Gluten Free: How to Go GF and Not Go Hungry!

Gluten Free: How to Go GF and Not Go Hungry!

Many people get really upset when they find out the extensive list of foods they have to cut out when going GF.
They think no more bread, pasta, pastries, pizza, cookies, cakes…There’s no way I can do that! I’ll be hungry all the time!

I’m here to tell you that you can go GF, eat great food, and not go hungry!
Here are some tips to show you how. Here’s Tip #1…Stay tuned for more tips to come.

Tip 1: Change the way you think about food.
In the past when deciding what to eat your qualifications may have been as follows; It has to taste good.
Think about this mindset though…Eating food just because of taste, only satisfies one part of your body: the taste buds.
But your taste buds are only such a small part of your body.
If that food only satisfies your taste buds, but doesn’t provide your body with anything else that’s kind of a silly reason to eat it and yet many people’s diets are focused solely on what tastes good.

I agree that you should enjoy the taste of the food you eat, but you also have to look at why we need to really eat.
The main reason we have to eat is to fuel our bodies.

Going GF or going on a diet to lose weight often means cutting out many of the foods that you love because they taste good, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll never eat tasty food again.
You just have more qualifications for your food now. Your food must:

  • Fuel your body to its highest functioning potential (meaning GF)
  • Not cause inflammation or an autoimmune response in your body (meaning GF)
  • Taste good

Stay tuned for more tips to come!

Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

Its a southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve, as good luck in the year to come. This year for New Year’s Eve I wanted to use black-eyed peas in some dish because its tradition, but one that people would actually eat and enjoy.

So, my criteria for a recipe was as follows: it had to include black-eyed peas, it had to be tasty enough that people would eat it and enjoy it, and it had to follow my restricted diet. This is the recipe I made and it was a hit!

The great part about this recipe is that its a salsa and the black-eyed peas add some protein. The left overs are great as a filling in a tortilla as a snack or part of a lunch. The black-eyed peas make it more filling too. This has become a new favorite for me!

1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (I used dried black-eyed peas, soaked and cooked them)
4 green onions chopped
2 tablespoons white sugar (I only used 1 Tablespoon)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 roma (plum) tomatoes chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
minced jalapeno pepper to taste (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Cover and chill at least 6 hours, then serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Recipe Source:

Wedding Bliss: An International Event

Wedding Bliss: An International Event

I’m lunching a new segment today called Wedding Bliss showing great creative wedding ideas with everything from dresses, photo ideas, flowers, venues, cakes, decor, and reception and ceremony ideas. Whether you’re looking for wedding ideas for yourself or someone else, or you’re like me and you just love looking at weddings, you’ll love this new segment!

To kick off my first post my roomie from college, Shelly Goodman, was so kind to send me photos from one of the weddings she photographed. Shelly and her husband, Andy, run their wedding photography business out of St. Louis. I’m so excited to be able to post these beautiful images they photographed. Make sure to check out Shelly’s website…She’s definitely got a great artistic eye and the photography skills to go with it!

This bride had a challenge cut out for her in that her husband to be is from England, making this wedding An International Event.
Her Big Challenge:
Half of her guests were coming from over sees and staying for an extended period of time, which could have meant huge hotel bills and transportation challenges.

Her Solution: This happy couple decided to use this wedding challenge to make their big day unique and more intimate. They decided to rent this beautiful house on a golf course, as not only a place for their guests to stay, but also their wedding ceremony and reception venue.

Challenge Bonus: The best part about this solution was that their family was all at the venue on time and they helped decorate the day of!

This bride used simple bouquets and flower arrangements, creating bright and airy arrangements with personal touches.

The Bride’s bouquet included a special family photo to add a personal touch to her bouquet.

She carried the Queen Anee’s Lace (flower) from her bride’s maid’s bouquets to the flowers lining the aisle for the ceremony.
So simple and elegant!

No tiara and veil for this bride. She wanted something a little less traditional, so she found the perfect feather hairpiece on

Check out the rest of these great details from the Lego Bridal Party next to the guest book, the unusual ring pillow, and the sign pointing the way to the wedding.

Thanks to Shelly for sharing these beautiful wedding photos they truly are Wedding Bliss!

Gluten Free: Where’s the Gluten?

Gluten Free: Where’s the Gluten?

Do you notice that your face or stomach area is swollen or looks puffy?
Do you have eczema or skin rashes that never seem to go away?

If you said yes to one of these questions and nothing has seemed to help then you may benefit from a Gluten Free diet!

If you’ve decided to go GF you may be confused as to what foods have gluten in them. So, here’s an extensive break down list.
Please DO NOT let this list scare you! I’ll be following this post in the days and weeks to come with foods, products, and recipes to add into your diet because there are so many things out there you’ll just have to become aware of.

I suggest printing the list and putting it on a note card and carrying it with you at all times in your wallet or purse.

Obvious Sources of Gluten:
Bagels Barley
Biscuits Bran
Bread Cake
Cookies Crackers
Croutons Cupcakes
Doughnuts Flour
Graham Crackers Gluten
Muffins Noodles
Pancakes Pasta
Pastries Pie
Pretzels Rye
Tortillas Waffles
Wheat flour, germ, starch

Less Obvious Sources of Gluten:
Unless otherwise noted on the packaging these do or may contain gluten
Alcohol Graham Flour
Couscous Durum
Kamut Malt syrup, extract
Malt Vinegar Matzo Meal
Muesli Oats, Oatmeal, Oat Bran
Semolina Spelt
Triticale BBQ Sauce
Groats Beer
Ice Cream Ketchup
Lunch Meats Brewer’s Yeast
Mustard Caramel Coloring
Cereal Binding Pharmaceuticals
Cheese Chewing Gum
Rice Milks or Syrups Sauces
Chocolate Sausages
Couscous Sherbet
Shortening Einkorn
Soup Farina
Soy Milk or sauce Vitamins
French Fries Whole Meal Flour
Gliadin Yogurt (also frozen)
Soy Milk or Sauce Farro

Common Additives that May be Hidden Gluten Sources:
Bouillon Maltose
Caramel Coloring Modified Food Starch
Coloring Mono and diglycerides
Dextrin MSG
Emulsifiers Natural Flavorings
Fillers Seasoning Blends
Flavor Extracts Soy Sauce or shoyu
Hydrolyzed plant Stabilizers
or vegetable protein Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Gluten Free

Gluten Free

Most likely everyone has heard someone they know say they are “Going Gluten Free.” Unless you’ve been following a gluten free (GF) diet for a while or care for someone who follows a GF diet you may be curious as to what this GF thing really is.

In this new segment, Gluten Free, I’ll be demystifying this topic, telling my personal experience with going GF, as well as providing resources, product ideas, and recipes for those following GF diets.

So, first things first…Let’s demystify this GF thing!

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s not a grain itself, but is a component of these grains. Gluten is an elastic protein that causes baked goods to bind and makes them light and fluffy.

Why are so many people avoiding gluten?
Gluten itself is not inherently bad for you, but for people who have Celiac or simply have an intolerance to gluten its bad for them. Gluten intolerance and Celiac used to be very hard to diagnose because the symptoms can be synonymous with so many other ailments and diseases. Awareness of these issues has grown tremendously in the last few years and many people are now discovering that they simply “Feel Better” when following a GF diet.

What is Celiac and how is it different that having a gluten intolerance?
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness describes Celiac Disease as such: “ Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.”

Celiac is determined genetically, meaning that if you have a family member that has it, you’re more likely to have it. Your doctor can see the first signs through a blood test.

Some people may not be able to digest gluten well, but do not necessarily have Celiac. These people are considered gluten intolerant. Gluten tends to be a very inflammatory food, which is one reason that many people feel better when they avoid it.

What are some of the symptoms of Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance?
There are a wide variety of ways that gluten can affect your body. Some of the symptoms of Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance include digestive issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, intestinal pain), fatigue, joint pain, poor weight gain, delayed growth, infertility, depression, thyroid disease, skin rash (eczema). For a Celaic Disease Symptom Checker visit

Do you think you or someone you know may benefit from a gluten-free diet?
Do you know you’d benefit from a GF diet but think its too hard?
Don’t stress…I’ll point you in the right direction and give you great resources, recipes, and tips.
Hope you’ll keep following for more info to come in the weeks to follow!

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes are abundant during these cold winter months. They’re naturally very flavorful and extremely rich in vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, B6, as well as Calcium, Iron, Maganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Fiber and Beta-Carotene). Check out these links to find out the nutritional fact details about sweet potatoes:

Want a tasty recipe for sweet potatoes that’s so easy it’s barely a recipe and it’ll give you your fix for french fries?
By Maria’s request here the recipe for the Sweet Potato Fries that has become a default recipe for me when I don’t know what to make. Thanks to my Aunt Ronda who showed me how to make these several years ago!

4 sweet potatoes (I generally make the equivalent of 1 sweet potato per person partaking)
*Health Tip: Leave the skins on to get more of the nutrients.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil enough to drizzle
*Health Tip: Consuming sweet potatoes with fat (as from EVOO) actually helps your body to absorb more of the Beta-Carotene
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice sweet potatoes into long thin french fry shapes (about 1/4″ to 1/2″ in thickness). Try to keep the thickness of each piece as similar as possible to ensure they cook at the same rate.
3. Place sweet potato fries onto large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil (add a little at a time, just enough to slightly coat each piece). Salt and Pepper to taste.
4. Toss sweet potato fries to coat evenly.
5. Spread sweet potato fries so the baking sheet has a single layer of fries. (You may need to use more than one baking sheet to fit them all, so they’re a single layer).
6. Bake in oven 10 to 15 minutes. Remove. Using a spatula flip the fries over.
7. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and test with a fork to see if they are tender. Serve and enjoy!
(especially good with Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup)

*I’ve found, depending upon how evenly your oven cooks, how accurate the oven temperature, and how thick the fries the length of time to cook can varry from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Make it the first time checking often. The second time you’ll know exactly the length of time to cook for your oven.

Chocolate Cherry Clusters

Chocolate Cherry Clusters

I’m always excited when I find a recipe for a sweet treat that I can adapt to fit my restricted diet and in the same swoop make a “normal ingredient” batch for guests. The best part is that these Chocolate Cherry Clusters only have a hand full of ingredients and require no baking. And by the way, I loved them and so did my guests! Happy cooking this weekend!

Ingredients for normal batch:
3 cups cornflakes
1/2 cup dried cherries (I also used dried cranberries as well)
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (1 3/4 cup)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Ingredients for my dietary restricted batch:
3 cups GF cornflakes (I used Nature’s Path Organic Honey’d Cornflakes, GF)
1/2 cup dried cherries (I also used dried cranberries as well)
10 oz. GF, dairy-free, semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (1 3/4 cup) (I used Enjoy Life brand)
GF powdered sugar (optional)

I made my “special batch” first and then in the same bowls made the normal batch for my guests to save money, as the “special batch” costs quite a bit more to make. Also make sure to make “special batch” in the bowls first then the regular batch to avoid allergen contamination.

1. In a large bowl, break cornflakes into small pieces. Add cherries and toss together. Tip: I cut up the dried cherries to disperse more evenly.
2. Place chocolate in heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts, 3- 5 minutes. Pour melted chocolate over cornflake mixture, and with a rubber spatula, gently fold just until cereal and cherries are completely coated.
3. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. I sprinkled with powdered sugar to make them look prettier. And set in a cool, dry place, 1 hour. Tip: place in fridge or freezer to speed up. Store in airtight container, up to 1 week. Makes 18.

*Recipe source Everyday Food, A Martha Stewart Magazine, January/February 2011 Issue.

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 6

Stay Healthy this Winter Part 6

Here’s Your Final Tip #6: Stress Less, Sleep More

Let’s address the first issue: Stress. People who don’t manage stress in their lives well can get physically ill from it. Various studies have shown that chronic, unmanaged stress runs down the immune system by reducing the number of your body’s fighting cells. Stress can manifest itself physically in the form of a common cold, acne, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, etc. So, build your immune system by finding healthy ways to manage your stress. Check out this great list of 10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress from Reader’s Digest:

Other sources about stress related to illness:

How does sleeping more affect your body? A recent study shows that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are three times more likely to catch a common cold than people who sleep at least 8 hours a night. Being sleep deprived causes your body’s fighting cells to drop in numbers, allowing it to be more susceptible to infection. This same study shows that its not just about the quantity of sleep but the quality as well. So, turn off the TV early tonight and catch some extra zzzzs!

Sources about sleep related to illness:

Re-purpose It: Antique Sheet Music

Re-purpose It: Antique Sheet Music

I’m launching a new segment today called “Re-purpose It.” I seem to continue to find really neat antique (and sometimes just old) stuff that I tend to always find a new purpose for. I have a love for stuff that has a history. I hate to see these snippets of history just die away in the past as forgotten memories. Sometimes these antique tid-bits’ purpose has died away with technological advancements or social customs have taken away their usefulness. So, I say give the old stuff a new life by finding a new purpose for it!

Here’s the first idea: Re-purpose Antique Sheet Music
I found these three sets of sheet music for $2 and $3 dollars each at an antique store in Michigan. I’m not really a music buff, but loved the beautiful sheet cover designs. The sheet music shown in the photos date from 1909, 1916, and 1928.

I saw these beautiful sets and could picture someone playing the music in their parlor in the early 20th century. With the perfect frames to house them, they now grace my living room walls as memories of a simpler time. Don’t worry, I didn’t pitch the actual sheet music. The full set of sheet music is in the frame as well.

Next time, instead of paying for pre-framed artwork from a home store, why not frame a unique piece of history with a story! Have fun on the search!