I Survived My First Week Gluten-Free!

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So…I made it! This was my first full week of going gluten-free! I have to say, I definitely feel a difference. I’m not sure whether it’s a placebo effect or what, but I definitely feel better. I’m not having as many issues with my stomach, and the typical “brain fog” I’ve been experiencing lately also seems to have disappeared. I know it takes a while for everything to settle down, but if this week is any indication, this was definitely the right way to go.

I’ve found plenty of things I can eat – and have been really surprised by the number of things I can’t! My in-laws (the other ones) were here for the weekend and my mother-in-law (hubby’s mom) LOVES Special K. She brought a box with her for breakfast since I didn’t have any last time, and I took a look at the ingredients. Wheat gluten – right there in the ingredients! There goes another cereal… I had to explain to her why I couldn’t have it – and that touched off the “What is gluten?” and the “What else can’t you have?” conversation. I find it really hard to explain – since I’m not so sure yet myself. I gave her the big picture – no wheat, rye, or barley, and I have to read the labels of everything pretty carefully. She was so funny – I listed so many things I can’t have that she loves – she said she didn’t think she could do it. I told her I am just learning how to do without, and how to make substitutions.

In fact, that brings me to what I wanted to share with you. Whenever we have company on a Sunday morning, I like to have some kind of a nice breakfast or brunch. Today I made a crustless quiche type of thing (eggs with scallions, tomatoes, cheese, and turkey bacon), and I tried making gluten-free muffins for the first time. I was really nervous that they would turn out like hockey pucks and I would have nothing to serve with the eggs – all of my other GF stuff is frozen! Little did I know that my muffins would be morsels of yumminess, and that they would get rave reviews from everyone! To quote my dear MIL, “If you didn’t tell me, I would never have known these were gluten-free!” SCORE!!

Here’s how I made them…

Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Muffins

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup canola oil (maybe melted coconut oil…will definitely try that next time)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup milk (I’m sure you could use almond milk)

1 cup frozen mixed berries (I used the Welch’s Frozen Berry mix but took out the strawberries – leaving blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)

 

Preheat the oven to 400F. Either spray 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray or line with paper liners. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients, mixing well. Fold in berries (I used them just frozen). Fill muffin tins about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes (will depend on your oven) until they are golden brown on the top.

Here is what they looked like:

YUM!!

YUM!!

So glad that my first attempt at making gluten-free muffins was a success! I’m sure I will mess up at other points along the way – there will certainly be a lot of experimentation. At least I know I have one recipe I can fall back on now!

Hope you all had a great weekend – and had a chance to relax and recharge! Time to start another week already…

What’s your favorite Sunday brunch food??

 

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Marvelous in my Monday #3

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Welcome to Marvelous in my Monday! Many thanks, as always, go to Katie at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting!

This Monday is marvelous for many reasons, but the biggest one is that I HAVE THE DAY OFF!!! 🙂 I’ve been working practically non-stop for the past several weeks, so to have a three day weekend is a real gift! Granted, most of what I’m doing is catching up on laundry and cleaning up around the house, but at least I have some time to do that! My laundry pile has not been completely tackled for weeks. My poor hubby even ran out of socks yesterday!

The weather is pretty marvelous today, too! It’s beautiful and sunny here in Southern CT today after a couple of days of overcast skies and a combination of drizzles and downpours. The leaves are starting to turn – but I think we’re a good couple of weeks from peak foliage. I really love this time of year – the mornings are chilly, the days are still warmish, and it’s cool enough in the house to start baking!!

Speaking of baking…I made some marvelous muffins yesterday, and I wanted to share that recipe with you today! I got the recipe from Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. She calls this recipe Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Zucchini Brownie Bread – definitely a mouthful! I followed it to the letter, but without the glaze. This was the first time I had ever used flax seeds to sub for eggs. Here goes…

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Zucchini Brownie Bread
1 cup of zucchini [1 used 1 1/2 small zucchini]
15oz pureed pumpkin [one can – not the pumpkin pie mix]
1 box of devil’s food cake mix
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 Tablespoons water
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts [optional] plus extra for topping
1 cup of dark chocolate chips [I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips]

The ingredients…

Preheat the oven to 350F and get started on your flax “eggs”.  You’ll need two of them for this recipe, so simply scoop 2 tablespoons of ground flax into a small bowl and add 6 tablespoons of water, whisking to combine.  Place in the fridge for a minimum of 15-20 minutes.  When you remove the “eggs” from the fridge, stir gently with a fork. Once it reaches an eggy consistency you’re good to go! They should look like this:

When you “whip” these, they should have the texture of beaten eggs.

Coarsely grate your zucchini with box grater (I used the small side), gather into a pile, and chop into teeny pieces.  Pat dry with paper towels to remove any moisture. (This is important…there’s a LOT of water in there! I let it sit for a bit, then squeezed it in the towel.) Next pour your cake mix in a large bowl [make sure you use chocolate cake mix, not brownie mix!] and add your can of pumpkin, flax eggs [see above] and zucchini.  Stir until just moistened, then fold in your chocolate chips and walnuts.

I don’t see pumpkin or zucchini…do you?? Just chocolatey goodness!

Pour batter into paper lined muffin tins or foil loaf pans spritzed with a little oil.  [Fill each a little over half-way] Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes for muffins, 35-45 minutes for mini loaves [my favorite!] and approx 45-55 minute for a giant loaf.

Ready to go in…

As always, insert a toothpick in the center to test for a fluffy center and keep your oven’s variation in mind.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. (Note: I used the paper lined muffin tins and got 18 good sized muffins out of this recipe. They took 30 minutes in my oven).

The finished product…YUM!!

I have to say, these are YUMMY!! They are moist and very brownie-like. Even the husband – who despises both pumpkin AND zucchini said he really liked these. He was really surprised to find out that there was no oil, and especially no eggs! According to MyFitnessPal‘s recipe calculator, these have 176 calories, 25 g carbs, 9 g fat, and 3 g protein each. Not bad considering the fact that they could easily take the place of a much more calorie dense, fat laden dessert!

Hope you all have a marvelous Monday! Now for today’s questions…

What are you up to on this marvelous Monday?

Have you found a healthier substitute for a favorite dessert?

Have you ever hidden fruits and/or veggies in a recipe?

Marvelous in my Monday #2

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Happy Monday!

I spent most of my weekend sleeping…stupid cold! I’ve been taking Emergen-C, trying to drink orange juice (doesn’t really agree with my stomach), and trying to rest up. I have been running myself ragged for the last few weeks with my new job, so I’m not surprised that the icky germs finally took hold and knocked me out!!

I got out for a while on Saturday night to help some dear friends celebrate their new home – it’s such a cute, cozy place and I’m sure they will enjoy many years there! We had a great time – drank some wine, ate some yummy food, and laughed the night away!

With all this, I did manage to get some laundry done, and of course I went grocery shopping! My goal for this week was to make it out of the store spending less than $100. I did it! I spent $90.03 and I got all this stuff…

I think that’s pretty good for a little over $90! I used half of the beef to make stew using my favorite recipe from Mark Bittman last night (yummy!). I just do the “regular” recipe, but last night I used garlic infused grapeseed oil to cook the beef. It smelled soooooooooo good in my kitchen!! Of course I have mushrooms, greens, and mixed veggies to make my favorite funky fried rice! The turkey will most likely become chili later in the week, and the chicken will get grilled for salads. I always buy a few different kinds of salad greens – this week was baby spinach, romaine, and a baby arugula mix. I typically have at least 10 Greek yogurts on hand (one for each of us for each day), and I bought some baby cucumbers for snacking. There’s just something refreshing about cucumbers!! I found a new Thai Tomato Coconut soup that sounded interesting, and given my current situation (sick with a cold!!) soup sounded really good to me yesterday. That will probably wind up being lunch tomorrow.

I had another busy day today, but enjoyed a lunch meeting with some colleagues this afternoon at Le Pain Quotidien. I’m sorry now that I didn’t take pictures, but it would have been pretty awkward! Only one of them knows about this blog, and I didn’t think it was really an appropriate time or place to explain! I had gazpacho – which I usually don’t like. I felt like having soup, but the only other option was lentil and I wasn’t in a lentil kind of mood today. The gazpacho was really fresh – and came topped with a few chunks of avocado and a drizzle of basil olive oil. It was delicious as well as pretty! I also had a warm Moroccan chicken salad that had spiced chicken with harissa (a paste of chilis, garlic, herbs, spices, and olive oil), chickpeas, and arugula. It was different from anything I had ever had before, but it was really good! I washed it all down with some green tea, which felt really good on my sore throat.

Well, that’s about it for my MIMM post for this week! Hope everyone else is having a Marvelous Monday! Thanks again to Katie at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting! Have a great week!

What is your comfort food when you’re not feeling well?

Any ideas for how to get rid of this (stupid!!!) cold faster?

What I Ate Wednesday…

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Okay…so I’m starting to get into these “link-up” things! This is my second one this week. (Want to check out my first “Marvelous In My Monday” post – go here!)

“What I Ate Wednesday” has been around for a while, but I’m just jumping on the bandwagon now! Thanks to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting! And a major thanks to Eva, my most awesome Zumba instructor, for introducing me to all of these link-ups, and for encouraging me to keep blogging! Check her out at Committed2Nutrition!

If you’ve never been part of #WIAW or seen one of these posts before, it’s basically a way to share some ideas for healthy eats, recipes, and it’s also a pretty darned nifty accountability tool! Taking pictures of what you eat all day long is no easy feat! It’s a bit awkward when you’re with people who aren’t used to eating with healthy living/eating bloggers who take pictures of EVERYTHING! Thus, there is no picture of my lunch today! Oh well…can’t be perfect all the time!

Here’s what I remembered to actually take pictures of today…

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts EVER! I shared the recipe a little while ago here. I know that flavored Greek yogurt isn’t the best, but to me it’s a treat! Generally I eat the plain stuff with some fresh fruit, cocoa powder, or PB2 (which ROCKS by the way!) in it. This key lime flavor from Oikos is A-MA-ZING! I love key lime, and this is just the right balance of sweet, tart, and tangy and totally kills the craving for the pie version. Added a few Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips to the top and it was heaven! Dinner was one of my go-to quickie dinner recipes – Tempeh-Veggie Fried Rice. I tell the story of how this one came to be, and also share the recipe here. I’m telling you – you could make this with just about anything you have in the house and it will taste good!

Tonight I’ll probably just have my usual decaf tea – been getting into the fruity/herbal flavors at night. The hubby brought home an apple cinnamon one the other night that tastes just like hot apple cider – without all the sugar and calories! A perfect treat… 🙂

I know this is a pretty crummy WIAW post, but I promise I’ll do better next Wednesday…I’m going to ask for newbie forgiveness on this one!

What’s one of your favorite go-to meals for busy nights?

Any other ideas for sweet but low-cal treats with a fall-ish twist?

Making Something from Nothing

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Tonight was one of those nights. I had a meeting at work until almost 5:30, hit traffic on my commute home, headed to my trainer for a workout, and finally got home a little after 8:00 – and I was HUNGRY!

I looked in the fridge and even though I just went shopping, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in there. That was on purpose. I have a terrible habit of overbuying things at the store, and as a result, I have been known to throw out a lot of food. Not only am I trying to get my health on track, but my hubby and I have been working really hard at keeping our finances on track as well. This means budgeting, and trying to make the most of every dollar. We went through all of the cabinets over the weekend and took inventory of what we have, decided to donate some of the things we know we won’t use, and organize things so we can find them.

What I did have was the rotisserie chicken I bought at Costco the other day – cut up into pieces. I also had half of a red onion, some garlic, a few sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, frozen broccoli, and frozen brown rice. Oh yes…I can do something with this.

I sautéed the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil while I rehydrated the sundried tomatoes in hot water. Then I drained the tomatoes and added them to the olive oil. While all this was going on, I microwaved the rice and the broccoli. I added some black pepper, crushed red pepper, and oregano, then tossed in the broccoli and rice. The last thing I added was a little sprinkle of feta.

This is what I wound up with. Seems like I’ve been making a lot of veggie-infused rice lately, huh?? 🙂

I heated up a piece of the rotisserie chicken, put it on a plate with some of the rice, and dinner was on the table (so to speak) in a matter of about 10 minutes. Quick, inexpensive, and healthy. Can’t beat that!

Have you ever made something from nothing for dinner?

Funky Fried Rice

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I was looking for something different to make for dinner a couple of weeks ago, and up popped on my Twitter feed a recipe from Whole Foods for Vegetable Brown Rice with Feta Cheese.  Their recipe served as my inspiration, but I went off a little on my own! I’ve even made it four different ways now, but this is the original one…
Tempeh-Veggie Brown Rice
1 bag Trader Joe’s Organic Power Greens (kale, spinach, chard)1 package tempeh1 bag frozen brown rice, heated according to directions (or use leftover cooked rice)

1/2 bag frozen veggies (heated through)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
a few tablespoons of EVOO
Sea salt, black pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper to taste
Crumbled feta cheese
White wine vinegar
Heat a large frying pan over medium – high heat. Saute the onions, garlic, and tempeh together until the tempeh starts to brown and the onions are translucent. Add the greens and saute until they wilt.
Add a splash of white wine vinegar. Add the veggies rice, salt, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper, another splash of vinegar, and the feta. Heat through and serve.
This has become a once-a-week dinner at my house – often with enough for one lunch worth of leftovers. It’s really a quick, inexpensive dinner, and it’s gotten good reviews from my hubby and one of my besties – and she had it as leftovers! I’ve tried a few different things with it, and I think my favorite version is exactly as above, only adding some sliced shiitake mushrooms to the starting part with the onions and garlic. They add a little something that I can’t quite explain in any way other than to say they are yummy! I’ve also tried making it using coconut oil instead of olive oil – that was the way I last made it. YUM!! I once made an Asian-inspired version with the shiitakes added at the beginning, a frozen stir-fry veggie blend subbed in for the mixed veggies, a handful (or two!) of edamame, and instead of white wine vinegar I used a little soy sauce and rice vinegar. I did omit the feta for that one – don’t think that would have been very tasty…
I see this as one of those “clean out the produce bin” meals where you could add just about anything you want to it and still wind up with something tasty! I’d love to know if anyone tries another spin on this… 🙂
Do you have a dish that keeps coming back in different ways?

Lazy Dinner…

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We all have nights where we really don’t feel like cooking. There are even those nights when take-out is too much trouble. Besides – take-out usually equals too much fat, too much sodium, and too much guilt afterward!! I had one of those nights last night, so I decided to go through my pantry and see what I could find… (You’ll have to excuse my lack of pictures – I wasn’t thinking blog post as I was doing this!!)

I found a bag of vegetable radiatore pasta, a can of artichoke hearts, a jar of roasted peppers, a jar of manzanilla olives, 2 cans of water-packed tuna, a can of chickpeas, a jar of capers, and some vinaigrette. BOOM! Dinner! I boiled the pasta, chopped up the artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and a few olives, drained the chickpeas and tuna, took a couple of tablespoons of capers (drained), and a little of the vinaigrette and tossed it all together to make an AMAZING pasta salad! I also happened to have a little chunk of smoked mozzarella in the fridge, so I cut some into tiny cubes and sprinkled them over the top when I served it.  Quick, cheap, and healthy! Of course you could use whole wheat pasta (which I also had – but I just thought the veggie pasta was pretty!!), add whatever other veggies and stuff you want to. It was a definite hit in our house.

There’s always something healthy hanging around in the pantry…sometimes you just have to be creative to make a meal out of it!

What are some of your favorite pantry staples? Do you have any “toss it all in” recipes that you come back to often for a quick dinner?