Sunday, February 28, 2010

My first Organic Garden

Well I've decided to try my hand at gardening. No, I don't feel that confident... but I'm definitely motivated and excited by this challenge.
When I started making changes in my diet I realized I needed to not just change the amount of fat, calories, etc. but I needed to know where it came from and how it was made. Organics have begun to play a larger part in my life and while I can't always afford everything organic, I try as much as I can to fit it in the budget. Afterall, if I didn't plan for it ahead of time I'd spend that extra money on an US Weekly and really... I'd rather have less pesticides in my body. Although I do love a trashy magazine from time to time.
Yesterday I bought a badass digging shovel, a ton of seeds, starter mix and a bin for composting. The seeds I bought were Ferry-Morse organic seeds. I even stood at Home Depot googling on my iPhone to make sure these were non GMO and truly organic. Turns out they are, which is why they were $2.25 a pack instead of $1.25. Again, it's all about planning for the expense in my mind. I still believe that growing these herbs and vegetables in my own backyard will be exponentially less expensive and so much more rewarding. It's worth a dollar extra per pack to me.
This is my first try at gardening so I might fail. But I'm really excited about the opportunity to succeed and grow an organic green thumb. A few weeks ago I realized I needed some education on the topic (besides my poor friend Alex who I will be bugging & questioning often) so I went to the library, finally paid my overdue fines and checked out an awesome book. It's called Grow Organic: over 250 tips and ideas for growing flowers, veggies, lawns and more by Doug Oster & Jessica Walliser. I love the library. Here's the book:
So today I'm going to go outside and dig up some earth. It's gonna be great and if nothing else I'm making a readymade mud pit for my lab, Bama. She's gonna love it! I'll test my soil and figure out what I need to add over the next few weeks before I can plant in April. I'm also hoping to get out to a new gardening shop in East Nashville soon with my friend. I'd much rather shop local.
Lots to do! I'm gonna get off the computer and get outside!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trader Joe's old school Mac and Cheese

I love eating healthy. But sometimes you need that good ole staple from childhood to make you happy. Trader Joes has a boxed mac and cheese that rivals Kraft. Both are overly cheesy, salty and freakishly orange but satisfy your craving. Trader Joe's uses small elbow rice noodles and they worked really well!
The only thing I'd watch is how long you boil the noodles. It took mine about 3 extra minutes to get to the right tenderness. And if you cook rice noodles often, you know to watch the amount of water because if you don't use enough, you'll have a thick pasty rice mess on your hands.
I love Trader Joe's!

Looks like birdseed... but oh so good. It's Quinoa.

I've heard so much about quinoa lately as I learn about GF diets. I've always thought it looked like birdseed or couscous. Surely it doesn't taste like birdseed right? Do I even know what birdseed tastes like? Thankfully no... but if it tastes as good as Quinoa I'd cook it too.

Turns out it's the "complete protein". Unlike wheat and rice, it is rich in Lysine which is an essential nutrient in muscle and tissue health. It's also high in magnesium and iron. Lately I've noticed a 4lb bag of it at Costco for $9.99... so why not try it? It's organic too!

We were having dinner with good friends and luckily they're always gracious enough to let us experiment. We cooked Salmon with a BBQ honey glaze, boiled and then sauteed kale with garlic & olive oil, and made the quinoa with sun dried tomatoes, carrots, onion & garlic.

I cooked the quinoa as directed for 4 servings. Boil water, let simmer for 15 minutes and voila! your done. Be careful to rinse the quinoa before you cook it. It has a natural coating called saponin that repels insects and birds and can create a bitter taste. Rinsing with warm water removes the saponin. I did have a hard time rinsing it because my colander let the seeds go right through it. I ended up rinsing them several times in a bowl by carefully letting the water out without losing too many seeds. I'm sure there's a better way - if you have suggestions please comment!

In a small skillet with olive oil, I sauteed:
1 C shredded organic carrot
1/2 of a small yellow organic onion (diced)
2 cloves of minced organic garlic
sea salt to taste
My friends and I love garlic so feel free to adjust that for your taste. I sauteed until everything was tender and then threw in about 10-15 small sun dried tomatoes from Trader Joe's. You want to wait to throw these in because they don't need to be cooked, just heated through.

Now I combined everything together with the quinoa and mixed it up. In hindsight I think I'd rather have plated the quinoa and topped it with the veggies. But either way you do it... it's delicious! Definitely healthy & everything was organic except the sun dried tomatoes.

For more recipes you can go to the Quinoa cookbook here:
They're also on Twitter @quinoacookbook. They've asked me to submit this recipe and you can find lots of really awesome ideas on their homepage or twitter feed! If you have a favorite Quinoa recipe they're asking that you share it with them. There's a link on their site!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homemade Pizza night

This weekend was awesome! I had a date night at home with the husband and we made our own pizzas. Thanks to everything Glutino makes being awesome, we got four personal sized crusts at Whole Foods (for $5.99) and a bunch of veggies. We used purple onion, green pepper, grape tomatoes & plenty of organic mozzarella cheese. You can make the pizzas with frozen crust and cook them straight on the oven rack for 15-20 minutes. I didn't need a pizza stone since the crusts were already cooked but I'm sure you could use it if you prefer.
These were so good my friends and I made them again on Sunday when I went to visit them in Atlanta! We sauteed some mushrooms & onion with olive oil and then added chopped basil, peppers & tomato. It was economical and perfect for my friends who were also vegetarian. They never even tasted the difference in the crusts. They thought they were great and we only spent $28 to feed all 5 of us. The trick was to use the cold salad bar at Whole Foods and just get a container full of whatever ingredients you want for your pizza. It's $8 for a pound so we got plenty of mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and spinach for only $7-8. The only other purchases were the crusts, basil and cheese!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've finally found an awesome GF beer!

I would have called my husband and I connoisseurs of good beer, until I couldn't drink it anymore. The night we got engaged he even planned ahead to surprise me with my friends and growlers of local Yazoo Pale Ale and Dos Perros. Sadly, when I went GF I knew that pale ale was never going to be an option again. I tried Redbridge and New Grist. Redbridge didn't taste right to me and New Grist was better... but still didn't make me feel like I'm drinking a real beer instead of pure liquid sorghum.
Last night we had plans with some friends to watch Lost and eat Gumbo for Fat Tuesday. Since beer is usually a staple at our get togethers I went to Whole Foods and thought - maybe they'll have a beer I haven't tried yet! And they did :-)
Bard's has upped the bar on the taste of Gluten Free beers! It's definitely a darker variety but tastes great. The aftertaste is still a little sorghum-ish (it is, afterall, a sorghum beer) but it's much better than Redbridge or New Grist. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

You can find more info here:

Awesome, easy Hummus

I've found that one of the hardest things about being GF can be the lack of snacks out there! Well, sure, Whole Foods has a ton of snacks... but unless we win the lottery soon it would break the bank to buy the snacks I want there all the time. Nevertheless, I have found Hummus to be one of my favorites to pair with carrots and celery.
Tonight I cut up some organic celery hearts ($1.99) and organic carrots ($.89) from Trader Joe's and made some hummus from the 6 simple ingredients in the photo above + some Crystal hot sauce. The recipe was from Food Network's Ina Garden and you can find it here:
I followed the recipe except for the amount of garlic. I used 1.5 teaspoons of minced organic garlic instead of 2. It was probably still too much but that's up to you! If you love garlic go for it!
It was quick and really easy! I spoon it into individual mini ziplock containers and pack some carrots and celery in Ziploc snack bags.... voila! I have a quick snack I can take to work! (and it's good for me :-)
What are your favorite snack solutions?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Today Show segment

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This segment is pretty short but it just show how word is getting around to get tested for these intolerances because of what they can lead to if not diagnosed properly! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Flax Seed French Toast for Valentines day!


Lately my husband and I have tried to eat really well at breakfast. For Valentines Day, we made an exception! I had just picked up some of my favorite flax seed bread from The GreenWagon in East Nashville yesterday and I really wanted to make him some French Toast.
When I decided to make the switch to being GF he surprised me and said he was going to do it too! It really helps to have a completely GF kitchen and I can't even tell you how supportive he's been throughout this whole process. Needless to say, I love finding GF recipes that taste as normal as possible, not just for me, but for him as well.
This Flax Seed French Toast was awesome! I used about 4-5 local, free range eggs (from Whole Foods) and added nutmeg, cinnamon, a little milk & vanilla extract. One thing I learned was to use real butter and not margarine in the pan (when I used margarine it made the bread stick really bad). I don't love using margarine anyway so that worked out! I'd much rather use the organic unsalted butter from Trader Joe's as long as it's within moderation.

Zoe's kitchen & Valentines Day (the movie) with girlfriends

Everyone needs a night out with the girls sometimes and tonight was one of those nights. A group of us went to Zoe's kitchen for a quick dinner and then off to see Valentines Day. We picked Zoe's because it's always known for it's fresh ingredients so I thought since two of us in the group are gluten free, we thought we'd have some good choices! I ended up getting the Chicken Kabobs but had to sub their potato salad for rice. The employee let me know they cook their rice with broth that may not be GF. Thanks to my trusty iPhone I got online and found a GF menu. Sure enough he was right! I would not be able to eat the rice and I'm really glad we checked! It was a great meal and their portions are so large I had enough left over to bring home for lunch tomorrow.
As far as the movie goes... it was really cute. It's something to definitely see with girlfriends and (maybe) a really patient or goodhearted man. It would be a really awkward first (second or third) date movie! Don't do it - You've been warned.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Here we go!

Join me in my adventure to get my health back! After surgeries for sinus problems, an ovarian cyst and endometriosis (all by the age of 29), I hit a point of frustration with the quality of my life and had to make a change. I made the decision to learn more and do what I could to fight my failing immune system as naturally as possible. I read an amazing book by Dian Shepperson Mills which made sense of how the gluten in my diet was affecting my immune system and namely my endometriosis. Here is an interview with her that sums it up: If you are truly interested in dealing with your endometriosis through nutrition read her book: and talk to your doctor. I was upfront with my doctor about the desire to change my diet and begin integrating chinese medicine along with the medical treatment she recommended. I dont follow everything in the book to perfection but I let it serve as a resource and reminder that my body runs off of what I put in it. I’ve gone organic, eliminated gluten & started acupuncture and herbs. It's not easy but the rewards so far have been amazing! I feel like my body is starting to love me back instead of fighting me!

I have no idea if anyone will even read this blog but I feel so passionate about changing my way of life right now I'm writing anyway :-) If nothing else, this will be a way to keep myself accountable and perhaps share my struggles/successes with people who stumble here along the way. One thing's for sure - I'm not a writer but I'm a normal person, just like many others, who is looking for ideas on how to live well and do it on a budget! I'll be posting recipes, deals on GF foods, interesting articles & occasionally ask my other GF friends to guest blog! Also, as I find good things in Nashville at the grocery store or eat at a gluten free friendly restaurant I'll let you know how it goes!

I'm new to this so leave me some tips along the way and let's learn how to do this together! Feel free to share your stories... you never know who might need to hear about your experience. I wouldn't be on this path without reading some amazing testimonials about other people's journeys!