Wednesday, March 22, 2017

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)

Vegan. Plant-based. Flexitarian. Whatever you call it, eating less meat and more plant-based protein is in. In fact, one 2016 study found that 55 percent of Americans wanted to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet that year. And, as those who follow my Instagram have probably realized, I'm one of them.

While I still sometimes eat meat and don't worry about sticking to a strict "vegan" diet with baked goods or processed foods, I've enjoyed experimenting with more vegan protein. The only problem? Tofu and I...well, we don't get along (in taste or my body's reaction to it). What's a girl to do? Find other ways to get protein, of course!

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)

Today, I thought I'd share my top seven favorite sources of vegan protein - that aren't tofu! Ready to dive in? Just have a bib on hand!

1. Banza Pasta

First off, I had to share one of my favorite gluten free pastas lately: Banza. I first discovered this brand when a box was included in my monthly Love With Food delivery (PSA: if you've never heard of Love With Food, check out my in-depth reviews here and here!). More recently, Banza contacted me about receiving free products in return for a review...and, of course, I couldn't type "yes" quick enough. 

Banza pasta is actually pasta made mostly of chickpeas, which means it's an A+ source of protein. In fact, one-fourth a cup of their rotini pasta (the kind I received) boasts 14 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. My favorite part, though, is the flavor. Compared to my typical rice pasta, Banza tastes a lot heartier. It holds up well when baked in my slow cooker mac n' cheese or just boiled on the stove top (which only takes 8-10 mins - score!).

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
Banza = bumpin' up the flavors!
As you could probably guess, my fave way to enjoy Banza is in vegan mac n' cheese with my homemade cheese sauce. However, it also tastes delish with pesto, spinach and extra chickpeas (got your protein, bro?) or even tossed in a salad. There really are as many options as there are Banza shapes!

2. Chia Seeds

If I had to list the foods I always eat everyday, chia seeds would be at the top of the list. True, I had never heard of chia seeds before my celiac diagnosis, but once I met Mamma Chia, I've never looked back. 

Chia seeds respectively provide more omega-3, antioxidants, calcium, potassium, protein and fiber than salmon, blueberries, milk, bananas, soy beans and flax seeds. Basically chia seeds prove that good things come in small packages. I always throw in one or two tablespoons of chia seeds into my batch of smoothies. This not only bumps up the protein, but also makes my smoothies even thicker - just how I like 'em!

Chia seeds are also a MUST if you're cravin' thick and fluffy (oatless) oatmeal. The chia seeds expand and suck up the moisture, giving your oatmeal a lot of volume even if you use the same amount of ingredients as usual. Chia seeds are also a secret weapon for vegan baking, especially if you're allergic to flax seeds like I am. Instead of an egg, you can mix together one tablespoon of ground chia seeds with three tablespoons of water, as seen in my paleo and vegan pancakes.

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
My fave pancakes...
Chia seeds may not sound the most appetizing and, whenever my sister sees me eating them she still says, "You're going to grow a chia pet in your stomach!" But, really, chia seeds are as delicious as they are versatile for a gluten free, plant based chef.

3. All the beans!

I've written about the magic of beans before, but this post wouldn't be complete without mentioning them as a source of vegan protein. When I first started eating beans, my stomach was not a fan (and I think you can fill in the blanks on what I'm talking about). However, I kept eating just small amounts of beans along with small amounts of meat/fish, and my stomach slowly adapted

Since I seem to be sensitive to fodmaps, I still have to watch how much I eat of certain bean types beans like chickpeas. However, I love trying out new ways to get my protein. As I've shared on my Instagram, my latest addiction is smashed black beans with potatoes and chips (for some killer creaminess and crunch).

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
My latest love...
One pro tip: you can also freeze your beans if, like me, you don't eat cans at a time (now that would be dangerous). Simply distribute your beans equally in a sealed plastic bag and freeze them in a layer. This let's you break off a chunk of beans and defrost just that portion whenever you like! It also keeps the beans from going bad, which saves money in the long run. Talk about a win/win.

4. YoFiit Nutritional Bars

When you hear the phrase "protein bars," you probably don't think of "vegan" right after. While there are certainly plenty of bars relying on whey or other dairy/animal-based proteins, though, vegan protein bars are becoming more common

Recently, YoFiit reached out to me to try their new vegan (gluten free, nut free and soy free) nutritional bars. I immediately loved their ingredient list, which includes items like oats, quinoa, pea protein, cacao, and goji berries - all while offering 7 to 15 grams of protein, around 12 grams of fiber and added probiotics! I also like that they sell three different "types": a lemon coconut protein bar, an apple cinnamon morning fibre bar and a choco goji midday energy bar. Admittedly, these weren't as tasty as some of the other bars I've tried. The lemon coconut bar seemed to have a medicinal aftertaste, and the cacao goji is an acquired taste because of the bitter dark cacao. The apple cinnamon is my hands-down fave - which came as a huge surprise since I'm usually not a big apple girl!

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
In smoothies and granola!
As for how to use, you don't have to simply eat the bars whole! In fact, I hardly ever do that unless they're my emergency snack as I'm out running errands. Instead, I like crumbling the bars on my morning smoothie bowl or my nightly yogurt parfait for an extra hit of protein. You can even use protein bars as the secret ingredient to baked goods like homemade granola or my chocolate mug cake. Your loved ones won't even be able to tell that you snuck extra protein into their treat!  

5. Nuts and seeds

Speaking of snacks, nuts and seeds are perhaps the easiest way to snack on plant based protein. While all nuts and seeds provide a degree of protein, some superstars include:

  • Pumpkin seeds - 28.8 grams of protein per 100 grams of seeds
  • Peanuts - 24.4 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Pistachios - 21 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Almonds - 21.2 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Sunflower seeds - 19.3 grams of protein per 100 grams
As my Instagram followers know, I'm also a huge fan of nut and seed butters (I mean, who isn't?!?), ranging from sunbutter to cashew butter. They all offer varying amounts of protein, so eat what tastes best to you! 

Now, the more interesting part: how to eat them. For a savory meal, you can turn whatever nuts or seeds you have into a pesto (like with my Seed-Stuffed Pesto). If you combined this with a serving of Banza pasta - bam! Protein = met. My favorite way of eating nuts and seeds, though, will always be trail mix and homemade granola.

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
Pesto + roasted potato wedges = <3

Trail mix is an easy food you can take anywhere and enjoy anytime. You can also customize it to your taste buds (my personal favorite: cashews + sunflower and pumpkin seeds + shredded coconut + dried pineapple and raisins). As for granola, well, my various recipes reflect how completely addicted I am. You can sprinkle granola on smoothies or yogurt, eat it as a cereal or simply scoop it from the bag (pairing it with nut butter for even more protein)! When dessert can be healthy, the world truly is a better (delicious) place...

6. Quinoa and Buckwheat

Now, both of these function as grains but are actually seeds - making them delicious, protein-packed alternatives to rice. In particular, quinoa offers 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams (along with high levels of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and folate) while buckwheat boasts 3.4 grams of protein as well as plenty of manganese, magnesium, and copper. 

Quinoa and buckwheat are also super versatile. You can buy quinoa flakes and buckwheat flakes, which are epic oatmeal alternatives. I used to eat quinoa flakes (upgraded with a variety of fruits, but butters and trail mix) for breakfast every morning. My mom, meanwhile, is still happily riding the buckwheat-flake train, eating a simple bowl of microwaved buckwheat flakes, banana, cinnamon and honey every morning.

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
No description needed...
You can also eat quinoa and buckwheat in savory forms, cooking them on the stove top and using them on top of salads or as the base of a stir fry or pilaf. You can also grind the grains into flour for baked goods like my pancakes or veggie-loaded pizza. And, since basically everything can go into granola, you can also toss raw buckwheat groats or quinoa into your granola batter.

7. Spirulina

Finally, last but not least, spirulina - which is also the highest source of plant based protein today. As I've written before, spirulina is actually an algae. However, this is one algae you do want to see in your food: spirulina is composed 60 to 70% of protein and offers high amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium and iron.  

Compared to the other ingredients on this list, I definitely would not suggest eating spirulina straight. The taste isn't awful (in my opinion), but it's definitely a lil' funky. Instead, try to sneak in teaspoons of spirulina wherever you can. Add a small spoonful to your smoothie, which will not only boost the protein but also create a gorgeous green color

7 Gluten Free Sources of Vegan Protein (That Aren't Tofu)
When "ice cream" = plant based protein, life is good!
You can also mix spirulina into your yogurt, (oatless) oatmeal, chia seed pudding or bliss balls/banana bombs. Just remember that less is more (because it's better to get some spirulina than add so much, you can't even eat what you created!), and add more according to taste. While spirulina's health benefits are probably best when left uncooked, you can also experiment with spirulina in baking

Sure, sometimes cooking with plant-based protein is harder than just grilling a steak. However, vegan protein can be just as delicious - and easy to use - as meat once you know what sources to look for and how to get creative in the kitchen. 

And if you're ever craving a protein-packed breakfast that isn't eggs...just remember that you can't go wrong with a spirulina smoothie bowl topped with granola, chia seeds and nut butter! 

*I received products from Banza and YoFiit in return for an honest review. However, all opinions, recipes and photographs are my own.*

What's your favorite way to eat your protein? What plant based proteins do you enjoy? Help me get inspired by commenting below! 

Monday, March 20, 2017

To Respect Me, You Need to Respect My Disease

I am not my disease - but to respect me, you need to respect my disease too.

This is the realization that flashed through my mind this weekend as I read a Facebook post in one of my Gluten Free support groups. At first glance, the story is simple: girl goes to slumber party but calls her mom that she's feeling sick at midnight. But this girl is gluten free and brought her own snacks - enough for everyone. Her friend's father even gave out "gluten free" cupcakes - only they weren't. And when she gets sick, all he can say is that the gluten free fad is "all in her head" anyway. Even worse? He later tells that girl's mom his daughter deserves "normal" friends.

To Respect Me, You Need to Respect My Disease

There are so many things wrong with this story, but the issue that stuck out to me was the pure lack of respect from this father. And, the more I thought of my own struggles with cruel comments about celiac disease or my diet, the more I realized they all have one trait in common: respect.

If you respect me, you don't...

...steal a piece of food off of my gluten free plate or eat my gluten free leftovers without asking. My disease requires this diet and the extra time and energy it takes to make safe food. Ask first, and I'll probably give you a taste - but don't assume that gluten free food grows on trees or that we eat for cheap.

...assume that we're eating gluten free at a restaurant because of a "fad" instead of a medical disability and not follow proper cross contamination protocol.

To Respect Me, You Need to Respect My Disease
Dairy free ice cream from Disney World! And yes...I ate it ALL!
...equate celiac disease with thinness. I am thin. I have celiac disease. Those two are correlated, but one doesn't necessarily cause the other. Some celiacs are overweight. People can eat gluten and still be healthy. So don't say I'm "lucky" to have celiac disease because I'm skinny or that it's OK that I have to stare enviously at the bread basket because at least I'm thin.

...make me feel guilty for having a "high maintenance" or "picky" diet, even though I have zero control over my autoimmune disease.

...get mad at me for not being able to eat "gluten free" baked goods that you made yourself but possibly cross contaminated with gluten-containing pots, cooking tools or a kitchen.

...point out how "weird" or different my diet is, even with a backhanded compliment like, "Wow! That looks so...healthy." I appreciate interest in my food, but sometimes it's better to just let me feel like I'm just one of the girls enjoying a pizza and movie night.

To Respect Me, You Need to Respect My Disease
Even if my pizza looks a little different... inflexible because, sometimes, I'm going to need to change plans. I'm going to be glutened or have an upset stomach. I'm going to be extra tired from a fibromyalgia flare. Sure, it's not ideal - but it's me.

...deny my right to parent my own child. Maybe my child has a gluten allergy or celiac disease; maybe he or she just functions better on a restricted diet. Either way, don't let your preconceived notions about a certain diet interfere with my parenting style or my child's well-being.

...lie to me about food ingredients. Would you tell someone with a peanut allergy that your brownies are peanut free since they "only have a little" and "that couldn't hurt"?

...see me as less worthy of befriending, dating or loving because I'm not "easy" or "normal."

To Respect Me, You Need to Respect My Disease
Lots of love during my college graduation...
I feel fortunate that I've never experienced the bullying that this young girl has - simply because she's gluten free. The fact that it occurred from an adult - a figure children are told to trust - is even worse. For me, this scenario is just another reason why members of the gluten free community need to advocate for themselves 24/7.

We don't just deserve respect - we need to demand it. And not just respect for ourselves, either, but respect for the disease that is part of our everyday life and identity.

*Also linked to What'd You Do This Weekend, Create Link Inspire, Terrific Tuesday, Turn it Up Tuesday, Wine'd Down Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, RunningwithSpoons*

How do you fight back against cruel comments or bullying for your gluten free diet or disease? Tell me your ideas below!

Friday, March 17, 2017

13+ Natural Energy Boosting Foods for the Modern Woman

Whether you're a business woman, a mother-of-three, or both, being a modern woman is hard. You're so busy, it's understandable if you're part of the 90 percent of people in the world enjoying a caffeinated beverage with at least one of your daily meals. However, there are plenty of healthier - and tastier - ways to get an energy boost.

To find out which foods are perfect to energize the modern woman, ENTITY (where this article of mine first appeared!) chatted with a variety of nutrition experts and dietitians, ranging from celebrity nutritionist Lisa DeFazio to Julieanna Hever, an R.D. also known as The Plant-Based Dietitian.

13+ Natural Energy Boosting Foods for the Modern Woman

Here are over 13 energy-packed foods that can be the modern woman's secret weapon during busy days!

Lean protein

If you want to feel energized but avoid the crash later, protein is a girl's best friend. "[Eating protein in a snack] will extend the energy boost, helping to prevent dips, since it takes longer to digest," explains Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, registered dietitians and fitness coaches better known as The Nutrition Twins. "Protein is also essential for growth and repair, helping your body recover from exercise and other physical strain, and helping you to feel more energetic."

So what are some of the best sources of protein for you to enjoy?

1. Fish

The Nutrition Twins suggest halibut because it "is rich in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin, hormones essential to get a good night’s sleep. Nothing gives you more energy than a good night’s rest. Plus, halibut is a good source of omega 3s, and research shows that higher omega 3 levels are also associated with a better night’s rest." If you're more of a salmon kind of girl, that's also a smart choice. Lisa DeFazio says salmon offers plenty of the "B vitamins and protein that are critical for energy and muscle building."

gluten free paleo sweet potato salmon sliders
Like in my sweet potato salmon sliders!

2. Eggs

Going vegetarian doesn't mean you have to miss out on natural energy boosters, according to Lisa Moskovitz, a Weight Management, Disease Prevention, & Sports Nutrition Specialist as well as the CEO and founder of The NY Nutrition Group. "As a leading source of high quality protein, eggs - including the egg yolk - are chock-full of energizing nutrients," she explains. "Eggs provide iron, which helps deliver oxygen in your blood, b-vitamins, which convert the food you eat into energy, and selenium, which helps increase blood flow."

3. Soybeans

If ever there was a controversial food, soybeans are it. In fact, research is still torn on whether soy benefits or promotes breast cancer; improves or harms people's memory as they age; and really helps prevent heart disease. According to Moskovitz, though, "soybeans in the form of tofu, edamame, or even soy milk are a vegan's best friend. They're not only a great source of complete protein, fiber and b-vitamins, but also fatigue-fighting magnesium and blood pumping iron."

Whole grain carbohydrates

When asked about what people should know about nutrition but probably don't, DeFazio responded: "Carbohydrates do not make you fat, and they are not the enemy. Carbohydrates fuel your body!" She suggests people eat everything from brown rice to corn tortillas to potatoes. Other nutritionists' favorites, though, include:

4. Quinoa

Pronounced "key-nu-wah," this grain burst into the foodie scene a few years ago and has been hailed as a gluten free superfood ever since. In the minds of Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, quinoa's healthy reputation is well-deserved. "It contains energy revving quality carbohydrates (they're stored in the muscles as glycogen, the body's main fuel source) that provide the fuel for your brain and for your muscles," they say. "It’s also got both fiber and protein [8 grams per cup!] to help extend that energy boost."

cozy and creamy overnight quinoa flakes (gluten free, vegan)
Or the best of both worlds with quinoa flakes oatmeal!
5. Oatmeal

If you want a more traditional grain to include in your diet, oatmeal is the energy booster you've been looking for. "Oats are an example of a whole grain which is rich in complex carbohydrates as well as fiber," says Moskovitz. "This helps provide a steady source of energy into the body without causing spikes or dips in energy levels. Oats are also a rich source of energizing iron and B-vitamins."

Maybe you should try ditching the coffee and load up on oatmeal instead?

Nuts/Nut Butters

6. Almond Butter

If the only nut butter you've ever tried is peanut butter, it's time to expand your (edible) horizons. When compared, almond butter offers more Vitamin E (an antioxidant that can help prevent cell damage), more magnesium (which supports your metabolism) and double the amount of iron. DeFazio particularly likes that almond butter "provides protein and healthy fats."

7. Pistachios

If you're eating a reasonable amount of any nut or seed, recent research suggests you'll be less prone to heart disease, strokes and diabetes. However, Moskovitz likes pistachios in particular. "Not only are all nuts a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, but pistachios also have an excellent source of lean protein, blood sugar stabilizing fiber, b-vitamins, iron and selenium," she says.

13+ Natural Energy Boosting Foods for the Modern Woman
My fave source? Setton Farm's Pistachio Chewy Bites!

It's hard to go wrong with fruit. "Fresh fruit is the perfect energy-boosting food since it is high in simple carbohydrates that absorb quickly into the bloodstream," says Hever. "Fresh fruit offers a quick fix, while providing ample nutrition." If you want the ultimate energy fix, though, try out:

8. Apples

You may have heard the myth that apples contain caffeine or can "wake you up" when you eat them. Unfortunately, this is just that: a myth. However, Moskovitz says: "These crisp juicy fruits are not only a great source of energizing water but their high antioxidant content has been shown to improve breathing, which makes sustained exercise feel much easier." So, even though apples may not energize you like caffeine, you may still feel like a beast during your workouts!

9. Bananas

Bananas are often promoted as ideal pre-workout meals, and for good reason. According to DeFazio, "Bananas provide carbohydrates and potassium to give the body quick fuel, and they maintain hydration due to their high potassium levels."

gluten free and vegan banana ice cream
That's right. Banana Ice Cream is officially an energy booster!

10. Leafy Greens

Sure, maybe eating spinach won't magically transform you into Popeye. However, Hever points out that leafy greens "are the most nutritionally dense foods of all, and they provide thousands of energy-enhancing phytonutrients with very few calories and a ton of culinary possibilities." If you're not sure where to start, spinach is a rich source of iron and can help prevent or correct anemia, which often makes people feel constantly fatigued. Chard is also packed with magnesium, which makes it women's BFF to fight stress, PMS and sleep problems.

11. Sweet Potatoes

For DeFazio, sweet potatoes are a winner for being a "high fiber source of carbohydrates." Hever agrees, pointing out that, like other starchy vegetables, potatoes "are wonderful sources of complex carbohydrates and phytonutrients. Because of their macronutrient profile, they are ideal for steady energy levels." The extra kick of antioxidants found in sweet potatoes is just a colorful (and tasty) bonus.

13+ Natural Energy Boosting Foods for the Modern Woman
The best stuffed baked potato there is...
12. Mint

Sure, mint probably doesn't initially come to mind when you think of getting your daily dose of veggies. However, the Nutrition Twins think that it should. "When you smell peppermint, it activates the trigeminal nerve, which stimulates the area of the brain responsible for arousal. This can make you feel more alert," they explain. "Thanks in part to its anti-inflammatory antioxidant rosmarinic acid, mint also calms your insides and eases indigestion, making you feel healthy and energetic." So the next time you make a fruit salad or flavored water, throw some mint inside!


13. Water

One food/drink that nearly every nutritionist we talked to mentioned was good ol' water. "Dehydration can affect energy and performance a lot quicker than a poor diet," says Moskovitz. "Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is another important habit that keeps energy levels at their peak."

13+ Natural Energy Boosting Foods for the Modern Woman
Bonus points if you drink it out of a cup like this!
Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos suggest adding lemon to cold water, especially after you first wake up. "Lemon has potassium to help balance electrolytes and to help to counteract salt--and the puffiness that comes with it," they explain. "You’ll immediately feel lighter and more energetic when you wash out extra salt, and the bloat and heaviness that comes with it."

14. Tea

Another favorite beverage of the Nutrition Twin? Black, green and oolong tea. "These contain the amino acid theanine, which improves attention and alertness. Tea also has low levels of caffeine (35-50 mg/ cup compared to 8 ounces of brewed coffee’s approximately 100-140 mg, though the coffee at Starbucks can be much higher, depending on the size) which also gives an energy boost." Studies have also found that green tea can help prevent a variety of cancers, promote fat burning and reduce the risk of Alzheimers; black tea can reduce the risk of stroke and lung damage from cigarette smoke; and oolong tea can lower bad cholesterol.

The Bottom Line

Of course, it's important to remember that, for the best energy levels, you should rely on a balanced diet more than just a few of these energy boosting foods. "Eating the right foods with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat keeps blood sugars steady, feeds glucose to the brain so you can focus, and provides calories so your body can function," says DeFazio. "Your diet is your body's fuel, like gas for your car."

13+ Natural Energy Boosting Foods for the Modern Woman
Bonus points if you can get plenty of these in one meal!
When you do feel like you need a little extra kick in your gas tank, though, put down the coffee and pick up one of these foods. Your energy levels will thank you - as will the rest of your body!

*Although I wrote this article, it first appeared here at Entity Magazine. Click here to read more of the articles I've worked on for Entity!*

*Also found at Pretty Pintastic, Dare to Share, Snickerdoodle Sunday*

What's your go-to energizing snack? Love any of the items on this list? Comment with your ideas below!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job

When I randomly found a summer internship last year, I had no idea what I was getting into. Entity Magazine hadn't even launched yet; a handful of all-female interns in San Diego and Los Angeles - including me - were responsible for helping lay the ground work.

And then I fell in love with using my writing to empower women. (Ironically, a few weeks after my first boyfriend fell out of love with me). I kept working with Entity my last semester of college...and, now, as a college graduate, I'm still part of the Entity team

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job

What has three months of working full-time taught me so far? Here are six gluten free lessons from this celiac's first "real" job! 

1. When you write what you're passionate about, people will notice. 

Thanks to my work with Entity, my computer history would confuse any FBI analyst. I've written about financial planning, instant happiness fixes, why all women should do a mud run and, most recently, what a mom who worked with the FBI wants parents to know about child abductions. You could say that my hands are often in ten cookie jars at the same time. 

However, my most successful article to date is also my most personal: an essay on living with celiac disease during the age of the gluten free fad. I shared it with y'all, my Facebook groups and my Instagram...and thanks to you amazing people, it went semi-viral. 

As a writing major, I've been trained to write about anything. And, not to brag, but I think I can write about most topics pretty well. But something magical happens when you write completely from the heart. I've seen this at this blog - with posts like this one or this one - and now I've seen it in my professional life as well.

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job
Throwing it back to prom of '13!
Write what you really mean - and it'll mean that much more to others. 

2. Food prep is prepping for success. 

I still remember walking into the office on the first day of my internship and having our first meeting: a bagel breakfast. Although my boss was kind enough to grab me some fruit (now that is A+ celiac inclusion), I'd brought my own breakfast and lunch...and I kept doing that every workday that summer. 

Now that I'm working at home, meals are definitely a lot easier - and I'm 100% grateful for it everyday. However, food prep is still a must. You know the feeling: you're finally hitting the "flow" of your work when your stomach starts rumbling and the last thing you want to do is break for food. 

To make sure I can eat in a flash, I make a huge batch of smoothies over the weekend. Then, all I have to do is pop it in the microwave to defrost for 7 minutes and dig in as a I work! Check out this post for more ideas for make-ahead breakfasts and this one for packed lunches. There's nothing like having a delicious jar (or lunchbox) of inspiration waiting for you whenever you need it! 
3. Blogging is a resume-worthy skill. Period. 

Sometimes, it's easy to downplay your blogging skills - especially if you're a woman. Studies have found that women are less likely to consider themselves "very qualified" and are more likely to give themselves lower self-evaluation scores. And while I know that I'm a bad ass 90% of the time, I'll still have moments when I think, "It's just a blog" or "I only have so-and-so many unique visitors a month, nothing compared to the real bloggers." My advice? STOP IT!

I never imagined that my blog could help snag me a job - but it did. This blog has taught me how to market my writing through social media. It has tutored me on the basics of online publishing, targeting and reaching an audience, moving people through the patter of my fingers on a keyboard and building a network of connections online.

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job
Like Taylor at GlutenAway!
I've always known that blogging isn't a waste of time emotionally. It's my therapy, my scrapbook and my lifeline to people going through similar struggles as I am. But these last three months have shown me that blogging can also be career training. What's more awesome than that? 

4. If you're not a little afraid, you're not stretching yourself enough.

I'm not going to lie. When January first rolled around and I started working with Entity full-time, I was petrified. How would working from home, well, work? Would I be able to keep up with the high article turnaround? Could I adapt to the new demands of being a Senior Editor?

And, in the first month, there were plenty of bumps and detours. But, looking back. I couldn't feel more proud. I've bonded with the other Entity team members, even while states away. I've learned how to balance my own writing with interviewing experts, helping edit articles and undergoing more training. 
6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job
I couldn't have imagined landing this interview months ago!
And, as these three months have passed, Entity has grown stronger more every week. For instance, last week, we just broke our first big story about President Trump meeting with TMZ's Harvey Levin. Being a part of Entity from the embryo stage has definitely been a journey. But the work has been worth seeing how far the magazine has come - and hints of where we're going to go! 

5. I may not be a "normal" worker. But my health quirks don't detract from my skill

If this job has given me one thing, it's a reminder that my body isn't normal. I can't work 12 days straight and not have a physical and emotional breakdown. I can't do 40-hour-plus weeks and come back the next Monday ready to do it all over again. Is that frustrating? Heck yes. But is it the end of the world? No

I've been so grateful for the flexibility I've found with Entity. Our main goal is to empower women in every aspect of their daily lives - and I've seen this with the accommodations they've made for me. At the same time, though, I've also realized that I'm worth the extra "baggage" of celiac disease and fibromyalgia

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job
Rockin' my fave celiac T-shirt...
I am not my diseases - but my diseases have made me stronger. They've made me too stubborn and dedicated to turn away from a challenge. They've made me empathetic and interested to hear and share others' stories. They've made me strong. And all of those qualities make me a good writer and a good employee, regardless of my health issues. 

6. A job is as great as you make it. 

Maybe you presently have a job that you absolutely love. Maybe you're struggling through every workday, dreaming of quitting. There will always be factors about your work that you can't easily change, like where your job is located or who you work with. However, you are also responsible for part of your own career happiness. 

Speak up if you're struggling and offer suggestions on how your job could change so you can do even better. Embrace the opportunities you're given, no matter how terrifying. I was shaking sweating in my boots when I traveled to Los Angeles to teach a class to other Entity interns, but, looking back, it's one of my favorite moments with Entity so far. 

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job
A super flattering picture from the class ;)
Finding the "perfect" job is probably impossible. However, you can find moments of happiness in most jobs, even if it's just by befriending one co-worker or finding an awesome Thai place to get lunch at on Fridays. Advocate for yourself, follow your passions and dare to try something new - and who knows what will happen? 

It amazes me how much life depends on domino-like connections. My boyfriend and I broke up, giving me extra time (and motivation) to look for an internship. I found Entity and, now, I find myself still working with them almost a year later. 

All I have to say? I'm grateful for everything I've learned so far, and I'm excited to see what skills I'll discover next. And if these tips help just one of my readers, well, that makes my own career bumps worth it!

6 Gluten Free Life Lessons from a Celiac's First Full-Time Job

And if you ever find yourself bored on your lunch can always see what I'm up to at my work by reading my articles at Entity here! 😉

What did your first "real" job teach you? Any gluten free lessons? Tell me below! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

Whether you work in an office five days a week, attend college classes nearly every day or stay busy with your kids at home, sometimes we all need a packed lunch that's easy to prep ahead of time and even easier to eat when you're hungry!

In the spirit of National Pack Your Lunch Day - which actually happened last week, but, hey, packed lunches are always needed, right? - I reached out to some rockin' gluten free bloggers for their favorite recipes.

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

So, whether you're craving sweet or savory, vegan or paleo, here are ten gluten free packable lunches that are packed with flavor!

1. Gluten Free and Vegan Pizza with Pizzazz

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

When I'm hard-core food prepping, nothing is easier than making my favorite homemade pizza and enjoying a few slices for lunch each day! Thanks to the buckwheat flour, the crust is high in protein. You can also add whatever toppings you have on hand - though I'm preferential to lots of veggies, some Daiya cheese and a little avocado post-cooking. This tastes just as good cold as warm.

2. Grilled Goddess Wraps

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

Who says you can't enjoy a good wrap while eating gluten free? Rebecca stuffs my latest addiction - BFree Food's gf and vegan wrap - with goodies like homemade lima bean spread, broccoli and hearts of palm for a plant-based feast. I know I'd be green with envy if I saw someone else at the office enjoying this wrap while I chewed on plain PB&J!

3. Cajun Spiced Sweet Potato Cilantro Pilaf

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

Okay, I'll admit it. I didn't really know what a "pilaf" was until I read Gunjan's recipe. However, anything that has features fluffy rice, soft sweet potato and just enough spices to get your taste buds revving is an A+ to me!

4. Spiced Ginger Coconut Cashew Protein Granola Bars

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

The name of these bars is definitely a mouthful, but I'd happily devour a few of these! If you're really eating lunch on the run, there's no better fuel than a homemade granola bar. I also love that these are OAT FREE thanks to the inclusion of quinoa flakes. My kind of bar!

5. Salmon Sweet Potato Sliders

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

Who needs bread when you can use roasted sweet potato rounds as mini buns? These are super easy to whip up the night before and stay good for a few days in the fridge. You can also customize them by swapping out salmon for pulled pork or another meat, or even vegan options like jackfruit or grilled tofu. Stuff them in a lunch box on a bed of greens and devour!

6. One-Pot Vegan Mac & Cheese

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

If you're craving a warm and hardy lunch during these last wintery days, mac & cheese is one classic solution. Rebecca's version is packed with vegan protein (thank you Banza - and look out for my own review of this chickpea pasta later this week!) and would be delicious stuffed in a microwave-safe container and heated up right before eating.

7. Quinoa Bowl with Sweet Potatoes and Avocado Cream

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

The only thing better than avocado on your lunch? Having an avocado sauce that you can smother all of your other ingredients in, of course.

8. High Protein Breakfast Parfait

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

I'm all about the brunch (a fact that you probably already know if you follow me on Instagram) so this parfait immediately called my name. If it's wrong for a healthy lunch to taste like dessert, I don't want to be right.

9. Tropical Shrimp Salad Stuffed Avocado 

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

Creamy avocado plus a tangy shrimp salad and sweet hint of mango? Yes please! If you want a lunch that is low-carb but will hold you over for hours, look no further than a stuffed avocado.

10. Eat the Rainbow Bowls

10 Gluten Free Packed Lunch Recipes For Eating On-the-Go

This is the ultimate way to revitalize leftovers hiding in your fridge. Just combine some mixed greens with whatever roasted vegetables, grain/potato, creamy dressing/avocado and protein you have on hand. Shake or stir it all together, and enjoy!

Regardless of where you're spending the most of your energy these days, we're all busy. Doing chores or homework. Driving kids to school or racing to work to make it to our meeting on-time. Even though I work from home, some days it still feels like I barely have a spare moment to grab a bite to eat!

So, why not make lunch the least stressful part of your day - and one of the most delicious - by taking advantage of these gluten free packed lunch recipes? Who knows. They might be so tasty, you even find the time to sit down, relax and savor.

*Also found at What'd You Do This Weekend, Made By You Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Inspiration Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Create Link Inspire, Turn it Up Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, What's Cookin' Wednesday, RunningwithSpoons, Saucy Saturdays*

What's your favorite thing to pack for lunch? How to you balance fueling your body with getting all of your tasks done? Tell me your tips and tricks below!

Friday, March 10, 2017

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac

The longer I write this blog, the more topics I start to cover. Body image with celiac disease. Finding meditation and self confidence through yoga. I even dove into gluten free lessons from my first relationship - and you better bet "love life" never topped my to-do list when I first created Casey the College Celiac!

Today, though, I thought I'd talk about something a little different: erhm, me. I saw this 29-question survey at Daily Moves and Grooves and loved the idea of sharing some random tidbits about me with y'all. So, here's a peek into this celiac's brain lately - plus a few facts I've never written about. And, of course, I hope you play along with me in the comment section!

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac

1. Who are you named after? My parents chose "Casey" for the meaning - "spirited" - instead of any family ties. (Apparently, I loved kicking when I was in Mom's belly. I've never had a rebellious stage, so maybe I got over it in utero?) My middle name of "Lynn," though, also is my mom's...which gives us the same "CLC" initials.

2. Last time you cried? Monday afternoon after I received my sixth grad school rejection (this time from Oregon State University). I have four more schools to go...keeping my fingers crossed!

3. Do you like your handwriting? Yep. It used to be extremely tiny before I broke my right (writing) hand in sixth grade. Now, it's still small but more legible.

My latest addiction...

4.  Favorite ice cream? I love banana ice cream, but you can't go wrong with So Delicious's cashew ice creams either...especially salted caramel. (Duh).

5. Do you still have your tonsils? Yep.

6. Would you bungee jump? 98% no. Hang gliding, I'm totally down for though.

7. What color shirt are you wearing? My "Living Gluten Free to Live" black and blue shirt!

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac

8. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Not if I don't have to.

9. Do you think you’re strong? Hell yes.

10.What is your favorite lunch meat? I'm actually not a huge lunch meat person anymore (finding certified GF brands was too annoying). But I used to like grilled ham and cheese sandwiches!

11. What is the first thing you notice about a person? Smile.

12. Football or baseball? Football. "Casey at bat" gets old real quick when you can't hit the freakin' ball.

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac
Me - freshman year of high school! - at my first and only football game...

13. What color pants are you wearing? Blue dotted pajama pants. (So stylish, I know.)

14. Last thing you ate? I'm presently snacking on So Delicious vanilla (unsweetened) yogurt with homemade granola, sunbutter, prunes, banana and blackstrap molasses.

15. What are you listening to? The Next Food Network Star on YouTube.

16. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? White. I may not catch your attention at first glance but, in the right environment, I can be one heck of a surprise.

17. Favorite smell? Vanilla.

18. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? My friend Chris from college.

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac
The buds!

19. Married? Heck no. Although "ring by spring" is in full swing (rhyme unintended) back at PLNU (where I just graduated from). The weekend before Valentine's Day, four student couples got engaged...

20. Hair color? Brown with a few blond highlights from the sun.

21. Eye color? Gray. (Technically blue on the outside and brown closer to the pupil. Mom and Dad's genes still fighting it out).

22. Favorite food to eat? Sooooo many. Like figs, chickpeas, avocado, granola, sunbutter and name a few.

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac
Having a bunch of them at the same time? Even better!

23. Scary movies or happy endings? No sad endings allowed, though I do enjoy a good thriller.

24. Last movie you watched? Night at the Museum 3, Secret of the Tomb. One of my fam's favorite series.

25. What is your favorite kind of cereal? I'm presently munching on Qui'a's Cacao Coconut Superflakes (made with black beans!) so I'd say I'm a fan. Pre-celiac, I was addicted to Branflakes. Like multiple-bowls-a-day addicted...and I still crave them from time to time!

26. Favorite holiday? Christmas, mainly because of all the festive buildup weeks before.

27. Beer or wine? Neither. I had my first and only alcoholic drink (or, to be exact, a few sips of one) a few weeks after my 21st birthday. It was fine, but drinking isn't my thang.

29 Questions: Random Facts About This Quirky Celiac
Apparently getting a "first time carded" photo is a thing...
28. Night owl or morning person? The third option I've seen online: a perpetually tired penguin.

29. Favorite day of the week? Sunday. Even though I don't go to church regularly, Sunday is still my day to rest, relax and enjoy plenty of self care.

So there you have it! No fancy conclusion today, just an invitation. Comment below with your own answers to one or two of these questions - or more if you feel like it! What's a better way of kicking off the weekend than making some new (virtual) friends?

*Also found at Flaunt it Friday*