Monday, June 29, 2015

Traveling, Celiac Style

You may have noticed that the blog has been quiet lately...most likely because, though my writing can fly across the world within a few seconds, it takes longer for a California celiac to fly to Texas! And, when half of your suitcases are packed with gluten free food, preparation isn't exactly pow-wow-packed-up-now.

With summer in full swing and vacations more common than ever, though, I thought I'd share a few of my top traveling tips that make celiac disease, transportation, and new living spaces a little easier.

And hopefully avoid these faces!
1. First of all, it's always better to over pack than under. In particular, I stuffed my backpack (which I carried onto the plane) with a bag of homemade granola, fruit, carrots, rice cakes with sunflower butter and two meals (a salmon avocado quesadilla plus roasted veggies and pizza with mixed greens). The lunch I would eat during our afternoon flight, and the dinner once I got settled in my grandparent's home.

I could've easily saved room by placing my dinner in my checked baggage. However, traveling is unpredictable, and there is nothing worse than being stranded in an airport without celiac-safe food. When in doubt, as long as you have room, do a squirrel and hoard extra snacks.

That guy is almost as big as my suitcase was!
2. Next, pack specialized gluten free food in your suitcases and then shop for naturally gluten free items once you've arrived. In particular, because I left my beloved Vitamix behind, I stuffed my suitcase with lots of breakfast items - rice and buckwheat flakes for my oatless oatmeal, superfood powders like spirulina, chia seeds, and buckwheat groats. I also made a big batch of my favorite green smoothie granola the night before, so I'd have plenty to snack on during (at least the first week of) my stay. I even used a frozen pre-made smoothie bowl (secured in a jar and wrapped in several bags) to refrigerate several packs of coconut yogurt and potapas tortillas.

I felt a little guilty for packing so much food, but the fact is, as a celiac, it's just a part of life. In order to stay healthy, I need a plethora of safe gluten free goodies - and knowing that I wouldn't have to search grocery stores for these uncommon gluten free items as soon as I landed relieved a lot of stress. The next day, I hit my local grocery store and loaded up on fresh veggies, fruits, and fish. A celiac kitchen on wheels? It can, apparently, be done!

Me + food = much happier!
3. One tip particular to those flying? Spread out your food between your several carry on and checked bags. It may seem more organized to separate the clothes and food, and it certainly would make unpacking easier. However, in case a piece of luggage gets lost or misplaced by the airport, it's better to have some of your food than none of it!

4. Once you are established in your vacation spot, or in the weeks prior, take advantage of the Internet and Iphone's Find Me Gluten Free app to research gluten free sources nearby. Unfortunately, Sugarland Texas isn't known for a plethora of gluten free foods. However, I did discovery an entirely gluten free bakery - which I visited for the first time last summer - that offers a variety of breads, cookies and cakes.

A few goodies from my favorite places!
Each place is different, but looking for chains that you trust with their gluten free offerings - such as Outback or Chipotle - can be good starting points. Calling a restaurant ahead of time and asking about their cooking procedures for celiac customers also helps differentiate between menus for gluten free fad dieters and those with a medical need.

5. Finally, be cautious and safe, but don't forget to have fun! Food always plays a big role in vacations - whether people are trying to stay on a diet during it or splurging on the local culinary culture. It's true that I miss visiting Houston and savoring brisket on Grandma's French rolls, enjoying a family trip to Sweet Tomatoes, and devouring all the treats - brownies, ice cream, chicken salad sandwiches, and multiple rounds at the Golden Corral buffet - that I never got at home.

The whole group!
While I can't eat how I used to, though, I can still enjoy the family time. Still hide inside the house to avoid the humidity and blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Still watch the Women's World Cup play on the living room TV while I yell (motivation?) at the players.

Celiac disease is never easy, especially when flights, packing and new locations join the equation. By turning your luggage into a virtual pantry/cooler, exploring the local gluten free community and focusing on the activities and loved ones instead of the food, however, anyone can enjoy a stress-free, full-bellied vacation. Even a traveling celiac.

What are your top traveling tips? Comment below!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Not Afraid to Get Dirty

9:29. Hundreds of other runners - wearing what ranged from rainbow tutus to sleek sportswear - milling around the Mud Run attractions. And three sets of old sneakers, rocked by me, my dad and sister, waiting at the start line. A blow horn screams. So we run.

casey the college celiac
A few pre-race photos!
When my dad asked of I'd like to join in on the Mud Run 5K, I said why not? Since I strained my IT band nearly a year ago, I haven't jumped in any fun races. And I've never been the kind of girl afraid to mess up her hair. 

Which was good, because, by the end of the race, there wasn't an inch of me free of mud. We ran through mud pits, bear crawled under what felt like eons of netting, climbed a slippery mountain while being sprayed with fire hoses. And, to finish it off, did 5 push ups that planted our faces in the mud. When we crossed the finish line, I might've been half blind by grime. More than I already was thanks to running without my glasses

casey the college celiac
casey the college celiac
But even as my leg ached, palms stung from gravel, and face shined with a sunburn, I loved it. 

I loved learning that doing lunges in the middle of running - though perhaps not 250 feet of them (talk about feeling the burn!) - can help loosen up my tight IT band. 

That I am actually in pretty decent shape, never losing my breath (except when mud it stole away). 

casey the college celiac
Our serious faces...
That I may be small, but I can still climb over the net wall faster than most competitors. 

That it's the experience, not the time, that really matters. The fastest 10K runner that day staggered across the finish at 48 minutes. We survived the 5K in a little over an hour. We didn't enter the competitive group for a reason: because our biggest goal was fun. And, slow of not, we reached it. 

casey the college celiac
Fun along the way!
That I can survive a group (mostly clothed) shower as men dressed as Cowboys shoot us with soap and water. 

That, even as dozens of booths filled with gluten-filled pizzas, burgers, and desserts surround the race, there might be a few celiac-friendly places to refuel. Plus, leaving a jar of banana ice cream in the car for the drive home is always a good idea. 

Much needed (gluten free) refueling!
That I have come such a far way from the weak, malnourished, tired girl I was two years ago. On the days after the race, I'm sore. I'm tired. But I'm not so broken that a few days of good sleep and rest can't fix me. 

That I'm already planning my return - running the 10K Mud Run with my dad next year. Hopefully by then, we'll both be mostly injury free. Even if we're not, though, we'll have just as much torturous, dirty, tiring fun. 

casey the college celiac
Post-showering game face!

When that blow horn marked the start of the race, I had several expectations. I knew it would be at least moderately difficult. I knew it would be muddy. And I knew I should have fun

What didn't I know? That it would be one of the highlights of my summer and fondest memories of my dad and sister. Cause nothing brings you closer than sinking in the same mud, showering in the same cube, and surviving the same insane race! 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*

Have you ever done a (Mud) Race? What's your favorite summer memory so far? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Green Smoothie Granola

Everyone who merely glances at my Instagram already knows I'm several form of addicts...first, a smoothie bowl addict. Second, a granola addict for crunchy toppings to coat said smoothie bowl. Drizzle some sunbutter on top and boom. Cravings fulfilled (at least for a few hours).

And then a crazy idea hit me. What if I could make a granola recipe packed with all of my favorite green smoothie ingredients? Coconut? Check. Green tea? Check. Even spinach and zucchini make an appearance, though with more (green-tastic) color than flavor. One late night of baking later, and my huge batch is already almost least I get my servings of veggies, right?

Green never looked so good!
To get started on your own green granola machine, start raiding your pantry and fridge. Like most of my granola, this a whatever-I-have-on-hand type recipe, so feel free to experiment by substituting, omitting or adding ingredients.

Granola Produced: 3 trays (that lasted around 8 days...oops)

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup of buckwheat groats
1 cup of puffed cereal (I used puffed rice, but any would work)
2 1/2 cups of seeds (or nuts, I went with sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds)
1 cup each of buckwheat and rice flakes (could be replaced with gluten free oats, if tolerated)
1/3 cup of cacao nibs
1/3 cup of coconut flakes
1 TBSP of coconut flour
1/4 cup of chocolate chips (I love EnjoyLife's gluten and dairy free baking chunks)
3 green tea packets, cut open (I use decaf, but caffeinated would definitely boost the granola's energizing power!)
2 TBSP cacao powder
1 TBSP spirulina powder (optional, but boosts the green hue, vitamins and minerals!)
1 TBSP maca powder (optional)
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric (optional)

Wet Ingredients:

2 mashed bananas (either extremely ripe and fresh or frozen and defrosted)
1/4 cup of water and 1 handful of spinach blended into a puree
3/4 of a grated zucchini
3 TBS of cooking oil (coconut, grapeseed, olive, etc)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
3 dates (or equivalent amount of dried fruit)

To begin, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. This granola doesn't require any fancy mixing, so throw all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and consider yourself a chef. Concerning the green tea, I simply cut three packets open with a knife and poured it straight onto the rest of the ingredients. One of the easiest ways to get your tea fix? I think so.

Easy as 1, 2, 3!
The wet ingredients, however, will give you a workout. First, get your Popeye on and start blending. I blended my spinach, cup of water and one banana into a green puree that I added to my bowl. Next, gather the second banana (either frozen and defrosted or fresh) and mash it until no big lumps are left.  To finish off your arm exercises, use a grater to shred three fourths of a medium zucchini. Like with my previous granola recipes, the zuc adds extra nutrition and chewiness with limited calories or taste.

Once you mix all the dry and wet ingredients together, it's time to load up your baking trays. If you're a clumpy, dense granola lover, pack the unbaked granola firmly into the tray and don't stir while it bakes. If you prefer the opposite, leave the granola loose in the pan and stir halfway through the cooking time.

Rows of green...
Now, all you have to do is place your to-be food goodies in the oven and wait until your house starts smelling like a bakery and tea store combined. I personally baked mine for around 35 minutes, flipping the trays around in the oven halfway through, but feel free to cook for as long as it takes to get your desired color and crunch!

After the baking mission is complete, let your trays cool for at least a few hours, if not overnight (although I certainly still stole plenty of small bites!). Using a spoon or your fingers, then break the granola into clusters and begin the feast! This was honestly one of my favorite granola batches - the perfect combination of chewy, crunchy, and sweet - and I loved that I couldn't even taste the "healthy" ingredients snuck inside. Since there's never too much of a good food, I sprinkled my granola over yogurt, oatmeal, and even on green smoothie bowls.

A few of my favorite things...
By now, I've accepted my smoothie bowl and granola addictions. In fact, I've even learned they're better when morphed together! Whether you're looking for a unique twist on an old favorite or how to bump up your veggie intake without your taste buds knowing the difference, this granola recipe has the potential to make you crave something (deliciously) green.

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's Link Party!*

 What's your favorite granola flavor? Do you ever hide veggies in unexpected places? Comment below!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hand me Down Healthy

Society passes around lots of advice on how to be healthy. Eat less, but not too little. Move more, but not too much. Not to mention counting - calories, pounds and time on the stationary bike

Today, though, I'm more concerned about what is being passed down (sideways or across) from one family member to another. 

Keepin' it all in the family!
You see, last week was my little sister's high school graduation, which meant lots of family and reflection. Not only to two years ago when I was the one sweating in her green cap and gown, but also how the family squished into high school bleachers impacted what I see as "healthy." 

From my Dad, I've inherited a love of challenges, mental and physical. Although I take more after my mom in appearance, I share my dad's addiction to exercise-induced adrenaline and physical progress. Last year, our bodies got pushed too far - him, tearing his PCL in a soccer game and me straining my IT band on an ocean-side run

Walking it off...
It's taken nearly a year of rehab, rest and strengthening, but we're both back on the road - running, biking, and, just last weekend, blasting through our first 5K Mud Run. There are still days when old injuries refuse to stop sending "Mayday" messages, but we still love a good sweaty workout. No matter the challenge. And a good (gluten free) brownie afterwards never hurts either. 

From my Mom, I've learned how to better listen to my body. I'll admit, I'm still a mediocre student in this subject. When I do something, I want to do it well...even to the point of trashing my body. In soccer games, I always went 150% - which earned me the title of Beast while also leaving me lying on the field every couple of games. 

And a couple scars along the way...
Recently, though, I've tried to embrace mothering my body. This can mean shortening a workout, using lighter weights, or simply switching my computer chair with a yoga ball to change the position of my spine. Sometimes I still ignore my body's whispers - and even a few screams - but I'm finally starting to realize that to listen isn't to be weak. It's to work with my body, rather than against it. 

My Grandma Linda has showed me to find a passion and hold onto it through life. I like to call her my "cool" grandma since, though her gardening and work with the Master Gardener community, she hangs out with more homies than me on an average weekend night!

Throwback to my graduation!
Passions don't have to fit the connotation of "passion" either. They can be quiet, like reading a good book during lunch. They can be controlled and precise, such as fitting together a 1000 piece puzzle of postage stamps. And they can be unique - you can imagine how much my younger self enjoyed being able to boast, "My grandma has a box of dirt and worms in her closet!" Of course I didn't bother to explain this was for composting purposes. 

And my sister, who wore something old (my original cap and gown), something borrowed (my shoes and necklace) but not something blue (Poway Titan green actually!) to accept her high school diploma? She exemplifies how to embrace eccentricities and empathy - a must for a healthy life. 

A graduation photo shoot
She's the girl who made Valentines to hand out to custodians, teachers, and fellow students needing some extra love. She's the girl who kicked butt at two school plays her senior year, even with an anxiety disorder. And she's the one who, of course, rescued a moth from a fellow graduate's hair minutes after the ceremony. And I couldn't be more proud of her and excited to see what college holds. 

By society's standards, I'd probably be the healthiest member in my family. I eat (at least or over) the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables. I do something active every day and, even at college, aim for eight to nine hours of sleep. 

The real picture of "healthy"
But, "healthy" originates from more sources than governmental guidelines. It comes from parents, grandparents, siblings and even strangers or friends. And I can't thank mine enough for their hand-me-down's

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

What healthy hand-me-down's did you inherit from your family? What is one that you would like to pass down? Comment below! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sweet Potato Zucchini Patties

My mom recently called me the human trash compactor and, when you look at my Instagram feed, I can't deny it. While some throw out leftovers, I love throwing them into new meals - as they are or transformed into a different delicious dish. This particular favorite emerged from leftover pre-cooked sweet potato, half a zucchini needing some love, and other constants in my pantry. And let me tell you, these patties are beyond sa-weet!

casey the college celiac
Simply sweet potato and delicious!
(Even better? They're a quick mess to throw together, are vegan, paleo, and allergy-friendly, and freeze wonderfully with sheets of parchment paper in between each. An empty fridge and minimal time won't be a problem for munchies in the future!)

To get started, gather some pattie building blocks from your fridge, pantry, or leftovers bin!

casey the college celiac
Plus a few more...
Patties formed: 7 medium


3/4 cooked large sweet potato (or 1 medium)
1/2 medium zucchini (cut or spiralized)
1 handful of chopped/shredded spinach
2 TBSP lite coconut milk (or alternate dairy product)
1 TBSP coconut flour
1 tsp ground chia seeds
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
Optional: cooking oil (olive, coconut, etc)

Begin by either cooking your sweet potato in the microwave until it is soft, or using leftovers like I did. I left the peel on my tater and just cut it up into shreds for extra texture, but you're welcome to just use the insides as well. Then, cut your zucchini into thin strips with a spiralizer or regular kitchen knife. After that, all you need to do is measure, mash your ingredients in a bowl and mix! Be warned - this patty, from the veggies and the milk, will be moist!

casey the college celiac
Mash, mix and make!
At this time, set your oven to preheat for 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Once all the ingredients equally combined, use your hands to mold the dough into your desired size of patty. I usually go for medium, similar to a typical burger, but I've also made mini sliders for quick snacks! Now, you have two options for cooking. Personally, I enjoy a crust or sear on my sweet potato patties, so I like to pan fry them before baking. If you're short on time or energy, though, leave the work to the oven

If you choose this step, heat up a skillet on high heat, adding enough cooking oil to wet the pan. Once water sizzles when sprinkled on your skillet, lay as many patties as will comfortably fit on top. Moving the heat down to med/high, allow the patties to cook for a few minutes before flipping and repeating. The goal is to get a crispy sear on both sides before placing the patties on a baking tray (optionally lined with parchment paper).

casey the college celiac
In clockwise order!
Once all the patties have been pan fried (or if you decided to skip this step), pop them in the oven. Baking time can vary depending on your desired consistency and oven type, but I ended up leaving mine in for about 35 minutes. While these won't ever feel totally dry or stiff, they're done when they feel more dry than wet to the touch and hold their form relatively well. 

They are delicious devoured straight out of the oven, eaten cold from the fridge, or after being popped in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. I personally like to freeze them, sliding pieces of torn parchment paper in between each patty for easy removal. Defrost in the microwave and you have a delicious treat ready without any prep or cooking! 

casey the college celiac
Out of the oven and into the sunshine?
As for how to eat them, the options are endless!

I've placed them on salads with roasted veggies and avocado, topped my pizza with torn chunks, and snacked on them alone. You could also eat them as a vegetarian burger or as a bun or partner to another form of protein! Since they are mainly vegetables, these would also make a wonderful quick side to most meals! My advice? Get creative with it - to my taste buds, sweet potato and zucchini nicely compliment most any food! 

casey the college celiac
A few of my favorite uses...
My Mom also told me to not play with my food, but playing with leftovers is a worthy excemption! These babies are quick, easy, and make perfect fuel for busy days. So embrace your inner "trash compactor" - you never know what edible treasures could pop out! 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*

Are you a fan of leftovers? What's your favorite transformation trick? Comment below!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Driven by Im-Perfect-ion

Imperfection. Perhaps because I'm a writing major, that word has always amused me. Mostly because you can't spell it without the letters spelling "Imperfection" leading the way.

Bout sums it up (source)
Maybe this emphasizes the failure (to reach perfection) behind its definition. Or maybe it's a more personal truth: that behind every confession of imperfection is that hidden desire to be able to say, "I'm perfect."  

As I'm writing this, my brain is a bit foggy. Limbs are heavy. Maybe I kissed my boyfriend (small pecks after a week apart) a few times too many after his gluten-filled Subway lunch. Or maybe I'm just tired after a busy day with friends, waking around Balboa Park and climbing up and down four flights of stairs to visit friends living at my college for summer

Featuring some unintentionally matching footwear...
After sleeping for nearly 12 hours, I want to wake up alert. Strong. Ready to kick butt, take names and make the most of every summer day. But that doesn't always happen, especially when the question "To be glutened or not to be?" enters the arena. And while I don't always like it, it's still okay. 

As I'm writing this, Instagram notifications keep popping up on my phone. Another like, another comment on this morning's breakfast. My usual smoothie bowl, decked out in homemade green granola, fresh berries, sunbutter, and a coconut oil/PB2 magic shell. People often ask how long it takes me to make my nana ice cream breakfasts, and I guesstimate half an hour, but don't carefully keep track. Because it makes me happy to feed my eyes and my stomach. And to show that gluten free doesn't have to mean boring

One spoonful for me, one spoonful on the smoothie...
But I wonder what people would say if they saw me devouring it post-picture, adding triple the toppings. If I admitted I lick every delicious spoonful clean, even when my full stomach and the popular intuitive eating advice cautions me to stop. Some would admonish me, for "emotional eating" perhaps. Others would say I need to eat like that more often, that I'm too skinny. In all likelihood, someone wouldn't be satisfied. Because that's how we imperfect humans are. And that's okay

As I'm writing this, I'm still wondering if this is what I've been wanting to say. While posts dripped from my fingers to my keyboard to my blog relatively easily during the school year, as my academic brain shut off for summer, my creativity has nearly followed suit.

Nap time anyone?
I share tidbits of my summer, recipes still hot from the oven, but I wonder if these show enough of Casey the College Celiac. Enough of the celiac awareness education and college tips and vulnerability and all of the other writing traits I have been known best for. 

I don't want to post anything I don't believe in. In fact, the pieces that touched the most people were the ones where pressing "publish" pushed my heart into excited and terrified overdrive. But I don't want to tear off skin - share stories - that aren't ready to peel either. I don't have a blogging schedule or content plan for the month. I won't make every self imposed Monday-Wednesday-Friday deadline. But that's okay too. 

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Healthy Maven focusing on monetizing a mess. When every picture of a food recipe has to be perfect enough to incite drool and culinary action in the reader, how can a blogger really be honest about the struggles or faults behind the camera? 

Or just being a hot mess...
I suppose I'm posing similar questions. How does a type A personality chase perfection, but happily settle for less? Style food posts for "likes" without lying about the food at the same time? Blog on a schedule but also by heart? What I'm realizing is that there really is no perfect answer to these questions.

And, like every imperfection I'm typing through today, that's okay. 

Because, while imperfection may linguistically imply an opposite goal, the two can coexist peacefully. I can chase the winning declaration "I'm" - this post, this meal, this day is - "perfect" while realizing that "ion" is in fact a more accurate description of life. Because an ion is an atom that missed being perfectly balanced in positive and negatives. But that's what gives it a charge

Crazy Casey imperfection
And if imperfection follows a similar pattern, maybe it is what drives everything. My daily activities, my happiness and crazy pieces of writing like this. 

Maybe this foggy brain ain't so bad after all. 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

No questions. Just a request for comments or thoughts! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Fresh (Farmer's Market) Perspective

No school. No job. No schedule. Compared to my life a mere month ago, more than a few things have changed. It's summer - one of the first where I'm not moving or dealing with medical issues - and the hot wind on my face smells fresher than ever.

I've never been good at doing nothing. My parents, the usual victims to my bored summer antics, know that for a fact. For the first time, though, I'm okay going to sleep with a blog post or new granola recipe as my only "accomplishment" for the day. I'm peaceful. I'm cruisin'. To put it simply, I'm lazy, spending my days walking the dog, experimenting with new foods and recipes, and binging on Netflix

Nail painting, sleepy boyfriend visiting and gardening are also happening!
And, most recently, perusing my local farmer's market

I love the idea of farmer's markets, but don't usually have the time or patience. I know what I need and I know that Sprouts has it - so why fight the crowds for vegetables I could buy at the same or lower price (and in a place with air conditioning to boot?). Last Saturday, though, I woke up early with nothing to do. And decided on taking an adventure

casey the college celiac
And the trail continues...
The Poway Farmer's Market isn't a trip to Wonderland, but is respectable enough, boasting enough booths to shut down our local historical district for the day. I had explored it a couple times with my mom before, but not recently, so there were plenty of surprises. 

One of the best of those was definitely the plethora of gluten free booths. Sure, a majority of the sellers focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, shiny strawberries and chard leaves still damp with dew sitting on white tablecloths. But, while I still drooled over the gluten-filled tapas and donuts, I did sample a spoon of gluten and dairy free coconut sorbet. The gluten free bakery whose chocolate chip cookies melt in your mouth was also there, along with stands selling almond butter, Bitchin' Sauce and tortilla chips, and smoothies. 

casey the college celiac
Just a few of the gluten free booths...
I didn't end up buying any of the processed gluten free treats, but it was a breath of fresh air (title word play obviously intended) to see that everyone could enjoy a local treat. To witness how gluten free food has grown in popularity enough to appear even at the small-time level

And to experience some naturally gluten free foods for the first time. Days before I went, I marveled over an eight ball zucchini in a magazine. When I spotted a small basket of them for sale that morning, I knew I couldn't turn down fate's invitation to experiment. The first time I cooked with them (first hallowed out and stuffed with veggies, salmon, and pesto, later stuffed with veggies, turkey and homemade vegan cheese sauce), I had no idea what I doing. And that made the delicious results even better

casey the college celiac
The pun bout says it all
As I was checking out, the young woman in charge asked if I wanted to try some of "nature's pop rocks." I shrugged and figured, Why not? Known as the Sechuan button, these South African edible flowers are known for their edible "zing" and use as palate cleansers. I was just happy that she kept me from taking a big bite - the 1/4 of a penny piece I chewed was plenty to make my mouth taste slightly metallic!

But when I bit into one of the offered strawberries seconds later, it tasted sweeter than any before! I did endure the unfortunate side effect of extra drool for a handful of minutes after, but the poppin' experience was definitely a memory I won't forget! 

casey the college celiac
Beyond sweet!

As I strolled by other booths, I mused about how life is a lot like a strawberry. People can easily - and often unconsciously - adapt to and expect the sweetness, without savoring or working for it anymore. By the time I dragged myself back into air-conditioned doors, my shirt was wet with sweat and my bag heavy with my market finds: two eight ball zucchinis, one huge head of chard, and an avocado. 

The latter still hasn't ripened (despite its paper bag imprisonment), but I honestly don't mind waiting. A new feeling for me - and one I want to foster

I'm not taking classes. I don't have a job. But, this summer, my goal is still to learn. How to enjoy weaving though Saturday crowds (with huge strollers clogging up every lane) at the market. How to be thankful for every day off, even if I don't do much. Most importantly, to strive for a fresh take on something every day - whether through a new recipe, a new trail to walk in the cool evenings, or a new local sight to check out.

casey the college celiac
Lovin' that summer sun!

And, after two long semesters of popping from one activity or obligation to the next, no wonder this tastes so sweet

What's your favorite summer activity? Do you ever scope out farmer's markets - if so, what's your favorite find? Comment below! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Chocolate Lava Mugcake (Vegan and Paleo)

Soft, spongy cake. Oozing chocolate. With this mug cake in your palm, you can really hold the whole (edible) world in your hands. Now, even for a girl who has cut most sources of refined sugar out of her diet, sometimes the summer nights get cold, your stomach gets hungry, and all your taste buds want is a big slice of cake. Hello chocolate mug cake - creamy, gooey and just sweet enough to fulfill that chocolate craving!

That first bite...
Plus, who doesn't love a dessert that can transform from ten simple ingredients into a luxurious cake in five minutes?

To get started, gather your dessert armory! Like most of my recipes, this one is versatile, fits multiple diets (paleo, vegan, gluten free, low fodmap), and relatively healthy. So grab a mug, a spoon, and a microwave and get ready to dig in!

As exhibited by Mom!
Ingredients (Recipe inspired from Hearty Spoonful): 


2 TBSP coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cacao powder (can be left out to make a banana mug cake) 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Sprinkle of salt
Desired amount of chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life baking chunks)


1/4 cup of rice milk (or your choice of milk)
1/3 a mashed ripe banana 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp nut butter (I used sunflower butter, but anything would work!)

One of the best parts of this recipe? It's easy and quick! If you don't care about having a molten chocolate center, your dessert prep is as simple as mixing all of your ingredients together in a mug, topping with extra chocolate chips, and popping it in the microwave

The post-microwave goal
If you want the lava experience (like I certainly did!), combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a separate bowl. Then, add about 1/2 of the batter to your mug and push a small bundle of chocolate chips into the deep center of the mix. Cover with the remaining batter and sprinkle some extra chocolate chips on top.

Following ether route, your nearly finished product will end up in the microwave to be cooked. Begin cooking the cake in 30 second intervals. My parent's microwave is relatively strong and I tend to lean on the gooey vs overcooked side of baked goods, so my dessert was done and steaming in about one minute. You know it's ready to devour when the cake pulls away from the mug's sides and is fluffy, but cooked through when poked with a spoon or fork. 

All the puns...
Now comes my favorite part - the cake "decorating." It doesn't necessarily need any extra toppings, but it can't hurt either! My favorites include Greek coconut yogurt, fresh fruit, and drizzles of more nut butter or homemade chocolate sauce. You could even go crazy and put a little ice cream on top. What's the point of a small cake if not as an excuse for more toppings? 

And, if extra cake exists post-feasting (doubtful, but possible!), it also is the perfect treat to top smoothie bowls, nana ice cream or yogurt and granola parfaits. I haven't tried it on my oatless oatmeal, but chocolate + breakfast is always a hit in my (mental recipe) book. 

Chocolate cake on a chocolate acai smoothie bowl?
I think yes!
I may not be as much of the chocolate cake hound as I once was, but there will always be nights when no snack sounds as good as dessert! And, when you consider the fiber from the coconut flour, antioxidants from the cacao powder and cinnamon, protein from the nut butter and vitamins from the fruit, this recipe means you can whip up a chocolate lava cake (with all the trimmings) and eat it too! 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's and VegetarianMama's link party!*

What's your favorite kind of cake? What dessert do you crave most often? Comment below! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to Dress Up your Smoothie Bowl

When it comes to blogging, I have two major styles: both the celiac and the pun-lover. This post, I'll admit, emerged from both forms of inspiration. First, one of the main changes that occurred in my diet post-celiac-diagnosis: a newfound love for everything smoothie bowls (Instagram proof here). Second, from the desire to write five tips on how to dress your smoothie for the ball (make that bowl).

casey the college celiac
One of my more popular pics...
Initially, I was a smoothie purist. Throw in some frozen bananas and rice milk, maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon, and call it breakfast. Looking back, though, I see less purist and more boring. Because, as soon as I changed up my fruits, adds some veggies and sprinkled on a handful of granola, my taste buds were never going back! To ease away some of the bumps from your smoothie journey (texture pun, obviously intended), here are my top five tips on taking your cool treat from refreshing to fantastic!

1. Thick and creamy equals dreamy. It's relatively easy to turn any of your favorite smoothie recipes into a smoothie bowl with a few slight adjustments. First, cut the liquid! Because I like my smoothies as close to ice cream consistency as possible, I add only as much liquid (usually in the form of coconut milk or, most recently, cooled green tea) as my blender needs. Lite or full fat canned coconut milk also punches up the creamy factor.

A few creamy secrets...
Next, use frozen ingredients whenever possible. I tend to freeze fresh fruit and buy it pre-frozen depending on price. These frozen ingredients not only keep your smoothie cold, but also increase its thickness. For a two-for-one punch, choose creamy fruits (bananas, mangoes, cantaloupe, avocado) as bases. Adding coconut (or your choice of) yogurt can help with creaminess, while a spoonful of (ground or whole) chia seeds can further thicken your mix!

2. Pull a Popeye and pump up the veggie power. Vegetables are rarely the star of any meal, especially breakfast. Smoothie bowls, however, are great ways to sneak in extra servings. I recommend starting small, such as tossing in a handful of leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, whatever floats your taste buds). I promise - you won't even taste the vitamin boost!

casey the college celiac
Are you green with envy yet?
More adventurous vegetables perfect for smoothie-ing also exist! I consistently base my smoothies off of frozen slices of zucchini and squash, which add volume with little calories and lots of nutrients. I also toss in celery, frozen beet chunks, parsnip slices, cucumber, carrots, and even broccoli when I have it! Moral of the story? When in doubt, give a veggie a try! As long as you balance it out with enough fruits and flavorings, you won't even taste the hidden greens. Bonus: beets turn your smoothie a beautiful red - love at first sight, for sure!

3. A little spice and a little sauce turns everything nice! Vanilla extract, cinnamon (probably too much!) and a superfood powder are my favorite add-ins. I have written before about my new love for spirulina powder, an algae packed with vitamins like iron, but I also am a huge fan of maca and acai powder. I've also recently started adding turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties. If you don't have any superfood or exotic extras on hand, don't worry! Instead, experiment with cacao powder or common holiday spices like nutmeg or pumpkin spice.

Sauces and spices galore!
As for sauce, I always like to top my smoothies with something sticky and sweet. Rather than adding nuts or seeds to my smoothie pre-blending, I like to drizzle some nut butter on top! This adds an extra layer of texture, flavor and protein to my breakfast. The sauce I always crave, though? A homemade magic shell, made from a tsp or two of melted coconut oil mixed with my powder of choice. Most often, I add cacao powder for a chocolate drizzle, but I've also experimented with spirulina, acai, or even PB2. Drizzle it on a berry smoothie and you can feast on liquid PB&J!

4.  Drop fruit like its hot! Into your bowl, anyway. For me, fruit toppings should break up the creamy texture or sweet flavor of the smoothie. Some eaters swear by banana coins to top their bowls, but I prefer "fruit bombs," or fruits that will explode in your mouth. My usual go-to's?

Sliced strawberries to add tartness and a seedy texture. Blueberries for a crunchy burst of sweet and sour. And, when I have them on hand, pomegranates pack a ton of flavor for such small packages. Like vegetables, however, mix and match fruit toppings until you find the combination that you like. I've seen everything from sauteed raspberries to dragon fruit to (crazy enough!) endamame. The options really are limitless!

Just a few of my favorites...
5. Finally, crush that crunch factor! My favorite part of smoothie bowls, by far, is combining crunchy and creamy. If you follow step one, the latter is easy. For the former, I typically sprinkle (who I am kidding, it's more like dump!) a mixture of seeds/nuts, puffed rice cereal, and cacao nibs. I've also added crumbled cookies, bliss balls, leftover pancakes, and, of course, lots of homemade granola (my recipes like this one or this one are always winners!). As far as I'm concerned, the more toppings the better.

To take the crunch to the next level, though, try layering your smoothie with them. I usually pour 1/4 of my smoothie into a bowl, sprinkle some puffed rice, cacao nibs and fruit, add the rest of the smoothie and toppings. Twice the crunchy layers equals twice the bliss, not to mention extra motivation to dig to the bottom of the bowl!

Nothing like a smoothie bowl for this gal!
I'm a celiac, a pun-lover and, as this last year has shown, a full blown smoothie addict. But when its a bowl of creamy, crunchy, spiced smoothie bliss, how can I not be? Casey the College Celiac is not responsible for any addictions that may occur out of this post. However, I will take full responsibility for any spoon-lickin' good smoothie bowls born out of these tips! My favorite "punny" spoon not included.

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love and Saucy Saturday!*

What's your favorite smoothie toppings? Do you have any food "addictions?" Comment below!