Cran-Blueberry Smoothie

Smoothies are, hands down, the best way to get in some extra fruits and (sometimes) veggies in the morning. We’ve totally been over this before, and I don’t want to get preachy about it. But I DO want to share with you this awesome smoothie recipe that not only has tons of antioxidants, but is really great for your kidney health and, ahem, UTIs. Yeah, cranberry juice is kind of gross on it’s own, especially when you buy the pure juice, which is important when you’re in it for the health benefits. However, this smoothie combines tart cranberry juice with the antioxidant power of blueberries and just a bit of agave nectar, and it comes out tasting sweet and fulfilling, without being overpowering.

Cran-Blueberry Smoothie

I always think it’s important for a breakfast to go down easy. Most people have trouble even getting in solid foods – this is a way to break out of your just-black-coffee-nothing-more-for-breakfast attitude and to move into incorporating more fruits and veggies in your day. This recipe really fills me up, too, which is really nice because I typically start thinking about lunch at 10 a.m. Yikes!

Cran-Blueberry Smoothie

So how do we make the Cran-Blueberry Smoothie?

Cran-Blueberry Smoothie
Peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg soy, sesame, fish and shellfish free (gluten free if omitting wheat germ)

Ingredients:
1/2 frozen ripe banana
1/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup pure cranberry juice
2-3 ice cubes
1 tbsp. wheat germ (omit if gluten free/wheat allergic)
1 tsp. agave nectar (or honey)

1. Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. If your batch is a little tart, feel free to add agave to taste!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Links I Love

Hola amigos! I hope your week is going swimmingly so far! I’ve got some great links to share with you, from allergy-friendly recipes to body positive news stories and, of course, some fun in between.

Flowers

First, a quote to get you motivated to start the week!

“Explore, explore, travel the world over…have me in mind, I shall be watching. You can return to me. Now go.” ~Yevgeniy Yevtushenko

This week I found a few great recipes that I’m excited to try. Rebecca Sherrow at Pure and Peanut Free shared a beautiful Orange Vanilla Cake that just screams summer. I always am hoping to try to adapt A Couple Cooks’ recipe for Multi-Grain Artisan bread to not involve seeds. Joy the Baker shared a great piece on the differences between whole wheat flour and white flour in her weekly baking primer series, which I loved. And Kate over at Diary of Anaphylaxis found a great bakery in Denver for those with food allergies!

In the more literary world (I’m a huge reader, in case ya didn’t know) Slate caused the world to implode when they printed an op-ed piece that basically ripped on adults who love to read young adult fiction. It made me pretty upset, but NPR came back with an even better piece about the impact young adult fiction – and all fiction – can have on girls and women. Check it out here.

Do you sometimes have allergy symptoms to foods you aren’t allergic to? Oral Allergy Syndrome could be the cause. When pollens cross react with foods in the wild, it can sometimes cause you to have minor allergy symptoms. Check out a list of pollens and their cross reactors here.

I am not crafty, but this 5-minute Reed Diffuser project looks like something I could handle. I love yummy smelling things and I really do want to try using essential oils a bit more.

Do you live near Pittsburgh? Do you want to join the fight against poor body image and eating disorders? Come out to the NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) walk on June 21! I’ve been following Catherine over at Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth for ages now, and she recently shared a very telling piece about struggling with eating disorders. Her strength in sharing was truly inspirational.

On that note, this new food-shaming trend is driving me nuts. Can you believe people are actually shaming women who look thin and are eating food? INSANE. You can learn more about how destructive things like this and “fat talk” are at the Huffington Post, where the issues behind body shaming women are unpacked in this story.

 

Tagged , , ,

Avocado Compote Butter for Salmon

So a few months ago, my family came to visit me in D.C. and we went to a restaurant called Matchbox. If you’ve lived in the area, you’ve probably heard of it because it has a few locations across the city. They have divine pizza (which I tried before this visit) and their banana chocolate chip bread pudding is to die for. My family came  at an opportune time – I had just began eating fish again and was ready to try it at a restaurant. Matchbox did something special with my salmon, though. They topped it with butter. I was amazed. In shock. The tiny eating disorder voice that sometimes still resonates in my head was getting pretty pissed off. But I ignored it, slathered that butter all over my salmon, and damn, was it good.

This was the inspiration for avocado compote butter!

This was the inspiration for avocado compote butter!

Fast forward a few months and my aunt sent me a Food Network recipe for avocado compound butter. She knows of my avocado love and thought I could use recipes for avocado butter, frosting and ice cream, among other things. The problem with this recipe, though, was the cilantro. No one in my family enjoys this powerful herb, so I switched it up and added parsley to the compound instead of cilantro. Y. U. M. I topped my salmon with a pretty big slice of the butter, and as it melted, it dripped perfectly throughout, creating a decadent dinner from simple, fresh ingredients.

IMG_2214

The awesome thing about this butter is that you make a big log of it…enough so that you don’t just have to have it on salmon. This week I’ve been slathering this delicious stuff all over crusty Italian bread for breakfast. The awesome thing is that it truly is better for you than butter – avocado has so many more nutrients than just plain butter, and this compound is also packed with parsley, aka the life herb in my book.

Here is an ugly picture of the butter on my salmon. Gotta have a visual, y'all!

Here is an ugly picture of the butter on my salmon. Gotta have a visual, y’all!

How do we  make this yummy butter? It’s so easy!

Avocado Compound Butter
Peanut, tree nut, egg, soy and sesame free

Ingredients:
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2 ripe avocados
Handful of parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
2. Spread the mixture on wax paper. Form into a log and freeze for at least an hour and a half before serving.

Tagged , , ,

Vegetarian Migas

This is quite possible the best “easy” dinner I’ve ever made. Best because it’s nutritional – eggs act as a protein and fat, bread fills in the carbohydrate category and it’s chock full of my favorite vegetables. Best also because it’s adaptable – you can make it gluten free and it tastes just as good. You can modify the recipe to include what vegetables you like. And it’s quick and easy to make!

IMG_2206

Migas is a traditionally Spanish dish made using bread (often soaked in milk, but not in this dairy free recipe!), spinach and eggs. Sometimes, chorizo is added, which you’re more than welcome to do, though as this recipe is vegetarian, I will not be adding any.


Migas in pan

I’ve talked about all the nutritional benefits, but what about the taste? The bread soaks up the egg and becomes almost a savory french toast, while stir fried mushrooms, spinach and yellow bell peppers fill out the flavors. So yummy!

So how does one make migas? It truly isn’t difficult – it just takes a frying pan and a little confidence 🙂

IMG_2208

Vegetarian Migas
Gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, shellfish free, fish free, sesame free

Ingredients (for 2 servings)
Three slices of bread (gluten free), torn into chunks
2 cups of uncooked spinach
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
6 mushrooms, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. On a medium high heat, prime the pan with olive oil and garlic. Stir fry the garlic until brown and then remove the clove from the pan.
2. Once the clove is removed, add the bread, mushrooms and bell pepper. Stir fry until the bread gets a little brown on the edges and the peppers begin to give  a little if you stick a fork in them.
3. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the eggs into the pan and sort of scramble them around the rest of the ingredients. Make sure they are cooked fully, even when soaked into the bread.
6. Enjoy with a small side salad. Dinner is served! 🙂

Tagged , , , ,

No-bake nut free & gluten free granola bars

Finally! A recipe for granola bars that actually feel like those Quaker Chewy Bars! Granola bars are one of the things I feel like my allergies force me to miss the most. If they’re nut free, they tend to include sunflower butter, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds, all of which I’m still allergic to. It’s always disappointing to see a recipe for granola bars that are nut free, but then to run into other allergens. So I made my own. With the help of a base recipe from My Kitchen Escapades, I made mine gluten free so my sister and dad could enjoy them as well. And you know what? It wasn’t difficult in the least.

Better yet, these granola bars are damn addictive. We’ve nearly finished a batch after a day and a half – I call that baking success!

Granola Bars

Another perk of these delicious beauties? They are filling. The oats, coconut and Chex cereal make for the perfect snack in between meals because the grains are whole, and the coconut is fully of healthy fat. The bars are sweetened mainly by honey, which is just another added bonus. However, if you have seasonal allergies with honey (I’ve had these in the past) subbing agave nectar 1:1 is totally acceptable.

I will warn you though, it’s important to keep these in the fridge. If you don’t, and if it’s a little bit humid and warm in your house, they’ll fall apart and become granola chunks. It happened. We gobbled them anyway. They’re just not as easy to pack in your lunch.

Shall we bake?

No Bake Granola Bars
Gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, egg free, fish and shellfish free

Ingredients:
2 cups of gluten free oats (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
1 cup corn Chex cereal
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted coconut chips (Trader Joe’s is a great place to find these!)

1. Mix the oats, corn Chex and shredded coconut in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once melted, add the butter, honey and brown sugar. Cook until it comes to a boil. Let it boil for 2 minutes before removing from heat. Add in the vanilla and salt.
3. Once removed from heat, stir the mixture into the oats, Chex and coconut.
4. Add the chocolate and coconut chips and stir.
5. Press into a 9×13 inch pan. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
PRO TIP: Take the granola bars out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving. They need time to reach room temperature before you can easily cut them.

What are your favorite energizing snack recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

Tagged , , ,

Summer Bucket List

Summer is here! Finally! It’s been a long time coming. Believe me, I’m beyond excited for all of the adventures this summer is sure to bring. I will be traveling to Austria for three weeks at the end of July, which is going to be incredible, but also scary on the allergy front. In between now and then, I’m working full time and trying to soak up as much sun and summer fun as I can. This weekend I spent outside as much as possible – I visited the Pittsburgh Zoo, took a hike with my boyfriend and his brothers in the fields behind their house, went for a run at Duff Park through the woods and spent a lot of time just chilling on my porch. Glorious! While this weekend has already proved that summer is going to be great, I figured setting a few goals for the summer wouldn’t be a bad thing 🙂

Hiking

Summer Bucket List

  1. Go for a bike ride on the Boston Trail. I used my bike so much during the fall semester, but I didn’t use it as much in the spring. I want to get back into riding, though. It’s so peaceful, and I’ve always liked it more than running. Aside, of course, from the nasty soreness the next day!
  2. Go camping! The food (mountain pies, s’mores!), the hiking, the friendship, sleeping under the stars. What could be better?
  3. Get a tan. Last summer, I spent a lot of time inside working. While it gave me great experience (and  a fair amount of extra cash), I was left ghost white. This summer, things will be different!
  4. Learn to roast a chicken, Julia Child style. Julia Child is such an inspiration to me – I love how she cooks things so they taste good, rarely worrying about how much butter or fat is involved. And now that I’m eating chicken again, I feel like it’s the perfect time!
  5. Swim! I love being in the water – as a kid, I spent hours in my babysitter’s pool. I started off the summer season right last weekend by swimming at a friends, not feeling self conscious about my swimsuit one bit. Can’t wait to continue the good vibes!
  6. Learn to make alterations with the sewing machine. Life would be so much easier if clothes off the rack just fit. But alas, I’m 5 feet tall, wear a DD cup, and am petite otherwise – not quite the easiest sizing arrangements. So I plan to learn how to (at least) shorten skirts and pants, and also hopefully to take in dresses and tops.
  7. Go out to dinner for lobster. Never done it. I need to. Self explanatory, I say.
  8. Pick blackberries and bake a pie! This was my favorite activity from last summer – I can’t wait to do it again. 🙂
  9. Finish season seven of Mad Men. My boyfriend and I were addicted to this show during the school year. Now that it’s warm outside, we’ve been slacking on making sure to catch up.
  10. Read. A lot. I’m hoping to get through some cookbooks, “Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Joyous Health.”

IMG_2199

What are your summer plans? 

Tagged , , ,

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.

IMG_2195

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!

Tagged , , , , ,

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?

Tagged , , ,

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.

544875_512901308773534_1002286054_n

Our more formative years…..

IMG_2030

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!

IMG_2156

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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.

IMG_2158

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.

IMG_2160

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

IMG_2159

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!

Tagged , , , ,