Monday, September 22, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - September 22

Here we go again! Time for another week of meals. Luckily, last weekend I stocked up on some gluten-free goodies, plus our pantry is still pretty stocked with stuff I brought home from the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. So planning this week's meal plan has been pretty easy.

Sunday: chili with Garden Lites corn bread

Monday: Evol burritos with tortilla chips

Tuesday: eggs, bacon, and Garden Lites banana chocolate chip muffins

Wednesday: leftover chili

Thursday: bacon and cheese waffles (inspired by IHOP)

Friday: chicken tenders and fries

Saturday: out

What are you guys eating this week?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Founders as Fathers - Non-fiction Book Review

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If you love history, then you'll find Lorri Glover's Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries fascinating. The book takes a look at the personal lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison, and Patrick Henry and juxtaposes them with each man's public and political lives.

I found it interesting that these revolutionary leaders seemed so reluctant to serve in the political sphere because they wanted to be able to spend time with their families. George Mason's contemporaries kept nominating him for stuff, and he kept turning them down because he just didn't want to be away from his wife and children. Thomas Jefferson was fined for not showing up to stuff because he wanted to stay home with his sick wife.

Things began to change, though, in the later years after the revolution, and many men sought out political roles, looking to the new country as their family and wanting to do right by America.

But that's just what it was like for men during this time period. The book also talks about women's roles and slavery. It seems like many men wanted to abolish slavery, but they were just too lazy to do any housework themselves, so they just decided to keep the slaves, even though they felt slavery was morally wrong. These men even compared themselves to slaves under British rule, and yet, they just couldn't do without their own slaves.

And boy did these people have a lot of kids and name them some really weird names, i.e. Bushrod Washington. Where the heck did "Bushrod" come from? And not all their children were upstanding citizens like their "founding" fathers.

If you read nothing else in this book, at least read the Epilogue. It talks about how each of the founding fathers' homes have been turned into museums and tourist attractions, but that's not a modern convention. These homes served as tourist attractions even when all five men were still alive! Imagine having random people show up at your house and wanting to be let inside to see where your father or grandfather lived!

I also have to point out that the author of this book lives in St. Louis, Missouri, but that in no way influenced my review of the book! It is pretty exciting, though, and I'm glad to be able to support a fellow St. Louisan in this way.

Founders as Fathers is published by Yale University Press and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top Gluten-Free Tips from the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo

Aside from meeting with lots of gluten-free vendors, another cool part of the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo was attending the different classes and presentations. Over the two-day Expo, I attended four different presentations and learned a lot of new things, which I'm going to share with you right now!

Gluten-Free Chef Tips: How to Successfully Cook and Bake Easy and Delicious Dishes
Presentation by Amy Fothergill,
#glutenfree problems

1. Invest in the following:
    - large plastic cutting board 
    - sharp knife
    - food processor and immersion blender
    - hand blender or stand mixer
    - bread machine or loaf pan
    - parchment paper or silicone mats for baking
    - silicone or rubber spatula
    - instant read thermometer

2. Always use a hot pan for meats and veggies. This is not a gluten-free tip but rather a general cooking tip.

3. Even if the gluten-free pasta package says to cook the pasta for 15 minutes, test the pasta after 8 minutes. It might already be done.

4. Add 1/8 tsp. of ginger to gluten-free baked goods to add one to two extra days to their shelf life.

some of the health risks if not thinking smart
and eating smart on a gluten-free diet
Can a Gluten-Free Diet Cause Other Health Problems?
Presented by MeriTeresa Racanelli, MS, cCAWM, Food Scientist/Nutritionist

1. Many Celiacs are now having issues with cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure due to the high sodium and sugar content in processed gluten-free foods.

2. When on a gluten-free diet, look for packaged goods that contain 140 mg or less of sodium.

3. Guava has more potassium and fewer carbs that bananas.

4. The lack of natural Vitamin D in gluten-free foods means that many Celiacs are not getting enough Vitamin D, which can lead to osteoporosis. Look for foods with D2 and D3 in them, and do not rely on supplements because your body only absorbs 10% of Vitamin D from the supplements.

5. Kale, strawberries, dark chocolate, tea, and beets all contain oxalates, but too many oxalates can lead to kidney stones and kidney disease. Be aware of what you're eating and mix it up!

basic all-purpose flour blend from
Delight Gluten-Free Mag
Nutrition and Gluten-Free Baking
Presented by Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod, Executive Editor of Delight Gluten-Free Magazine

1. The new Delight Gluten-Free cookbook comes out later this month and contains 150 recipes!

2. Some good whole grains to add into your gluten-free diet include: teff, millet, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice, oats (gluten-free), quinoa, cornmeal, and popcorn.

3. Six almonds can curb your hunger for four hours. Think of what using almond flour can do for you when used in your baked goods!

4. When using zucchini in baked goods, drain the cooked zucchini before adding it to the other ingredients!

5. To prevent cross-contamination in shared households:
    - don't boil gluten-free pasta and regular pasta in the same water
   - strain your gluten-free pasta first
   - use squeeze bottles for condiments
   - don't share wooden cutting boards with gluten-containing and gluten-free items because gluten can seep into the wood
   - gluten particles can also remain in frying oil, so don't share the oil
   - wash your pots and pans between each use
   - set a designated storage space for gluten-free items and place the gluten-free items higher up so that gluten-free flour dust falls onto everything else instead of gluten particles falling onto your gluten-free stuff
   - wipe down your shared toaster between uses
   - never use wooden utensils, bowls, etc. because the wooden stuff can't be thoroughly washed (see the cutting board tip above)

6. Instead of using butter, use avocados, apple sauce, or greek yogurt.

This bottle of Tropicana juice has the same
amount of sugar as 6 scoops of ice cream!
Gluten-Free Belly Blaster
Presented by Kathy Smart,

1. Calories are a myth. Counting points is a myth. The best weight loss secret ever is to just eat real food.

2. Figure out what your body fat is. Your body composition is more important than your weight.

3. Getting lean muscle is 80% nutrition, 10% working out/fitness, and 10% genetics.

4. Have 25g of protein within one hour of waking up. You also need protein at lunch and dinner.

5. Cinnamon helps stabilize your blood sugar. Add it to your coffee in the morning!

6. Going to sleep before midnight is worth double than if you go to sleep after midnight.

I hope you learned a lot of new and helpful things about eating gluten-free (and just eating healthier in general). Don't forget, I'm giving away a prize pack of gluten-free goodies that I received at the Expo. Go to this post to enter! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing - Book Review

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I got through 28 pages of Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, and I just couldn't do it anymore. It felt like I was reading a bunch of words that had no meaning. The premise of the book sounds interesting: it's the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, who almost died of a brain tumor as a child. The back cover blurb says the book "isn't always comfortable". Well, it's also not always readable. It sort of reminds me of Finnegan's Wake or Ulysses, two books I also gave up on reading. I just had no idea what was going on in this book!

I sort of got the gist of things in the first few chapters, but then the protagonist started talking to people or they were talking to her or she was listening in on a conversation. I really had no idea who was supposed to be talking and what the heck was going on.

Apparently, it took the author nine years to get this book published, and I understand why. It's kind of a hard sell! Some people like it, apparently, because it's won or been longlisted for a few awards. If you're willing to take the time and have the patience for this book, by all means, give it a whirl. But there are too many books on my to-read list to waste time on this.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is published by Coffee House Press and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top 10 at Gluten & Allergen Free Expo + GIVEAWAY

On September 6 and 7, I had the privilege of attending the Gluten-Free & Allergen-Free Expo in New Jersey as an official blogger. It was such an honor to be part of the blogging team and really cool to get the chance to meet with gluten-free companies and advocates and to see all kinds of new gluten-free stuff.

There were more than 100 vendors at the Expo plus four classes/presentations each day. I saw a lot and learned a lot, and it was so hard to narrow down my top 10 favorite gluten-free items but narrow it down I did. And if you stick around until after my top 10 list, you'll even be able to enter a GIVEAWAY featuring some of the cool samples I received at the Expo.

1. Garden Lites Muffins
These muffins, available in the freezer section, are AMAZING. And they are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. They are also made with 1/3 vegetables, so they are nutritious, too! I received a whole bunch of these muffins in different flavors to review, so stay tuned to the blog for more on this brand!

2. Hoboken Farms
This NJ-based company makes two "sauce-um" (instead of "awesome") sauces: Big Red Marinara and Big Boss Vodka. These are sugar-free, gluten-free, and made with fresh whole tomatoes. Hoboken Farms also has its own sandwich shop, complete with gluten-free offerings, in Summit, NJ.

3. Coconut Bliss
There was a lot of gluten-free, dairy-free ice cream at the Expo, but the stuff I liked the best was Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss. It's made with coconut milk and agave syrup and available in a variety of flavors.

4. The Bacon Jams
Everything is better with bacon, right? How about using it as a spread on burgers, pizza, and vegetables? That's what Bacon Jams is all about with three sweet and smoky flavors: All Original, Black Pepper, and Red Chile and Garlic.

5. Maddalena's
If you love cheesecake, you'll love NJ-based Maddalena's cheesecake. They even have cheesecake on a stick! YUM! Plus, they'll do gluten-free cheesecake designs for weddings and special events.

(I didn't get a picture at this booth because I was too busy eating my cheesecake on a stick. YUM.)

6. GoPicnic
The idea behind GoPicnic is to provide gluten-free eaters with ready-made snacks, breakfasts, and meals to prevent "hangry" episodes and to ensure that you always have something safe to eat wherever you go. The company has 15 gluten-free items.

7. Wellaby's
It's so hard to find good gluten-free crackers, but Wellaby's has succeeded! The crackers and pita chips are made from 24% real cheese, and the cheese-ups are made from 43% real cheese. These baked snacks are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility and contain no GMOs, trans fats, soy, MSG, preservatives, peanuts, and tree nuts.

8. Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mixes
When my husband first went gluten-free, we thought we might have to buy a bread machine to make our own gluten-free bread. If you think that, think again. With Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mixes, you can make your own gluten-free bread NO BREAD MACHINE REQUIRED.

9. Gluten-Free Labels
These reusable labels help prevent cross-contamination at potlucks or in your shared home kitchen. The company makes silicon tags, toothpick labels, and water-resistant stickers.

10. Ahh...Vacations
Traveling gluten-free can be hard. (See my Paris blog post as evidence.) But Ahh...Vacations aims to make it easier for you to travel and eat safely. This travel agency connects you with tours and ensures that the included food includes gluten-free food and that the tour guides are able to provide you with gluten-free restaurant options when sightseeing on your own. The 2015 tours are Costa Rica and Italy! (Italy is with travel company Globus.)

Now onto the giveaway! Here's what I'm giving away to one lucky winner, and all you have to do is enter with the Rafflecopter below:

- Gluten & Allergen Free Expo tote bag
- Organic Surf Sweets
- Juice Plus+ Chewables
- Nogii Paleo Bar Nuts About Tropical Fruit
- Nogii High Protein Bar Cocoa Brownie
- Mayacamas Skillet Toss Mix Garden Style Recipe
- Envirokidz Corn Puffs Gorilla Munch
- TeeChia Blueberry Date
- I Heart Keenwah Chocolate Sea Salt
- StoreHouse Foods Gluten Free Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup
- Raw Rev 100 Spirulina Dream
- Explore Asian Organic Black Bean Spaghetti
- Soy Joy Dark Chocolate Cherry
- Udi's Vanilla Granola
- Coupons for Shiloh Farms, Namaste Foods, HomeFree, Nature's Path Organic, Send Me Gluten Free, and Red Apple Lipstick

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - September 15

It's September 15! Pay day! And it's also Meal Plan Monday. We have a short eating week this week due to planned evening activities, so I didn't have to come up with many meals for us to eat. We do have a fully stocked freezer and pantry, which makes things helpful when trying to come up with dinners. So, here's what we're doing:

Sunday: veggie lasagna roll-ups

Monday: chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: beef stroganoff

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: creamy potato cheddar soup and grilled turkey/cheese/bacon sandwiches

Friday: out

Saturday: out

What are you guys eating this week?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wasted Prayer - Non-fiction Book Review

There's an old phrase: God helps those who help themselves. To me, that means that sitting and praying is not enough. At some point you have to act. But how do you know when God wants you to act? That's what Wasted Prayer by Greg Darley aims to help you figure out.

It's not that Darley doesn't want you to pray. Obviously, prayer brings you into a closer relationship with God. But it's when prayer leads to procrastination, isolation, and pride that it hinders us from fulfilling our God-given duties and possibly hindering others from fulfilling theirs.

If you feel God nudging you to do something or if you feel strongly that this is what God wants you to do, don't waste time praying over whether or not you should do it. Just do it. Even if you don't know how or you're feeling nervous about how it would affect and uproot your life, do it anyway and pray to God for guidance along the way. It's called faith.

And if you don't feel a specific calling from God, then just act on what God calls us to do in the Bible. Be obedient to God's word, and through that, finding a specific calling may get easier.

If you're struggling in your prayer life, don't despair. Pray continually to stay in constant communication with God and strengthen your relationship. This book is a good place to start with examples from scripture and the author's own life to help you see how to take that prayer and turn it into action.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”