Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Monthly Favorites: August 2016 + Love with Food Giveaway!

You've probably heard the saying that time flies when you're having fun. Well, I wasn't having fun all of August (if you've never moved, be very grateful for that fact), but time flew by anyway...until I had to fly back to San Diego for my last semester of college a few days ago!

By the time you're reading this post, I'll have (hopefully) made it to Point Loma Nazarene University, unpacked all my things and survived my first two days of classes. Before we jump into the chaos that is senior year, though, why not reflect back on the highs and lows of August?

casey the college celiac

(And get you all signed up for a giveaway from Love with Food!)

What I'm Eating

"Picnic" dinners featuring a spread of roasted veggies, avocado, baked sweet and regular potatoes, mixed greens and either black bean soup or leftover fish.

An insanely delicious pre-birthday dinner at Coquette's, the gluten free bistro and bakery (which is also basically my happy place in Colorado Springs). I enjoyed a chicken sandwich on their house-made bread with a side salad and a few of my mom's truffle fries. The gluten-lovers (dad and sis) are just as big of fans and respectively devoured fried fish and chips and fried chicken...along with a few dessert goodies afterward!

casey the college celiac, coquette's, gluten free,
All the delicious eats!
Too much oatless oatmeal crunchy clusters, mini baked green pancakes and smoothie bowls to might say that I'm eating my way through the last weeks of summer.

What I'm Doing

Spending as much time as possible exploring the gorgeous Colorado Springs scenery. I don't think I'll ever get tired of walking ten minutes and stumbling upon a waterfall, spending time with the folks (and the dog) as we stroll through a nearly-abandoned forest or having deer - ranging from mamas to teens to babies - keep me company along the trails, roads and even in our front yard! And if I do ever get tired of sure to send me an email telling me to snap me out of it!

Getting back into yoga. Besides experimenting with the Core Power studio that's near our new house, I've recently discovered FightMaster Yoga on YouTube. They offer a variety of free videos ranging in skill level, time and focus. When I need a way to wind down or work off some extra energy after dinner (and it's too rainy to walk...which is a common problem in Colorado lately), I love gettin' my (goofy) yogi on!

casey the college celiac, yoga, cheyenne canyon hike, colorado springs
Hikes and crow (poses)...
Preparing for my last semester of college (*insert monkey hiding eyes emoji here). A few days ago, I received an email about scheduling my graduation about a reality check that only 12 units stands between me and a diploma. I'm so grateful that, during this last month, I had a bit of a break from internship and other work as we focused on moving and setting up our new house. While still somewhat stressful, these few weeks gave me time to bake (as the plenty of new recipes I've posted have shown), keep up with the blog and mentally prepare for another whirlwind semester!

What I'm Planning

As I've mentioned in previous posts, having a blast during my last three months of undergrad! Even though I'm only taking 12 units, I will be kept plenty busy by interning (as Senior Editor of Entity Magazine), working as a Teacher's Assistant and applying to 12 grad schools before the December deadline. I'm also planning on squeezing in quite a few fun activities, like visiting my gal pal who goes to school in LA and taking weekly cliff-side walks with friends.

Celebrating my 21st birthday on September 6! This will be a different birthday than most because, for the first time, my family won't be able to stop by. I was definitely spoiled by going to college only 45 minutes away from home for three years, but I know my folks will be sending lots of love from Colorado Springs. I don't have too much planned, but I do know that good food (possible from my new addiction, Peace Pies) and friends will be in the mix...

casey the college celiac, peace pies, san diego, vegan
A repeat is in order? well as lots of gluten free goodies on the blog! September will be "Birthday Month" on the blog, focusing on new beginnings - ranging from graduating to having new adventures - and tons of product reviews, giveaways (like the one posted only a few lines below!) and recipes. You might want to wear a bib when you read the next few weeks of blog posts...and be ready to discover some new favorite products and meals to make!

Now, for the giveaway you've probably be waiting scrolling for. Love with Food (full disclosure: I am a part of their affiliate program) is teaming up with Canyon Bakehouse to offer an epic gluten free giveaway. Three lucky winners will receive a bundle of goodies from Canyon Bakehouse (for a sneak peak at what you could get, check out my Canyon Bakehouse reviews). Enter here and good luck!

casey the college celiac, colorado springs
Going with the (river) flow next semester...
August has come and went, and I'm sure that September will fly by just as quickly. But with goodies from companies like Snackin' Free, Primizie Snacks, Pipsnacks, Bob's Red Mill and Sambazon to look forward to, rest assured that the time will be tasty!

*Also found at LovePastaToolBelt and RunningwithSpoons*

What were your highlights this August? What did you eat and do? What are you planning? I can't wait to hear below!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cooking with Sunflower Seeds: Tips and Tricks

Sunflower seeds are just one of many foods - including avocado, chia seeds, Japanese sweet potato and zucchini - that I never enjoyed until after my celiac disease diagnosis. When I could eat gluten, I had no reason to think outside of the bread-granola bar-meat-potatoes box.

In the three years since my intestines, daily menu and lifestyle were thrown upside down, though, sunflower seeds have become regulars. Not only are these babies high in Vitamin E, copper, Vitamin B1 and magnesium, but they also pack a punch of protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. Studies have also shown that sunflower seeds can help lower the chances of heart disease and cancer, decrease cholesterol and calm your nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Basically, sunflower seeds prove that good things can come in small (and crunchy) packages.

casey the college celiac, cooking, sunflower seeds

How to eat them? Gather your appetite (and possibly a bib to catch any drool) and let's visit some of my favorite ways to enjoy sunflower seeds!

First, breakfast - one of my favorite times to munch on some seeds. As fans of my Instagram have seen plenty of times, no smoothie bowl is complete (to my taste buds' standards) without a crunchy topping. Cue the sunflower seeds! While you can definitely sprinkle your own raw seeds on a smoothie, I personally love using Enjoy Life's Beach Bash Trail Mix, which is packed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, along with some dried fruit.

casey the college celiac, smoothie bowl, oatmeal, yogurt,
A few breakfast favorites!
Sunflower seeds also make a prominent - and delicious - appearance in my homemade granola. Not only do they add a crunch, but also an earthy flavor. Depending on what kind of granola you want, you can also manipulate sunflower seeds to your advantage. For a clumpier granola, you can partly grind up the sunflowers into a meal with a few chunks left. For a looser granola that is more similar to muesli or trail mix, leave your sunflowers alone and let them do their thang! Sprinkle your masterpiece on smoothies, yogurt or even oatless oatmeal.

Now, for lunch or dinner. One of the best parts about sunflower seeds is that they can be sweet or savory. You (and your cravings) decide. Sunflower (and their alter-ego, pumpkin) seeds make the perfect crunchy accessory to a veggie rainbow bowl or stuffed zucchini balls or boats. You can even use sunflower seeds as a crumble topping for homemade mac and cheese!

casey the college celiac, pesto, vegan, pizza
All that pesto and seeds!
My favorite savory sunflower seed secret weapon? Blending some sunflower seeds with pumpkin and hemp seeds, leafy greens, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for a vegan, seed-stuffed pesto! Spread this pesto on sweet potato salmon sliders or on pizza crust instead of tomato sauce, mix it into a zoodle stir fry or just dunk veggies into a creamy, healthy dip.

Finally, dessert (or a sweet snack). I always add some raw sunflower seeds into my bliss balls for a crunchy, chewy, creamy pre-workout snack. Like with the granola, you can also grind sunflower seeds in a meal or even create your own sun butter for a creamy core! Besides including the sunflower seeds in the bliss balls, you can also roll them in the sunflower meal for a crunchy exterior. You can also add sunflowers into my superfood cookies instead of banana chips and/or cacao nibs - dessert has never been so healthy and delicious at the same time!

casey the college celiac, bliss ball, vegan
A bite of bliss!
Still hungry for more recipes featuring sunflower seeds? Here are a few of my favorites from around the blogosphere!

  • Sunflower Seed Butter Cheesecake: Audrey always delivers delicious, allergen-friendly recipes...and this cheesecake is no exception! Sunflower butter has never tasted so cold and creamy.
  • Sunflower Seed Alfredo Sauce: An Alfredo sauce minus the dairy? Creamy, dreamy - yes please! 
  • Homemade Sunshine Burger: Vegans, look no further for a tasty burger than this patty made from brown rice, sunflower seeds, carrots and spices. I haven't made this yet, but it is high on my to-do list...
  • Best Vegan Double Chocolate Sunflower Brownies: I'd be remiss if I didn't list a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Brandi at The Vegan 8. I saw chocolate plus sunflower seeds and was sold. 
  • Raw Sunflower Seed Sour Cream: I'll admit that I've never been a huge fan of sour cream, but I'm pretty sure that this vegan version would convert me...

As I've said several times before, celiac has been a blessing as much as (at times) a curse. Celiac motivated me to try tons of new foods, many of which have become staples of my diet...including the modest sunflower seed.

Who knew eating outside of the box would be so tasty?

*Also found at Best of the BlogosphereTotally Terrific TuesdayWine'd Down Wednesday,  What's Cookin' Wednesday, Let's Get RealVegetarianMama and ShareFest!*

Has celiac disease - or food allergies - expanded your diet even as it limits it? How do you enjoy sunflower seeds? Comment below!

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Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Banish Back-to-School Anxiety

Five days from the day I'm writing this. Three days from the day this post will go live. To what am I counting down? To Sunday when I'll fly back to San Diego (from my new home in Colorado Springs) for my last semester in college.

I'd grow a nose that would rival Pinocchio's if I didn't say I was anxious. I've been waking up in the middle of the night, making countless to-do lists in my phone and trying to savor the last moments of summer

casey the college celiac

Yet, as summer winds down, so are my worries. Need help banishing your back-to-school anxiety? Here are my top four tips!

1. Accept that this school year will be different

I know that, compared to some students, my last semester will feature more changes than usual. My parents no longer live a mere 45 minutes away. The relationship that filled my sophomore and junior year has ended. And I'm welcoming a new roommate into my college apartment

casey the college celiac, plnu, babe cave
Same Babe Cave, different babes...
Everyone experiences yearly changes, though, big or small. Whether you've just moved up a grade or moved to a new school, accepting change will allow you to accept the unique positives (and negatives) of this school year. 

It can be scary knowing that this year won't be the same as the last, but it also means that this year can offer blessings, surprises and friendships you never expected

2. Make a bucket list of activities to look forward to. 

While the causes of anxiety differ from person to person, they usually are negative (ranging from the fear of homesickness to not making any friends). To combat these negative thoughts, you may want to make a list of everything you're looking forward to. I took this idea even further, though, by creating a yearly bucket list

casey the college celiac, senior year bucket list
My list so far...
In this case, I'm not just celebrating being reunited with friends or having my favorite teacher again. Instead, I'm focusing on everything new and exciting I want to do! If you're a senior like me, a bucket list is an especially great way to give a "last hurrah" to college

Need some ideas? Some bucket list items could include: exploring an area of town you've never been to, finally joining the club you've been interested in for years, having a weekly movie night with your roommates or even scoping out that gluten free pancake restaurant you've heard so much about!

3. Reconnect with school friends. 

No matter how hard you try, you may have fallen out of touch with your college friends during summer - especially if you were working an internship, moving across country or just chilling at the beach all day. To start getting excited for school, reconnect with the people who made last year so awesome

casey the college celiac, plnu, friends
Shout out to these awesome folks!
Not only will talking with friends remind you of the good times you had, but you can also make plans for the upcoming school year and share tidbits of your summer. When I talked to my roomies and friends, I also confided my worries for the upcoming school year - and their reassurances and pep talks definitely helped!

4. Plan and prepare...but smile at the surprises. 

If you're a planner, don't ignore that skill as a way to quell your worries. Make checklists of what to pack or what you'll need to do on move-in day. Input your class schedule into your phone and/or planner. You can even meditate and use visualization to picture your first day of class or how you'll arrange your dorm room. Basically? Don't let your worries get in the way of preparing yourself for success!

casey the college celiac, plnu
Packed & ready!
At the same time, though, don't become so stuck on your plans that you react to surprises like a dog hearing loud noises: yelling and running to hide under the nearest piece of furniture. I have my lists made, my flight booked and my patient car (waiting for me in San Diego) packed. Now, I just need to roll with whatever life throws at me along the way! (And definitely stuff my backpack with treats to fuel me or cheer me up, depending on what's necessary!) 

School anxiety is a normal feeling, whether you're a first-time preschooler, a returning middle schooler, or a soon-to-graduate (*insert screaming emoji here*) college senior. "Normal" doesn't mean "necessary" though - and with these tips, you can walk to school feeling more excited than worried...

casey the college celiac
From CO mountains to CA cliffs!
...especially about all the adventures to come!

Do you ever experience back-to-school anxiety? Do you use any of these tips? Tell me what you think below!

*Also found at FlauntItFridayIHeartNapTime and Saucy Saturdays!*

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oatless Oatmeal Crunchy Clusters (GF, Vegan, Oat Free)

You can tell a lot about people by how they like their oatmeal (or oatless oatmeal in my case). Do they like thin or thick? Lots of liquid or just enough to make it fluffy? Tons of toppings - even paired with nana ice cream! - or just some cinnamon and banana? While differing oatmeal tastes may not cause you and your significant other to start arguing over who keeps the silverware, it might be enough for you to decide to make your own breakfasts each morning.

Now, it's time for a confession: I'm a serial cheater in terms of the oatmeal world and I can't commit to one type over the other. I like my oatless oatmeal fluffy and spiced with cacao and maca - but I've also become addicted to what I've come to call oatless oatmeal "crunchy clusters." If you're a thick oatmeal addict, this may not be the post for you (unless you're open to reform). But if you want a healthy sweet "chip" of oatless oatmeal that crunches when you bite it or an easy, quick version of homemade granola to top your smoothies or yogurt, keep scrolling!

casey the college celiac

For 1-2 servings (depending on if you eat this as a main or topping):

2 TBSP buckwheat flakes
2 heaping TBSP rice flakes
1 tsp chia seeds
Sprinkle of cinnamon
6 TBSP (or just enough water/milk/other liquid to cover the flakes)
Optional add-in's: nutmeg, vanilla extract, cacao powder, maca powder, etc.

Be warned: this is probably one of the easiest recipes to make on my entire blog. No apron or fancy equipment necessary! Simply pour all of your dry ingredients into a bowl (preferably one that is old or well used) and mix well. Then add your liquid and mix again. For the crispiest results, you want the least liquid as possible - just enough to cover the flakes and chia seeds. Then, pop your bowl in the microwave.

Depending on the strength of your microwave and the amount of water you used, the cook time will vary. However, start with one minute thirty seconds and keep adding thirty seconds until the "oatmeal" doesn't give when you touch it and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. For the ultimate crispiness, let it cool, scrape it from the bowl and store it in a bag overnight (or at least for a few hours). I love making some the night before so I have a big crunch factor to add to my creamy smoothie bowls!

casey the college celiac
When it's crunchy enough to cut into shapes!
While these crunchy clusters may taste like a mix between a cookie, a cracker and regular oatmeal, you can also enjoy how good they are for you! Like my traditional oatless oatmeal, this snack is packed with protein, manganese and fiber from the buckwheat and brown rice flakes; Omega 3's, phosphorous and magnesium from the chia seeds and a variety of antioxidants and other nutritional benefits from your choice of spices.

As for how to enjoy your crunchy clusters, the only limit is your appetite! When I want a plain night snack, I like crunching (correction: munching) on these babies with some nut butter and banana. As I've mentioned earlier, you can also break up the main "cracker" and use it to boost the texture of your smoothie bowls or yogurt. If you need a snack on the go, you could even treat this like a nutritionally superior rice cake and slather on your usual favorite toppings!

casey the college celiac
My favorite way to use it? Pretty obvious!
It's true that we all might not like our (oatless) oatmeal the same way. People eat it cold, hot, thick, thin, loaded, naked...and now fluffy or crunchy to the max. But whatever way you like it, you can't deny that that perfect bite of oatmeal makes for a sweeter day or night.

What kind of oatmeal eater are you? Do you ever mix oatmeal with smoothies? Comment below!

*Also found at What's Cookin' WednesdayWow Me WednesdayRunningwithSpoons,  VegetarianMamaFoodie FriDIYShareFest and AllergyFreeThursday!*

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Monday, August 22, 2016

What You Should Be (But Probably Aren't) Thinking About Invisible Illnesses

A few days ago, I was scrolling down Facebook when I saw it. At first glance, it was just another birthday announcement from a college acquaintance. As I read further down the post, though, the hairs on my arm started to stand up.

I had lived with this girl on my hall for one year. We hiked together to the farmer's market, she signed the "Welcome Back" poster on my door after I returned from being hospitalized and she constantly "mothered" me. Yet, even as she saw me whither away from celiac disease, she never mentioned that she battles her own invisible, chronic illness: systematic scleroderma. She never mentioned that it nearly killed her - as the excess collagen scleroderma causes can be fatal if left untreated - and how she still takes pills that allow her to look and act like a "normal" teenager. 

casey the college celiac

Now, my post today is not about when or why people reveal their battle with chronic illness. It's not about who has the right to know whose medical history, the power of empathy or even how social media can help people bond over their shared struggles. 

It's about what you should be thinking about invisible illnesses - but probably aren't

As someone with celiac disease and fibromyalgia, I sometimes get caught in the trap of feeling like I have a different - correction: better - perspective on invisible illnesses. I know what they can feel like, after all! But this Facebook post reminded me that having an invisible illness doesn't give me a "radar" for those experiencing similar medical difficulties. 

casey the college celiac
Can you pick out the girls with a chronic illness? Me neither!
In fact, when I see people who fit the healthy "mold" at first glance, I tend to assume - like every one else - that they're normal. A + B = C. The problem with that default thinking? Invisible illness can seem abnormal to the point of disbelief. Though I've been lucky enough to not experience this personally, I've read stories about people with fibromyalgia who have been told by family or even doctors that the pain "is all in their head." I've also offered support to celiacs whose family and friends refuse to accommodate their gluten free diet because "they look just fine." 

What if, instead of assuming the overweight man you see sitting on the front porch every day is lazy, you consider that he may have chronic fatigue syndrome and can barely get out of bed? What if that "skinny white chick" actually orders non-fat milk in her latte because she has IBS and too much fat leaves her sick for days? And, on the flip side, what if we stop associating "invisible illness" with negative traits and insurmountable limitations - because we can still kick ass even if our own body kicks its own
casey the college celiac
Amen to that! (Source)
What if we think about invisible illness as the "default" and give everyone an extra dose of understanding, space and empathy - since we may never know what struggles are hiding underneath their skin? 

Nearly every one in two Americans have a chronic illness and 96% of people with an illness have an invisible one. Unless you're the world's biggest social butterfly, you probably won't meet half of those 133 million Americans - or, even if you meet them (or are Facebook friends, in my case) know about their invisible illness.

casey the college celiac
Or, in this case, 2/2 Americans!
What does that mean for you? A few things. First, change the way you think about invisible illness. It isn't rare, it shouldn't as surprising as it often feels and "invisible" shouldn't mean "unworthy of attention, belief or value." Second? Just be kind. Give strangers, friends and even loved ones the benefit of the doubt. 

Because you never know when someone may be having a harder day than you ever imagined.

Have you ever been surprised by someone revealing an invisible illness? What thoughts do you believe should change about invisible illnesses? Tell me below!

*Also found at Best of the BlogosphereTotally Terrific TuesdayWine'd Down WednesdayLet's Get Real Friday PartyRunningwithSpoons and Wow Me Wednesday*

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Three Most Beautiful Colorado Springs Walks

When was the last time you took a long walk outside?

When it comes to exercise, walking tends to get a bad rap. While studies have shown that running is better for controlling one's weight and appetite, walking equally helps to reduce the chance of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol and to improve heart health. Walking also doesn't put as much stress on the body as running and injuries are less likely. 

casey the college celiac

Whether you want to walk for your health or for fun, I know from personal experience that the scenery can determine if a walk is a winner or a waste. After spending two weeks scoping out my favorite paths, here are the three most beautiful places to walk around Colorado Springs (that I've discovered so far)! 

Anything with the word "star" in it has to blow you away, right? Well, at least this particular path does! Cheyenne Canyon, like all of these other hikes, is located in the South Western part of Colorado Springs. Besides offering the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center, which can educate and entertain any nature-lover, the canyon also boasts a small waterfall only a few feet into the main path. 

casey the college celiac
A few family photos!
As soon as you start going further down the path, though, you're transported into a forest filled with huge trees, boulders, and waterfalls. It feel crazy to think that most of the United States probably looked like this once upon a time. The trail is also nice because it is relatively flat, unpopulated on weekdays and easy to walk. If your dog loves smelling flowers and other exciting scents (like mine does), he or she will have just as much fun you! 

If you've been keeping up with my recent posts, you might remember the words "grasshoppers" and "sunflowers" associated with Stratton Open Space. While it doesn't have any waterfalls, Stratton still stuns with its roaming fields, tons of wild flowers and plenty of animals (including birds, squirrels and even deer that treat the landscape like a loaded buffet). 

casey the college celiac
Dad, dog and the lake!
Stratton Open Space also offers plenty of different trails that range in difficulty and distance. Bikes are also allowed on some of the paths so be aware of cyclists as you walk! Another bonus is the lake that appears a few miles into the hike. While humans aren't allowed even the slightest "bodily contact," dogs can do their thang and enjoy the water. We aren't quite sure of the logic behind this rule, but the dogs certainly enjoy it!

More of a city girl than a hiker? Then this is the gorgeous walk for you. The Broadmoor Hotel is a stunning, historical hotel that features a lake in the center. As I've written on my Instagram, you really do feel like you're on the set of the Great Gatsby and should be wearing a gown with pearls

casey the college celiac
Beautiful views...
The Broadmoor is obviously designed for guests of the hotel, but in the few visits I've made, it's also a very popular spot for weddings and photo shoots. If you need a new profile picture, look no further than here! It takes my sister and I about an hour to walk to the Broadmoor, around the lake and back home but this is definitely an easier walk (in terms of being on a flat sidewalk) that can be adapted to each person's fitness level. 

While I've certainly gone on the most summer walks ever since moving to Colorado Springs, I'm a true walker at heart - as I've written about before. Walking doesn't just get your body can also get your mind to stop, relax and enjoy the beauty surrounding you. 

casey the college celiac

And when it comes to these three spots, natural beauty is a guaranteed walking companion! 

Do you prefer walking or running? What's your favorite place to walk? Comment below! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gluten Free Health and Beauty Products Every Celiac Should Know

If the three years since my celiac diagnosis have taught me anything, it's that gluten can hide in some weird places. Soy sauce, soups, plates made of wheat instead of trees...and, as I discovered a few years ago, in health and beauty products.

Now, according to Beyond Celiac, research has shown that celiacs don't need to use gluten-free cosmetics or shampoos, besides lipstick or hand lotion that could accidentally be ingested. In fact,  it seems that the only way gluten can enter the skin through a topically-applied product is if the celiac has a deep cut. At the same time, if you do use gluten-containing products, you need to wash your hands thoroughly before eating or prepping food.

casey the college celiac
Posing with my fave Cleure lipstick!

In the end, choosing to use or not use gluten-free health and beauty products is a personal decision every celiac has to make...but if you prefer gluten free options, here are some of my (non-sponsored) favorites!


I discovered this company a few years ago and have been buying 90% of my hygiene products from them ever since! What makes Cleure so great? First of all, not only are all of their products free of gluten, but they are also free of "fragrance, salicylates, formaldehyde, and other harsh ingredients" (according to their "About" page). As someone with extremely sensitive skin, it's been amazing to find a brand with such a "clean" and "pure" (hence the name) ingredients.

casey the college celiac
A peak inside my shower...
I also appreciate that Cleure headquarters is located in Santa Barbara, California and all of their products - from ingredients to containers - are made in the US. For Earth and animal lovers, all Cleure jars and tubes are also recyclable and Cleure prohibits animal testing. While Cleure can be a bit pricey, I sign up for their newsletters and try to time my orders for when they have a sale going on (such as free shipping).

What exactly do I buy from Cleure? My typical order includes: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lip balm and lipstick. (Fun fact: not to brag, but people can't believe how soft my hair is. Who says you need complex ingredients for a good shampoo and conditioner?)


I actually discovered Cetaphil when I visited my dermatologist about an eczema flare. He prescribed Cetaphil face wash and I haven't used anything since. Be aware: only the Gentle Skin Cleanser is guaranteed gluten free. Other products contain ingredients that are derived from grains and could contain gluten. If you have sensitive skin like I do, though, you'll appreciate that the Gentle Skin Cleanser is just that: mild, non-irritating and based on a formula that is soap-free in order to not strip your skin of its natural oils.

casey the college celiac
Different name, same product!

Another dermatologist-referred product, Vanicream's Moisturizing Skin Cream is about as hydrating as you can get. This moisturizer - which can be found on Amazon, Target, Walmart and most big outlets - is "free of dyes, lanolin, masking fragrance, fragrance, parabens, and formaldehyde" according to its label. The same company behind Vanicream promotes an article about "Celiac Disease, Gluten and the Skin" on their website, which helped seal the deal for me...besides the fact that the dry patches on my arms and legs are finally disappearing!

Red Apple Lipstick

If you're a fan of Celiac and the Beast, you've probably heard of Red Apple Lipstick before. Just like with Cleure, all products from Red Lipstick are made in the United States (Texas to be specific) and are free from gluten, petroleum, dairy, corn, harsh chemicals, GMOs and "animal bits." According to their website, they also pack their lip products with a Vitamin E to help fight chapped lips and their mineral eye shadow is designed to satisfy even the most sensitive eyes.

casey the college celiac
Their GF status is impossible to miss!
I've personally only tried their lipstick after I won a gift certificate last year. I fell in love from the first swipe and used it until even my fingers couldn't reach the last bit of lipstick in the tube. Red Apple also offers a variety of lip and eye products, ranging from lip liner to mascara. Red Apple is definitely a little pricey, but considering some studies find that women consume between 3.7 to (as the myth reports) 7 pounds of lipstick in their lifetime, your safety of mind (and health) is worth it.

I know that when it comes to gluten, I will never cease to be surprised. While I'm hopeful that living as a celiac will become easier (for me and others) as the years pass, I'm always grateful for the gluten free products I know and have come to love.

casey the college celiac

Because, as cliche as it sounds, life is a little easier handle when rockin' some enviably soft hair and a bright shade of lipstick.

*Also found at Wow Me Wednesday and RunningwithSpoons!*

Do you worry about using gluten free health or beauty products? Have you ever tried any of these brands? Comment below!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cooking with Maca and Spirulina: Tips and Tricks

When you first heard the word "superfoods," you might imagine some healthy food - like fruit or sweet potato - wearing a cape and saving eaters from disease and indigestion. As fun as that may sound, Merriam-Webster reports that superfoods are actually just foods that provide higher health benefits than the average PB&J. Some are more common, like fruits and veggies...

...but others? Let me just saw that you might get used to googling pronunciations (like for acai and quinoa). Considering that the number of superfood products has grown 202% since 2011, I thought I should share  two of my favorite and how to use them. Here's everything you need to know about cooking with maca powder and spirulina! 

casey the college celiac

Before you start whipping out your apron and mixing bowls, here's a short breakdown of what these are and why you should eat them. 

As Dr. Axe explains, maca powder originates from the maca root, which is a member of the cruciferous family (think broccoli or cauliflower). Maca powder is best know for helping balance hormones and increase fertility. Other benefits include increasing energy, immune function, memory, focus and stress management.

It also boasts over twenty amino acids (including eight complete ones), high levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium, a hefty dose of plant-based protein...and maca seems to act as "happiness" drug by boosting people's moods. 

casey the college celiac
Warning: may also incite funny faces.
What about maca's green companion? According to Live Science, spirulina is actually a type of blue-green algae. One fun fact: besides being sold as a supplement, the FDA also allows companies to use spirulina as a dye in gums, candy and other products. Spirulina is composed 60 to 70% of protein and offers high amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium and iron

Spirulina is also considered plentiful in antioxidants and many believe that it helps treat health issues ranging from diabetes and high cholesterol to anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that spirulina can help shrink cancerous oral tumors from smoking and increase exercise performance and recovery

casey the college celiac
Same goes for spirulina!
Now the fun part: how to incorporate these superfoods into your diet and blow your taste buds away at the same time! Especially if you have a sweet tooth, this is the post for you

First off, my favorite meal of the day...and my favorite version of it: the breakfast smoothie bowl. As I've shared before, spirulina adds a brilliant green (or slightly blue, depending on the brand you buy) color to nana ice cream. Feel free to check out the recipes I've already posted, but you can add spirulina to any of your favorite smoothies. Just be sure to add less than a teaspoon at a time; otherwise, you'll get an algae-like taste! 

Maca powder has become a staple in my smoothies because it adds a little extra sweetness to my breakfast. I also love that it can give me an energy boost in the morning! You can also give your smoothie a superfood kick in the form of a "magic shell." Simply combine a tablespoon of melted coconut oil with a sprinkle of maca or spirulina powder. Pour over your cold smoothie, place in the freezer for a few minutes and wala - a green (or white) magic shell

casey the college celiac
All the smoothies and oats...
You can also sneak superfoods into warm recipes, like my oatless oatmeal or granola. (To enjoy the most superfood benefits, try to add the maca or spirulina as late as possible so they cook the least). When it comes to oatmeal, maca works especially well when mixed with cinnamon, cacao powder and a little nutmeg. Spirulina is a more daring choice, but you'll enjoy everyone else's confused faces at your green breakfast! To keep the color but elevate the flavor, try adding a dose of vanilla extract, mashed banana and blueberries

As for granola, if you're trying to create a "pick-me-up" afternoon snack, maca powder is the new must-have ingredient. It blends with most pre-existing recipes and a little goes a long way. If you want to experiment with spirulina, granola is a good choice because the algae-like flavor will be hidden by other add-ins, such as chocolate chips, cinnamon or banana. If you want to preserve maca's or spirulina's benefits the best, you can sprinkle them on your granola after it bakes! 
These superfoods can also make pancakes for dinner an extra healthy choice! When people first try superfoods, they often stick to adding them to smoothies, yogurt or pudding. Don't forget to give your baked goods a superfood twist! In particular, I love packing some greens into my pancakes by adding a little spirulina to the batter. If you're fueling up for an evening workout, maca powder is an even smarter addition. 

Don't just stop at pancakes, though. You can add these to mug cakes, sweet breads and basically any baked good (especially if it has a short cooking time). Your imagination really is the limit. My main piece of advice? When tinkering with a new recipe, start with a sprinkle of superfood powder (especially if it's spirulina) and work your way up

casey the college celiac
Waffles (using Hold the Grain's recipe) work too! 

Craving even more recipes using maca powder or spirulina? Here's some of my favorites from the blogosphere! 

The term "superfoods" may make you laugh when you first hear it, but they will make you say, "Mhmmm!" on your first taste! Especially if you have spirulina or maca-packed smoothies, granola, oatmeal or pancakes on the menu...

Do you eat any "superfoods"? Have you ever tried maca powder or spirulina? Comment below! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

When Doing Nothing is Everything You Need

I'll admit it: when it comes to doing nothing, I'm a C- student. I'm not the only one: in 2014, the University of Virginia found that 67% of men and 25% of women decided to give themselves an electric shock instead of doing nothing during a fifteen-minute "thinking period."

While I'm not sure my "busy" addiction is that extreme, I've needed constant stimulation - whether TV, multiple computer tabs or just swaying in place - since childhood. Thanks to my recent move to Colorado Springs, though, my days have looked a little different.

casey the college celiac

If these past two weeks of road trip driving and Colorado exploring have taught me anything, it's that sometimes doing nothing is everything you need. 

As I've shared before, July was an insane month for me. I was finishing up my internship (for the moment - more details to come!), taking the GRE (a grad school exam), attending my dad's retirement ceremony, helping pack out the house and, of course, actually moving across the country. 

So, when we first rolled into Colorado Springs, the shock of having nothing on my to-do list hit me hard. For the first three days, I got another dose of the benefits of unplugging. I read more books than I have in months, re-discovered my love for podcasts (thank you iTunes) and held plenty solo dance parties in my near-empty bedroom. 

casey the college celiac
Now full of boxes...
Even after we got Internet (insert a blogger's hallelujah here), the feeling of nothing hung over me like Colorado's insanely fluffy clouds. No articles to write or edit for my internship. No books to study. Not even one big event to attend or prepare for. 

So, what else to do but walk

Through grassy fields only a few minutes from my house that, apparently, overflow with sunflowers and grasshoppers during the summer. 

casey the college celiac
This walk was hoppin'!
Only feet away from mama and baby deer who stare at us with the same fascination that we do them. 

Along the lake at the regal Broadmoor Hotel that looks like the set to The Great Gatsby. I definitely felt like I should be wearing a slinky dress and pearls! 

casey the college celiac
Almost too pretty for words...

Next to rivers that shine with pink algae and rocks rubbed smooth and bright from years of natural sculpting

And the more I do nothing but move my legs and smile at the sights, the more I realize that, right now, I don't need to do any more than that. 

I am accomplished without kicking butt at 101 tasks everyday

I am worthy of taking time to breathe, smell the roses (or sunflowers in this case) and focus only on the footprints I'm leaving behind. 

casey the college celiac
Just me and the field!
I am capable of being happy without constant access to friends, technology or a busy schedule. 

I am enough - however much I am or am not doing. 

Because, yes, I am looking forward to jumping back into a crazy school schedule packed with classes, a job as a teaching assistant, friends, grad school applications and even an internship. But I am also savoring today and the few weeks I have left before flying back to San Diego. 

casey the college celiac
I'll miss these views!
By the end of last month, I knew I was doing everything yet still doubted my own accomplishments and abilities. Little did I know that I needed some time of doing nothing to remind me that, with enough hard work and dedication, everything really is within reach. 

What's your favorite way to decompress? Have you ever struggled with the balance of everything and nothing? Comment below!