14 January 2016

My Progress

14 January 2016 0
People have been asking how my progress is doing - I have had four months of drastic changes in my life - (single, new doctor, new car, new residence, etc)

I suppose my answer would be, it changes from day-to-day. Like any other human being, some days are great, some days are mediocre, some days are crap - but you have to keep moving.

A good friend of mine read a beautiful quote to me this morning as I awoke out of my morning savasana - it went something like, "sometimes when you think you have been buried, you have really only just been planted." This quote touched me and I immediately and silently said to myself, "ditto."

I'm sure I have said this a number of times before, but I do strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and sometimes we can see that reason clear as day and other times it may take days, months or even years to uncover the reason(s). You just need to have faith that everything will turn out for the best and that every journey you take on the way should never be regretted, only embraced that it has taught you another lesson in life.

With it being a new year, I have decided to do things a bit differently - no New Year's Resolutions over here - just a new journey of doing things that take me out of my comfort zone and into some unique experiences.

I found a list of 52 unique things to do each week of the new year and I said, heck why not. The first week's assignment was to hand write a note to someone you have lost touch with over the years. I selected my aunt as a recipient of this beautiful gift. Long story short - I have a number of aunts but this particular aunt, due to family-drama, has removed herself from the family and is currently battling some health struggles. At this point in time, I felt like I could relate to her and decided I should send her some gentle and healing love.

The second week's assignment is to bake a birthday cake. This is something I have not done in probably a good 5 or 6 years just because of all the nasty gluten. With many birthday's coming up this month (my brother-in-law, mom, and dad) it is the perfect time to find a good flour-less cake recipe! Keep your eye open for a recipe post soon.

I noticed that I had lost myself and that I no longer loved myself or, for that matter, even liked who I became. No need to really go into the details of why or how, but the important aspect here is to note that I am moving forward and finding myself and happiness.

I am making more times for social activities and balancing that with alone time as well so that I am forced to re-learn / learn to love myself once again.

I'm investing a lot of time, money, and patience into my health and some days I truly see an improvement and find that I am full of energy, ambition, and positive mood and then I still have the days where I do not feel well, my digestion is poor, and I'm mentally and physically exhausted. On these days, I just remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and not every day can be a good one or I would loose appreciation for the good days that I do have.

Here are a couple of things I have been eating lots and lots of...

Homemade Kitchari - I vary the recipe each time but I seem to be enjoying it. Very warm and soothing to the soul. :)

I have also been taking vegetable (normally a squash or gourd) soup and adding oatmeal to it.

Lastly, I have been devouring this specialty squash called Opo which is apparently very difficult to find - lucky me I was able to find it at a local international market.

 I will end today's post with a quick note of gratitude.

What am I grateful for:
* Every morning I wake
*A job
*New car
*A place to call home
*My breath
*Essential Oil Diffuser

09 December 2015

Buttercup Squash Soup (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

09 December 2015 0
It has been about a month since my first Ayurvedic appointment and I have noticed a complete shift in my mood - thoughts - actions.... and pretty much everyone in my life has noticed some physical changes (including my skin color / glow).

I am learning to not just eat-to-eat, but to enjoy my food and the art of taking time to prepare it.

While with a busy work schedule it is almost impossible not to eat leftovers (or I would be eating dinner at midnight!) - I do try and eat food 2-days or younger.

Buttercup squash is actually a variation of the beloved Kabocha Squash - and the skin is edible and contains many health benefits!

Some benefits include: phytonutrients, fiber, iron, and the skin is packed with Vitamin C! Actually, the skin of a buttercup squash has 22% more calcium than the same weight of milk! The squash itself is fat-free, filled with complex carbs (the good kind) and 12% protein!

Buttercup Squash Soup
- 2 Cups Water
- Ginger pieces ( to your liking)
- Garlic Cloves (to your liking, but I used about 5)
- Fennel Seeds
- Spices to your liking ( I used a mixture of Tumeric, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg)
- Seaweed
-1 Buttercup Squash (roasted whole and seeds removed).

In a sauce pan, I combined the water, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, spices and seaweed while I left the squash roast in the oven.

I allowed the broth to simmer on low for about an hour or so to really absorb flavor.
Once the squash was ready, I scooped the insides out and placed everything into the Vitamix to make a nice creamy soup!

I have been struggling to just commit to this one texture and not chomp on some raw veggies, so I have been substituting with Dulse Seaweed (YUM)!

07 December 2015

Experimenting with Kitchuri

07 December 2015 0
Ah-ha! I am getting it! I knew I would find a way to love this new diet, it just needed a "Nicole-Spin" to it!

The flavorings and cooking techniques need a little tweaking!

Here is where I am at now. 
1. I toned down the seasonings - going with smaller amounts and less abrasive ones (to me).
**I am currently loving fennel so I sort of go heavy on this one
2. I am creating a broth-like substance before I make the Mung-Dahl and Brown Basmati Rice.
3. I cook the rice on high at first and then tone it down and let it simmer for longer (making everything much softer)
4. I am cutting the seaweed up into smaller chunks.
5. I am cooking the cilantro right into the dish rather than just sprinkling decoratively on top.

This batch was thus far my favorite batch! Yummy!
P.S when you enjoy what you are eating, you feel better. Then add that it is a very healthy dish for you, and boom! Win-win!

06 December 2015

Some People Get Food Allergies

06 December 2015 0
While I am doing my best to be very strict with my daily routines and eating habits, it can make eating out or even schedule any sort of social activity rather difficult.

When you do come across that random person / establishment that actually understands you have not only one food allergy but multiple and that they are very severe - you really take the time to appreciate them!

I normally despise chain-restaurants, however, in this case, a recent visit to the Cheesecake Factory in center city Philadelphia has me thinking otherwise.

Not only was the company more than willing to heat up my homemade food, they understood all about contamination and treated me as if I was a fully-paying customer. Now, I did have a couple of other guests with me that choose to order a couple appetizers and of course a slice of cheesecake, BUT - our waiter, Matt, we just a blessing!

I know personally that the restaurant industry is not always the most fulfilling career, but Matt had a smile on his face the entire time we were at the restaurant and he even knew to carry the gluten-filled bread with one hand and take my to-go container in another.

Thank you Matt! I was able to hang out and be social with others while still sticking to my kitchari diet and I did not get sick from contamination!

01 December 2015

Keeping up with the doctor's orders

01 December 2015 0
As I begin to focus more and more on myself with specific attention placed on my breathing, I am beginning to feel better each and every day. while I am still working on my stomach digestion and energy levels - I am making great progress!While I do not love Kitchuri (I miss my spicy foods), I am learning to enjoy a nice warm comforting meal! 

28 November 2015

Kitchuri Ayurvedic Cooking

28 November 2015 0
Continuing my quest on a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle - I made myself my first ever batch of the ever-healing Kitchuri!

I started my journey at the local Indian grocery store.

I went through every isle and I grabbed anything that was on my "allowed to eat list" and ignored those that are on the "stay away from list".

While I know this list will change with the seasons, my health, etc I was sad to skip over some of the items....

Moving on, as we are going to remain optimistic and hopeful on this journey. There are still a good bit of allowed food items that I enjoy and I do enjoy trying new recipes and cuisines!

I am going to try and refrain from eating leftovers and focus on daily new cooked meals, but I need to ease into this new regimen to so I suggest that in the future, one would cut this recipe in half!

Healing Kitchari Cleanse Recipe:
½ cup brown basmati rice
1/4 cup split mung dal (moong dal)
6-8 cups of filtered water
½ an acorn squash
1-2 tsp of a mix of coriander, cumin, and fennel 
½ tsp of turmeric 
Cilantro for topping 

I started by pre-soaking the Mung beans and Rice overnight. 

I then rinsed the rice and added it to a pan with about 2-3 cups of water. I brought it to a boil, then covered the pan and added a little more water. I stirred occasionally to reduce any sticking. 

I added the remaining water, spices, and pumpkin. I let the dish cook on low heat, covered, for another 25-30 minutes and then enjoyed with some fresh cilantro!

This dish makes about 4 servings.

I need to do some tweaking on the recipe, but all-in-all....it wasn't awful. 

25 November 2015

Friendsgiving Gluten Free Vegan Style

25 November 2015 0

Thanksgiving is a very special time of year for my family. As we use this time to bring all of my dad's side of the family (my dad is one of twelve children) together.

This is the one time a year where everyone tries their best to be in once place at the same time.
With family as far north as Canada, as far west as California, and as far south as Florida - you can imagine the difficulties we face each year trying to come together.

It becomes evident how important family is and the importance of embracing your family for what they are and loving them unconditionally, no matter how crazy they might seem.

Each Thanksgiving, we cram in as many crazy Italians under one roof as possible. We make both the traditional turkey dinner, add in a ham, and of course all the Italian specialties - including antipasto, pasta, meatballs, lasagna, eggplant parmesan and much more! What can I say, Italians love to eat!

With my focus being set on spending time with the ones I love, it has never bothered me that I am unable to eat the provides Thanksgiving food, nor is
there really any additional kitchen space for me to create myself a holiday meal. I typically pre-make something and bring it along. I am always careful not to create something that needs to either be refrigerated or frozen - as you can only imagine the lack of space.

This year, I decided, I miss having a huge labor-intensive meal for myself to enjoy! Thus, friendsgiving came about.

A couple friends and I all went through our kitchens - okay and a run to Whole Foods, and brought together some autumn ideas and a miss mosh of ingredients and we got to work being creative and resourceful!

On the menu we created the following:

  1. Pumpkin Almond Gnocchi
  2. Acorn and Carnival stuffed squash
  3. Flaxseed popovers
  4.  Kabocha pumpkin sauce / soup / yummy
  5. Toasted pumpkin seeds
  6. Sweet potato banana carob chia seed dessert
There are no real recipes for these delicious items, as we truly just winged it and tossed most of these items in a Vitamix and blended until we felt it was yummy! 

Pumpkin Almond Gnocchi
Here we took a can of Libby's Pumpkin and mixed it with ground flaxseeds, thyme, and almond flour. When we went to cook it like traditional gnocchi in a pot of boiling water - they gnocchi began to fall apart - so we just quickly tossed them into the oven for a little baking time! 

Acorn Squash and Carnival Squash Stuffed with Apples
For this delicious entree, we cut the squash in half. Cleaned them out and cooked them at 425 for a good 30 minutes or until they started to soften.  

Then we stuffed the squash with cored and peeled apples, dried cranberries, dried dates, ginger, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice. 

We continues to cook them at 350 for about another 20-30 minutes

Flaxseed Popovers
This was truly the most far-fetched recipe of the night. I took a pancake mix that I had just chilling in my cabinet. Added in some non-dairy milk and started to soak some flaxseeds (for 15-20 minutes). 

I preheated the over to 400 and tossed in the muffin pan to warm up. 

I then mixed all the ingredients together. Cooked them for 10 minutes at 400 and then reduced the heat to 325 for another 15-20 minutes. 

These popovers looked a bit unappealing, but was one of our favorite creations and super healthy for you!

Kabocha Pumpkin Sauce
We realized we needed a sauce for our gnocchi and we didn't want to waste / not use the Kabocha squash so we cut this baby in half and cooked it at 400 for about 30 minutes. 

We then proceeded to eat the skin while we took the flesh of the squash and tossed it into the Vitamix. We added some non-dairy milk, thyme, cinnamon, almond butter, ginger, and some nutmeg. Tada - this one was ready!

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
With our goal to be "no waste left behind" we took all the seeds from our different squash varieties and dry roasted them in the oven. They made for a great snack and topping!

Sweet Potato Dessert Cups
This one was another creative effort on our part that came out fabulous and very healthy!

I baked the sweet potatoes until soft. Added them to the Vitamix with a can of coconut milk, chai seeds, frozen bananas, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and whatever else was laying around. 

I blended until smooth and then dished into their own single servings and placed them in the fridge to continue to set while we finished our prep work. 

All in all, this was a very successful meal and I can't wait to plan another!
I am so grateful for the amazing people that I do have in my life. 
I am grateful for the health that I do have and the fact that I can get up every morning!

Remember to take time this busy holiday season and remind yourself that you do in fact have a lot to be thankful for!

23 November 2015

Trying the Ayurveda Route

23 November 2015 0
With 10-years of poor health - I have decided that with all the recent changes in my life, now is the perfect time to learn to stop giving so much to others and really focus on myself.

I have realized that in giving to others, I was taking away from myself - not just energy, but mentally and in a loving capacity. I was wearing myself down and feeling worthless in every sense. This worthless feeling was carrying a negative-vibe throughout my daily activities.

So here is to a whole new me! I have started seeing an Ayurvedic doctor and spending more and more time with myself and being content with that. While time-alone is important, I do also make the time to ensure that I spend with friends and family as much as possible. I have begun to filter out any of the negative people in my life and embrace those that are true.

With that being said, I am learning I am a VATA dosha and that it is best for me to keep to a daily routine and in this cooler weather, I need to focus on staying warm!

As per the doctor's request, I have started giving myself daily massages (morning and evening). At first, I found this was the hardest adjustment for me. I was not comfortable with myself.... at all! But funny enough, I was so busy being everyone else's support and providing everyone else with love, that I had not realized that I no longer loved myself.

It has only been a short time since I have started these daily massages and I am already seeing some great improvement! It goes to show you the true power of the ever-cliche saying of "if you don't love yourself, who will?".

More to come on my journey of a whole new health - mind, body, and soul. Cleaning out all the negative in my life, spoiling myself from time-to-time and learning to love <3.

Here is one my new VATA Balancing Recipes:
Soup with oatmeal. I literally took all the vegetables that I had left in the house (rutabaga, zucchini, etc) and boiled it in a pot of ginger, seaweed, and seasonings.

After allowing the mixture to cook together thoroughly. I ran everything through the Vitamix.

Tada - soup was done! Now just add a little gluten free oats - cook until a soft mush and enjoy!

I know it looks a bit funky, but the taste was actually on par!

16 November 2015

Nanee's Kitchen at the Reading Terminal Market

16 November 2015 0
By the time I made it to the Reading Terminal Market, I was by no means hungry, but knew I had to check out Nanee's Kitchen. I was disappointed to see a small menu and the only items that could be made both gluten free and vegetarian was the vegetables. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE vegetables, but if I am paying to eat out, something I would like to have something a bit more substantial.

12 November 2015

A Visit Back to Paesano's Philadelphia

12 November 2015 0
It has been a good two+ years since my last visit to Paesano's in the Italian Market section of Philadelphia. While the company has another location in Northern Liberties, I just never seem to find myself in these areas, but I do remember craving the Gustaio, a roasted lamb sausage with sun dried cherry mostarda and gorgonzola with roasted fennel, for days after my last encounter with this little piece of heaven.

With my youngest sister and her boyfriend visiting, we decided to partake in a Free Walking Tour of Philadelphia. I highly recommend this tour! It was an amazing opportunity to learn about the area and to just get out of the house, get moving and meet new people! Anyhow, enough promoting the walking tour, onto the real reason we are all reading this blog...the food.

We ended up stopping in the Italian Market area for lunch. With just shy of 45-minutes, needing something gluten free and at a minimum vegetarian, if not vegan, options are limited in this area. I quickly dragged the group to Paesano's and opted for the Giardina sandwich, a roasted eggplant, fennel, peppers and fresh mozzarella with basil pesto. There was an up-charge of $2.00 for the gluten free bread. Once ordered we quickly waited for a couple of seats to open and then dove in like vultures - but hey, a girls gotta go what a girls gotta do to get a seat in this place!

With just a short wait, my gluten free sub came out clearly labeled. While I am sure there are some cross-contamination issues here, I did see the chef stop what he was doing, wash his hands, change gloves, and move to what appeared to be a designated gluten free area to make my sandwich.

Time to dig in! The sandwich was okay, but not as 'awesome' as I remember it. The bread, supplied by Taffets, was not as soft as I recalled and there was definitely not enough pesto for my liking. More hopes for next time! :)

My sister went with the Daddy Wad - which was HUGE! It was a roll stuffed with Sweet and Hot peppers, provolone, tomato, hot copa and arugula. My sister requested no onions and no pickles). This sandwich looked and smelled amazing!

Peter went with the Paesano - which may have smelled like my favorite of the group. It's the company's signature dish (obviously). It is a classic Italian roll with beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, pepperoncino, provolone, and....get this...a fried egg!

10 November 2015

Review of Jaalibean - a taste of India

10 November 2015 0
While I am not a fan of purchasing packaged anything - I did find some awesome products from jaalibean - a taste of India.

I checked out their nutrition label and ingredients and found myself not too scared of what might be inside. So I grabbed the simple Lentil & Brown Rice Kit and decided to make a feast.

I ended up making a Cauliflower Steak, Rutabaga Stir Fry and mixed everything together with a happy helping of cilantro (my favorite)!

 The dish was easy to prepare - it was done in 30 minutes, actually, a little less and the taste was decent. I typically find myself gagging on a spoonful of salt with packaged dinner kits, but this one was just fine. I would have liked a little more "heat" but then again, my motto is "the hotter, the better".

So if you are looking for an easy dinner idea, go out and grab yourself some of jaalibean's products!

05 November 2015

Because it feels like summer this beautiful fall day

05 November 2015 0
I thought I would share some banana whip memories from this past summer. While everyone else was enjoying their dairy-loaded ice cream, I made myself an amazing banana, banana blueberry sundae and of course, I was not about to miss out on the National Rootbeer Float day, so I rocked a Banana berry sundae! 

28 October 2015

First Try at Miso Soup

28 October 2015 0
Anytime I have the opportunity, I order myself a big bowl of Miso soup. For some reason, I had never attempted to make it at home for myself.

That being said, I started researching a couple of recipes and then I decided to just wing it!

Here is what I placed into a large pot to simmer:

  • 4-6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons miso (I used red)
  • Seaweed
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Black Pepper
  • Celery
  • A coupe of knobs of grated ginger
Here is what I pre-chopped to add into the soup right before consuming
  • Kale
  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Lemon Juice
Once the pot was to my liking, I removed the stalk of celery and knobs of ginger. 
I added the remaining ingredients for a few minutes
Then I enjoyed!

Quick Update:
Leftovers tend to be even more delicious!

27 October 2015

Fall's Bounty: Acrond Squash Rice Pasta

27 October 2015 0
I planned a First Day of Fall Potluck at work and needed to come up with something allergy friendly, yet appealing to all.

I had a couple extra acorn squash sitting around and decided to get creative.

I roasted two acorn squashes, garlic, and a jalapeno.
I added some spices (turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, nutritional yeast, etc) to my Vitamix with about 1 cup of vegetable broth.
Once the veggies were cooked through, I added them to the Vitamix and blended well.
I cooked a package of rice noodles according to the directions and then mixed the sauce with the pasta - Tada!

This dish was beyond easy and tasted great!

It was a big hit for the potluck!

21 October 2015

Aksum Cafe, Philadelphia Gluten Free and Vegetarian Friendly

21 October 2015 0
After just having been disappointed with the Greek dishes at Estia in Radnor, PA - I was really craving some good stuffed grape leaves! Where better to get my fix but at my favorite, Aksum Cafe in Philadelphia!

I ordered my favorites and enjoyed my birthday lunch immensely!

My only disappointment was the portions seem to have shrunk a bit.... and the Spicy Ful Madammas was not as spicy as I remembered it to have been in the past. Don't get me wrong, still great flavor and I will be back again!

19 October 2015

Estia is Gluten Free Friendly

19 October 2015 0
It is birthday time! I've been wanting to try Estia in Radnor,PA for some time now and figured what a perfect opportunity!

Estia appealed to me for a couple of reasons. A, It's Greek, need I say more - stuffed grape leaves and olives, yes please! B. Estia offers a gluten free menu.

Upon arrival, I had noted in my reservation through Opentable that I was gluten free so that when I arrived to the restaurant, the waitress was already made aware of my allergy and was ready to roll!

Of course I started with the stuffed grape leaves and asked for a side of olives as well.

My verdict - a pile of oil! To make matters worse, it was not even a high quality olive oil. Bummer, I am not seeing the authenticity here yet, maybe the main course will be more fulfilling.

For my main course, I was limited on a vegetarian aspect and went with the Gluten Free Papoutsakia.
 While eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, I was completely disappointed in the lack of flavor and once again the pool of cheap olive oil.

What a disappointment, Radnor finally gets a nice, high-end restaurant and the food does not live up to the expectation.

Sorry Estia!

P.S Sorry for the crappy photos but it was a bit dark.

07 October 2015

Gyu-Kaku, Philadelphia- Horrible Experience

07 October 2015 0
While the Pope was visiting Philadelphia, I thought it would be nice to make a nearby reservation and have a warm meal, clean restroom, and a comfortable seat for even just 30-minutes. I found Gyu-Kaku was taking reservations and the reviews looked decent, so I tried it.

I should have stuck to my rule of, absolutely no chain-restaurants. They are never good, always dirty, and the food is always lacking.

Prior to our reservation, I did call and discuss my food allergies with the manager. They informed me there would be a number of gluten free options, however, upon arrival, I was shocked to see there was slim to no offerings for me. Oh well, I am use to it, I will select what is available and hope that everyone else enjoys their meal - which of course, even though it was lunch time, because the Pope was visiting, Gyu-Kaku felt the need to cash in and up-charge us.

I found that the seaweed salad and seaweed soup could be modified to be gluten free and I tossed in a steamed Japanese sweet potato as well.

Waiting for food was ridiculous, especially since we were the only patrons in the entire restaurant for 95% of our visit. Not to mention that we had to remind the waiter what we ordered and nothing came in sequence. My dad received his meat a good 15 minutes before his vegetables (which was meant to be roasted together).

My sister and cousin both ordered the Chicken Garlic Noodles, which according to the reviews, everyone raves about these noodles. They dishes arrived to our table and they did not look very appetizing. Mia tried to eat them silently and then finally caved-in and admitted to the table how salty and disgusting the dish was. This of course prompted the entire table to give these noodles a try (not gluten free friendly so I can't weigh in here...) and everyone agreed that the chef must have made a mistake today.

We informed our server of our dissatisfaction and he quickly replied back with, "that's how they always sorry" and continued to charge us!?!?

The experience was one that will never be repeated. Again, the food was your typical chain-restaurant food, server was horrible, the restaurant was dirty, and I am still in shock that they actually charged us for the Chicken Garlic Noodles that were not up to par.

Eating on the go...

I've been off on my eating and have found myself grabbing whatever I could find at the time - I have been camping out for the Pope's visit in Philly and tailgating for the PennState game and my food options have been slim.

I did find some leftover gluten free bread from my Canada trip and made a quick chocolate almond butter and jelly sandwich with a side of fruit.  I have also rocked some grilled bananas, peaches, and pears for breakfast at the PSU game..

While eating with allergies may be difficult, it is not impossible!

06 October 2015

Traveling Allergy Free

06 October 2015 0
I have had a very busy weekend and knew I would be traveling more than usual and not a whole lot of time for me to prepare my own foods, let alone have a good transportation method.

I had to think ahead. I started the weekend with my sister's wedding rehearsal dinner - which I opted to play it safe and bring my own dish.

Everyone was getting a salad, appetizer, and main meal so I chowed down on a plain salad and then enjoyed my homemade "pickles".

 For my main dish, I made a zucchini seaweed pasta with a sun-dried tomato sauce. This was absolutely delicious!

Saturday, I ran up to the Scranton, PA area and had a munched on a coconut milk yogurt and fruit.

Lunch was provided but not very Nicole friendly. I was lucky I grabbed a Cocomama Food's quinoa breakfast packet. I wanted a little more calories to the meal so I added a little nut butter, honey, and some additional bananas.

Thoughts? I thought it was too sweet for my typical meal and to be frank, it did not hold me over - it was better than nothing, just not something I would purchase again.

Next up, the wedding dinner. I have to admit, I was most nervous about this meal as I wasn't sure they would be able to accommodate my needs. I found my bridal party table and saw an entire plate of covered and clearly labeled Glutino Gluten free crackers as well as a plate of hor dourves. While I really should not have devoured the crackers because they do contain milk and corn - I was so hungry, I drove in anyhow. I have to admit, the taste and texture was on par - too bad they are not allergy free.

All attendees would start their meal with a side salad. I was provided an entire bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar and lemons for my dressing :)! HEAVEN!

Next up, a the pasta course. While their pasta was decent, always hard to enjoy someone else's Italian sauce.

For my main course, I had steamed green beans, a potato, additional pasta and the staff was kind enough to provide hot sauce and mustard.

I was beyond impressed with their attention to detail and how well they could accommodate. I was even notified that the wine was in fact gluten free :)

Lastly, I was beyond touched that I also got to indulge in dessert. Now, I am really not a dessert person - however, this dessert, I sat down and finished 4 cupcakes and a good 10 cookies within 24 hours. I am not sure that Mikooka Pastry Shop is all my allergies-free, but it was so damn good I didn't mind.

The night was over and we were back on the road towards Harrisburg, PA. I ate so much the day before, and lots of things I that I really shouldn't have, that breakfast was a banana and I was okay with just that.

Lunch was served early, as we needed to get ready for photos by 11:30am. The bride was trying to make the entire spread gluten free friendly and we had a hard time accomplishing this. We finally found Mangia Qui. They were willing to work with our budget, our early pickup time, and make everything gluten free! They even provided gluten free crackers! Our menu consisted of:
- Montadito Ahumido (smoked salmon)
- Monte Cballo (almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and cabrales cheese on the side)
- Caprese salad (cheese on the side)
- Grilled eggplant towers
-Vegetable, beans, and potato stew (one of my favorite dishes of the night)
- We added olives and stuffed grape leaves!

While I thought most of the food was a bit too oily for me to even enjoy - it was a decent lunch that most people seemed to love, especially the stuffed dates!

Lastly, another wedding dinner. I was actually looking forward to seeing how creative C&J Catering would get. Sadly, this was the biggest disappointment of the entire weekend.

The entire dinner was served family-style. For some reason or another they decided to plate the head table - which was not what the bride wanted.

We started with salads - which let us keep in mind, was not Nicole friendly and really tasted wilted and dead to me.

The remainder of the guests had a variety of sides (including risotto) and mains (including steaks, seafood, etc) and the head table got little to none of these options and I got a small crappy plate of oiled vegetables.

30 August 2015

Send Me Gluten Free

30 August 2015 0
I was given the opportunity to review Send Me Gluten Free's subscription box. When the box finally came, it was like Christmas morning for me. I wasn't sure what would be included in the box, but whatever it was - I knew I would be excited!

I opened the inviting, brightly-colored orange box to find lots of presents! :)

If you decide that particular month, you don't love the product offering, there are always the massive amount of coupons (some even offering free full-priced items) to find plenty more gluten safe items for yourself or the ones you love.

In this particular month's box, I found Kickers' All Natural Powdered Fruit Blends, Maple Banana Cream flavor. While Kicker's products contain dairy, I had to rely on a friend to review this product for me.

My friend has actually been looking for a healthy sweetener to add to her oatmeal each morning and figured why not give this a try! She enjoyed the product, stating it allowed her to add the amount of sweetness she was desiring without overwhelming her oatmeal or giving her a sugar crash in a coupe of hours.

This is a product she will likely purchase again and perhaps even try the other flavor varieties.

Lucky me, the next product I came across was Justin's Nut Butters and we all know how much I love nut butters, let alone convenient travel packs! These I do not share, but rather I devour in moments! The only negative with Justin's is the added oil. Whamp Whamp Whamp.

Now, I had Beanful Bean & Rice Chips included in this box, but I had a couple non-gluten free eaters gobble these up before I could try them. Clearly, they were loved - and who does not LOVE Nacho, but I am interested in their Pico De Gallo variety.

Keenwah now has a line of Quinoa Puffs out and I was sad to see they included the Aged Cheddar Puffs, the only non-vegan variety - so I tossed these to my sister - who LOVED these. I have to admit, I did smell them and they smelled legit. I will be looking to purchase one of the other varieties myself, I'm really looking forward to the Herbs de Provence or the Sweet Chili

There was also a bag of Glutino's Pretzels, which I ended up forcing a non-gluten free eater to try these because every gluten free individual I know either does not like the pretzels and / or can't eat soy so these were a loss.

ZOUQ's Spicy Trail Mix was also included, in fact, three bags had been included. Love the idea of these because they are easy to grab and go or leave in my car for emergency needs, so how was the taste - eh, not what I was expecting - because I have never had another product like this to compare to, but I actually really enjoyed them and the fact that they are truly made from healthy, wholesome ingredients.

Ah - another love of my life, Go Raw's Sunflower seeds. Legit, it is Sunflower seeds and sea salt - these are probably my favorite find in the box!

The Yummy Health Peppermint Snack bar is another product I needed to give away due to the ingredients.  I was truly disappointed especially when I was told it was the BEST snack bar she had ever had and that it tasted like a mix of a peppermint patty and an almond joy.

One of the last products included in this month's box was a Smooze Fruit Ice. Simple review of this, amazing!
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