Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nothing But Pennies In My Pocket

Hi friends :)  I hope your week is off to a great start!  One more month until September and the start of fall!!!  As the title implies, this post is kind of about pennies...errr well saving them anyway.  Who doesn't want more pennies in their pocket?   I've always been good at finding sales... so I decided to share some of my wisdom with you.  So, finally, here are 5 of my favorite ways to spend less and get more. 

1.  Coupons, my friends.  Seriously.  I'm not talking extreme couponing, unless you have the dedication and patience (I don't).  Aside from getting coupons in the Sunday paper, you can print out them from, smart source & red plum.  You can also buy coupons on ebay - which is nice when you find a coupon you want for an item you often purchase  ::cough:: Silk Soy Milk :)   I highly recommend getting the Sunday paper the first week of the month - inside you will find the P&G Brand Saver book.. umm it's kind of amazing.  Oh yeah, and let Coupon Mom do all of the work for you - it will tell you what coupons you can combine with sales so you can get things for free. 

2. Read the ads - I mean seriously, this should be common sense....but how many people do you know that still get the paper on Sunday?  You can find the ads online at the retailers website, I try to look at Kroger, Target & Walgreens on a decent basis. 

3.  Do you love designer denim?  I know that I do, but $200 plus for a pair of jeans is a little ridic... when you can get them for wayyyy cheaper from online sample sales (which carry a wide variety of sizes btw).  Just make sure you know your sizes in the brands you like ahead of time.  Check out Rue La LaBeyond the Rack & Haute Look, I've purchased from all 3 of these websites and they have a wide variety of sizes.  Don't hate me when I say that I purchased J Brand Heartbreaker jeans for... $49.

4.  Sign up for emails from the stores you like.  Express, Gap, Piperlime & Banana Republic always have crazy printable coupons and online sales.  Just saying. 

5.  Become friends with Groupon and the Daily Deal.  This is a little hit or miss if you haven't been to the place previously - so I recommend going that route.  Nordstrom Rack = amazing idea. Pedicure at some wacky salon you've never heard of with horrible custom service that always has Groupons = not so much.

So now you can save your pennies... maybe you should get a piggy bank?  

What's your favorite way to save?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Best Iced Coffee - Seriously

Hi friends :)  I hope your weekend is off to a great start!  Who doesn't love iced coffee?  I know that I most certainly do - but I love coffee in every form.  Especially, on a hot summers day... there is nothing quite as great to give you the quick caffeine fix that you need... or when the AC in your car is broken and the dealer can't look at it until Thursday... but that is a different story entirely.  Feel sorry for yourself and make this iced coffee.

I promise - this is better than Starbucks.

*Warning - if you don't own a french press, brew the coffee and chill it, but keep in mind it will not be the same - don't say I didn't warn you*

The Best Iced Coffee - Seriously

1/3 cup coffee grounds of your choice
2 cups water
1/3-1/2 cup Silk Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tsp sugar (optional - I left it out)

Step 1.  Pour your coffee grounds into the bottom of your french press, add the 2 cups of water. Allow to sit out on the counter overnight - the longer it sits, the stronger it gets - preferably at least 8-10 hours.

Step 2.  Press the coffee using your french press - obviously.  Next, into a glass add ice cubes & about 1 cup of your coffee.  Then, pour in the almond milk - pause to admire the beautiful swirls it makes in the glass.

Step 3.  Drink the best iced coffee you've ever had.  Swear that you will destroy your Starbucks gold card and will never drink their iced coffee again :)  Now if only I could re-create the pumpkin spice latte....

What do you add to your iced coffee?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How To Love Fruit: Part One

Hi friends!  I promised a few days ago that I would do a sequence of posts on how to learn to love fruits & vegetables.  After a little contemplation, I decided to start with fruit as the majority of people have at least one fruit they love.  My favorite is raspberries...oh and strawberries, blueberries, avocado (yep, it's a fruit), bananas, kiwi, cuties (so much more fun to say than clementines)... umm wait that was like 7 not one.  Two things led to this post 1) I have no fresh fruit in my refrigerator 2) it's a million degrees in the Midwest - okay not really, but you get the drift.....

What is the one way you can learn to love fruit if you aren't a fan?  In POPSICLE form :)  I mean, really, who doesn't love popsicles?  I am not talking about those things that come in a plastic tube that you cut the end of of btw.  I am talking about a fruity, sugary, homemade popsicle... yum.

First, you will need popsicle molds.  They aren't that expensive, $10-15 will buy you the perfect set.  I have this set that I ordered from Amazon, it's by Tovolo, I can't give it enough rave reviews.

This one would be awesome with twisted popsicles...
Ahh I am in love with these ring pops.. how cute... especially for kids!

Raspberry Surprise Popsicles

1/2 frozen clementines, slightly  
1 cup frozen raspberries, slightly thawed

1.  Place your fruit into a food processor, blend until smooth with no visible pieces of fruit.
2.  Pour your fruit blend into your popsicle molds leaving about 1/2-3/4 inch in the top to allow for the mixture to expand.
3.  Freeze for at least 6-8 hours.

*Feel free to use fresh fruit - I just happened to only have frozen - you can also substitute oranges for clementines* 

This recipe makes 2 popsicles - this means each one counts as 1+ servings of fruit :)  If 2 spots in your popsicle mold aren't filled with remnants of an icy pudding popsicle disaster, then by all means double this recipe.   See, I told you loving fruit wasn't so bad....

What's your favorite popsicle flavor?  Have you ever made homemade popsicles?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fashion Designer vs. Registered Dietitian - Why You Should Always Follow Your Heart.

Hi everyone :)  I hope you are all simply fabulous this morning.  Later today, I'll be giving you a recipe.  This morning, I'll be sharing one of the biggest examples of how I followed my heart and how it led me to the right place.  The inspiration for the post actually came about when I was writing my about me page and realized it was turning into a deeper post entirely.  I hope this story can be inspiring to anyone who is struggling with a career decision, from a college freshman trying to pick a major to someone who is considering going back to school after being out for 20 years and everyone in between - enjoy.

Once upon a time, before I became the Gluten-Free Baker, I was just a high school girl trying to figure out what I wanted out of life. I took a food & nutrition class in high school and fell in love.  I gave serious consideration to becoming a Registered Dietitian... but... being a designer sounded so much cooler.  I debated between graphic and fashion design - being a part of the publications team at my school and a co-editor of the yearbook had given me a love of layouts.  I even bounced around the idea of becoming an industrial designer.  In the end, potential degrees in fashion design or marketing won out ahead of dietetics.  I applied to my schools - back came my scholarships and I made a big decision.  I would major in fashion design.  I started orientation for my program and heard stories of how many students would drop out that year - of course I wasn't going to be one of those - I was 17 and I felt like I knew exactly where I was headed.   Fortunately, life doesn't always end up exactly how you plan it - instead it takes you somewhere better than you ever imaged.

The only HS picture I could find online!
My first 4 months of school were filled with studios, drawing, learning and work work work... but.. while I did truly love what I was doing... a big part of me felt unfulfilled.  Could I do this forever?  My head said YES, but my heart whispered no....  

One of my favorite projects :) 

Did you know I had this much talent?

After winter break, I started to realize that while I loved the creative part of my education... I just wanted a career where I could... help people.  I debated psychology, but I didn't really know.  So, in the spring, I made a trip to the Career Development Center and met with an amazing counselor.  I took all of the quizzes that she had to offer - my results were always the same - nutrition. 18-year old me said "No, because I don't want to take Chemistry," 25-year old me laughs at this because I loved Chemistry in high school and LOVED Biochemistry in college.  Instead, of reminding myself of the A's I had gotten in high school Chemistry, I  let fear take over and jumped head first into Marketing instead.  I went to my first day of classes and literally despised them - so I dropped all of them and signed up for classes that would fill credits in either Psychology or Communication.  I met with multiple advisers,  I fulfilled my science classes with Meteorology & Astronomy... I took the easiest math courses known to man.  A year in, I was filled with a sense of dread.  I was half-way done with school and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my degree.  Something needed to happen... but what?

Another thing that needed to change was my awful pink hat :)
Near the end of summer, I ran into a friend of friends who had been undecided - I asked if she picked a major, she said I'm going into nutrition...and a voice in my head said "I should be doing that".  Literally, the next morning I changed my schedule, made an advising appointment and the rest is history.  I was finally ready to follow my heart.  Following your heart can be incredibly difficult, sometimes it doesn't even seem logical, but I'm so glad I did.  The road was not easy - I was 2 years into school and barely any of my classes transferred into my new major.  I jumped right in that fall and while my classes were extremely more difficult than before, I fell in love - I felt a love for school that I hadn't felt in along time.  My first Chemistry course was brutal - it certainly didn't help that my professor despised teaching.  But, by the second term in my newfound major, I started making the Dean's List and never looked back.  I took an entire year of Anatomy & Physiology that first summer to catch up, the second summer followed with Microbiology.  I  fell madly in love with my science classes, my nutrition classes, my ethics electives, my volunteer activities though the Student Dietetic Association


It took me 5 years to graduate with my BS in nutrition - but it was totally worth it and I wouldn't have had it any other way.  Aside from the lessons I learned, I formed some truly incredible friendships that I'll always have forever.  I completed my dietetic internship the following year and in July of 2009, I became an RD.  Always remember to follow your heart.  It always knows where you need to go.

When in your life did you follow your heart, even when you were afraid to?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oatmeal: A Girl's Best Friend

Good morning friends!  I hope your day is off to a great start.  Now, oatmeal and I weren't always friends.  I remember watching my grandparents eat it and cringing as an itty bitty girl.  Then, somewhere along the course of life, my outlook on oatmeal began to change.  If I'm remembering correctly, it was the summer that I lived at home while completing a year of A&P over one summer quarter - this is what happens when you switch your major too much and have to cram in classes :)  Anyway, my grandpa would make oatmeal for my grandma everyday - so of course I had to try.  Now I'm madly in love with oatmeal - whole grains and fiber are a great way to start your day.. oh and did I mention if you don't need gluten-free oats like I do (oats, while gluten-free, are often contaminated with flour.. wah) oats in a container are cheap cheap cheap.  You can get a HUGE canister at Kroger that will feed you for basically forever for about $2.99.

Perfect Oatmeal

1/2 cup quick oats (I use Bob's Red Mill - they're ELISA tested & gluten-free)
1 cup soy milk (or realize that your soy milk is almost empty and use half almond milk and half soy)
1 tsp stevia
A splash of vanilla
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp 75-80% dark chocolate chips
1 banana, sliced

1.  Mix your oats, milk, vanilla and stevia
*tip for success - do this the night before, leave it in the fridge and your oatmeal will be less likely to explode - trust me it can and will happen if you don't pay attention*
2.  Microwave for about 3 minutes.
3.  Stir - microwave about 45 seconds-2 minutes.  Your consistency preference depends on you - if you want chewier oats stop microwaving earlier, if you not cook them a little longer.
4. Stir in your almond butter.  Top with chocolate chips and the banana slices.
5. Enjoy!
The possibilities with oatmeal are endless - including Monster Cookie Oatmeal - but that's a post for another day.  Take your favorite nut butter and favorite fruit and voila!  Breakfast at it's finest.

What's your favorite way to eat oatmeal?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A quote for all seasons...

Hi friends!  Happy Monday to everyone out there.  So instead of a recipe post, I thought I would expand the horizons of this blog a tiny bit :)  I've always been a person that has loved quotes - honestly, for as long as I can remember.  I would assume that more than a few of you can relate!

I've always felt that quotes can help you through the most difficult periods of your life and also through the happiest ones... so starting today, I'll be sharing one (or more) quotes on Monday.  Here are a few of my favorites....   

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. That will make all the difference.”
- Steve Jobs

"To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God." 
-Elizabeth Gilbert

"It always feels like there is just one person in this world to love. And then you find somebody else, and it just seems crazy you ever worried in the first place."
-Grey's Anatomy

"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune - without the words, and never stops at all."
-Emily Dickinson

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” 
- Hope for the Flowers

What's your favorite quote? 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Easy Peasy Pasta

Happy Sunday!  I hope everyone is having a great weekend :)  Stay cool - the Midwest has turned into some awful version of a desert, but with unheard of humidity.  Fall..where are you?!

Today, I promised you a recipe for Easy Peasy Pasta sauce - I promise this won't disappoint.  Try tossing it with whole grain pasta or brown rice/quinoa pasta if you're gluten free like me and loads of lightly steamed broccoli for a delicious and quick lunch.  Need whole grain pasta ideas?  Barilla Pasta Plus, Barilla Whole Grain or Ronzoni Smart Taste are all great options.   Swap out different shapes of pasta and load up the veggies..the possibilities are endless.

Easy Peasy Pasta Sauce


3 tbsp Smart Balance Omega-3 Stick Blend
1/4 cup brown rice flour
2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup prepared pesto (homemade if you're feeling extra motivated.  I went with Trader Joe's)

1.  Melt your Smart Balance in a saucepan over medium heat, once melted, sprinkle on the flour.
2.  Combine the mixture together - let cook for about 1-2 minutes.
3. Add skim milk to the flour mixture and continue to stir.  The mixture will thicken (be patient!) 
4.  Once thickened, add your pesto and stir.  Portion your sauce into freezer/refrigerator safe bowls (add your pasta & veggies and save for later meals) or serve immediately.

Note:  This should make between 4-6 servings. 

I portioned this into my small pyrex containers and froze it with brown rice noodles and loads of steamed broccoli.  It was easy to reheat and simply delicious.  Enjoy!

What's your favorite easy peasy recipe?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What should I eat?

Happy Saturday everyone!!  One of the biggest questions people ask me once they find out I'm a Registered Dietitian is "what should I eat?" or "can you help me be healthier?"  Obviously, I have answers to both of those - but the majority of the time they would be overwhelming and probably a little long.  My simplified reply is usually something along the lines of the following....

 1) Fruits & vegetables - if you hate them - it's okay if you do - but you need to learn to love them - but that's another post for another day (get excited!!)

 2) Whole unprocessed foods - if you can't pronounce it and don't know what it is (this requires reading the ingredient list my friends) - well, please don't put that in your body.  Clean eating is the way to go - you'll be amazed not only at how much better your food tastes, but how much better you feel. 

3) Stay away from trans-fat. Put on your shoes and don't run, sprint, in the other direction.  Did you know a food can be labeled "trans-fat free" and still have up to 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving?  Eat just a few servings and it adds up quickly.  Even one serving is too many in my opinion.  You can identify foods with trans-fat by reading the ingredients and looking for the word "hydrogenated".  Trans-fat is a double-edged hit, it lowers your HDL, think of this as your happy cholesterol - the good kind, while raising your LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol.  Ummm, thanks, but no thanks.  You'll find this in the grocery store in baked goods, prepackaged icing, baking mixes, frozen meals and a variety of other things.  Read yo' labels people.

4) Eat breakfast :)  They don't call it the most important meal of the day for nothing!  Think about it, by the time you wake up you're body has been fasting for 10 or more hours.  So give yourself some glucose and set yourself up for success.  Whether you're trying to lose or maintain your weight, not eating breakfast will set you up for failure later in the day - think about how when you go without eating for a long period of time you become ravenous.  Yep, it's that exactly.

5) Meals you make yourself - easier said than done, right?  Who has time to cook?  You might not be hitting up McDonald's every night but Lean Cuisines/Healthy Choice/Smart Ones make it all to easy to stay away from cooking... and they're healthy, right?  Well, the answer to that is not exactly.  Remember, rule # 2?  Yeahhhhh not so much.  Full of sodium, full of things you can't pronounce or chemical names you probably don't recognize, kinda low in calories and scarce in the fruits & vegetables department.  If you fall into the category of hating F&V - you are just going to hate them more if they came out of a Lean Cuisine.  Besides, when I think back to the days when I would occasionally eat one of those meals... well they always just made me feel icky and gross - not to mention hungry.

Number 5 is the tip that always causes a little bit of a panic - you want me to cook?  So what do you do when you're caught between the frozen meal madness and learning to cook on your own?  Or what do you do when you're caught in the fast food circuit?  Or even if you can cook a few things - how can you improve upon that?  Baby steps, my friends, lead to big results... 

1.  Swap out your overly processed frozen meals for something to get you through in the interim - KashiAmy'sTrader Joe's (pssst Amy's meals in TJ's boxes, but you never heard that from me) and Whole Paycheck 365 are great places to start your transition.  If you're a fast food eater - swap out your trips to McDonald's for these instead.  Feel free to store these meals for weeks and nights that are busy or stressful.  Keep in mind, unless you buy low sodium versions, you are still going to take a bigger sodium hit - but you'll also be getting whole foods and vegetables.  Yes, they are more expensive - spend money on better food now or on prescription medications later - completely your call.

2.  Make a list of the easy foods you know how to make and a list of the foods you would like to learn how to make.  Do you know how to make scrambled eggs?  Guess what, you can probably learn fairly easily to make an omelet.  Do you know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich?  You have the skills to make a grilled veggie sandwich with hummus.  Can you use a microwave?  You can now steam vegetables, make oatmeal, reheat leftovers and even cook eggs.  The internet will be able to tell you how to make anything - even has a recipe for how to make this (I really hope you don't need that btw).

3.  Stock your kitchen a little. Buy a set of measuring cups (to measure flour, pasta, etc.), a glass/plastic measuring cup for liquids and measuring spoons - hit up the dollar store.  Make sure you have one baking pan and a nonstick skillet.  You'll also need storage dishes - I love these - or feel free to use similar sized plastic tupperware containers (make sure they are freezable).  You can find most of these items for reasonable prices at Home Goods or Target.

I love KitchenAid

4. Know where to look for recipes - is one of my favorites - I like to search Cooking Light.  Think of things you like to order at restaurants and make them yourself - Dewey's has an amazing salad with lettuce, cranberries, nuts, goat cheese and balsamic.  I imitate it at home using spinach leaves, cranberries, sunflower seeds, cucumbers, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.  I've also made a gluten-free version of the Edgar Allen Poe.  I have a friend who is going to re-create Panera's poppyseed chicken salad for a party she's hosting.  Re-creating things also gives you the chance to give the item a nutritional boost, by adding spinach, swapping for whole grain crust or pasta, etc.

Edgar Allen Poe :)

5.  Make simple swaps.  Did you know that 0% yogurt makes an incredible ranch dip? Use 2% milk slices on your sandwich - I promise you won't tell the difference.  Switch to a trans-fat free margarine (I send my love to Smart Balance Light with Flax)  Do you only drink 2%?  Make a mix of 3/4 2% and 1/4 1% for a few days, then equal amounts of both, then 3/4 1% and 1/4 2%.  During my dietetic internship, we did a milk taste test with patients.  Hands down 1% was the favorite... even among whole milk drinkers who were convinced it was whole.

6. Add something new.  Have you ever heard of flaxseed?  Ground, it's a great addition to oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes, muffins.  High in fiber with omega-3's in the form of alpha linoleic acid (ALA).  Taste test some new foods that are outside of your comfort zone.  I just bought tempeh fakin' bacon for the first time last week and it's amazing.  Heard lots of things about edamame?  Pick up some pods from your freezer section. 

7.  Learn to love your freezer.  Since I'm only cooking for myself, recipes always make leftovers.  Soups, pizza and pasta freeze well and can be easily taken to work and re-heated - just grab one out of the freezer, throw a fresh fruit or veggie in your bag and you're good to go.

These steps might be a little intimidating - but with a little effort you'll reap many rewards!

PS:  Look for a recipe for Easy Peasy Pasta Sauce tomorrow :)

What tip would you add to this list?

Friday, July 22, 2011

10 Ways to Survive Graduate School

There are those of us that are born loving school... the fall leaves, new school supplies, empty binders, papermate pens, index cards, endless text books...did I mention pumpkin spice lattes?  Fortunately, I've always fallen easily into this camp - so the decision to go to graduate school wasn't even really a decision.  I was born ready to go.

I started earlier than I anticipated after a difficult period of my life when I couldn't find a job in my chosen career field.  So, instead of starting in the fall, I opted to start in the spring.  I would be lying if I said my first quarter wasn't incredibly rough.  I entered school during spring quarter aka. meaning I had no friends in my program and everyone else was already paired up.  You might think that doesn't matter... but it truly does (we'll get to that in a minute!).  While one of my classes was ridiculously easy (which made me angry.. I was paying $ for this!), the other was incredibly difficult.  I was lonely and frustrated.

Somehow, I made it though that quarter though and the remaining three quarters of coursework that followed with a 3.9 GPA.  Now, I can happily say I'm one thesis away from my MS :)  While I can't give you posts on how to get through your thesis (look for those in December), I can give you my top 10 tips for making it through graduate school without losing your mind.

1.  Become friends with the people in your graduate program.  Seriously.  No one else is going to understand or care as much when your Microsoft Word dies in the middle of spell check, your group members for your online Physiology class are awful, you have 5 projects due in a week (including the next comment), you work 18+ hours on a take home midterm and start crying convinced you aren't smart enough for graduate school, your obsession with Starbucks and Dr. McDreamy or how much you hate statistics.  Also, they will understand what is referred to as "graduate school brain" where you can't remember anything important that anyone tells you because all you think about is school.  Besides, you'll quickly realize these are friends you are going to keep forever.

2.  Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well and exercise.  I know, I know, this is much easier said than done.  If you need 8 hours, you need 8 hours - burning the midnight oil isn't going to make you more productive and I promise it won't make your work any better.  Remember, naps throughout the day can be your friend.  Pack your lunch instead of relying on whatever is available at your school.  Exercise on breaks between classes or try at home workout DVD's - Core Fusion is amazing.  

3.  If you don't know what RefWorks is - now is the time to learn.  Your university library more than likely offers a class on RefWorks or EndNote (a similar program).  Basically, RefWorks is a database for all your references that will make your bibliography for you in AMA, APA, etc.  Your wish is it's command.  Also, learn how to use Write-n-Cite - it will automatically put your citations into papers for you, while converting at your will and creating your bibliography.  Seriously, you need this NOW.

4.  If you aren't organized, now is the time to make that happen.  My favorite planner came from Franklin Covey, but my favorite refills came from target :)  If you aren't into writing things down, use your phone, your email - anything.  Due dates will creep up on your faster than ever and if you can stay on top of it, you'll feel so much better.

5. Do something nice for yourself - every single day.  It doesn't have to be anything big - think the simple things that you take for granted when you aren't in graduate school.  Sleeping in on a Saturday.  Watching Twilight on Friday night.  The fortune inside of a Dove chocolate.  Painting your nails.  Going for a walk.  Meeting a friend for Chipotle.  Once, I bought myself a new pair of boots as a good luck present for my first big exam in the fall - it worked by the way. 

6.  Get to know your professors.  Don't be afraid to ask for help, because if you don't ask, you are probably not going to get it.  Is everyone in your class confused about an assignment?  Ask for clarification.  Are you have trouble finding something you need for a presentation? Ask where you should be looking.  Remember, you're a graduate student now, no one is going to hold your hand like they did in undergrad. Sorry, it's tough love, but it's true. 

7.  Enjoy your breaks from school in the best way possible - spend time with your family and friends, catch up on your workouts and your favorite TV shows, revitalize yourself for the quarter ahead.  Get out of your house and see a movie or go to a sporting event.  Drink copious amounts of wine :)

8.  Get to know the older graduate students in your program.  No one else is going to know which electives are the best to take or which professors are the best teachers.  You can learn from the mistakes of those that have gone before you and you can learn tips to help you succeed.

9.  Don't lose sight of what you're after.  Remember all of the things you hope to get out of your degree.  Think of graduate school like running a marathon.  Sometimes, you get to mile 22 and feel like you can't make it.  You just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep on going, while always remembering how far you've come.  Besides, as Winston Churchill said, "When you're going through hell, keep walking."

10.  Don't worry, just study.  I received this very wise tip from my aunt  So you bombed your first exam in a class?  Study harder for the next one - think about what you could have done to improve your performance, talk to your professor, be proactive.  Put forth your best effort into every other project in that class.  If you waste your energy worrying about how you're going to improve your grade and the grades you'll have to get on every other assignment for the quarter you'll drive yourself insane - not to mention waste a heck of a lot of time.

Have you finished graduate school?  What helped you the most? 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Carob is Not Chocolate

Hi friends!  I hope you are all having a stellar morning.  Sometimes in the morning, I just want something quick and simple.  I love muffins, but have you looked at the nutrition facts for the muffins at the store?  Yikes bikes... high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil aka. trans fat (by the way, products can say zero trans fat and still have up to 0.5 grams) and don't even mention the 500+ calories.  My body clearly says no thank you.  I'm a clean, unprocessed eater - so those definitely aren't my thing.

As I was driving home from work yesterday, I had a brilliant idea to combine carob, applesauce and coconut into a healthy muffin that wouldn't rack up the guilt.  Unfortunately, the only recipe I could find combining those ingredients were for... dog biscuits. Ew.  So with a bit of tweaking I found a recipe for chocolate chip muffins and completely revamped it.

After a little contemplation, these muffins definitely fit the bill - spread with a tiny bit of Smart Balance Light and I'm on the way.  If you've never had carob before, it's similar to chocolate but with a very earthy taste.  Feel free to substitute chocolate chips if you can't embrace your inner hippie.

Vegan Carob Coconut Muffins


1 cup gluten free all purpose flour (or just use regular if you aren't g free)
3/4 cup oat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup non-dairy milk (I went with Silk Vanilla Almond)
1/3 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons ground flax seed (I love Bob's Red Mill)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut
3/4 cup carob chips

1.  Combine your ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of warm water to make a flax egg.  Set aside.
2.  Combine all of your dry ingredients - flours, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and sugar in a bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine all of your wet ingredients - applesauce, flax egg, oil and vanilla.
4.  Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until just well blended.  Add your carob and coconut chips.  Don't over stir or you'll wind up with tunnels in your muffins - thanks but no thanks!
5. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.


What are your favorite muffins?  Any combination requests? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This post *might* change your life

Hi everyone!  One of my favorite foods has always been macaroni & cheese, what's not to love?  Pasta, cheese, bread crumbs... need I say more?  However, I have to say that most macaroni and cheese recipes rank high in calories and even more so in frustration.  First, try to make a healthier version of macaroni and cheese and then throw in trying to make a gluten-free version and you'll quickly find grainy sauces and soggy brown rice noodles. Gross.  

I quickly knew that my habit of turning to Chef Amy (Amy's Organic Gluten Free Rice Mac and Cheese...swoon!) was wearing my wallet thin.  I could do better... so the quest for the perfect macaroni and cheese began. It all began with a recipe I found from Weekly Bite.  It needed some tweaking to become gluten-free... so I tested it out with brown rice noodles, full-fat cheese (umm pretend you don't know I'm an RD) and obviously no bread crumbs.  Unfortunately, it didn't survive reheating.. the noodles turned into mush.  Mac and cheese fail.  I was convinced I was destined to macaroni and cheese from Chef Amy with a handful of frozen edamame tossed in.

And then I discovered this.... and everything was changed...

Seriously, this pasta is incredible.  Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa!) is a nutritional powerhouse full of fiber, protein, folate, thiamin, riboflavin and iron.  Now, this quinoa pasta also contains corn flour so don't freak when your pasta water turns yellow. Trust me.  Soon enough, you'll be eating the most divine macaroni and cheese ever.  Also...your box will say contains 4 servings and it will make 4 big servings!  Usually, I'll eat 2 servings of brown rice pasta (1/2 cup uncooked), nope not with this - it must quadruple it's size in the water :)  Win.  Enough already, let's get to the recipe!

Best Ever Mac and Cheese - Adapted from Weekly Bite


10 ounces of Quinoa Pasta 
2 slices of Udi’s Whole Wheat Gluten-Free Bread
2 cups 2% sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup shredded parmesan
2 cups skim milk
1.5 cups shelled frozen edamame (leave out if you aren't a fan!)
3 tbsp Smart Balance Omega-3 Butter Stick
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ tablespoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
A few shakes of the salt shaker!

1. Bring your water to a boil and throw in your pasta.  You don’t want the pasta to be completely cooked – about 7 minutes or so.  Begin pre-heating your oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Crumble your bread into pieces, toss into your food processor with ½ cup of the parmesan cheese.
3.  The trickiest part, making the roux.  If you’ve never made a roux, this step can be scary – don’t despair!  Melt your Smart Balance in a saucepan over medium low heat, then sprinkle the brown rice flour on top.  I like to fold the brown rice flour with a spatula – but you could also use a whisk.  Allow the mixture to cook for 1-2 minutes.
3.  Pour your skim milk into your flour/smart balance mixture.  Continue to stir, occasionally scraping the bottom with your spatula.  Turn your heat up to medium,  your mixture should begin to thicken and your mixture should begin to start to bubble.  Remember, no one likes burnt milk, so keep scraping the bottom of your pan with the spatula while you stir :) 
4.  Turn the heat down to low, add the mustard powder, black pepper and salt.  Toss in your cheddar and remaining parmesan and stir until melted.
5. Drain your pasta - add the cheese sauce & edamame – pour into a ceramic baking dish such as Corningware or Le Creuset.  You can use Pyrex - I used to - but be careful cause that bad boy can explode.  Sprinkle the bread parmesan mix on top.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown.
7. Feast!  This recipe will make 6 servings :)

PS: Don't forget to wipe your cheese sauce from the sides of your pan or else you'll end up with these lovely burnt edges.

Enjoy my friends, see you again soon :)

What is your favorite pasta dish?  Have you ever tried gluten-free pasta?

I'm a healthy living blogger now :)

Hi friends!  Welcome to my little tiny corner of the blog world.  I've been in love with healthy living blogs for almost two years, but I was never quite sure that I was completely ready to start my own.  I debated, as I often do with major decisions - could I maintain a blog? would I actually develop a following of readers? would it be something I'd be good at? would my posts be popular?  However, I came to realize that none of those things truly matter.  Through the use of this blog, I hope to share bits and pieces of my healthy lifestyle and document my journey along the way.  So stick around and I hope with a little love, this blog will grow into something more incredible than I ever imagined.