Showing posts from 2015

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

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 y…

Experimenting with Kitchuri

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!

Some People Get Food Allergies

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 …

Keeping up with the doctor's orders

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! 

Kitchuri Ayurvedic Cooking

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 coriande…

Friendsgiving Gluten Free Vegan Style

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 bother…

Trying the Ayurveda Route

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!


Nanee's Kitchen at the Reading Terminal Market

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.

A Visit Back to Paesano's Philadelphia

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 drag…

Review of Jaalibean - a taste of India

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!

Because it feels like summer this beautiful fall day

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! 

First Try at Miso Soup

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 water2 tablespoons miso (I used red)SeaweedGarlicTurmericBlack PepperCeleryA coupe of knobs of grated ginger Here is what I pre-chopped to add into the soup right before consuming KaleZucchini NoodlesCarrotsCeleryFresh CilantroLemon 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!

Fall's Bounty: Acrond Squash Rice Pasta

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!

Aksum Cafe, Philadelphia Gluten Free and Vegetarian Friendly

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!

Estia is Gluten Free Friendly

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 …

Gyu-Kaku, Philadelphia- Horrible Experience

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 swee…

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!

Traveling Allergy Free

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 o…

Send Me Gluten Free

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 …