Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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

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

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

casey the college celiac

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

1. Awesome Athletes.

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

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

2. Witty Writers.

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

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

3. Newscasters in the know.

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

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

4. Entertainment Experts.

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

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

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

5. Badass Bloggers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

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

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

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

casey the college celiac, gratitude, holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Creamy Cranberry Smoothie Bowl (Gluten Free, Vegan)

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

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

casey the college celiac thanksgiving

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

Ingredients (for 2-3 servings):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

5 Tips for Giving Thanks for Uncertainty in Life

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

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

casey the college celiac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Acknowledge and accept any fears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. See that uncertainty includes the certainty of growth. 

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

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

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

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

casey the college celiac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

A #Glutenfree Girl's Guide to Turn a Breakup into a Career Breakthrough

Suddenly, after years of dating who you thought was your soulmate, it’s over. You met his parents, window-shopped for a house to buy together and even picked what would be your side of the bed – only now you’re frantically trying to disguise your puffy, red eyes as you head into the office on Monday morning.

According to The Date Report, 85 percent of relationships end in breakups. My first relationship wasn't an exception. Recently, I shared five gluten free lessons that my first relationship taught me - and it's actually one of my most popular posts to date. My breakup, though, taught me just as much - and, in some ways, it actually helped me find work at Entity Magazine, where this article first appeared!

casey the college celiac

Although it may feel like it at first, when a relationship ends, that doesn’t mean the rest of your world has to go with it. In fact, with these tips (from my personal experience and experts) you can turn a breakup into a career breakthrough.

1. Consider any restrictions you also lost.

We know, we know. You wanted to be tied down – or at least have a cute guy tagging along for the ride. But after a breakup, it can help to consider all the restrictions you’ve also lost. Your relationship restrictions could involve places you could live, jobs you could take or even hobbies you could explore. The important part is to realize that your newly single status might open plenty of doors in your career and overall future.

(In fact, if you're a Type-A girl like me, you may even create a spread sheet of your new grad school options the same night as your breakup. Don't be afraid to use your frustration as fuel to make your dreams a reality!)

2. Embrace new activities…

The hardest part about a breakup is that your routine suddenly shatters. No more Friday date nights or texts when you wake up or go to sleep. According to Metro, one of the best ways to adapt to this change is, ironically enough, inviting even more change! Laura Yates advises trying to learn something new, whether by taking a cooking class or a course in cage fighting. If there’s anything you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, here’s your chance.

casey the college celiac
Or checking out the local festival for Dia de los Muertos!
This adventure-lovin’ behavior can be a secret weapon for the career girl. Suddenly, that work conference you didn’t have time for or were too scared to attend sounds like fun. The extra training your boss recommends turns into an exciting challenge and, if you’ve wanted to switch career fields or seek a promotion, maybe this is when you finally have the guts to do it!

While it can be helpful to keep some parts of your life the same (think of them as a grownup safety blanket) after a breakup, new activities can help you grow and discover new passions.

3 … and new people to mentor.

With your social calendar suddenly wide open, this is also a great time to dive into networking or even find someone to mentor. According to therapist, author and TV host Dr. Sheri Meyers, studies show that the happiest people give the most to others. In the context of a breakup, cozying up to your fellow coworkers – for instance, by having girl’s night on your old date night – can not only make the office a friendly place, but it can also give you other relationships on which you can now focus.

casey the college celiac
You may even get the chance to teach your peers!
Not to mention that you never know what opportunities could emerge from your networking. If you dedicate your spare time and energy to mentoring a new office member, you could build a close personal and work relationship for life. Or, if you spend more time networking with others in your field, you could meet future employers or people who wouldn’t mind acting as your mentor.

4. Cuddle with your computer instead of your ex.

What about those nights that feel so empty without your favorite cuddler? At least in my experience, cuddling up with your computer makes for a decent replacement. I don’t just mean drowning your sorrows in Netflix, though. Instead, spend your free time updating your LinkedIn and other work-related social media profiles and upgrading your resume. If you’re currently unemployed or curious about other fields, you can also spend this free time exploring your options and researching possible career skills you could strengthen. You might not have had the time, energy or motivation to chase these opportunities while in a committed relationship.

5. Embrace healthy habits.

Eat better, feel better, do better. It’s a pretty simple equation, but in the chaos of everyday life – especially as a working woman – it can often be forgotten. After a breakup, though, Dr. Sheri Meyers stresses that eating healthy and regularly, getting plenty of sleep and developing an exercise routine is especially important. Not only do you have extra time to cook healthy meals or take trips to the gym, but you also have some extra energy. Instead of caring for two people, you can focus on yourself.

casey the college celiac
You could even do a mud run!
You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish at work when you’re fueling and treating your body right. According to Business News Daily, studies have shown that workers who eat healthy foods and exercise regularly did 15-25 percent better on job performance than their less healthy coworkers. Maybe nailing that office presentation or earning a promotion really is in the bag – your grocery bag, that is.

6. Reflect on your life and past accomplishments.

You’ve probably heard of the cliché that people’s lives flash through their eyes when dying. In terms of a relationship ending, that is not only true, but also healthy. As Metro explains, the end of a relationship allows people to reflect on their lives. What worked in the relationship and what didn’t? What, if anything, would you change? This reflection involves more than just the romantic actions of two people, though. You can also consider actions you’ve taken in all areas of your life, including work.

Perhaps your breakup reveals that you work too much and need to cut your hours. Perhaps it motivates you to set higher goals for yourself – as a romantic partner and as a career woman. At the very least, it can help you learn what you really want out of life, which is part one of getting it.

7. Pat yourself on the back for what you've accomplished since.

Take a moment and – whether you broke up two hours or two years ago – pat yourself on the back for everything you’ve accomplished since then. Maybe you’ve scored an awesome new job or maybe you’ve just managed to go to the office every day without looking like a sobbing mess. In fact, what you accomplish isn’t actually the most important part; instead, it’s that you’re doing, trying, succeeding at something. It’s working to prove to others and yourself that, yes, the breakup hurt. But you will survive and even thrive.

casey the college celiac
Who knows what mountains you'll climb?
In fact, losing your relationship might pave the way to winning the career of your dreams.

*Although I wrote this post, it first appeared at Entity Magazine. Check out my other Entity articles here!*

*Also found at Let's Get Real, Dare to Share and Share Fest*

What has a break up taught you? Can you relate to any of these tips? Let me know! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

4 Reasons Why I'm Healthier Eating More Processed Foods

What is one dietary change you could make to improve your health? Maybe it's eating fewer night snacks, cooking your own meals instead of eating out, or adding more vegetables to your plate. One answer you might not hear as, often, though, is "eating more processed foods."

Processed foods have earned a bad rep over the last years - and rightly so in many of ways. Yet, as I've returned to college, started two jobs and squeezed in plenty of adventures with friends these last few months, I've noticed something: my intake of processed foods has gone up...and - contrary to what society often makes us believe - my health hasn't plundered down. 

casey the college celiac

Why? I'll be honest - it stumped me for awhile. In fact, this was one of the most challenging posts to write because I know it goes against a lot of advice given and diets followed by other people. However, I've come to several medically-unqualified (as I've said before, I'm a college student, not a doctor!) conclusions from my personal experience.

What did I eventually discover? Here are four reasons why eating more processed foods - including, full disclosure, several sponsored goodies - has made me healthier overall...and how the same could be true for you.

1. Processed foods aren't all created equal.  

First off, what exactly are "processed foods" anyway? A definition is harder to nail down than you might initially think. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, "food processing" involves "any deliberate change in food that occurs before it's available for people to eat." Processed foods also exist on a continuum, ranging from "minimally processed" products (like washed and packaged fruits and vegetables) to "ready-to-eat" foods needing minimal or no preparation (like breakfast cereals, bagged cookies or rotisserie chicken). 

casey the college celiac
That cookie face...
Processed foods, therefore, aren't just the Milky Ways and packaged powdered donuts calling your name at your local grocery's check out line. They can also include foods that people often equate with "health" - like prepackaged meals aimed toward weight loss or bottled veggie-packed juices. In fact, some foods are even processed to make them safer to eat - like pasteurized milk, which is heated to kill harmful bacteria.

All this goes to say that, even though I'm eating more processed foods than ever before, I'm not just binging on gluten free Oreos. One of my favorite "processed food" finds recently? Setton Farm's Pistachio Chewy Bites. These non-GMO energy bites are made of pistachios, cranberries and agave nectar. Besides being an ultimate chewy/crunchy combo, they are also packed with fiber and protein.

casey the college celiac
Could there be a more holiday-inspired bar?
Sure, I love making my own bliss balls out of dates, nuts and superfood powders...but when you're a college student, two-time employee and a human being who enjoys sleep and Netflix, convenience foods often win out! Especially if you can find processed foods that are, quite literally, as little processed as possible. 

While that last line my sound like an oxymoron, I think it actually highlights one moronic part of processed foods: some are better than others, but their "unhealthy" connotation hides that true distinction. 

2. I can get the calories I need with less volume and bloating

Along with less processed foods like the Pistachio Chewy Bites, though, I'm also enjoying plenty of bagels (Snackin' Freely, I'm dreaming of you!), Enjoy Life Foods mini cookies and cartons of So Delicious coconut yogurt. And you know what? My stomach is actually thanking me for the additions!

casey the college celiac
So many delicious bites...
Why could that be? Let's take a trip back to your high school nutrition class for a few minutes. When people expend energy on daily activities - like, in my case, walking to and from class, working out, and pacing while studying - they need to refuel with food. And what has more calories? One cup of broccoli or one cup of rice pasta? If you're trying to lose weight, sticking to unprocessed foods will probably help you reach that goal

However, if you're trying to gain or maintain, you might not be able to comfortably eat as many unprocessed calories as you need. Not to mention that, as a celiac or someone with dietary restrictions, you may not be able to enjoy the typical "calorie bombs" others can. (Case in point: PLNU's Cookie Monster, a frightening combination of an Oreo milkshake and a double shot of espresso.) 

casey the college celiac
Bigger is not always better...
What am I trying to stress with all of these examples? Basically, processed foods can help active people reach their calorie goals without stuffing themselves with larger potions of lower-calorie foods. Trust me. When it comes to bloating and general tummy distress, more vegetables isn't always better. I think Amanda from Running With Spoons said it best when she blogged, "My diet is nowhere near perfect, but it works perfectly for me."

3. I'm less stressed for time...and for cooking overall.

Another bonus of letting processed foods join the (edible) party? Your stress levels will probably go down. Just picture it: it's a Friday night, you're finally home from work and you're starving for dinner - and fast! What would be healthier in the long run? Ordering Papa John's because you're too tired to cook from scratch - or using a pre-made crust to make pizza at home? Although neither option is "perfect" nutrition-wise, at least cooking at home lets you control the ingredients and save money - while still dining in thirty minutes or less. 

Personally, inviting more processed foods into my kitchen has also let me enjoy a less strict weekly menu. When I first started cooking all of my own meals in college, I always stressed over planning and prepping my meals. Now that I've found processed pantry staples that I trust, though, I'm eating more "spontaneously" than ever before. After all, some days you just really don't know what you want for dinner until your stomach is growing and you see Food for Life tortillas in your freezer

What's the best part of being less stressed about your food? It may directly improve your digestive health. When it comes to your digestive system, your enteric nervous system actually calls the shots. So, if stress is sending fireworks through your nervous system, it can also trigger nausea, an increase stomach acid, constipation or diarrhea and plenty of other less-than-fun digestive symptoms. As a result, if eating "just right" is stressing you out, that may not really be the "right" diet for you. 

4. I'm enjoying life more!

When you read the title of this post, you may have been hoping I'd reveal the secret to gorging on your favorite treats without gaining weight. However, in this case, "healthier" also refers to my mindset. Since I started making processed foods a regular, instead of a rare treat, I'm experiencing the joy that can only come from eating the chocolate (mug) cake you've been craving all day. 

casey the college celiac swoffle
No words needed...
I'm not over thinking topping my smoothie bowls with goodies like Swoffle  - two chewy waffle cookies surrounding a caramel center that tastes like a mix between a light pastry, your favorite caramel candy and pure heaven. While these Dutch-inspired treats are gluten free, kosher and non-GMO, they do contain milk, eggs and a decent hit of sugar...but we don't taste - and certainly shouldn't live - solely by nutritional value. Are smiles accounted for on the wrapper?

I'm also spending less time thinking about food, reading labels at the grocery store (besides checking that it's gluten free, of course!) and cooking overall. I'm spending more time talking with friends for hours, going on random walks along the cliffs and doing nothing at all but enjoying a quiet moment

Food is part of life; it's how we fuel everything we do. But food shouldn't be the most important, the most time consuming or the most stressful part either. 

The Bottom Line

Like all diets, increasing your intake of processed foods isn't the right choice for everyone. Some, like Gluten Dude, may thrive on a more strict paleo lifestyle. However, from my personal experience, some people - those who strive for "perfectly" clean diets but never reach it, who struggle with stomach problems even when doing "everything right," or who just need to calm down and eat the dang cookie - could benefit from a few more packaged products in their pantry

casey the college celiac casey cromwell
Everyone's food journey is different...
but we're all searching for our "right diet."
Health is an intensely personal subject, and what works for one person might be an epic fail for another. All I know? My life has become more energized, calm and happy since I stopped vilifying processed foods. And that's definitely worth raising a glass (or a granola-loaded smoothie) to! 

What does "healthy eating" mean to you? What are your favorite (little or greatly) processed foods? Let me know your thoughts below!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cooking #GlutenFree & #Vegan with Dates: Tips and Tricks

Whether you live in the United States or have been reading the news from afar, last week's Presidential Election has been triggered plenty of surprises and conflict. Though I don't talk politics on my blog - and I don't plan on starting now - I thought we all needed a little sweet to counter the sour mood hanging over some areas of America.

So, of course, I thought about my favorite - refined sugar free - baking ingredient: dates.

casey the college celiac

For those who have yet to bite into this chewy treat, dates are fruits that have been cultivated since 6000 B.C. and can be eaten fresh or dried. However you eat them, though, you're enjoy plenty of nutritional benefits along with their sweet taste. Besides being packed with fiber, dates also offer high doses of potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium and Vitamin B6. Because of these nutrients, dates have been shown to reduce blood pressure, boost heart health, aid with digestion, lower stroke risk, and improve brain performance. Although people watching their sugar intake probably shouldn't pop dates like tic tacs, these are some of the healthiest "sweets" you can eat!

So what's a girl to do with an (edible) date? Get busy in the kitchen of course - especially when making breakfast, snacks and dessert.

casey the college celiac
One of the simplest ways to incorporate dates into your diet is as toppings. Do you keep forgetting to "chew" your smoothies? Torn pieces of dates add a chewy component to any smoothie, which can especially complement veggie-packed nana ice cream. (Pro Tip: if your dates don't feel soft, try soaking them in water for about thirty minutes. They'll emerge extra plump and ready for eating!) Dates also make a delicious topping for (oatless) oatmeal, especially if you mash the dates beforehand and combine the "jam" with warmed berries. The perfect fall breakfast? I think so!

This fruit can also be the perfect "date" for an afternoon slump. As long as you don't have issues with high sugar or fodmap foods (which dates are), you can snack on them straight - especially before a workout for easily digestive carbs and energy. If you want to enjoy dates in smaller doses, though, bliss balls are the perfect solution. Mix pureed dates with some banana, coconut flour and all the add-in's your taste buds desire, from superfood powders to sunflower seeds. You can even experiment with unexpected flavor my salty and sweet Chewy Pumpkin Popcorn Balls. Your palette and pantry are the only limits!

casey the college celiac
Are granola selfies a thing?
As my fellow granola addicts have probably discovered, dates are also secret weapons in dessert - like homemade granola packed with crunchy and chewy textures. By adding chopped dates to ingredients like buckwheat groats, rice flakes, rice cakes and seeds, you end up with mostly crunchy bites with the rare "goldmine" of shredded date.

But what if you're craving something a little more...sophisticated? You can even turn dates into an upscale truffle (again featuring one of my favorite surprise ingredients: popcorn)! You don't have to worry about making too many truffles to eat either - and not just because they're addictive. Truffles (or bliss balls) featuring a high ratio of dates to other ingredients don't freeze solid when stored in the freezer. This means you can keep date-packed treats in the freezer for months at a time. When your sweet tooth hits, just let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes and devour!

casey the college celiac
A plate of deliciousness!
Still looking for the perfect "date" for your taste buds? Check out these recipes from around the blogosphere!
  • Raw Date Syrup: because why over complicate dates when they taste delicious as they are?!? Maple syrup, there's some new competition in town!
  • Zucchini Date Bread: because the only thing better than homemade date bread would be one with zucchini too! Heaven...
  • Velvety Butternut Cinnamon Date Smoothie: this list couldn't be complete without a recipe from Oh She Glows. Dates are directly in (instead of on) this smoothie, and it even boasts some majorly festive hidden veggies. 
  • Date Squares: if I could tolerate oats, I know I would be all over these bars, which remind me of homemade fig newtons. Nadia always knows how to throw a party (in your mouth, at least).
  • Chocomole: dates AND avocado? Talk about an explosion of creamy, chewy and sweet.

Maybe your life isn't as sweet as you would like right now - or maybe others' doubts, anger or stress are rubbing off on you. All I know is that there is never a bad time for comfort food...and sometimes, focusing on adding a little sweet into our lives - whether from dates, Netflix marathons or long walks with friends - can make all of the difference.

*Also found at Inspiration Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, Turn it Up Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Wine'd Down Wednesday, What''s Cookin Wednesday, Allergy Free Thursdays, VegetarianMama and Totally Terrific Tuesday!*

What's your favorite way to eat dates? How do you "add sweetness" to your life? Tell me below!