Gluten & Allergy Free Expo

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend! They always feel too short but I am very excited that next week is a 3-day weekend! I had a great weekend and an amazing time at the Gluten and Allergy Free Expo. I’ve discussed my journey to my celiac diagnosis on the blog before (though full post will be on my About page soon) but I haven’t gone into detail about my other restrictions. Back at the end of November, my doctor put me on an elimination diet where I cut out a variety of things and then could gradually re-introduce them to see how I reacted to them. The list included but was not limited to: corn, soy, dairy, peanuts, vinegar, alcohol, chocolate, strawberries, beef and eggs. I’ve taken the reintroductions slowly and have found that I’m fine with alcohol and chocolate, however I have had reactions to both beef and vinegar. I likely won’t be re-introducing dairy or soy but I’ve tried corn on 2 accounts lately. The first was a complete and utter failure, as I found myself very sick immediately after eating. Since then I’ve been sure to stay away from corn, but on Saturday evening I ordered gluten-free pasta at a restaurant, but forgot to ask if there was corn in it. Big mistake. Minutes after eating I was fighting the urge to throw up, had a killer headache and was really miserable. As it turns out, more than 50% of celiacs are also allergic to corn! Corn also has gluten in it, but it’s a different type of gluten that hasn’t been studied so it’s on the “safe” list. However, since it’s very similar on a molecular level, the body often reacts the same. So for those of you fellow gluten-free guys and gals still experiencing symptoms, try cutting out corn!

After not the best Saturday night, I was determined to wake up feeling better since I had tickets to the Gluten & Allergy Free Expo that I’ve been looking forward to for months. A whole convention where everyone is like me and there will be food that I can eat available! Since I have the most supportive parents in the world, they too wanted to go and we had a great time together. It was such a wonderful conference and part of me wishes I would have gone both days so I could have seen all the speakers!

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One of my favorites was Mrs. Northwest International, Brandy Wendler, who gave a fantastic session on Heart Health & Celiac disease. I had no idea that celiacs are 30% more likely to develop heart disease than the rest of the population. After being scared by that fact, I was pleased to find out that the risk goes back to the normal population risk, after a celiac eats gluten-free. However, it is important to note that gluten-free products are not the solution. Almost every recently diagnosed person (myself included) begins to eat every gluten-free boxed product they can find because they are so excited to be able to eat something ‘normal’! However, those products are often laden with sugar and fat and overly processed. AKA not healthy and certainly not good for your heart. Therefore, the same rules apply as for the rest of the population, eat lean proteins, lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Brandy was a great speaker and was humorous while still being informative. She is doing so much for the gluten-free community and is truly an inspiration!

Now after all that talk about heart health, let me tell you the main event at the conference: eating! There were over 100 vendors and almost all gave samples of gluten-free goodies. I don’t usually eat any sugar except on special occasions, but this definitely qualified in my book! There were so many amazing things to try, many of which I’d never heard of! It was also extremely helpful that each table was labeled with a sign that specified which (if any) of the common allergens the food contained. That way, I wasn’t constantly having to ask if there was soy/dairy/peanuts/corn in any of the items and could happily much away. Since many of you are also looking for new fun products, here are some of my favorites!

Bella Gluten-Free: Bella  makes great flours and baking mixes but what I was ALL over was the fact that they were serving focaccia bread served with olive oil! I can’t remember the last time I had focaccia which the Italian in me greatly misses so this was absolutely fantastic!

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CheeCha Puffs: These light crispy puffs are absolutely delicious and if you see the allergy card in the left-hand corner of the picture, free of all the common allergens! The fiesta salsa were my favorite and you can have 2 cups for only 80 calories! How amazing is that when you just feel like snacking?!

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Home Free: I think these cookies were targeted toward kids but it certainly didn’t stop me. They were delicious mini-crunchy cookies and reminded me of those Famous Amos cookies you always see in vending machines, only these ones are allergen free!

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Coco-Roons: I’ve never been lucky enough to win one of the Fitnessista‘s famous roons giveaway, but I’d imagine they taste something like these. Every flavor I tried was amazing, but the Almond & Strawberry PB&J blew me away. They are absolutely amazing, organic and raw and I cannot wait to try them again!

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When I got home from the expo I was completely stuffed! You don’t think you are eating that much as the samples are small but I was definitely indulging! But some days it’s important to do that and today was definitely one of them! Tomorrow, I’ll be back eating lots of whole foods like I usually do! Of course, I couldn’t attend the event without buying some products and between my mom and I and our purchases and samples, this is all of our loot which I think is a great haul indeed.

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Questions:

-If you are gluten-free, are you also allergic to other foods?

-Have you ever attended an expo like this? What product would you most like to try?

Golden Globes Fashion and Pumpkin Chili

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a lovely weekend and had a fun time with your friends and family. I’ve been promising you recipes on GGG for a while now and today I’m finally delivering! I first made this pumpkin chili last week with my friends for an impromptu dinner party and it was a hit. Well last night I decided to make a batch again to enjoy while watching the Golden Globes and made a few changes that made it even better. But before we talk chili, I’ve got to talk fashion for a bit. Did any of you watch the Golden Globes last night? I always enjoy awards shows but I’ll admit, mostly for the fashion. “Who are you wearing” is the question I really care about during the evening and last night there were some definite hits and misses.

The Hits:

golden globes

These women didn’t take any huge fashion risks with their dresses but I think they all looked absolutely gorgeous. They defined classic elegance with simple silhouettes and classic colors. My favorite of these four looks though was definitely Kate Hudson. Not only does the woman seem to be aging backward, but her look was spot on for me in this fantastic Alexander McQueen dress. I also have to give a shoutout to Jennifer Lawrence as well who looked stunning in her coral dress- definitely my favorite red carpet look that she’s worn this season.

The Misses:

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Oh dear, where to begin. First of all, I think Jessica Chastain seems like a wonderful person and is a fantastic actress. But if I were her, I’d fire my stylist immediately. Her dress did nothing for her and I really wished someone would have fit that halter properly. But my real issue with the look was her hair- her hair stylist managed to age her and make her look as though she was balding. Poor Jess. I hesitated putting Lena Dunham on here because she really isn’t known for being a fashion plate, so I don’t generally expect to much from her. But- this dress was just bad. Next up, this dress was all wrong for the petite Julianne Hough and with such a pretty bodice, I wish this would have flowed into a more form fitting gown. Instead, it looks a little like a wedding dress gone bad. But hey, maybe this was her way of  signaling to Ryan Seacrest to put a ring on it. Lastly, Debra Messing. She has a great figure as well but this dress didn’t do her any favors with the parachute fabric on the bottom. I could have overlooked the dress though if it weren’t for the styling. The huge bangles on both wrists plus large earrings and a large dress, there was just way too much going on.

Now enough with the fashion, let’s talk food!

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Pumpkin Chili

Adapted from this Washington Post recipe

(Gluten-Free/Vegan/Corn-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Northern White Beans
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 C. Quinoa
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Medium Size White Onion
  • 1 Large Red Onion
  • 1 Can Pumpkin Puree
  • 28 oz. Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 1.5 T. Tomato Paste
  • 4 C. Vegetable Broth (Check box to ensure it is gluten-free)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 T. Cumin
  • 1 T. Chili Powder
  • 1 t. Paprika
  • 1.5 t. Pepper
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Dash of All Spice
  • Dash of Salt
  • Dash of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions

  1. Chop onions, bell peppers and mince garlic.
  2. Using large pot, heat 1 T. olive oil and add the onions and bell peppers. Stir and let cook for about 5 minutes until the onions start to become translucent.
  3. In a separate pot, combine quinoa with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Leave for 15 minutes until all water has been absorbed.
  4. In your large pot, add pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add all spices to the large pot and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. When quinoa is finished, combine to pot and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. Garnish with avocado or cilantro and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do and am already looking forward to having it for lunch!

Questions:

-Who was your best and worst dressed at the Golden Globes?

-Do you have a favorite chili recipe?

Let’s Do Something

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend! It’s the final workweek stretch for some of us, and some of you lucky few might be already on vacation and spending time with family and friends. My weekend was the perfect combo of relaxing and productive and yesterday I finished the grocery shopping for all of the Thanksgiving recipes. As I was walking around the stores, adding items to my cart, I couldn’t help but think of all those who would love to be “stressed” about finding their ingredients in a store. Those who would love to spend hours over the stove in order to produce a meal for their family. Those who would be ecstatic that their family had something to eat, on Thanksgiving and beyond. To me, it just wouldn’t feel right thinking about enjoying a meal with my family without thinking of all of these people. I feel extraordinarily blessed (a post devoted to that coming on Wednesday!) and it’s important for me to share that with others. But I get it- we all have so much going on this time of the year and are swamped with commitments that adding one more thing to our plates seems too daunting. Luckily, supermarkets are making it easier than ever this year. Here are a few of the programs I encountered today and some I discovered online.

  • Sprouts & Whole Foods Grab N’ Give Program

As you can see in the above, Sprouts is making it incredibly easy to give this season. You simply choose a pre-packed bag that you would like to donate. The bags come at a handful of different pricepoints (the one’s I saw were between $9-$20) and you can see on the receipt of the bag what items are being donated. I have to admit- I was a little picky about which bag I chose. I wanted one that contained staples for a healthy meal but one that would also feel like a little more of a treat or something special. They make it so easy too since they can take care of the donation for you!

At Whole Foods, you pick the meal you would like to donate- Breakfast ($5), Lunch ($10), Dinner ($10) or a day of meals ($25). All you have to do is add the amount to your total when checking out and Whole Foods will pack a healthy meal for a family and a local food bank (each store is partnered with local organizations) will come and pick up the meals for the families!

  • Ralph’s Bringing Hope to the Table

Ralphs grocery stores are offering two opportunities to help those less fortunate over the holidays. First, there will be collection canisters at checkstands for you to give your spare change. If you rarely have change or cash like I do, you can use a scan card that comes in $1, $3, or $5 denominations to add to your bill. This money will go to local food banks and Feeding America. Note: As I was researching this, I read that Ralphs donated 1 million pounds of perishable food to Southern California food banks this year which amounts to about 850,000 meals! Pretty incredible!

  • Safeway Help Us End Hunger Food Drive

Safeway has a similar format as Sprout’s program in that from now until December 25, you can buy a bag of pre-packaged food for a needy family for only $10. Even more amazing, it’s reported that each bag will provide 7-8 meals for a hungry family, an amount that so many of us spend on lunch! This past weekend, NBC Bay Area actually partnered with this program and on Saturday, an incredible 26,929 bags of food were purchased! It’s amazing to see this support but it’s important to keep the momentum up through the rest of the holiday season!

So get out there and while you are shopping to feed your family, consider making a donation to feed another family as well. Hunger in America exists for over 50 million people- that’s 1 in 6 people. Let’s do something about it together.

Question:

-Know of any great programs at your grocery store?

A Gluten and Dairy-Free Thanksgiving

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all are having a wonderful week so far! Is it just me, or does this week feel like it’s dragging on? I think we are all excited for some time off next week! I’ve always loved Thanksgiving but I’m pretty much all about any holiday that allows me to spend time with my family… they really are that amazing. This year though, I’m presented with a slight challenge in that I’m now gluten and dairy free. So those mashed potatoes and corn casserole of years past that are full of cream and butter will be no more! Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive family and everyone is jumping on board to create a Thanksgiving meal that will be just as delicious. I’ve been collecting recipes from countless blogs and Pinterest pins and here are some of the sides I’m considering… because let’s face it, Thanksgiving is ALL about the side dishes in my book. Note: The pictures below are courtesy of the links above.

Roasted Pumpkin Sage Soup via Skinny Taste

Non-Dairy Rosemary & Garlic Mashed Potatoes via Fork & Beans

Baked Acorn Squash Rings via The Tolerant Vegan

Vanilla Bean Honey Butter Sweet Potatoes

I have to admit that I’ve been on a pinning spree of pumpkin and squash dishes lately but I’m trying to narrow it down for Thanksgiving. As my mom pointed out, not everything needs to be pumpkin. Oh well! I can’t wait to make these all and fill you in on how they go. To see some of the other items I’m considering check out my Pinterest. Oh and if you can eat dairy and gluten you should really make the stuff on my Food/Entertaining board- so much deliciousness!

Questions:

-What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?

-Any GF/DF recipes I should consider?

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