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Winter Wellness

There are many ways to stay healthy in the winter despite the season having such unflattering nicknames as ‘flu season’. Sometimes it just takes a little extra effort when the temperatures are dropping and it sounds a lot more pleasant to stay under the covers than go workout for an hour and then make a healthy warm soup. Luckily there are websites like Aloha that have healthy recipes to help inspire you when you are tired of making the same ol’ winter-y meal about this time of year. I love the idea of these Egg, Kale, Quinoa No-Fry Fritters because they are so different from anything I ever make and they sound delicious. Aloha inspired me to think about what I do to stay healthy in the winter and after mulling it over, I think the healthiest thing I’ve been doing is starting the day with a healthy dose of protein, greens, and berry-goodness. The protein makes certain I’m sugar-stable through the morning while the greens and berries with all their antioxidants just feel so nutritious and energizing first thing in the morning. There’s nothing like starting the day with your “5-8 servings of produce” already underway. Here’s my smoothie recipe which avoids milk and milk alternatives for best digestive health.

Berry Green Protein Smoothie

First I fill the blender with 1 cup of cold water (more or less) and add 1 T. of chia seeds and let them soak for about 10 minutes. Chia seeds soaking

Next I add about 1 leaf of kale or a handful of spinach if I am out of kale.

Kale added

Next the protein powder goes in, along with about half a frozen banana (I freeze them myself) and about 1 C of frozen mixed berries.

Frozen fruit

After that I warn anyone nearby that I’m starting the blender because it’s loud. But oh-so worth it.

Berry Green smoothie

This is my morning nutrition in a glass and I love it. I hope you do too or find another recipe to try on Aloha’s site. It’s always great to have new recipes to try~ variety is, after all, the spice of life!

celiac disease · dairy free · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gf bread · gf foods · gluten free · gluten free bread · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · vegetarian

Lunchtime

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Even when I eat salad or soup, I always have a hearty carb to accompany it, which might take the form of rice with soup or corn tortillas to wrap up my salad, but lately most of my lunches involve Schar Classic White Rolls. These taste delicious with a sourdough flavor and a real classic bready texture that leaves no issues with unseen holes that gluten-free loaves are apt to hide. They are free of dairy and eggs too and make excellent hamburger buns although usually I just use them for regular old sandwiches. They are too big for my toaster even though I have one of those bagel toasters so I always just put them under the broiler for a few minutes each side before adding the extras, unless I’m using cheese and then that goes under the boiler too, just for the last-minute or so. My favorite sandwich does involve cheese, mozzarella to be specific, plus tomato and basil with extra greens and a little olive oil and vinegar for a caprese-inspired sandwich. Yum!

Yesterday I had this salad I’d gotten from PCC’s deli called something along the lines of ‘ravishing radishes’ with my roll and it was so delicious and healthy that I had to see if they had the recipe posted…but, unfortunately I don’t see it yet on their recipe page yet. It was full of radishes, garbanzo beans, feta, cherry tomatoes, herbs and a light vinaigrette. Definitely going to try something similar…Here’s a pic so you can too:

Salad with Schar roll

 

And here’s one with the salad on the roll:

Salad on Schar Can’t you just taste it? So good! If you are tired of your gluten-free loaves surprising you with little holes in your slices of bread, try these rolls instead. They are guaranteed to make your lunch a fulfilling one!

 

Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant

Protein Drink

My youngest insists he is “vegetarian except for bacon and pepperoni” which is fine but getting protein into him is ridiculously difficult. He is dairy, gluten, and almond intolerant, so there goes that lovely cheese protein he used to get, as well as the nut crackers and flours that used to add protein to his diet. He refuses to eat all beans, including tofu, and does not like anything nutty, including peanut butter. It’s hard. We found one protein bar that he likes, NuGo Dark chocolate chocolate chip which has 10g of protein per bar.

nugo-dark-chocolate-chocolate-chip-lg

I’ve made countless smoothies but he just can’t down anything with protein powder in it, that is except for this pre-made drink called Svelte. He loves the vanilla and with 11 g of protein per serving (11 oz) I am more than happy to let him drink a few per week.

Svelte_Header

I’d rather him get use to other forms of protein, but while he’s learning it’s nice to have another source in his limited diet. (It’s soy in Svelte so hopefully that will help him eat/drink soy other places.) Just thought I’d share in case anyone else is in the same position.

dairy free · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gf foods · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · organic · picky kids · vegan · vegetarian

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos (Gluten-free and Vegan)

Just when I thought I never wanted another corn tortilla again, I got a craving for a taco with some sort of orange veggie in it. Whenever we go out to dinner we often go to one of two places where I order a butternut squash quesadilla. I love them, but I hate dealing with squash and its hard shell that eats knives for breakfast so I have never attempted to make them myself. It got me thinking though that wouldn’t a sweet potato taste just as good in that kind of meal? And if I could eliminate the cheese it’d be even better for our family, so onto the web I went and sure enough there are plenty of recipes for sweet potatoes and black beans together in all sorts of fashions~ tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. I went the taco route and used several different recipes to cobble together what is written below to work with what I had in my refrigerator. My husband and oldest son loved these by the way, as did I, and my youngest who only gathered enough courage to try one black bean and one piece of sweet potato admitted the black bean wasn’t bad. That says more to me than the fact that my husband is generally not a huge sweet potato fan, nor a big black bean fan, and really he prefers flour tortillas and definitely cheese and preferably meat. This recipe outshined all that. It is a keeper.

Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potato and black bean taco

1.5 T vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil and olive oil)

1/2 t salt

1 yellow or red onion (I used red b/c that is what I had and the purple hue was so pretty)

1 pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, but orange or green would work)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium-large sweet potato

1 can black beans (or 1.5 c if using dried beans)

1 t cumin

freshly ground pepper to taste

corn tortillas

guacamole (or avocados)

Preheat oven to 400. Using a large cast iron pan or some other oven-friendly pan* sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are translucent in 1 T of vegetable oil. (I used sunflower oil). In a bowl coat the sweet potato which has been skinned and diced into bite size pieces with 1/2 T of oil (I used olive) and 1/2 t of sea salt. Add this into the sauté pan and cook for 1 minute before transferring into the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm up the rinsed and drained beans on medium with 1 t cumin in a small sauce pan. Also warm up some corn tortillas** until they are soft. Take the pan out of the oven and if the sweet potatoes are cooked through add the beans and stir to get everything mixed together. Load the tortillas and top with guacamole or fresh avocados. It’s a symphony of flavors played just right. If it were up to me this is what I’d make for Thanksgiving, along with kale chips and pica de gallo salsa. It’s enough to make a pilgrim say, “Ole!” But alas, we are hosting this year and I’m going to have to stick to the more traditional items I’ve already planned.

sweet potato and black bean taco

 

* If you don’t have an oven proof pan, use one that you can top with a lid or plate and add 2 T of water to the mixture to steam it for approximately 5-10 min.

** I use Trader Joe’s corn tortillas b/c they are thick and sturdy, plus they are remarkably clean. Their ingredient list is all of: ground white corn masa flour, water, trace of lime. That’s it. Exactly how it should be. And they taste incredibly good, much better than any other corn tortilla on the market.Trader Joe's corn tortillas

 

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween SpooktacularHalloween is a mixed-emotion day for anyone with food allergies or intolerances. It’s hard to be a kid and go from the excitement of having a bag full of candy to the disappointment of setting aside all the forbidden ones. Luckily Halloween has always been more about the dressing up than the candy for my kids , but it’s still always a big let-down when they sort their goodies. I try to have extra gluten-free, dairy-free candy here that the can trade for the stuff in their bags, including some of their favorite chocolates that they are certainly not going to find trick-or-treating. It helps. And it also gives them some character really, to have to show some judgment, understand consequences, give up some things that are hard to give up because it’s the healthier choice for them. They get to learn it isn’t the end of the world to part with some candy and that is a lesson in emotional maturity that I can be thankful for. They handle it, and so do I. Let’s enjoy this day everyone! Be safe and have fun.

Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant

Snacks for School

This is a conversation that keeps popping up lately, so I thought I’d share a couple of things we do for surviving the school year’s endless birthday celebrations, holiday parties, and the myriad of other reasons gluten, dairy, and sugar are consumed in the classroom on a weekly basis. There was one year where one of my son’s classmates had food allergies so severe that all celebrations were limited to a couple of specific food items~ Annie’s fruit bunnies was one and I don’t remember what else…maybe popsicles…? Anyway, that class did not suffer because there were no birthday cupcakes~ I promise. And when I went to that Valentine party with gift pencils, novelty erasers, sparkly stickers, silly tattoos, and sugar-free lollipops, then went to my other son’s party where mounds of candy were piled up on all the kids desks, along with heart cookies and sugary punch and absolutely no boundaries, it kind of made me sick. Anyway, each classroom has its culture and you just have to be prepared for the inevitable. School supply shopping includes something for the boys to have in their classroom cabinets at all times for those birthday celebrations and it goes with them to school on day 1 if not before. We usually choose Lucy’s cookies because the cookies are wrapped three to a package, there’s a little variety for the year, and they are free of all kinds of allergens, as you can see. Lucy's cookiesOther friends I know have stored rice crispy treats at school because those too are individually wrapped so they can keep for months. As I mentioned above, Annie’s fruit snacks are also great if your child is a real gummy candy lover. I’d love to hear what some other favorites out there are…

On a different school snack note, I found something that my youngest has missed for years. He used to love Pirate’s booty and any cheesy puff thing like that. Earth Balance actually has a vegan cheese puff and apparently it’s a winner. One more thing my sons don’t have to miss~ Yay!

Food allergies · food sensitivities

Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivities

It’s a shame we have grown used to calling food sensitivities “allergies” because they are in fact different. Not that the name really matters to the person suffering from a reaction to a certain food(s), but when people are just starting to figure out they are eating something or several things that make them feel bad, it is important to know the difference because doctors do not always explain this. Food allergies are actually much easier to test for. If your body has an allergic reaction to a food, it shows up in blood tests. (Don’t ask me how~ I’m no doctor.) But if you have a sensitivity to a food, it may or may not show up in traditional tests, and unfortunately, most likely it will not. In that case, if you suspect dairy for example, you should take all dairy out of your diet for at least a week (that means all dairy, check your supplements’ ingredients as well as all the food labels in your house.) If you feel better after a few days, then you are most likely sensitive to dairy, or whichever food you are testing. Another option is to find a naturopath who specializes in food sensitivities and he/she can help narrow down the possible triggers and perform a different kind of blood test than the ones regular doctors use. It’s easy to be relieved when the doc tells you that you don’t have any food allergies, but the unfortunate truth is, if you suspect something is not the best for your body, it probably is causing more problems than you even realize. Here in our house we are in the midst of uncovering new food challenges, and I’m strangely excited about it. If I can make my kids feel their best, with more (steady) energy, then some kitchen challenges are worth it. I know it won’t be easy for a couple of weeks, but I’m so excited to see the fruits of our labor that I can get through a rough patch no problem. Still, wish me luck :0).

I just read this article about food intolerance that were found by a nutritionist, which is another good place to turn! And here is another great article on food sensitivities that gives clear steps on where to start the investigation.