3. Add 1 cup of water to pan and bring to boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 8 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from heat, fluff, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Chill in refrigerator.
  1. To finely shred kale, stack 3-4 kale leaves and fold along rib. Chop kale perpendicular to rib from top to bottom, creating thin ribbons of kale. Chop ribbons in half. Repeat with remaining kale leaves. (Alternatively, finely chop/shred kale as is comfortable for you.)
  2. Place chopped kale in a large serving bowl. 
  3. Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt to kale.  
  4. Using hands, massage kale to coat it with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. This helps to "tenderize" it. 
  5. Add in the chopped red cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped scallions, pumpkin seeds, fresh parsley, freshly ground black pepper, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir to mix with wooden spoon.
  6. Remove quinoa from refrigerator and toss 1 cup with kale slaw. Chill for 1 hour or more to allow flavors to blend. 
  7. When ready to serve, add in the blueberries. Add additional sea salt and pepper to taste. 
Serves 8-10 as a side dish. Best enjoyed with others!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Honey Avocado Dip

Today's recipe comes to us courtesy of Mia Davis, health coach for Amy on Team Kale. Every 4th Monday of the month, Mia will share a healthy gluten free recipe with us. You can find more gluten free recipes here.  

This recipe is easy, healthy and full of flavor! And since you can make the sweet potatoes in tin foil on a grill, this is a great idea for bringing to a BBQ. That way you can be sure to avoid cross-contamination from any other foods.



Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Honey Avocado Dip Print-Me
An original recipe by Mia Davis of Blissful Chicks Wellness 
This is one of my favorite recipes. It's quick, easy and SO delicious! This makes a great summer side dish or party platter.

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 small lime
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro
Cumin to taste

  1. Bake sweet potato at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then brush wedges with olive oil and place on well-heated grill. (You can use foil on grill or place onto rack for grill marks). Turn once, and take off grill once desired tenderness is reached (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle with sea salt. 
  2. In bowl, mash avocado with honey and lime juice until smooth. Add cilantro and cumin and mix well. Serve with wedges. Enjoy! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gluten Free Turkey Burger in a Bowl

Today's gluten free recipe comes to us courtesy of Drew Parisi, the coach behind Team Smoothie. Every 4th Sunday of the month, Drew will share a healthy gluten free recipe with us. You can find more gluten free recipes here.

In Palo Alto, we have this fun little restaurant called, The Counter. It's a chain, so you may very well have one where you live too. They allow you to build your own burger, and I always end up with a fabulously decadent creation topped with sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, goat cheese, and a runny egg.

They give you the option right off the bat to order your burger with a bun or a salad, served over organic greens and your choice of fresh vegetables. I love that the burger-in-a-bowel isn't on the "secret" menu - We gluten free foodies can feel welcomed and celebrated ordering right off the regular menu. (They do offer gluten free buns, but why settle for a small, hard roll when you can have your burger displayed proudly, overflowing with toppings, in a glorious BOWL!)

There always comes a time when I start thinking, "I would do this if I were to make this at home," or, "I wish they offered that as an additional topping." At this point, I know it's time to experiment in my own kitchen. Here's my homespun version of The Counter's burger-in-a-bowl with plenty of flavor in the burger itself, so you won't even consider masking its taste with a boring bun.


Turkey Burger in a Bowl Print-Me
An original recipe by Drew Parisi of Parisi Nutrition

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 egg (this adds a little moisture - If you're sensitive to eggs, simply leave it out.)
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Additional veggies and add-ins (see step 2)


  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into uniformly sized patties, and grill over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. (Sometimes I just cook them in a pan on my stove when I don't feel like doing the whole grill thing.) 
  2. Serve over a bed of lettuce and top with plenty of vegetables like grilled onions, sliced tomatoes, dill pickles, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, jalapeño, etc. Be creative! You can even sprinkle with a bit of goat cheese or good cheddar, and top with a runny egg.    
Serves 4.

P.S. This is a great meal for leftovers! Double or triple the recipe to take burgers as lunches during the week, or nibble on a burger and some vegetables as part of a balanced snack. You can freeze the patties for up to 3 months.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gluten Free Cajun Shrimp Skewers and 4 Tips for Gluten Free Barbecues

Today's gluten free recipe comes to us courtesy of Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, the coach behind Team Strawberry. Every 4th Saturday of the month, Georgianna will share a healthy gluten free recipe with us. You can find more gluten free recipes here. ______________________________________________________________

BBQs are one of the harder social situations that revolve around food. Not only is the main focus often on things that go between buns and rolls (which are usually toasted on the grill) but many other options are also either meat-based or pasta-based. It's hard to navigate this realm both gluten free and personally as a non-meat eater, but with a bit of vigilance and planning, you can still have a great time! Whenever I throw or attend a BBQ, there are a few things I keep in mind.
  1. If you are not planning or throwing the BBQ, speak to the host in advance about your needs. 
  2. When attending a BBQ, I almost always bring the following with me (just in case):
    1. Tin foil
    2. Tongs
    3. Gluten free hot dog rolls or hamburger buns
    4. A gluten free dish for sharing. This can be anything from a salad to chips and dip or even a gluten free pasta salad. This way you always have something to eat, even if you can't have anything else there. AND you don't come empty-handed.
  3. Make sure you don't have any grill contamination by ensuring that the person doing the grilling is aware of cross-contamination. This as simple as educating them about your needs and, depending on your confidence in the person and their understanding, suggesting the following:
    1. Provide them with your tin foil and tongs, as well as any food especially for you and let them know that these should only be used with your foods.
    2. Let them know that your food should be cooked separately from other foods. Depending on how much they understand, you might have to be specific about what separate means:
      1. In its own tin foil where nothing that might contain gluten has been cooked.
      2. Fold the foil over to ensure that no grease or run-off from other foods gets on it.
      3. If the grill has an upper and lower rack, consider asking that your food be cooked on the upper rack, or let the person cooking know that bread cannot be cooked over your food. This will avoid crumbs falling onto your foods. 
      4. If all else fails, offer to cook your own food. 
  4. If you are a vegetarian or a pescatarian like me, but still miss having a burger or hot dog once in a while, there are vegetarian options out there to consider (although I will admit they are hard to come by). Here are just a few: 
    1. Sunshine Burgers
    2. Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers
    3. Soy Boy Not Dogs - Made on equipment that sometimes processes gluten containing ingredients
    4. Lightlife Original Tofu Dogs - Made on equipment that may process gluten containing ingredients
    5. Gluten Free Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe's

Cajun Shrimp Skewers Print-Me
An original recipe by Georgianna Dolan-Reilly
I am a pescatarian, which makes BBQs a bit tricky, especially if I want to partake of something that is a good source of protein. These little babies add some protein and spice to your grilled meals, and are great when paired with corn on the cob, potatoes, or really any other item that might be at a BBQ. Try them on their own, or even over rice or on a salad. 

Marinade Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons minced garlic (approximately 2 large cloves)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder*
1/4 teaspoon sugar

*If you like more spice, double the cayenne pepper or consider adding 1/4 teaspoon finely minced jalapeño.

Other Ingredients:
1 pound raw shrimp (peeled and deveined on top and bottom)
1 medium sweet onion
1 medium green pepper
1 medium red pepper
1 medium yellow pepper
1 medium orange pepper
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

  1. In a glass or metal bowl, add the marinade ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Let sit while prepping shrimp and other ingredients. 
  2. Wash the shrimp. Next, peel and devein by removing the grey/black areas along the bottom and top of the shrimp with the tip of a knife. 
  3. Re-wash the shrimp and pat dry. 
  4. Add the shrimp to the marinade and stir until completely covered. Cover bowl and let sit in fridge for 30 minutes. Shake or stir occasionally. 
  5. Meanwhile, heat the grill to low or medium heat. 
  6. Slice the peppers and onions into squares of about equal size (about 1 inch), and set aside.
  7. When the shrimp are done marinating, prepare the skewers by alternating peppers, onions and shrimp. Each skewer is best with 2-3 shrimp. Set aside marinade for basting. 
  8. Place skewers on grill, drizzling each with marinade. 
  9. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes on medium heat or 9 minutes on low heat. 
  10. Turn, baste once more with marinade, and cook for another 4-5 minutes on medium or 9 on low.
  11. Remove skewers from grill and enjoy!
Makes approximately 12-15 skewers.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Marie's Musings: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Learn how to join the conversation in our Facebook support group!

As part of the Gluten Free Health Challenge, Marie will be posting her journal entries on the first 3 Fridays of every month from now until December. She will also be receiving free health coaching during this time from Sarah Dochow of Nurture Nutrition and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel

This has been a rather emotional week for me. I've heard that when people go through drastic dietary changes, it can bring up a lot of feelings. I'm not sure if that's what's going on with me or if I'm just being crazy for other reasons, but this week has definitely been a rocky one. 

First, my cravings are phenomenally overwhelming. I find myself missing bread and flour tortillas. And cheese. Sweet heaven do I miss cheese. If I wasn't so busy having nightmares, I think I'd even be dreaming about cheese - but more on that later.

The staple of my diet these days

My diet has been pretty boring this week. Lots of nuts, whiskey (I know, I know), beans, and chickpeas. I don't know why but chickpeas are almost like comfort food for me, especially drowning in cayenne pepper sauce, so I've been relying on that as a staple. You really can't go wrong at $0.65 a can, am I right? I've also been chewing more gum this week. I notice it makes me gassy and I end up burping a lot. Not really sure if that's a good sign or a bad sign.

So on to these nightmares that I've been having. Actually, sleep problems and nightmares are nothing new to me, but I can say that since going vegan and gluten free, they are more vivid and more terrifying. I don't really know if I can attribute that to what I've been eating or just the general state my life is in. I dream about being tortured and killed. And I have this recurring nightmare which comes up a lot, where I am driving a car but when I go to brake, nothing happens and the car goes out of control. I looked it up and read that dreaming about driving is symbolic of your life journey. Am I moving too fast? Is my life out of control? I don't even know how that would make sense as I feel I have been stagnating for so long.

I also find myself very nostalgic this week. I plan on moving out of the country when my lease is up at the end of the year. It's something I've been planning for months and I am really looking forward to it. And yet, I keep on thinking about being back in New York City where I am from and buying a house and just being somewhere familiar. Part of me doesn't want to go back because I am terrified of dying only miles from where I was born. And yet, part of me just wants to return to the place where I was happiest.

To be honest, I'm not really sure if I've ever been truly happy in my entire life. 

Told you I've been emotional this week.

Anyway, I'm really not so sure what, if anything, this has to do with what I am eating. Maybe I'm just thinking about my life more since it's coming up on three years since I've moved to the desert. Maybe I am hormonal. Or maybe now that I'm simplifying what I eat, I have the energy to focus on the mind and emotional stuff and not just the body stuff.

I'm not quite sure I like it.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

From Rose's Garden: Experiencing the Joy of Being Rose

Rose will be posting her journal entries on the first 3 Thursdays of every month from now until December. During this time, she'll be receiving free health coaching from Shirley Plant of Delicious Alternatives and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel.  

Learn more about the challenge.   

As I pondered what to write about this week, my thoughts continually drifted to self-love. I am working on being me...being Rose...that woman that I have somehow managed to lose along the way.

Who is Rose? Well, that depends on my settings and the people who surround me.

Put me in the business world, and I'm a go getter, an A type of gal but with softer edges than I had 20 years ago. A kinder, gentler version of Rose. I am very confident in the business world. I've had a lot of experience, am pretty good at making decisions, and am very good at seeing the big picture in most situations. I enjoy this part of my job, seeing the big picture and figuring out what needs to be done in order to attain a goal. I enjoy pleasing my boss as well. Who doesn't, really?

I also enjoy mentoring other women in the work world. I had some less than perfect experiences in the business world as a young woman. My goal when training young women just entering the accounting/business world is to share as much information as I can. I do this in a timely manner, allowing them to absorb a little at a time, watching them develop a comfort level, and then helping them rise to the next level. I love watching a person's confidence build as she attains knowledge and expertise. It's very gratifying. In that sense, I think I may have done well in the teaching field.

In my personal life, I'm a total domestic goddess. I absolutely love all things domestic...sans cleaning, of course. I love to cook for people and watch them enjoy my food. I love to sew. I love to paint. I homeschooled my youngest son for four years, and to this day I love that I had such a profound effect on his life at a very crucial time. He and I share a very special bond. I love just being in my home and creating my own little world. I enjoy pleasing my family and friends with food and drink during get-togethers in my home. Most of all, my "loves" on the home front and at work involve doing for others and creating an experience for them, hopefully a pleasant one!

I am just now realizing for the very first time that I have never been able to strike a balance in my life. I have spent almost no time on me as a person with needs. As a young woman, I absolutely loved to be outdoors, walking and biking. I loved the rush from exercise and all the endorphins rushing through my body. So energizing! Somehow I managed to push that special time to the back of my life and it just stopped happening for me. I managed to be oh so busy creating and doing for others that I haven't taken care of myself.

So where does this leave me? In search of Rose...the Rose that I am meant to peace with myself and who I am at any given moment. And how and where do I begin?

Shirley, my amazing coach, mentioned Louise Hay to me in our very first conversation. And so I begin with Louise. I picked up one of her books on Kindle this week, and am reading through the book. I will then go back and do little exercises and affirmations. What is my goal here? To learn to love and please myself, completely and unconditionally. I am totally prepared that this won't be an easy task for me. In the section that I'm currently reading, Louise tells me to go back to my childhood and start cleaning house. I'm not looking forward to this part of the exercise because, let's face it, most of us have some sort of dysfunction that goes back to childhood. We just have different demons that we deal with.

Not once did I give a thought to how much this six month commitment was going to mean to me, to the Rose that I have lost. This isn't just about being gluten free, dairy free, soy free, or egg free. It's not just about the food! It's also about learning to love myself. If I don't love and accept myself, then how can I become who I am truly meant to be? 

P.S. Regarding my sugar addiction, I am making some progress. My morning death drink now has far less sugar since I have been adding unsweetened vanilla almond milk in place of some of the sweetener. I am becoming more accustomed to the flavor and enjoying it. Baby steps.    

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rebecca's Balancing Act: 94 Days to the Wedding

As part of the Gluten Free Health Challenge, Rebecca will be posting her journal entries on the first 3 Wednesdays of every month from now until December. During that time, she'll receive free health coaching from Ellen Allard of Gluten Free Diva and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel. 

Learn how to join the challenge. 

What a roller coaster of a week. There was laughter. There were tears.

The tears come from simple overwhelm. 94 days to the wedding as of this post. Still have no idea what I am going to serve my guests. Ugh.

I have lots and lots of clients and new client inquiries, and not enough time for everything I have committed to doing without sacrificing sleep. SLEEP is the key ingredient to my not falling apart. What does falling apart look like? I crawl under my desk and hide. No, really, I do. 

My bedroom, where I should spend more time

So the message this week - spend more time in my bedroom. It's a lovely room; I just need to get into that room earlier each night than I do.

Positive things this week: Had grab-and-go quinoa salads ready in the fridge for all lunches this week - nice! - and even grilled veggies for dinner last night - success. (Thanks to Ellen Allard for encouragement in that regard.) I also took a long hot bath, lay on the couch for five minutes twice, and even got to be in my garden for several hours on Sunday. (Damian ran the bath and also literally picked me up out of my desk chair and put me in my garden, so I don't get the credit - except for the credit of choosing a really great guy.)

Moments of peace

My favorite joyful moment this week? Watching the hummingbird bathe in my fountain. I get to watch crows, robins, finches, jays, starlings and woodpeckers all bathe there too, but there is nothing quite like watching a hummingbird sit still and take a bath. Maybe because the way it is ALWAYS in motion reflects so closely how I live my life, always darting from one thing to the next, and that moment of stillness is so precious and so rare, for the hummingbird, and for me. It reaches into my soul. 

Because even with the little luxuries like baths and gardening, I am always operating on low-grade panic. Even as I relax, I am aware of the looming lists and deadlines. Trying to learn to ask for, and pay for help. So hard for me.

Slip-ups: Costco taste-tests. Just couldn't turn down the jalapeño-cheddar potato pierogies; Had three sample bites. Sooo yummy! But perhaps it will lead to a brilliant jalapeño mashed potato recipe?

Wedding countdown:
  • 94 days as of writing this post. 
  • Current wedding stress: Food. Have no flippin' idea what I'll be serving my guests... In 94 days!
  • Diet-freakout: Still 8 pounds heavier than I was when I bought the dress (gulp). 
THIS WEEK'S KEY TO SUCCESS: Pre preparing grab-and-go quinoa salad lunches so I feel satisfied during the day.

THIS WEEK'S PERSONAL CHALLENGE: To go outside once a day and walk through my front and back garden. It will be a start to the walking.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Marisa's Menu: The Continuing Saga of the Deadly Nightshades

As part of The Gluten Free Health Challenge, Marisa will be sharing her journal entries with you the first 3 Tuesdays of every month from now until December. She'll be receiving free health coaching from Eryn McEntee, a naturopathic student in her final year of study, and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel during this period. To learn how to join us from home, click here

Problem + solution = new problems.

Have you ever stopped to consider the areas of your life where you may be putting forth too much effort, leading to exhaustion, frustration, feelings of resentment, and even just brain overload?

My session with my amazing health coach, Eryn, has brought me to this point where I am pondering these things. She is also working with me on my desire to be more self-encouraging. My only dietary change thus far has been merging my food diary (previously only on an Android application) to a Google drive document so that I can share this with Eryn in the hopes of gaining more insight. She also gave me a good suggestion of switching up my high dosage probiotic from first thing in the morning to before bed. And my online order of fish oil from Amazon just arrived yesterday, which she also suggested that I include in my daily routine. 

I recently realized how much of my mental energy and even my very valued time has been dedicated to things I did not even used to have to think about before I started connecting the dots between my diet and my health.
I am talking about something as simple as what time I eat. My blood sugar needs to be in constant check. And if I don't eat the right balance of protein/fat/carbohydrates, I still have bad results. And it scares me to ever allow that to happen because one of the worst symptoms is that I go into fight or flight. My entire body is on high alert, and once that panic strikes, it can sometimes take an entire day or longer to calm it down, even once I have eaten and with the full knowledge that I am fine. I know it is a huge strain on my body, so I am now diligent about my "feedings." But the thing is, having to do that is a stress in itself. I feel like I traded one stress for another.

I used to have this stress with the daily anti-seizure medication I took. I had to take that every 12 hours - or else. I was terrified of what would happen if I missed a dose. So I lived in that constant state of fear and control. I was never able to fully relax. 

Having to nourish myself in a "safe" way has become almost an art form. It's very calculated, and measuring intervals is tiring. I do feel like a few years into it, I am actually pretty good at it. I don't resent having to do it as much as I used to. But I wonder at much of myself am I giving to this process? And is this effort also somehow negatively affecting my ability to heal due to the stress of it?

That is just one of the many things that I do out of a sense of survival...but I'm concerned it may also be contributing to or creating stress. Do any of you think some of your rituals (those that you are doing to be sane, healthy and/or happy) may ALSO be inadvertently draining you at the same time?

What do I need to do to turn some of this energy around so that I am feeding off of it, instead of being drained in the process? I know that practicing yoga has and will continue to be my biggest saving grace. I also know that having a loving, supportive partner by my side has been the biggest blessing of all.

This week has been full of ups and downs, as to be expected. Some of the absolutely BEST ups included some of the most beneficial and healing yoga practices I have had in a long time. A new yoga den/hair salon opened up recently called Hagoyah, and it is pretty much my safe place. I also had an outstanding dining experience at one of Kansas City's Farm to Table establishments in the City Market area. So we were able to have a delicious meal - complete with some insanely good house-made vegan cheese - and then walk over to the market to pick up vegetables and other food items for the week from local farmers. 

Then, shockingly we had another good experience at a locally owned restaurant where the owner has always taken care of me. We had not been there in a long time because it really is tiring - and taking a risk, as Shannon mentioned in her recent post about being your own advocate. If I am not on top of my game on any given day, it really is not advisable that I eat any place other than home. If I can't communicate properly to advocate for myself, the consequences are simply not worth it. On this particular visit, the owner was not even there. But the staff remembered me from past visits and made sure to thank me profusely for coming in, while assuring me that they love taking care of requests like mine and they totally understand. I was floored. It felt so good to not be made to feel like that pain in the ass patron who is just picky and demanding. That isn't me. I just have these special needs for health reasons. So it warms my heart when establishments are so kind and helpful.

Another positive is the fact that I ended up making a dessert for a party. The ever-so-supportive Daily Dietribe Gluten Free Challenge Facebook Group offered me some great suggestions. I ended up going with the Almond Goji Berry Truffles. This leads me to the "downs"...

I made the truffles and I even substituted using half goji berries/half dried apricots. When I got done with my masterpiece, I was pleased. They looked a mess... I was not so good at dropping them in the chocolate, swirling and making them pretty. But I was okay with that. They tasted great! The problem started when I decided to scoop out the remaining goji berry/apricot filling and just enjoy some of it on the spoon. Good stuff. But later on, when i was cleaning up and thinking about leaving for the party, I started having some stomach pains. The feeling was familiar, but I could not place it. I just knew it was uncomfortable and clearly something I had eaten was NOT being welcomed by my digestive system. When I glanced in the mirror, I noticed some raised bumps on my cheek too. I looked at my food diary (which, in my opinion, is a MUST DO for anyone who is still questioning their food intolerances or having unexplained symptoms). I was totally bewildered. WTF did I eat? And then it dawned on me: GOJI BERRIES. There was one other time, just like this one, where I made a treat for a party. That time I made macaroons with goji berries and peppermint in them. They were quite good. But my tummy was NOT happy. And that was the familiar feeling. I had experienced this same type of random stabbing pain with discomfort the last time I had eaten goji berries - which, to my knowledge, was the first and only other time I'd ever eaten goji berries.

If I look at this situation and also consider the emotional component, I could go either way with determining if my own emotions at that time had any bearing on if I would react to those berries. As I was making the dessert, I was feeling happy and excited. If I had spent hours picking out the dessert on my own, I might have been stressed. But because the lovely ladies who are supporting me with this gluten free challenge offered up ideas, I felt liberated to just make something. And the recipe itself was so simple that I did not feel negative about conquering it either. So my first assessment of my emotional state is that I was in good spirits and showing positive energy. I also was very relaxed from an amazing noon yoga class called Enlighten Up Lunch Break.

BUT is it possible that my underlying stress of the party itself might have been causing my body (especially my poor intestines and immune system) to be on alert and unable to safely process certain foods? I knew there were some people attending the party who had hurt me in a way I still have not completely dealt with, and that was a stressor. The nervous stomach (gut/brain connection) that Marie spoke of last week is something I am all too familiar with, and have been since I was a child. So I am on the fence with how much my emotional state had to do with my reaction to the goji berries. But I suppose that even in a great mood, feeling as zen as possible, the fact that something is still nagging at you would make all of the difference in the functioning of your gut. After all, it was IN MY GUT that I ultimately made the decision to not attend the party. So did the nagging knowledge of something toxic needing to be dealt with utilize the goji berries as a messenger? I am really wondering now.

So...truffles, anyone? I have plenty. I actually plan to deliver them to one of the attendees of the party. She was one of the only reasons I was even going to the party in the first place. In the end, my gut told me there was more toxicity at that party than positivity. The bad was definitely outweighing the good. And a gut wrenching pain was enough of a communication for me to know that staying home was the only option.

I realize that I want to surround myself with others who are self-aware and at least attempting to seek and nurture wellness in their own lives. I am certain now that my gut - the same gut that I need to heal because of these blasted food intolerances - has been trying to tell me all along that I have been walking the line of letting in some false and insincere support from people who I thought were truly understanding and even right there with me on this journey of wellness. But the nagging feeling has recently led me to learn that we were really not on the same page, and I had been blinded by my desire to help and support and build a community. So with that said, I cannot express to you how incredibly perfect timing this challenge was for this particular point in my life. I feel so very lucky to pretty much overnight have more support and a feeling of community than I have ever had. And I actually believe that my involvement in the Gluten Free Health Challenge thus far is what opened my eyes to how things were really going in my life with the folks I once considered to be my potential community. So thank you to each and every single one of you out there. Please keep being kind to yourselves so you can nurture your own wellness. I am in awe of everything I am learning so far, even this early in the adventure. I am thrilled to have such a great community along for the ride.

NEWS ALERT! Lo and behold, I have officially learned more in these early stages of this Gluten Free Health Challenge than I have in the past year. Wow! Apparently GOJI BERRIES ARE A MEMBER OF THE NIGHTSHADE FAMILY. Good grief! No wonder.

So two weeks in a row, I have been rambling endlessly about my swelling, painful tummy, and skin hurting and flaring up. And come to find out, I have again had an encounter with my nemesis, the deadly nightshade. Those delicious truffles have provided me with the knowledge.

The entertaining, fun part of this whole goji berry discovery is that I get to sign my Nightshade song to the birds before bed tonight. It is sung to the tune of Nightrain by Guns N' Roses. I just make up my own words, mostly singing the chorus, "I'm on the nightshades," as the birds chirp and opera sing along.

I am glad that this happened, especially during this challenge. It points out something I sometimes forget: No matter how much research I do or how much I think I know, I need to continue to be relentlessly diligent about doing my own research every time I eat something new. Even things I have not had in a long time may warrant some caution. It also validates keeping a food diary - which thankfully I have been doing for a number of years now. 


Monday, June 17, 2013

Amy's Bandwagon: The Perfectionist Mindset

As part of The Gluten Free Health Challenge, Amy will be sharing her journal entries here the first 3 Mondays of every month from now until December.  She'll be receiving free health coaching from Mia Davis of Blissful Chicks Wellness and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel during this period. 

Trying to figure out what to write this week was really tough. Finally I decided to talk about some of the challenges I've had this week with following through with the challenge. Then I read something posted by another challenger that made me decide what direction I wanted to take my thoughts.

I've had a rough couple of days and fell off the "gluten free bandwagon." I thought I was doing so well and now here I am, having had a couple of rough days. In the past, I would have just continued to eat the crap that makes me feel bad, but now I am trying not to be too hard on myself. In general, I tend to be an all or nothing type of person. When I try something new, I expect that I am going to do it perfectly with no mistakes ever! When the first week was pretty easy, I figured I was all set. I figured I had finally made up my mind and I was going to complete what I set out to do: eliminate gluten from my diet. The fact that I had felt better almost immediately made me think that I had kicked my carb addiction. Boy was I wrong!

I am currently about 30-40 pounds overweight. I think this all or nothing mindset sets me up for failure with weight loss and eating foods that I shouldn't be eating. I mentioned last week that I think eliminating gluten made a huge difference in my sleep, my mood, my energy, and even what I put in my mouth. Even though I feel so much better, I have still allowed myself to eat foods that either aren't healthy or aren't good for my body.  I think if I could just let myself realize that:

A) Eating something that makes me feel bad isn't a fail. It's just something that I need to move on from and maybe try to think about why I ate it. 

B) Something that feels good in the moment (that fresh roll that seems to taste oh-so-good) is probably going to make me miserable in a few hours or even days. 

C) I just plain need to be easier on myself.

A Facebook friend is opening a creative arts studio in my town. She asked me to teach a class. This perfectionist issue is making me feel like I can't do it. I am thinking that maybe I just need to go for it and see how it goes. Like my eating issues, it doesn't have to be perfect. I can learn from my mistakes. When I eat something I shouldn't, maybe I can learn from that too. Maybe I can open myself up to be more aware of why I ate what I did. Maybe, instead of letting it spiral me down and give up, or even make me not want to try something new in the future...maybe, just maybe I can allow myself to make mistakes and not be perfect and not feel like I can't try anything new in case I fail.

When I agreed to do this challenge, I initially figured that it would help support me on my way to eliminating gluten. I figured it would give me the motivation to keep moving forward. I didn't think that it would help me with body image issues, food addiction issues, how I feel about myself in general (the things that I am able to do/be), or help me be a stronger person overall.

I'm not saying that I am never going to make mistakes with what I eat or with how I feel about myself. What I am saying is maybe, just maybe, I won't always be so hard on myself. Maybe I will look at missteps as a learning experience, not as a failure! 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dorothy's Diary: Body Shame and Hiding Our True Selves

As part of The Gluten Free Health Challenge, Dorothy will be sharing her journal entries with you the first 3 Sundays of every month from now until December. She'll be receiving free health coaching from Drew Parisi of Parisi Nutrition and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel during this period. To learn how to join us from home, click here.

Confession time: 
Well...I need to confess something to you. On date #1 with Mr. Dynamic, he actually did more than touch my legs. He pretty much touched everything there is to touch. And I returned the favor.

The reason I'm confessing is because I want to talk about body image and how a negative body image affects your sex life and romantic relationships. And I believe this is also connected to food and food issues.

When I was younger, I had some very bad reactions from certain men after taking off my clothes. I also had some good ones, but it's the negative ones that stick with you. For example, I heard: I cannot marry you because I can't stay attracted to your boobs/body. Another comment: Can you please put your bra back on? Yeah, those are actual statements said to me. Seriously! And I completely believed them and felt ashamed, like I was damaged goods.

This photo was taken by an old boyfriend. He thought my hips were a little too big and he was the one who couldn't marry me because of my body. I remember exactly how I felt at that time - I thought I was fat, yes fat and not pretty. Now looking at the photo, I see a beautiful young girl. Why couldn't I see it back then?

I'm telling you all this because I have spent my whole life and so much energy on hiding my body beneath my clothes. Nothing too tight. Wearing two bras to the gym to hold my chest down. All sorts of secret measures. Keeping a t-shirt on in bed during sex, trying to cover my chest with pillows. Anything I can think of to avoid being completely naked. Naturally, I've always been a "lights off" gal. Even while having sex, I'm thinking about the position, what does my body look like, how can I hide the jiggly parts. It takes a whole lot of energy to hide yourself. It's almost impossible to experience full pleasure, let alone an orgasm.

Over the years, it became a terrifying experience to take off my clothes in front of a man, especially the first time. I never knew what kind of reaction I would get. I used to wait until I had dated the man for a while, until I knew he liked me. I thought he would accept my body more if he liked me. (Nope, not necessarily the case.) Then I decided NO, take your clothes off early on in case there is a bad reaction. Then who cares if you never see the guy again.

I'm giving you all this history to let you know that I was pretty darn scared on that first date. I mean I was petrified! We started out with nice conversation and a glass of wine, but in his New York ways, Mr. Dynamic was direct and pretty intense. Not letting me avoid or hide. Then it turned a bit romantic. Okay, not a bit. It felt more like the earth was parting under my feet. Mr. Dynamic took off his shirt and then said, "Okay, you next." I had to instantly decide what to do. What the heck? Don't think! Just go for it. I took off my top, then my skirt. He took off his shorts. Then he took off the rest of my clothes, and OMG I was naked. Just plain naked, out of my environment, and almost numb with the fear. Then I heard Mr. Dynamic say, "You have awesome tits," and I knew it was going to be okay. He said, "Guys must date you for your chest," and it felt like the greatest compliment ever. I started smiling. This was a GOOD reaction.

The only thing I'll mention at this point is that when I saw Mr. Dynamic naked, I almost started whooping with delight, and said a thousand thank you's to the heavens above. That was one sexy naked man standing in front of me. And he took charge from there. I'm not saying it was all breezy, easy beautiful. Some TMI excerpts:

Mr. Dynamic: I have never had to work this hard to get someone to relax and have fun in bed. Ever! (Said after over an hour of him trying to make his moves while I was jumpy and resisting and scared.)

Mr. Dynamic: You are the most uptight chick I have ever met. I would NEVER have to worry about you sleeping around. (I told him I was surprised he hadn't given up yet. He responded by saying he might have when he was younger, but not now that he was older and wiser.)

Mr. Dynamic: Owwwwwwwww (holding his jewels because I accidentally kicked him while trying to turn around on the bed.)

The good news is that Mr. Dynamic knows a woman's body, and once I relaxed enough, the night was FANFUCKINGTASTIC. I mean, I couldn't have dreamed it up that good.

I wondered what would happen at the end of playtime. Would he ask me to go? Would I pick up my clothes and sneak out? I wasn't sure what the protocol was. As it turned out, there was no discussion. I went to put on my t-shirt, and Mr. Dynamic said, "No clothes in bed." Then he put his arms around me, pulled me into his body and went to sleep.

I'd love to say that I slept blissfully in his arms. That wasn't the case. He never moved. I was a restless sleeper; I could not stay still. Then I couldn't breathe. I felt a bit claustrophobic. I kept moving over to my side of the bed, but Mr. Dynamic would move over too. Finally I hit the edge. I got up out of bed and went into the living room several times. I tripped on a step and broke my big toe nail. I finally just stayed out on the couch and stared out the window until the light came up. Mr. Dynamic, on the other hand, was sleeping soundly in his bed.

When he woke up, Mr. Dynamic cooked me a lovely breakfast. He acted like this was the norm. I didn't tell him that I wasn't used to spending the night - and I certainly wasn't used to a man cooking me breakfast! It really was this amazing date - packed with nervousness, fear, discovery, self-awareness, personal growth, and best of all, really great sex. When I drove away, my body was alive and my mind was calm.   

A little over a week later:
I didn't know if I was going to see Mr. Dynamic or even if he would come over (although there had been lots of sexy calls and texting). But I just wanted the house to have clean energy again. I opened all the windows and let the fresh air in. Washed the dishes, did loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen countertops, stove, etc. Next came the bathroom, then swept and mopped. Wow, I was feeling so proud of myself! Did more laundry. Time to pick up the bedroom, make the bed, fluff the pillows, hide the sex toys.

Then I checked my phone. Mr. Dynamic had tried calling me at:

What??? I was in such Cinderella cleaning mode that I hadn't noticed. I called Mr. Dynamic immediately.

Me: Hi there.
Mr. D: Hi, I'm in Auburn headed your way.
Me. What?! You are?
Mr. D: Yes, now how do I get there?
Me: Umm... Do I have time to take a bath?
Mr. D: Yes, I think you should.
Me: Okay, bye.

RUN! Run down the hall and start running the tub. Shoot, shoot, shoot. No notice!! Thank GOD I cleaned my house. I'm not joking. Thank God. I would NOT have let him in. I have NEVER invited anyone over, especially not a man. OMG. Shoot. Okay, think. Take bath, shave legs (second time now), some lotion for the legs, and quick, what am I going to wear?! Shoot, I can't wear the same thing as before. What am I going to wear?!?!

Throw on shorts and a sweatshirt. Now I know that's not sexy but he could arrive at any moment. It was the first thing I grabbed. My face was clean - no makeup. Slooowww down, Dorothy. 

My cell phone rang. It was Mr. Dynamic. He's a bit lost. He tells me he's a mess, and I said, "Good, thank God. I don't have makeup on." He asked why I needed that (love him), I told him "to look beautiful," and he simply ignored that and asked for directions. I ended up staying on the phone with him the whole way until he arrived. I heard knocking on my front door. I quickly brushed my hair and did a quick prayer to the universe. Then I opened my door...

I tried to give him the tour but he just started kissing me and was sort of lifting me/dragging me towards my bedroom. He was a man with a focus. My head was spinning. I think he was naked on my bed in less than three minutes. Off went my sweatshirt. Off went my shorts. I flung my bra and underwear across the room. 

Here's the amazing thing. THE AMAZING THING. I took my clothes off and I did not try to hide or cover up. I did not worry about hiding my jiggly parts. I did not try to put a pillow over my chest. It's unbelievable but I was not self-conscious at all. This is the first time - THE FIRST TIME EVER EVER EVER - that I felt like this. I cannot tell you how utterly liberating it was. I have spent so much energy on covering up and avoiding my body.

For now, let's just take a two-hour pause so you can watch the butterflies and hummingbirds that are flying around my ceiling and outside my window. I'm hearing zippidy doodah, if you wish upon a star, and any other Disney song you can think of. Bluebirds are singing. Flowers are smiling at me. I am dancing barefoot on the clouds.

I am alive, I am alive, I am alive, I am alive.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shannon Speaks: Learning To Be My Own Gluten Free Advocate

As part of the Gluten Free Health Challenge, Shannon will share her journal entries here on the first 3 Saturdays of every month from June through November. During this time, she will also receive free health coaching from Georgianna Dolan-Reilly of Celtic Celiac and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel

To join us all with the challenge, take the pledge and join the Facebook support group

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been a hectic week of not much happening. Anyone know how that works?

I had my first meeting with my coach, Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, on Tuesday. It was a lovely chat with Miss Georgia. We discussed the basics, my story, why I joined the challenge, etc. I was surprised to see just how much I actually knew in the short period of my diagnosis. Made me feel like I've been doing productive research, as opposed to finding a bunch of BS. We discussed my upcoming trip to Vegas, how to best travel GF, and what I should look into packing so that I have snacks available and don't get glutened. I have a few days and some homework to do before our next chat.

I need to rewind to last weekend and discuss why it's so important that we need to be our own advocates because, in the words of my husband, "No one else cares about anyone but themselves." I was out running my usual weekend errands when I stopped at one of my favorite places to grab lunch. It's a local place in my area called Surf Taco. They  do "Mexi-Cali" style food: fresh ingredients, Mexican style dishes. There are places like it on both coasts. They have a dedicated GF and vegan menu, so I asked to see the GF menu. After some hemming and hawing, I decided on a grilled steak taco and a grilled chicken taco, both on corn tortillas. All of their items come with fresh made tortilla chips, so I asked the girl taking my order at the counter if the tortillas were fried in the same fryer as items such as the battered fish for the fish taco. She said that they were. I told her that she should discuss with her manager putting a disclaimer on the GF menu about the frying because they could be cross-contaminated. That was met with a not-so-friendly look. Then I decided to take it a step further and point out that the Aloha salad wasn't all GF because it contained blue cheese, and told her that the cheese wasn't GF. I'm pretty sure that if her hands were in plain sight, she would so have been flipping me off. I was just trying to help those in the future that may not know. Heaven forbid.

So my tacos came out, one in a corn tortilla and the other in a flour, which I didn't realize until I had already bitten into and eaten a bite of it. Thankfully it was a different kid behind the counter, and he was lovely about getting me a new taco, on the appropriate tortilla.  

This is something that fuels my fear of eating out. I can't see the kitchen. I can't see what you're doing to my food, so I have to ask my server; I've got a 50/50 shot of getting someone who gives a crap. I have to be my own advocate because I am (other than the hubby and parents) the only one that cares about what goes in my body. The waitress doesn't. The chef only cares that it's prepared fully and won't give me food poisoning. It's not like they're going to see me get violently ill if I eat a glutenized product, but they don't see what it's doing to my chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Hubby's right; I'm the only one who cares. I'm the one with the goal, not them. They don't care about someone they don't personally know;  They don't care whether some random customer at the restaurant has a healthy pregnancy and baby. 

Okay, rant over. The past few days have been emotionally charged for me, and I get going on the simplest of subjects. Yesterday, I was looking at pictures of my son that we lost. It's been over fourteen months, and while I deal with the pain and keep moving, seeing his pictures brings it all back as if I were in the hospital again. I look at them because I'm afraid to forget what he looks like...every day that gets further away from the day he was born. I look at them to rejoice in his beauty and that I made that perfect creature. And despite his fatal birth defect, he was, is...perfect. Sometimes the memories tear open the wounds and dump salt into them and make them burn and fester all over again. 

Some positivity! I tried my hand at some flourless chocolate chip cookies on Thursday night. They're sooooooo rich and chocolatey! They're the kind of treat that you can literally only eat two or three of because the human body can't take such rich deliciousness.

Also, I need some positive vibes sent my way. I have some stuff in the works for which I need all the thoughts and positivity I can get while I go through the whole process. When all is said and done, I will chat about it, but I have to keep it under wraps for now...

Have a beautiful weekend!



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