Gluten Free-dom

Being Gluten Free is not as fun as one may imagine. Sure, you sound posh and get special treatment at restaurants, but there are definitely downsides. Amazingly, it is not the food I miss most. I have been baking like a fiend, trying out gluten free flours and have been pleasantly surprised to find I can bake just about all of the food-stuffs I have stopped eating. My favorite recipe this season has been this Gingerbread Men recipe from a new favorite blog, Gluten Free on a Shoestring. So don’t worry Mom, I’m eating just fine, and I have developed quite the Mary Berry reputation for bringing my creations into the office.

I’d be remiss not to mention accidental gluten consumption, which is sometimes a challenge. Unlike an allergy that can be treated with Benadryl, an intolerance means your body literally cannot tolerate the substance. I’ve discovered the longer I am off gluten, the stronger my intolerance grows. It is discouraging to think about how sensitive I will be to gluten as time goes on. Last week I inadvertently had food with gluten and my reaction had me sick in bed within 30 minutes. Worse yet, a gluten reaction takes time to heal – time full of regret, hot packs for aching tummies, bananas and ginger ale.

However, my biggest challenge since going gluten-free has been with people. GF lifestyles are popular with hipsters these days, like vegan or paleo diets, and nearly everyone I tell about my intolerance assumes it is simply a choice. Moreover, they don’t believe gluten intolerance is real. I’ll admit I was one of them just last year – thinking gluten free diets were somewhat silly if you didn’t have Celiac. That’s everyone’s question, “Oh so do you have Celiac?” When I answer no (I have one of the two genetic markers for Celiac, leaving me with a gluten sensitivity, but not the full-blown disease), they look at me skeptically.

I haven’t yet devised a method for dealing with these reactions, but try to avoid the conversation as much as possible. If I go to a dinner party, I volunteer to bring the bread so that I can bring the gluten-free variety and avoid the question altogether. I am new yet to the GF world, but I am learning quickly. There are so many helpful resources and blogs to help me navigate this change, and I know it will just take time to adjust.

My gluten free lifestyle isn’t exclusionary; it is freedom. Freedom from pain, nausea, and continual discomfort. And for that I am willing to have a few awkward conversations.

 

My Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My meals since that day of feasting have consisted almost entirely of tasty tasty leftovers, per American tradition. I spent my holiday overseas, so I had a “Friendsgiving” day with other local Americans. To be honest, it felt closer to that original pilgrim day than any Thanksgiving in memory. Here I was in a foreign land, away from family and everything I knew, feasting with friends and strangers (friends of friends) and counting our blessings over shared food.

Everyone brought a few dishes, and I was careful to screen for gluten-containing items to the best of my ability. I chose to make my favorite dishes (that normally have gluten) so I would be sure to have some ‘safe’ dishes. I made

Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole

I’ve been making this since I was a little girl, so I didn’t use a recipe. I did make some changes to my tried-and-true method though.

  1. I didn’t use FRENCH’S Fried Onions. That red box was always a sure sign that Thanksgiving was here, but, alas, it has gluten in it. So I made my fried onions from scratch using this recipe from Food.com.
  2. I used fresh green beans instead of canned ones. I washed a cut them to about the same size as the canned ones and, actually, I liked the fresh ones much better!
  3. Traditional cream of mushroom soup has wheat products so I used AMY’S KITCHEN Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup, which is gluten free.

Green bean casserole is super easy to make (combine the green beans with the soup and 2/3 of the fried onions; cook at about 350* for ~25 minutes; top with the remaining 1/3 of fried onions and cook for another 5 minutes or so to crispy up the top) and I loved that this recipe tasted SO GOOD without having all of the bad stuff.

 

Gluten Free Apple Crisp (AKA Apple Cobbler)

I found this great blog of this girl who calls herself the Minimalist Baker. All her recipes require 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. It’s my dream come true. This was the first recipe of hers that I’ve tried but it was a huge success so I will definitely be using her site more often!

This recipe was just about perfect. It says it is vegan, but I used regular dairy butter instead so mine was just gluten free. I also didn’t have almond meal so I substituted almond flour, which worked out alright.

Anyway, try The Minimalist Baker’s Gluten Free Vegan Apple Crisp. You won’t regret it.

 

All in all, a successful and happy Thanksgiving. And guess what friends, I even worked out. ;)

Netflix Workout

I went to the gym for HIIT class this morning…yet I don’t hurt enough. Tonight I really wanted to watch some Netflix, but I also felt like making my abs ache like mad. Was it possible to do both? Well, yes, yes it was possible. My show of choice was Person of Interest so I listed some character names/words and a move for each one:

  • Finch = 25 bicycles crunches
  • Mr. Reece = 15 sit ups
  • Carter = 15 knee circles while in plank
  • Machine = 5 star crunches
  • Number = 10 squats with kettle bell (20lbs)
  • Fuscoe = 5 kettle bell (20lbs) swings

Needless to say, it was not the relaxing time I had anticipated, but it helped to not feel guilty about binge watching a few episodes. ;)
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The Reign of the Pumpkin

Welcome to October and All Things Pumpkin!Pumpkin Gingerbread Protein Pancakes
I was recently talking to a friend of mine who said she wished blogs that shared recipes would just say “I tried this; it was good; you try!” and post the recipe without five paragraphs of chatter before. So, Beth, this is for you.

I made Pumpkin Gingerbread Protein Pancakes. They were yummy; you should try them.


In a large bowl, sift together:

  • 2 tbsp Gluten Free Whole Grain Flour

    (Thanks MyFitnessPal for tallying up my ingredients!)
    (Thanks MyFitnessPal for adding up the ingredients!)
  • 1 Rounded Scoop (28,4g), 100% Whey Protein, Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

Then add:

  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 sp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

In a separate bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Cup 100% Pure Pumpkin (not pie filling)

Add this mixture to your dry ingredients, then stir in:

  • 1 tbs Milk – Nonfat (fat free or skim)

(1 tbs worked for me but you can add more as needed) until you have a soft dough– think Pancake Batter.

Cook on a skillet, as you normally would pancakes. Add toppings of choice. Voila!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Pancakes
They’re so fluffy I’m gonna die!

Too Blessed to be Stressed

Between trying to get fit, applying to graduate school, my husband traveling a lot, training an unruly dog, and balancing work/home/social life, I could easily feel overwhelmed or stressed. But I don’t. I have far too much going for me to be stressed out.

My view while laying in the garden
My view while laying in the garden
  1. I have a great job. The income is comfortable, my colleagues are sweethearts, and my bosses truly care about their employees (quote of the day when talking about the construction traffic during rush hour, “just let me know if you want to adjust your schedule to avoid the delay” How sweet!)
  2. Technology makes my darling husband not seem too far away when he travels and our conversations are more meaningful– and something I look forward to every day. Geez, I adore him. #3yearsofmarriage
  3. I am enjoying testing my body and learning what I can do. This morning, for example, I woke up at 4:57 and left the house at 5:30 to go to a High Intensity Interval Training class. My legs are killing me, almost 18 hours later. My first 5k is in two weeks and, though my ankles have yet to go a full 2.3 miles non-stop, I’ve gone over a mile now and can alternate walk/run the rest.
  4. Graduate school application for school #1 is submitted! Still have one to go, but a few weeks of break first!

    My Little Buddy
    Always Ready for a Country Walk
  5. The dog is annoying, but he is such a little buddy. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him. He is so incredibly smart; if he’s bad, it is my fault. I just need to work with him more. A girlfriend and I are taking our dogs for a long walk tomorrow morning before work. Exercise is key to a happy dog! (what does that tell you about exercise in people?)
  6. It’s the little things in life. For example, I was home by 4:30 this afternoon, put on some soothing acoustic music…and took a nap! For two hours! It was so nice! When I woke up, it was getting dark, so I brought my music out on a walk in the autumn dusk with the dog. When I got back to the house, I Skyped my newly-wed sister and made Pumpkin Streusel muffins. They are not healthy. Not by a long shot. BUT I have a pumpkin brunch tomorrow and am supposed to bake something yummy. And trust me, these are delicious. I used this girl’s recipe, in case you want a cheat meal too ;)

Life is glorious and beautiful. I am so happy to be alive and healthy. I may not be skinny, but I am getting strong and enjoying every second of my wonderful life. #grateful

Bribing Myself…

I hate to be stereotypical, but I freakin love shopping. Well, it’s about time that started working for me. I recently discovered I don’t have enough work out shirts (found this out last week with my frequent workouts – I couldn’t wash them fast enough!). I love the loose tank style, especially with clever screen-prints. So here’s the plan: for every week I workout every day (I mean, seriously, bust some rear-end), I get a t-shirt. This sounds extreme, but I don’t think even a new shirt can keep me 100% on target. There will be days I miss, and shirts I don’t get to buy. For last week, I just ordered my first shirt. :)

I am motivated by results. However, with bloating, womanly hormones, and fluctuating weight, seeing fitness results can be difficult– and I am not often strong-willed enough to stick with a schedule long enough for results. By “earning” a shirt each week, I am giving myself a tangible result – at least until I start seeing results on my own body (that will be motivation from that point!).

I will say, tonight my husband complimented my stomach and it was the memory of his compliment that kept me from totally binging at dinner. I ate some things I wouldn’t have normally (like German sausage and a small pretzel– come on, it’s Oktoberfest!), but I was sensible and didn’t overeat. Yay for motivation! ;)

Hola!

I haven’t been blogging, but I’ve been sweating! Last week I worked out every day– sometimes twice a day! It was great. I also finally worked out my macros! This is super exciting for me. I’ve been a curious bystander to the whole “If It Fits Yours Macros” diet plan, but I’m fed up with traditional diets and want to actually live my life. Watching macros will be arduous, but once I know the numbers of some of my favorite foods, keeping track will be easy. And, oh my gosh, it is so much more fun than calorie counting alone.

Heads up, this will be a quiet season for me. I am training for the blacklight run (yeah, yeah, I know it’s only a 5k, but my calf muscles and ankles really do need to ease into that), and working on weight training, but I am also up to my ears in grad school applications. Exciting stuff.

So I went to the gym tonight- ON A SATURDAY NIGHT – actually left a get-together with friends to go to the gym, 30 minutes away. And guess what. They were closed. I’ll go for a 5k run/walk (running as much as possible) with the pup in the morning. and do strength training in the afternoon to make up for the missed run tonight.