Friday, February 27, 2015

Feasting on Pancakes and Nana Ice Cream!

A long day of classes. Piles of essays to write and upcoming midterms to study for. And a near-empty fridge. What's a college celiac to do but whip up a pancake and nana ice cream feast for dinner?

1 + 1 = deliciousness!
Traditionally, coconut yogurt has always dominated my pancake topper throne. One day, though, I looked in the fridge and - gasp! - was out. Banana ice cream to the rescue

And why not? Fluffy, gooey pancakes. Cold, creamy (and veggie packed!) nana ice cream. Sprinkle a little nut butter, sautéed berries and seeds on top and you can gorge on a (totally healthy) sundae for dinner!

A melted pool of yum
To get started, gather up your edible ammo:

For the Pancakes:

You can either use your favorite pancake mix or whip up my recipe for GF, vegan pancakes, which includes: 

5 TBSP coconut flour 
2 TBSP buckwheat flour (I grind my own from buckwheat groats in my Nutribullet or my Dad's coffee maker)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2-1 very ripe banana (depending on your desired sweetness) 
chia seed egg (1 tbsp ground chia seeds and 3 tbsp water) 
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp milk (I've used rice and coconut before with wonderful results!)
2 tbsp water (plus any extra required as mix thickens)
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp vanilla 
Mixed fruit (I prefer blueberries, strawberries, grapes, pomegranate seeds, apple slices, etc).
Coconut oil (or alternate cooking oil)

For the Ice Cream (or adapt my recipe for traditional banana ice cream):

1 banana, cut up and frozen (without the peel!) ahead of time
1/2 a zucchini, chopped and frozen with the banana
A couple handfuls of leafy greens (such as chard, spinach, or kale)
Vanilla extract
Enough liquid (coconut milk, dairy substitute, water, etc) to get the blender going
Optional: Maca powder, other flavorings (mint or cacao stevia anyone?) or spices 
A high speed blender, Nutribullet or food processor

Begin by transforming your frozen veggies and fruits into ice cream! Load your ingredients into a blender. I like to layer my greens and flavor add-ins between my frozen components - at least for me, that seems to get the most evenly mixed texture with the least actual mixing. Add your liquid last, beginning with the smallest amount possible and adding more until your blender whirls to work. The less liquid = the thicker ice cream! 

Side-sticking = perfection!
After your magic wand (or blender) has done its thing, place the ice cream in the freezer for safe keeping (either in a new freezer-friendly bowl or your blending cup). Now it's time for the pancake party!

Create your chia egg, letting it sit for a few moments before adding the rest of your ingredients. If your banana isn't super ripe, try microwaving it for 30 seconds or until it easily mixes into the batter. After cutting up your fruit, start the cooking

Pancakes all around!
Heat up your pan with a dab of coconut oil inside at med/high heat. Once the oil melts and starts sizzling, add scoops of batter (I use 1 heaping TBSP per pancake), and fruit toppings. Cook the pancakes at medium heat for roughly 30 seconds, then at low for around 2 minutes. Then flip and repeat. And keep repeating until it the entire batter has been cooked! (While trying to resist the urge to eat - more than a couple bites, anyway.)

Once your pancakes are arranged on the plate, sautée any leftover pieces of fruit in a little coconut oil for about 30 seconds on low heat. When lightly scorched and tender, set the fruit pieces aside to cool while you rescue your nana ice cream from the freezer

My Nutribullet gettin' cozy in the freezer
It should have become even thicker from its time in the freezer, so feel free plop it in scoops onto your plate. Now for the decorations! Spoon your sautéed fruit over the pancakes and nana ice cream, also adding optional treats like seeds, cacao nibs and drizzles of nut butter. If you're feeling really decadent, whip up some homemade chocolate sauce by mixing melted coconut oil with cocoa powder - it'll form a magic shell over the nana ice cream. Beautiful and delicious? Sign me (and my taste buds) up! 

The best part of this recipe is its adaptability (I think that's my cooking trademark by now!). Have lots of frozen berries to use up? Make berry ice cream to go on top! You can add even more veggies - like celery, cucumber or beets - for an even healthier ice cream. Who says you can't have pancakes and vegetables in the same meal? 

A mountain of sweet greens!
As for the pancakes, you could add extra super foods - acai, maca and cacao powder I'm looking at you - or extracts like mint or pumpkin pie stevia. Your imagination - and taste buds - are the limit

Between the essays, my upcoming midterms (next week!) and lots of classes, sometimes going grocery shopping falls on the bottom of my to-do list. With a recipe like pancakes and banana ice cream for dinner, though, I know I'll survive. And so will my stomach

What's your favorite topping for pancakes? Do you ever do breakfast for dinner? Comment below! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

I had no idea...that I would ever become afraid of food. 

I had no idea...that I would ever be hospitalized because of extreme weight loss and nutritional deficiencies from celiac disease. 

This year's theme...

That last phrase is the theme for 2015's National Eating Disorder Awareness WeekI'll begin by first stating that, unlike the target audience of this campaign, I've never suffered from an eating disorder. Yet, that phrase describes a part of my journey with celiac disease and food perfectly. 

Eating disorders can come in many shapes and sizes. A person can eat too little (anorexia nervosa) or eat too much (binge eating). They can force themselves to throw up (bulimia) or over exercise to lose weight. A person doesn't have to be underweight or female - anyone can suffer from disordered eating. And their friends and family can have "no idea." 

And skinny doesn't mean "eating disorder" either…
maybe just celiac!
Although I never intentionally stopped eating to lose weight, I can relate to surviving on 600 calories or less a day. While playing soccer and going to school full time. 

My stomach was so ravaged by celiac disease that food literally scared me - and although I ate what I thought was plenty (and still suffered from awful acid reflux and nausea), now I look at pictures of my breakfast of one rice cake with peanut butter and can't believe I wasn't still hungry

My usual breakfast a year ago...
Now, I think back to my near-obsession with "eating healthy" and shake my head. After losing so much energy, strength and life to celiac disease, I was desperate to heal myself. So gluten free cake, french fries, anything not packed with healthy nutrients was also a no-go

Sometimes I wonder about a possible correlation between celiac disease and eating disorders. Does medically restricting gluten make those with celiac more prone to restricting other food as well? Does our desperate desire to "feel better" leave us vulnerable for disordered thoughts on eating to sneak in? And what about those who claim "gluten intolerance" or "celiac" during or when recovering from an eating disorder? 

A simple google search reveals...
Truthfully, I have no idea. But I do know that National Eating Disorder Awareness Organization reports that 35% of people on diets become pathological dieters, and a quarter of them fully develop disordered eating. I do know friends who have struggled (and are still fighting!) eating disorders. And I do know that there are thousands more whose loved ones still have "no idea" of the internal battle that occurs every meal. 

If celiac disease and my journey with food has taught me anything, it's that food is meant to be enjoyed and respected. Eating a whole pizza because it was your first edible gluten free pie in months doesn't make you a "binge-eater." You aren't being really "bad" if you eat dessert (even several times!) a day. And, despite what commercials and ads imply, you don't have to be skinny to be happy. Or happy to be skinny. (I'm proof of that!) 

No "bad" foods here! Or anywhere!
This week, I'm going to love my food even more. Because it nourishes me - body and soul. It brings me pleasure. It creates memories. And it's a sign of how far I have come with food. It's a sign of how far anyone with disordered eating can go with the support of their family, friends and movements like National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. 

Spread the word all this week by following the tips given here. And if you think someone is struggling with disordered eating, try to give them the support and information they need. A little love goes a long way! 

*Thanks to Amber for inspiring this post and for the pictures and statistics from the National Eating Disorder Awareness Organization*  

Have you ever suffered from disordered eating or known someone who has? Have you noticed a correlation between "gluten free" and disordered eating? Comment below! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Five Tips to Cook like a College Celiac

One college celiac. Three square meals to whip up every day between 17 units of classes. Is it wrong to say that feeding myself feels like another 4-units?

Despite the challenges, I'd like to say I've gotten a hand (or a spatula) on cooking for one person without drowning in repetition, food bills or constant cooking. And I'm sharing my top 5 tips for all the other single ladies (or gentlemen) partying gluten free in the kitchen. 

My weapon of choice...
1. Sales are your friend. By now, the seafood server at my local Sprouts - a kind, older gentleman named Stephen - knows me by name. Not only because I go shopping every week for groceries, but also because I never fail to pick up the fish on sale that week. 

Sometimes it's wild salmon. Other times, tilapia or cat fish. I recently tried Crimson snapper for the first time since it was at $6 a pound - sales are the perfect excuse to experiment with a new protein without feeling guilty! 

And when I buy, I buy big! This not only saves me money, but also ensures I always have a healthy slab of protein in the freezer for when I need it!

Got the whole world (of taste buds) in my hand!
And when no sales are going on? No problem! Cause I already have last week's steal chillin' (pun intended) in my dorm room! 

2. Cook like you're catering for the whole football team. Girls often walk into the kitchen and stare at the 1lb of fish I'm pan frying in the skillet. Because I have at least 3 classes every week day, I don't have time to cook each a fresh dinner every night. 

Instead, I'll whip up a huge portion of protein, healthy carbs (sweet potatoes anyone?) or roasted veggies on days with big breaks between classes. 

All the noms!

Sometimes, I'll freeze portions of it. Turkey meat, for instance, always gets cooked and thrown in the freezer for easy defrosting since I don't eat as often as, say, salmon. Grains like cooked rice and stews also defrost nicely. 

When you're a busy lady cooking only for yourself, the freezer is a magic treasure chest to cut down your weekly cooking and keep items from spoiling

Go into the light!
3. The only downside of "go big or go home" mindset can be the mounds of leftovers that don't freeze well. Cooked fillets of fish, for instance, seem to lose their moisture and flavor after being freed from a stay in the freezer. Leftovers don't have to be boring or tasteless, though!

The trick is to tweak ingredients in the whole meal to give your leftovers a whole new taste!

Two of my many game-changers!

This week, I ate sweet potato rounds for three lunches in a row but didn't even notice because of the other compliments I threw in the meal.

 First, I made them into my famous sweet potato salmon sliders. The next day, I changed them up by serving them as side chips to my turkey burger salad. And I finished them off by stacking them into mini BBQ pulled pork sliders. Presto! Change the protein, sauce or base and a whole new dish emerges! 

Leftovers are anything but tasteless!

4. Try to loosely meal plan, but don't stress. All of the other tips are related to the idea of scheduling out your daily noms beforehand. Now meal planning saves many people from repetition, stress, and food waste. I know several bloggers who plan out the upcoming week's meals and grocery shop accordingly that weekend. For me, though, it does just the opposite.

The fact is, I don't know what my stomach is going to feel like every day. I may go to bed dreaming of chicken pot pie but wake up craving banana ice cream for all three meals. And that's okay. So instead I promote "loose meal planning."

A typical meal plan attempt...

I check my schedule for busy days and predict open hours of cooking time. I make sure I'm stocked on my diet's building blocks (salmon, avocados, and zucchini always land in my shopping cart!).

Also, I try to cook a "big" meal in terms of servings - like pizza or chicken pot pie - over the weekend or early in the week so I'll have lots of leftovers to tide me over! Besides that? I take it a day (and a craving) at a time. 

Pizza for days!

5. Finally, make sure you have backup meals close by. I've had days where I planned on cooking dinner, but a birthday party overtook my dorm's communal oven. Other times, classes kick my butt and I'm craving food but hating the effort of making it. 

That's where easy, one-serving recipes come in. Whether it's my GF and vegan pancakes or ham roll ups with a side salad, make sure you have a few trick recipes that take only a few active minutes to make. This is also where frozen pre-cooked meals and trips to Chipotle earn a golden star

Easy peasy!

Some days are easier than others to balance celiac disease and a full load of classesAs I reach the middle of my second semester of sophomore year, though, I've learned more than the phases of the moon and how to analyze poetry. I've learned how to feed myself with minimal effort, medium funds and maximum flavor. Sounds like an A+ to me! 

Does meal planning ever work for you? Do you cook most of your own meals? Comment below! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Starry Lane Bakery Review

Desserts are part of a universal language. We may have different names for cookies, brownies and cupcakes, but everyone flashes the same smile after their first bite. Unless celiac disease or food allergies has kicked "dessert" out of their stomach's vocabulary. 

That's where Starry Lanes Bakery comes in. 

Welcome to heaven!
As I mentioned in Monday's post, my dad surprised me on Valentine's Day with a box of goodies from Starry Lanes. Not only is the entire bakery gluten free, but it is also free of soy, tree nuts, peanuts, dairy and eggs. Gluten free and vegan? They must have some magic spicing up that kitchen!

Our box overflowed with chocolate biscotti, jam and shortbread cookies, (double) chocolate chip cookies, a fudge brownie, a maple blondie, raspberry macaroons, and a loaf of sandwich bread

All the treats!
I already boasted how these moist, fresh treats won over even the gluten eaters in my family. But I thought my favorite goodies deserved some extra recognition. 

First off, Starry Lane's chocolate chip cookies

My taste buds claimed these babies as their personal heaven after my first bite. I'm not usually a huge cookie fan, but who resist a treat that's chewy, yet soft? Sweet, but not overpowering? Dotted with chocolate chips on a sugar cookie base? 

Casey…also known as the Cookie Monster...
And these cookies aren't small either. In fact, one is bigger than my hand! My family and I nibbled on chunks throughout the weekend and I still had a whole cookie to power me through a busy school week. Cookies that look normal and taste delicious without the top 6 allergens? I'm in (or they're mouth!)

For all those who want to drown in chocolate, though, the fudge brownie is for them! When my dad bought this treat, Starry Lane workers even asked if he wanted a corner or middle. He asked for the latter...proof he knows me well! 

The last quarter!
I fell toes over taste buds right away. The brownie tastes thick and dense, yet moist and fluffy. It falls apart in your mouth, a burst of cacao and chocolate chunks. And, like the cookie, it isn't any bite-sized treat. More like sized for many complaints from me! 

Starry Lane even has goodies for people who aren't rockin' a sweet tooth (the horror). In other words, they offer sandwich bread that doesn't mimic slices of cardboard. While being gluten free and vegan. I'd love to have just a sprinkle of their kitchen sorcery. 

Delicious duo!
The bread is soft and spongy, yet hardy enough to handle a stack of sandwich toppings. Also, not only is it packed with home baked, whole-grain taste, it also looks normal! Not as large as gluten-filled bread I'll admit, but certainly more filling than the midget GF slices typically sitting on grocery store shelves. 

My mom and I think it would be the perfect base for garlic bread paired with an Italian dinner or for a breakfast treat with a swipe of nut butter topped with fruit. My grandma, a self-professed gluten lover, tried it with a hint of margarine and thought it tasted delicious. Allergy sufferers and celiacs, there's finally a tasty bread for you! 

Desserts and I get along quite well...
At times, it seems like celiac disease ends the conversation about dessert. Thanks to inventive, adaptable cooks like those in Starry Lanes Bakery, though, it's time to add "treats" to the celiac dictionary.

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

What's your favorite dessert? Are you a chocoholic? Comment below! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to Befriend a Celiac

I like to think I'm like everyone else (only a little, cough, weirder). While celiac disease doesn't determine a person's entire identity, there are a couple tips that one should keep in mind when befriending a college celiac.

Things a celiac friend should know...
1. Realize we aren't being rude when we turn down offered food. Even if you cooked the "gluten free" brownies yourself, there are other factors a celiac has to consider before digging in. Was there a chance of cross contamination? Was the mix produced in a facility that also processes wheat? And, as I've experienced with my diagnosis, do the brownies contain in any other ingredients that my stomach has a Romeo and Juliet  relationship with? (Dairy, I'm looking at you!) 

I feel awful every time I have to politely refuse a taste of the fish tacos whipped up by our dorm maid for lunch. The guilt can be even worse when friends make food "specially" for me that, because of gluten contamination or other sensitivities, I can't eat

Muffin or gluten bomb?
The easiest way to avoid you or the celiac in question from feeling awkward? Ask first, bake or buy later! Just knowing that my friends want to include me makes me feel better able wanting to provide my own food. 

2. Unless you know the celiac well or have been offered food before, don't ask to taste some of their "special" meal. Honestly, I love educating others on the basics of celiac disease. I love showing how delicious eating "gluten free" can be. But, I'm selfish when it comes to my own cooking

One bite for me...another for me...

Why? First, because my food's price tag usually makes your dinner look like a thrift-shop steal! Whether or not a gluten free diet does help people lose weight, it will certainly lighten their wallets! Second, it takes me a lot of time and planning to feed myself. I love cooking for others when it's in my schedule ahead of time, but I often depend on my leftovers to survive a week packed with classes. Not to mention that the cookie I'm enjoying lands on my plate every blue moon - so unless I offer to share, I'm probably planning on savoring every bite!

3. Feel welcome to ask questions and learn more about celiac disease, but please don't draw unnecessary attention to my eating habits. When my boyfriend and I started dating, he was (understandably) curious about the details of celiac. And though he offered to stop asking questions if it made me uncomfortable, I love spreading awareness for my condition. Plus, as I've mentioned in my Dating Post, there are a couple quirks every celiac's significant other needs to know. 

Or a lot of quirks...
What I don't appreciate is when people make a big deal out of my condition. Yes, I brought my own food to a pizza party because Papa John's would kill me. Yes, I snuck some homemade pizza to the soccer game so I could have a night snack. Friends can lovingly tease me, but I also appreciate it when they don't even comment. Being abnormal is hard enough without people highlighting your every difference! 

4. Please laugh when I make fun of celiac disease, but be careful of cracking gluten free jokes yourself. I try not to take jokes personally. A lot of the times, I know people are referring to those "gluten free fad dieters" and not celiac's like me. But, sometimes those jokes can still hurt. If the NASCAR's "gut check" Super Bowl commercial proved anything, it's that being funny doesn't cancel out offending some audiences. 

Watch the video here!
But when I joke at how I can't kiss my boyfriend without a tooth brush nearby? Please crack up with me. Because celiac disease, in a frustrating way, is funny. And that's always something I try to remember

5. My biggest tip? Don't treat me a celiac any different than any other friend! I'm always grateful when my pals let me choose where we lunch so I can eat, but I'm just as comfortable packing my own food too.

One of the most fun memories I have from last semester is a late-night burrito run with friends the night I was super stressed over finals the next day. I didn't eat with them, having devoured my own dinner hours before. But I jammed along with the radio as Meghan tested her car's killer speakers. I hung out in the restaurant booth, telling jokes and sipping from my free water cup. 

This Pinterest pin just about says it all...
That night, Meghan asked if watching people eat gluten bothered me, and I said no. Why? Because dinner out involves more than food - it also includes friends, funny stories and future plans. And all those are naturally gluten free (as long as cannibalism is avoided, I suppose). 

As a celiac, I don't expect people to act differently with or towards me. Just like any other person, we celiacs just want to be understood, respected, and embraced - quirks and all. And if you do that, well, there may even be some gluten free chocolate cake in your future. 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's Link Party!*

What's your pet peeve in others' behavior towards celiac disease or food allergies? Any tips you would add to this list? Comment below! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Gluten Filled and Gluten FreeJ Valentines Day!

To finish off the love fest surrounding Valentines Day last Saturday, I'm sharing a Romeo and Juliet story. The story of gluten eaters and a celiac living together, to be exact.

2 GF + 2 gluten eaters = 1 family!
Since my diagnosis in May 2013, my family has been my gluten free rock. We've transformed from eating the typical American diet of fast food, processed products and lots of beef to boasting a nearly 99% gluten free house. Goodbye Panda Express, hello Chipotle.

At times, I definitely feel guilty. Besides wheat bread, breakfast cereals and the odd night of tortellini, gluten has been kicked out of the house. While that's obviously wonderful for me and my gluten intolerant mother, my sister savors the gluten-filled snacks she receives at school with deprived appreciation. 

Hannah and her gluten free B-day cake!
As we celebrated Valentines Day last weekend, though, I couldn't help but see a happy ending in this love story. On Friday night, my dad surprised me with a huge box of goodies from Starry Lane Bakery. Not only is it a dedicated gluten free facility, but it's treats are also vegan, peanut free, tree nut free, and soy free. 

Biscotti, chocolate chip (and double chocolate chip) cookies, raspberry macaroons, a maple brownie, a chocolate fudge brownie, an iced star cookie, and even a loaf of their freshly baked sandwich bread overflowed from the box! We've been slowly devouring the goodies and are still in shock that everything is gluten free, vegan and delicious enough to even win over the gluten-eaters. Miracles do happen! 

All the noms!
The fact is, most holidays revolve around food and Valentines is no exception. So when my boyfriend agrees that Chipotle is an acceptable choice for some early Valentines Day fine-dining, I'm grateful. When my family goes out of their way to research and buy goodies that both my taste buds and my stomach can love, I couldn't appreciate them more. 

As my dad and sister devoured gluten pizza this weekend, I dug into my buckwheat and pesto alternative (which, thanks to the layers of veggies loaded on top, my sister lovingly calls my "pizza casserole"). And while my family ate cereal or waffles for breakfast, I rejoiced over my usual morning luxury: banana ice cream covered in all the toppings. 

Gluten free isn't free of flavor!

I still have to be careful when I eat at home. Wheat crumbs can hide on the counter, dishes have to be scrubbed twice, and I always ask before munching down on leftovers in the fridge. 

After a lovely weekend full of the people and food that I love, though, I know that this Romeo and Juliet tale won't end with a poisoning (gluten or otherwise).  

Just lots of cookies minus gluten
but plus love!

Happy late Valentines Day, everyone. Gluten eaters, celiacs and all

How did you celebrate Valentines Day? Is your home 100% gluten free? Comment below! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Love Letter to Celiac

Dear Celiac Disease,

We've been sharing the same body for over a year now, and I'd like to say I know you pretty well. You hate dairy, but love coconut milk ice cream. Sometimes you rock a food baby without any food, and other days eating is the Best. Hobby. Ever. 

I get a tad excited over food sometimes...
especially granola!
I've given you a lot of flack since May of 2013. I've hated you for stripping my weight, only to struggle after you gave it back. I blamed you for my IT-band strain, the endless nights with an upset stomach and the awkward "Casey-watches-people-eat-pizza" parties during my adventures in college.  

But this letter is different. This letter is shipped with postage stamp full of love for celiac disease. 

Love for the gratefulness that now seasons my food. Bread isn't a regularity - but when toasted right, gluten free buns are a treat. And the new creations that have invaded my taste buds - banana ice cream, Maca powder, sweet potatoes? My belly couldn't be more thankful

All the noms!
Love for the people I've met thanks to a single word on my medical chart. Online - Amber, Allie, I'm especially talking to you - and in the cafeteria corner waiting for my "special" meal last year.

Love for the celiac swag that now covers my water bottle, tote bag, backpack and wardrobe. Some wear their heart on their sleeve - this girl wears her stomach

My Christmas key chain...

Love for the ability to educate my entire Women's Nutrition class on how celiac disease is not an allergy or a gluten free fad. 

Love for how my writing has been scattered among the Internet - especially love for Further Foods, a website full of people just dedicated to finding tasty medicine for every health condition. I never imagined I'd be a featured contributor of recipes and wacky celiac stories. But celiac and my new love for food has made it possible

Love for the weeks when my stomach seems normal - and the days when I drool over junk food diet of my college cohorts that doesn't leave them bloated or sick. 

Love for embracing my body whether I'm healthy or struggling, underweight or in shape. 

Looking impressive on a mountain peak
Love for learning something new about living with celiac disease every day. A dating site for people with allergies? Noodles made out of zucchini? If dating is a 6 unit college course, celiac disease is at least 5

And, most importantly, love for finding people who love me for me - random snack bags, pre-kissing toothbrush requirements and all

I love 'em all...even Sammi, the poodle!

Celiac disease, we have our problems. Days filled with dreams of eating out without worry or biting into the French roll from my childhood. But, this pre-Valentines week is all about the love. The love for my struggles, my community, and myself - celiac disease, included. 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*

What is one reason you love celiac disease? Comment below!