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Showing posts from 2016

Happy Holidays!

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Everyone spends their holidays in different ways, but the important part is that we take the time to do something for others, ourselves, and to reflect on how we can do better for the coming year. 
While my family is a crazy loud Italian family, I love them with my entire heart, soul, body, mind..... They may not always get along, they may be embarrassing at times, they may anger me at times - BUT I do love them and the holidays wouldn't be a success without them and their screaming. 
This year, I got a bit crafty ( I AM NEVER CRAFTY) but I knew they would appreciate it. So out came the crafts and my Pinterest account :) I made table settings,
Decorated Mason Jars
Shower Bombs
Clementine Wreathes 



Oh, and my Nana's Favorite - rice pudding. Mom's traditional recipe is not the creamy rice pudding that I notice Nana always reaches for. After some research, dad and I were ready to mix and match recipes and see what we would come up with. We ended up tripling the below recipe.

Miracle Noodles

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Miracle Noodles are an easy no-calorie option for those that are gluten-free and vegan.

While I am not watching calories, I do love Miracle noodles for their consistency, ease of use, and how quick they are ready to enjoy!

When you first open the package, it has a bit of a weird smell but the instructions note to rinse the noodles for a bit and then simply cook for 2 minutes. The very first time I tried these noodles, I was a bit leery and pretty sure this weird smell would stick around and I wouldn't be able to stand eating them. However, I am always down to try new things so I rinsed the noodles and tossed them in a vegetable broth for two minutes.

I was in love and they were so kind to my stomach - especially since I have been working so hard to help heal my digestion.

The company has a couple of product lines:
1. Miracle Noodles and Rice - I would really like to try the Ziti, Dry Kanteen, and the rice versions (having a bit of a hard time finding them at my local stores).
2. M…

Straw Propeller Gourmet Gluten Free Oatmeal

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With my recent addiction to gluten-free oatmeal and the need to have food accessible on-the-go - I was beyond excited when I found Straw Propeller's Gourmet foods. They market themselves as using only real ingredients, with no additives or preservatives - win win!

Straw Propeller offers 15 unique flavored gluten-free non-GMO on-the-go oatmeal varieties.
Here is what sets the company apart from their competition:

Gourmet Grab-and-GoGluten-FreeNon-GMOAll Natural KosherVegan optionsNut-Free optionsUSA MadeWomen-owned Company (YAY)Hot and Cold Cereal options10% goes to a charitable cause
While attending a recent event, I quickly tossed the Indian Curry Variety into my bag and ran out the door. When it came time to eat, I carefully read the instructions - added my boiling hot water and let it set. 
I waited about 3 minutes, as per recommended and noticed it still wasn't set. I continued to let it set, but it never seemed to arrive in that cooked consistency I was looking for :(
The t…

Indeblue, Philadelphia Gluten Free and Vegetarian Friendly

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After having had such a wonderful experience at Desi Village and experiencing the true wonders of the Indian cuisine during our work team's Diwali event - I have been trying to emerge myself more and more into the Indian options around the Philadelphia area.

I came across Craig LaBan's review of Indeblue and immediately became intrigued. I ran to their website to see that they clearly mark their gluten-free and vegetarian options on menu.

I did some reviews and it appears most people enjoy the meat dishes and their most reviewed appetizer, or starter dish would be the crispy spinach chaat salad.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed into a warm and cozy atmosphere - which was much appreciated after the short chilly, the smell of snow coming, walk from the parking garage. We were seated towards the back and while it was tight and a bit loud - somehow it worked and provided that cozy-like feeling that was needed for a family reunion.

While I was a bit late, the remainder of the table w…

Asiana Garden, Radnor, PA Gluten Free and Vegan

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Happy Holidays! It is that time of year for holiday events - aka ladies day out with their manager.

These types of events tend to freak me out and we all know why. Not all restaurants are Nicole-friendly and if they are, ordering can be painful and difficult to explain - but you have to be a team player and get involved in these events.......... so here we go.

Things I do before attending a new restaurant:
1. I call and ask to speak with a manager. I try to discuss the gluten-free allergy and get a feel for their understanding and importance of contamination

2. I use Facebook to communicate some of my additional food preferences/ allergies.

3. I review the menu 1,000+ times trying to see where I could ask for modifications and not just be served a piece of lettuce.

Day of the event:
1. Pray

2. Arrive at the restaurant. After being seated, I excuse myself from the table and find a manager to speak with. I explain all of my allergies and what I am looking for and together, the team and I…

Philly Gala for the Humane Leaque

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I was recently invited to attend the Philly Gala - A celebration for the Animals hosted by The Humane League - Philadelphia Chapter. The location of the event was at the Goldilocks Gallery - neighboring the Philadelphia Union Trust building.

This was my first time to this particular venue but found it to be a nice little gem tucked into a corner of Philadelphia's pockets. While it was a bit on the "chilly" side for me - most attendees found the temperature to be comfortable.

I arrived early and found it to be a bit on the hectic side. In a private room, attendees were enjoying their VIP dinner by Vegan Chef Lenka, while additional volunteers seemed a bit scrambled to set up the donated vegan appetizers, light meals, and desserts.

I gladly jumped in and offered my assistance. As a team, the tables were displayed and everything was ready for their general admission guests 7:00pm arrival.

In review, of how the tables were arranged, I could see that there was clearly some glut…

Foods When You Are Battling the Flu

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I have been feeling a bit under the weather the last week and food has not been appealing to me. Things I used to really enjoy all of the sudden taste like dirt or the smell freaks me out. All of this is very typical for when I am not feeling well - thank you people for sharing your flu with me, it was such a nice surprise! - I wish there was an emoji that rolled his eyes, I would totally insert it here. Okay, enough ranting...on to some topics of food.

I was pretty excited to try making a pumpkin sauce for my zoodles. I literally just added whatever I had laying around and included some zucchini and kale. It smelled pretty decent and appeared to set rather thick so I was pumped! However, when I prepped the dish and sat down to eat, I was no soo enthusiastic. It was NOT at all what I wanted it to be. Oh well, not every dish can be a success.

Not feeling great, the one day I decided to rock some soup for breakfast.

I made my basic vegetable broth and added in some scallions, cilantro (…

Philly Vegan Gala 12/10/2016

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To all my vegan folks in the Philadelphia area - come out next Saturday to join the Philly Vegan Gala- A Celebration for the Animals. Ticket prices range from $50- $250. 

Come celebrate with us and learn about The Humane League's groundbreaking efforts to reduce animal suffering! Hear from inspiring speakers, enjoy delicious drinks and mouthwatering vegan appetizers and desserts, bid on amazing prizes in our silent auction, and learn all about what your support of The Humane League means for animals!
Our Gala returns to Goldilocks Gallery this year. Nestled between Old City and Center City, mere steps from the Liberty Bell, Goldilocks Gallery occupies a space like no other in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. An enormous, loft-style complex houses its white-wall gallery, performance venue, and two floors of artist/production studios.
Additional information, including guest speakers and VIP ticket information, can be found at their website - https://donate.thehumaneleague.com/philad…

Soba Noodle Soup (Gluten Free & Vegan)

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I have been feeling a bit under the weather - I have NOT yet gotten sick, but with everyone else around me coming down with the flu, sinus infections, pink eye and so much more, I have been certainly working hard to fight it all off!

Adding in some traveling for the holidays and I knew I wasn't going to be up for too much.

I grabbed my sister late Wednesday evening and headed into the big city of Harrisburg - or what I like to call "home".

Knowing that Thursday was going to be a busy day in the kitchen prepping and cooking for everyone else's traditional Thanksgiving meal, I decided to get an early start of my dish.

I made a large batch of vegetable broth to which I planned to add some additional vegetables and some King Soba Pumpkin and Ginger Rice Noodles.

I have had this pasta for some time now and struggled to decide exactly what I wanted to make with them and for some reason, this really clicked for me and I knew immediately this is what I was going to make!

Ing…

ProYo Frozen Probiotic Yogurts

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In attending the GFAF Expo this year, this was on of my family's favorites.

Flavors are as follows:
1. banana
2. vanilla
3. berry
4. chocolate

Keep in mind, I don't do a whole lot of dairy on my own - but an occasional treat doesn't kill me.

The family LOVED the banana flavor so much, they asked me to try and work some blogger magic to get some additional samples - which of course, the crew from ProYo was more than happy to share their products with anyone who was interested.

At the show, we only tried the banana and vanilla. Banana was loved, the vanilla was considered a bit bland after having the banana.

I was thrilled to review the additional flavors (berry and chocolate).
The company ships with dry ice so they schedule all shipments. I scheduled for my sampling to arrive on a Thursday and worked from home that day so that I could tear into it as soon as possible. "Fat Kid Loving Her "Cake"".

When the box arrived, I was a bit disappointed because th…

Friendsgiving 2016 Gluten Free & Vegan Style

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Happy Thanksgiving Season to all! I love this time of year, not only because I truly find the fall colors magical but because I love being surrounded by friends and family.

I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on life - where I am at now - where I have been - where I want to go.
        - I am in a place of discovery of myself
        - I am in a better, or at least a more comfortable place with myself than I was a year ago
        - I used to know exactly who I was, what I wanted to do and felt confident and comfortable within my own skin.
        - What happened? I lost myself - I allowed other and my illness to discover who I should be.
        - What am I doing now? I am taking my time to rediscover myself and to heal - it's an amazing process that I want to embrace rather than rush. I want to feel every moment of sadness, confusion, happiness, joy, anxiety, all of it. I want every feeling to happen, embrace and then let it go.

While the doctor has personally prescrib…

Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Products

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Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free products - thoughts?

As far as I can recall, this is the closests thing to "real" bread. It has a moist and sponge-like consistancy to it that I remember my peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I remember making my own school lunches at a very early age and lathering a mountain of jam on the bread. When lunchtime rolled around, I was left with a soggy jam soaked mushy mess. I still seemed to enjoy it! Homemade jam rocked! I "think" my favorites were blueberry and strawberry.

Positive ingrediant examples: brown rice flour, whole grain sorghum, millet and quinoa
Negative ingrediants examples: agave syrup, xanthum gum, palm fruit oil, yeast, enzymes, and eggs

So for me it is half-a-dozen of one - half-a-dozen of another. I will still enjoy their products but in limited quantities and I will keep my fingers crossed that they will eliminate some of the "negatives" and still have an awesome procuct!

Bagels are a weakness for me - espciall…

My Love for Vegan and Gluten Free Fall Foods

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I know I have been astray for a bit - life is busy busy this time or year with family birthdays, events, and just getting ready for my year-end responsibilities at work. 
Here is what I have been eating.  Lots and lots of squash! My favorite is without a doubt, Kabocha Squash! I will steam them whole, eat them whole (skin and all) add a little cinnamon of mustard and boom - I am very happy! 

I really need to find a use for some of the already steamed seeds - not sure they would work for replanting and I am pretty sure they would loose some of their value / taste if I then attempted to roast them.....
I have been making some cilantro kabocha kitchari as well - it is likely one of my favorite varieties, it really adds that buttery-like taste to it!
Adding to the squash list, I have been enjoying the spaghetti squash variety. I have been dry roasting them in the oven with some ginger and garlic and then adding in some vegetable broth that I made out of left-over scraps of purple bok choy,…

Butternut Squash Fudge (Gluten Free and Vegan)

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It's that time of year - winter squash!

I've been trying to be creatives and think of some alternative ways to prepare these wondrous vegetables!

While I could eat them steamed and sprinkled with a little seasoning any time of day or night - when it comes to attending Halloween events (pumpkin carving parties, work potlucks, etc) I try to be a bit more creative.

I won't lie, this recipe was developed because I was being lazy and didn't want to deal with hauling in the heavy slow cooker into work or having to reheat something in the microwave. Creativity kicked-in and I am up and running.

Who doesn't like fudge? Bingo, fudge it is. Now, which winter squash variety do I have the most of.... butternut,okay butternut it is. Now, the base, I know many recipes call for a nut butter base and I happen to have a new cashew nut butter or two that would work perfectly.

Now the juices are flowing. I bring out the saucepan. Toss in the cashew butter. I need something else...got it…

Pomegranate Juice

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What the doctor orders, the doctor gets! This time around, she ordered to drink a glass of pomegranate juice daily.

My initial thought was, lady, do you know how expensive good pure pomegranate juice is?

I moved past the thought of money and directly to okay - how can I make this work?

Good thing I have an awesome connection at the Farmer's Market and was able to snag an entire case of Pomegranates for $15.00.

Now for the work. I did a lot of research on what is the easiest way to open, de-seed, and juice these babies. Everyone was saying to place the seeds into a blender with a bit of water and pulse until the seeds have become loose. Honestly, this seemed like way too much work for dad and I after we just spent a good 90-minutes de-seedings this annoying little flying seeds! Poor mom watched up mess up her living room because you know, the living room is a practical place to set up a card table, old tablecloth and a large bucket to start this project. They always liked red on t…

Fall Flavors in a Savory Moong Dal Dish Without A Pressure Cooker

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I have spent the last week and a half eating off schedule, off routine and certainly cheating. To be clear, I was still maintaining a gluten-free and vegetarian diet, just also consumed some processed foods, dairy, oils, etc that I wouldn't normally eat while trying to heal my gut.

However, I was traveling, enjoying the GFAF Expo, and trying to enjoy my birthday as well.

It was time for me to get back into the rhythm of things and slow down. I needed to pay attention to what I was consuming and when.

I was approached with yet another traveling opportunity and could have been lazy and left it as such, but instead, I decided to get back into the swing of things and make a delicious fall dinner that I would enjoy and others would actually envy (or at least be intrigued).

I do get an enjoyment when others are intrigued and even interested in the foods that I am eating. It helps when I am eating such repetitive foods to make it a bit more self-fulfilling.

I choose to dive into the fridg…

GFAFExpo Secaucus, NJ Review

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Gluten Free AND Allergy Free Expo....Yes please!


Due to family events and life in general, I was unable to attend the GFAG Expo for the past couple of years so I was really really looking forward to this year's Expo.

My family was coming along for some support and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous as to what they would think and if they would find themselves bored and unsatisfied, but I was over it quickly and said, Happy Early Birthday to myself!

Some of the major sponsors for the event were Glutino and Udi's. While these are NOT my favorite gluten free brands, as they do contain some ingredients that I try to avoid for a daily consumption, I have to take my hat off and commend both companies for sponsoring and making events such as this happen! With that said, I went out of my way to visit their booths, try their products and engaging with their representatives.

Some new products:
-Gluten Free Delights - these remind me of hotpockets - not as good as I had dreamed, but heck…