Monday, June 30, 2008

Cooking Books

Cooking Books
My books from the Good Cook book club arrived! Well 3 out of 4 anyway. The one I wanted the most was back ordered, of course, and now I get a letter saying that it's no longer available. It was Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes. I still want it and will probably just go out and buy it. Anyway, here we have Cooking by James Peterson, The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman and Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. I've had Culinary Atristry for about a year and I love it because it lists every food you can think of and then tells you what it pairs up with. Love it! Cooking is a huge book full of cooking techniques and recipes. The Elements of Cooking reads like a novel but breaks down all sorts of cooking techniques. The first one I put into practice - Scrambled Eggs. That's right, I've been making scrambled eggs forever and ever and I never realized that I was cooking them too hot and they had no flavor. So I turned down the heat, cooked them slow and took them out of the pan sooner than normal and viola! perfectly delicious eggs. I also read Michael's blog. I love him.

Another book I got from the book club is What's a Cook To Do by James Peterson. It's another technique book.

I have 3 and a half more working days until vacation and I am just about going crazy waiting for it. I hope I get out early on Thursday!

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Monthiversary and a Gift for You.

Four weeks ago today I was officially diagnosed with Crohn's disease and embarked on this healing adventure. I found a list that I made a while back of things that I hoped would get better after the healing process began. That list included (warning, possible TMI here!) dehydration, constipation, diarrhea, gas, acne, rashes, unhealthy hair, cramps, fatigue, bloating, moodiness, and all around general discomfort. I spent the first four weeks cutting gluten out of my diet and also taking medications that the doctor prescribed. Within days the rash cleared up, the constipation went away, my bathroom habits became normal, my face became clear and almost completely acne free and I started feeling immensely better in general. For the first few weeks I was still having trouble with bloating, fatigue and mood swings but I blame some of that on the medication and also that my lady cycle is not completely normal right now. This past week I've started to see improvements in all three of these areas though and for the first time I'm really starting to get a sense that my efforts are working and will continue to work and I actually will get better.

I am not a patient person. I want instant gratification so it's hard sometimes to deal with the slow process of healing. But I didn't get this way overnight and I won't heal that quickly either. I just have to put it into perspective. And my hair? Silky smooth and shiny beautiful. I'm in love with it. I did also change shampoo and conditioner which may have helped a little but I really believe that it's all about the diet. I can't say enough about food. If you're feeding your body with the most natural, healthy stuff, it will thank you! I promise you that.

Sure there have been days where I've slipped up and ate something I shouldn't, but now that I am eating so much healthier the slips hurt more than ever. And the pain sometimes lasts for days. The rash comes back, the cramps come back, it's not fun at all. The slips come a lot less frequently these days. A lot of people complain that going gluten-free is too hard and so they continue to suffer but let me tell you this - it is not hard! Yes, it's true, there are days when all I want is pizza. But knowing how horrible I'd feel after eating that pizza makes the longing subside very quickly. These days finding gluten-free alternatives is becoming less and less difficult. The bottom line is, it's worth it, you are worth it, and you will feel better and you will look better and you will love yourself for doing this.

A year ago I bought The Gluten-Free Bible by Jax Peters Lowell and it really helped me to understand what it means to be gluten-free. I haven't looked at it in a long time and I think it's time to pass it on to someone else that needs it. If you have been recently diagnosed with Celiac or any other digestive disease and are trying to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle and could use a little help, send me an email. One of my readers will receive my copy of the Gluten-Free Bible to help them through it.

Thanks to everyone who visits this page and supports me in this journey, I really don't know what I would do without so many other people that are going through it too. The gluten-free community here is amazing and I love reading your blogs everyday. Thanks for all the recipes, tips, stories and more.

Stay tuned, later today I'll post the recipe for the marinade I made last night as well as some book reviews!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Header...

Time for a change. Wad'ya think?

Let's Make A Date!

We (by we I mean whoever lives in the Boston area and wants to go) are planning a trip to Flatbread Pizza Company in Bedford, MA. I don't know when but soon, perhaps the weekend of July 10th - 14th if possible. Gluten-Free Pizza and Redbridge. That's all I have to say about that. Comment if you want in!

Words of Wisdom

Lactose-free or not, it's never a good idea to eat almost half a quart of chocolate ice cream before hitting the gym for an intense kickboxing workout. Or any other workout for that matter.

Last night was my first night back to kickboxing. The past couple months I had been going very sporadically due to all the doctor's visits and tests and all around just feeling weak, sick and tired. I got home from work at 6 and made some leftover pasta with meat sauce. That right there would've been more than enough to sustain me through the hour and a half class but I just found Lactaid ice cream the other night so it was in the freezer calling my name! Well, needless to say, it didn't help me at all. I don't even know why I did that! I'm thinking oh I feel good today, I should be able to handle a little ice cream before I get my ass handed to me in class later! Ha, stupid girl! Oh well. The good news is, class was awesome despite the mild discomfort. My body is functioning so much better already after only one month. This was the first class of a new 8 week session so there were a lot of new people. I partnered up with this one woman who by the end of the first half of class was ready to walk out the door. I convinced her to stay and stick it out and she did! Reminds me why I do actually like being a trainer and I'm glad to be back working at the Y. I'm not a trainer in this class but I've been taking it for over a year so when there's new people I always try to help out. I love that class.

I haven't posted any new recipes lately because I haven't actually been doing much cooking lately. My schedule doesn't allow for much of that unfortunately. Later I'll post a list of what I eat during the week for anyone interested in a not-so-exciting grocery list! Maybe you can offer some suggestions of how I can spice it up a bit!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stormy Weather
Last night I walked out of the Quincy Center T station to this ^. Ok, so I adjusted the brightness and contrast a little bit on the photo but it really looked pretty threatening out there! I took some photos just before my camera batteries died, you can see that the lens cover is starting to close on this photo, and then I walked quickly home. Halfway there giant rain drops started falling so I walked faster and reached my front porch just in time to miss the skies open up and dump waterfalls of rain down on the Earth.
I walked into the front hallway and found a box sitting near the mailboxes - my cookbooks from the Good Cook book club!! Went inside, opened up the box and sat by the window flipping through my new treasures while I tried not to be scared of the thunder and lightening that was directly over my house... or so it seemed anyway. I thought for sure we'd get struck, but the storm only lasted about 1/2 an hour and then I went off to do laundry and run errands.
Then I came home to finally make the box of Annie's GF Mac & Cheese that I bought the other day. I came across a recipe for fried green tomatoes in Real Simple magazine and I thought they'd be a great accompaniment to the mac & cheese.
Let me just say first that I actually don't even like mac & cheese out of a box. I rarely ate the "real" stuff before I went gluten-free so I don't know why I was so excited to find the GF version. But I cooked it up anyway.
While the pasta was cooking I set to work on the fried tomatoes. Stop & Shop didn't actually have green tomatoes so I bought the least ripe red ones I could find. The recipe calls for all purpose flour, eggs and yellow cornmeal for the coating and then you fry them up in canola oil. I substituted sweet rice flour for the all purpose flour. Perhaps this was my mistake? I am not very good at knowing what to use for flours. I also had white and brown rice flours in the fridge but I figured since it was just for dredging I could use the just the sweet rice. The tomatoes went first into the flour, then the egg, then the cornmeal then into the oil. The first batch cooked up nicely but the second round burnt as I'd let the oil get too hot.
I finished making the mac & cheese, plated up some of it plus 2 tomatoes and set off to the living room to enjoy my dinner.
I should've taken a picture but I was so disappointed in it all that I didn't even bother. The mac & cheese was gritty and the fried tomatoes had no flavor. You know when you can already taste what it before you eat it? I had in mind exactly what this would taste like and when it didn't, well I was pretty bummed.
The upside? I finally found Lactaid ice cream! So I finished off with some of that. Yummmmm!

Tonight is the first night of the next session of kickboxing. I was a pretty big slacker last session and I promised Steve I'd be consistent this time. I've been going to kickboxing twice a week for over 1 year! I do love it, I've just had a lot of other stuff going on lately but I'm really looking forward to getting back in the habit. This is only an 8 week session and then we usually have a pretty long break after this. Hopefully not too long. I'll really have to make sure I get my butt to the gym to workout during the off-season!

Ok, long post, doesn't say much of anything, and now I have to get to work!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trying New Things

Along with a new gluten-free lifestyle comes many new and different food options. I've noticed recently that my tastes have changed and things that I would never eat in the past, I now enjoy. For example, I have a new found love for black beans and actually bought a can to make at home! That's just insane, what's next, peas??? Or maybe, perhaps, bananas. I have hated bananas every day of my life. I don't care how nutritious they are. The taste and smell just makes my stomach tie up in knots. Well it used to anyway, I haven't actually gotten close to a banana in some time. Lately I've been thinking that hey, maybe I should give them another shot. Perhaps it's the cramps in my feet screaming "You need more potassium in your diet! Try a banana for crying out loud!" More each day I think I might be adventurous enough to try one. I was watching Good Eats the other day and Alton Brown was talking all about bananas and I just wanted one! They looks so delicious but I just don't know if I can handle the taste. I wouldn't even eat my mom's famous banana bread growing up.

I have to make a trip to Whole Foods today to get some more of that Honey Oat bread I love so much and I'm thinking I might just grab a banana. I'm willing to give it a shot. Who knows, maybe I'll love it? I also might spit it right back out, but you never know until you try so I'm gonna go for it. Wish me luck...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Musings

It's already 3pm and even though there's a Sox game tonight and I'm gonna have to fight the traffic, I'm actually looking forward to going to class later.

I discovered today that my check book balance is dangerously low and so I made the decision to go back to my part-time job. I will be working at the YMCA again as a fitness instructor one night a week. The perks = free membership, half priced kickboxing class and an extra paycheck every other week. For 4 hours a week I think it's worth it! I left so that I could focus on school, but school is turning out to be pretty easy so I can give up my Tuesday nights to earn some extra money. I've been working at the Y for almost 3 years with the exception of a total of 4 months I took off for various reasons. I'm glad to be going back.

This change in schedule is going to seriously alter my eating habits. I need to come up with a good plan for meals for the week so I am never stuck without breakfast or lunch. I will not have time Monday thru Wednesday to cook at all so I need to be sure that I have appropriate food for work Mondays thru Thursdays and then I can cook on Thursday nights thru Sundays. I'll have to cook a lot on those days and freeze stuff for the rest of the week.

I've been meaning to be more organized about my food anyway. I tend to go to the grocery store way too frequently and as a result I spend a fortune on groceries. I'm not being smart at all about that and I obviously don't have the money to be doing it!

Ok, more later, hope you're having a lovely Monday.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday nights are time to relax

mac and tamari 008
Finally, I found the two things I've been looking for! Gluten free mac & cheese and gluten free tamari! All this time I've been shopping at the Stop & Shop right across the street from my house but today I finally ventured up the street to the next available location. This other one is SO much better! They have a huge natural foods section (well it's one isle but it's still better than the other one) and imagine my delight when I found the GF Mac & Cheese and Tamari, as well as a bunch of other things I haven't been able to find at the other S&S.

I had a pound of ground beef to cook tonight so I split it in half and made half of it into pasta sauce and half of it into taco meat. My roommate and I ate the tacos for dinner and then after dinner I put on a put of water to boil to cook some pasta to go with the sauce so I could take it for lunch tomorrow. Well don't you know, I walked away from the water and went in the living room to do my homework for Photoshop class and completely forgot about it. The roomie and I decided it was too nice out to sit in the house so we went to sit outside for a few and she walks into the kitchen and I hear... "um, Jenny? Were you trying to cook something?"

Yeah... I completely boiled the water right out of the pan and had a smoking hot pan of nothing. OOPS!!! So right now I have leftover tacos for lunch tomorrow and I'll have to cook the pasta later. At least the sauce is done!

Ok, I'm off to watch The Next Food Network Star and dream about my future gig as the Gluten-Free Gourmet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tummy Troubles

I'm home sick today. Not homesick. At home, sick. Lounging around, watching TV, sitting by the open window, it's gorgeous outside. I'm currently cooking up some Bell & Evans GF Chicken Nuggets for lunch. I haven't tried these before so I'll let you know what I think of them later. Right now I'm watching What Not to Wear. Oh how I need to be on this show. Someone do me a huge favor and nominate me? I'm about to make my own video for Stacey and Clinton and send it in. I need wardrobe help oh so badly.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Just one more.. I promise!

It's kinda slow today so I'm cleaning up the office, and also reading blogs and interneting. I just glanced at my stat counter and it shows that this blog has been viewed exactly 1,500 times! I have been blogging here since April 22nd and have been really active just within the past month or so. Just this month alone I have received 1,019 hits so far! I'm pretty excited about that, so THANK YOU READERS!!!!! I love blogging and it's really nice to know that people are actually reading this thing! If you've been lurking around here but haven't said hi, please drop me a comment and let me know who you are and if you have a blog I can read! I'm always looking for new blogs to distract me from actually doing any work :)

ok... just one more for today.

Delicious food makes me a happier person. There, I said it. And who eats peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (all natural and gluten-free of course) with a fork and knife? I do.
GF Peanut Butter & Jelly

It's one of those days...

I've always been an irritable person. Perhaps it's always been because of my irritable bowels? Ha. No really though, I've always been moody, short fused, let the little things get to me a bit too much. Since I've been on the Crohn's meds this past month, my moods have gotten worse. Seriously worse. I mean irrational. The tiniest things just set me off and I stifle it because I know it's outrageous that I want to punch the girl sitting next to me on the Red Line because she keeps elbowing me. What gives? Is it the meds? Is it the stress of the diet and meds? Is it just me? Am I just getting crazier the older I get? I'm at a loss. I don't know what to do. I don't go back to the doctor until August 26th and I don't want to make an appointment in the meantime. I seriously hope that this all evens out eventually because dealing with this for the rest of my life just might drive me completely insane!
Ok, done with the rant. It's one of those days where I woke up late, I don't have very good options to eat, I didn't eat anything until I got to work, my aunt flo is on her way over... you know, just one of those days. I did however, resist the urge to cheat and eat a donut. Yay for me making progress!!
I seriously have to focus on work today. Back tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boston is the place to be!

Congratulations to the Boston Celtics for winning the NBA Finals! I have to admit that I don't watch basketball very often, and didn't watch a single Celtics game all season including the playoffs. But I do generally love sports and I'm really excited to have another championship in Boston! Tomorrow will be the big celebration, I wonder if I'll get out of the office to see it. Probably not, I didn't go to the Red Sox parade last fall and I care about them more than any other team so I really doubt I'll take the time to go see the Celtics.

Another awesome event that's taking place this week is the Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party at City Hall Plaza. This might not be the ideal event for us GF folks, since it's basically a giant outdoor BBQ. Who knows what goes into those rubs and marinades? But it's a beach party and they have live bands and it only costs $5 to get in. It would be a good opportunity to meet local food people and see what's out there for gluten-free options. I say it sounds like a great event just go to and check out for a fun evening. I'd love to go tonight after work, anyone interested? It's here until Sunday, weekend tickets are $10. Tomorrow night I'll be heading to DOT for my friend Mark's birthday but I could also go to the BBQ on Friday night. Just putting it out there for my Boston girls. :)

It's a slow day here at work, it's one of those days where you eat breakfast and then immediately start anticipating what's for lunch. Today I have one of Amy's frozen meals. I think I brought the GF Shephard's Pie. Not really a summer fun food but I didn't have much left in the kitchen. I just jumped over to her website and came across this GF Diet Plan for weight loss. Of course it means eating Amy's foods 2-3 times per day (not gonna happen) but I found it interesting anyway. Check out Amy's GF Diet Plan here.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Delicious Bread!

GF Honey Oat Bread 2
Whole Foods Gluten-Free Honey Oat Bread

I finally took Allie's advice and went over to Whole Foods and bought a loaf of this bread. I toasted some up this morning and spread some all natural peanut butter on it and added some fresh raspberries on the side. Oh my goodness is this bread wonderful. It is the most "real" gluten-free bread I've had so far. It toasts up beautifully, doesn't get that hard as cardboard texture. The taste? Well there's no question it's gluten-free but it's definitely yummy. The peanut butter really over-powered the taste of the bread, but I had some more for lunch with tuna, lettuce and tomato and it was awesome. The loaf is round and whole, not cut, and the crust fell off when I cut it but I didn't so much mind that. It's soft, chewy, bready and delicious. Check out the texture:
GF Honey Oat Bread 1

Thanks Allie for recommending this! It will definitely be a regular staple in my diet.

Grocery Shopping Online

This morning I came across the Wellness Grocer in my search for brown rice tortillas because I want to try this recipe from Karina for brown rice tortilla chips. I have yet to order food online but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. The prices are generally cheaper and although you do pay shipping, it's still better than shelling out the gas money to drive all over the state for the various GF items you want. I've never really been a big online shopper. I guess I'm afraid once I start I won't be able to stop and that freaks me out a little bit. But the wellness grocer has all the gf products I need in one place. It's so convenient! Or even the GF Mall, or any of the other websites out there. I think I'm seriously considering this online shopping thing. It's very tempting! What do you all think? Do you shop online for your GF food? Or those that read that are not on a restricted diet, do you grocery shop online?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grapes and Raspberries

Grapes and Raz 4
Snack... YUM!

Fun Weekends

DSC00663
Saturday night I went to a party with all of my friends from my kickboxing class. This is us singing happy birthday to Neli. That's me holding my Redbridge. I look so bloated! Yuck. I really need to start paying attention to how much I'm eating. I am not sure how much of it is water retention/weight gain from the meds I'm on. I also really need to get back to the gym! The next session of kickboxing doesn't start up until next Wednesday.
Saturday I volunteered at the Special Olympics and that was a really good time. I helped out in the carnival area where the participants could go between events. I worked with a family who's son draws comic book characters and they had temporary tattoos of some of the characters, so I applied temporary tattoos all day. It was a lot of fun.
Yesterday I went to the 'rents house to celebrate Father's Day with his side of the family. All in all it was a really nice weekend. Now here we are, back at Monday!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brownies

Brownies

Delicious brownies. My first foray into gluten-free baking. They came out great! I am very excited. I made these to bring to the party I'm going to tomorrow night. I'm afraid they won't last that long... Thanks Steve for sharing this recipe!

Open Face Tuna Sandwiches

Open Face Tuna 1
Open Face Tuna

Many times I find that gluten free bread, once toasted, becomes very very crunchy. Make a complete sandwich out of 2 slices and I wind up with irritated gums from biting into all that harsh bread. Today I decided to try something different. Toast 2 slices of gluten free bread, I used Glutino Corn Bread today, top with fresh tomato slices, tuna (Starkist tuna, Hellman's Mayo, black pepper) and iceberg lettuce. Add a side of Utz potato chips and you're all set! I'm a big fan of fast and easy lunches and this is definitely one of them.

Steak Experiment

steak stir fry tostada 2
Sorry for the horrible photo, the light over the stove burnt out so it's dark on that side, and I didn't feel like breaking out the good camera so I took this with my ancient nikon coolpix. Anyway you get the idea!

Last night I finally made it over to the Asian market. It turns out, the trip wasn't entirely necessary. I bought spring roll wrappers, sweet rice flour, yellow and white corn meal, plums, basil, and corn starch all for $11. They have a ton of different types of rice noodles, bean noddles, cellophane noodles, etc for really cheap, which is good. But then I went to stop and shop and traveled down the Asian food isle only to find that they actually carry all of the same stuff for roughly the same price. The only thing I think was the best buy was the sweet rice flour. I'm glad I went though, I'd been wondering about that place for awhile. And it's good to know I have a lot of options for noodles if I'm so inclined. I still have yet to find a gluten-free soy sauce, although I've heard that LaChoy is? There's no wheat in it, but it does have hydrolyzed soy protein which I've heard is not so good. I don't use an abundance of soy sauce anyway but I do want to be able to use it. I love chinese food and going to china town for dim sum or other options but now that's all pretty much out of the question. Sad sad sad. Oh well!

I bought a ton of groceries last night and still spent less than $50. I had some steak tips in the fridge that I needed to cook so I came up with this and it was very delicious. I also love Mexican food and a lot of that is naturally gluten-free which is awesome. All but those darn white flour tortillas! So here's what I had for dinner last night:

Steak stir fry Tostadas

1 package of sirloin tips - about 1 lb.
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Sm Yellow Onion
1 Vine Ripe Tomato
Iceberg Lettuce
Corn Tostadas
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder
Taco Seasoning
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I cook by eyeballing everything, so sorry for the not-so-exact recipe!
I heated up a non-stick skillet and added a little olive oil to coat the pan. When the pan was good and hot I added the steak and seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Halfway through cooking, I seasoned it with taco seasoning (my own blend, I will post that recipe when I find it... I forget what's in there!) I probably used a little less than a tablespoon.

While the steak is cooking, chop up your onion and pepper.
When the steak is almost done, remove it from the pan and cover with foil. Set aside.
Add the pepper and onion to the skillet, season with salt and pepper. I cook it right in the steak juices (aka fat), you can add a little more olive oil if you want.
Cook the veggies until they have a little bit of a carmelization, a little brown on the edges.
At this point, add the steak back into the skillet and heat back through.

While the veggies are cooking chop up some lettuce and tomato, if dairy's your thing shred up some cheese and maybe break out some sour cream.

Put two tostadas on a plate, layer with steak, peppers & onions, lettuce, tomato and then top with cheese or whatever other toppings you might like. Jalapenos, beans, whatever strikes your fancy. Enjoy!

Things I would've done differently:
Made some Spanish rice to go with it. It was not unsatisfying as is, but it just needed something else. Avocado would've been good too but I hate to cut up a whole one, won't eat it all and then it turns brown and I'll end up throwing it away. If I were cooking for more people, I definitely would've added avocado.

I am going to a get together tomorrow night and I'm thinking I might bring guacamole and chips, and I also might make GF Steve's brownies for desert!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I can't even think of a good title for this post...

It's a slow day today! Visiting with baby Owen last night was awesome, I held him forever he is so adorable. Steve took a picture of me so as soon as he uploads it to his myspace I'll steal it and post it here.
Yesterday I signed up to volunteer at the Special Olympics on Saturday so that should be fun. Then Saturday night I have a party with my friends from kickboxing. Sunday is Father's day and I'll be getting together with my Dad's side of the family at my parents' house. I hope we have good weather. Today is absolutely gorgeous, I can't wait to get out of work today and enjoy it.
For now I'm just hanging out at work, it's kinda slow but kinda busy at the same time. Busy is good, bring on the work!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Looky Here!

I just found the most wonderful website EVER! I love cookbooks. I was at the store the other day and I was going to buy this book about basic cooking techniques, list price $16.99. I was at the self checkout at Stop & Shop and it wouldn't ring in so I just left it at the checkout, thinking I shouldn't spend the money right now anyway. Well today I happened to find THIS site and I just ordered 4 books about cooking, including the one I tried to buy the other day ALL for $15.71!!! It's a book club, kinda like a music club, where you sign up and then you have to buy a certain amount of books (only 2!) at list price in order to fulfill the membership but it is SO worth it for the savings. Books are so expensive! I need to find some used books bookstores also though, I know that would help. I just can't help but love shiny new books. I can spend hours in Borders or Barnes & Noble. Ok, I'm totally excited now, I can't wait for my new books to arrive!

Oh Baby!

Owen Ryan Havey
Owen Ryan Havey!

This is the first baby of the 5 cousins. Lauren, Stephen, Diana, Dan and I are the 5 youngest of the cousins on my mom's side of the family. Diana and Dan are my siblings and Lauren and Stephen are siblings, they are the children of my mom's brother, my Uncle Ed. We grew up together, have always lived within a few miles of each other, went to the same schools, went on vacations together, spent summers together... we're more like brothers and sisters than cousins. Over the course of one year, my sister got married, Stephen had a baby, Lauren is getting married, and all three of them bought their first homes. It's been a busy year! My brother and I just sit back and watch. This is Owen, Stephen's son, check out that blonde hair! He's going to look just like Stephen!! I cried a little when I saw this photos. Steve's girlfriend Jess gave birth last night. I am going to the hospital right after work to meet the new baby! He's technically my cousin, but to me it's more like a nephew since Steve is more like a brother to me. I am so happy for them!! Steve is so pumped about being a Dad and he's going to be a great one. I know Jess will be a great mom too.

Ok, I'm the oldest of the 5 and I'm going to be the last to do all this stuff, how does that work? I guess I better get on that whole finding a boyfriend thing... nah, when the time comes he'll find me! ;-)

I'm currently compiling a list of local gluten-free restaurant menus but I don't want to post it until I have a bunch so stay tuned for that! So far I have Outback, Uno's, Chili's, Legal Sea Foods, Wagamama and I'm still searching. It's great that more and more restaurants are becoming gluten-free friendly!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Confessions and Lessons Learned

I glutened myself on Sunday night. I sit here shaking my head in disgust as I type these words. I don't know if the 90 degree weather was getting to me or if I had just eaten so much GF pasta salad that my brain shut down, but I did it. I thought since I'd been really good lately that a little gluten wouldn't bother me so much. I was so very wrong. My body is all out of whack. I've been in a brainfog for two days. My head throbs. I feel like I may or may not throw up, I may or may not pass out. My muscles are weak and achy and I've spent the majority of today visiting the ladies room... oh the horror. I should've known, the less gluten you eat, the worse you feel when it finds its way back into your system. I did know this, I just pretended like that rule doesn't apply to me. I don't have Celiac, I am just gluten free because I think it will help my Crohn's so why should the same rules apply to me? Ha you fool! You're gluten intolerant just like the rest of them. Did I mention it's only the 3rd week? Considering my personality and my history with following instructions, I'd say I'm doing rather well. I always learn the lessons the hard way and this time is no exception. I just hope it's over soon because I'm dying here. Even my teeth hurt...

I'm forgetful sometimes...

Chris over at Celiac Handbook sent me a nice email the other day asking if I'd like to contribute my success story to his website. I told him that I don't know if I really qualify yet as a success story, being so new to the gluten-free lifestyle and all, but that I'd be willing to write something up if he thinks it would work out. This morning I was checking out the site when I came across the Gluten Free Cooking Spree event that's coming up in Boston this September. I remembered seeing this page before and thought I might have signed up to volunteer at the event but couldn't remember. Not twenty minutes later I had an email (without prompting) from a woman from the event asking if I was still interested in volunteering. I guess that answers my question! What timing, huh? So yes, I'm volunteering at the Gluten Free Cooking Spree that's put on by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness this September. Anyone else want to join me??

I'm having a rough day today, I feel just miserable. I've learned that I need lots and lots of protein in order to survive. If I don't eat a balance of carbs and protein all day I just feel awful. Thankfully it's just about time for lunch! Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Viva Tostados!

A while ago I received a takeout menu in my mail from a place called Viva Burrito and I thought it would definitely be a place I'd like to try, but it's a further away than I want to walk so I haven't been. Well now that my takeout lunch options are limited, I pulled out the menu. I knew that a mexican restaurant must have corn tortillas right? YES! Despite the almost 100 degree weather, I made the long (not really) trek over to 66 Staniford Street to order up a grilled chicken tostado with black beans. It was worth it, spicy and delicious and gluten-free. Their menu mostly consists of flour wrapped burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and so forth but they also offer corn tortilla tostados as well as traditional tacos. I will definitely be visiting them again next time I'm ordering out for lunch. I try very hard to stock up on groceries and avoid ordering out but sometimes it's just necessary. It's funny, I don't go shopping because I don't have a lot of money but then I always end up ordering out because I don't want to eat the mish-mash of leftovers that I've brought. I need to get into the habit of just spending the money on the good stuff! I'm learning the lessons, slowly but surely.

I also found the Gluten Free Checklist the other day. I have the grocery guide but this website is even better for finding mainstream gluten free products. More on that tomorrow!

It's 90 degrees, plan accordingly.

In my efforts to do fun things at minimal cost, I decided it would be fun to head over to the Dragon Boat Festival yesterday. I knew it was on the Charles River, but what I failed to check was exactly where on the Charles this event was taking place. I figured I'd just get off at the Charles MGH stop and walk. It couldn't be that far down right? Wrong. So very, very wrong. I walked and walked and walked, in 90+ degrees and there was no dragon boat festival in sight. By the time I made it to the Fenway area I couldn't go any further. I was kicking myself hard for not actually reading the directions in the first place. I admitted defeat and walked over to Kenmore square and rode the trains all the way back to Quincy center.

On the ride back I remembered that I wanted to go to the library so the day wasn't an entire waste... yet. I wanted to find a good book about cooking. Well don't you know, libraries don't carry books newer than 1986 and so, I found nothing. I did pick up a book about a restaurant though, this is a story, not an instruction manual. And then I paid the $10.40 I had accrued in late fees. Yes I know, late fees are like .05 a day... I'm terrible at returning books to the library. That's 20 feet away from my apartment.

So then I walked home and sat on the couch for the rest of the afternoon underneath the ceiling fan and watched a Workout marathon. That show really reminds me that I haven't been to the gym in awhile. Did some laundry, ate yet another bowl of pasta salad, and went to bed. And now it's Monday again. How did that happen?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fresh Produce

Here in Boston we have this year round open-air market every Friday and Saturday from dawn until dusk. It's called Haymarket and for some odd reason, the only time I've ever been there was one day I was doing some photography and walked through to take a couple of photos (this is not one of them sadly, it's from Boston.com). I am always wondering how I can save money on produce and also buy in season and the answer has been right down the street from my office all along. The plan is to wake up early on Fridays and go into the market on the way to work. It just makes so much sense!

Starting this blog, going gluten-free, creating my first recipe and posting it here, all of these things are really helping me to move forward with this new lifestyle. Sometimes I even forget that I actually have a digestive disease, and think that I'm just doing this because it's so healthy and fun. It is becoming so much fun, I'm so inspired! It's really a great feeling. I made way too much pasta salad though so I've been eating it all day today. I'm still really impressed with myself for pulling it together. For years I've been thinking of doing more cooking and now I'm actually doing it. I love that.

Thanks everyone for the comments and visits to the blog, I'm so excited to be getting out there! Now that I've been doing this for a few months I'm starting to get a good sense of where I want to go with it. Stay tuned for more gluten-free recipes, product reviews, restaurant reviews as well as a peek into the (hopefully) exciting life of a 28 year old single girl in the city. I've always loved to write and was an English major in college and I'm glad to finally be putting it to good use!!

Today my roommate Katie and my friend Meag ran in the Harpoon Brewery 5 miler so my cousin Lauren and I headed over there to greet them at the finish line. I wasn't too concerned about the fact that this was at a brewery because it was 11 in the morning and I didn't anticipate drinking. When we got there I was pleased to see that Harpoon has finally put out a cider! It wasn't the best cider I've ever tasted, and to be honest with you, I asked the guy pouring the drinks if it was gluten-free and he didn't know, but I risked it anyway. The website says it's made purely from apples only and I do plan on emailing them to be sure. My office is 2 doors away from the home of one of the owners so that helps. I actually had planned on asking them if they had any plans to come up with a gluten-free beer, but in the meantime I'll take the cider. Harpoon Brewery puts on a bunch of festivals throughout the year and I used to go all the time and was pretty bummed when I could no longer drink beer. Today was Summer Session in the afternoon and I could've gone back after the race but I got a sunburn, it's ridiculously humid today, and I just didn't feel like going back. But I will definitely be hitting up Octoberfest this year!

Ok, I just went ahead and sent them an email checking on the gluten content of the cider and also asking about future plans for a gluten-free beer. I'll let you know what I find out!

ETA: I found a thread on the celiac.com forums that says it is in fact gluten-free. I will still update you on what Harpoon says in the email.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gluten-Free Virtual BBQ 2008 - P is for Pasta Salad!


This was so much fun. It is my first time participating in a blogger event and it's also my first time coming up with my own gluten-free recipe. I chose pasta salad for a few reasons, I had a lot of Tinkyada on hand, plus a bunch of veggies to use up, and it's the beginning of summer and I wanted to have a good recipe to bring to BBQ's this year. I got home from work and put on my favorite comfy pants and set to work. I started by gathering the ingredients:

Pasta Salad 003

Next, put the pasta on to boil:

Pasta Salad 005

Then got to chopping the veggies:

Pasta Salad 006
Note the garbage bowl in the upper right. One thing I like about Rachel Ray!

I did a bunch of other things... and then finally I came up with THIS!

Pasta Salad 011
YUM!

Ok here's the recipe:

GF Tuna and Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves 4

12 oz. of GF Pasta, I use Tinkyada
1 Medium Avocado
1/2 Medium Yellow Onion (next time I'll use red for more flavor)
1 Green Pepper
1 Vine Ripe Tomato
1 Lemon
6 slices of bacon, I used the microwaveable kind
1/2 C of Mayonnaise
1 can of Solid White Albacore Tuna packed in water

1. Cook the pasta just enough so that it's al dente. For me it was about 7 minutes. Rinse, drain and chill.
2. While the pasta is cooking, chop up the onion, pepper, tomato
3. Cut up the avocado and then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of one half over the avocado to prevent browning.
4. Cook the bacon, dry it on paper towels and then crumble it.
5. When the pasta is chilled enough, combine it with the vegetables, avocado and bacon.
6. Open and drain the tuna, chop it into small pieces and add to the salad.
7. Add the mayonnaise and then squeeze the juice from the other half of the lemon. Stir to combine all of the ingredients.
8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For my first recipe I think it's pretty good! As noted, I might change the yellow onion to a red onion for more flavor, and I might also add some fresh herbs like basil. I might also adjust the amount of each ingredient used, like I could've used more tomato. It was definitely a learning experience and I loved it! I can't wait to come up with my next recipe!

Thank You Kate for setting this up for us!!!

Shifting into high gear...

Today as you may have noticed from the new addition to my left column, I joined the Foodie Blogroll! It's a great place to find tons and tons of food blogs. I'm hoping to get my blog out there and also to find other great blogs to read. I love reading new blogs! Be sure to check out the blogroll and if you're a foodie, sign yourself up! I've only been blogging for a couple of months now and today was the highest ranking day for hits. Thank you to my friends that read, my new blogger friends that are new readers, and the future readers to come! I really plan on developing this blog into something fun and entertaining so keep checking back :) I am off to make my pasta salad for the BBQ!

Join the party!!

One of my favorite gluten-free blogs - Gluten Free Gobsmacked - is hosting a virtual GF BBQ! Everyone picks a letter and makes a dish, my letter is P and I will be making Pasta Salad, Tinkyada of course! I am not exactly sure what will go into it yet but I have to make it tonight since I have to post the recipe and photos by tomorrow. I think this is such a fun and great idea, I've been wanting to make some GF pasta salad for awhile so this was a great motivator. I have a bunch of veggies at home already and the pasta so I might whip something up with what I've got on hand. I just have to decide how I'm going to dress it. Hmmmmm.

I'm feeling a lot better today. I know that this GF lifestyle is a piece of (gf) cake if I put my mind to it. I'm already seeing a lot of positives. My skin is so clear. I've had trouble with blemishes and mild acne for years and years and in the past two weeks my face has become smooth and just lovely. It is amazing. And still NO RASH! A huge sigh of relief on that one. I definitely have a little more energy but that's still slow to come around. I read through Allie's entire blog the other day and I noticed that in one post she commented on how her energy levels hadn't really changed much at first, but in a later post she noted that she eventually had a big increase in energy so I'm looking forward to that day.

It's a rainy day here in Boston, I hope it clears up for the weekend. I'm so glad it's Friday, this has been a long week. I have plans to do absolutely nothing this weekend and I am totally pumped for it! Have a great Friday everyone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I really need to get back to photography...

If you haven't already done so, scroll down my blogroll and visit the blog of Jessica Claire. She is a wedding photographer out in California and does absolutely amazing work. I admire her so much. This particular day she has posted the most beautiful photos, she always posts beautiful photos, but this particular wedding I just had to share. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Leftovers

gluten free leftovers

The best way to be sure I won't cheat at lunch time is to save myself some leftovers from dinner the night before. Tonight I broiled some pork chops, cooked up some brussel sprouts (not pictured because I ate them ALL, yummm) and made a delicious gluten-free rice mix from Thai Kitchen. I made the Thai Yellow Curry which was delicious. Thai Kitchen sells a lot of gluten-free options and they are available at my regular grocery store which is awesome. They also have this handy allergy info chart on their website and gluten is the very first item on the chart. I'm a BIG fan of Thai kitchen. So far I haven't found a single item that I haven't liked.

I'm calming down now.

Ok, I am feeling better. Allie emailed me after she read my post this morning with some encouraging words. She's two years gluten-free and I'm so glad to have her as my friend and someone to help me through this frustrating time. I also happened to glance over at Ginger Lemon Girl and caught her most recent post which is an interview with Carol of Simply Gluten-Free. Carol said something that really struck a chord with me, she said by changing her viewpoint from one of deprivation to one of abundance, a whole new world opened up. This is so true, and I know this, I just forget sometimes. There is so much more to delicious food than gluten. I can do this. I will do this. It will become a normal, natural way of life for me and I won't be sick anymore. I feel pretty crappy today (pardon the pun) considering my meal choices but I guess it's a much needed wake up call for me. I've been neglecting my photography lately but Carol has sparked the desire to dust it off, start cooking, and start photographing what I'm cooking. If nothing else, it will make this blog a little more interesting!
I can't say thank you enough to Allie and all the other gluten-free bloggers out there that keep me going every single day on this journey. I don't know what I would do without all of the knowledge, recipes, tips, ideas and just all around love and support from the gluten-free community. Without them I'd spend the rest of my life eating Van's gluten-free waffles. They are my favorite food. I really need to broaden my horizons.... :)

Be warned, this isn't going to be pretty.

I just ate a muffin. I big, fluffy, chocolate chip filled, gluteny muffin. Do I regret it? Not yet. Will I later? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Will I do it again any time soon? Probably not. So why did I do it? The same reason I always eat crappy food - stress. I'm totally stressed out. I'm completely depressed about this gluten free diet. But honestly, what I'm more stressed about than anything else - money. It's expensive to feed yourself these days. It's expensive to do ANYTHING these days. Three years ago I was up to over $21,000 in credit card debt and was paying off a $13,000 car. I put myself on one of those debt management programs and kept up with the car payments. The car is paid off (!) and the debt is down to just over $10,000 (!!) which is really awesome and I'm really proud of myself for coming this far. But being the maid-of-honor in my sister's wedding last year and now my cousin's wedding this year... the money is just flying right out the window. I definitely live paycheck to paycheck, but who doesn't these days right? It's funny because after my last car payment in February I should've gained an extra $260 a month right? Then WHY is my bank account running in the negatives these days???? I suck with money. I am terrible at saving. I have a penny in my pocket, I will surely find a way to spend it...
How did I get from muffins to pennies? I don't know, the bottom line is, I'm stressed. It's the diet. It's the money. It's the stomach. It's the medication. It's the weight gain. It's the clothes not fitting. It's the diet. It's the money. It's a vicious cycle.
I have to get some work done.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I just had to share...


http://view.break.com/512157 - Watch more free videos

This is the guy that thought it would be a good idea to run across the field at the Sox game. Watch him get body checked, it is hilarious. What an idiot. Sadly a couple of my friends tried this stunt a few years ago. Community service is what they got for their shenanigans.

Pretty Flowers

Favorites

These blossoms come and go so quickly in the spring. I finally remembered to bring my camera in with me one day to catch them before they all fell off the trees outside of the State House.

It's Wednesday. Kickboxing day. I'm already trying to come up with an excuse to skip it, even though I really don't have one and I really need to go anyway. I need a few days off. Or maybe more than a few, like a month would be good. I do have 10 days of vacation coming up in July and I can't wait for it. I'm afraid my medication is making my moods worse. I swing harder and faster now than ever before. Even when I try to be conscious of it, it's still hard to control. I really hope that The Doc will allow me to lower my dosage when I go see him in August.

I had a little bit of a crazy day yesterday. Money is tight for me. Very tight. Yesterday I got some money from my Mom for my birthday and instead of putting it in the bank to cover other things I decided I'd take it directly to Kohl's to buy some new clothes, which I desperately need. Well, I've also put on a few pounds so shopping was a nightmare. I came home with one shirt. Which I'm wearing today. Then I went home and wallowed in self pity for awhile while watching Food Network. All of a sudden at 9:30 I decided I needed to go grocery shopping. And I did. Stop & Shop is wonderfully quiet at 9:30 at night. I got some veggies (avocados!), some hummus, bacon (I'm not even sure what for), GF cookies, GF waffles, potato salad, maybe a few other things... and candy. Why? Because that's what I do when I'm cranky! Also, yesterday at lunch time I had nothing good from home so I went to Souper Salad, where I'd typically get a salad from the salad bar. Well this time I decided to get a wrap. I figured I'd just take the stuff from inside the wrap and throw the wrap away. The other piece of this is that I didn't drink nearly enough fluids yesterday and I was all sorts of dehydrated. My brain was totally fried, I felt like I could've just passed out at any moment. But I didn't realize it was dehydration until AFTER I ate my lunch, including the gluteny wrap on the sandwich, rationalizing it by thinking that I hadn't had enough carbs and that was the cause of my brain fog. I quickly chugged a bottle of water and within 20 minutes was feeling much better. I swear this medication's got me all messed up. That being said...

Slip ups aside, I'm actually feeling quite good. My digestive process has become much more regular which is a little hard for me to get used to but that's a really good thing. And the thing that used to bother me most - the rash - cleared up within 2 days of going gluten-free/starting the meds and hasn't so much as hinted at returning since. Today will be my 11th consecutive day with absolutely no irritation. That, my friends, is better than any bud light or slice of cake in the world. Because I went gluten-free and started the meds at the same time, I don't know which is working better. I really hope it's the gluten and that I can start weaning off the meds asap. Ok, I'm starting to feel better now that I blogged it out. It's funny because last night when I jumped in my car at 9:30 to go grocery shopping, Kanye's "Stronger" came on the radio and I'm thinking to myself, this is not going to kill you, it's just going to make you stronger! Cheesy, I know, but so true.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One of my favorite artists, check her out!

The Sister
(sorry for the blurry image, I'm waiting for the link from AK!)

Angela and I became friends over 14 years ago and I'm so glad we still keep in touch, otherwise I'd be missing out on what a wonderful artist she is! I've known for a while that she's becoming an amazing photographer, but I just found out today that she's also starting up her own Etsy shop to sell her handmade jewelry! The photo above shows not only a sample of an earring design, but the photography is also her work. Please check out here websites and contact her if you're interested in any of her work.

Note to self...

if you don't drink enough fluids you will DIE.

Back with a more exciting blog about my Kohl's shopping adventure tomorrow.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Crazy, but that's how it goes

I renewed my CK membership. For those not in the know, that's calorie king.com thank you very much. I missed my friends over there and with all these steroids making me fat I've got to get back to counting those calories. :kiss: to my girls!

Wish it were a Sunday...

Back to reality. It's another gorgeous day and I'm here staring longingly at the blue sky from my office window. And it's my long day because I have class tonight. Last Fundamentals class!!! I'm so glad this section is over. I am really busy at work but I just wanted to pop in and drop a hello. I was starving and I didn't have anything here to eat and I almost went out and bought a muffing ::gasp!:: but I DIDN'T!!! I got some lactaid and ate some gf cereal instead. I am so proud of me. :)

Ok gotta go, duty calls!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Back to the point...

I realize that I haven't actually updated you on how I'm feeling. I've been gluten free and on my medication for one full week and I feel... awesome. Absolutely great. My stomach doesn't hurt. I am eating healthier than ever. I am becoming more and more regular by the day, sorry if that's TMI but hey, that's what's going on with me these days. I spend most days worrying about when my stomach's going to start to hurt again, or when I'm going to have to run to the bathroom, and it just doesn't happen. I have a little discomfort here and there but it's only been a week! I couldn't be happier about the progress so far and being gluten-free has not been much of a challenge at all. I do find myself a little bummed at the menu options at restaurants but more and more places are offering gluten-free menus and I'm trying dishes that I never would've tried before which is excellent. I really really really want to try more recipes, I still have yet to try a recipe from my clean eating cookbook even though there are SO many gluten-free recipes in there. I also have to remind myself that I can change recipes that contain pasta because I always have my good old Tinkyada on hand, which they now sell at the regular supermarket! Finances have been tight recently and I also don't really have much time to cook at home so that's why I haven't been very adventurous in the kitchen. I know I'm going to start to get bored with what I've been eating so I do want to change it up. I will try. Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that I'm doing awesome and I really believe that the gluten-free diet is a huge part of that. I'm still mostly lactose free as well but today I did indulge in some ice cream when I went for a walk down the waterfront with my sis. The good news is I had no bad reactions to it! I don't plan on re-introducing lactose any time soon, but an ice cream once in awhile this summer is not going to kill me. :)

What day is it?

Sundays. I love them. Except when I've left my homework until the last minute and feel stressed about getting it done when it's a beautiful day and I just want to go outside and enjoy it! Maybe I'll just go and enjoy the day and do the homework later. It's my last assignment for this class which means no more construction paper for me!!! I can't wait to start the next class, Photoshop CS3!

You know, I'm already giving up on x365.. it's a nice idea but too much effort for me... sorry folks.

Ok back to the important topics: Sex & the City! The movie was great, although a lot more depressing than we thought it would be. I won't spoil anything for those that haven't seen it yet, but just know that it's great and you should go see it. I will wait until it comes out on On Demand before I watch it again so that I can watch it at home all by myself and cry through the whole thing. I really held back yesterday in the movie theater. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. Of course then I dreamed last night about getting back together with my ex boyfriend... ugh he still haunts my dreams, 5 years later.

It's a gorgeous day here in MA and I've been up since 8:30. Had a little breakfast, watched a little Tyler Florence and Bobby Flay and now I'm gonna jump in the shower and figure out what's next on my Sunday agenda. Have a great day!