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New Blog Address

Hello everyone! I’ve been quiet here lately b/c I’ve been working on a new blog site which I can’t wait to share with you. I started Spice of Life Blog right after finishing grad school when I just wanted a place to write again in a way that wasn’t in the grad school genre and reclaim my personal voice. Now I’m ready to start putting more time into a blog and although I thought about just reworking this space a bit, it quickly became clear I needed a new look, new categories, new everything, and so instead of a remodel, I guess I’m moving houses. I so hope you’ll join me!

Much like this one, my new blog will be about herbs, food intolerances (both managing and healing them), essential oils, natural foods/products, and green beauty. In the future I hope to have links to other herbalists and wellness practitioners around the world as a kind of virtual healing center resource. I also intend to offer herbal classes and tutorials there as well, and perhaps even some products. This is just the beginning and I hope to see you there at my new site, Botanical Alchemy & Apothecary. Please subscribe and let me know what you think about the new look. I’m still in the setting up phase and welcome suggestions.

XOXO, Kristen

PS~ If you know anyone else who is interested in herbs, essential oils, food intolerances, natural foods and products, and green beauty, please share the address: www.botanicalalchemyandapothecary.com with them. I can’t wait to have a community of like-minded people sharing ideas and growing and learning together.

Happy October everyone!

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

Gluten-Free in Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin was a surprisingly easy place to accommodate food intoleraces and allergies. We found the food there to be fresh, healthy, and enlightened, as in menus marked with gluten information or restaurants having Paleo picks (not that we eat Paleo but it is generally gluten-free) and one even celebrating a month of the Paleo diet by offering an entire menu devoted to it. This restaurant, Saba, was right around the corner from our hotel and I could have ordered many things off their menu without having to worry about gluten. When we ate there we ordered rice with our pick which is decidedly un-caveman-ish, so we weren’t beholden to the Paleo diet thankfully, and got an excellent meal out of it.

Another place right around the corner from our hotel was our favorite restaurant of all, a healthy little breakfast, lunch, brunch place called Cocu. There are three locations and it looks like they are even open for dinner at one of two of those places so there are plenty of options for checking it out. Their menus are simple although a little hard to describe so I encourage you to look at them yourself and be inspired. Maybe so inspired that you open up your own version of their tagline “A Healthy Obsession”, and if so, please let it be within 15 minutes of Redmond, Washington because we truly were obsessed and it’s one of the first things I missed when we got back home. Basically, the main lunch items are these bowls where you choose your meat or vegetarian main which is cooked with certain spices/sauces/veggies to complement it, then add two sides such as mixed greens or rice or sweet potatoes or something else, then add a topping such as seeds, nuts, or herbs. It’s all in a big bowl together and works every time, no matter the combination. They also have soups, wraps (not gluten-free), and hot pots which is something like red lentil curry over rice and you add tofu or chicken which was my favorite dish there. Anyway, I could go on because I haven’t even started on the coffee bar area, breakfast items, or side pastries which included many gluten-free items, but unless you are in Dublin right now and can check it out yourself, there’s no point in sharing any more of the obsession.

It’d be a shame to go to Ireland and not get fish n’ chips, and luckily Beshoff Brothers has us gluten-free gourmands covered. This is not a fancy place, just as a proper fish n’ chips place should not be, but it was clean and bright and their gluten-free menu had onion rings on it which I can’t recall seeing anywhere ever before this place. This wasn’t our healthiest meal but it actually wasn’t overly greasy and we both were quite satisfied with our meals, (not gf for my husband, gf for me).

You can even have your sandwich cravings easily satisfied at O’Briens Sandwich cafes. They can make you a sandwich on gluten-free bread which also happens to be egg free, dairy free, and soy free. (Yay!) They use a brand called BFree which isn’t carried in my neck of the woods (yet) but I hope it’s coming soon because they have pita bread which is so hard to find. Do be aware that if you want your sandwich toasted though, it is toasted in the same oven as the traditional breads. I did have mine toasted and felt perfectly fine for the record, but you have to judge for yourself your own level of sensitivity. There are plenty of O’Briens around Ireland so you aren’t ever too far from a sandwich which is a nice change of pace.

Another restaurant that my husband and I found ourselves returning to the very next day after a fantastic dinner and ordering the exact same meals as the night before is Balfes.  They have plenty of gluten-free options and the food is fresh and delicious. I had a salad with chicken on it that used guacamole instead of dressing and oh my gosh, why haven’t I done that before?! It was brilliantly executed and my husband loved his meal also. We even thought about going there for a third night in a row but ended up just being too lazy.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has plenty of gluten free options in their ‘food hall’. They do have a section of gluten-free items such as pastas, cakes, breads, granola, etc, but I only bought the granola because their baked goods all have egg in them. They have a lot more to offer though in their prepared foods sections which seemed to make up about the entire store. I’ve never seen so many individually wrapped meals in my life~ Trader Joe’s has been way outdone. My husband and I got breakfast from there several times and take-away dinner at least once. He was especially fond of the place and kept saying things like, “Look at that lettuce! It’s practically standing up it’s so fresh! It’s like it’s trying to get our attention by waving it’s arms and saying ‘pick me!'”. The fresh produce there did seem exceptionally vibrant considering it was January and I wasn’t aware that Ireland had a robust winter farming industry. I still don’t know what the deal is with their produce~ if it’s grown in greenhouses or imported from somewhere else on some wicked fast plane or what, but they have a good thing going though however they are managing it. Also, I should say that before going I had the impression M&S would be extremely expensive but we found their prices to be quite affordable which was a definite plus.

There are health food stores called Nourish around Dublin that have gluten-free options such as crackers, cookies, etc. The one I went into on Grafton Street didn’t have a huge selection but I did buy some crackers and chocolates from there which were tasty. But here’s a warning to take to heart~ if you rely on melatonin to help reset your body clock and beat jet lag, bring your own because we were told at Nourish that it is illegal to sell it in all of Ireland.  Fortunately I did bring some along but we were hoping to get more there and were sorely out of luck. What does Ireland have against melatonin? Another mystery to solve I guess.

Before going to Dublin I found a lovely listing of restaurants that are gluten-free friendly. I was so thrilled with finding it but in all honesty I didn’t have to go back to it often because it seemed everywhere I checked out had gf options. I made it a habit to look at every menu that I passed just to see how gf friendly it was and I found Dublin as a whole to be extremely aware and accommodating on that front as well as on all fronts really. It was a friendly, polite, energetic, and open place that I hope to return to soon and maybe get a chance to see the countryside a bit. If you are wondering where to take your next big vacation and gluten matters feel like a confinement, rest assured that Dublin will embrace you and your gluten issues with open arms and fantastic food.

One last thing to mention, before going I made sure to request gluten-free foods for our Delta airlines flights. They actually did a great job with the meals and I always got mine before they delivered the other passengers’ meals so I never had to wonder if they’d remember or not. I actually couldn’t even eat all the food they brought me which always included fresh fruit and/or salad which is so nice to have on a long flight. I was impressed.

To see more pics, check out my instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/dragonlilyherbs/ and please comment below on any experiences you have had in traveling through Ireland~ I’d love to hear it!

 

 

 

 

 

baking · dairy free · food · Food allergies · food sensitivities · gf foods · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · recipe · vegan · vegetarian

Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies

Happy Holidays! No matter what you celebrate, one thing we can all agree upon is holidays call for fresh baked cookies. I wanted to make something besides gingerbread men this year because those fellas are just so darn high-maintenance with rolling them out and reworking the dough into a big enough piece to cut in to and such, so this year I went the opposite direction and made the easiest cookies ever (with the exception of sugar cookies I suppose.) I even cheated and just used Hershey’s Kisses for the filling on most of them, although for my dairy-free friends I used raspberry jam. Unfortunately I gave all those away (and maybe ate a couple myself) before taking pics, but both versions turned out to be a hit. My husband even likes them and usually if I offer him gluten-free food he looks about as enthusiastic as though I’m offering him a mud pie. He’s my own personal “Mikey likes it!” barometer and these pass with flying colors.

Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies

5 Cups Gluten-free flour mix such as Pamela’s baking and pancakes flour

1/2 Cup melted coconut oil

1/2 Cup Maple syrup

1 cup Coconut milk (I used unsweetened vanilla) or any milk you like best

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Hershey’s kisses (about 20 or so) or whatever filling you choose.

Mix all the ingredients besides the filling/kisses and then roll each cookie in your hands to make them round as  you set them on parchment papered cookie sheets.

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Go ahead and make a thumbprint in the cookies before baking but you’ll have to deepen them when they come out of the oven too.

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If you are using jam, add the jam before baking. There should be about 20 cookies or so. Bake for about 14 minutes or slightly less, depending on your oven. When they come out, deepen the thumbprints and add the Hershey kisses right away so the bottom gets to melt a tad into the cookie.

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Cool on a cooling rack for a good couple of hours before trying to bag up these babies, otherwise the chocolate will melt.

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These are not super sweet, so you can sprinkle them with sugar or a cinnamon/sugar mix if you want, although personally I like the fact they taste almost like a shortbread biscuit rather than a cookie. I mean considering these are made with coconut oil and cinnamon, and are lacking in refined sugar, they are practically a superfood, right? Well, maybe not quite but I like to think that they are on the healthy side for a cookie.

And now it seems only appropriate to say, “Merry Kissmas!” XOXOX

 

children · ecology · Education · food · Food allergies · gf foods · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerant · health · kids · modern life

Comfort Food

Today….there is not enough chocolate.

The sun still rose, but it shone on a country that has disappointed me to the core.

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I am not a political person, and I don’t care to write a political blog, but I am a person with a big heart for humans, animals, and the earth, and that heart is very, very broken today.

Tonight, I’m breaking out the boxed mac n cheese. The deluxe version. deluxe-rice-pasta-extra-cheesy-cheddar-sauce

I actually add more (jovial) noodles to Annie’s boxes b/c the cheese is more than enough for the eager mouths here. I’m roasting broccoli and serving smoked salmon too, just because comfort doesn’t have to mean lack of healthy options. We can have balance. We can have balance. And wine of course.

And dessert all around, because I swear, just like in Harry Potter books, chocolate really does make one feel better.

 

gluten intolerance · health · kids · slow food · vegetarian

Autumn

instagramcapture_460ae8b0-0173-4a9a-96e3-560b3d0085171This year has somehow slipped right into November while I was still adjusting to the fact summer was truly over. Although the dry, warmer months of summer are what my body most craves, the foggy, darker days of fall resonate with my spirit in ways that almost make up for the rain-soaked months ahead. instagramcapture_54b526bf-d536-47d0-a907-c56053e64d971Everyone seems a bit more introspective this time of year, right before the frenetic pace of the Holiday season really kicks into high gear. Wouldn’t it be nice to take the quiet right through the season of hubbub? Every year I try not to get caught up in it all. One year I focused on only buying from local retailers or independent artists and artisans (all hail etsy!) and another year I tried to reduce the gift exchanges all together. It’s hard though~ especially with kids. If anyone has words of wisdom, please share! In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of autumn in my little corner of the world.~

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I hope everyone had a lovely Halloween without too many food intolerance issues. Relax and enjoy a week or two of quiet before planning Thanksgiving’s menu. I made this recipe last night and I still wish it could be our Thanksgiving main course, but some of the eaters here prefer the more traditional foods. It was terribly good with guacamole all over it though… I guess it’ll just have to be a normal weeknight meal forevermore.

 

 

 

food · health · kids · modern life · parenting

Cultural Norms

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That two word phrase keeps popping up in my mind now that the first week of school is underway, because schools are such a great place to view a community’s cultural norms. The first thing that is blatantly apparent is the fact that walking or biking to school is not a norm in this community, or maybe this generation. I’m not sure how widespread it is but I do think this greater Seattle area in general has an overzealous relationship with cars. When I read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s book Eat, Pray, Love and she talked about how each city has one word that defines it, I thought that this area’s word would be ‘drive’. Not only for the literal drive a car meaning, although that is certainly part of it, but also the drive that means pushing people to work harder, longer hours than ever before, driving kids to start sports at an earlier age or else lose out on it as well as other extracurricular activities~ music, dance, chess, stem-activities, the list is endless. Not that being ‘driven’ as an innate trait is bad, of course it’s good to be focused and hardworking, and there’s plenty of that around here too, but mostly it seems like a rather overly driven culture here and the actual driving exemplifies the mental and emotional aspects. My older son is in middle school which does not have bus services for the kids that live within a mile or maybe a mile and a half, and they say it’s because those kids can easily walk or bike to school. OK, I absolutely agree that they can indeed walk or bike that far, my earlier posts attest to that here and here, but the thing is, no one actually lets their kid do that. Everyone drives their child to school and the traffic could rival a boy band concert at an all girls’ high school, and yet parents still prefer to put up with the frustration of sitting in traffic, and planning their mornings and afternoons around drop off and pick-up times that take a ridiculous amount of time rather than have their kid walk or bike. It just isn’t done. So, how do you turn around a cultural norm like that? Or should the school accept the fact that they could get a handle on their traffic mess, and it is a problem about which we get regular emails so it’s definitely an issue, by adding another bus or two and picking up most of the car riders? Or should they fight the cultural norm with setting up groups so kids can walk or bike together, perhaps get parent volunteers to escort the kids for the first week until they are used to it, somehow reward the students who show up on bike or by walking, or I don’t know….do something. Because the problem with just adding another bus or two is that we are branding that cultural norm into kids’ heads~ one does not walk or bike to a place that is less than a mile away. One takes a vehicle. Is that really what we want kids learning? Is that remotely healthy for any single person much less the earth as a whole? I don’t think so.

Another cultural norm on display at schools is the food. Oh dear. The cafeteria at my son’s middle school is packed with a dazzling array of junk food they can buy day in and day out~ donuts, chips as diverse as the languages spoken in the hallways, candy of all stripes, and sugar wrapped in a thousand disguises. The main offerings are mediocre at best (nutritionally, visually, taste-wise) and the salad bar offers unappetizing raw veggies which are probably as nutrient dense as the composition notebooks found in the kids’ backpacks. Again, is this how we want kids to learn to eat? What they expect from mealtimes is absolutely going to be influenced by the meals they have five days a week, even if the other mealtimes are different, they are still learning that the norm is to eat junk food. My friend from Israel was so surprised to find that here in the U.S. sandwiches routinely come with chips or fries. In her country sandwiches came with salad or a vegetable, or nothing. We don’t have to accept these norms just because they exist around us~ I often think of the Jane Austens and E.M.Forsters out there that have always written about the ridiculousness of their own cultural norms and eventually those norms did change. We can imprint our kids with healthy habits on a cultural level, or not. It just needs to be enough people’s priority I guess. It starts with recognizing the daily habits they we all partake in, sometimes mindlessly, sometimes joyfully, but all the time repetitively. oggl_00071

alternative medicine · food · health · Herbs · supplements · technology

Ginger Nanoparticles Show Promise for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

I very rarely reblog but this article is such a cool combination of high-tech and traditional herbal medicine that I couldn’t resist. Plus it could help a lot of people out there with digestive issues. Even if you don’t have access to nano-particles, including more ginger in our diets can’t hurt.

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Ginger is spicing up the search for a cure for inflammatory bowel disease, according to research published in Biomaterials. Delivered in the form of nanoparticles, researchers believe ginger could offer a targeted and effective remedy for this potentially debilitating condition.
[ginger root]Ginger is thought to offer wide-ranging health benefits.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed. The cause of IBD is unknown, but scientists believe it could be an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself. The two main forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

People with IBD often experience diarrhea and pain – which can be severe – and they may lose blood through the rectum. They are also more prone to complications such as anemia, as their intestines do not absorb nutrients effectively.

Scientists have been looking at nanotechnology as a way of…

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