Friday, October 30, 2015

A Day in the Life

What's this college celiac up to when I'm not writing hilarious (insert recorded laughter here) blog posts or whipping up my latest gluten free goodie? Today I thought I'd give everyone a sneak peek into what a day in my shoes looks like. (Colorful sneakers not included).

A Day in the Life, take 1!
Yesterday started out with the beeping of my watch alarm at a lovely 7:10 in the morning. My first realization is that cold weather drastically decreases my motivation to get up. My second is that my roomie is snuggled up in her sweatshirt and layers of blankets. When it gets cold, you never know how desperate we Cali college gals can get...

As always, I start my morning with a cup of "tea" - basically just warmed water with the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. In theory, this mix detoxes the body and revs up my digestion - the perfect pre-breakfast (and, in my case, pre-PE-class) drink.

In my favorite Scooby Doo mug!
Within fifteen minutes, I am out the door with my sneakers and yoga mat. This semester, I'm enrolled in "Extreme Fitness" - basically a PE class with only HIIT workouts. We're working our way through T90X and Ab Ripper right now - next week, Insanity begins. Wish me luck! (Though I think I checked off "crazy" awhile back...)

By the time I get back to my apartment, I'm starving for breakfast. After a quick fifteen minutes of freshening up (food is always good motivation for a minimalist beauty routine, am I right?), it's smoothie time. To keep my mornings quick (and quiet), I like to make my smoothies over the weekend and freeze single servings in mason jars. Pop them into the microwave at half power and they defrost into the perfect creamy, cold post-workout treats! 

Glass storage containers work too!
(One tip: try to leave a few inches of space between the smoothie and the top of the jar, or freeze without the jar lids. Otherwise, the jar could crack as the smoothie expands - like four of my favorite ones did last week. The mourning period is still in place).  

Eating breakfast is usually my relaxation time before class. I'll read blogs, catch up on the news and basically prepare my brain for the incoming class chaos

Which always have me running out the door as soon as I finish breakfast. One Advanced Composition class later, I'm back at the apartment working on homework in the two-hour-break before my last class. 

Because I have a big, later breakfast, lunch usually ends up being more of a snacking plate. It always features some veggies broiled until crispy, mixed greens, avocado, and whatever leftovers I have on hand - smashed potatoes and quesadillas are particular favorites! 

Before my last class, I also do my supper meal prep. As my friends and family can attest to, I get hangry quick - which means dinner needs to be easy to whip up right after class.

Veggies on the balcony...
Typically, I always cut up my veggies and cook (or any defrost pre-cooked) meat before I leave. This lets me survive my 3:00-4:15 class, jump in the shower, and have dinner ready by 5:00. Happy belly = friendly Casey. 

Unlike those of other college students, my typical (and favorite) nights involve curling up with Netflix, homework and friends. If I have internship the next day (like I did today!), I also spend an hour making my breakfast and lunch to take to class and the office

The usual spread of goodies!
And no (or, at least, nearly no) evening is complete without a night snack. Hello to my favorite coconut yogurt, fruit, nut butters and granola! This is always my favorite kind of "dessert" and I always look forward to ending the day on a sweet note. Especially if I just get back from walking to the boy's dorm across campus...

And by 10:30, this chica is all ready for bed! A quick goodnight text to the parents and the boyfriend and I'm out. Until the college celiac adventures start all over again the next day! 

Do you tend to stick to a daily routine or do you shake it up? How do you handle cooking in college? Comment below! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Coconut Oil: Tips and Tricks

The oil aisle of most grocery stores can be an intimidating row. Canola, olive, grapeseed, sesame...but, hands down, I'm coo-coo over coconut. And I'm here to spill (clumsy oil-jar-dropping pun intended) all the benefits and tricks of my favorite cooking oil. Getting the most joy out of your jar? Nearly guaranteed.

Coconut oil selfie time...
Coconut oil has a controversial health history. Although it is composed of mainly saturated fats, which doctors usually want people to avoid, coconut oil has been shown to slightly increase eaters' good cholesterol in some studies. It also appears to help with weight loss, and virgin coconut oil may contain antioxidants

As my last roommate - Bri - can attest, coconut oil rocks with external applications. It can act as a hair shiner, moisturizer, shaving cream and more. According to articles like this one, coconut oil is basically the duct tape of personal hygiene. 

I don't know how the Greeks did it - but one of these
Greek goddesses love coconut oil!
My favorite ways to go coco-loco, though, stick to food. (And the foodie I am, can you really be surprised?). First off, my favorite breakfast trick: a coconut oil magic shell for my smoothie bowls. 

The sauce is simple, yet always has Instagrammers begging for the recipe. Step 1: melt the coconut oil if needed (20 seconds in the microwave usually works for me). Step 2: pour a small serving into a separate bowl. Step 3: choose your flavoring. I usually use cacao powder, but I've also added acai, spirulina, or PB2 powder for equally delicious results. Step 4: mix and pour over your cold smoothie bowl, placing the bowl in the freezer for 30 seconds for the ultimate shell. 

The perfect crunchy, creamy combo!
The result? Crunchy, chocolate goodness that's way healthier than it looks!

Coconut oil can also make an appearance in my lunch. Just recently, I learned a trick from Jessica Fisher's new cookbook, Good Cheap Eats. To blast your rice, millet, cauliflower rice, or "grain" of choice into new levels of deliciousness, sautée it with a drop of coconut oil before adding the liquid to cook it. 

Creamy coconut rice on the bottom!
When I added coconut oil to my rice pre-cooking, it made my kitchen smell amazing and my coconut rice taste even more creamy and rich than usual. Plus, combining coconut oil and grains creates a super food equation of healthy carbs and fats. AKA - that rice will fill you up longer than its mainly-carb cousin! 

Finally, coconut oil is a secret weapon for all those avoiding dairy. In pastries - like my allergy-friendly recipe for chicken pot pie or my experiments with galettes - mostly solid coconut oil makes the perfect butter substitute. 

No butta, no problem!
As for how it makes the pastries taste? I can never get enough of the light, flaky coconut oil crusts! While I initially worried it would make the crust too heavy or rich, I actually tend to use a little less coconut oil than the recipe calls for. This means I get the same taste with less grease (and less money spent on ingredients) - a win-win for this college student! 

In terms of controversy, coconut oil stands out among other oils in the grocery aisle. At the same time, though, its unique properties of solidifying in cold temperatures and melting in hot ones makes it one of the most versatile oils. As with anything, it should be used in moderation

I've found at least 20 uses...including homemade frosting!
But when you do use it, the options are endless - and delicious! 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

Do you use coconut oil? What's your favorite cooking oil? Comment below! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ten Thoughts a College Celiac Has when Visiting Home

Midterms. Internship. So many assignments and projects, my planner bled ink. You can understand my excitement, then, of visiting home during PLNU's three day weekend.

What you may not be as familiar with are the thoughts that flew through my head while packing, driving and chilling at home. Thoughts I'm sure most college celiacs can relate to - and everyone can chuckle at! 

1. Do I bring the blender or make my breakfast smoothies ahead of time? I love you Mom and Dad, I promise - food just has its own level on my priority list. 

True love? At least an edible version!
2. Reverse grocery shopping = taking all the perishable food with you for a weekend visit. 

3. *Looks at the huge stack of textbooks in the passenger seat and sighs* If only homework counted as a passenger for the carpool lane. 

4. As freeway comes to a screeching stop: "Don't let the bags of food fall over, not the food!"

Replace McDonalds with fruits and veggies...and this is about right!
5. I get my own bedroom again! Heck yeah to late night Netflix sessions (falls asleep at 10:30 pm). 

6. My favorite celiac-safe XYZ restaurant is nearby...lunch date anyone?

7. *Twirls around the kitchen* Look at all the places I don't have to worry about cross contamination

Why thank you Ryan!
8.  I don't have to cook tonight because dinner is already gluten free? *Insert odes to Mom's cooking here*

9. Thrifting for new mason jars for smoothies and shopping for groceries on the same day? Come at me!

10. As my parents and I exchange stories ("All of my smoothie jars exploded in the freezer." - Me "I'm getting a new tattoo." - My dad.), I can only think, "It's nice to be home."

A "supremely" awesome group!
As crazy as school gets, I always savor knowing that I have a crazy awesome family not too far away. And lots of crazy thoughts to cook up during my visit!

No complaints from me. 

What do you usually think about when visiting family or friends? How do you cope with crazy school or work weeks? Comment below! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Four Tips on Surviving a Glutening

It happens. Months of being vigilant, careful and cross contamination free disappears thanks to an accidental kiss or a dirty counter top. Let's just say that the celiac and gluten reunion doesn't feel so good (insert music here).

Not my kind of reunion...

After a week of walking around as a zombified, foggy-brained, heavy-limbed version of my usual self, this celiac is back in business. In particular, in the business of sharing the top four tricks I've learned about how to bounce back from a glutening.

First, know your medicines. Besides keeping up my usual probiotics and vitamins (particularly calcium and zinc, as prescribed by my doctor), two extra medicines join my regiment post-glutening. First, activated charcoal. These tablets don't look or sound like much, but when taken, they bind to toxins in the body. Although not exactly a "gluten-be-gone," many other gluten free bloggers take charcoal after a suspected glutening.

Available from Amazon, Walmart or Vitacost!
In order to up my body's vitamins and antioxidants, I also take Airborne (make sure you check that your tablets are certified gluten free!). I usually use Airborne when I'm sick with a cold, but (whether through a medical or placebo effect), I've found that it helps increase my energy post-glutening too. As always, check with your doctor before trying any new medications!

Next, keep it simple in the kitchen - in terms of needed prep and ingredients. When my stomach feels upset and I don't have much energy, the last thing I want to do is cook. So, this last week I stuck to the basics with meals. My favorites? A baked potato stuffed with whatever leftovers I had on hand. Crock pot stews that do all the cookin' while I'm busy in class. And Earth balance's new GF and vegan Mac and cheese, which cooked in a snap.

A few dinners this last week...
In my glutening research (cause what's a better use of time when your lying in bed glutened than googling quick fixes?), most celiacs suggest a high nutrient, low processed diet the week after accidentally ingesting gluten. I totally agree - but if you're craving some major comfort food (gluten free pizza, anyone?), try to compromise. 

In my case, I followed my usual pretty-healthy diet while embracing comfort foods (like homemade granola and Mac and cheese) by sneaking in some extra nutrients (such as turmeric powder, spinach or chopped veggies) to the base recipe.

Spinach in granola? Trust me, it's delicious!
The hardest tip for me to follow? Respect how (or even if!) your body wants to move. My main gluten symptom is extreme fatigue, so I try to give my body lots of rest. At the same time, I also know that I'll often feel better once I get moving. 

As such, I usually compromise with some yoga, light stretching (especially helpful for an upset tummy!), and slow stationary bike sessions (mostly motivated last week by my upcoming Politics Midterm!). Everyone's glutened experience is different - and their activity levels should reflect that.

Not this kind of yoga...
Finally, keep you friends and family in the loop - and let them help however they can. While I try not to whine about my celiac problems (I got 99 problems and gluten makes up 98 of them...), I've learned that sharing is caring. Partly because then my roomies and boyfriend won't take it personally if I snap at them or fall asleep while they're talking. Mostly because I know they care about me and want to help. 

What does that help look like? No one (that I've met at least!) knows how to totally vanquish gluten problems, but friends can help to distract and comfort. Cuddle sessions on the couch, Netflix marathons or adorable get-well cards (like the one my mom sent) are all highly recommended! And while I was wary about telling my boss, it let her understand why I was slower (and more spaced out) at work than usual. 

Some of my favorite comforts...
Surviving being glutened is never easy. The longer I've been gluten free, though, the more recovery tips I've picked up. And one guarantee? By the time I return to "normal," I'm even more grateful for my diagnosis and access to a gluten free diet. 

Because gluten and me? That's more of a Hollywood horror story than a romance!

What are some of your tips to recover from being glutened? Comment below!  


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Good Cheap Eats Cookbook!

Don't get me wrong - this girl loves cooking (mainly because Netflix can be playing and eating happens afterwards). When classes and assignments start getting crazy, though, I love finding delicious, healthy recipes that I can whip up in a flash. 

So, when I was offered a copy of Jessica Fisher's cookbook, Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes (or less!) to review, I couldn't say no. Especially since Fisher is a fellow blogger (at "Good Cheap Eats"). This newly-released cookbook features 200 recipes that are fresh, fast and flavorful. Not to mention cheap. Talk about about college foodie heaven. 

My newest cookbook!
The book is broken into several categories, including: Quick Casseroles, Bakes and Broilers; Breakneck Sandwiches and Burgers; Speedy Soups and Stews; Swift Salads; Fast Pizzas and Flatbreads; Rapid Tacos, Burritos, and Wraps; Snappy Sautés, Skillets and Other Stovetop Specials; Grilled Fare in a Flash; and Desserts on a Double.

Besides the variety and organization, I also love how many of the recipes are allergy-friendly. Each recipe page features tags that state what allergens it is free of (e.g., gluten free, dairy free), if its freezer friendly, and even if it can be made ahead of time. No more surprises half-way through cooking!

This baby is meatless, gluten free and dairy free!
Although several of the recipes caught my eye (especially the Rebel with a Cause Smashed Potatoes and Hands-Free Cashew Chicken), I've been on a curry kick the last few weeks. After throwing the ingredients for vegan korma into the crock pot, I needed a side dish that would hold its own. Good Cheap Eats to the rescue with its recipe for Coconut Rice!

The recipe (included below) is simple. Uncooked rice, coconut oil, coconut milk, optimal coconut shavings, and spices. I also threw in some chicken stock for good measure. I'd never sauteed rice in oil before adding liquid...and I'm never going to skip this step again! Within a few minutes, the rice and coconut oil filled my whole apartment with an earthy, slightly sweet perfume. After adding the liquids, all I had to do was let the rice cook on the stove top. Now that's my kind of cooking! 

Recipe for heaven?
Thirty minutes later...creamy, rich rice heaven! I was worried that the coconut milk would make the rice too sweet (and I omitted the coconut shavings due to this worry). Instead, the milk created a delightfully thick, pillowy texture. 

The simple but creamy blend perfectly complimented my spicy curry. The rice added a slight crunch to my spiced potatoes, while the coconut milk kept the meal from overheating my (admittedly wimpy) taste buds. 

My finished product!
I ended up freezing the leftover rice - and when I reheated it for later meals, it tasted just as delicious as the first time! I also loved knowing that the coconut milk and oil's healthy fats added extra nutrition and satiety to the typical rice dish. 

Considering the success of this dish, I can't wait to try out some of the other gluten free recipes in the book. Thanks to our generous host, though, one lucky reader will get to do the same! Enter the below giveaway for a chance at winning your own free copy of Fisher's new book! 

Because, honestly, loving cooking is even easier when a delicious, healthy meal is only thirty minutes away! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post is also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

*I received these products without charge to review, but my opinions are all my own!*

Do you have any tricks on changing up the typical rice dish? Have you ever read Fisher's blog? Comment below! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Just a Little

Sometimes, it can be easy to forget. In between taking classes and working at my internship, cooking food and watching Walking Dead with the boy, I need to be a gluten ninja. Because, it only takes a little to kick a celiac's butt.

This weekend, folks, my butt has been kicked.

Just joining the cast of the Walking Dead...
I don't know what has made my legs feel like they weigh one hundred pounds or my stomach decide to throw a fit. Maybe not cleaning the kitchen counter top carefully enough, or too many kisses too soon after the boy ate. Honestly, it doesn't really matter. What does? Remembering the little things in a celiac's life.

The little ways a body shows that something is wrong - like never shaking the "I-just-woke-up" haze hanging in front of my eyes.

The little ways friends can make me feel normal, even when my body isn't. (Like my amazing roommate who surprised me with this late birthday present. Can you say "Personalized kitchen swag?" A+ gift choice.)

Cute and functional!
The little comforts I turn to when I'm not feeling well. Cue the charcoal pills, which have become my secret weapon against an upset stomach. And, as my roommates have quickly learned, lots of mini yoga sessions. They've now gotten used to walking into the apartment and seeing me twisted and stretching on the floor with my textbooks.

The little shortcuts for whipping up a nutritious, delicious meal. My favorite plain, quick, but tasty treat? A baked potato stuffed with whatever leftovers I have chilling in the fridge. My favorite comfort foods can always be made in 15 minutes or less!

The little moments of this junior year (so far!) that make me smile in memory. Like Nick discovering that blue jolly ranchers make great fashion statements. Or when I discovered my roommate hid rubber rats all over my food cupboards - we always know how to celebrate the holidays in style!

Quite a pair...
The little texts from back home that remind me that, no matter how much fun I'm having at school, home with the family and pup is where the party's at!

The little laughs my roommates always give when they see me about to pose with another miscellaneous piece of food (cough, cough, corn dogs).

And, as this weekend reminded me, that "a little" packs a punch when it comes to gluten with celiac disease. The longer I'm a gluten free veteran, the easier it can be to "forget" why - the stomach pains, the fatigue, the brain fog and the general "no me gusta" attitude. And while it isn't the best experience, or something I would ever intentionally do, it triggers a big lesson.

A little part of the big picture...
Mainly? That the little things in life - the good, the bad, and the gluten - matter. (Including, even, the little gal writing this post!)

What is one "little" aspect of life important to you? Do you sometimes get less cautious with gluten the longer you haven't been glutened? Comment below!

Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Celiac-Safe a College Apartment

Three gluten-eaters and one celiac walk into their college apartment for the first can imagine some of the directions this joke can take. Most of them involving a struggle for the gluten filled and gluten free lovers to live in harmony.

Nearly a month into junior year, though, this celiac has yet to kill over or be killed by gluten. And I'm ready to share my best tips for how to keep your apartment kitchen snazzy and celiac-safe. (Cool roommates not included.) 

Welcome in!
1. Segregate the gluten and gluten free food. It's much easier to say "hands off" to an entire pantry compared to individual items. Since I was the second roommate out of four to arrive on move in day, I had lots of time to figure out my organization system. 

Basically? I get all the cupboards to the right of the oven; the gluten food goes in shelves to the left. I get the lower pantry shelves near the fridge, while the gluten eaters enjoy the top. They don't go into my section, I don't go into their's, and everyone's happy!

My side of the kitchen!
An extra bonus? By keeping everyone's food separate, there's less risk to grabbing and using the wrong product. There's nothing worse than accidentally glutening yourself...or using up your celiac roomie's expensive gluten free Mac and cheese! 

2. When it comes to food segregation in the fridge, stick to the top shelves. I keep all my perishable food on the top rack of the fridge or in one of the two "produce" drawers. This first prevents people from accidentally grabbing my things - usually visitors go for the food they see first on the lower shelves. 

Upper shelf living...
More importantly, this configuration also keeps gluten crumbs from falling onto my food. For double protection, I always package my food - whether in plastic containers, bags or foil. 

3. Bring your own pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Like my food, I store my cooking equipment in a separate cabinet. The amount of items you need depend on how much and the types of meals you cook. 

All the gluten free gadgets!
Personally, I brought one sauce pan and one skillet; several baking trays and pans; a full set of (quirky and un-matching) silverware; tools like a kitchen knives, measuring cups and spatulas; and all my favorite bowls, jars and plates! It's also important to remember cleaning supplies. I use my own dish scrubber, which I always store away from the sink immediately after using. Clean and cross contamination free

4. As part of all the above tips, label everything! Before I left for school, I wrapped the handles of my pots and my big cooking utensils with blue painting tape, which I wrote "Gluten Free" on in permanent marker. On baking trays, I simply wrote my name and "GF" on the bottom. This way, if I accidentally leave something out on the counter, my roomies know not to use it. 

Labels everywhere!
To make the kitchen segregation easier for everyone, I also labeled my cabinets and fridge shelves. My roommate, a true organizing ninja, brought a label-maker with her to school, so I printed my own "Casey's Loot" stickers. Strips of painters tape with sharpie writing would work just as well though! 

5. Finally, to make sure your celiac precautions last, be honest and keep communication open. When we agreed to room together last year, I immediately told everyone my kitchen requirements. Knowledge = power...especially the power to organize the kitchen! 

A smile of full power right there! ;)
And, if people forget to wipe off the counters or accidentally put food on my shelves, I - nicely - remind them. After my diagnosis, it took me ages to remember proper celiac protocol. As long as I'm not being glutened, friends and family deserve the same time to adapt. 

Sharing a living space with one person who eats gluten is scary enough...sharing it with three? A joke that could easily turn into a nightmare. With the help of some considerate friends (not to mention a fancy label-maker), though, this celiac is loving her new digs. 

Our favorite wall ornament...

The "Babe Cave" is now open for (gluten free) college cohabitation. 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

What are your tips for living with people who eat gluten? Comment below! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dipping Delights with Foster Farms

I often feel like the more structured my life  becomes, the more deconstructed my food ends up! Now that I'm back at school, I rarely have time to make a formal lunch. My solution? Embracing a single-person buffet full of sides, leafy greens, and, of course, dips.

And nothing inspires some new dip recipes like a couple boxes of Foster Farms gluten free corn dogs in my freezer! (The benefits, my roommates say, of living with a celiac blogger).  

Dipping party material!
I've shared a couple of my go-to dips in the past (hello seed stuffed pesto and creamy radish greens sauce) - and trust me, these green beauties compliment every kind of meal. With limited greens in the fridge and a hankering for something different to sink my teeth (or sweet potato rounds and corn dogs!) in, though, I ended up on the golden road. 

Which left me with mustard's a spicy curry cousin. AKA, the perfect counterbalance to sweet breaded corn dogs. Addiction, nearly guaranteed.

Perfect fall treat!
To get started, gather up a few simple ingredients:

Spicy Curry Mustard Dip:
(1 small serving)

1 TBSP coconut milk
little less than 1/8 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder 
Sprinkle of turmeric
Sprinkle of oregano

The best thing about this recipe? It's five minutes from desired to done! I just stirred all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, but for an even smoother sauce, toss this in a small blender and give it a few whirls. Some important tips to remember:

This baby can overdo the heat factor easily! To make sure you don't overpower your taste buds, start out with less curry and mustard powder and keep adding small amounts until you get it right. If you add too much (like I did a couple times, I'll admit!), lower the heat by adding more coconut milk. For the creamiest, thickest texture, try using coconut cream instead of just the milk. (Coconut cream can be bought separately or made by refrigerating a coconut milk can upside down overnight and scraping off the cream).

Dipping action!
As usual, this recipe is entirely customizable. Love cayenne? Chili powder? Thyme or even an avocado for extra creaminess? Throw them in the pot (or blender) and experiment away! 

As they are, this dips pack a tasty and a nutritional punch. In the curry dip, coconut milk provides healthy fats and a creamy consistency. Combined with curry powder and turmeric, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, this dip turns corn dogs into a comfort meal that would actually comfort the body. 

A few of my favorite things...
One thing is definite: you won't need to worry about figuring out how to eat these dips. On corn dogs, with homemade sweet potato wedges, poured over roasted veggies....The sky stomach is the limit! 

When life gets crazy (or goes to college!), organization can fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Luckily, with some delicious dips (and corn dogs for pairing), the messiest of meals are usually the tastiest!

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*

*I received compensation for my role in Foster Farms' campaign, but all the opinions are my own.*

What's your favorite dipping sauce? How do your meals change between summer and school? Comment below!