Follow Me On the Road!

Sort of a girls family bachelorette party, my mom, sister and I will be heading to San Francisco next week and we’re looking forward to trying some delicious new restaurants and dishes! And some relaxing spa treatments, outdoor activities and shopping of course 🙂 Be sure to follow my Faceook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates and please provide your tips and suggestions for us below!

Tips for Great Smoothies – An Easy Way to Eat Clean!

One of the easiest, fastest and healthiest ways to get a great meal or snack in during the day is a smoothie. You’re getting a filling mix of fruits and veggies along with great flavor, while almost tricking yourself into thinking it’s a milkshake or dessert! Here are some of my favorite go to recipes and some guidelines on how you can mix it up for whatever you have on hand, or to avoid whatever you’re sensitive to!

20150301_202540PB&J Milkshake Smoothie
– Almond, coconut, cashew or any type of milk
– Greek yogurt (use chia seeds as thickener for dairy free)
– Natural creamy peanut butter
– Ripe banana (or two)
– Frozen or fresh strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries

Fruit & Greens Smoothie
– Orange, apple or fruit juice
– Big handful of spinach and/or any other greens
– Greek yogurt (use chia seeds as thickener for dairy free)
– Ripe banana (or two)
– Frozen or fresh berries – my favorite are strawberries, blueberries, & peaches

Tropical Pina Colada Smoothie (rum optional!)pinacoladasmoothie-23
– Fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
– 1 medium to large ripe banana
– Unsweetened vanilla almond or your favorite milk;  – coconut milk is excellent
– 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract, or to taste
– Honey or alternative sweetener
– Shredded coconut, optional
– Malibu Coconut Rum, optional
– Maraschino cherries, optional

Green Power Smoothie (great for glowing skin!)Glowing-Skin-Smoothies-3
– 
1/2 cup plain coconut water, juice or almond milk
– 2 ripe bananas
– 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen pineapple
– 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
– 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen  mango
– 2 cups spinach or kale
– 1/2 avocado, sliced
– Optional: 1 Tablespoon ground flax or flaxseed oil and/or a dab of coconut oil

Perfect Smoothie Tips:
– 
for green smoothies, blend up the juice and greens well on their own and then add the other ingredients for a smooth texture
– keep plenty of frozen berry varieties on hand for easy recipes
– if you have extra greens that you won’t finish before they spoil, blend them up with a little bit of water and pour into ice cube trays and freeze
– peel, slice and freeze bananas
– I prefer using frozen berries or green cubes instead of actual ice cubes that water the flavor down

Save on Your Favorite Healthy Brands!

Eating clean, healthy and free of your sensitivities can become expensive, as supermarkets and many food brands are eager to cash in on trends like gluten-free, low fat, low sugar, etc. Have you ever noticed that some products, otherwise exactly the same, charge more for a version with less sodium, fat or other content than the regular product? So you’re paying more for a product with less of an ingredient??? While it doesn’t make a lot of sense, there’s not much you can do about it except be smart and prepared on your grocery runs. And know which products you can purchase without the higher price tag and avoid those simply advertised with a giant “GLUTEN FREE” stamp and extra fillers.

Some brands, however, do a great job of providing quality products that can give recipes a great substitute for traditional ingredients, offering sensitive foodies all the taste without the guilt. And while it may be worth paying the extra bucks for these products, I’ve shared some coupons for my favorite brands below so that you don’t have to!

http://www.bobsredmill.com/get-a-coupon.html

http://shop.udisglutenfree.com/special-offers

http://shop.larabar.com/

http://www.ronzoniglutenfree.com/index.cfm?

http://www.foodshouldtastegood.com/connect/newsletter

http://ancientharvest.com/welcome/ (email newsletter signup at bottom of page)

http://www.bettycrocker.com/coupons (they are improving their offering of gluten free products, I love the GF Bisquick mix!)

In Honor of National Pizza Day!

gluten-free-pizza-crust-recipe1600-x-1067-255-kb-jpeg-xOne of the things I missed most when I first started avoiding wheat was PIZZA! It’s so quick, delicious and easy to order or make that I found myself craving this go-to on a regular basis. It doesn’t help that my fiance is also completely addicted to pizza and didn’t care about eating it right in front of me!

Many restaurants, both local and chains, are starting to carry gluten free pizza crust, and it’s not the same ol’ tough cardboard stuff of the past. I’ve even tricked Adam into trying gluten free crusts where he did not notice a difference, and that’s the ultimate test!

Here is a list, I’m sure nowhere near complete, of the places I know of to get good gluten free pizza around Nashville…now you can celebrate National Pizza day without the guilt and side effects!

Matteo’s – http://www.matteospizza.com/ (specialize in GF pizza and even have a dedicated prep room!)
Mellow Mushroom – http://mellowmushroom.com/
Sam’s Sports Bar – http://samssportsgrill.com/
Brixx – http://brixxpizza.com/ (also has vegan cheese)
Mafiaoza’s – http://mafiaozas.com/
Porta Via – http://eatatportavia.com/
California Pizza Kitchen http://www.cpk.com/
Pizza Hut – https://order.pizzahut.com/glutenfree
Papa Murphy’s Take & Bake – http://www.papamurphys.com/ (at select locations, but Nashville is covered)

So You’re Sensitive….Now What???

I’m not going to lie – it was extremely difficult for me to accept my food sensitivities. I got my results just before the holidays and couldn’t even begin to comprehend how I would manage to eat or enjoy anything.

No homemade rolls or stuffing on Thanksgiving??? You’re kidding right?! So I actually took it slow, and tried my best to start avoiding foods on my list without going cold turkey (pun intended). I spent time doing some research, reading through the booklet and online materials, and I learned about food groups, easy substitutions, reading labels, etc. I took the time at the start of the New Year to clean out my pantry and rid the kitchen of anything containing my sensitive ingredients. Since it was only for 3 months, I did set aside some non-perishables in hopes of being able to eat them again.

One thing I appreciated about the information I received from the doctor was that it suggested all sorts of other foods that I COULD eat and recommended recipes and tips for cooking. I had an epiphany one day when I decided that this would not hinder my love of food, but rather encourage and widen it! I love to cook, and now I could look forward to the adventures of cooking and trying new foods. I began shopping at different stores and learned which ones carried the products I needed, which can sometimes be difficult to find, but it’s getting increasingly easier. (Alternate flours, unique fruits and vegetables, different kinds of fish, etc)

Here’s to being inspired, loving food and living with your sensitivities! Be sure to connect with me on my other sites for recipe and tip sharing!

Food Sensitivity Testing – It’s NOT a Fad!

Since being tested and finding out about my food sensitivities in 2013, I have talked to many, many other people who deal with similar symptoms and diagnoses. However, not everyone who shares the same symptoms will have the same sensitivities. Going gluten-free or avoiding any other food groups by choice is fine for trial and error, but the only way to REALLY know what your body is reacting to (and at what level) is through a test from a doctor.

One of the most important things around going gluten-free or wheat-free is to determine whether or not you actually have Celiac Disease (CD) or another major disorder. Celiac disease is nothing to make light of, it can cause irreversible damage to the digestive system and even death. While blood tests exist, most professionals will suggest an intestinal biopsy to be certain. A colonoscopy is likely going to be a recommended procedure for anyone with digestive symptoms to rule out celiac and other major diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. Even though I had already had a colonoscopy around age 19, my doctor required another at age 26 because Crohn’s is known to onset around that age. Better safe than sorry.

If you’ve ruled out any major diseases, that’s a great start on the road to relief. At least you know that whatever sensitivities you have are not going to cause permanent damage to your system. But to feel your best and avoid whatever icky symptoms you’re experiencing (mine ranged from diarrhea and constipation to rashes, bloating, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, irritability, etc) it’s best to pursue food allergy or sensitivity testing to find out what is really at the root of your symptoms. This chart really helped me understand some of the key differences between celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies.

I really thought I understood what foods my body could tolerate and what foods were healthy for me. I ate eggs and whole-grain wheat products on such a regular basis, however, that I always felt bad and could never tell when I ate something that triggered an upset. I cannot tell you how much I learned about my own body (after 27 years…) from a food allergy test! If you are in the Nashville area, I highly recommend Cool Springs Family Medicine for this test. Look for other doctors offering a similar blood test for food allergies or sensitivities. I’ve also heard of some tests (mainly for gluten-sensitivity only) that require stool samples. I think the blood route was much easier, and if you’re lucky like me, your insurance provider will cover this.

Good luck, be brave and go have yourself tested! You may find out that you have sensitivities, but it’s best to know what you’re dealing with…and you can still enjoy being a foodie!