Monthly Archives: April 2012

Portobello Mushroom Egg Pizza

Sometimes, dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) just has to be fast. Easy. A no-brainer. And sometimes, you just didn’t adequately plan ahead of time so that you could make this happen. Then what do you do?

This was my story, the evening after I ran Warrior Dash. I came home and scarfed a bit of leftover salad from the fridge, showered to get rid of the 1,000 pounds of mud from my body, and made myself presentable enough to take the kids out for a promised pizza dinner. (Yes, sometimes the kids get junk food.) By the time we got back home, I was suddenly famished (obviously, my salad “snack” wasn’t enough) and craving pizza. I hadn’t made plans for a meal beforehand, since we were taking the kids out. I figured I would rummage something up for myself. Only for some reason, I’d underestimated a) how hungry and b) how tired I would be.

So my “rummaging” turned up some portobello mushrooms that needed to be used up, some eggs, and a few pantry ingredients – tomato paste, olives, and a bit of Daiya cheese I’d stashed in the freezer. I was going to make some sort of pizza, I’d decided. It might not be traditional, but it would be nutritious, easy, and hopefully tasty.

Indeed it was. I had the “pizzas” ready to go into the oven in about 5 minutes (although it took longer than that to allow the oven to heat up) and could relax for a few minutes while they baked in the oven. In less than 30 minutes, and with the few dishes I used already washed (a bonus!), I had dinner – two gigantic portobello pizzas, enough to serve 2 people (with a side salad, perhaps). I paused just long enough to get this somewhat decent photo taken for you before both were gone. And I’m not apologizing for that.

These indeed hit the spot. They were delicious. The portobello provided a lovely, meaty base for the “pizza”, and the olives and seasoned tomato paste gave it the “pizza” flavor I was after. The egg just gave it a delicious, rich sauce, as I only baked it long enough to set the whites, leaving the yolk all warm and runny. So. So. Good.

All of a sudden as I’m writing this, I’m hungry for another one of these. I might have to accidentally-on-purpose make some more this weekend.

Portobello Mushroom Egg Pizza

2 large portobello mushroom caps, stems hollowed out

Olive oil or baking spray

salt and pepper

1/3 c tomato paste

1 t Italian seasoning or pizza seasoning

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t onion powder

8-10 black olives, sliced (I used Kalamata)

1/4 c dairy-free cheese (such as Daiya)

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray or brush mushrooms with oil and season the insides with salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder. Spread the sauce over the inside of the mushrooms. Sprinkle olives and dairy-free cheese over. Carefully crack one egg on top of each.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set to your liking. Remove and serve.

Serves 2, or one very hungry person.

Note: You can use any toppings you like on these pizzas. Roasted red peppers, pepperoni, cooked crumbled Italian sausage, ham, jalapenos, artichokes – anything goes!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

 

 

 

 

Expanding My Grilling Horizons (Kale Waldorf Salad with Grilled Apples)


I love to grill. It’s a great thing that I live in Texas, where I can practically break out the grill year-round. But when the days get longer and we all long to be outdoors, that’s when our grill really pays for its place on our back patio. Any night of the week, I can throw a few steaks, some chicken breasts, or even a burger or two on the grill, and with a quick salad, we have a delicious meal. Less fuss and fewer dishes. It’s my kind of cooking!

But this year, I’m going to expand my grilling horizons. Far too often I reserve the grill for cooking meat. Sometimes, I’ll throw a portobello mushroom or two on there, but generally, all of the side dishes are prepared indoors. Well, friends, no more! I’ve decided that nothing is off-limits when it comes to the grill. Vegetables, desserts, salads – they’re all fair game. Okay, beverages might be difficult…but never say never, right?

(Okay, I don’t think my glass of ice water will be used for anything except possibly putting OUT fires on the grill…)

To get this project off on the right foot today, I decided to start with a salad. Since our kale is still growing in full force in the garden, I opted to use it. (A side note: I do love grilling because it reminds me to water the garden in the evenings – the garden is lucky I opted to grill today!) Since I had some apples and grapes that were longing to be used, I thought a waldorf-inspired salad was in order. I made up a quick dressing (using my homemade mayonnaise I made following this recipe) and tossed together the kale, some walnuts, grapes, and celery. And grilled apples.

Yes. I grilled the apples. Ever had a grilled apple? It’s essentially all of the deliciousness of a baked apple, only in a fraction of the time and with the added fun of being outdoors. And it’s a perfect addition to a salad.

That’s it! A super-easy salad that involves no grilling of any meat whatsoever. I’m feeling like my horizons are expanded already, and it’s not even summer!

Kale Waldorf Salad with Grilled Apples

1 large apple, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick

juice of 1 lemon, divided

1 T honey

1 T mayonnaise

1 t Dijon mustard

Pinch salt and pepper

1 large bunch kale, leaves torn

1/3 c sliced celery

¼ c toasted, chopped walnuts

¼ c grapes, sliced in half

Heat the grill to high heat. Meanwhile, brush the apple slices with half of the lemon juice and lightly brush with honey. When the grill is hot, oil the grates and grill the apple slices just until they have grill marks but retain some firmness, about a minute on each side. Remove and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together any remaining honey, the other half of the lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Toss the kale leaves with the dressing and coat well – massage with your fingers to really soften up the kale leaves. Add the celery, walnuts, grapes, and apple slices (cut into smaller pieces if you desire) and toss again.

Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Salad will last a day or two in the fridge.

Want to win a $25 Sears gift card? For your chance to win, tell me why, aside from the food (which is my favorite part, but not killing the garden comes in pretty close), you love to grill?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sears. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

“Strong Is the New Skinny?” How About “Body Appreciation Is the New…Everything?”

Strong Is the New Skinny. It’s the latest meme out there, and it can be seen everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a great many fitness and healthy living blogs. It usually accompanies a photo of some insanely ripped, ultra-muscular woman, meant to inspire the masses of women to not strive for Kate Moss-esque thinness, but instead work towards fitness and strength as a goal.

But after seeing this for a few weeks, it just doesn’t resonate with me. Sure, the intention is there, and I have no doubt that those responsible for making “strong is the new skinny” popular had the female population’s best interests at heart. Yes, fitness and strength are great things to strive for. But when they are accompanied by yet another impossibly idealistic photo of a woman with muscle definition that most of us could not attain, or maintain without intense dedication? For the majority, this makes for yet another ideal that we cannot achieve, causing dissatisfaction at falling short of what is “in”. Basically, unattainable one body image has been traded for another.

About a month ago, I ditched my scale in an effort to work towards a healthier relationship with my body. Until that point in time, I’d been weighing myself several times a week and counting calories almost daily, which was only succeeding in driving myself a little bit mad. Even though I knew I needed to work on appreciating my body (and myself) for what it is and what it can do, my actions were preventing me from moving forward.

It wasn’t just the scale, either. In the past few years, I’ve started to really focus on fitness as well, making sure I do something just about every day. Now, I don’t by any means consider myself an athlete, and the idea of referring to myself as “fit” even sounds strange to me. (I didn’t grow up doing anything athletic, unless you count choir a sport.) But I’ve started to push myself in various new ways – running, learning how to strength train, practicing yoga, participating in events like JailBreak and Warrior Dash, and of course, soccer. For the most part, this process has been great – I’ve learned that my body is stronger and more capable of things than I ever gave it credit for, and it’s exciting to see progress (and I’ve had a lot of fun!). But even fitness can get out of hand. There were times when I’d beat myself up for missing a workout (or not allowing myself to miss a workout, even if I was exhausted or feeling ill), because that meant I was weak or lazy or somehow didn’t meet the ideal “fit” image. Even if I ran a 5K without walking, and ran a great time, there were times I would still beat myself up for not running harder/faster. In yoga, I’d be frustrated if I couldn’t perform the more advanced variations of a pose, instead of realizing how much stronger I’d become or how I could maintain my balance more than I could a month prior. And even if I felt fit and strong one day, if I looked in the mirror and didn’t see that ripped, buff image in my reflection, that feeling of strength lessened. Whether it was the “skinny” image or the “strong” image, I wasn’t fitting either.

In short, I was missing the point.

Since I ditched the scale and have made a “pact” with myself to work towards a healthier image, I’ve felt a bit freer. A bit more in tune with what my body wants and needs. Does this mean I don’t fall into old habits or old ways of thinking? Of course not. It’s a process. And judging by the responses I received on my blog post about this topic, I’m not alone. A great many of us struggle with what we think is our “ideal” body, whether that’s “skinny” or “strong” or whatever, and some of us beat ourselves up about it all too much.

So what should be the new “skinny”? “Strong” has its shortcomings. “Healthy”? Health is an excellent goal, and heck, Tasty Eats At Home is more or less a healthy eating/living blog. But I think even then, that can cause trouble, as not everyone is in perfect health (some have chronic diseases that, while they can be managed, could prevent them from achieving an ideal of “health”), and constantly striving for perfect health can cause that same mental anguish as any of the other “images”. I’m not sure anything should be the “new”…anything, truthfully. I’d rather we forego the “new skinny” thing entirely. Body image shouldn’t be a trend. Instead, why not strive for appreciation?

Instead of trying to be the “new” anything, appreciate your body for what it is. Be okay with who you are, and love that you are unique. Strong is a good attribute, but don’t measure it against an image. Be strong in your convictions, and be strong in your confidence. Be strong in your sense of self. And be appreciative of what your body can do. Set goals, but also be accepting of where you are today. You may not run the fastest 5K, but at least you can run or walk. You may not be able to do a pull-up (I can’t), but at least you are trying and working at it. Some people are simply working to recover from serious illness, so being able to make it through the day is enough. Most of us can hear music, feel the warmth of the sun on our face, walk unassisted, love friends and family, and have the ability to pursue our dreams and happiness. These are gifts. Be thankful for them, and be thankful that you have the ability to challenge your mind and body. Allow yourself to just “be”.

There is not a more beautiful image than someone who is appreciative and respectful of his/her body, and that image is as unique as every one of us. If we were to treat ourselves and one another with that in mind, health, strength, and so much more would just fall into place.

 

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies (Vegan, Grain-Free)

I’m a fan of alliterations, aren’t you? Especially when they involve chocolate and cherries. These little treats definitely fit the bill: delicious chocolate little morsels filled with dried bing cherries with just the right amount of sweetness. They may not be the flashiest, prettiest little dessert, but after a long stretch without sweets (I’ve just finished a Whole30), these were heaven. They’re still paleo-friendly, as they’re sweetened only with fruit and a touch of stevia, but that was more than enough.

They’re also grain-free, nut-free, and vegan – something that is rare in any baked good. A while back, Maggie at She Let Them Eat Cake shared a chocolate chip cookie recipe using pumpkin seed flour. Pumpkin seeds, a.k.a. pepitas, are a great alternative to nuts, especially if someone in your family has an allergy, or your children attend a nut-free school. Just process them in a coffee grinder until finely ground, and you have yourself a nutritious flour! I couldn’t wait until I got my hands on some pumpkin seeds so I could try out this method. So after grinding away, and poking around in my pantry to see what fun ingredients I could throw together with this new flour, I came out armed with some cocoa powder, dates, prunes, and cherries. Next thing I knew, these cookies were born.

Which isn’t surprising. If I wander into the kitchen to bake, chances are, what I will be baking is cookies. It’s my go-to dessert. Maybe it’s because I’ve always adored cookies, even back when I was a gluten-eater. I’d snub most cakes and other treats, but a cookie? Oh yes, I was game. Now that I bake gluten-free and dairy-free (and often grain and sugar-free as well), cookies are an easy thing to create. Cookies don’t have to be light and airy and have that perfect cake crumb; they’re not tricky like gluten-free breads. Maybe it’s just my point of view, but cookies are a lot more forgiving. Besides, they’re delicious. Who doesn’t like cookies?

Especially chewy chocolate cookies with cherries?

That’s what I thought.

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo)

10 prunes

3 Medjool dates

1 ½ c pumpkin seed flour (grind raw shelled pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder)

3 T cocoa powder

¼ t baking soda

2 t cinnamon

¼ t sea salt

2 T applesauce

2 T coconut oil, melted

1 ½ t vanilla extract

¼ t almond extract

¼-1/2 t vanilla stevia extract

¾ c dried bing cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, heat water until just boiling. Add prunes and dates and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, whisk together pumpkin seed flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt in a medium bowl.

Remove prunes and dates from water and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add applesauce coconut oil, and extracts and process until it forms a paste. Add pumpkin seed flour mixture and process until well-blended. Adjust sweetness level to your liking with stevia, blending well. Stir in cherries.

Using oiled hands, roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Flatten with the back of a spoon or the heel of your hand.

Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 1 ½ dozen.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Interested in learning about gluten-free baking? Join me and other Community Leaders at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 7 PM CDT to discuss gluten-free baking! Just visit this link to attend!

 

Green Pea Hummus

A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Hummus over at The Balanced Platter, shared by Valerie of City|Life|Eats. I loved the idea of this alternative to the traditional chickpea hummus. I can’t tolerate many legumes, and chickpeas are on the very top of the “just can’t do” list. However, I can tolerate fresh peas in small amounts, black-eyed peas being one example. But the light bulb really came on when Valerie replied to a comment I left on her post – she suggested a green pea-based dip.

OMG, I thought. Green peas? In a dip? Suddenly, I was hungry.

It’s funny how the littlest things can excite me. It was like the clouds parted and the sun was sending down warm, bright, clear rays down on me. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but you get my point.

I decided to make myself a little snack. Green pea hummus was the goal. I had to see if this green pea-based dip thing lived up to my expectations.

It did. Oh boy, it did.

Think of the creamy, addictive deliciousness that is hummus, and pair that with the spring-time freshness of green peas and parsley. That’s what this is. The best part? It’s terribly easy to whip up, and makes an excellent little snack to pack in your lunch, or for a savory afternoon pick-me-up.

I served mine with jicama sticks, baby carrots, celery sticks, and red bell pepper sticks. You could also use some of it to dress up some vegan “cheesy” crackers. You could even thin it out a bit and use it as a salad dressing. Or spread it out on some gluten-free bread as a condiment for a sandwich. Oh, the possibilities! But whatever you do, I highly recommend you make some. You’ll be glad you did.

Green Pea Hummus (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, grain-free)

2 c frozen peas

1/2 c flat-leaf parsley, packed

4 T tahini

Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 t ground cumin

confit garlic cloves plus about a teaspoon of the oil (alternatively, 1 fresh garlic clove and a teaspoon of olive oil)

1/4-1/2 t salt

1/2 t smoked paprika

In a small saucepan, bring about 4 cups of water to a boil. Add peas and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Place peas, parsley, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and oil, salt, and about 3/4 of the smoked paprika in the bowl of a food processor or a blender. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Scrape into a serving bowl and sprinkle remaining paprika. Chill and serve.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

KitchenAid Giveaway at Healthy Blender Recipes and My Lemon Earl Grey Cookies


Have you heard about this AMAZING giveaway going on over at Healthy Blender Recipes? All during the month of April, you can enter to win a KitchenAid mixer – an amazing 7-QT Bowl-Lift Residential Stand Mixer!

Today I’m sharing my recipe for Lemon Earl Grey Cookies. They’re gluten and dairy-free. Check them out and enter for your chance to win this awesome KitchenAid mixer.

 

Review and Giveaway: Simply…Gluten-Free Quick Meals

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Simply Gluten-Free Quick Meals at no cost. This in no way influenced my review.

This giveaway is now closed. The winner was commenter #54 – Nicole, who says her favorite quick gluten-free meal is Miracle noodles with veggies and sauce. Congrats, Nicole! Enjoy your copy of Simply…Gluten-Free Quick Meals!

One of the struggles many people who switch to a gluten-free diet, especially when they wish to focus on healthy foods, is finding the time to prepare meals. For many people who rarely cooked before their transition to gluten-free, this can be especially daunting. But in an effort to heal our bodies after gluten, we make the commitment:

I’m going to learn to cook gluten-free for my family.

But how? Carol Kicinski’s new book, Simply…Gluten-Free Quick Meals, is an excellent tool to help you through that process. Carol is the author of the blog Simply…Gluten-Free and another cookbook (which I also reviewed!), Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts. She is incredibly talented, especially at making gluten-free recipes that are so good, you’d never guess they were “free from” anything! I’ve made quite a few recipes from her book and blog over the years, and they’ve been excellent!

Her newest creation, Simply…Gluten-Free Quick Meals, is possibly her greatest yet. The entire book is organized by meals, giving you a main course, side dishes, and desserts. This way, you can plan dinner for every night of the week! Carol gives you time-saving hints before each meal (such as suggesting you use frozen vegetables to save on prep time), which are essential when you only have about a 30-minute window for dinnertime. The recipes are very family-friendly, easily customizable (if you have dairy-free needs, Carol makes notes for dairy-free recipes as well), and the best part – they’re delicious. There are recipes for macaroni and cheese, polenta pot pie (I’ve made this before from her blog; it’s delicious!), shepherd’s pie, and SO much more.

I opted to make her Vegetarian Curry and Spiced Basmati Rice with Cashews. I love curries, but rarely opt to make a vegetarian version. This curry was easy, as it called for a jarred gluten-free curry base, and when using frozen cubed butternut squash, prep was a breeze. What would normally take an hour to prepare was done in a flash. She did offer a recipe for easy Mango Lassis, which I didn’t make, but can only imagine would be a perfect sweet treat to finish the meal. The curry was delicious – not too spicy, creamy, and comforting. The rice was the dark horse – it seems unassuming, but the spices were just enough to really keep you interested. Of course, the cashews provided a lovely crunchy contrast. It might have stolen the show! It was a great weeknight meal.

Sound good? Are you ready to learn how to win a copy of Simply…Gluten-Free Quick Meals? Here’s how you can do it:

1. Leave me a comment telling me YOUR favorite gluten-free quick meal, or a previously gluten-full quick meal recipe you’d love to see converted to gluten-free.

2. “Like” Tasty Eats At Home on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

3. Follow Tasty Eats At Home on Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

4. “Like” Simply…Gluten-Free on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

5. Follow Simply…Gluten-Free on Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

That’s it! The giveaway will end on Sunday, April 15 at 11:59PM CDT. I’ll then randomly pick one winner and notify you via email!

 

Turnip-Rutabaga Puree over at The Balanced Platter

Do you love mashed potatoes, but don’t love that they’re pretty gosh-darn high on the glycemic index? How about a lower-carb alternative?

I’m sharing our new favorite side dish over at The Balanced Platter today. Head on over there to check it out!

KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway & A Month of Recipes


Have you heard about this AMAZING giveaway going on over at Healthy Blender Recipes? All during the month of April, you can enter to win a KitchenAid mixer - an amazing 7-QT Bowl-Lift Residential Stand Mixer!

All month long, bloggers will be sharing delectable treats that can be made with this mixer.

Tess of Healthy Blender Recipes will be posting a recipe a day throughout the month and updating the links on this page.

Here’s the list of bloggers that are participating! I will be sharing my recipe for Lemon Earl Grey Cookies on Monday, April 16.

Gluten Free Baking With KitchenAid – Calendar For April 2012

Sunday April 1st

Tess Masters, The Blender Girl from Healthy Blender Recipes

Follow at @theblendergirl and Healthy Blender Recipes

Recipe: Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut “Nutella” Cake

Monday April 2nd

Becky Ross from The Freedom Chef.

Follow @thefreedomchef and The Freedom Chef

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy, Vegan, Nut Free, Soy Free, Corn Free, Sugar Free “Easter Egg Hunt” Chocolate Cake Pops

Tuesday April 3rd

Hallie Klecker from Daily Bites.

Follow at @hallieklecker and Daily Bites

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Wednesday April 4th

Carol Fenster from Carol Fenster Cooks.

Follow @CarolFenster and Carol Fenster

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies

Thursday April 5th

Kelly Courson from Celiac Chicks.

Follow @celiacchick and Celiac Chicks

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Peanut Butter Love Bars

Friday April 6th

Elizabeth Kaplan from The Pure Pantry.

Follow @thepurepantry and The Pure Pantry

Recipe: Gluten Free Berry Cheesecake Tartlets

Saturday April 7th

Valentina Kenny from Cooking On The Weekends.

Follow @cookingweekends and Cooking On The Weekends

Recipe: Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Sarah M Boudreau-Romano from The Allergist Mom

Follow @TheAllergistMom and The Allergist Mom

Recipe: Gluten Free Carrot Muffins

Sunday April 8th

Lexie Croft from Lexie’s Kitchen.

Follow @lexieskitchen and Lexie’s Kitchen

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Egg Free Scones

Monday April 9th

Alisa Fleming from Go Dairy Free

Follow @alisacooks and Go Dairy Free

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Tuesday April 10th

Ricki Heller from Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Follow @rickiheller and Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Recipe: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free Soy Free Chocolate Frosting

Wednesday April 11th

Colette Martin from Learning To Eat Allergy Free.

Follow @colettefmartin and Allergen-Free Baker

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Nut Free, Soy Free Avocado Chickpea Quickbread

Thursday April 12th

Lisa Cantkier from Gluten Free Find.

Follow @glutenfreefind and GlutenFreeFind.com

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Berry-Full Cupcakes

Friday April 13th

Cybele Pascal from Cybele Pascal – The Allergy-Friendly Cook.

Follow @cybelepascal and Cybele Pascal

Recipe: Gluten Free Pita Breads

Saturday April 14th

Beth Hillson from Gluten-Free Makeovers.

Follow @Beth_Hillson and Gluten Free Makeovers

Recipe: Gluten Free Vanilla Blueberry Bundt Cake

Sunday April 15th

Karen Morgan from BlackBird Bakery.

Follow @blackbirdbakes and BlackBird Bakery

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Carrot Cake

Monday April 16th

Alta Mantsch from Tasty Eats At Home.

Follow @tastyeatsathome and Tasty Eats At Home

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Lemon Earl Grey Cookies

Tuesday April 17th

Maggie Savage from She Let Then Eat Cake.

Follow @MaggieSavage and She Let Them Eat Cake

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Crackers

Wednesday April 18th

Amie Valpone from The Healthy Apple.

Follow @TheHealthyApple and The Healthy Apple

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Sweet Zucchini Balsamic Scones

Patrice Pollack from A Health Foodie.

Follow @PatricePollack and A Health Foodie

Recipe: Gluten Free Zucchini Millet Bread

Thursday April 19th

Jeanine Friesen from The Baking Beauties.

Follow @bakingbeauties and The Baking Beauties

Recipe: Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Friday April 20th

Carla Spacher from Gluten Free Recipe Box

Follow @gfrecipebox and Gluten Free Carla

Recipe: Baked or Grilled Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Saturday April 21st

Carrie Forbes from Ginger Lemon Girl.

Follow @gingerlemongirl and GingerLemonGirl.com

Recipe: Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday April 22nd

Heather from Gluten Free Cat.

Follow @glutenfreecat and Gluten Free Cat

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Pecan Pancakes

Monday April 23rd

Kim Lutz from Welcoming Kitchen.

Follow @welcomekitchen and Welcoming Kitchen

Recipe: Gluten Free Dairy Free Egg Free Apple Coffee Cake

Tuesday April 24th

Amy Green from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Follow @amys_SSGF and Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

Recipe: Gluten Free Bread

Wednesday April 25th

Linda Etherton from Gluten Free Homemaker.

Follow @gfhomemaker and The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Recipe: Gluten Free Almond Cranberry Muffins

Lisa Natcharian from Allergy Free Vintage Cookery.

Follow on Facebook at Allergy Free Vintage Cookery

Recipe: Gluten Free Autumn Spice Truffle Bites

Thursday April 26th

Jennifer Ward from Be Free Bakers.

Follow @befreebakers and Be Free Bakers

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Friday April 27th

Megan Lust from The Gluten Free Vegan.

Follow @meganthegfvegan and The Gluten Free Vegan in Saskatoon

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Buns

Saturday April 28th

Kalinda Piper from Wheat Free Meat Free.

Follow @kalindap

Recipe: Gluten Free Rosemary Garlic Crackers

Sunday April 29th

Jennifer Cafferty from Gluten Free Life with Jen

Follow @jenglutenfree and GFreeLife Jen

Recipe: Gluten Free Apple Spice Loaf

Monday April 30th

Silvana Nardone from Silvana’s Kitchen.

Follow @SilvanaNardone and Silvana Nardone

Recipe: Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts

 

A Healthier Relationship: Calories, The Scale, and Body Image

While I consider Tasty Eats At Home a healthier food blog, I don’t often venture outside of gluten-free, dairy-free recipes and topics related to that. I love to talk about cooking (both healthy recipes and indulgent ones!), and I love to talk about navigating gluten and dairy-free living. But rarely do I address other aspects of healthy living. Lately, however, I’ve been struggling with one hot topic.

Having a healthy relationship – with food, with exercise, and with your body.

Sure, you hear that all the time – that we should all strive for balance, eat a healthier diet (but enjoying treats in moderation), maintain a healthy self-image, blah blah blah. But what does that really mean?

It seems that everywhere, people looking to lose weight count calories. While I’ve never been deemed overweight, I’ve fussed and fretted over the same 5-10 lbs lost and regained a countless number of times. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I generally eat a healthy, balanced diet. But I’ve also counted calories and weighed myself like it was my job. I’ve tracked every morsel that goes into my mouth, and I’ve even calculated calories burned doing various exercises. Back in the day, before I went gluten-free, I even did Weight Watchers for a time.

And you know what, folks? It’s gotten me nowhere.

In fact, I think that those activities have driven me further away from a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and body image. Sure, I’d buckle down and decide I would really eat clean. I love veggies, and of course, I love cooking, so I can always create delicious meals that are nourishing without feeling it was a burden. I would exercise as well, and I’d track what I was doing, using an online calorie counting site and the good ol’ trusty scale. As I’ve grown older, it’s become more and more difficult for me to lose weight, even with an extremely strict diet and regular exercise. But for a while, I could manage to be disciplined enough to drop 5 or so pounds in the course of a few months, and I’d be proud of myself.

Then I’d allow myself to bake or make treats. Of course, when I bake, I nibble. A lot. I’d then go down that spiral of excess, where even though many times I would bake “healthier” treats, I’d enjoy too much of them. I had been “good” for so long that it would seem I’d lose some control over my eating when it came to those sweets. And I’d gain. I would still weigh myself religiously, and that scale would determine my mood. Over time, I created a guilt association with overindulgence, and that scale was the punishment. I’d weigh myself, scorn myself for overindulging, and resolve to “do better”. Only this cycle of “doing better” and “overindulging” and all the scorn in the world didn’t make that number on the scale stay in one place. And even if I did feel like I’d been eating well, felt lighter/smaller, and felt more positive about my body, if I weighed myself and the scale suggested otherwise, it would ruin that positive mood.

I thought I had a healthy relationship with food. My diet consists of nourishing, whole foods. Back in the day, I bought into the whole “diet” food, low-fat regimen, but I’ve long since trashed that idea in favor of real food. I exercise regularly, mixing cardio with strength training, and even taking time to try to center myself with yoga. But this cycle of “good” versus “bad” and the constant measuring of calories and my weight was undermining all of that. I no longer was in touch with what my body needed. If I saw I had a surplus of calories available on a given day, I’d indulge (or even over-indulge), even if I wasn’t hungry. If I was at my limit of calories, I would immediately feel deprived, even if I wasn’t hungry, causing me to cave and snack on something. My sugar “binges” would make the cycle even worse, giving me cravings that just couldn’t be satisfied with any sweet treat. It was a struggle. The fact that I run a “healthy food” blog seemed to make this worse – I, of all people, should have a healthy relationship with food, right? Furthermore, I have a teenage step-daughter that is already more than self-conscious about her weight, as many teen girls are. The last thing I want to do is pass on these negative mental battles I have with food, weight, and body image to her.

So I’ve made a decision. I’ve had enough.

About a week and a half ago, I embarked on a decision to follow the Whole30 Program, in an effort to reign in those sugar cravings, as well as get back to feeling my best. I was diagnosed with PCOS a few months back (which helps to explain the struggle with losing even 5 lbs, as well as so many other unsexy symptoms such as acne), and so in addition to my delicate digestive “balance” (or lack thereof, especially when I’m ignoring my body’s signals), I’ve been struggling with out-of-whack hormones as my doctor works to find the best solution for me. Whole30, which is very much like the paleo diet, seemed like a great way to move towards improving my health and wellness. (Others have talked about success with Whole30 and PCOS.) I have been eating mostly “paleo” for the past 5-6 months (with some excessive baking/treats – not-so-paleo), so this wasn’t too much of a stretch for me. With that program, I did two monumental (at least, for me) things:

Number One: I ditched the scale.

Number Two: I ditched the calorie counting.

There will be no measurements.

This isn’t about weight loss; it’s about reconnecting with my body and its needs.

About a week in, (after the sugar monster stopped growling outside my door) I came to some realizations. One, since I stopped counting calories, I don’t think I’m actually eating any more than I was. (which was part of my fear – that I’d eat too much and not be aware of it.) I’m listening more to actual hunger cues. I’m stopping to think before I decide I need a snack about whether I’m hungry, or if it’s just a conditioned response – I’m bored, I’m tired, I’m stressed, or it’s just “time to eat.” I’m finding I’m not hungry as often. It’s not totally natural yet, of course, but I feel good about the progress made already.

As for the scale, I still think about it. I think it will take a while to retrain my brain. Ultimately, though, my weight is just a number. I would rather feel good about my body and feel fit and healthy than weigh a certain number. But my brain still tells me it wants that “validation” that I’m doing a good job. While I’m working to change that, I have to remind myself that my “validation” is that I have more energy and feel more in touch with my body. What’s even better? Yesterday, I was feeling particularly good. My skin seemed more vibrant (read – less acne, less dryness, less angry-hormonal-craziness), I didn’t feel sluggish and bloated, and I was no longer fighting sugar cravings. I was in the bathroom and the thought popped into my head, “I wonder if I’ve lost any weight? I feel good.” But rather than being told how to feel by that number on the scale, instead, I allowed myself to continue to feel good and did not weigh myself. That’s a freeing concept for me. I look forward to more of it.

Most importantly, I am working on changing my thoughts about my body. After all, I am more than a number on a scale. AndreAnna over at Life As A Plate talked a while back about true health vs. what’s right “on paper,” and I was inspired by her writing. My husband tells me I am beautiful all the time. I hear it, but I don’t always let it truly sink in. But I know I feel vibrant. I am feeling healthier as each day passes. I am motivated to work out in the morning, and when I do, I feel stronger. I’m not preoccupying myself with calories or my weight. I am feeling more balanced and free. I recently read a post over at Ancestralize Me that really spoke to me – that maybe women aren’t all supposed to be super-lean when they are at optimum health. It was a good refresher that I needed to keep perspective. I am beautiful, but not because of what the scale, the mirror, or even those wretched BMI charts say. I am beautiful because I choose to be beautiful – through my actions, with my heart, and my health. These are the things I need to focus on, and what I need to pass on to my step-daughter. When I change my thoughts, I can change my behavior, which in turn will change my health. My body will do what it’s destined to do.

And I’m learning to be fine with that.

 

Me, crossing the finish line at JailBreak (5K mud run/obstacle course), with my sister cheering me on. Covered in mud and exhausted, yet feeling strong and beautiful!