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Category Archives: Beverages

Nighty-night

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Got a bedtime routine? I sure do! That includes making sure the kitchen is clean- not because I’m a clean freak or a germ-phone but because I’ve got two beautiful mischievous kittens. They love roaming the counters when we’re not around or when they THINK we’re not looking. Which is why we have a spray bottle handy. And an environmental friendly cleaner. Finding fur in our food is NOT fun. But that’s not our only routine! After we discovered a tea, we now enjoy sitting back on the couch, snuggling, with a cup of piping hot tea. What’s the tea? Yogi’s Bedtime tea. I’m in love with it!!!

Naturally I add a touch of honey to it- but really the tea itself has so much flavor. Includes valerian root extract, passionflower plant extract, licorice root, spearmint leaf, chamomile flower, skullcap leaf, cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, St. John’s wort leaf and flower, rose hip, raspberry leaf, lavender flower and stevia leaf. Sounds like a lot I know!

But one thing for sure- we’re relaxed every time we have it. Maybe it’s psychological but I’ve had plenty other teas and I don’t feel that way about them.

Just saying! Now I’m going to enjoy my tea before I call it a night. Sweet dreams everybody!

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Sorry there’s no picture of the actual tea. I’m drinking it now.

Beat the heat with a smoothie

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It’s a hot summery day in New England. When I say hot, I mean HOT! It’s in the 90’s and is very very very humid. We finally put in the air conditioning the other day and its at 82 degrees. Who does that? Most people I know set it to 70’s, typically 70-74? Or am I wrong?

On the top of it all, I haven’t been feeling well these days. We’re figuring it out but meanwhile it means I have a zero level of energy. For anything, especially cooking. So my apologies for not updating my blog in quite some time. It makes me sad to think how I’ve neglected several aspects of my lives these last few weeks because all I wanted was to relax. It was all I had energy for. Still is.

So what am I doing, talking about a smoothie? While kicking back, my husband and I watched a part of a Bobby Flay’s show. Addicted to BBQ I think? It’s a fun show- I love watching him work his magic. Only if I could sample everything he makes as we watch him! Bet you that’s the future of television- well be able to reach through and grab a plate of smoked salmon with a shallot and basil relish he made. Yum! He also made a smoothie, the bottom half was peach mango and something else? The top was strawberry banana… How delicious and cooling does that sound?

So my husband looked at me and asked if I wanted a smoothie. Naturally I said yes but told him not to worry. Alex then reminded me that he haven’t gone grocery shopping yet (I’ve got a husband who will go shopping for me!!!). Out came the Vita-Mix cookbook! He pointed at the very first smoothie recipe and I agreed. Banana blueberry orange smoothie. Just seeing the picture brought down the temperature in the living room by 5 degrees. It was already working its magic!

Out Alex went while I curled up on the couch, watching TV. I’m a wonderful housewife, I know. He came back with food for the week and goodies to whip up a smoothie with!

Alex froze the bananas as directed and we waited. He cooked up a storm while we waited- he made flaxseed bread so I will have a snack at work. Made himself brownies so he would have sweets (not gluten-free which is FINE by me). Then it was time!

Wanting to be a better wife, I dragged myself off the couch and offered to peel the oranges. What a difficult task (right!), but hey I wanted to feel useful. In went oranges, frozen blueberries, frozen bananas and water. No sweeteners. A CLEAN smoothie! Vegan smoothies are the way to go when its hot like this. Then we both watched as he turned on the Vita-Mix. I still get excited every time it pulverize whatever’s in it! And it works FAST!!! How exciting, this must be how a guy feels when they destroy something. Mmm essentially we’re “destroying” fruit, changing its form.

Then Alex poured the purple goodness in two tall glasses. We sat down in our air-conditioned living room and slurped it down. I remarked how it tasted of summer. Fresh. Specifically, summer at the lake where you wait on the dock, heating up underneath the rays and when you cannot handle it anymore you run and jump into the freezing water of the lake. How refreshing that is! Ah!!!

Now this is my kind of summer. I even forgot that I wasn’t feeling well! Many thanks to my handsome Alex for taking care of me and treating me to a delicious smoothie. I have to say, it might be easy to forget that we can make a smoothie but it really is fast! Vita-Mix has so many recipes, it’s amazing. You can find them online! Go to Vita-Mix smoothie recipes

Try one and let me know how you like it! I haven’t tried them all but I will definitely try a few more before the summer is out. Be sure to buy fresh fruit- hopefully get it the day you make the smoothies. Freshness counts in my opinion!

Stay cool everybody! And I will do my best to blog more regularly. Thanks!

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Strawberries galore!

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I had a LOT of strawberries and I have been dreaming of ways to use it. I woke up craving a smoothie. So darn it, I made some!

It was so light and tasty- not too sweet which was nice! It felt like a breakfast. I have to admit my Vita-mix helped a LOT.

    Strawberry Almond Milk Smoothie

2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
3 TBSP flaxseed meal
1 TBSP raw honey*
1/4 cup shredded zucchini

* I prefer raw honey over processed honey due to both taste and nutritional value. Processed honey might as well be white sugar. Also add more if you want it sweeter.

Combine all in a blender and process until completely smooth! You might want to strain to remove the seeds, but I didn’t have an issue with that.

It makes enough for two people, but I drank it all myself. All that goodness?! Oh yes! Strawberries are packed with antioxidants, especially vitamin C, flaxseed is a cholesterol reducing agent with it’s high lignan count, almond milk contains protein, vitamin B and more, and zukes has plenty of dietary fiber.

Yup! I’m feeling good after my breakfast smoothie! I would have made eggs to go with it but I ran out of time. Another morning!

Whacha have today? Please don’t tell me you skipped breakfast! I cannot function without this most important meal of the day!

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Feeling French!

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As usual, visiting my boyfriend’s parents was wonderful. I am so fortunate that they share a passion for food, and is immensely familiar with gluten-free fare. We had so many delicious dishes this weekend, and I just forgot to take pictures of them all! I was so focused on cooking, and tasting it all! We had lemon millet patties, a butternut squash soup made with coconut soup (W.O.W.), spaghetti squash with spinach on the top, a delicious tomato salad, roasted root vegetables (most if not all were from farmer stands or stores!), and the company was just delightful. Oh right, the cashew coconut cookies. Mmm… I wish I copied the recipe! It’s from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, and is only… one of the BEST cookbooks I’ve ever seen. Everything is absolutely delicious. I’m always excited to take a look in it and try something new!

I want to order one for myself, but it’s a part of the charm of going over there! So I’ll leave it there for now. But after a while, I just might have to buy a copy for myself. SO many gluten-free recipes! Most recipes are straight-forward, using fresh ingredients. In fact, I can’t think of ONE recipe that isn’t. So it’s a great one for anybody with food allergies. Really.

French pressed coffee, courtesy of Esselon!

So why am I feeling French? For the first time yesterday, at Esselon Cafe (which by the way had a few gluten-free options! Just be sure you’re okay with having eggs), I had French pressed coffee. I took the recommendation of an employee, and ordered Guatemalan coffee. While it was strong, it was so much smoother. I was surprised, and it was just a pleasure to drink. My boyfriend and I now understand why somebody could make this on a backpacking trip. Quality coffee while getting down and dirty in the woods? A winning combination!

Does anybody have experience with that? Backpacking with a french-press, I mean.

Know what sounds perfect to me right now? Sitting at a table with my boyfriend, drinking French pressed coffee, while picking out recipes to try, from The Whole Life Nutrition. They even have a blog, so go and check it out! http://www.nourishingmeals.com/

Mmm… food. Coffee. Great company. Can’t go wrong with that!

Have a wonderful Monday, everybody!

A new favorite soda

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So I was checking out various blogs, and came across one of my favorites: Gluten Free Girl and Her Chef. I LOVE reading her writing. It just makes you want to dance into the kitchen and create everything she wrote about.

Her newest creation? Cherry-basil soda. I tried it. And… I’m telling you..

TRY IT!

SO good!

http://glutenfreegirl.com/cherry-basil-soda/

I can’t believe I ever thought the fake stuff were good. Granted, I haven’t had them in years due to the ridiculous usage of corn syrup, but WOW.

A salad for breakfast!!!

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There’s nothing like fresh vegetables, are there? Well… maybe fresh fruits? Ooo, a combination of both? YUM! Sounds like my kind of dish! After eating a salad that my boyfriend made for breakfast the other day, from this wicked cool website: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/ . Chickpeas, blueberries, celery, cantaloupes, silvered almonds with a vinaigrette made from fresh strawberries, rice vinegar and honey. You can substitute the honey for agave, for a vegan meal. I LOVED it. It was so fresh and seemed radical to me. The chickpeas? It was subtle. The spinach for breakfast? A kick-start to my day.

So for breakfast today, I wondered what to make for myself. Oatmeal wasn’t an option, and frankly, I can only have so much of it. So I looked in the fridge to see what we had. You could say I used that recipe as an inspiration for today. It tasted great, even though it may sound simple. Sometimes the best things in life are like that!

Breakfast today composed of baby spinach, blueberries, almonds, a healthy sprinkle of flaxseed meal (I need my omega-3, fiber and lignans: those are antioxidants that helps fight cancer. Two tablespoons of flaxseed meal gives you the same fighting power of 30 cups of fresh broccoli!), and rice milk. Almost like a green, mean and vegan cereal! Popeye would be proud, although I have to say this is much more appealing than a can he consumes on a regular basis.

My own version of breakfast salad

Having a vegan meal just makes me feel energized, ready to start my day! I have only eaten what’s healthy for my body, and nothing more. Vegan salad, and milk? That doesn’t make sense, right? The milk you see in the picture is actually coconut milk, certified vegan! There’s also rice milk, if I want. But soy milk and almond milk are out for me, due to soy. I haven’t tried hemp milk yet, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Why go on a vegan diet? That is a personal decision, and I’m not saying everybody should go on it. It’s most likely a temporary decision for me, to give my body a break from the massive amount I’ve been consuming (I’m a cheese fiend!). I had gotten to the point where every time I took a bite, I felt nauseous. So I knew it was time to take action. As of today, it has been three weeks (honey is still something I’m unsure about. I’ve been reading about whether it is vegan or not. The controversy lies in the issue that honey comes from bees. Some says it’s okay because they don’t physically produce honey, but make it. However a lot of places use smoke to clear the hives, which can harm the bees. My question is this: what if you buy from a local beekeeper who uses humane approaches? Would that count? I only get my honey from them anyways, since corporate sometimes feed their bees high fructose corn syrup. GROSS.)

And if you’ve read my blogs, you know I love ice cream. As a vegan, ice cream is out. Sorbet is in, which is more than fine by me! Lemon basil, by the way, is AMAZING. The first bite I took just…. knocked my socks off (okay, it was the summertime, so I’ll say flip-flops). Juice from a dozen of fresh lemons, two cups of packed basil grown in my garden, and the combination was just… it made my taste buds sing. The stars seemed brighter that night.

So, my point is … my sister-in-law and I decided to try making a vegan version of ice cream using coconut milk. The canned milk would replace the heavy cream, and the shelf stable version would act as the regular milk. By adding flaxseed meal in place of eggs, it seemed to work! We’re still experimenting with the flavors. So any ideas or suggestions would be great!

I. Love. Food.

The Capital of the World… the Gluten Free World: NYC

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Aboard the train, I wasn’t sure of what to expect from New York City. We had plans to visit several National Park Service sites including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Sounds like a typical weekend in NYC, doesn’t it? In a way, it kind of was, and in a way it wasn’t. I was eager to see what the city had to offer somebody with food allergies. I came armed with the February/March 2011 issue of Living Without (a food allergies magazine), which centered around… New York City! They had listed plenty of restaurants to choose from. I also had a few other places in mind, that I wanted to see. The Alice in the Wonderland statue in Central Park, and nearby was Cleopatra’s Needle, also known as the Obelisk (created in 1600 BC in Egypt!). And of course, I was excited to see our friends who graciously agreed to host us during our stay in the city (New York City is now one of my favorite places to visit, thanks to you two!).

As a back up, we also planned on going to Whole Foods close by the apartment so we could cook whatever we needed. I half expected to stay in every night, and MAYBE go out for lunch, considering that while eating gluten-free was common, but corn and soy on the top of that? I wasn’t planning on being THAT lucky. Little did I know what I had in store ahead of me!

The first morning, the city nudged me awake with the sunshine in my face. When I opened my eyes, I remembered where I was. I felt a bit like Alice tumbling down the tree, slowly realizing that I was no longer in a familiar place. Eager to start my adventure, we got ready with a breakfast place in mind, recommended by our knowledgeable host. We were off to Penelope!

An adorable cafe, my boyfriend and I were captivated by its trinkets they had around the place. While it wasn’t on my list of gluten-free restaurants to try out, I wasn’t worried since I knew I could always order eggs or something like that. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? When I looked at the menu, I decided to go the omelet route. Spinach, tomato and feta cheese for me, please! He got a blissful sounding waffle topped with toasted coconut flakes. I almost felt a twinge of jealousy, but I was too distracted by the allure of Penelope. Then our breakfasts arrived. On the side, I had blueberries, strawberries and honey-dew melon. We also decided to split his orange juice, that was freshly squeezed. Now, I have to admit that while I’m okay eating eggs, it’s not something I would typically WANT to order if I could have anything for breakfast. The first bite changed all of that.

Penelope's breakfast that introduced me to NYC

The delicateness of it all! It was so light, yet so filling. I knew this would sustain me until the next meal. Eggs often left me wanting more. But the combination I had ordered, including the fresh fruits, which was arranged separately, and the juice, was just exactly what I needed. Color is big for me. If a plate is filled with colors, it often meant I was getting the nutrition I needed. Also the server was wonderful, very attentive, and ensured that what I ate was safe for me.

Now I was ready to tackle the city! A few national parks, that is. Inspired by Penelope, and the kindness of the waitress in a city that I’ve heard was famed for rudeness, I practically skipped to my next destination.

After visiting the ominous African Burial Grounds, the bustling Federal Hall and the marvelous General Grant National Memorial, we were once again starving. Now we had snacks throughout the day, but we wanted a real meal. We wanted to sit down. We wanted to catch up with our friends. Most of all, we wanted to go over everything that we have seen that day.

Our friend took us to the Whole Foods close by, and of course we sampled as we searched the store for ideas. By the seafood section, an employee was cooking salmon with a Mediterranean rub. After trying a piece, I joked to my friends that we didn’t have to cook anything, that we could just stay by the display and fill ourselves on the delicious salmon. Then my boyfriend asked him how to make it. Our dinner was decided!

A busy market in NYC required a system that was efficient.... and it was!

After gathering other needed items, we were ready to go. Now, I come from a small town where I sometimes made conversations with the cashier about my purchases. It was basically on my own pace, if I was ready, I was ready, if I needed more time, I had it. Not here. They had a screen with color coded columns, matching the color marked lanes where people lined up. It was an extremely efficient system that helped keep the lines moving without complaints. It was both intriguing and fun to witness!

Now it was time for dinner. Not accustomed to cooking with bones in the fish, we both were a bit apprehensive about how to prepare the salmon. One thing at a time, we said. The man at Whole Foods said to cover the fish with the Mediterranean seasoning for 10-20 minutes. So we did that, and prepared green beans and brown rice to accompany the bony salmon. After twittering around about how long to fry it for, when to flip it, we finally decided it was ready when it was pink and slightly flaky. The first bite settled the matter for us. It was delicious! Strawberries for dessert was a bonus.

The next day was a huge day for us all, my boyfriend and our friends! We were about to visit Lady Liberty and her neighboring island, Ellis, that welcomed millions to America. It’s beauty, history and commanding presence filled us all with awe. Even if we’ve seen it before, or if it was our first time seeing it. We were also blessed with a sunny day to further enhance our experience on the islands of New York City Harbor. Beginning to feel weary as the historical travelers once did (okay, what we felt was NOTHING in comparison to their experiences!), my boyfriend and I were ready to hit up Central Park, knowing that once we saw our objectives, we could sit down and eat. I conversed with the Mad Hatter at the Alice in the Wonderland statue, and marveled at the Obelisk (I touched it! And it’s from 1600 BC in Egypt! Okay, maybe I wasn’t supposed to but… it was worth it). Sitting down on the bench, feeling rejuvenated by the obelisk, we looked at the Living Without magazine to see which restaurants were close by. Peter’s Restaurant, it was!

Now I have to say… this place opened a whole new world for me, or rather it brought me back to what I thought was gone to me. I had… (drum roll)… fried calamari. Yes, fried calamari. An appetizer I always ordered whenever I saw it on the menu, until I had to go off gluten four years ago. I constantly battled envy whenever I saw it on the menu, or on somebody else’s table, knowing I couldn’t have it. But at Peter’s Restaurant, I did! The waiter was extremely accommodating, understanding of my food allergies. The menu had an X next to whatever that could NOT be made gluten-free. Guess what? That was in the minority of the menu. Even their cheesecake could be made gluten-free! I swooned as I took the first bite, the second, the third . . . all the way to the last. Even though I was finished, I was delirious with joy that I had just eaten something once forbidden to me. Thank you, Peter. And a Greek frappe to top it off! Yum!

What was for dinner? By this point, we had ended up in SoHo. So my friend decided to Google for a restaurant with salads. One of the results led us to Cafe Select. We joked about how selective it must be, as we admired the neighborhood on our stroll there. Ushered to a table, our glasses were filled with water from a bottle that used to hold wine. The atmosphere made for a welcoming place that also kept us interested, with movie posters, red checkered napkins, a wall that was covered with a photograph of a bookshelf. I saw that our menus could be written on, so I wrote down that I cannot have gluten, corn or soy. She immediately took the menu to the back, where the chef circled the dishes that I could eat, including modifications if needed. When she brought it back, I was shocked to see it. Never had it been that clear for me! I had a huge selection, and I ended up ordering their special salad of the day. Arugula, red onions, pistachios, avocados, and a delicious dressing to top it off. We all also ordered drinks. That was another pro about New York City, everywhere we’ve went, they’ve had potato vodka so I could have a mixed drink. Chopin was often what I had, mixed with fresh lime juice and sugar. But anyways, back to the salad, it was PACKED with flavor! So light, so airy, I felt as if I was dancing with deities, taking in the nuttiness and creaminess of it all. I definitely slept well that night.

The ambrosial treats of Tu-Lu's Gluten-Free Bakery!

It was already my last day in the city! There was one last spot I had to visit, before I was ready to bid NYC farewell. Tu-Lu’s. A bakery entirely gluten-free. Yes, a such thing exist! It was a pleasant walk there, located in an appealing neighborhood, decorated with trees. Upon telling the baker about what I could not have, she immediately pointed out what I could eat or should avoid. She was immensely aware of where corn and soy were found. She asked me about xanthan gum. I said I could only have that in a very small amount. I chose a raspberry almond crumble cake. Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? My glutenous friends ordered cupcakes, their special of the day was hazelnut, a red velvet and vanilla. After thanking her, we walked out, ready to head on back. Then I took my first bite. I was stopped in my tracks, overwhelmed by the goodness of it all. It was absolutely exquisite, fit for a queen. The raspberry, almond and sweetness of it all melted in my mouth. I had to close my eyes, my other senses were temporarily useless, all of its energy focused on my taste buds. Then I looked at my friend who was standing next to me, and said “This is enough to make me come back to NYC.”

That dessert guaranteed a return to the city that never sleeps. So did Peter’s that served me my first fried calamari I had in years. The Greek frappes. The comfort I felt at Cafe Select. NYC was a safe haven, which allowed me to explore without constantly worrying about where to eat next. Instead, I was excited about the next meal. On the train back home, I told my boyfriend that I felt like I got to experience NYC the way everybody else had the luxury to, by sampling its diverse cuisine. And of course, my friends who opened their arms and made it a wonderful experience.

It wasn’t a good-bye NYC, but rather it was a see you later.