Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dairy Free Strawberry Blueberry Banana Smoothie

So this week, I just started an internship at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. So exciting, right? I’m totally not ready to get up early and get to work…half of me still really wants to luxuriate in summer mornings. Nonetheless, the moment I get to work, I’m happy to be there…it’s just getting there that’s the struggle. The other morning I made a smoothie to perk myself up before work, and hey! It totally got my booty moving. I think there’ s something to spending time on your breakfast that makes you want to eat and enjoy it way more than plain jane cereal.

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This smoothie is full of fruit, which makes getting your seven servings a day way easier. That’s right, I said seven, not five. Apparently scientists have found that seven fruits and vegetables daily is even better than five – like superhero-style better. Like I’ve always said – the more the merrier when it comes to produce!

Instead of using yogurt or milk for protein and fat, I used wheat germ, the vitamin and mineral rich part of the wheat grain. I’m a major fan of adding wheat germ to basically anything I make that isn’t gluten free. It add protein as well as nutrients without really altering the taste. Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand to use because it isn’t difficult to find in local grocery stores.

So let’s make this yummy smoothie!

Dairy Free Strawberry Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Peanut, tree nut, sesame, dairy, fish, shellfish, soy and egg free

3/4 cup mixed blueberries and sliced strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
3-4 ice cubes

1. Blend ingredients together until smooth.
2. Enjoy quickly or refrigerate overnight for a tasty breakfast treat!

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When you can’t work out

I’m going to start this with a little disclaimer – I was afraid to post a piece about exercise on a food-focused blog. I was feeling wary about this post because in my life, both as a fitness instructor and as a functioning member of society, I try SO HARD to emphasize that food and exercise are not as related as the media makes them seem. While yes, you may feel hungry after working out, it does not mean that you directly worked off the chili cheese dog you ate earlier. You didn’t need to work it off – it was already fueling your daily activities like breathing and walking to class.

That being said, this blog isn’t just about food. It’s about living with allergies and about going to college and most importantly, about dealing with life. And sometimes dealing with life means dealing with working out. Or, in my case this week, not. Right as finals began, I got a terrible cold/sinus infection/pre-pneumonia situation that knocked me the hell out. My asthma has come back in full force, and after years of not feeling a wheeze (unless I was reacting, but that’s another story), I’m sucking on my inhaler like it’s a crack pipe. Just kidding…I think. So my about 4x weekly workouts are definitely a no go, and to be honest, it’s been more difficult than I expected.

A while ago I really worked to shift the focus of my workouts from weight loss or calorie burning to more important things, like becoming strong enough to support my body throughout the day and the happy endorphins that come with a workout. It has made my relationship with fitness so much better, and I’ve actually started to really enjoy the time I spend on fitness classes, walking, running and, of course, dancing. And it’s come with so many better results. I can actually run on a treadmill without feeling like I’m going to pass out, and I do tuck jumps like nobody’s business. You better believe I’m proud of this. Not because I look rad in a bikini (though I totally think I do, stretch marks and all!), and not because I feel like I’m being “good” when I work out, but because I’ve worked hard at appreciating my body for what it can do, rather than how it looks.

The running shoes that get me through it all.

The running shoes that get me through it all.

But what happens when you can’t appreciate your body in these ways? When you’re sick, these methods of appreciation sort of go away, not just because you can’t work out, but also because your body kind of turns into a blob. Well at least mine does. Maybe you’re a glamorous sick person. In that case, teach me your ways!

When I was sick and focusing so much on when I could get back to the gym, I realized these thoughts were a little nuts. My body is my body, in sickness and in health. I need to understand that it’s not always going to feel like a machine, pumping out crunches or sit ups at the gym. Yes my body is strong, but my body is beautiful in different ways. It’s hardworking, even when I feel like it isn’t. It can fight off infection. It can fight off allergens (kinda…). And what about that brain growing in my head? It can still work pretty hard, even when my body can’t. Is the way my body can move the only way I want to value myself? What about how my mind thinks, or how my organs work?

It’s important to remember, even if you can’t work out, that your body is strong. And it’s important to accept, even if you can’t work out, that your body is beautiful. Accept your body how it comes to you. After all, it’s never going to be exactly the same twice!

How do you deal when you can’t work out? In what ways do you show your own body some love?

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Gluten Free Birthday Cupcakes

So my baby sister turned 17 the other day. This is big guys. She can drive without adult supervision, and she’s going to enter her senior year of high school in the fall. Damn when did that girl get so old? (cue my big sister waterfall of tears) I mentioned before that the little nugget found out she had Celiac disease this year, in addition to having peanut allergies. While already having allergies made her ready to check labels and made saying no easy, finding gluten free food she actually enjoys eating is really hard still. She used to love baking as much as I do, but the passion fell off a bit because it seemed no fun to her to make cakes she didn’t love to eat.

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Our more formative years…..

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And today!

This year I decided to take charge of the birthday cake and created some gluten free birthday cupcakes. Yes, I used a mix to make the base – Better Batter does a much better job of making gluten free yellow cake than any of the recipes we’ve tried so far. And it’s one of the gluten free mixes that doesn’t have nut or chickpea flours. If you have a recipe/flour suggestion, though, I’m all ears!

Cupcakes

I did make some frosting for the recipe, and damn it was good! The chocolate was dark and rich and played well on the cake-iness of the yellow cupcakes. It probably helped that I smeared the icing ALL OVER the cupcakes, but my sister and I are icing girls – it was a must!

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Lets get baking!

Chocolate Frosting
Peanut free, nut free, egg free, soy free, shellfish free, sesame free

Ingredients:
2 and 3/4 cup powdered sugar
6 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. Half and Half
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Cream the butter with your mixer.
2. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa alternating with the half and half and vanilla extract.
3. Beat on a medium speed until it reaches the desired texture. It should be thick and smooth.
4. Spread on your favorite cupcake and enjoy!

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Avocado Hummus

We’ve talked about the avocado before when we made Creamy Avocado Pasta. Remember when I wept at how creamy it was? Yeah, today I’m gonna do it again. I absolutely LOVE avocado because it’s one of the few plant-based fats that I can eat. Its creamy texture is unfounded in most other vegetables, and I think that’s pretty special.

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In this recipe, the avocado melds well with cannelloni beans to create a hummus-guacamole fusion that’s chickpea-free! How cool is that? Having a hummus sort of spread like this was important to me, because I can’t eat chickpeas and totally feel like I’m missing out. Now that hummus is being recalled….I’m not so sure! 😉 At any rate, this recipe is full of both protein and healthy fats from the avocado and olive oil. Not to mention, it has a little kick from the hot sauce and lime involved.

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You can dip chips or crackers into the avocado hummus – I like using the Food Should Taste Good olive chips, but their jalapeño flavor would work well too. You can also use it as the base for a sandwich or wrap. I made a wrap with the hummus, lettuce, a vinaigrette slaw, feta cheese and pepperocinis. YUM.

Let’s get cooking!

Avocado Hummus
Free of the top 8 allergens

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Ingredients:
1 avocado
1 can cannelloni beans
1/2 lime
1 tsp. hot sauce (I used tabasco)
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Drain the beans and place in a food processor.
2. Shell and cut avocado and add it to the food processor. Pulse with beans until smooth.
3. Add in lime, hot sauce, garlic powder and salt and pepper and pulse until ingredients are combined. Enjoy!

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Green Tea Coconut Donuts

I finally did it. It’s been a year in the making, but I finally went out, got myself a donut pan and decided to conquer baked donuts. The end result was glorious. Tropical, cake-y, and definitely not greasy. Not to mention, no actual nuts were involved in the baking of these delicious donuts. Are you excited yet? No? This picture will probably convince you otherwise.
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I made green tea donuts with a simple sugar glaze and topped them with toasted coconut. Why? Well for one, green tea is my favorite drink, and coconut is my favorite snack. Seemed like a good combination to me. The green tea powder, or matcha, I used was Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha Mix. It is a fruitier, sweeter version of it’s sophisticated older sister, actual matcha, and the scent made me automatically think of coconut.

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Donuts are always a special treat in my house. My dad used to make Dunkin’ Donut runs on Saturday mornings and bring my sister and me back those strawberry sprinkle donuts, but as of late, things like that don’t happen anymore. My dad and sister get their fix from a local store called The Gluten Free Zone (which, if you’re ever in the area, you HAVE to check out), but I can’t eat there (yet!) because some of the stuff is cross contaminated. Donuts are a rare treat for me now, as Dunkin’ Donuts are now cross contaminated, but I think this pan is going to change that, big time.

So let’s get cooking! The donuts are inspired by this recipe from Just One Cookbook, but they have a much more tropical flair.

Green Tea Coconut Donuts
Peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, shellfish free, sesame free
Makes 8 donuts

Ingredients:
Donuts:
3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha Powder
1 egg
2 Tbsp. honey
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk
2/3 cup coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease your baking pan. Begin by combining all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. This includes flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and the matcha.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg.

3. Add in the egg, honey, milk and melted butter.

4. Beat in the dry ingredients. Spoon the mixture into your greased donut pan.

5. Cook the donuts for 8 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, spread your coconut on a baking sheet and pop it into the oven. Toasting should take 3-5 minutes, but make sure to stir every once in a while!

Your coconut should come out looking like this:

Coconut

5. While everything’s getting brown and baked in the oven, whisk the milk and powdered sugar for your glaze in a shallow bowl. It should look a little bit foamy once whisked.

6. After the donuts and coconut come out of the oven and are cool enough to hold, dip them into the glaze and then dip into the coconut. If the coconut doesn’t stick well, sprinkle on top. Enjoy!

Long Donuts

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On Ditching the Scale

I mention in my About section that an eating disorder took up much of my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. While allergies had their own role in this, I want to write today, not about my food allergies or to share a deeee-licious recipe, but to discuss weight, scales, BMI and how you (yes you!) can stop abiding by their rules and regain control over your life.

Back in the dark ages (I so affectionately call those eating disorder years) I weighed myself every single time I went to the gym, which was almost daily. Between those days, my weight would go up and down, but it tended to average out to a pretty small number. Regardless, on days I thought it was too high, I restricted my diet, and on days  I thought it was low, I felt a smug sense of pride as I completed my upteenth set of crunches.

How (excuse my French, y’all) fucked up is that? A tiny digital number that told me how much space I was taking up would literally dictate how happy or sad I felt in a day. And don’t even get me started on the scale at the doctor’s office. I was convinced it was rigged and would add pounds to my weight so that when the doctor told me my BMI was in a “healthy” range, I was upset. I wanted to be underweight.

I went through recovery (intensive counseling and group therapy at my university) and one very recent week, I realized that number no longer mattered. During recovery, I had avoided the scale like the plague. At the doctors office, I would step on the scale backwards and ask the nurse to not tell me the number on the scale. While I knew I was protecting myself from the meltdown that always came with seeing my weight, I think doing this also made me really fear what the number actually was. But two weeks ago, I had to go to the doctor. I did my blind weight as always, but I accidentally peaked and when I saw the number, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel that crushing defeat of the number being higher than I expected (it was pretty much the same as ever, actually), but I also didn’t feel ecstatic that it was low. For the first time in my life, I felt freed from the scale.

Ditch the scale

So here’s my challenge for you. Regardless of whether you read this blog because you’re an allergy kid like me, you really just like making pretty food, (or you’re my mom), I challenge you to ditch the scale and to free yourself from the power these numbers have over your life. Here’s how!

1. Accept that this will take time.
Unfortunately, breaking a habit won’t happen overnight. If you weigh yourself on a regular basis, it will not be easy to stop. While for some, stopping cold turkey may work, for others it may work to cut back on weighing. Set a goal, like three times per week, rather than twice daily. Continue to reduce as time goes on!

Another thing that works is setting a timer before you weigh yourself. Start with two minutes and continue to add time. During that timer, distract yourself by reading a book or going for a walk. The wait makes weighing yourself less compulsive and more of a thoughtful process. Usually after thinking some, the desire to weigh goes away. Don’t beat yourself up, though, if you do decide to weigh yourself. Next time, you may not have to after you wait.

2. Think about what the number actually means.
Does weighing less make you a more valuable person? Why? What things that aren’t weight-related make you feel valuable? Along with time, ditching the scale takes a shift in values. When you have thoughts of losing weight, think about things that you can gain when you don’t focus so consistently on weight.

3. Do something therapeutic with your scale.
Since your scale is starting to take up less headspace, it’s often helpful to do something therapeutic with it. Many people like to smash their scales. The act of destroying something that has had so much power over you for so long can feel so amazing. Southern Smash is a great way to do it in a group! Others decorate it, creating art, rather than making their scale seem so terrible.

4. Blind weights are better than blind dates.
So you’ve ditched the scale at home, but what happens when you have to be weighed at the doctor’s office or for other important appointments? The best thing to do is to ask for a blind weight. This means that you face away from the scale numbers, and ask the nurse to not tell you your weight. Most are amazing about this – they really understand not needing to know a number. Only once I had a problem, which happened when a nurse implied that the number my weight was at was something to be envied. I was frustrated, because I wanted to devalue weight, but I had to realize that not everyone understands this. When you have an appointment, be willing to advocate for yourself. After the first time, it gets easier. Now I can happily say, I have no clue what I weigh! It feels great 🙂

What are your thoughts? What ways are you ditching the scale? 

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Brown Sugar Cherry Oatmeal

My addiction to oatmeal is unwavering. So is my addiction to summer fruit. In this simple breakfast recipe, I combined the two for a delicious (and nutritious) breakfast. The brown sugar complements the cherries well, making them taste more succulent and sweet than usual. And the cherries themselves break up the otherwise creamy dish, giving it new dimension.

The great thing about oatmeal, as I mention in this post, is that it can be made gluten and dairy free, depending on your needs, which makes this recipe free of all allergens! To make it gluten free, use gluten free oatmeal, which is available at most grocery stores.

Berry-filled oats

Berry-filled oats

Brown Sugar Cherry Oatmeal

Ingredients

1 package of plain instant oatmeal (or one serving of instant oats, made per box instructions)

6 large cherries

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup rice milk

Dash of cinnamon

1. Combine the instant oatmeal and rice milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute (or follow the box instructions).

2. While the oatmeal is heating, pit and chop the cherries into bite-sized pieces.

3. Once the oatmeal is finished, combine all ingredients, stir and enjoy!

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What’s up, buttercup?

Hey there pretty spring beans! It’s been a helluva while hasn’t it? As I’m sure you can guess, this school year turned from fun to crazy pretty fast. A lot of allergy stuff happened with my school that involved a mid-semester move during the fall, and since then I’ve not only lost the kitchen I did have, but also realized I had a lot of regrouping to do, both mentally and physically. The good news is that my allergies are back under control now, and that soon I will be finishing my sophomore year and returning home to cook.

Until I start posting glorious recipes and all about the life lessons I learned this year in school, please check out the updated About Me section or follow me on Instagram for some pretty pictures of food. Also, I would love to hear from YOU about what sort of posts you’re looking for! Need some packed lunch ideas? I’m the queen of it! Want to know what exactly it’s like to use an Epi Pen? Done and done! Or maybe we can shift the focus on more fun things, like crafting and reading good books! Do tell in the comments section below – I can’t wait to hear from you all!