Ticket Giveaway for The GFAF Expo – Secaucus, NJ!!

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In my previous post I shared with all of you how excited I am to be chosen as an Official Blogger for the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo happening THIS weekend (9/7 & 9/8) in Secaucus, NJ. Now I am even more excited back one lucky reader gets to win two tickets to the event…you have a choice of either attending Saturday or Sunday.

It is really easy to enter…just simply leave a separate comment below for each entry that you complete! The deadline for this is 12 noon on Friday 9/6 so hurry up and enter! Can’t wait to see the lucky winner at the Expo.

How to enter – you must complete at least two of the following:

Entry is open to all those in the continental United States. One winner will be chosen and awarded two tickets to the GFAF Expo in Secaucus, NJ for either Saturday September 7 or Sunday September 8th. Tickets will be available for pickup at the event. Giveaway is sponsored by GFAF Expo! Giveaway begins at 7:40pm on Wednesday September 4th and ends at 12:00 noon on Friday September 6th.

Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo {GFAF Expo – Official Blogger – Secaucus, NJ}

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Words can not begin to express how excited I am to have been chosen as an Official Blogger for the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo (GFAF Expo) in Secaucus, NJ on September 7 & 8, but I am going to try anyway.

I was diagnosed five years ago with celiac disease and what a journey it has been. There have been some great moments and some really horrible ones, but it is all a part of it and you have to learn to adapt and move forward. Over these five years I have managed to miss all of the amazing gluten-free and allergy-free events around the country mostly because I couldn’t afford them, even if I was given a “scholarship” to one I would not have been able to afford the plane ticket or hotel. However, when Jenn mentioned that the GFAF Expo was coming to the East Coast I knew I had to be there. I have been waiting for an opportunity for five years. I was so thrilled to see one come this way and was even happier when I found out it was in NJ. Bryan’s family lives there so I knew I would have a free place to stay and the trip to the expo was only a train ride away – talk about perfect!

Over the years I have heard so many wonderful things about events such as this but, to me this one just sticks out. Not only is everything gluten-free but is about allergy-free as well. I may only have celiac disease however, I plan to focus my studies and future career in the allergy field. I have been working at a natural foods store that I absolutely love and I also volunteer with one of my professors at an allergy clinic at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. I have learned so much not just in my studies but also at work and in the clinic when it comes to helping individuals and families with celiac disease and or multiple food allergies.

What I am looking forward to the most…

  • Meeting all of the vendors and sample some of the delicious products – especially the ones that I have had the privilege of working with over the years and meeting new ones.
  • Meeting some of the most amazing bloggers and authors – those who have been “mentors” to me (they probably don’t even know it). I admire what they do and when I first started this journey they answered my countless questions.
  • Meeting and getting to know the fellow bloggers that will be there!
  • Sitting in on the classes
  • Bringing back samples to share with the Sans Gluten group at Johnson & Wales!
  • So much more…

Will you be attending? If so be on the look out for me…can’t wait to meet everyone and experience this wonderful opportunity.

GFAF Expo Blogger Badge

DIY Sugar and Salt Scrubs

As you may have noticed I love taking things that you can purchase out (dinners, snacks, etc.) and making them at home. I love being able to control what goes into the items that I am using and eating. On top of that I live on a budge…a very tight budget so being able to go out to eat or buy things for myself or presents for others is just not realistic most of the time. I know it won’t always be like this but at the same time it is nice to live within my means and still enjoy life and celebrating others.

This year I am on a mission to make as many homemade presents and I can…for birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc. For starters this year I am working on creating some lovely smelling sugar and salt body scrubs to give as presents. Right now I am just playing around with different scents, mostly with items that I already have at home. These scrubs make such cute little presents for someone and these blank canvases gives you the ability to create whatever your little heart desires. Below are three recipes that I came up with today and I’m rather fond of so I’m thinking they just might make it into the running to make as presents.

You only need a few simple ingredients:

Oil – You can use pretty much any oil that you would like…coconut, almond, jojoba, grapeseed, avocado, olive, pistachio, vegetable, etc. If you are going for a more neutral oil (smell wise), I would suggest the almond or jojoba.

Salt or Sugar – Completely up to you. Sugar is heard to be a bit more gentle on the skin. Suggested options include brown sugar (light or dark), white sugar, turbinado sugar, kosher salt, sea salt, etc.

Scent – Essential oils work great in these scrubs. The amount of essential oil used will determine the fragrance level of your scrub. According to Aura Cacia below are the Aromatherapy benefits for some commonly used essential oils:

  • Basil, Sweet: clarifying, uplifting, energizing, refreshing.
  • Bergamot: uplifting, inspiring, confidence-building.
  • Cedarwood: useful in times of emotional stress and anxiety to overcome feelings of powerlessness.
  • Chamomile: calming, relaxing, soothing.
  • Cinnamon Bark: comforting, warming.
  • Cinnamon Leaf: refreshing, vitalizing.
  • Eucalyptus: purifying, invigorating.
  • Ginger: warming, strengthening, anchoring.
  • Grapefruit: refreshing, cheering.
  • Jasmine: calming, relaxing, sensual, romantic.
  • Lavender: balancing, soothing, normalizing, calming, relaxing, healing (also used a lot in yoga practice in various ways).
  • Lemon: uplifting, refreshing, cheering.
  • Lemongrass: vitalizing, cleansing.
  • Nutmeg: rejuvenating, uplifting, energizing.
  • Orange: cheering, refreshing, uplifting.
  • Patchouli: romantic, soothing, sensual.
  • Peppermint: vitalizing, refreshing, cooling (great for foot scrubs – use epsom salt).
  • Rosemary: clarifying, invigorating.
  • Tea Tree: cleansing, purifying, uplifting.
  • Vanilla: calming, comforting, balancing.
  • Ylang Ylang: sensual, euphoric.

Other – You can add many other ingredients (many you probably already have on hand) such as: zest of citrus, honey, agave, coffee grounds, loose tea (you can even remove the tea from a tea bag and use that), etc.

There is no set formula in creating these…but a good rule of thumb would be two parts of the salt or sugar and one part oil with between 5-10 drops of essential oil, 1 teaspoon of zest (if using) and 1-2 tablespoons of loose tea/coffee grounds (if using)

The joy of these is pure creativity!

Orange Black Tea Sugar Scrub

BS-03011 Cup Organic Sugar (I use Wholesome Sweeteners)

1/2 Cup Oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed, Olive, etc.)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Orange Flavored Black Tea (use your favorite brand – loose or from a tea bag)

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

5 – 10 Drops of Orange Essential Oil

Preparation: Clean one pint jar or two half pint jars. Make sure there is no water in them as this will dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl mix together the ingredients above until well combined. Carefully add to a pint jar or two half pint jars. Cover and store in a cool dark place.

To use: You can apply to either dry or damp skin – simply shake the jar or mix it with your finger and use about a tablespoon amount either with your hands or apply to a loofah. Gently massage in a circular motion on skin and rinse completely. (Seeing as these all contain oil, be sure to rinse the shower well so you or the someone else doesn’t slip!)

Hibiscus Slat Scrub

BS-03131 Cup Sea Salt – You can use fine or Coarse – I used a mixture of both (1/2 and 1/2)

1/2 Cup Oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed, Olive, etc.)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Hibiscus Tea (use your favorite brand – loose or from a tea bag)

1/2 Teaspoon Orange Zest (optional)

5 Drops of Orange Essential Oil

Preparation: Clean one pint jar or two half pint jars. Make sure there is no water in them as this will dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl mix together the ingredients above until well combined. Carefully add to a pint jar or two half pint jars. Cover and store in a cool dark place.

To use: You can apply to either dry or damp skin – simply shake the jar or mix it with your finger and use about a tablespoon amount either with your hands or apply to a loofah. Gently massage in a circular motion on skin and rinse completely. (Seeing as these all contain oil, be sure to rinse the shower well so you or the someone else doesn’t slip!)

Lavender Salt Scrub

BS-03301 Cup Sea Salt – You can use fine or Coarse – I used a mixture of both (1/2 and 1/2)

1/2 Cup Oil (Almond, Jojoba, Grapeseed, Olive, etc.)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lavender Buds

5 – 10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Preparation: Clean one pint jar or two half pint jars. Make sure there is no water in them as this will dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl mix together the ingredients above until well combined. Carefully add to a pint jar or two half pint jars. Cover and store in a cool dark place.

To use: You can apply to either dry or damp skin – simply shake the jar or mix it with your finger and use about a tablespoon amount either with your hands or apply to a loofah. Gently massage in a circular motion on skin and rinse completely. (Seeing as these all contain oil, be sure to rinse the shower well so you or the someone else doesn’t slip!)

Time to get creative, make pretty smelling goodies for your or someone else and save some dollars! If you buy loose tea – you only need about 2 oz to make several jars of these which doesn’t cost much money at all. Or as I said before just rip open some tea bags and use those if you would like. You can also use ground coffee beans or even grounds that have been used…the unused/fresh grounds with be a bit more coarse (just an FYI).

I’m thinking of making some seasonal scents as well…fall is coming so keep checking back for new scents and ideas!

Coconut Almond Cups {37 Cooks & Tropical Traditions}

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First I would like to apologize for being MIA the last month or so. A lot has been going on with the move, no working stove, and no internet for a while…but all is fixed. I am working on getting settled (still), and trying to organize life before school begins. Now on to the good stuff…

37 Cooks is at it again with another challenge. This challenge is with a company that I happen to love very much, Tropical Traditions. I love their coconut flour and oil very much and use it often, but sadly not often enough. I am working on trying to incorporate more of these great products into my CCGF recipes. Tropical Traditions products are all organic and Non-GMO! You can read more about Tropical Traditions and all of their great products on their website.

I was so torn on which item to choose for this challenge. We were given the option between: Coconut Oil, Coconut Cream Concentrate, Coconut Flour, or Shredded Coconut. Originally I decided that I would go with the oil, but sill me realized I already had that, the flour, and the shredded coconut so I went with the concentrate instead. It took me a while to think of what to make and then one day it hit me…I was going to recreate one of my favorite candy bars, the almond joy! Instead of making actual bars I made them into little cups (think peanut butter cups). Simple recipe, simple ingredients, but oh so delicious! I love that you can so easily recreate your favorite store bough treats and control what goes into them. These are gluten-free of course, but can easily be vegan and dairy free as well but substituting a vegan and dairy free chocolate.

To make these I used a mini muffin tin and lined it with paper liners. I’m a fan of small things, especially sweets. I like them to be one or two bites – this helps me control portion sizes. You however, can make 8 of them in the larger muffin/cupcake pans instead.

photo 1(4)Coconut Almond Cups – Makes 16

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut – Tropical Traditions
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Cream Concentrate (well mixed) – Tropical Traditions
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Powdered Sugar – Wholesome Sweeteners
  • 16 Raw, Organic Almonds
  • 8 oz Organic Dark Chocolate – chopped (you can substitute vegan/dairy free to make this suitable for your dietary restrictions)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Coconut Oil – Tropical Traditions
  • 16 Mini muffin/cupcake liners to line the muffin/cupcake pan

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all ingredients and equipment.
  2. Line 16 cups in the mini muffin/cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl add the unsweetened coconut, coconut cream concentrate, and powdered sugar.
  4. Mix well and set aside. If not moist enough add a little more of the coconut cream concentrate or coconut cream that has risen to the top of the jar.
  5. Add dark chocolate and coconut oil to a double boiler (or in the microwave – be sure to watch carefully). Continue to stir often until fully melted.
  6. Using a teaspoon, scoop out coconut mixture and roll into balls – you should yield 16 balls.
  7. Place on a silpat or plastic cutting board and top with one almond. Slightly press down.
  8. Once the chocolate has melted, using a teaspoon scoop one teaspoon into each prepared mini muffin cup.
  9. Next, add one ball of coconut mixture with almond to each muffin cup and slightly press down until the chocolate starts to come up around the sides of the coconut ball.
  10. Top each with another teaspoon of melted chocolate so all of the coconut mixture is covered.
  11. Place tray in the freezer or refrigerator until firm.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Here is a quick little video of the making of these…

Dining Out While Gluten Free

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As many of you know, with the rising awareness of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, demand for gluten-free dining options has grown by leaps and bounds over the last several years. Everyone is jumping on board and offering gluten-free options to their guests. I mean why not…this is a huge market right now, especially with many celebrities going gluten-free (not all of which are for medical reasons). While this is a fad for some people, this is real life  (and a real serious for that matter) for everyone who has celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

However, this does not mean that every restaurant out there that offers a gluten-free menu or gluten-free options is 100% gluten-free in their preparation of their menu items. There is always the risk of cross contact.  Many restaurants are working on new and improved menus that include a wider selection for those following a strict gluten-free diet. In addition to the improved menu options, restaurants are working on training staff (both front of the house and back of the house) on preparing safe dishes and avoiding cross contact.

A great resource currently available to Chefs and those in the food service industry is the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness GREAT Kitchens program. This training program can be completed online, and includes 5 multimedia-learning modules and many downloadable resources. The GREAT Kitchens program emphasizes that while it is easy to put out a gluten-free menu there is much more to it. They go into detail about what celiac disease is, where gluten is found, how to prepare foods that are gluten-free safely, avoid cross contact, and discusses potential issues and solutions in both the back and front of the house. For more information about GREAT Kitchens please visit their website.

It is quite exciting to have so many places offering gluten-free options but for an individual who has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity this can be tricky to navigate if the restaurant is following proper procedures in ensuring that the meal being served is actually gluten-free. Not only does the staff of a restaurant need to be educated and trained properly, the customer does as well. Knowing and understanding as much as you can about celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity is key to living a healthy and happy life.

Tips for eating out

Educate Yourself

  • Know your stuff…there are so many great resources out there including websites, books, videos, etc. – utilize them.
  • Have a handy list of what you can and cannot eat. Just remember having a list of what you CAN eat will help you feel more “normal”. I remember being diagnosed five years ago and only being told what I could not eat, but nothing of what I could eat. Knowledge is power.
  • Dining Cards – I have awesome dining cards in 10 languages from Triumph Dining. These have helped me so much over the years and have given me the ability to eat at more places that I ever expected. When you hand a server or chef a card in their native language it makes all the difference in the world.

Research

  • Searching for a restaurant online can be a huge help. Use Google, Facebook, Yelp, Urbanspoon etc. to see if they have gluten-free options, a gluten-free menu, and to read reviews.
  • Call the restaurant directly and ask as many questions as you can to ensure it is safe to eat there. Some may even have you speak directly with the chef!
  • Ask them about any certifications the restaurant or chefs may have.

Be your biggest advocate

  • You are your biggest advocate. If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will. You know what you can and cannot have. If you are unsure about something or have questions – ask.
  • Communicate with the hostess, servers, and the chefs about any concerns or questions you may have regarding the preparation of your meal and potential cross contact with gluten containing foods.

Show Appreciation

  • While I do cook about 90% of our meals at home, I am always very thankful and grateful when I get to enjoy a nice meal out. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
  • Show your appreciation to the hostess, servers, and chefs. Thank them for any special requests, accommodation, and double-checking of ingredients, preparation methods, etc. I promise you, this appreciation goes a very long way.

For a list of restaurants that offer gluten-free menu options or menus please visit my Restaurants Page (continually being updated with more options).

“It’s Just A Pork Chop”

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This is the quote that is going to get me through the next year. You are all probably wondering what the heck this means…I would be utterly confused as well. The closest quote I can relate it to is “this too shall pass”.

This quote has been a joke in our house for the last two years and always seems to get me through some pretty rough and stressful times. When I first began culinary school I felt so out-of-place. First off I was going to class with kids…literally kids! God I felt so old but the best part was none of them believed me when they heard my age…my chefs didn’t either. God I love having good skin (Thanks Gram!). On top of being “the old lady” they all talked about they experience they have in the industry, me on the other hand was just a “home cook”. I was so freaked out and felt beyond inadequate compared to my classmates. If all that wasn’t enough I have celiac disease and couldn’t taste a decent amount of food.

For each of our culinary labs we have to do a practical exam in addition to our written final exam. These practicals are often (ok always) stressful. I have found that if anything can go wrong in these labs, practical day is the day that it will happen. My first lab was New World Cuisine with one of my favorite Chefs, Chef Dion. Below is the description from our practical exam sheet:

The student will be issued a Whole Chicken, a Boneless Pork Chop, a Russet Potato, and a Vegetable of the Instructor’s choosing, in order to perform the following skills.
1. Truss, season, roast, and carve the chicken. Prepare a pan sauce chosen by the Instructor (au jus, jus lie, or pan gravy).
2. Season and grill the pork chop.
3.Prepare the potato and vegetable to the Instructor’s specifications.
The student will need to prepare the products under examination, displaying proper HACCP procedures and temperatures, cooking techniques, knife skills, and sanitation procedures for instructor’s assessment. For grading and critique purposes, the student will need to present all components on a single plate at completion, demonstrating proper plating procedure.

I was fine with the chicken – no big deal and the potato (I made french fries – gluten-free of course), and then there was the pork chop. Ugh. I searched through cookbooks, and online for recipes and tips for cooking a pork chop…I knew I only had a limited amount of time so brining it was not an option. This may have been the first but definitely not the last practical that I would stress over and even cry about. Bryan was trying to explain to his mum how I was freaking out and all she could say was “It’s just a pork chop”. That is all I needed to hear. Why was I obsessing so much over a freakin pork chop?? Because that is who I am. I want to do well and prove to myself that I can do this. So now that is what we say and Bryan lovingly reminds me of that quote when I start to stress out and especially when a practical exam is coming up!

We have been saying this a lot lately. Our worlds have been flipped upside down in the last week. Our lease is up and we have to be out by August 1st. Bryan hasn’t had much luck finding a job around here so he will be heading back to NJ and taking Penny with him. At least there he has some options for work. I am stuck here for another year to finish up school because I have been told by both Bryan and my dad that they will kick my ass if I drop out and not finish especially since I only have one year left.

So here I am trying to find a place to live that is close to my job (because I love it and don’t want to lose it). I need something affordable because my school is paid for for next year and I so badly do not want to take out an additional loan for living expenses. So I am hoping to find a room for rent in a quiet house/apartment. I don’t expect to be home all that much with school and work but I will need to study, so quiet is key for me. I just hope I find something soon so some of this stress can go away.

To clarify Bryan and I are okay but we need to be apart for the next year. It sucks and not what we had envisioned but we have done this before. Our first year of dating was across country… not the ideal situation but it worked. Four years later we are having to be apart again. I just hope this goes by quickly. We’ll go back and forth to visit each other and the countdowns will begin again, and we will go back to being great supporters of each other from a distance.  I’m not going to lie this is going to be rough and suck pretty badly but it has to be done.

I need this image printed on a canvas to hang in my future room for the next year to help me get by. Not only am I with out Bryan I will also be with out Penny.

It’s just a pork chop…

Outdoor Adventures {Fly Fishing in Maine}

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Roach Pond – Kokadjo, ME

Below is a bit of our awesome adventures of fly fishing, exploring, and hiking around Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Every year my dad and his best friend George head up to Maine’s North Woods to go fly fishing for a week. Last summer dad asked if Bryan and I would be interested in going fly fishing for them at some point and we both said yes. Me more quickly than Bryan, but that was only because he had never really been fishing much, never mind fly fishing. I on the other hand love it and have fished quite a bit with my dad over the years, but it had been too long since I last fished.

Bryan and I had not been on a vacation in three years, since we moved to Rhode Island and he began law school. Between school and having no money, vacations or even weekend getaways have been out of the question. So, needless to say this vacation was much-needed and appreciated. If I haven’t mentioned this before, my dad is pretty amazing. He treated us to this wonderful week away in the woods, but also built each of us fly rods to take on the trip with us. Bryan is a Penn State graduate and dad built him a Penn State rod – blue blank, with white and blue wraps, and the PSU logo…it’s pretty amazing. As for mine it was everything I wanted…a green blank, with green and silver wraps. This was the second rod my dad built for me, the first one he built several years ago which also came along on the trip. The first rod was named “Jenny Sue” and this was the rod I caught my first brookie on!

Part of our vacation and adventure included a float trip with John from Maine Guide Fly Shop. Our original trip was planned for Sunday, but with the weather and the raising of the water levels it just didn’t work out so it was changed to later in the week. The ideal level to have the water at is 4,000 cfs…on Sunday it was close to 8,000 cfs. Dad really wanted us to be able to take our trip on the East Outlet Kennebec River but in order for that to happen the water had to be at 4,000 cfs on Thursday morning and if it wasn’t we would take the hour and a half drive past Kokadjo and fish the West Branch Penobscot River. We didn’t care either way, we were just happy to be there.

Day 1 – Saturday June 8

Bright and early we headed up to Rockwood, Maine where we stayed at Lawrence’s Lakeside Cabins. Lawrence’s is owned an run by Bob Lawrence. This is also where my dad and grandfather stayed when then went moose hunting in 1994. Bryan and I got to stay in Cabin 1 (one bathroom, one bedroom with a full/queen bed and a set of bunk beds on the second floor, and a small kitchen and living area on the first floor). The second I walked in I was taken back to my childhood. It was like walking into my grandparents house…same curtains, smells, walls, etc. I think this is why my dad loves coming and staying here every year. For me it was also pretty amazing for me to be staying and walking where my gramp was all those years ago. One night we had Bob over for dinner and he was kind enough to bring some photos of my dad and gramp with their moose from the hunt.

On the way up we stopped at Cabela’s to pick up a rain jacket for me because the forecast was pretty wet for the week. The next stop was lunch next to a lake in Dexter, ME. Two more stops stood between us and the cabins…the first was Indian Hill. Indian Hill is a decent sized grocery store/sporting goods store/shoe store/clothing store…seriously it is all of these things and seemed to be the main source of employment in Greenville.

One of the things I noticed when driving through all of these towns was how depressed they were. Houses pretty much falling down. There weren’t many places for employment – most of the shops were closed down and/or for sale along with many of the houses. It was sad to see the quality of living up there. It was a little bit of a culture shock…I felt like one of those “city people”. I think it hit me a bit harder than expected because I know places like that exist both here in the U.S. and abroad and I have spent plenty of time in places like that abroad but not to this extent in the U.S.

After getting settled in we headed out to test the waters and get our lines wet.

Although we were staying in cabins which were pretty rustic – we had full kitchens, refrigerators, etc., plus dad and George brought the wine…lots of it! And we had plenty of good food for the week…our first nights meal was risotto with shrimp and spinach. Surprisingly I didn’t take any photos of any of our meals! Sorry, just know that they were all delicious.

Day 2 – Sunday June 9

This was supposed to be the day of our float trip but again the high and fast waters prevented us from going so instead we put on the waders and rest of our gear and headed to Kokadjo (population…no many to fish the Roach River. The weather turned out to be not that bad, there were a few moments of some drizzles but nothing major. The water was still flowing pretty quickly even at the Roach, but we made do and found some spots to fish for a while. Dad and George gave Bryan and I some pointers and we were on our way to catching fish…or at least we hoped we would be. We got some bites but the ended with in water releases. Over all the fishing wasn’t the best that week due to the weather and the raising and lowering of the water levels but it was an amazing time and when we did catch our first fish of the trip it was just perfect.

While driving up to the Roach River dad was pointing out where he and my gramp had got there moose and as he says this I’m thinking “oh gramp please show me a moose” and sure enough a little further down the road there is a mother moose (cow) and her two week old baby (calf). It was AMAZING. These were the first moose that Bryan and I had seen in the wild. Thanks gramp!

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Day 3 – Monday June 10

Today we stayed a bit closer to home and fished the West Outlet which was right down the road from where we were staying. I sadly woke up with major sinus pressure and I am one of those very unfortunate people that also gets the dental pain with my sinus pressure. I only have one filling and dear lord can I feel it when sinus pressure begins. If I could I would probably rip the left side of my jaw out completely. So my morning of fishing was cut a bit short, but before that I caught my first brook trout…brookie! It was beautiful and had the spawning colors but sadly was released before a photo was shot. Not long after I caught a few more and we got a picture of one of them. Such a great feeling when you hook a fish. I’ve been fly fishing for striped bass and tuna before and let me just tell you that is awesome! The fight that they put up just exhilarating. This was a whole new type of rush. They may be fairly small fish compared to the bass and tuna but you still feel them (plus you are using a much lighter rod).

As dad and I were heading to the general store in Rockwood to find some sinus medicine for me, we were driving along Moosehead Lake and dad with the ever amazing ability to spot birds and wildlife, says look, there’s an eagle! Bryan has been dying to see one of these in the wild – he has only seen one at the zoo so he had high hopes of seeing one. Sadly though he was not with us when we saw this. As dad says that I go to try to get my camera from the back seat but couldn’t. As I turned back around the eagle swoops down, puts its talons out and grabs a huge fish from the lake then takes off. I so badly wish I could have captured this. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed, and so happy I got to see it with my dad. Bryan was a bit bummed that he missed this awesome sighting, but lucky for him he saw an eagle later that day soaring above him as he fished.

After a little while, I headed back to the cabin to get some rest and had high hopes that this pain would go away…it didn’t, not for another 3 or so days!

Day 4 – Tuesday June 11

I took it easy again today due to the pain. Bryan and I drove around a bit and went into “town”…Greenville is the next town over and is about 30 minutes away. That is where Indian Hill and other little shops are. There isn’t a whole lot in Rockwood besides the general store which also acts as a gas station. It has two pumps which may or may not work…no lie.

We took our cameras with us and shot some photos of dad fishing and of the Mason’s lodge. Overall it was a laid back day, which was much-needed.

Day 5 – Wednesday June 11

We were back on the rivers fishing today. Still in a ton of pain and still taking anything and everything I could to get rid of this pressure and pain. Tomorrow was our float trip day and I would have done just about anything to not be in pain for that. It was raining again and we were keeping our fingers crossed that the water level would have been fine for us to fish the East Outlet but it wasn’t. Tomorrow we would head to the West Branch instead.

Today we fished the West Outlet and the beach of the East Outlet. We all caught more fish today and it gave Bryan and I another chance to practice casting our rods in preparation for tomorrows trip. After fishing for a bit in the morning we headed back to the cabins for lunch and fished the beach of the East Outlet later that day. Everywhere we fished was absolutely beautiful, peaceful, and zen like. Up in this area of Maine there aren’t all that many people…moose out number humans 3:1. So with few people come few cars and mush less noise. You kind of get lost in nature up there.

After a day of fishing in pretty crummy weather I thought homemade gluten-free corn fritters would be a nice touch to dinner. I had brought up some gluten-free “all-purpose” flour and some rubs that Adam of Fein Tasting Foods sent me. I used their everything rub in the recipe and it turned out great! It has a good hint of cinnamon in it and I think it would also go well in an apple fritter.

Below is the recipe for my gluten-free corn fritters…hope you enjoy them. Many people deep fry fritters but you can just as easily shallow fry them (like I did) and these are easy to make especially when camping.

Corn Fritters

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1 Cup                        Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
1/2                            Teaspoon Xantan Gum (only if your mix does not already have it in there)
1/4                            Teaspoon Baking Powder
2                                Eggs (or 1/2 cup Eggbeaters)
6                                Tablespoons Milk (Cow, Soy, Nut, or Hemp)
1                                Tablespoon Feiny’s Everything Rub
1/2-3/4 Cup           Fresh Corn (you can use canned if fresh is not available, just drain and rinse well…add as much or as little as you would like).
1/2                            Teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
1/4                            Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat fryer to 350•F or in a medium skillet add 1/4-1/2 cup oil and heat over medium heat to shallow fry instead of deep frying.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together all of the wet ingredients until well combined.
  4. Slowly add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Drop batter by the spoonful and cook until golden brown on all sides.
  6. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.
  7. Do not over crowed the fryer or pan.
  8. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel lined dish.
  9. Repeat process with remaining batter.
  10. Serve warm.
  11. Hold in a warm oven at about 200•F if needed.

Chef Notes: The above recipe (flour, baking powder, eggs, and milk are a basic fritter recipe – you can add any number of ingredients such as crab (which would work great with the Chesapeake Bay Rub, also from Feiny’s Fine Foods), diced apples with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar in stead of the salt and pepper, etc.

Day 6 – Thursday June 12

The day we have been waiting for…our float trip.We were up and out of the cabins by 5:45 to make the 2 hour journey to the river. Holy bumpy back roads batman! It was like off roading but on a road.

We were originally supposed to go on Sunday with Chad (from Maine Guide Fly Shop) but he had a trip booked for Thursday so we went with John Wood (he has a website launching soon so check back for that). John was probably the best person for Bryan and I to have. He was down to earth, shared a very similar sense of humor, he graduated with a degree in culinary arts, and his wife is a judge…seriously it couldn’t have been a better fit. I also believe he is a long lost relative to my dad…similar is so many ways.

Dad and George went with the guide they always go with Ian and Bryan and I got into Johns boat and started down the West Branch Penobscot River. This river was beautiful beyond words. We went down river and fished for about 3 or so hours then pulled over to the side of the river, got out and had lunch together with dad, George, and Ian. These guys bring it all…we had tables, chairs, a grill. They made us cheeseburgers for lunch. It was wonderful just pulling over to the side of the river and having lunch in such a beautiful location. I ended up bringing a sandwich just in case and ate that instead. I’m sure I would have been fine having a burger but I didn’t want my sandwich to go bad.

John gave us pointers and is a great instructor. He not only explained different techniques but also showed how to do them. For someone like me who is a hands on learner, this was a perfect match. We talked (well he and Bryan) about law, food, nutrition, different diets, etc. We truly couldn’t have asked for a better day or a better guide. Bryan keeps saying that when we go back we are requesting him. I agree 100%. If you are ever interested in a fly fishing adventure up there check out the Maine Guide Fly Shop and ask for John! Thank you John for an amazing and unforgettable trip.

Day 7 – Friday June 13

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Mt. Kineo from the dock

Sadly this is our last full day, tomorrow we leave bright and early to make the trek home. Bryan became in awe of Mt. Kineo, which we could see from where we were staying and really wanted to go over there so we decided that today would be a good day. We got up fairly early and packed some of our stuff up a bit before heading over.  The shuttle ran every other hour and was less than a 10 minute boat ride over.

Bryan had done a little bit of research on Mt. Kineo and hiking it. Mt. Kineo has an elevation just shy of 1,800 ft. At the summit is a fire tower, which sounds really cool, but if you are two people who are beyond afraid of heights this just maybe the scariest thing you have ever thought to do. The information that Bryan found said that there are four trails and one, The Indian Trail, boasted “the most scenic views” so we went for that one. It also said that it had some parts that were close to the cliff (key world being close). We are hiking up just fine…Bryan way better than I am because lets face it my legs are way shorter than his and stupid me didn’t think to bring an inhaler with me on vacation so I had to pace myself to be on the safe side. There were gorgeous views on this trail, over looking the golf course below and Moosehead Lake which surrounds it. We found some great spots to stop and take a few photos.

There was however one point that my short little legs almost failed me. As I said, I’m afraid of heights…terribly afraid of heights and parts of this trail were close to the cliff. How about it is the cliff. A nice drop straight down about 700 ft. It has been raining on and off the past few days but the day before was nice and sunny so we assumed some of this would have been dried up…it wasn’t, at all. We get to this one steep slippery rock that even Bryan has a little struggle with getting up, and here I am trying to find footing to get up it, but couldn’t. The move I moved to try to get my footing the closer I was getting to the edge. My heart was racing needless to say and it only worsened when I looked up and saw the look on Bryan’s face. He was trying so hard to have a clam voice and lead me up the rock but his facial expression said it all. I eventually made it up with very shaking hands. I ended up pulling my knees up and crawling up the rock. Later Bryan said he almost cut the strap on his bag so I would have something to hold onto. It was quite scary. I am happy I made it up for many reasons but one was just after that spot was the most beautiful lookout (aka resting spot) ever.

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We continued the hike up to the summit/fire tower which was only about another 15-20 minutes. Being brave little people we climbed to the top of the tower, and amazingly took a few photos before descending. I still can’t believe that either one of us make it to the top and then back down.  My whole body was tense and shaking after that adventure. The view was out of this world and worth every step.

I also took a video with my phone

On the way down we took a different trail, The Bridle Trail which is considered more family friendly, less strenuous, and pet friendly. This trail definitely didn’t have the scenic views that the Indian Trail had, and was way more muddy. Lots of puddles of fresh spring water coupled with plenty of mud and slippery spots. A much easier trek down than up that is for sure.

We met a few sets of hikers on our way down and advised them not to take the Indian Train down due to the steep slippery rocks.

I am so happy we did this hike and got to see all this beauty. Can’t wait to go back and do it all again!

If you would like to see the rest of my photos from the trip you can view them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennyjene/sets/72157634132721510/

As I mentioned above I didn’t take any photos of our food (except the fritters) but below is a list of foods that we had during our trip, all of which are perfect for camping our outdoor adventures. It’s great to have a little camp stove or grill if you do not have access to a cabin with a stove.

Hoping to have at least one more outdoor adventure this summer…where and when? Who knows, but I’m sure it will be a great time. Hopefully Penny can come along for the ride.

Strawberry Chia Scones {Product Spotlight}

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I’m going to attempt a new feature on CCGF – I’m not 100% set on the details just yet but here is what I am thinking.

  • Either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly I am going to do a product spotlight.
  • I do a bunch of reviews on the blog already but I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite thing.
  • These products are not necessarily going to be a food item, they may be kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, etc.
  • I plant to talk about the item, the pros, cons, how to utilize it, etc.
  • I just want to have fun with this and share with all of you my favorite items.
  • I started working at a natural foods store with tons of gluten-free options, many of which I have never tried so I thought I would incorporate some of those items as well.

What do you all think?

Below is my first product spotlight…

Pamela’s Biscuit & Scone Mix

By: Pamela’s Products

I love Pamela’s Products – it is one of my favorite packaged gluten-free goods. Lately I have been making my own flour blend to use but this is one that I would definitely go out and buy, especially her pancake mix (I’ll be taking that with me next week when we are fly fishing in Maine for a week). Below is a little bit of information about Pamela’s Products:

Here are some of the reasons why Pamela’s stands out from the crowd:

  • High quality sugars including, fruit juice, agave, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup and molasses create better tasting, decadent food.
  • The palm shortening is made from the most healthful part of the palm and is sourced from companies with fair trade and environmental stewardship track records.
  • Our nuts are from American suppliers to ensure freshness and quality.
  • Minimally processed grains like certified gluten-free oats, brown rice, millet and sorghum are used whenever possible to provide the benefits of whole grains they offer.
  • Sweet creamery butter (non-rBGH of course) and the highest quality monounsaturated safflower oil are used. Pamela’s does not use low quality oils.
  • The cardboard used in our packaging is made from recycled materials and are recyclable. Soy ink is used in all cardboard printing. We continue to seek additional sources of recycled materials.
  • We are in the process of changing our plastic trays to 100% recycled material.

What we leave out is as important as what we put in:

  • We never use any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives.
  • We never use high fructose corn syrup.
  • We have statements from all suppliers verifying our ingredients are non-GMO.  We are currently preparing to join the non-GMO Project, and are working closely with our vendors to assure the quality and source of all our ingredients

Biscuit and Scone Mix Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Sorghum Flour, White Rice Flour, Sweet Rice Flour, Grainless & Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Potato Starch), Natural Evaporated Sugar, Sea Salt, Guar Gum, Baking Soda.

Allergy Information: Free of gluten, wheat, eggs, dairy*, nuts*, soy*, corn,

*=depends on if you use butter or a butter alternative, and if you use almond or soy milk.

Pros: easy to follow directions with several recipes listed on the package itself. No sugar in the mix so you can add as much or as little as you want (I didn’t use much). You can use whatever ingredients you wish making your biscuits or scones either savory or sweet.

Cons: Can’t find it in a store near me but will contacting them to carry it.

How I used it: After reading the recipe options on the packaged (which all sounded delicious) I wanted to try my own thing. B went to the store yesterday and picked up two packages of strawberries that were out of this world delicious. So I thought of making a fresh strawberry and chia seed drop scone.

Strawberries are a good source of folate and potassium, and very good sources of dietary fiber, Vitamin C and manganese. Chia seeds are amazing little things. In just one tablespoon they pack 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 2.9 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids! These are also great in smoothies, yogurt, and other baked goods.

These are delicious! I can however see why they say to use dried fruits in the recipe on the package…the fresh fruit makes it a bit sticky and uneasy to cut so I just made them into drop scones…don’t know if that is a real thing but it is now!

Strawberry Chia Scones

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1 Package of Pamela’s Products Biscuit & Scone Mix

8 Tablespoons of Butter or Butter Alternative (Earth Balance), Cold

1/3 Cup Wholesome Sweetener Organic Sugar

1 Cup Almond Milk

3/4 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Diced

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds

Follow directions on package – however when mixing in the fresh fruit mix by hand to prevent the fruit from becoming over mixed.

Place rack in top third of oven and pre-heat oven to 375°.

Combine dry mix and sugar. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or pastry blender, cut in butter until pea-sized crumbs are formed. Add milk. Add strawberries and chia seeds, mix until well incorporated. Take two large spoons and scoop scones onto a prepared baking sheet (either greased or parchment lined.You can sprinkle the top with a little bit of sugar before baking if you wish. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool slightly and enjoy.

These came out moist and delicious! Hope you enjoy this recipes and give this mix a try. So versatile…you can make savory scones or biscuits as well!

*I was sent this mix from Pamela’s Products for a review – I was not compensated in any way and all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Crust-less Quiche {37 Cooks}

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The second entry into the 37 Cooks and Sciabica Olive Oil challenge is a crust-less and veggie filled quiche. This can easily be made in a large baking dish, pie dish, or individual ramekins. Quiche is another one of those “blank canvases” that I love because you can add any ingredient that you want.  Quiche is perfect for large groups of people especially for brunch or a “make you own” quiche breakfast with your family. Just have prep bowls of different ingredients (mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, cheese, ham, spinach, kale, zucchini, etc.) and let each person make their own with their favorite ingredients.

Crust-less Quiche – Serves 4-8

Ingredients:

  • Manzanillo Variety Fall Harvest Olive Oil               2 Tablespoons
  • Garlic, minced                                                        1 Tablespoon
  • Baby Spinach, Chiffonade                                      1 Cup
  • Zucchini, 1/4 inch dice                                            1/2 Cup
  • Onion, White 1/4 inch dice                                      1/4 Cup
  • Bell Pepper, Orange, 1/4 inch dice                          1/4 Cup
  • Salt, Kosher                                                             1/2 Teaspoon
  • Pepper, freshly ground                                             1/4 Teaspoon
  • Cilantro, fine chop                                                    1 Tablespoon
  • Low-fat Mozzarella Cheese                                     1 Cup
  • Egg Beaters                                                             2 Cups

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all ingredients and equipment.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.
  4. Add garlic and spinach and sautee until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Continue to sautee for an additional 2 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Either divide vegetable mixture evenly into 4 ramekins or into a large 9 inch round baking dish (pie dish, cake pan, etc.)
  8. In a medium bowl add eggs and remaining salt and pepper, mix well (if using whole eggs, if not proceed to step 9)
  9. Top vegetables evenly with cilantro, mozzarella cheese and egg beaters. Season with remaining salt and pepper if desired.
  10. Bake  until eggs have set in the center (about 25-30 minutes for the ramekins depending on their size or 45-60 minutes for a 9 inch pan).
  11. Remove from oven and drizzle lightly with Manzanillo Variety Fall Harvest Olive Oil

Chef Notes:

  1. You can add this to a crust as well and you can use whatever fillings you choose: mushrooms, ham, kale, etc.
  2. You can substitute the egg beaters for whole eggs and use 6-8 eggs.

Check out 37 Cooks on Facebook and Twitter

Check out Sciabica Olive Oil on Facebook

Celiac Awareness Month

May is National Celiac Awareness Month and sadly it is coming to a close in just a few days. There have been so many great people raising awareness this month including, but definitely not limited to, Erica of Celiac and the Beast, Brandy Wendler (Mrs. Northwest) of A Spoonful of Wellness, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Rebecca of Pretty Little Celiac, Mr. Dude of Gluten Dude, and EA of The Spicy RD. Again these are just a few of the wonderful bloggers and organizations out there that have shared delicious recipes, informative posts, and have been advocates for Celiac Disease not just during the month of May but all year-long.

There is so much that I wanted to accomplish on CCGF this month but sadly, life got in the way. I finished up another trimester of school and now only have one year left! I was awarded The Feinstein “Enriching America Award” for the community service that I completed while doing my internship and AmeriCorps, from The Feinstein Community Service Department at JWU. Our club, Sans Gluten was awarded Best New Club of the Year – there were 11 new clubs this year, and we have over 60 members with bi-weekly production meetings that consist of recipe research and development. I also completed my AmeriCoprs Scholarship For Service and in addition to that was awarded the Founders Award from JWU (with a lovely 5,000.00 scholarship!!!), and was inducted into the Alpha Beta Kappa National Honor Society. Plus, B graduated from law school!! So on top of final exams, the award ceremonies, and family in town for his graduation this month just got away from me. With that said, I do have some wonderful products and cookbooks that I will be reviewing and posting about soon – I promise!

Every year I stress out so much on how I am going to pay for school for the following year but thankfully I don’t have to do that this year. I was awarded over $20,000.00 in scholarships and grants for next year alone! This is possible by some very generous people and my hard work and dedication. Some of my favorite quotes that have gotten me through all the stress, long hours, and sacrifices (not seeing family much) are:

“Your dream is not big enough if it doesn’t scare you.” (Matthias Schmelz)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. “(E. Roosevelt)

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” (Harriet van Horne)

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” (Buddha)

With all of that going on, I still wanted to raise awareness this month especially as an Udi’s Campus Ambassador. In order to do so I had to incorporate it into my school schedule so for my term projects for Anatomy & Physiology and Technical Writing, I presented about…you guessed it…Celiac Disease! Both projects included a written paper and a PowerPoint presentation. In one PowerPoint I included an amazing infographic on celiac disease symptoms that Gluten Dude posted – everyone in the class thought it was great (well done Gluten Dude!). For the A&P project we had to research a disorder, discuss which systems of the body it affected, signs, symptoms, treatments, etc. and then do a 5 minute PowerPoint presentation to the class. My Technical Writing project was a bit more intense. My project was on Celiac Disease vs. Wheat Allergy. The final project was a total of 37 pages and included 2 appendices one of which was a sample menu to be used in our culinary labs on campus that lists the top eight major allergens plus gluten and also included resources for substitutions.  In addition to the 37 written pages I also had to present a 15 minute PowerPoint Presentation to the class. I also handed out samples of Udi’s Gluten Free Granola and Red Apple Lipstick to my classmates.

I will also be volunteering at Hasbro Children’s Hospital with one of my professors in the Allergy and GI clinic. My professor asked for me to send her my research report on Celiac Disease vs. Wheat allergy and we will be going over it and refining it over the summer while we are working together.

Also, back in April I was asked along with the former President of our Sans Gluten Club and one of our Chef Advisers to film some gluten-free segments for the cooking show that JWU does called Cooking With Class (Check your local listings). I was BEYOND nervous to do this and on top of it my seasonal allergies kicked in and I had almost no voice but I did it anyway. You can view it online (please ignore the credit information – it is incorrect and they were supposed to be fixing this. This is my original recipe that I shared). Below are the links to all five our of segments for Celiac Week which aired the first week of May. Chef Lavornia does not have Celiac Disease however his wife and children do and has been creating delicious gluten-free recipes for years. We hope to do more videos for next year’s awareness month and will be hosting cooking demos for local families who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Island Coconut Shrimp by Chef Michelle: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22171946/island-coconut-shrimp

Sweet and Spicy Chicken by Chef Jenny: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22171995/sweet-and-spicy-chicken

Raspberry Crumble Bars by Chef Lavornia: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22172217/raspberry-crumble-bars

Lemon Pound Cake by Chef Lavornia: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22172258/lemon-pound-cake

Dinner Rolls by Chef Lavornia: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22172063/gluten-free-dinner-rolls

You can also view my video below (Thanks to B for putting my site on there):

Cooking with Class from Jenny Manseau on Vimeo.

What have you done this month? Please feel free to share your stories below!

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Ratatouille

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The second 37 Cooks challenged that I participated in was for Sciabica Olive Oil. Sciabica Olive Oil is a family run business which prepares their olive oil in the Italian tradition of old-world quality and they say that their oils are “California Sunshine in A Bottle”. Sciabica proves that you do not need to go to Italy or Spain to get good quality and fantastic tasting olive oil. Sciabica generously provided each of the 37 Cooks with two bottles of their choice. I chose the Manzanillo Variety Fall Harvest and the Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Both of which were simply delicious. I always like to taste my olive oils by themselves before using them in either cooking or baking – this helps me get an idea of what I want to use them for and what flavors I think would go well together.

For this challenge we were asked to again prepare two dishes with the olive oils that we choose. Below is my first recipe and I can’t even count how many recipes I made after this which made it difficult to choose my second one (will be posted soon). This olive oil was so delicious and I’m happy but surprised I have any left!

Please check out 37 Cooks (here is a link to my bio) and Sciabica Olive Oil.

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Ratatouille – Serves 4
Ingredients:

Sciabica Garlic Olive Oil*                       3 tablespoons, divided

Eggplant, 3/4 inch dice                           1 cup

Onion*, White, 3/4 inch dice                     1/2 cup

Garlic, Minced                                         2-3 large cloves (1-2 tablespoons)

Red Pepper Flakes                                 1/4-1/2 teaspoons

Baby Bella Mushrooms, quartered         1 cup

Bell Pepper, Yellow, 3/4 inch dice           1/2 cup

Bell Pepper, Orange, 3/4 inch dice         1/2 cup

Zucchini, 3/4 inch dice                           1/2 Cup

Tomatoes, Roma, 1/2 inch dice             4-6 each

      or pasta sauce of your choice         1/2 – 1 cup

Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated        To taste

Salt, Kosher                                          To taste

Pepper                                                  To taste

Gluten-free pasta – we use corn or brown rice pasta.

Method of Preparation:
  1. Gather all the ingredients and equipment.
  2. Trim ends from eggplant. Cut eggplant into  ¾ inch dice. Sprinkle with kosher salt and allow to drain for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Cut mushrooms in halves or quarters and set aside
  4. Cut onions, peppers and zucchini in to ¾ inch dice and set aside.
  5. Cut Roma tomatoes into 1/2 inch dice, remove seeds and set aside.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or sauce pan. Add onions, garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until translucent.
  7. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil the eggplant and sauté until lightly browned.
  8. Add all other vegetables.  Season generously and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir in basil chiffonade.
  9. Stir in tomatoes or tomato sauce and cook for additional 10 minutes.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve as is or over pasta.
  12. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

*B was out-of-town so that is why there are onions in this dish, but if you are cooking for someone who suffers from onion allergy like B does then just omit those and add some additional vegetables. You can also use regular olive oil if you can not find the garlic olive oil.

What Is A Serving Size?

Image from: blturlock.blogspot.com

I am on a mission this year to get in shape and to become healthier. I’m doing this for several reasons but one in particular is that if I plan to become an RD I need to be healthy – no one, including myself wants to take advice about health and wellness from someone who is not healthy and practicing what they are preaching.

One of the biggest things that I have found is really being conscious of the serving sizes. I don’t know about you but I don’t tend to carry around my food scale and measuring cups with me everywhere I go to measure everything I eat. So below is a list of examples for you to keep in mind. You can find more information about healthy eating on my Healthy Eating page , Choose My Plate. There are also many more examples and references along with various images out there for serving sizes, but these are a few that I have found to be helpful.

Confused about portions sizes? Try relating them to everyday items to help you out!

  • A rounded handful – one 1/2 cup vegetables or fruit, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, or a snack serving of crisps or pretzels
  • Woman’s fist – another way of visualising a serving of vegetables, or one piece of whole fruit
  • Small handful or golf ball – 1/4 cup of dried fruit or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • A matchbox – a 1 oz serving of meat, or a serving of cheese
  • Deck of cards, – a 3 oz serving (recommended serving = 3-4 oz) of meat, fish or poultry, or ten chips/french fries
  • Check book – a serving of fish (approximately 3 oz)
  • Tennis ball – 1/2 cup of pasta, or a serving of ice cream
  • Computer mouse – a medium baked potato
  • Compact disc – one serving of pancake or small waffle
  • Thumb tip or one dice – one teaspoon of margarine
  • A ping-pong ball – two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • Small milk carton – 8 fl oz glass of milk
  • A baseball – 8 fl oz cup of yogurt, one cup of beans, or one cup of dry cereal

Are you wondering how much you should be consuming of each food group on a daily basis? Visit this great resource, Personalized Daily Food Plans from Choose My Plate.

For more resources be sure to visit:

WebMD.com  – Portion Size Plate

MIT – Serving Sizes

Spark People – The Portion Distortion Guide

Rudi’s Happy Camper Contest and Giveaway!

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This giveaway is now closed. Winner was chosen using Random.org and the lucky winner was #3 Marnely! Congratulations Marnely – don’t forget to check your e-mail. Thank you to all who entered and stay tuned for more giveaways!

This May, in celebration of National Celiac Awareness Month,  Rudi’s Gluten-Free fans are encouraged to submit a 200-word essay from their child explaining what attending a gluten-free summer camp would mean to them. Based on the essays, 10 lucky kiddos (ages 8-17) will win a week-long gluten-free camp experience, including travel, courtesy of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery. Hurry and get that entry in, the first 250 eligible entries receive a BPA-free Gluten-Free Happy Camper water bottle!

cta-3Click HERE to enter!

I may not have any children but I think this is awesome! I grew up going camping and spending time out doors and loved every minute of it. Can’t wait to go camping again.

Rudi’s is also offering one lucky reader a Camping Package which includes one (1) tent, one (1) camping chair and one (1) mat. This prize package is worth $100.00! Check out the image below…I would be so excited to win this.

Let's Go Camping!Don not forget Click here for $1.00 off coupon for Rudi’s Gluten-Free products.

Entry is simple – just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all who enter!

Giveaway begins on May 8th and ends at 11:59pm on May 23rd. Giveaway prize package is sponsored by Rudi’s Gluten Free and will be mailed directly to the winner from Rudi’s. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Open to U.S. residents.

To receive the maximum number of entries please leave a separate comment for each of the following.

1) Leave a comment below saying why you want to win this prize package – would you keep it and use it? Give it as a gift? (Mandatory)

2) Like Rudi’s Gluten Free on Facebook

3) Tweet about this giveaway and be sure to include @Creatively_GF and @Rudisglutenfree – leave a comment below with the link to your status/post.

4) Share on your Facebook page and be sure to tag @Creative Cooking Gluten Free and @Rudis Gluten Free Bakery – leave a comment below with the link.

5) Pin, Tumble, etc. about this giveaway and leave a comment with the link.

Good luck!!

Getting In Shape {Recap 1 – Exercise Schedule}

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Last month I posted about my recent journey of getting in shape and dropping the pounds I gained since my small intestine started to heal after being diagnosed in 2008. Did you know that depending on the amount of damage in your small intestine it could take anywhere from several months to up to three years to heal completely? Neither did I until I was reading articles for my research on project about celiac disease vs. wheat allergy. You learn a whole lot of thinks when reading research articles I tell ya.

For my anatomy and physiology class I had to write an article review so I decided to pick an article on fibromyalgia because I suffer from that as well. The article was all about a research done in Romania that lasted for 12 weeks and examined physical training and the effects it had on patients with fibromyalgia. During the 12 week study each patient had to perform the following physical activities: flexibility exercises, postural hygiene and balance exercises, pain aerobic exercises, and pilates. It wasn’t much of a surprise that when asked which of the four types of exercise they preferred, 74% of them said the flexibility exercises and two-thirds of the patients that completed the program said they continued the exercises at home after the 12-week period was over.

I have heard information like this in the past. One of the hardest things with fibromyalgia is that exercise helps, but having the pain can prevent someone who suffers from fibromyalgia to even begin to work out. From my personal experiences since going gluten-free my symptoms of fibromyalgia have reduced dramatically. I have much fewer days where I cannot get out of bed or function really.

So with this information in mind I was really trying to seek out a “work out program” that would suit my needs but also keep me interested at the same time. I get bored with this stuff rather easily and having the excuse of fibromyalgia on my side makes it all to easy for me to try something for a few days and give up. But this time around I am determined to shed these unwanted pounds.

I can’t afford a gym or to take classes anywhere so I needed to find something I could do at home. I was using some videos I found on my OnDemand, but I would start them and then they would be gone a day or two later. Talk about discouraging. When living in Monterey I went to a few Zumba classes both basic and aquatic and loved them. It’s a dance party that just happens to be a work out as well. If you didn’t know already I was a dancer growing up and I miss it dearly. So I tried to find some Zumba videos online but there wasn’t many that I found that I liked (mostly of the class and not of the instructor so I couldn’t tell what I was SUPPOSED to be doing).

I finally broke down and bought the Zumba Exhilarate box set. It comes with 5 DVD’s, an instruction booklet, and toning sticks. I’m pretty much in love with it. I do it at home, in my living room, without a bunch of people watching…just Penny, I go at my own pace, and I can fit it into my schedule.

After a few weeks of doing the Activate video I decided that I wanted to come up with a workout schedule so I (with the help of Bryan) put one together. Feel free to use this for yourself as well, when you get to the point of completing the Step-by-Step and Activate videos. The schedule below is a 2 month schedule so when the two months are up I will post my new measurements and anthropometric’s. Also on the schedule you will notice that it is five days of Zumba videos (Activate, Ripped, and Exhilarate) in addition to a day of yoga/stretching and one day of rest. For the yoga I follow the video that Bryan uses for his Tapout XT workout called Yoga XT. I’m not going to lie it will take me a while to get through the Exhilarate and Yoga XT videos completely, but I am determined. The yoga is a bit rough on my shoulders because back in 1998 I tore my left rotator cuff and had surgery on it, but no physical therapy so my upper body strength isn’t so great at the moment, but again I’m working on it and I’m rather determined.

I don’t own anything Zumba related…yet. When I can afford to purchase something this will probably be first on my list: 1-a0p00107-gdormostly because 30% of sales price from The Great Calorie Drive™ Zumba® merchandise sold are donated to World Food Programme and Feeding America. I love companies that donate and support charities that I support.

Who knows maybe someday I’ll do one of the Zumba training programs to become an instructor…

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I am looking for a protein shake/meal replacer that is gluten-free and is affordable. I have heard many great things about Shakeology but I just can’t afford the $130 a month for it. So if anyone has suggestions PLEASE let me know! Thanks so much.

Art of the French Macaron

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Last night the Sans Gluten JWU club was privileged to have Chef Lumi, master of French Macarons  share her vast knowledge and experiences of making these delicate little treats.

Chef Lumi is originally from Transylvania, Romania and moved to the United States in 2001. When first moving to the United States, she lived in Chicago where she enrolled in Culinary School at Kendell College. She earned her Associate’s Degree in Baking & Pastry in 2008. Over the years she gained much experience in the field of baking & pastry arts, and we are fortunate to have her as a Chef at Johnson & Wales and learn from such an amazing and accomplished Chef.

Below are some photographs I took last nights demo and production of French Macarons. This was the first time I had ever tried a French Macaron and oh my goodness these little gems are delicious! Still kind of nervous to make them at home, mostly because I don’t want to be dissapointed in the final product!

Thank you Chef for taking the time to share your tips and knowledge with us, it is truly appreciated.