Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gluten-Free Summer Fun for Kids

With the kids home for the summer, hungry, and all-too-often bored, I’m certain you’re lLooking for some treats to make for (or with!) your kids this summer that are delicious and gluten-free. Am I right?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve come to the right place!

If you’re stuck in a rut with what to feed the kids this time of year, here is some awesome inspiration to make things easy, fun, and delicious. Yes, this round-up is heavy on the desserts, but let’s be honest – those are the most fun recipes to make, right?

Breakfast

Blueberry Breakfast Bread

Banana Split Parfait

Blueberry Buckwheat Donuts with Lemon Glaze

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Snacks

Chocolate Protein “Frosty”

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn

Gluten-free “Graham Dippers”

How to Make Sunflower Seed Butter

Peanut Butter and Jelly Munch

Dessert

Creamy Peach Popsicles

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Ding Dongs

Chocolate-Covered Fudgesicles

Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Brown Rice Crispy Treats

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Popsicles

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares

Black Bean Fudge Pops

Chocolate Caramel Slice

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls

Beverages

Sparkling Peach Lemonade

“Eat Dirt” Vegan Protein Shake

Cookie Dough Milkshake

Watermelon Lime Soda

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

Implementing Sustainable Healthy Habits

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. If you have specific health concerns, you should discuss these with a medical expert. I am merely a person on the internet, talking about things that have worked for me.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll find quick fixes. Things to do to “get healthy quick” or “lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” Often times, these “fixes” include heavily regimented plans that eliminate a dozen foods, encourage a “detox” that involves only a short list of approved foods (or only juices), have you working out hard, day after day after day with no rest, or other sustainable habits.

Turns out, it’s not a quick fix. If you’ve ever been caught up in one of these, you know this truth. There are no quick fixes. Mentally and physically, we aren’t meant to go through such restrictive measures long-term. It’s not sustainable. And for most of us, it backfires. We end these “fixes” by overindulging. There is rarely balance.

But if we implement simple, sustainable habits, we can move towards greater health and well-being without all of the back-and-forth nonsense. How do we do that?

Don’t unnecessarily restrict foods or entire food groups. If you need to eat gluten-free for health reasons, or are allergic to a certain food, by all means, don’t eat those things that harm you. But eliminating all carbs, all sources of sugar, all fats, grains, or other foods groups sets you up for a great deal of stress and unhealthy relationship with foods, not to mention possible metabolic issues. You don’t have to restrict everything that tastes good in order to be healthy. Eat a wide variety of foods, and eat them in moderation.

Move your body. Note: this does not mean join a daily boot-camp, plus run 10 miles each day, plus do powerlifting or CrossFit. It does not mean wearing your body down so much that you cannot move the following day. Yes, elite athletes might do 2-a-days when training for an event. But for the most of us, we are not elite athletes. We’re just trying to juggle a healthy lifestyle along with a full-time job, family, bills, chores and a thousand other things. But if you make it a priority to move your body in a sustainable way most every day, no matter what the movement is, it can become a positive, healthy habit. You can do whatever makes you happy, and whatever fits your level of ability. Take a walk – even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Lift weights. Do pilates or yoga. Ride a bike. Play a sport. Do CrossFit if it really makes you happy. Just don’t do all of these things, all at once, all day long.

Give yourself time to rest. Make sure you allow yourself enough sleep each night. If your body is screaming at you to rest and you’re aching from consecutive days of hard workouts, in spite of the fact that you scheduled yourself for a 10-mile run that morning, heed the suggestions of your body. Take it easy. Taking time out for yourself to heal and rejuvenate is just as important as active time. Besides, enough rest can help you attack the following day with renewed energy and vigor.

Treat yourself. Part of a healthy lifestyle includes having fun. Enjoy some ice cream after dinner. Make cookies with your kids. (Or relax and let Udi’s make you some gluten-free ones!) Schedule a massage. Go out and see a movie with friends or your significant other. Many of us work hard all the time, and allowing treats and fun into our lives is just as important as getting things done. If we’re not here on this Earth to enjoy it, then why are we here?

Ultimately, implementing healthy habits shouldn’t feel like torture, and most of us didn’t become healthy overnight by dramatically changing every facet of our lives. Small, sustainable changes (such as choosing to go for a walk, or trying to eat more vegetables) are far easier and less painful to implement. And they’re much more likely to become a normal part of your everyday life.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

A New Type of New Year’s “Resolution”

resolutionsDoes the New Year have you tempted to go on yet another restrictive diet or “detox”? Less food, no sugar, no treats? Are you certain the only path to health is by saying “no”?

It’s high time we stop with the “no”, and instead embrace saying “YES” to some wonderful things that can benefit our health. Today over at The Balanced Platter, I’m sharing some ways you can Say Yes in 2014. The best news: you don’t have to give up chocolate, sugar, carbs, grains, or anything you enjoy.

Head on over to The Balanced Platter and check it out!

Top 10 Posts of 2013

top 10 2013

It’s time again for the annual Tasty Eats At Home Top 10!

I enjoy these little posts, mostly because I love discovering what was popular over the past year. Often times, it’s not what I would have guessed. Maybe it’s because something just happened to be timely, or maybe it’s the sheer fact that it was a dessert dish (those tend to get a lot of love), but whatever the reasons, it’s fun to dig these up. So in countdown style, here they are: The Top 10 Posts!

candy cane marshmallows

10. Candy Cane Marshmallows – What’s not to love about these? It’s like the holidays meet my favorite candy in the world to make – marshmallows!

coffee ice cream

9. The Best Ice Cream Ever…And It’s Dairy-Free! (Coffee Ice Cream) – This dairy-free ice cream really WAS the best ever. I love coffee ice cream, and this vegan version really hit the spot on a summer day.

blueberry breakfast bread

8. Blueberry Breakfast Bread – I love a good baked good for breakfast, and this bread is no exception. Which reminds me….I still have blueberries in the freezer.

thanksgiving popcorn

7. Apple Pie Spice “Un-Popcorn” – This stuff was devoured at Thanksgiving. I made it corn-free for a family member that can’t tolerate corn, but it was loved by all. It’s an excellent snack.

let go of fear

6. Healing My Digestion and My Relationship with Food – This was one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written, and perhaps among the gluten-free community, one of the most controversial. But in the 5+ years I’ve been blogging, I’ve worked to regain my health, and have struggled in many ways. I’ve finally found a path that is working for me, and felt I should share that there is more than one way to go about your journey towards health.

honey teff bread

5. Honey Teff Bread – It took a long time for me to post this recipe, after many months of tweaking. I love this bread – it holds up to sandwiches and is flavorful and hearty.

ding dongs in a row

4. Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Ding Dongs – These were an amazing amount of fun to make and eat. Yes, there were several steps, but nothing too complicated, and the end result is a gluten-free version of a childhood favorite. Win-win.

pork chop

3. Dijon and Honey Pork Chops - These pork chops remind me that I need to share more super-easy main dish recipes with you. These are a cinch to make, perfect for weeknights, and are pretty darned delicious.

quinoa protein bars

2. Quinoa Protein Breakfast Bars – While these wouldn’t be one of my most-favorite-recipes-ever, they’re tasty and a fun way to add more protein into your breakfast. They’re also excellent for meals on the go!

peanut butter chocolate crispy bars

1. Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares - I can easily see why these were well-liked. They’re simple to make, and combine two favorites – peanut butter and chocolate – in epic fashion. (My favorite part? They came to be simply because I wanted to use up some Chex.) They might just be my #1 easy sweet treat of the year, too!

Thank you all for being part of this blog and my life in 2013. It’s been a great year. Wishing you and your family an even more amazing 2014!

Happy Holidays!!

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Just wanted to wish everyone a HAPPY HOLIDAY to you and your family. I hope you get to spend some quality time with the ones you love.

I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Review and Giveaway: G-Free Foodie Box Club!

gff boxesphoto courtesy of G-Free Foodie

Update: This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Jeanene! Congrats, Jeanene.

Did you know there was a foodie club, made just for those of us on a gluten-free diet?

There is!

Over at G-Free Foodie, in addition to learning all sorts of things about a gluten-free diet, including recipes and gluten-free restaurants, there is a monthly box club available.

If you’ve been a bit of a self-described foodie even before going gluten-free, or if you just love to try new things, this box club is for you. For $29/month, you receive a box full of delicious gluten-free (and dairy-free, if you specify) artisanal treats. I was ecstatic to receive my box, which included some plantain chips, a scone mix, some flavored cashews, spearmint jam, crispy onion rings, some herbal tea, a tea infuser, and a basting brush. I’ve tried most everything (have yet to make the scones), and it’s all been excellent. I can’t wait for another.

What’s better – that $29 for the box is a bargain, as these products, priced individually, would likely total more than that price. Receiving this box also gets you out of your comfort zone and trying new things. The box makes a great gift for a gluten-free foodie friend or family member, or even for yourself.

gffboxsq

photo courtesy of G-Free Foodie

Want to win a box?

I’m giving a G-Free Foodie Box to one lucky reader! If you leave me a comment below telling me a delicious gluten-free foodie gift idea, you’ll be entered. That’s it!

All U.S. residents 18 years of age and over are eligible. The drawing will end and a winner will be chosen on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 11:59pm.

Good luck to all!

 

Healing My Digestion and My Relationship with Food

sloppy joe

It’s been over 4 years since I last enjoyed a Sloppy Joe on a gluten-full bun. What changed?

Disclaimer: The following are merely my experiences and should not constitute medical advice. I am merely a person on the internet and not a doctor, and should you be curious about your diet and how it impacts your health, I suggest you talk to your favorite qualified medical professional.

Since I posted about my healing process back in September, I’ve had several people interested in learning more about how I was able to heal my gut and reintroduce gluten and dairy back into my diet successfully. Since that point, I have been able to eat gluten and dairy without restriction. Even more so, I’ve been able to do so and am currently enjoying better digestion than I’ve had in years.

What happened? How is it that I spent so many years with a bad digestive system, gave up gluten, then dairy, and then continued to struggle 3 more years, only to now find myself in a place where I can go out to eat and choose anything on the menu?

In short, I had to completely reframe my way of thinking. I’d tried everything else. I went gluten and dairy-free. I removed FODMAPs. I tried an anti-candida diet. Then a high-raw, mostly vegan diet. I was mostly paleo for over a year. I juiced nearly daily. But I found that every time I removed something from my diet, it seemed I had trouble reintroducing it. I couldn’t digest anything without bloating, and I suffered from chronic constipation. This didn’t get better, no matter what I did. I also was trying to limit my calories almost constantly through these years, in order to keep my waistline in check. I worried about eating the wrong thing and suffering from digestive upset, worried about gaining weight, and I worried about not being able to maintain control of my eating. I’d often eat “clean” for days, only to bake some gluten-free (or even paleo) baked good, and fall face-first into the pile of goodies, fueling my anxiety about food, and messing with my digestion even more. I was stressed about where I was, but was also paralyzed.

When I embarked on a training plan for my very first half-marathon race early this year, I was rapidly discovering that my body wasn’t recovering after long runs. I would be tired and sore for several days. In addition, my paleo-ish diet wasn’t giving me adequate fuel. I’d hit a wall way too early in my runs. I knew that I couldn’t meet my fitness goals unless I ate more carbohydrates and more calories. Something had to change.

This realization, in a roundabout way, led me to a fledgling Facebook group called Eating the Food (an anti-diet, anti-dogma group) that helped me get away from my anxiety about food. I also stumbled upon Matt Stone’s work – specifically, Eat for Heat and Diet Recovery. These books talked of recovery using methods that frankly, at the beginning, terrified me just a bit. Eat for Heat discusses eating starches, sugar, and simple carbohydrates to raise metabolic rates. I’d tried for so long to limit these foods that I was certain I would suffer if I tried to eat them. I was certain I would be less healthy, or gain weight, or both. It seemed to be the total opposite of my kale-heavy, grain-free diet I was so married to at the time. I had to let go of that fear.

I am no scientist or doctor, and so I don’t fully understand the mechanics and relationship behind metabolism and digestive capacity, but I knew I wasn’t giving my body enough calories to do more than the bare minimum. I was generally striving for a diet consisting of only enough calories to cover my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - or the calories my body needs just to rest – and I was requiring much more out of it than that. In addition, I was eating a lot of difficult-to-digest foods – raw, leafy greens, lots of insoluble fiber, and nuts. When a family member dealt with a digestive system-related surgery in 2012, I discovered that the doctors required a low-fiber, low-residue diet consisting of white starches, little lactose, low-fiber fruits and vegetables, and no nuts or seeds, in order to allow the body to heal the digestive system, rather than spending so much energy digesting difficult foods. In my not-scientific mind, I realized that perhaps I, too, needed to give my system a rest, and to give it enough calories to heal and do its job.

So I did.

I slowly reintroduced (gluten-free) grains, starches, and sugar. I backed off of the raw veggies (especially cruciferous) and only ate them when I truly craved them. I also backed off of the xanthan gum-heavy gluten-free products, as well as those with psyllium husk, flax and other gut-irritating ingredients. I brought in white rice, potatoes, and I allowed sweets. I slowly increased my calories so that I was eating to my Daily Energy Expenditure, or my BMR plus what I used moving around, cooking, standing and whatever I burned through conscious exercise. My belly did bloat a bit at first, but this quickly abated. I maintained a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, but I also made sure to incorporate gelatin and bone broth regularly to give my system as much as it needed to heal. I spent several months doing this. I also worked on reducing my fears associated with these foods I previously saw as “bad”, and I worked on acceptance of my body, even if I was to gain weight. I needed to reframe my mindset universally – healing my digestion and the way my body worked, for me, was dependent on my positive body image.

I found that over time, I was less anxious about food, but not just because I started to feel better. (And I DID feel better! I had more energy – I wasn’t prone to afternoon slumps, I wasn’t exhausted, I wasn’t hungry all the time, and I wasn’t overly focused about how long it was until my next meal.) I also found I no longer was prone to overeating. If I made cookies, I could have one, and that’s all I wanted. I could have candy on my desk at work and not touch it for days – I wouldn’t even think about it. That was completely contrary to my prior experiences. I learned that I didn’t have a “sugar addiction” before - I was just hungry. When my body was sufficiently fueled for long enough that it realized it was no longer going to be starving again soon, I stopped craving these things. It was a weight lifted from my shoulders that was more freeing than anything I’d experienced before.

I also tracked my body temperatures during this time, after reading Matt Stone’s work. I used to average a body temperature around 96 degrees F, which is sub-optimal. I used to always think that was normal, but I realized after a few months, my temperatures improved. They especially improved if I ate certain types of meals, such as oatmeal with a bit of sugar. (Coincidentally, this was a meal that also made me feel full of energy!) After about 5 months, I was averaging body temperatures near 98. My digestion was better than it’d ever been. I wasn’t bloated. I wasn’t constipated. In fact, I had gotten so I didn’t have to think about it (a.k.a. worry about it) more days than not. I had not experienced this in years. That’s when I got up the nerve to try to reintroduce dairy, and subsequently gluten.

Caveat: I don’t have celiac disease. I don’t even have the genes for celiac disease. So armed with that knowledge, along with some research done to show that there was not a correlation between increased gut permeability and gluten sensitivity (i.e. eating gluten wouldn’t cause harm to my digestive system that I couldn’t “feel”), I began my test.

Mind you, this test was entirely n=1. It was unscientific. I was merely starting with small amounts at first, waiting to see how I reacted, and I went from there. What happens to me might be different for others. But for me, a gradual reintroduction worked. At first, I found that small amounts of dairy didn’t cause any issues. I started with butter, then yogurts, hard cheeses, and finally softer cheeses and milk. I did the same with gluten. I started with mere crumbs, then sauces where I knew there was a small amount of gluten, to beer, and finally small amounts of gluten products – and not every day. I knew my body had to get used to digesting these things again (no different than a vegetarian who is reintroducing meat into their diet – often it takes the body a bit to build the enzymes needed). But long gone were any brain fog issues. No heartburn. No bloating. No constipation. I felt great.

Now, I can eat both of these things without restriction. In addition, I can even eat other items that caused me worse issues than gluten or dairy, such as beans. Beans give everyone gas at some level, sure, but for me, they used to cause excruciating pain. I’ve been able to reincorporate them into my diet (again, slowly) and I’m not in pain.

Does this mean I am eating a Standard American Diet (SAD)? Hardly. I might have some processed food here and there, but I still enjoy whole, fresh foods, and I cook from scratch. As you can see by the recipes posted here, many of those meals are still entirely gluten and dairy-free. I don’t “need” these foods to thoroughly enjoy eating, but I’m elated to not have to restrict. Most importantly, I’m happy that I don’t feel fragile or sick.

Will the same work for you? I don’t know. I’m not a medical professional. If you’re on a gluten-free diet because you have celiac disease, gluten is not your friend. Tasty Eats At Home is here to share ways to navigate through life as easily (and as deliciously) as possible while on a gluten-free diet. But if you don’t have celiac disease (if you think you do, please get tested!), then perhaps discussing your situation with your doctor is the way to go. Contrary to what so many (non-doctors) say, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity is not necessarily a permanent thing. Do your own research - and stick with tested, verifiable research studies for good information. (There is a lot of kooky stuff out there - believe me, I bought into my fair share of it.) And most importantly, listen to your body, and quiet the dietary dogma in your head. If your body vehemently tells you not to eat something, then don’t eat it. But ultimately, this is your journey, and you are the captain of your own ship. Sail it.

20 Edible Gift Ideas at The Balanced Platter

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Looking for something special to make for your family and friends for the holidays? Check out my collection of edible homemade gifts over at The Balanced Platter! There’s something for everyone – from my Habanero Hot Sauce to Caramel Rosemary Popcorn and everything in between.

Check it out today!

Gluten-Free: The Beginning of a Healthier Lifestyle

Eating gluten-free does not always equal “healthy”. It definitely does not equal “weight loss”. For those without celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, gluten-free is not a magic cure-all, promising a happily ever after. (For those with celiac disease and intolerances, however, I can imagine that once you removed gluten, you likely felt like it WAS magic – you felt so much better!)

So if that is so, then how does eating gluten-free play into a healthier lifestyle?

For me, it was the beginning of a heightened awareness of what I was eating. What ingredients were in my foods. Where my food was coming from. How I was nourishing my body. When I went gluten-free in hopes of alleviating digestive issues I was experiencing, I had to read labels. That opened my eyes in two ways.

Number one: I was eating a lot of foods with ingredients I couldn’t identify. I then spent time understanding what these ingredients were, where they came from, and whether or not I wanted to include those ingredients in my everyday diet, or only reserve them as a treat.

Number two: I found that eating whole, simple, fresh foods was easier, if for no other reason than just so I didn’t have to read these labels.

There was also a lot of reading of gluten-free blogs and articles and such during that time, but ultimately, these two pieces had the biggest impact on my shift to healthier eating. For a while, I’ll admit, I went a little overboard with my scrutiny of the “healthfulness” of foods – shunning any amount of sugar, grains, or whatever I determined was “bad” for my health. I’ve now found a balance and peace in moderation, which in my opinion, is closer to health in both body and mind. Nowadays, I might eat some processed foods, and I don’t sweat it, (and have even found some great gluten-free ones, such as Udi’s – and their products all contain ingredients I’m actually familiar and comfortable with and can pronounce – a good sign.) but the majority of my day-to-day foods are from whole, fresh ingredients. I prefer it – the food tastes better in many cases, and it’s good for me. It’s also cheaper – I’m all for budget-friendly eating!

I also implemented healthier habits over the years. I started exercising regularly. I have worked to develop a balance between my work and play. (This is an ongoing balance, I assure you!) I’m learning to chill out and allow more relaxation in my life, both in diet and everything else. I’m working to be more present and in the moment with the ones I love, and not worry so much about the little things. Because after all, happiness is part of health, right?

And to think, my decision to go gluten-free had a hand in all of these changes. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it was definitely the start of a journey I’m on towards loving and improving my life. That’s not a bad addition to gluten-free’s resume, I’d say.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

Escali Digital Food Scale Review and Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was provided products from Escali at no cost. This in no way influenced my review.

This giveaway is now closed. The winner of the Escali Digital Food Scale is Faith! Congrats, Faith!

Do you have a food scale? I bought an inexpensive Escali years ago on a whim, figuring it could be beneficial for certain recipes calling for weights. I rarely used it, however, until I really got into gluten-free baking. You see, just like any baking, relying upon the weights of the flours is a much more reliable way to get a consistent product. To be sure, I’ve measured flours by volume countless times, but there are a lot of variables at play. How level did you fill the cup? Did you pack the flours or did you sift them? How finely was the flour ground? With a scale, these issues are eliminated. When I’m making finicky baked goods, such as macarons, angel food cakes, or breads, this is when I rely on the scale. Precision is key.

But my scale is definitely minimalist. So when a representative from Escali contacted me, I was happy to review some of their more versatile food scales. They sent me two different products: Their Rondo Stainless Steel Bowl scale, and their Taso Mixing Bowl scale.

The Rondo was sleek. Shiny. It was gorgeous. This scale definitely looked the most at home in my kitchen. It was accurate, and the bowl lifted off of the scale easily for a simply cleaning. It measured both liquid and dry ingredients. It was definitely an accent for my kitchen counter.

The Taso was less pretty, to be sure. It was simple and white. But it has an awesome feature – it will measure dry ingredients and liquid, but it lets you choose what type of ingredient you have: flour, milk, water, oil, or sugar and converts it to cups. While “flour” can be quite varied for gluten-free flours, it was still a really neat option.

I actually put this “flour” measurement to the test when I was making cornbread the other day. I found that as long as it wasn’t a heavy, dense, flour, the weight-to-cup measurement seemed pretty accurate. Corn meal weighed the same as flour using their scale, but corn flour (masa harina) was heavier and therefore didn’t read accurately. Overall, however, I’d imagine an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend would convert just fine.

The Taso also has an easy-to-remove bowl that’s dishwasher-safe. I liked that it also seemed easier to stash away in a cabinet, and as I have limited counter space, this is an attractive option for me.

Overall, I was impressed with both scales, but slightly favored the Taso (function and stash-ability trumps looks in my kitchen).Which is why I’m excited to share that I have one to give away!

So if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to own a food scale, or you need an upgrade, then here’s your chance to win the Taso Mixing Bowl Scale!

To enter the giveaway for a Taso Mixing Bowl Scale, do as many of the following as you’d like (do one = one entry, two = two entries, three = three entries):

- Leave a comment telling me what you’d most like to make using a food scale.

- Share this giveaway on Facebook, tagging Tasty Eats At Home (and leave me a comment telling me you did so).

- Tweet this giveaway on Twitter, tagging Tasty Eats At Home (and leave me a comment telling me you did so).

That’s it! This giveaway will end at 11:59PM CT on Saturday, October 12, 2013. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents 18 years of age and older.

Thanks and good luck!!