Tuesday, March 31, 2009
All this talk about going casein free, but no product reviews?? Well here you go. The past two weeks have been great. I feel better every day and learn more about the casein free lifestyle too. People say "oh wouldn't that be great if you just had to cut out dairy!" (as opposed to gluten) but hey, guess what, casein is found in a LOT of products, just like gluten. I've spent so much time focused on going gluten free, now I have to read labels all over again. I am so thankful for the companies that clearly list allergens, we've come a long way baby! Casein still hides under many pseudonyms so I must be careful, but I'll get into that are in another post.
For now, here are some of the products I've been using:
First and foremost, this first product I use every day. Earth Balance natural buttery spread. It's an excellent butter substitute. This one does contain soy but they've come out with a new version that is also soy free which I intend to switch to. I don't mind a little bit of soy but since I use this so often, I'm going to opt for the non-soy version. Unfortunately the only place that I think they stock it is Whole Foods, and I don't get there very often. I spread it on toast, I use it to cook with, it's great!
Next up is my most favorite of the bunch, Good Karma Organic Rice Divine Mudd Pie Ice Cream. Ohhh my gosh this is by far my most favorite casein free ice cream, and I would choose this over 99% of "real" ice cream too. I love it. In fact, I just finished off the pint this evening. Before dinner. Yeah...
Then we have the two milk alternatives I've used. I buy these handy little 8oz juice box style cartons of Rice Dream rice milk because I really only use this for cooking/baking and if I opened a big carton of it, it would most likely go to waste. These 8oz containers are perfect. I grew up loving cows milk. When I was told to go dairy free 2 years ago to see if I was lactose intolerant, I ended up switching to Lactaid, which is cows milk without the lactose. I can't stand the taste of soy milk or any other milk alternative, so I just go without now. Maybe someday I'll find something I can deal with. Which brings me to the Living Harvest Hemp Milk. I have not tried this yet but have heard great things about it so I'll let you know how that turns out later!
And last but not least, is my sour cream substitute, Tofutti Sour Supreme. I just bought this the other day because I planned on making fajitas and I like sour cream mixed with my salsa in my fajitas. I tried it tonight and it was delicious! I'm typically not a fan of sour cream unless it's mixed with salsa or onion soup mix and served with potato chips. I think this will be the perfect substitution.
Well my stomach is not so good today. I don't know if casein is slipping in somewhere, or if it's the gluten that's bothering me. I really should be just cutting both out completely. I know this, you know this, we all know this. But I thought it would be best to cut out just the casein for a while to see the difference. I could most definitely tell the difference, still no rash!! But I am sure that the gluten has got to go too. Well it's been a nice time eating good bread again, I still have yet to drink a real beer though. I just can't bring myself to do it! I guess that's a good thing huh? I'm going to finish out this week just as is, I can't waste all that bread.. and see how it goes. And by the time I go grocery shopping this weekend I'll know what I should buy.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The casein free experiment is going very well. I've been eating a lot of gluten and despite that, today I have more energy than I've had in probably the last year. It's awesome. Friday night I had a bit of a rough night, bathroom wise, so I popped a Pepto which I hate to do, but I had to. Now I have to wait for that to work it's way through my system. I hate that stuff! Otherwise, I feel great, hardly any pain, lots of energy. I even renewed my match.com subscription last night! I know that might sound strange, but I know that some of you will be able to relate. When you don't feel well and your stomach is a mess, the last thing you want to do is go out on dates.
When I was diagnosed with Crohn's and started blogging about it, my mom expressed her concern that I would let this take over my life. I thought that on the contrary, this was the best way to deal with everything. I still believe that, I've worked through a lot on this blog and it helps to know that there are others out there that benefit from it all. I realized recently though that fighting with my diet and dealing with the Crohn's was taking over my life. I go out with friends less, I most definitely avoid dating. I'm almost 29 and single, my friends are all getting married and having kids and while I used to have a healthy dating life, I've not had a real date in probably 2 years. I've liked being single, I've needed to be, but now I'm ready to put myself back out there. I'm actually really looking forward to it. Of course there are other factors that have kept me out of the dating scene, like an unhealthy relationship with a guy that doesn't love me back, which I'm making huge strides in breaking out of, finally. I'm ready to be treated right and taken care of, the way I deserve to be.
Anyway, so back to the diet part. Going casein free has been the best thing I've done so far. I still think that being gluten free is also hugely beneficial and most of the foods I eat are GF/CF. I need to find a balance that works for me and I finally feel like I'm getting close to it. I can't obsess over food anymore, it's driving me crazy!! I'm hoping to be able to change the direction of this blog just a little bit, make it more of a healthy eating blog than just a gf/cf blog. Still posting recipes and reviews and all that stuff, but less focus on the stress and frustration and more focus on delicious, wonderful and healthy food! I love to eat, no autoimmune disease is going to change that, so I'm just going to try to embrace the change and enjoy this new lifestyle that I'm really getting accustomed to. It really does get easier every day, especially when you really start to feel great!
Friday, March 27, 2009
Kitchenware Essentials Wish List
We all know that any kitchen chef, from haute cuisine auteur to floundering amateur, is in a sense only as good as their instruments. Having the right kitchen tools and/or serving pieces can make food prep a lot easier and the resulting creations more inspired, or at the very least edible. However, many of us out there don’t have the money to afford a high-end santoku knife or fine china dinnerware. So we’re going to take a look at a few items out there that will help make preparation easier without making things too hard on your wallet.
Grillpro Bamboo Cutting Board
When it comes to cutting boards, durability and convenience are the key factors. This board is made of solid bamboo and it’s 18” x 12” size makes it big enough to serve most chopping and cutting needs without being unwieldy, and it also features a pour spout to catch any excess juices. It’s eminently affordable at $29 and is eco-friendly as well!
JA Henckels International Everedge Plus Knife Set
Finding a functional cutting board at a reasonable price isn’t hard to do, but it’s much harder to pick out a knife set that covers all of your slicing and dicing needs without spending over a hundred dollars. But we have found a winner in JA Henckels’ Everedge Plus set. This 13 piece block set includes almost any knife you would need, including a utility knife, tomato knife, bread knife, boning knife, and a half-dozen steak knifes. They even throw in a bonus fork-tipped cheese knife to boot! All of these knives are made from micro-serrated stainless steel, making them durable as well as functional. Coming in at $44.99, it’s one the best bargains you can find when it comes to block knife sets.
Calphalon Classic 5 Piece Nonstick Bakeware Set
This set combines versatility and convenience while costing less than forty dollars. The items contained (one muffin pan, one cookie pan, one loaf pan, and two cake pans) should satisfy most of your baking needs. And it is constructed out of high quality stainless steel, making it nonstick, oven safe, and extremely durable. And it is even dishwasher safe! All of these factors make this set the best value you can get out of your bakeware, even if it isn’t the cheapest set out there.
These are just a few of the many kitchen products out there that are affordable and highly useful at the same time. Creating your own kitchen wish list without breaking the bank isn’t hard to do; just make sure to look hard when shopping. And above all make sure that whatever you are purchasing will last; it’s always worth spending a few more dollars to get a lifetime’s worth of usage.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In other news, Saturday morning my shower was suddenly very low pressure so I talked to the landlord and he came and installed a new shower head yesterday. It. Is. Awesome. I can't wait to take another shower!
Monday, March 23, 2009
There are a few factors right now that are coming into play during this gluten-on/casein-off experiment. The first few days I expect to be difficult because I'm going to be cleaning all the casein out of my system. But then by the end of the week it's gonna be that time of the month (sorry fellas), which also throws my gastric system out of whack. It's gonna be interesting to say the least. Today I got some nasty cramps right after eating my lunch. I had tuna salad on whole grain bread. I supposed it could be the whole grains (I'm talking actual seeds here) that bothered me, but it also could just be the gluten. But I'm gonna push through. That may sound crazy, but there's a method to my madness. It's only 2 weeks. I've lived my entire life with a perpetual stomach ache, I can live for two more weeks. But generally otherwise I feel pretty good!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Anyway, so all this time I've been horrible about being gluten free, but lately I've been paying very careful attention to my reactions. The rash is back. It's been coming back slowly and over the past couple of weeks it's come on full force. I've been miserable. Even when I've been carefully gluten free, still the symptoms persist. What's changed? I've been eating a lot more cheese and ice cream. Last sunday I had cheese and ice cream (dinner and desert) and I noticed the next morning that my lips were irritated. I didn't connect the two. I thought it was the food that was too hot had burned my lips. But it was the corners, which was weird, I've never had that before. And the rash.. oh the rash was horribly itchy. The dairy connection has been kinda itching at the back of my mind (and my skin eh hem). Tonight I ate some ice cream. And before I finished my mouth started to get irritated again! Then I noticed that my nose was running and I sneezed. All of a sudden it was like a dope slap to the face. I always thought that casein intolerance symptoms were the same as gluten, the gastrointestinal symptoms only, but somehow I knew that my runny nose was not just a random thing, nor was the sneeze, or the irritated lips. I googled "runny nose after eating dairy" just to see what came up and sure enough, pages and pages of milk allergy results popped up. I don't have a cold, I'm not sick at all, and 20 minutes after eating the ice cream the runny nose is totally gone. But right after I ate it, it was like my sinuses had turned on a faucet. I've had this before when eating ice cream but always just thought it was due to the cold, now I think otherwise. It's funny because right around the time I started complaining about stomach issues, I also started complaining about respiratory issues, and was diagnosed with acute asthma. The symptoms of milk allergies are respiratory (runny nose, coughing/wheezing), gastrointestinal (diarrhea, etc) and skin issues (rashes). Check, Check, annnd Check. Can't wait to go back to The Doc in two weeks and make him test me!!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The gluten-free blog-o-sphere is a buzz with the news that General Mills has updated many of their Chex cereals to be gluten-free!! We've had Rice Chex for a while, but now we have Corn Chex, Honey Nut Chex, Chocolate Chex, Strawberry Chex and Cinnamon Chex. This is such awesome news!! I can't wait to try the Honey Nut and Cinnamon versions.
I'm very fortunate to live in the Boston area because when food companies start rolling out new products, they often start in more urban areas. I saw GF Corn Chex at my supermarket the other day but was not yet aware of the other varieties so I didn't look for them. I've read that the others aren't going to be released until June 1st but I'm going to check for them anyway.
I've also read recently about Betty Crocker's new line of GF baking mixes. It made me realize that before going GF I rarely bought baking mixes, but after going GF I started baking a lot more often because it was something that I could do very easily and it helped me to make the transition. I'm sure I'll by trying out the Betty Crocker mixes but probably only when I need something to bring to a party or holiday. I'm really trying to keep the sweets to a minimum, as difficult as that is!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Are you noticing a pattern here?? Another dinner of some kind of protein with a side of brown rice and broccoli on beautiful 1980's Pfalzgraff dishes. This is my first ever attempt at lemon chicken using this recipe from The Baking Beauties. I've never made a reduction sauce before so this was fun and it turned out really good. I used GF Pantry all purpose flour to coat the chicken and although I over-cooked it, it still tasted delicious. I have leftovers for lunch, but with a side of brussel sprouts because I'm out of broccoli! I really need to expand my horizons huh?
Well after dinner I made those Quinoa Banana muffins that I mentioned last week. I used sorghum flour instead of chestnut flour and my bananas maybe weren't ripe enough. Remember that I only started eating bananas last year, so this was a bit of an adventure for me. My mom loooooves banana bread and used to make it all the time when I was little, of course I hated it, but it always smelled really good. The results were not what I was hoping for. I did over-cook these too a little bit but still, they came out very dry and a little too banana tasting for me. The recipe is so healthy though, I think I might try to alter it a little bit to see if I can't make it more moist and less banana-y. I loved bran muffins growing up and since she said these tasted like bran muffins that's what prompted me to try them but they definitely didn't taste like the bran muffins I know and love. Although, I think with a little tweaking, I might be able to pull it off. More moisture and a little more sweetness and less banana and I think we're in business. But how? My first thought - applesauce. Suggestions are welcome!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Last week I was lost in the supermarket and couldn't decide what to have for dinner when I grabbed one of these Hormel Beef Roast refrigerated meat dinners. 4 minutes in the microwave is all it takes. I'm always looking for quick and easy and suitable for one. I've been wanting to give these a try for a while now because I knew that some of the varieties are gluten free (but not all so make sure you check! they do say so on the label).
I was very pleasantly surprised at how yummy this turned out! Tasted just like I had roasted the beef all day. There are 3.5 servings so I saved some for leftovers. I wasn't sure how a microwave meal would taste re-heated, or if it's even ok to do that, but I did it anyway. The result - yuck. Which stinks because I hate to waste the extras and I'd like to buy this again in the future. But anyway, yeah this was really good so if you have a small family and are looking for something fast, this is excellent. I made the whole meal in about 10 minutes (thank you quick cooking brown rice!).
Friday, March 13, 2009
First, my dinner last night. I love sushi but don't eat it very often. Yesterday I just had this huge craving for it! Yummy salmon and tuna sushi with gf tamari. It was the perfect dinner last night.
And now, some product reviews! On the left we have some GF/CF chocolate chip cookies that are made right here in Massachusetts. Cal's sells mixes and baked goods that are all gluten-free and casein free, all natural, and absolutely delicious. I first heard about Cal's goodies from Liz when she posted about their cupcakes and I found out that she got them at our local health food store. A few months later, I noticed that they now carry an entire line of their mixes and one night had samples of the baked goods. So far I've only tried these chocolate chip cookies but they are great, just like the real thing. Soft, chewy and delicious! These are not cheap, but I love supporting a locally owned small business. I won't buy them all the time though, as they still have sugar and I'm working on moderation here!
On the right we have Bakery on Main Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars - GF/CF. I got these at Roche Bros. supermarket. If you're looking for a granola bar that will break your teeth, order these today! The flavor is good, but boy are they tough to bite into. These would be good to have on hand for emergency situations, but I can't eat them every day. And now that I've found instant oatmeal I don't have to. I don't know if I'll buy these again, like i said, good for emergencies, but not for every day eating.
I'm so glad it's Friday, I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. Going out in my hometown tonight with some old friends that I haven't seen in a long time!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I went to Good Health AGAIN last night for some more stuff. Here's the thing, I've decided to cancel my vacation to the Dominican Republic :::sob::: because in these difficult economic times ::gag:: I can't in good conscience take a luxurious vacation while our business is in turmoil. So, all of that money I had put aside is now back in my wallet. Well not really, it's in my savings account, just in case I need it. To cover a week's worth of pay. Or to buy new clothes for those interviews/that new job I just might need. Or to buy that KitchenAid stand mixer I've been lusting after. Ok well that last one is a luxury, but if I'm not going on vacation, I've got to give myself something right? I'm still deciding on the mixer. Anyway, so I've been spending extra money on GF goods. I got myself awfully sick last week after a long gluten-filled bender so this week I've been super careful. I think I lost like 10 pounds this morning in one trip to the... well you don't want to hear abou that. Yeah, so I've been eating a lot of good stuff. Many of the things I'm eating are not new to you all, but they are new to me so I will blog about them. I know I have readers that are new to the GF lifestyle so I try to blog about, well, every single GF item I put in my mouth. Ummm.. ok, not every single item.
Today's post is about the delicious sandwich I had for lunch today. At Good Health they have this bread that comes from a bakery in Canada - Sterk's Bakery - and it always looks good but I never buy it. I can't remember exactly why, but I think that when I first started going GF I bought a loaf that was moldy and it soured the experience. Well last night they had a fresh shipment and I went buck wild and bought a loaf of the plain sandwich bread. This bread is not frozen, it is vacuum sealed, so when I got home I immediately packaged it for the freezer but when I opened the pack, the overwhelming smell of fresh bread knocked me down so I had to try some. I opted for toast, with my hot dog omelet (an old family fav! using Boar's Head hot dogs - GF/Dairy Free). SO delicious!!! The most like normal white bread ever. The slices are not too thick, they're soft and chewy, and they're good sized. They break apart easily especially at the top, but with extra care they stay together ok.
As you can see, today I had some more for lunch. BLT style. Boar's Head has taken over my supermarket with their clearly labeled gluten-free products. Thank You Boar's Head!! I knew their deli meats were GF but I don't love deli meats so don't buy them often. The bacon was the kind that you throw in the microwave for 30 seconds which I love. And of course, UTZ chips on the side. Everything I've eaten today was clearly marked GF, I love that labeling is getting so much better! I have so many other products to blog about, as I said yesterday, granola bars, cookies, crackers, chips, I finally bought xanthan gum!
This morning I tried the Maple and Raisin with Flax oatmeal. It was great!!! And with fiber and protein, it kept me satisfied until after 12pm which is awesome. Stay tuned for more product reviews!!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
How many posts have I written about my morning oatmeal that I miss so much? Well, thanks to Glutenfreeda I will no longer have to try to find alternatives for that yummy hot breakfast that I love. I went to Good Health in Quincy Center last night to pick up some Quinoa flakes so that I could make these delicious muffins that I saw on Our Gluten Free Family and what did I see sitting right next to the flakes? The people in the store must've been laughing at me as I practically shrieked outloud "Seriously?!"
They had three varieties, plus a variety pack so I grabbed the variety pack so I can try all three! Maple Raisin with Flax, Banana Maple with Flax, and Apple Cinnamon with Flax. Today I tried the apple cinnamon. It's pretty good! A little bland (compared to sugar loaded Quaker Oats) and I didn't put enough water in it, but it's definitely something I would buy regularly. This one little packet has 4g of Fiber and 5g of Protein. Very cool.
It's just recently launched, and I've had difficulty finding it online, but there are a few places it can be ordered. I also couldn't find it on Glutenfreeda's website, although they did twitter about it in February. Here is one link to a webstore for ordering.
I also have tried this week: Bakery on Main Granola Bars, Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies, and some gross crackers, I forget what brand. But I'll blog about it all throughout the rest of the week!
Monday, March 9, 2009
When I got home I made some scrambled eggs and toasted up some slices of the bread. While it was toasting I was so surprised that it smelled like there was real wheat bread in the toaster!! The taste was really good, not the real thing, but still, it satisfied my craving. I am impressed. Today for lunch I'll have beef stew and a slice of multigrain toast.
Friday, March 6, 2009
This doesn't mean I'm just abandoning the GF diet or anything like that, being gluten-free is the most important to me out of everything else. It's the other things that I'm trying to work on slowly, sugar especially. Last night I went grocery shopping and just kinda wandered around the store, slowly, looking at all the food and thinking carefully about what I wanted to take home with me. I ran into my friend and she asked me if I have a hard time shopping because of my diet and I explained that really, I don't, it's just a matter of making the right choices. Sticking to the perimeter of the store, and avoiding the crap. Rules that everyone should follow, not just the GF'ers!
I tend to go overboard and avoid too many things. I wind up eating nothing but potatoes and eggs. I'm trying to just be smarter, this morning I had one Van's waffle with all fruit spread and nautral peanut butter. Yum! A great start to my day. I was avoiding waffles because I put fake syrup on them but just by changing up my topping I made them so much healthier. I was inspired by my friend who had 4 boxes of Kashi waffles in her cart! She eats them every day.
As far as work is concerned, we've seen a little bit more activity this week which is great. I have realized that I want to be here. I don't want to give up yet. I'm going to try to do everything I can to keep this business alive. But, if that doesn't work out, I definitely would consider going non-profit. I actually used to work at a non-profit and I loved it. Thanks for the links and comments, that was really helpful. I've already looked into a few of them in Boston. But I'm hoping that I won't have to go there just yet. It's been very difficult lately, but I do love what I do here and I want to make sure that my family is taken care of too. I have no idea how to market a business, but I'm gonna throw myself into it head first and hope I come out on top. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome!!!
For now, I'm off to a fun weekend with the people from my part-time gig at the YMCA!! It's gonna be nice and warm!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a great weekend everyone!!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Now I'm here, sitting at work, trying to figure out what I'm gonna do with the rest of my life. Nice huh?? Well here's the thing. I've worked at my family's copy/print shop for 5 and a half years. We've had our fair share of struggles, and this year with the economy in the dump we are in a very tough spot. On top of that, the landlady is moving to the Carolinas and is selling the house. She gave us a year to figure out what we're going to do. Our budget isn't really flexible enough for us to just go out and lease a new space and the home office is too far away from the city for it to be realistic to keep our existing customers. We're in a major cash crunch and don't know how to fix it. One idea is for someone to be laid off... that someone would have to be me.
I've got skills, a degree, a lot of experience, but what's out there for jobs?? I've done a little looking around and the prospects are not great. I've thought about going into business for myself, but realistically, with the economy the way it is, is that smart? Plus that takes startup capital which I do not have, nor think I'll be able to get. And then we wonder, do I really need to get a new job? Would my Dad be shooting himself in the foot by laying me off if we happen to get really busy this spring? Our busy season should be kicking in any day now. We work on Patriot's Day every year because we're always so busy, while the rest of the city is closed, watching the Boston Marathon. But this year, here it is already March 3rd and it feels like it's still the beginning of January. I have nothing to do.
The printing industry has been changing a lot over the years as people have been using the internet a lot more to distribute documents, now more than ever with everyone trying to save money in any way they can. Everyone's going digital. Our biggest monthly order has gone away, they're distributing it online. Oh PDF you are a blessing and a curse!!
I've been brainstorming, writing down all the jobs I've ever had and all the things I love to do to try to come up with an idea of what I should do next. I'm young, single, my options should be endless. I potentially can go anywhere in the world from here, the sky's the limit! So what do I do?? I have no idea. I have no savings, I've worked in jeans, I don't even have a decent interview outfit. I am still paying off my credit card debt management plan, I can't even borrow money to get started. Not that I'd want to anyway. I've thought a lot about getting the whoopie pies back in action. I've printed out a lot of information to help get started. It would cost some money, but we already know there's interest out there. I wish I could do the GF version, but there's been some controversy around that and I am not even close to perfecting the recipe anyway. But if I got started with the regular version, then I could move on to the GF soon enough. I just don't know!!
Anyway, so that's why there's been a lull here, I haven't really been inspired to write, but I'm feeling the bug again, so hopefully I'll have some brighter topics soon!
Monday, March 2, 2009
I'm working on cleaning up my diet and making good progress with that. Hopefully I'll be able to get some exercise in this week too. I'm just exhausted. Vacation can't come soon enough. Wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't SNOWING right now. After a few warm and sunny days, we get more of this crap. Yuck. And the forecast shows another warm weekend coming up. Please spring, just get here!!!
Hopefully I'll have something interesting to write soon. I am going to try to print out some of the 200+ recipes I still have tagged in my reader and get some cooking done soon! I also need to bake another round of GF whoopies, after a get that stand mixer of course...