Monday, December 5, 2016

A Graduating #Celiac's Top 12 Lessons from #College

As the holidays creep closer and Christmas music starts filling the air, you may have the classic carol, Twelve Days of Christmas, repeating in your ears. This college celiac, though, can't escape a different tune: the knowledge that, in twelve days, I'll be flying back to Colorado Springs as a college graduate.

In honor of my last Monday of undergrad, I thought I'd create my own "12 Days" of College Graduation post - by sharing twelve lessons I've learned from my three and a half years of college so far. 

casey the college celiac

So grab a cup of hot cacao and keep reading to find out the twelve lessons every incoming college freshman (especially incoming college celiacs!) should know

1. College will be so much harder than you expected. 

I think most students enter college while wearing Hollywood's rose-colored glasses. For years, we've imagined how college would be based on the shows we've watched and books we've read. Yet, most reenactments probably don't emphasize how freshmen travel in packs before splintering into their own cliques or how homesickness covers pillows with tears every night. 

They certainly don't show what happens when you're diagnosed with celiac disease months before freshman year. Even my doctors didn't expect me to end up in the hospital days after my eighteenth birthday. I wasn't the only freshman who suffered unforeseen health problems, either. A close friend of mine even had to leave college for one semester because of a medical emergency. 

casey the college celiac
Gotta love the NG tube throwback...
The truth about college? As great as it can be, college often features many more challenges than the media depicts - or you ever imagined

2. You may not study what you think. 

First, I was undeclared. Then a writing major, a writing major with a Spanish minor, back to just a writing major. and, now, a writing major with a women's studies minor. In one of my classes freshman year, we needed to design a "four year plan" - basically a chart with every class we would (and needed to) take to graduate. At the time, I was terrified I wouldn't get it "right."

As the years passed, though, I tinkered with my class chart each semester. I'd take Linguistics instead of Grammar; Women's Writers second semester of my senior year instead of the first. My "plan" was fluid - and so were my academic goals and identity. And despite the wrong turns and wasted money on books (like for the Advanced Spanish class I lasted two weeks in), all of those choices got me the green robe I'll be wearing for graduation.

3. Cut the umbilical chord at your own pace. 

As a freshman, I called my mom at least once a day - and often more. Since I was lucky enough to go to college nearby, I also visited often on the weekends. It was my safe, familiar place amid the crazy uncertainty that is freshman year. And considering the health battles I had freshman year, I don't regret all the times I chose family over "life-changing" freshman events. 

casey the college celiac
All of my support groups!
Now? As a senior, I call every few days...but, having built my own local support group of friends, my mom isn't the only number I can  dial for help. College is often lauded as the institution to turn needy high schoolers into self sufficient adults. Don't feel bad for leaning on your folks more than other freshmen do, though. We all grow - in ourselves and apart from our previous "home" - at different speeds. 

And that umbilical chord that one student doesn't need from day one? It could keep you alive until you're ready to step out on your own during sophomore year. 

4. You'll value challenging classes in the long run. 

In my college's Writing department, "Intro to Linguistics" is considered equivalent to BioChem for biology majors: it's meant to weed out dedicate students from the rest. Without a doubt, that was the hardest writing class I've ever taken. I memorized all of the phonemes of the human language (symbols and sounds). Hell, I learned what a "phoneme" even is. 

At times, I got so frustrated that I would throw down the textbook, take a walk around campus and stare at the ocean and say, "The ocean doesn't care if I know linguistics!" Yet, looking back, linguistics was the most rewarding course of college. It showed me that I can do - study, understand and explain back - so much more than I thought previously possible. Even more important, I proved to myself that I would never give up - no matter how insane the homework assignment! 

5. People won't understand you - and that's OK.

I'll never forget one of my first dinners at PLNU during my freshman year. I was unhealthily thin, picking at a loaded salad - the only safe gluten free option - and watching enviously as fellow freshmen devoured cheesy slices of pizza. At that moment, one gorgeous freshman girl looked at me and said, "I wish I had celiac disease so I could be skinny like you."

casey the college celiac
Weird and proud - even in a prom dress!
Even though years have passed, I still think of that offhand comment (and explore it in my writing, as you might recognize). Now, though, I don't imagine yelling about of the pain I was in. I don't imagine describing how I would love to have the girl's curves. Instead, I'm at peace. I'll educate people on celiac disease as much as I can, but not everyone is going to understand it - or me. And as long as the important people do, that's all that matters. 

6. You'll become BBFs with people you never expected

My sophomore year of college, I was desperate for my own kitchen. At that point, I was cooking all of my own meals since my college cafeteria couldn't guarantee celiac safe food. My only shot? Getting into an on-campus apartment, which required four other girls. I had two friends who were game...and then asked the sweet, quiet girl across the hall and the studious, funny history major in my GE biology class

Those four girls? They're honestly my best (gal) friends on campus - and, miraculously, we all get along. I've told them secrets I thought I'd never share, and we've discovered we all have (hidden or not-so-hidden) wild senses of humor. I was looking for roommates, and I found soul sisters. That's one of the best surprises colleges can offer. 

casey the college celiac
Them gals!
7. At the same time, you'll lose friends you thought you'd have forever. 

My sophomore year, I thought I found "my group." We were all writing majors, besides a few strays. We shared classes, late night burrito runs and Lord of the Rings marathons

Now I don't talk to most of them - and it's better that way. As hard as it can be to accept, people are constantly growing and changing in college...and sometimes they grow apart. Sometimes, I miss them - but that's really just me missing who we used to be. And how can I want back what I had when now is just as good, just totally different

8. Working hard is worth it. Period. 

For better or for worse, I'm Type A - and while burning myself out has bit me in the butt multiple times, my work has paid off (sometimes literally) in so many other ways. 

Being a good student doesn't just give you good grades. It opens up the chance for department-recommended scholarships; for jobs that are flexible with your schedule and health needs; for talking to teachers like friends and mentors, instead of just instructors. I've experienced plenty of blessings my college career, but I also know I paved the way to several of those surprises. 

9. You may fall in love...and out of it. 

Especially in a Christian college like mine, the phrase "Mrs. degree" is common. Basically, it's the idea that women only attend college to snag a man - and earn that "ring by spring" (of senior year). In some ways, I understand why dating and education correlate. Sophomore year was the first time I experienced dating and a crush and love...and heartbreak almost two years after. 

casey the college celiac

Walk into college knowing that there are hundreds of amazing people to meet - and even a few who could earn your heart. In my mind, having a relationship was an additional class (a four-unit one, according to campus myth!) that came with its own lessons and tests. But it was a class that came best by surprise when I was fully enjoying the rest of my life. 

10. Advocate for yourself - always. 

I won't lie and say that it's easy going to school as a celiac. Unless you have an extremely educated or accommodating cafeteria, you may be forced to make all of your own meals. Not only does this require a lot of equipment (aka, a kitchen!), it also takes up a good chunk of time...and when you're taking 17 units and working two jobs, that time may be tight!

The most important step you can take, though, is always advocating for your health. Work with your cafeteria to set up acceptable accommodations. Discuss crumb protocol with your college roommates. Be open with your teachers about when you're struggling with health problems. People usually want to help, but you have to ask and explain how they can first. 

11. Know when to say, "Yes" to an adventure - no matter how unlike you it is. 

When I entered college, I wanted to make memories but I didn't have many goals besides that. Since then, I've: 

  • Dragged my best friend to her first (and way too advanced) yoga class
  • Tried my first raw, vegan restaurant...and loved it. 
  • Stayed talking with a friend down at the cliffs until dark. 
  • Taught my own my college and as Senior Editor of Entity Magazine
  • Worn a variety of bizarre outfits, ranging from a fake mustache and tutu to a yoga made out of bed sheets. 
  • Too many other adventures to list. 
casey the college celiac
From freshman year in the top left and onward!
Honestly, I've experienced countless highs and lows throughout college. I'm feeling both now as I prepare for the bittersweet moment of attending PLNU classes for the last time. And while I've certainly turned down plenty of invitations (usually in place of sleep, Netflix or eating!), the ones I did enjoy gave me the exact "out-of-my-comfort-zone" growth I needed. 

12. Know that it will go by too fast.

Every time your Monday morning alarm sounds, you'll probably groan, "It's only Monday!" And you'll keep saying that for weeks, months, and even years - until you can only say, "It's the last Monday..."

As challenging as this semester felt, I can't believe it's already over. People say that time flies when you're having fun, but that's apparently also true when you're having fun while simultaneously dying from classes

I suppose, besides wanting to help future college (celiac) freshmen, I wrote this post to help me hold onto this semester a little longer. To remember that, as much as it may hurt to let go of college now, the good memories I'll always have are worth the sting. 

casey the college celiac
Looking back as I move forward...
And like the Twelve Days of Christmas keeps repeating each previous line with every new one, I hope to use these lessons of my past to sing - and live - an even more beautiful future. 

What did you learn from college (so far)? Can you relate to any of these lessons? Tell me below! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

#GlutenFree Monthly Favorites: Thanksgiving, Cast Iron Paleo Book Review & More

Does anyone else feel like they woke up from a post-Thanksgiving turkey coma...and it was suddenly December? While I didn't actually enjoy the typical Thanksgiving feast this year, December still seems to have appeared out of nowhere.

So what did I eat and do on Turkey Day? Why is my cast iron skillet suddenly my new best friend? And what are my plans now that my college graduation is less than three weeks away (insert screaming emoji here)? 

casey the college celiac

Find out all of that and more in November's Monthly Favorites!

What I'm Eating

Dumpling veggie soup. Since my parents moved to Colorado Springs over the summer and I knew I'd be flying home in early December, I decided to spend Thanksgiving in my college apartment this year. So, instead of whipping up the usual feast, I went with dumpling veggie soup (loosely based off of this recipe) in the crockpot. And I proceeded to eat the leftovers for four days straight. At least I didn't break that Thanksgiving tradition!

Anything and everything from my cast iron skillet. Even though I first bought my skillet months ago, it's been easier staring at it longingly than using it whip up dinner. Until, that is, I received a free copy of Cast Iron Paleo to review. The 101 recipes range from breakfast (the potato and veggie hash is my favorite!) to savory meals to desserts. While most of the recipes are meat-based, there is a vegetarian section. Some of my fave vegan options? Eggplant Involtini with a nut-based "ricotta" cheese and Sizzling Portobello Fajitas. Reading has never been so...drool-worthy.

casey the college celiac
Eats have been good, to say the least!
The last of my stash of Chewy Pumpkin Popcorn Balls. I stored a container of these in the freezer when I first made the recipe, and I've been addicted to adding one or two to my morning smoothies. Creamy + chewy + crunchy = one happy Casey. 

What I'm Doing

Plenty of yoga "me dates" to stretch my body and mind. Although I'm usually kept busy with class during the day, my nights are more up for grabs. So, of course, I've been taking advantage of Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube for some dorm-room practice. If you're self conscious about trying out new poses in front of others, or don't have the time or money to travel to a studio, this YouTube channel is a definite winner!

Adventures with friends...from Dia de los Muertos at Old Town to girl's night lunch out at Whole Foods. Now that I'm done with grad school applications, I'm dedicating my free time to friends. The Dia de Los Muertos festival was tons of fun (though I'll admit my favorite part was seeing a dog perched on a man's shoulders during the parade. The phrase "birds' eye view" just became even more complicated.) And can you ever go wrong with Whole Foods' hot bar? I don't think so.

casey the college celiac
A few snaps of adventures!
Taking too many cliffside walks to count. Since I was alone for three out of the five days of Thanksgiving break, I spent a lot of time enjoying Sunset cliffs and playing around with my phone camera. In fact, I took a walk every day but one, and those were actually the highlight of my break. 

What I'm Planning

Christmas is almost here...and so are plenty of product reviews and even a giveaway or two. Look out for names like Flamous Brands chips and Frontier Snacks - plus a HUGE Namaste Foods giveaway!g

Speaking of Christmas, I'm also going to be savoring the Christmas spirit around my college. I'm imagining plenty of night walks around campus to see the lights, as well as a visit to Garrison Street (a neighborhood renowned for its epic decorations). I'm sure a few more festive recipes will sneak into my kitchen (and mouth) too!

casey the college celiac christmas
Throwing it back to sophomore year!
Graduating college in less than one month! The end of this semester will be the most bittersweet one yet. On one hand, I am (beyond) ready to be done with classes and fly back to Colorado Springs. I haven't seen my family since August 28, so I'm definitely down for some quality time! On the other hand, the end of the semester also means lots of packing and semi-permanent goodbyes. As I'll share later next week, my college experience wasn't exactly what I expected...but it was exactly what I needed to become the strong, determined graduate I am. (Expect a few graduation photos this coming January, when I'll actually walk!) 

Whether December creeped up on you or you've been playing Christmas carols since November 1, this last month was surely filled with plenty of memorable eats and activities. As I begin my last month as a college student, the phrase "Winter Wonderland" has never felt more accurate. 

casey the college celiac
No words needed...
Because this winter, I'm wondering about plenty of topics - not the least of which is: "How the heck did we get here already?" But I'm also staring around in wonder at all I've accomplished...and all that's yet to come. 

*Also found at Pretty Pintastic Party and Dare to Share!*

When do you officially start "celebrating" the Christmas season? What were some of your favorite November eats and activities? What about December plans! Tell me all about it below!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

11+ Celiac Celebrities Making the (Gluten Free) World A Better Place

For many, the holiday season revolves around spending time with friends and family. Even when surrounded by loved ones, however, it can be easy to feel alone as a celiac. You can't eat offered Christmas cookies without asking for the ingredient list. You may have even done a Casey and turned down invitations to Thanksgiving dinner simply because you knew that saying, "I can't eat that, but thank you for the offer" to dozens of strangers would get old.

As isolating as celiac disease can seem, however, the numbers show a different story. One in 133 Americans have celiac disease. In fact, some of your favorite celebrities may even be fellow celiacs-in-arms. Feeling lonely this holiday season?

casey the college celiac

Then keep reading to discover the 11+ celiac celebrities who are making the world a better place, one industry at a time.

1. Awesome Athletes.

For some athletes, eating gluten free is the key to winning gold - in the Olympics or otherwise. Great Britain's Olympic curling champion Eve Muirhead was diagnosed with celiac disease just months before the 2014 Olympic games. While she's unsure of whether she could've done better than a bronze medal if she hadn't been dealing with her health issues, she still thinks, "Having been through all of this, I am stronger - both mentally and physically."

Other celiacs with proven athletic prowess? NFL football player Cedric Benson was reportedly diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009, and Drew Brees has been linked with celiac disease as well. Perhaps one of the more vocal celiac athletes is professional golfer Sarah Jane Smith. "It's so important for people to understand this is something they can take control of," Smith says. "Celiac disease doesn't have to control you."

2. Witty Writers.

Even if you've never heard her name, you're probably familiar with Sarah Vowell's writing. Besides contributing to public radio's "This American Life," she's written for Los Angeles Times, Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Book Review and plenty more. She's quirky, loves traveling and doesn't drive because of a personal phobia - and she'll sign her books with phrases like: "To my gluten free fans." Sometimes we celiacs are just too cool to handle.

casey the college celiac
Not that I'm biased or anything...
Still not convinced? Then meet Meg Cabot, a New York Times best-selling author of various books, including the Princess Diaries. She addressed her diagnosis in a blog post, sharing her own struggles (like "HOW DO I ORDER FOOD IN A RESTAURANT?" Yep, we've all asked the same question...) and her attempts to "put a positive spin on it." As cliche as it sounds, celiacs really are in it together...whether we're a world renown author or just a writing wannabe!

3. Newscasters in the know.

Whether you've watched him as a broadcaster on Fox or ESPN, or as a host in MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann has one trait in common: he has celiac disease. He has reportedly called gluten a "poison" for his body and has donated to charities that provide celiac support and awareness.

Heidi Collins is another familiar face in the news industry, especially if you enjoy watching CNN. She experienced over a decade of health problems before being diagnosed with celiac disease. Her oldest son, Riley, also tested positive for celiac disease. Collins is also an example of the damage caused by years of untreated celiac disease: it was one of the reasons Collins and her husband chose to have a second child via surrogate. Collins' biggest piece of advice? "If you have celiac disease, do not be shy. You really have to fight for yourself and your health."

4. Entertainment Experts.

Zooey Deschanel may be a "new girl" on TV, but celiac disease is nothing new to her. Besides avoiding wheat due to celiac, she is also allergic to eggs and dairy. When Zooey appeared as a judge on Top Chef Masters, contestants had to learn to make something delicious within those restrictions. If you learned about the magic that is quinoa pasta from that episode, I'm sure Zooey would accept a thank you note.

casey the college celiac
Could I have won her over with my vegan mac n' cheese?
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, cohost of The View and former "Survivor" contestant, is another celiac celeb. She's taken her advocacy to another level by writing a book called, "G-Free: A Gluten Survival Guide." Hasselbeck hopes that the book will help readers "begin your journey to a better body and a better self - without all of the heartache (and bellyache!) that [she] endured for far too long."

The superstar title among all celiac celebrities, though, probably goes to Jennifer Esposito. If you're a fan of Gluten Dude, you've heard of this actress before. When she's not blowing viewers away in shows like Blue Bloods or NCIS, she's blowing away foodies at Jennifer's Way Bakery. A celiac who can act, bake and advocate? Sign me up.

5. Badass Bloggers.

I'd be remiss if I didn't list a few of the celiac bloggers who are spreading awareness through the Internet. While I can't list all of them, some rockstars that particularly stick out in my mind include:

  • Gluten Dude. I'll always be grateful for the time he shared my story when I was hospitalized from celiac complications...and I'll squeal every time when he compliments one of my blog posts on Twitter. If you're looking for someone who's brutally honest about the highs and lows of celiac, Gluten Dude is your man.
  • Celiac and the Beast. I'm not ashamed to say that I have a big girl crush on Erica. She's a blogger, an author, and an editor for Gluten Free and More Magazine. She definitely represents a few of my gluten free #lifegoals.
  • Gluten Away. Taylor never ceases to amaze me with how much he's accomplished as a teenager! We college celiacs can be a rare breed, so I'm glad to have a fellow advocate like Taylor. And if you've always wanted to go to a Gluten Free Expo, but never had the chance, check out his online expo!

If you need even more bloggers to reach out to, check out my "Favorite Blogs" tab.

casey the college celiac
Happy Holidays, from me to you!
Regardless of how supportive your friends and family may be, being a celiac during the holidays isn't always a jolly sleigh ride in the snow. Unless, of course, the sleigh ride features hot cacao you can't drink and one or two surprise hills. Yet, just a glimpse at some of the "celebrity celiacs" shows that we aren't alone...and that we can make a difference regardless of our individual skills and different backgrounds.

My big hope this holiday? That the words I write on this blog help make the world a better place, one educated celiac (or gluten-lover) at a time.

*Also found at Wow Me Wednesday, RunningwithSpoons, Pretty Pintastic Party, Share Fest and Let's Get Real!*

Did you know about any of these famous faces with celiac? Do you ever feel extra lonely or stressed during the holidays? Tell me below!

Monday, November 28, 2016

What It Means to "Walk the Walk" During the Holidays

Race walking. I had never heard of it before I turned on the Olympics last July, only to be stunned at the image of swinging hips and locked knees and competitors flying forward with only the smallest of steps. In the strictest sense, these athletes may be the epitome of “walking the walk” – and they win medals for doing so.

But, as holiday music starts playing in stores (or on your computer as you delve into Cyber Monday), my feet have been dancing to a new beat. In fact, as I spent my first Thanksgiving away from family and alone at my dorm, I’ve carved a different definition of walking the walk.

casey the college celiac, gratitude, holidays

It’s having contemplations nearly as deep as the rolling oceans you stroll past.

It's stopping to experiment with your phone timer to capture the glint of a sun setting through the trees.

It’s peeling yourself away from the computer, the holiday shopping list, and yes, sometimes even the people you love and walking alone on the paths that have been worn by thousands of feet before yours, owned by people with their own stresses, successes and walking routines.

It’s choosing to walk – and think – with only nature as your company again and again and again.

Like Henry David Thoreau once said:
"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
This last weekend, I walked to escape the materialism that often hides between the days of turkey and shopping. I walked to hold onto the gratitude I felt Face-timing my family on Thanksgiving and to remember the views I will miss in four weeks when graduation comes my way. Every time I walk, I walk for joy, freedom, freshness, retreat, renewal, discovery, and love – for myself and my surroundings.

I want my thoughts to reflect the same – even as the busy days of the holidays approach – so I suppose I’ll keep on walking. Because maybe if I walk the walk, I can talk the talk…if only to myself.

*This is part of a new blog series I'm starting known as "Mindful Morsels," which will feature short posts with a focus on mindfulness and mental health. Most will have first appeared at, which I co-author*

*Also found at Inspiration Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, Totally Terrific Tuesdays, Wine'd Down Wednesday and Turn it Up!*

Do you ever find yourself walking more as the holidays approach? Why do you walk? Tell me below!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Creamy Cranberry Smoothie Bowl (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Do you ever make a delicious meal so often, you never bother to jot down the recipe? Maybe it was your grandmother's favorite green bean casserole or the mashed potatoes that stole the show this Thanksgiving. Or maybe it's as simple a trick as mixing warm water with lemon and apple cider vinegar.

When it comes to this college celiac, no "recipe" is more unwritten than my favorite smoothie bowls. This Black Friday, though, I wanted to give you the most bang for your buck - at least in terms of your cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving. This smoothie isn't just prime real estate for leftovers, either. It's vegan, paleo and free of most allergens, packed with hidden veggies (perfect for a post-Thanksgiving detox), and super creamy thanks to So Delicious yogurt.

casey the college celiac thanksgiving

Ready to dig into your own creamy cranberry smoothie bowl? Then gather these simple ingredients:

Ingredients (for 2-3 servings):

1/2 frozen banana
Handful of mixed berries and cranberries (I personally use frozen cranberries, but this is also a perfect excuse to use leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving!)
1 large chopped frozen zucchini/squash (add more or less zucchini depending on your sweetness preference)
1 TBSP chia seeds
Enough liquid to blend (I prefer green tea for the health benefits)
Two spoonfuls of So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla Yogurt
Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract
Optional: frozen spinach or other greens (which will result in a more green or brown colored smoothie), frozen pieces of beet (for an even brighter red color) and superfoods like turmeric, spirulina, maca and cacao powder

If you're tired after hours of cooking on Thanksgiving, this is the recipe for you! Just add the ingredients into a high-speed blender. (This recipe is designed for a Vitamix, but you can scale down the ingredients for smaller blenders like a Nutribullet). For the best results, first add the liquid, spices, chia seeds and yogurt (along with cranberry sauce, if you're using that form). Then, add your frozen vegetables and fruit. If you like drinkable smoothies, add more liquid. If - like me - you prefer smoothies that need a spoon, use less liquid.

casey the college celiac
Best of both (drink-and-spoon-able) worlds!
Craving an extra festive breakfast? Then play with one of these holiday-inspired three color options:

  1. Rudolph Red: along with your cranberries, stick to red fruits like strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate seeds. If you're craving even more hidden veggies, choose frozen beets over spinach or other greens. You can also add superfood powders like camu camu or acai for an even more vibrant color.
  2. Evergreen: along with cranberries, add bananas and cantaloupe, which are both fruits that won't greatly affect your smoothie's color. If you're not a fan of tart smoothies, these sweet fruits will also taper down the cranberries' sour flavor. Don't be shy with your leafy greens either (ranging from beet greens to spinach to kale), and you can even experiment with adding spirulina for a green boost. 
  3. Loco for Cacao: just because you already feasted on Thanksgiving dinner doesn't mean you can't have dessert for breakfast! Combining cacao powder and cranberries results in an addictively sweet and sour smoothie. For the deepest "chocolate" color, add leafy greens along with bright colored fruits and veggies like blackberries and beets.  
casey the college celiac cranberry thanksgiving
All of your options...including mixing two colors!
Whatever base color you choose, you shouldn't skimp on the toppings either. One of the best parts about this creamy cranberry smoothie bowl is its contrast to crunchy or chewy toppings. Some of my favorites? For crunchy, reach toward: homemade granola, Enjoy Life Foods trail mix (nut free and addictive!), oatless oatmeal clusters and puffed rice cereal. For chewy, pick up: dried fruit, homemade Pumpkin Popcorn Balls, and snack/protein bars. I always end up including some diced fresh fruit and nut butter too because...why not?

Sometimes, the best kind of recipes are those that we don't need to write down. They're part of our regular routine - whether in holidays like Thanksgiving or a typical Wednesday at college - and our taste buds' regular cravings.

casey the college celiac smoothie thanksgiving
All those fall colors...
I hope you can consider this creamy cranberry smoothie bowl my holiday treat to you. Take it, make it and make it your own! And trust me...when it comes to this recipe, Thanksgiving leftovers will never taste so sweet.

*I did receive a free carton of So Delicious yogurt to use in a recipe, but I buy their yogurt every week all opinions are my own!*

*This post also appears at Allergy Free Thursdays, Pretty Pintastic Party, Saucy Saturdays, Share Fest, Snickerdoodle Sunday, Tasty Tuesday, What Cookin' Wednesday and Let's Get Real!*

Do you often repeatedly make meals without writing down the recipe? What is your favorite way to reuse Thanksgiving leftovers? Tell me your tips and tricks below!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

5 Tips for Giving Thanks for Uncertainty in Life

When you sit around the dinner table with family and friends this Thanksgiving, what will you say you're grateful for? A new job? Safe and delicious food? An upcoming Christmas vacation?

Whatever you say, your comments will probably have one trait in common: they are are all known blessings, whether events that have already happened or plans scrawled in your calendar. This Thanksgiving, though, why not give thanks for something different

casey the college celiac

Keep reading to hear this college celiac's top five tips for giving thanks for the uncertainties in life.

1. Take time to reflect on what you don't know.

When people hear the phrase "holiday season," they may first imagine gifts under the tree, family around the dinner table and festive carols in the air. However, holidays are also known for being busy - so busy, in fact, that we can forget to reflect on the blessings that aren't staring us right in the face. 

I've experienced this "busy blindness" for myself plenty of times this semester. Since August 28th, my life has been packed with non-stop classes, homework, two jobs, eleven grad school applications and plenty of adventures with friends. One week ago, though, I stopped. I took a walk along Sunset Cliffs with music as my only company. 

And I realized as much as I know what is coming when I graduate in four weeks, I still have plenty of questions, like:

- How will I cope having to start all over with making friends, yet again? 
- How will I adjust to the Colorado winter - and living with my parents again?
- Will my anticipated job offer pan out - and how will I like it? 
- What. Am. I. Doing?!? 

Just like you can't answer a question you never ask, you can't be thankful for things-yet-to-come if you never identify your uncertainties in the first place. So step back from the holiday rush, just for a moment, and ask yourself what you don't know. 

2. Acknowledge and accept any fears.

Maybe your biggest uncertainty is whether your Disneyland vacation will be in March or April. Or maybe you're like me and will discover anxieties that have been skirting, but not yet breaking, the surface of your thoughts. Either way, these mindful Loch Ness monsters can be scary - but that's OK.

casey the college celiac
Not knowing what's ahead? Yep, scary.
After all, it would probably be easier to ignore your doubts about the future and celebrate every blessing you already know. But the unknowns in your life may be weighing heavier on your mind than you initially realize. As Tiny Buddha explains, the fear of uncertainty usually stems from a fear of failure. In my case, a small part of myself can't stop wondering if I'll ever make new friends as amazing as my college buddies or if I'm even ready to leave the "Loma bubble" my college provides. 

However, when you acknowledge and accept these fears, you can keep them from paralyzingly you. Instead, you can attack them head-on and try to craft the future of your dreams. 

3. Consider your options - dreams, worst case scenarios and all - and ask, "What if?" 

But how exactly can you decide what actions to take - and, perhaps even harder, be grateful for the unknowns causing these fears? The answer to this question, ironically enough, can be found in another question: "What if?"

What if your fears come true? What if that promotion you've been chasing for years goes to someone else, yet again? What if your new hometown isn't as homey you would like? And, conversely, what if your dreams for the future do actually become reality?

casey the college celiac
World in the palm of your hand?
By identifying the worst-case scenario, you're, in a way, turning on the bedroom light to see that the "monster" was just a stack of dirty clothes. You can consider what escape routes you would have, like applying for a different position in another department or joining a community club to meet more locals. You can also think of what possibilities - or, to phrase it in the old cliche, windows, open from that closed door. You may even be able to turn your predicament into something extraordinary, according to Jonathon Fields, author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.

On the other hand, by imagining the best case, you can make the "unknown" seem exciting, and even an adventure you can look forward to. Don't forget to talk out your doubts with friends or loved ones, either. Your "what if?" may be their "today," and they could give you an insider's perspective on your best and worst case scenarios. 

4. Know that you will survive - and even thrive - no matter what happens. 

Perhaps the most important mantra to reflect on, though, is that you will be OK no matter what happens. When you determine your fears, you can decide what actions to take to sway the future in your favor. However, there will always be outside factors you can't predict or control. Recognize that uncertainty can be the fuel you need to kick butt and achieve your dreams, and be thankful for that. 

casey the college celiac
Keep walking along!
At the same time, though, also accept that you may need to rely on others for support, help and encouragement along the way. When I imagined what my college experience would be like, I never thought I would:

  • Be diagnosed with celiac disease months before freshman year and be hospitalized only a few days after my eighteenth birthday. 
  • Go from having my parents live only thirty minutes away to be an "out-of-state" student during my senior year. 
  • Fall in love for the first time, have my heart broken for the first time, and find unexpected blessings in moving on. 
  • Become best friends with three random girls I asked to be my roommates...and not talk to 75% of the people from my sophomore year "group" anymore. 
  • Apply to 11 graduate schools, have 99% of my completed pieces of writing published in literary magazine and be working as Senior Editor to a magazine all about empowering women. 
  • Blog through every challenging, successful, joyful and heartbroken moment. 

The truth is, I entered college with plenty of scary "What ifs?" echoing in my mind - and while some of the worst case scenarios came true, I'm still graduating. I'm still happy. 

And I'm so much stronger than I was when I first walked into this campus, because now I: 

5. See that uncertainty includes the certainty of growth. 

We are all facing different unknowns, uncertainties and doubts this holiday season. As we sit around the dinner table on Thanksgiving and Christmas, we may want to focus on all of the certain blessings in life. Yet uncertainties have an aspect of certainty, too: growth

casey the college celiac
No words necessary.
Whatever happens - a promotion or a job loss, connections with new people or a home that has yet to feel welcoming - you will become stronger because of it. You will adapt to new demands, rejoice in new successes and discover previously hidden strengths and weaknesses in yourself and others. 

As Eckhart Tolle once said, "When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life." Along with whatever possibilities become realities, though, growth is guaranteed

And as we spend these holidays surrounded by friends and family, focused on the present but also haunted by thoughts of our past and future, isn't personal growth worth giving thanks for?

What are you thankful for this year? How do you view uncertainties - are they opportunities to be grateful for or not? Tell me your thoughts below!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cooking #Glutenfree for the Holidays with Turmeric: Tips & Tricks

When the evening breeze starts feeling nippy and leafs turn from green to red, you may start thinking about Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas shopping, and relaxing vacations from school or work. As enjoyable as the holiday season can feel, though, it's also a period often full of stress, sickness and an overwhelmed schedule.

One easy - and delicious - way to keep your immune system as infallible as your holiday spirit? Adding more turmeric to your diet.

casey the college celiac

As I've written before, this yellow spice has been used (in meals and as a medicinal herb) in India for centuries. What's so great about it? Besides offering a pop of color to your meals, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, which helps your body fight foreign invaders and repair previous damage, and is packed with antioxidants. Turmeric has even been shown to improve brain function, lower one's risk for heart disease, prevent - and possibly treat - cancer, improve joint health, and even help improve depression.

So you've seen what turmeric can do for you - but what can you do with turmeric? Whether you're cooking or baking, this superfood really is super easy to incorporate - even into your favorite holiday dishes!

For a kick of antioxidants with my breakfast, smoothies are one of my favorite ways to enjoy turmeric. I personally like using turmeric powder, which doesn't have to be stored in the fridge and lasts longer before going bad, but you can also use fresh turmeric root. Either way, simply add the powder/root to your high-powered blender with the rest of the smoothie ingredients. To disguise the taste of turmeric (which is more pronounced with the root than the powder), try incorporating fruits with a distinct or sweet flavor - like orange, banana or berries. Because the human body absorbs turmeric better when it's combined with a source of fat, don't forget to add some coconut milk, coconut oil or nut butter to your smoothie either!

casey the college celiac
You can even get festive in your decorations!
If the colder weather is making you crave cozier breakfasts, you can also work turmeric into your morning porridge. Unless you feel like blending the turmeric root into your milk/water/tea beforehand, turmeric powder is the easiest choice. Just add one teaspoon or so into your usual oatmeal and dive in. (For a super bright breakfast, try using Numi Organic Tea's Amber Sun as your oatmeal liquid and shredded squash in place of zucchini.)

More of a savory food lover? Then get your curry on with some help from turmeric! While your traditional holiday feast may not feature curry, it's actually a great use of leftover veggies, potato and (optionally) meat. For instance, using roasted veggies and a leftover baked potato makes Further Food's vegan potato curry a snap to make. Because after the cooking marathon that is Thanksgiving, sometimes we need an easy meal!

casey the college celiac
Super (comfort) food!
If you're looking for a...sneakier way to add turmeric to family dinner, mac n' cheese is the ninja you need! I love adding a hefty dose of turmeric to my homemade vegan cheese sauce - which is based off of TheVegan8's fat free recipe, but I don't use the soy sauce or nutritional yeast. Even if you're cooking your favorite boxed mac n' cheese or your mom's dairy-packed recipe, you can stir a little turmeric into the mix. Start with less and add more as your taste buds can tolerate. As long as you don't include too much, your relatives will never know that their mac n' cheese is spiked with a superfood...

Finally, dessert time. While you can certainly experiment with adding turmeric to any of your baked goods - in my experience, pancakes, mug cakes, and cookies are all fair game - I always add a dose of turmeric to my homemade granola. The granola's healthy fats from coconut flour and flakes helps ensure that turmeric - and its healing properties - is fully absorbed by the body. To get into the fall spirit, try my Secretly Healthy Pumpkin Granola, which not only tastes festive, but also looks extra bright and cozy from the turmeric.

casey the college celiac
Some of my favorite festive desserts!
You can even get your turmeric fix when you don't have any oven room left to bake with. Just gather a few key ingredients - like dates, banana and coconut (or an alternative) flour. Then throw together any spices, berries, nuts, seeds or superfoods (including turmeric, obviously!) you have on hand, and roll the dough into bliss balls. Easy, healthy and very addictive. For an extra holiday flair, you can even stick to a color red/green/yellow color scheme by using ingredients like pomegranate seeds and strawberries, spirulina powder and mint, and turmeric and banana chips.

Still craving more turmeric treats for your holiday dining? Then check out these recipes from the blogosphere!

Whether you're trying to stay healthy during the cheery chaos of the holidays or just add some color to your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, turmeric is a delicious and easy addition to any diet. Who knows. Maybe turmeric is how Santa Clause keeps his energy up for his gift-giving marathon!

*Also found at Inspiration Monday, Tasty Tuesdays, Turn it Up Tuesdays, Wine'd Down Wednesday, What's Cookin' Wednesday, VegetarianMama, Saucy Saturdays, Snickerdoodle Sunday and Totally Terrific Tuesday!*

Do you ever try to add more antioxidants to your diet during the holiday season? How would you update holiday favorites with turmeric? Let me know by commenting below!