Monday, September 30, 2013

Gluten-Free Chips and Dip: Animal Style

(Today's recipe comes courtesy of health coach, Eryn McEntee.)

I feel like parents are always asking how to get more veggies into their children. Well, this recipe will aid in the effort without the fuss. It’s a quick and fun veggie accompaniment to school lunches or a great after school snack. Smiles all around!

Not only will kids enjoy, but they can play an active role in the preparation as well. To bring up healthy eaters, it is vital to get children into the garden and the kitchen at an early age so that they know where their food comes from and what they are putting into their bodies. Interacting with food and taking an active part in its preparation will allow them to utilize and develop their creativity and increase the likelihood they will eat what they are helping to make.



Gluten-Free Chips and Dip
An original recipe by Eryn McEntee

Ingredients:
  • A variety of hard veggies and fruits in various colors such as the following:
·       2-3 medium to large raw beets, in a variety of colors
·       1 sweet potato
·       1 cucumber
·       1 jicama or daikon radish (the latter is spicy)
·       1 large apple, any variety
·       1 pear
  • Quinoa Polenta pre-baked
For the Dip:
  • 1 c cooked black eyed peas
  • (if using canned I highly recommend Eden Brand; they presoak their beans and cook them with Kombu, a seaweed that both enhances the digestibility for sensitive tummies as well as provides added nutrients for growing bodies)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 t tahini or almond butter (the almond butter will provide a slightly sweeter flavor)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • ½ c steamed kale (another yummy way to get veggies into your kids)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • about 2-4 T water (as needed to thin it)
Preparation:
You will need micro cookie cutters about 1inch by 1inch (available at Michael’s craft stores)
  • Cut package of polenta in half down the middle. Unpeel the wrapper. Cut in thin rounds. Older children can help with this part especially if you have plastic veggie knives but not appropriate for younger children. *Remember always to make a “claw” with the hand holding the polenta when cutting.
  • Peel the beets and sweet potato if using. The other veggies and fruit do not need to be peeled but if not organic I would recommend it. Wash those with peel on. Starting from the outer edge, cut the veggies and fruit into thin slices vertically. This will require the assistance of an adult.
  • Once the polenta and all the veggies and fruit are cut up, bring out the mini cookie cutters. Kids can go “animals” with all the designs they can create. Holiday and other themes and stories are also welcome for example, the ones I made were animals based on Noah’s Ark.
  • Once all the shapes have been created, lay the polenta ones on a cookie sheet with parchment if not stainless steel or ceramic. Place in an oven heated to 250 degrees. Cook for 10 mins. You can include the fruit and veggies on the try to cook them as well, but is not necessary.
For the Dip:
  • Combine all ingredients in food processor except for the water. Pulse and scrape down the sides. Add the water as it runs tsp by tsp to thin as desired.
Serve the “animal crackers” with the dip. Experiment with other dips such as mashed up avocado, traditional hummus and nut butters. Even tapenade or salsa some children may readily consume.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dorothy's Diary: Mr. Dynamic (The Way We Were)

Remember how happy and glowing my last post was about Mr. Dynamic?  My last sentence was “Forget about maintaining balance when you just had the sun, the moon and the stars.”   Yes, it was a fairytale event.

No Contact - Month 1


Like Bonnie Raitt sings in her song, “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”  In this case, I couldn’t make Mr. Dynamic like me, or even call me.  I never heard from Mr. Dynamic again.

For the next four weeks, I thought about Mr. Dynamic every single day.  I alternated between anger, crying, disbelief, confusion, sadness, missing Mr. Dynamic and then completely writing him off.  It was a roller coaster ride.

In spite of all the emotions, I did not call Mr. Dynamic.  I valued myself, I respected myself, and I didn’t want to be with anyone who couldn’t treat me right.  I wanted him to take action.  I wanted 2-way communication, even on a casual basis.  So I didn’t call, wouldn’t call.

I kept thinking, surely something must be up.  He’s always been very direct with me.  This silence seemed so inconsistent with the man I knew.  Then it dawned on me….. maybe, just maybe, the reason our last visit was extra nice is because Mr. Dynamic had already decided that it would be the last time.  Oh…….

With that realization, my whole perspective changed.  I was no longer offended about being stood up.  I got it.   He had chosen this as a strategy to exit.  The anger started subsiding.

I fully believe either party has the right leave a relationship (or in this case a whatever-ship) any time they choose.  It does no good to be clingy or try to make something happen.  Honestly, I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want to be with me.

I knew it was time to release and let go.  I didn’t need to know what happened, all the reasons why.  Maybe it was better not to know.

No Contact - Month 2


Still thinking about Mr. Dynamic but with a gradual decrease of emotion.  Sometimes feel sadness, but nothing like before.   With the emotional distance came new awareness.

You know how I didn’t feel when things ended?
I did not think it was my fault.
I did not think it was because my body wasn’t good enough.
I did not feel wronged or shamed.  
I just saw it as an experience.
And that is absolutely a result of this Gluten Free challenge.

Here is a diary excerpt towards the end of Month 2:

As I was leaving work, I was hit with an intense longing for the beach.  Instead of heading south towards my apartment, I drove north to Alki Beach.  As I crossed the West Seattle Bridge, I could feel the longing turn into a physical pain.

Arrived at Alki Beach and walked across the sand towards the water.  Rolled up my jeans and waded into the water.   The relief was so overwhelming I almost started crying.  Started breathing, really breathing.  I could smell the ocean.   I looked across the ocean and saw the Seattle skyline, the misty mountains in the backdrop.   It didn’t feel like home, but it was closer……I felt better.   I knew this feeling was important.

Thoughts moved to Mr. Dynamic.  Even though he is not perfect, I got to experience how wonderful it is to be with someone who is sexy AND intelligent AND extraordinary.  Getting over the body shame and having liberating sex was really great.  Now I truly understand that I am unique, not like everyone else, and I very much need a partner who is unique and not like everyone else.   Someone interesting.   Someone who I love sleeping next to – where our bodies fit together.

I am being shown how WONDERFUL things are (and feel) when I ask for or get MORE than what I expect.  I need to aim higher.  I need to aim real high so I can have that amazing life I want.   OK, universe, I want that GREAT life.  I want everything.   I want abundance, excellence, in all areas of my life.


I just started crying at the computer as I’m writing.  I just got it!  I got the message from the Universe.  Finally, finally.  It’s a relief.   I’m being shown to ask for more.  It’s out there waiting for me.  I have to ask for it.  I have to dream it.  I’m feeling waves of relief coming out of my chest area, my heart.  Waves of relief because I just got it.  And now I think that’s going to unlock things for me……so they can come to me.  I want WONDERFUL, I want AMAZING, I want EXCELLENCE, I want ME.

No Contact - Month 3

Much more emotional distance now.  My perspective has shifted even more.

I wonder how I would have done on the gluten free challenge if things had really taken off with Mr. Dynamic?  Would it have sabotaged my gluten free challenge?   Did things last for the perfect amount of time?

People say, “it’s just sex.”   But my body had not felt good for most of my time in Washington.  My body hadn’t worked right and had experienced intense pain day after day after day.   Mr. Dynamic was able to bring me great pleasure, make my body feel good again.  That was something my body, mind and spirit needed to experience and remember….. that I could feel amazingly good again.

Do I still think of Mr. Dynamic?  Sometimes.  Mostly I think of him with fondness because I recognize the impact he had on my life.  My time with Mr. Dynamic was a powerful and lovely experience that helped me connect with my power, helped me heal, and definitely jump-started my life to a higher level.  Mr. Dynamic helped to remind me of who I was, and what I liked about myself.  Mr. Dynamic made me face one of my greatest fears, and allowed me to see that I am courageous.  Even amazing.  You can’t imagine how good it feels to see these things about yourself.

I recently read a TUT quote that went something like this:
Worst case scenario:  the sun, the moon and the stars for one night
Best case scenario:  the sun, the moon and the stars for a very long time

In either scenario -- or anything in between -- I still get the sun, the moon and the stars.   And that’s how I view my Mr. Dynamic experience.

ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shannon Speaks: Catch Up


So, not too much has been going on, which I guess is a good thing.  My “real” job has started back up, so no more being stuck in an office with 3 twenty-somethings, all newly engaged, obsessively going on and on about their wedding Pinterest boards and being catty and snarky behind each other’s back.  Instead I’m back at school, where sometimes the teachers act worse than the students.  Only upside?  I’m not stuck at a cubical in a small office.  I can walk away from the drama.

Now, it’s all about managing the stress of the school year.  Between the kids, administration, a new curriculum, new state standards and a new evaluation system, which is all being thrown at us at once, it is a bit overwhelming.  I need to start to schedule yoga classes into my daily routine.  I kind of fell off of it for a bit, but I definitely need to get back to it.  I noticed that I felt more clear headed and my body started to tone up and get more firm.  Yup, I’m definitely scheduling yoga in for myself.

I started to run a few weeks back.  It was sometime in August when I was at my summer job. I had a horrible day and was just in a nasty mood.  When my hubby got home, he changed to go for a run at the boardwalk.  He told me to change to go with him, get some fresh air and go for a walk (running wasn’t my forte).  I was nasty to him, I can admit it.  But he never lets me get away with it.  He told me to man up, get over my crap mood and get my ass in gear. Since I was already acting like a bratty kid, I decided I was only going to do the 2 miles instead of the 3.  That would fix him, by me skimping on a workout for myself.  Well, I chose to try and run the mile back.  I tried running last summer, but I sucked.  And like I’ve mentioned in the past, if I’m not good at something the first few times, I quit.  I was stoked that I ran a mile faster than I walked it.  Definite improvement from the previous summer. Losing the weight made it easier and faster for me to run.  Go figure. 

So I would run 2-3 days a week and try to build my mileage.  Last week I was maxed out at 1 ½ miles.  On Tuesday, I was running late getting home and had my call with Georgia.  I knew I wanted to run before our call, so instead of driving out to the boardwalk, I used "map my run" and planned a route in my development.  My total mileage for that was 1.87 miles.  I was super stoked.  Furthest run I’ve ever done.  I decided on Wednesday that I was going to try for 2 full miles.  I got changed and headed to the boardwalk, set my ipod to shuffle through all of the Eminem songs on it and started to warm up with a walk.  I got to where I started running, and I went.  I’m not fast by any means, but right now it’s about mileage not speed.  I was running into a south wind that was smashing into me, easily at 15-20mph.  I made it through the mile to the end of the boardwalk, turned around and headed back.  Once I made it to the 2 mile mark, I decided that I felt good, and I was going to try for closer to 2 ½.  Made it to that and kept going.  I forced myself to stop when I finished 3.2 miles (5k distance – that was my goal).  I wanted to run one next month to benefit the Seaside fire department after the fire that burned down part of the boardwalk I grew up on.  I was so excited, I started jumping around and whooping.  People were looking at me like I was insane.  Definitely proud of myself and those moments are very few and far between.  Now it’s all about continuing to be consistent in running so I can add more mileage and get faster.  Pride in oneself is a greater “high” than runner’s high.

-Shannon-

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marie's Musings: Beverage of Choice


Hello world! I’m just sitting here sipping on my Arizona Iced Tea, wondering what my life has come to.





















When I was a little girl... I want to say around 11 years old? Arizona Iced Tea was THE beverage of choice. There was a vending machine at my middle school that sold them and all of the cool kids would buy them. This brand of iced tea made you popular. Now as an adult all I notice is how colorful the cans are. I mean seriously, it’s distracting. Oh, and the funniest part? I live in Arizona now, yet on the back of the can it states that this tea was manufactured in a place called Woodbury, New York. Go figure! 

The food industry, I tell you. It’s full of lies.

So about my blog last week? Luckily it appears as though the boy and I are going on a date to the movies, so it will be super easy to avoid food there. I’ve never much been a fan of movie theater popcorn, it always tasted stale to me so that will be easy to say no to. Although, I might just spring for a Pepsi. What can I say, I am all about beverages this week. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy being vegan due to ethical issues. Even so, it would be nice to have the ability to have a grilled cheese sandwich without having to be a slave to the toilet for hours afterward. Just saying. 

Anyway this week has been boring and full of working long hours so there’s not much more to report. It’s getting increasingly harder to fit exercise into my day but at least I’m moderately active with work so I don’t feel too guilty about it. And... I guess that’s all for this week? Until next time, be kind to yourselves. 

-Marie-

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Marisa’s Menu: Celiac Awareness Day

Marisa’s Menu: Celiac Awareness Day


As many of you may have noticed, especially if you logged into Facebook at all recently, September 13th is Celiac Awareness Day.  Not being officially diagnosed with this, I still very much identify with the need for awareness.  A good friend of mine, who has a heart of gold - but like me - a host of autoimmune issues related to her gut, brought up another aspect of the awareness, and I wanted to share it here. She rarely posts online, but on this day of reflection, she said the following…...


“On today, Celiac awareness day just thought I'd get up on my soap box for my once or twice a year lecture. I really wish my autoimmune disease wasn't the butt of so many hipster/portlandia like jokes. Yes I have a sense of humor and laughter is the best medicine and lord knows I've made a few myself but I don't see too many other autoimmune diseases used for laughs. As many Celiacs suffer for years and can have complications like cancer, seizures, other bowel diseases, and overall shortened lifespans or poor health I just don't see the laughs. So the next time you see or hear someone ask about gluten free, don't assume they are on some fad diet or being trendy as most of us have a serious disease and you have no idea what we have been through.”


I shudder when I hear that because I know the struggle she has been through.  And I can relate to it with my own.  I notice the looks I get from those around me when I inquire about gluten-free.  I also have even overheard people making rude comments of judgment.  It takes a lot of compassion, patience, and self-control at times to not react.  The three deep breath rule seems to work for me thus far.  But the best thing that occasionally does happen, which I try to focus on vs the other situations, is when someone overhears my gluten-free inquiry, and they actually approach me and sincerely ask valid questions, seeking some type of information to prevent their own ignorance.  I LOVE THAT.  I had someone today strike up a conversation at the grocery store, and it was wonderful.  She valued what I had to say, and I felt good knowing that because of that interaction, another person now had a better sense of gluten-free, and especially the seriousness of Celiac Disease, and other food-related chronic conditions, and autoimmune diseases.  


I go from being conflicted with frustration to angry at the people I encounter who are led by ignorance and poor information.  Some of those people are outward and open about their inability to believe that anything I am eating could possibly be causing so many of the problems I have had, and especially the mental component of what an unhealthy gut can be responsible for.  But then there are those who nod silently, and just choose to make those comments behind my back.  Either way, I just sometimes wish I could literally knock some sense into these people. Not in a vengeful way, though.  I just want more people (well everyone - but I know that is not realistic) to UNDERSTAND why I choose to be gluten-free.  And I want the medical community to educate themselves further on this subject, and share the seriousness of it with their patients.  I know I have mentioned it before, but I still have acquaintances who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Yet, they still continue to eat gluten.  And while that is their choice, my frustration lies with their physician.  Because they were actually TOLD that they should simply try to avoid gluten.  But that if they have it on occasion it should be fine.  Not a mention the extreme damage that it can do to their already damaged intestinal wall.  Without warning, further damage can and will lead to more diseases, a potentially shorter life span, and overall, it jeopardizes their wellness.  It is like a basic diagnosis.  Here is what is wrong with you.  There may be a pill some day for it, and just try to avoid these things, if you can.  I am baffled by this type of medical care.


So, the best I can do right now is continue to advocate for myself, and others in the gluten-free community.  I feel very fortunate every day to have the gluten-free challenge as part of my support system.  It has done wonders for chasing away those feelings that I just drudged up about being frustrated. I didn’t mean to get into a rant or be negative.  I just was feeling this all week, and Celiac Awareness Day managed to bring more of those feelings to the surface.  I am glad that so many people are becoming active in the community, and speaking up and out about gluten-free.  It gives me hope that my desire for a better awareness and understanding is actually possible.


Photos:
(1) Sporting my special gluten-free label that decorated my dish at Waldo Pizza

(2) Gluten-Free signage at the Whole Foods in Henderson, Nevada

(3) My visit to OMG... It's Gluten Free near Chicago, Illinois



Monday, September 16, 2013

Amy's Bandwagon: Where Do I Go From Here?

Through this challenge, I have again started to look at a career change.  I have been a social worker for the last 16 years and have always been working with elders and mostly in nursing homes.  I am burnt out on nursing homes, but I am not really sure where I need to look for my next career challenge.  In the past and again due to this challenge, I have started to think about a career in nutrition, but not in the typical medical model nutrition.  I have been thinking about learning more about gardening, cooking, and eating healthy foods and then teaching that to others.  I would love to teach these things to children to help start children on the right path instead of trying to change bad habits after they are adults.  I for one, know how hard that is.

My husband and I have had a garden for the last 3 years.  When I was in grad school, I helped to write a grant to fund a scholarship for children to go to a farm to learn about garden and where food comes from.  The goal of the grant was to bring inner city children to a rural farm in Maine and actually learn how and where food comes from, not just the grocery store.  If one is able, I think that growing foods and eating them as directly from the garden is better than buying them trucked in from the grocery store.  I think that eating foods that I can grow in my garden not processed foods that I buy in the store is going to be better for me.  In the end, I think that teaching others to eat this way and teach them how to be more sustainable is really where I want my career to go.

I feel like I need to get my own diet and lifestyle in order before I start to think about a career in nutrition.  I have not always had the best luck with eating gluten free, but I think that is because I have always tried to replace glutenous foods with non-glutenous foods and expect that they are going to taste the same. Recently, due to this challenge, I have started to think about different foods and how it affects our bodies.  I am starting to think that maybe, I really need to just stop gluten foods and not replace them with non-gluten alternatives, such as gluten free breads, but start to eliminate those trigger foods all together.  I think I tend to get a little lazy and then I start to slowly add in the foods that make me feel bad and then I have to start all over.  I think, it may be better for me to eat proteins and non starchy veggies.  This challenge has and continues to be a way for me to look at many different areas in my life and see how eating gluten free plays a role.

-Amy-

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dorothy's Diary: Someone Exactly Like You

Ready for another installment of Mr. Dynamic?  The last time we left off, I had spent the night at Mr. Dynamic’s place and was able to re-live the “no body shame” experience.  I also slept much more peacefully in his arms. Was that it?  Or could there be another delicious episode with Mr. Dynamic?  I was trying to maintain some balance.

One Week Later...
Morning.  Phone rings way too early.  Look at my phone.  Mr. Dynamic calling.  What?????  That guy is always a surprise.

Me:     Hello (very groggy)
Mr. D:  Are you sleeping?
Me:     Yes
Mr. D:  I was going to come over, in about an hour
Me:     OK
Mr. D:  What do you have in mind?
Me:     Sleeping.
Mr. D:  OK Bye

I lazed in bed another 15-20 minutes, then realized I better get up.  Made some coffee, took a bath.  I wasn’t panicked or rushing.  Put on a slip, camisole, and my blue silk robe (which is reserved for special occasions).   No make up.  Hair wild and curly from sleeping.

The door rang. He’s here!  I open my front door.  There he is.  Mr. Dynamic is coming down my stairs.  This image is vividly imprinted into my mind:  Gorgeous sexy man coming down my apartment stairs in khaki shorts, a black t-shirt and tennis shoes with no socks.  He’s light on his feet, almost bouncing down the steps.  He is smiling right at me and he is SEXXXXYYYYY.  He has a confident, sexy vibe.  And when he looks at me and is happy to see me, my heart melts.  It’s pretty damn lethal.

Mr. Dynamic walked through my door and I got to hug that 6’4” body.  He immediately started kissing me.   I sensed that he was open and relaxed.  He seemed at ease and he smiled a lot.  His guard was down.  He wasn’t controlling.  He was letting me see that he was happy to see me.

I didn’t even try to hide my excitement:  “I’m happy to see you!  I missed you.”  Kisses, some more kisses.   Trying to drink my first cup of coffee but he wasn’t letting me.  I almost spilled a couple of times, then I put down my mug and forgot all about the coffee.

Music was playing in the background. Someone Exactly Like You.  (I’m listening to it now as I write and the emotions are coming back.)

When we first went to my bedroom, I sat on the side of the bed.  He was already naked, stretched out on the bed.  I told Mr. Dynamic that I was serious about what I texted -- that his mind was as sexy as his body.  Said I’d like to talk a little first because it’s like foreplay for me.  It helps me to get emotionally connected.  He said ok, come sit right here (and pointed to his lower stomach) and let’s talk.  So we chatted for a while, but within a few minutes I didn’t feel like talking any more.  I was just enjoying his body.

I know I always talk about how great the sex is, how it’s fantastically delicious.  This time was no exception.  In fact, it was the best ever.  I WAS ON A HIGH, A BIG TIME SEXUAL HEALING HIGH.  You know why?  Because I didn’t have body shame.  Because Mr. Dynamic let his guard down.  Because I let my guard down.  Mr. Dynamic was looking into my eyes a lot more and this time I looked back.  This time I wanted to see what was in his eyes.  What I saw was gentleness, caring, someone letting me in.  And I was trying to return the favor.  I was amazed.

By the time we hit two hours, my legs were shaking, my body was shaking.  I was going to the sun, the moon and the stars.  Then I let myself fall over and I felt an emotional release.  I started crying with the sheer relief of it.  I covered my face with a pillow to hide the emotion, but I reached out my hand and Mr. Dynamic took it.   We held hands for a couple of minutes while he let me be.  It was a sweet, intimate moment.

We went into the kitchen for something to drink and for some real conversation.  I learned more about Mr. Dynamic, about his past, his career and some of his flying adventures. He was excited to tell me about the vegetable garden he was planting.  He asked about my job search and gave me his thoughts.  Mr. Dynamic was being affectionate during the conversation.  Before you know it, we quit talking and headed back for more play time.

Eventually, Mr. Dynamic had to go back to work.  Before he left, Mr. Dynamic looked straight into my eyes and said he’d like to see me again.  Either later that day or tomorrow.  That made my heart happy.  As he was sitting in my chair putting on his tennis shoes, Mr. Dynamic told me (without any prompting) what he noticed about me when we first met.  Said he knew he was “going to come get me.”  What?  I couldn’t believe my ears.  He gently laid his face against my chest for a long moment.  Then he stood up, smiled into my eyes and gave me a lingering kiss good-bye.

All I can say is, wow!  I wasn’t expecting this morning at all.  The warmth, tenderness and intimacy is embedded in my heart.  Forget about maintaining balance when you just had the sun, the moon and the stars.

-Dorothy-

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