Gluten-Free Travel Essentials

Normally, I don’t post much during the week. You see, I travel for my job, which makes cooking near on impossible.

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I live out of a suitcase 4 out of 7 days a week. I can pack for a week in 5 minutes flat. (Yes, I timed myself!) AND, I know how to get through airport security faster than the TSA do themselves!

My meals are rather boring. Usually dinner consists of a bed of lettuce with steam in the bag veggies, salsa, and either tofu or tuna. Lunch is eaten on the go. Think, a Larabar, or something similar, baby carrots, or dry-roasted Edamame. I’m not particularly married to either of these meals, but they do the trick. My hunger is satisfied, and my stomach is not upset.

BUT… there are two creature comforts of which I can not do without. When you can’t have your own bed you are entitled to find your comfort wherever possible. For me? My two travel essentials are (and don’t laugh)

The Light My Fire Spork is a fork, knife, and spoon all in one! It has saved me on countless occasions. It sounds dorky, but this is seriously the best travel tool I have ever bought.

Vega One Protein Powder is a nutritious AND delicious way to start any morning! It powers me through the work day without weighing me down. Since I am both gluten-free and diary-free, a protein powder that tastes good mixed with only water is essential. This protein fits the bill! This week, I wasn’t able to find the protein for 2 mornings. I bought a different brand and nearly gagged both mornings! I will NEVER cheat on my Vega ever again!

Do you have any products that you can’t live without? What are your tips and tricks for successful gluten-free travel?

A Picnic in the Park

Life can be so hectic that it becomes easy to forget to enjoy its simple pleasures.

This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, my good friend “G” and I took a moment to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak. We packed up a picnic lunch and set off for a leisurely afternoon in the park.

On Saturday, in preparation for our picnic, I roasted a chicken with a balsamic glaze. The day of, all that was left to do was pack a salad and various salad toppings, carve the chicken, and wash a pint of fresh, organic strawberries.

The weather was gorgeous! The entire city must have been outside. We lounged lakeside, ate, chatted, and strolled around the park for the better part of 2 hours. It is wonderful to have a friend in the city!

Balsamic Roasted Chicken

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3.5 – 4 lb) Chicken, neck and giblets removed and discarded
  • Herbamare
  • Black Pepper
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 large Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 8 sprigs fresh Rosemary
  • 1/3 cup Water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel.
  3. Place chicken in a 9×13 glass casserole dish, and season inside and out with Herbamare, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
  4. Stuff the chicken cavity with half of the chopped onion, and scatter the remaining onion around the chicken.
  5. In a measuring cup, mix together the vinegar, oil, and maple syrup. Pour over the chicken.
  6. Place 3 sprigs of rosemary in the chicken cavity, and the remaining rosemary sprigs tucked around the outside of the chicken.
  7. Pour the water in the bottom of the casserole dish.
  8. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and cook at 475 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  9. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and cook for an hour and a half.
  10. Remove chicken from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile in Texas….

This is how GF Guy spent Easter.

Backstage with one of the young cast members. She made his Easter outfit!

I’m Going to Turn Into a Pumpkin!….

No, seriously… I am going to turn into a pumpkin! I eat more pumpkin puree than any one person should be able to handle. It’s just so good! I can’t help myself. For instance, this week I had:
Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal
and now, a Pumpkin Parfait

Really, the parfait is just Pumpkin puree layered with Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax cereal in a fun goblet. Not much of a recipe, but oh so delicious!
I feel that if you must wake up at 5:00AM, you deserve to eat your pumpkin out of a pretty glass. That’s all I’m sayin’…

What do you do to make waking up obscenely early bearable?

Comfort in a Cookbook….

Oh me oh my…. I am one happy girl. GF Guy is home visiting for the week. I just picked him up from the airport, and he is currently fast asleep on the sofa across from me. Dickens is curled up on the rug at my feet. The windows are open because it is a perfect 72 degrees outside…. really, could life get any better right now?
My life has become so mundane. You know what? I kind of like it. It’s the simple day-to-day joys that make each day wonderful. Things like doing a crossword puzzle, curling up with a freshly bathed puppy, and cooking a recipe directly from a cookbook.
I must admit, I rarely cook from a book. If I’m not making a meal off the cuff, the Internet is generally my giant cookbook. Last week though, I decided to “kick it old school” and pull out a gift from my Fairy Blog-mother, 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer
It was like reading an actual book versus a Kindle; comforting, nostalgic, and beautiful simplicity. The recipe was for Wok-Seared Chicken with Mustard Greens & Spicy Soy Sauce found on page 657
This contemporary curry fused Indian ingredients and a Chinese cooking method to develop a spicy symphony of flavors. 
Having never eaten Mustard Greens, I was excited to try them.
I ate a few pieces raw and was astounded to be smacked in the face by a “Wasabi-like” after effect! I LOVED IT! Has anyone else experienced this? Vegetables are so cool! (big dork)
Anywho….
Next time, I will probably double the sauce. Served over Brown Rice with a little extra GF Soy Sauce, this was an excellent, simple supper. So cheers to you Raghavan Iyer! (sorry, I took a sip first)
I can’t wait until we play in the kitchen again!   
 Oh, and Mr. Iyer, should you ever come to Tampa, I want you to teach a cooking class at my store! You are wonderful!

Summer Lovin’….

I have so many recipes to share, but no time!!!! GF Guy and I have been maximizing our limited time together. For me that means ignoring my computer to focus on him. Bare with me through the next month. My posts will be sporadic at best. Last weekend, we went to the Art Museum and an awesome park and played in the outdoor fountains. 
Rule #6 for playing in the outdoor fountains was my favorite…
Then we had dinner with my family at cool little wine bar, took them to play in the park, and went to a little local gelato/sorbet stand on Harbor Island. This weekend, we took a Segway Tour of Tampa and saw Toy Story 3! 
We are having so much fun doing all the cool, little things in our city. If you have never explored your city in this way I highly recommend it! Not gonna lie, I thought I might die on the Segway, but, I didn’t crash once! GF Guy almost hit a biker, but no harm, no foul! I am going to miss my best friend so much when he is gone…. Okay back to happy thoughts! 
I started taking ballet again this week. I hadn’t danced in years, and I’m not going to lie… I WAS SCARED! I put on my “big girl panties”, sucked it up, and went anyway. Guess what… IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! I am so happy to have ballet back in my life. I use to be a hard core dancer. Dancing is such a strong form of expression. Plus, it is a form of exercise I could do all day and never tire of! 
I will post a recipe a little later when I get the chance. I have to go in to work today to prep for an exciting day. Tomorrow Bob’s Red Mill is sponsoring me to teach a Gluten Free Cooking Class at work! I am excited and a little bit nervous! Wish me luck!

Let’s Hear It For the Toilet Paper….

Wow… I have been so busy with work. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it. It just means I haven’t had time to create anything new in the kitchen. As such, I have been neglecting you all terribly. Sorry folks! 
So…. what has happened since we chatted last? Well…. I went to my sister in-law’s Bridal Shower and brought Gluten Free Mini-Muffins and Gluten Free Mocha Chip Biscotti. This was my first Bridal Shower ever and it was so much fun! (GF Guy and I planned our wedding in a week and a half. Consequently, we didn’t have bridal showers, etc…. It was totally worth it, though. Dragging out the planning process is just too stressful for me!) Anyway, back to the shower. We played the game where you split in to teams and make a wedding gown out of toilet paper. Guess what…. my team won!!!! 
 Sooo excited!!!!!!
Dickens also got his first haircut! 
 He looks like Papi from Beverly Hills Chihuahua! hahaha Bless his little heart! 
That’s pretty much it for news… Moving on to the food…
Tonight’s dinner was an old recipe served in a new way. I made my Chana Saag recipe, but instead of serving it over quinoa, we stuffed it in a baked sweet potato! 
 Perfection! Some people stuff their potatoes with butter, cheese, and bacon bits. We stuff ours with spinach and chickpeas! 
While dinner was delicious, I miss creating new things in the kitchen. I just haven’t been inspired to cook anything new lately….
I need some kitchen inspiration! Anyone?! This is a Culinary SOS!!!!

Life, In General…

Let’s take a break from food today and discuss life. I started my journey as a Gluten Free Gidget in March of 2007. On the brink of death, I was malnourished, exhausted, depressed… you name it! I had every Celiac symptom in the book, yet went undiagnosed. I was told I had everything from IBS to Anorexia Nervosa. I tried explaining to the doctors. It’s not that I didn’t want to eat pizza. I was just tired of getting sick every time I did. I developed a fear of foods (ie- glutenous foods) and isolated myself from my family and friends. Finally, at a frightening 79 pounds, I met a young doctor who actually listened. He was the one to diagnose me and guide me through that first awful year. He listened, let me cry, and helped me heal.

At first, I was angry. “How could God do this to me?” “How could He strip away everything I held dear in one foul swoop?” It took some time, but I now know why. I was not on the correct path. My life is not meant to be lived blindly and flippantly. It is a gift. I see that now. Each day is full of new opportunities to be enjoyed, new people to help, and wonderful moments to be savored. Even if you are not a “Celiac” you can probably relate. It is so easy to become blinded by the business of life. Take time out of your busy day today. Look around. Breathe in the crisp autumn air. Smile at a stranger. Hug your family. You will never know what’s out there to be experienced until you look.

I want to share with you my before and after photos. I am struck by gratitude toward my family and friends every time I look at these pictures. They stuck with me through my healing process and never gave up on me, even when I wanted to give up on myself.

Before:


After:

I hope this post give others struggling the little push they need to make it through. Life is too precious to let pass us by. You can heal. You will heal. Do not lose hope. I would love to hear your stories of healing and hope. If you would like to share, feel free to email me or leave a comment with your story.