Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gluten Free Green Living Tips: Eating Local (with a Glutino English Muffin Review)

Spring has finally sprung here on Long Island and I am thrilled beyond belief to finally eat fresh and local. Although we haven't started our garden yet our herb pot is going strong AND our chickens have started laying eggs again, which warrants a mini celebration in and of itself. Yesterday morning we had our first brunch outside of the season. With the chicken's clucking in the background and the warm sun on our faces it was the perfect time to indulge in some of our own 'homesteading' goods, and eggs were obviously on the menu.

We made two egg sandwiches on Glutino's new Multigrain English Muffins. Topped with an egg each (his poached, mine sunny side up) we added a selection of our own freshly grown herbs. My sandwich was bold and vibrant with it's whole leaf purple basil, while Mike's was more subdued with a hint of chives and parsley. Don't they just look delicious?:


The English muffins were phenomenal. I've tried Trader Joe's English Muffins before and have never been impressed, as they lacked that key feature of an English Muffin: Nooks and Crannies. Those were not lacking in these muffins. They were light and airy in the middle, even after toasting, and crunchy on the outside; just what I remember for an English Muffin. They passed the sandwich test, maintaining themselves even under the weight of our massive eggs. They were also fine on their own dipped in some homemade chili, for which we used the Original English Muffins.

Brunches like this remind me why I love eating local. We are truly lucky to have space for our own chickens, herbs, and garden; it's become it's own mini echo system. Our chickens lay eggs, we eat the eggs and use the shells in the garden (or to feed to the chickens for calcium), and the scraps from the garden go to feed the chickens. We also use the chicken waste (i.e. poop) as a fertilizer for the garden, and give to others for the same reason in exchange for other goods, and they cycle keeps going. Our food is flavorful, fresher, and cheaper as a result.

But even if you don't have the space or opportunity to have your own chickens or garden you can still access local foods that will be fresh and flavorful (although not necessarily cheaper). Here's a few tips for accessing local foods, while supporting local business:
  1. Attend Farmer's Markets: For years this has been the go to staple. I can easily visit my farmer's markets throughout the year (winter too) for produce, gluten free pastries, yogurts, flowers, and more. Prices can be a bit steep here, but you can get whatever you want from various local sources. The USDA and Local Harvest each have search engines for markets. 
  2.  Join a local Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) group: Another safe go to is a CSA. Local farms set these up to draw in funding for themselves. You give a set amount of money for the season and get weekly produce (usually a selection the farm picks) in return. Again, the USDA and Local Harvest have a database for CSAs.   
  3. Check out Farmigo: Get the best of both of the above worlds by getting involved with Farmigo, where you can join other individuals in your area looking to source local goods. Individuals set up food shares in their area out of homes or public buildings, which can be either closed or open to other individuals, and individuals orders are placed each week for goods offered by local businesses (farms, fisheries, small businesses etc.). It is only available in select areas now but it is growing. 
  4. Create your own network of food sharing: Want total freedom over what you give and get? Try exchanging with your friends. Just as as an example: as I said above, we exchange chicken poop fertilizer for other goods. How about exchanging some veggies in your garden for some eggs from a friend? Or if you both have gardens grow different items and simply swap!      
While eating locally can sometimes be more expensive, I personally find it to be a good sacrifice for bolder fresher flavors and goods. I hope you are enjoying this spring as well as I am! I'm interested to know, what do you do to eat local?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

You are the Guardian of Your Guts

Today, in preparation of Avengers: Age of Ultron's release May First, we're doing an Avengers Phase Two Marathon. The Movie viewing will show The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3, and Guardians of the Galaxy. We're all set on the gluten free food front because I have awesome friends, but I just had to share some geektactic puns and a friendly reminder.

Only you can be the Guardian of Your Guts, you know what's best for it and you know how to advocate for it. It certainly is hard to get your point across sometimes BUT a little persistence and repetition never hurts even if you are lucky like me and have friends and family that listen and recognize your needs. So say it loud and proud: 



I AM GROOT-EN FREE! 

If you follow a medically necessary gluten free diet your needs are valid, and you should never let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't be afraid to speak up, or do what you have in order to have some accessible food available while still having fun! 

Have a good weekend everyone! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Putting the Adventure in the Gluten Free Journey

Our gluten free journey is two fold: It is in and of itself a journey to live life gluten free, and it is something that influences our travel in many ways.

Last week I was told I needed to go to a week long training in Albany for work which was originally declined. There would be no meals served at this training, and the Celiac in me instantly became frantic. What was I going to pack on such short notice? When was I going to have the time to shop for what I need? Would we be able to get a hotel with a continental breakfast? That last one is ALWAYS a point I make for my travels, because if nothing else you at least start the morning out right with fruit and yogurt.

 I felt burdened by this last minute change of plans, and by my dietary restrictions that made this process more difficult. I felt limited, and in a complete rut. While I rationalized that my anxiety was of no use in this situation I was still viewing what I needed to get done as added baggage, but this article titled "Five Reasons Coelic Travel is a Pleasure not a Burden" (shared by Gluten Free Globetrotter) set me straight. Although it speaks more about international long term travel the tone of hopefulness is truly what I needed. I specifically related to this piece:
"• The excitement felt when finding gluten free food on the road simply can't be matched by anything. Seriously, who gets to be that ecstatic about food? When I found GF cookies to pack with me on a hike in the mountains, I was smiling for hours, before being gluten free I never reacted like that to a mere cookie."
Rather than view my gluten free lifestyle as a burden, I need to remember to view it as a gift. It gives me a whole new perspective through which to view life and travel, and an entirely new and fun way to relate to strangers. I wouldn't savor food and eat my way through every vacation if it weren't for my diagnosis. Likewise, I wouldn't have discovered as many new foods as I have (such as my love of papadum) nor would I have met so many like minded bloggers who can tell me the best of the best in their areas. So, I started planning this trip through a different set of eyes. I went and searched for non chain restaurants to try and already made a new friend, and packed some new products instead of the same old thing. Honestly, I feel a bit excited about this trip now.

Living gluten free may make the path more difficult, but it makes the journey a true adventure. So, get out there and put your own adventure into your journey whether it is your day to day life or your next trip!

                                      How do you see living gluten free as an adventure?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Taste Guru Gluten Free Subscription Box Review and Bonus Gift Link


A Taste Guru gluten free subscription box is a perfect way to get your hands on some new products, and add an element of adventure to your gluten free diet.
 Click Here to get your Taste Guru box, including a bonus tote bag gift! 

Subscription boxes are kind of a thing in this house. We have a wine club subscription box and get a box of wine every four months, and my husband has a sock of the month club which in and of itself is pretty self exclamatory. Nothing is better than coming home to packages you've received in the mail, it really is like a mini birthday! This is especially the case for this food lover when those packages happen to be food (and/or wine if you live in states like New York that allow that). That's why I love the idea of gluten free subscription boxes, which add the element of surprise to your package deliveries.

Recently I was sent one of those subscription boxes from Taste Guru. Taste Guru  offers one of the best deals for the largest variety. A one month subscription is $24, and the price goes down the longer a subscription you purchase. Here's what was included in the box I received:
  • Wyoming Authentic Jerky stick
  • Wowbutter sample
  • Old School Grits bag
  • Mini Tabasco original
  • Oven Baked Organics Pancake mix
  • Boulder Granola, in Cranberry and Chocolate Chunk 
  • Two NoGii D'Lites chocolate minis
  • Simply 7, one sea salt bag of quinoa chips and one of sea lentil 
  • Funny Face Choo Choo Cherry Cranberries
  • Delight gluten free magazine 
I was impressed with this haul of products, both old and new to me. Tabasco is fabulous, and the mini bottle become my travel hot sauce while it lasted. My two favorite products in this box were the Boulder Chocolate Chunk Granola and the Simply 7 sea salt quinoa chips. The Chocolate Chunk granola was light and refreshing, with the chocolate melting a bit to pull the granola into clusters. I found myself covered in blissfully covered in chocolate, and eating the entire bag in one sitting. 

The Quinoa chips were simple and airy; they were a great vesicle for some homemade garlic hummus. I was looking forward to trying the Lentil chips as well, and was disappointed when my husband noticed they weren't completely gluten free. While made with gluten free products, they were processed on shared machinery. Now, given that the box is catered towards people on the gluten free diet for a variety of reasons this cross contamination might not pose a problem for some but it could be for those of us with Celiac Disease. I brought this concern up to Taste Guru, who ensured me they would be take more careful precautions to ensure all items were safe for those of us on a medically necessary diet or mark items more specifically on their products card. This oversight only showed me that Taste Guru is a supportive company willing to make the customer experience the best it can be, even when there is a concern.

So, what did I think overall? Taste Guru's versatile products, reliable low price, positive customer service, and packed to the brim box makes them one of the champs of the gluten free subscription box world. Check them out if you want to see for yourself.  If you are interested in getting your own Taste Guru Box Click Here, and with every purchase you'll also receive a bonus tote bag gift. Enjoy your gluten free mail adventure! 

Potluck Dinner Club: Pi Day Potluck (with Bonus Artichoke and Jalapeno Savory Pie recipe from Gluten Free Goddess)



Pie, who doesn't love it? Or do I mean Pi, the mother of all numbers? My friends and I love both, being the nerdy food lovers that we are, so March's Potluck gathering was in celebration of all things Pie and Pi. Mike and I brought two pies to the table:

 Vegan gluten free Shepard's pie made with Bob Red Mill's Textured Vegetable Protein, and perfected with some 'pie crust' patterning.  


 
Gluten free chocolate pudding pie in a homemade graham cracker crust

Some of the other dishes includes: Gluten free pizza, gluten free salmon and asparagus quiche on a potato slice pie crust, gluten free spinach and mushroom quiche, gluten free Irish cream pie, gluten free apple pie, Shepard's tater tot pie, cheesecake, broccoli and cheddar quiche, Artichoke and Jalapeno Savory pie, bacon ham quiche, gourd pie, gluten free blueberry hand pies, apple pie, and chicken pot pies. 

One of the favorites of the night was the Artichoke and Jalapeno Savory pie. It was a bit quirky, seeing as it was a pie full of pasta, but everyone found it to be rather full of unique flavor. It wasn't until after the potluck that I found the recipe was from Gluten Free Blogging's very own Gluten Free Goddess. You can find the recipe here: 

www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008/03/artichoke-jalapeo-savory-pie.html


For April we will be doing something a little bit different. Rather than the buffet style potluck we will be trying our hand at a traditional Passover meal. It won't be fully kosher I am sure, but I'm excited to learn about the traditions behind this holiday. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Potluck Dinner Club: Aphrodisiac Party

February's Potluck Dinner Club gathering was romantically themed, inspiring everyone to bring their best Aphrodisiac dish or food item. Aphrodisiacs are items that are said to spark sexual arousal in those that consume them, and their 'power' is largely debatable. If familiar at all with aphrodisiacs many people go straight to the absurd (tigers penis or deer antler) and forget some of the more common ones such as honey or  chilies.

This potluck was a bit more piecemeal than the others, with more single or simple recipes. Here's a preview of what we had. For those interested I've bolded the aphrodisiac ingredient:

Appetizers: Spinach artichoke dip with corn tortilla; cheese platter with goat cheese, walnuts, honey and beets; slices of avocado; chips with ghost pepper salsa. 

Main Dishes: Gluten free pizza (I mean who doesn't LOVE pizza?); gluten free pasta with Basil pesto; salad with strawberries and fennel.

Dessert: Fudge, Red wine infused pears, Mexican Mousse made with avocado, Ice cream bar complete with Neapolitan ice cream, cherries, strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup.

And of course, everything was topped off with several bottles of red wine. Unfortunately, I failed as host at this party and neglected to get my guest's favorite recipe so I'm leaving you without one. I think you'll do just well enough though with finding your own aphrodisiac food, even if it is gluten free pizza and beer!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Product Review: JK Gourmet Gluten Free Granola and Bites

Grain-Free JK Gourmet US
In the gluten free world a good granola is hard to come by, particularly because of the use of oats. Even when you are lucky enough to find a gluten free granola it is often bulging with sugar content, taking away from the natural flavors of the ingredients. JK Gourmet's products are a good alternative to the norm described here. Their wide array of gluten free and grain free granolas and granola bites are naturally sweetened with honey and contain a limited number of wholesome ingredients. Recently I tried two of their products; their Original GG Bites and their Fig and Apricot Granola.

The Original GG Bites are phenomenal. Simple, sweet, and crispy these bites come in a bar like form. This makes them easy to pack and eat, with two small 'bars' being the perfect size for a small snack. I am a lover of sunflower seeds, and having them be the staple in these really sets them above other granola snacks I've tried. Further, the limited ingredient list truly lets the flavors stand out on their own as well as mingle together to create a refreshingly complete snack.

The Fig and Apricot granola was equally as appetizing. The inclusion of ingredients of different sizes, from the whole almonds and large dried fruit bits to the smaller sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, makes for a varying experience that is a bit unique for granola. I am not that big a fan of the dried fruits, but that is my own personal preference. The short list of ingredients is again a benefit for this product. In particular the natural sweeteners are minimal, which makes this a great granola to add to yogurt if you aren't looking for excessive sweetness. I've been eating mine in a homemade parfait of plain Greek yogurt, strawberries, and honey.

Ultimately, JK Granola is a great find. In addition to being gluten free and grain free their granolas are also dairy free, non-GMO, Kosher, and Paleo-Friendly. Their line also includes other gluten free products including flours, baking mixes, biscotti, and bars. Check them out!
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