July Budget Challenge, and Pasta with Ground Turkey

Well, you may have noticed that I have not blogged in a while. My computer went back to best buy right after my last blog, and I have still not gotten it back yet, but I did get to pick out an electronic device for 50% off for my troubles! So, I am writing this on my new surface pro… with it being the first non-mac product I have purchased in a while, there is quite the learning curve!!

July represents the start of our new budget. We paid off all our medical bills, which got us out of debt, and we are starting to read one of Dave Ramsey’s books. We are hoping having an organized budget will help us stop fighting over money… and hopefully I will stop hoarding money! Everyone we have talked to so far does also admit that money was one of the hardest things they had to figure out in marriage as well…

One of the new things we have instituted is a cash budget for groceries, and I have begun to really take over the grocery shopping completely. We have allotted $200 for groceries a month. I have told this amount to a couple people recently, and I get a few different responses: “you buy all your groceries for $200 a month? HOW!?” “WOW, that is a lot,” and “Well, you eat out a lot.” It is for the first and third responses I am writing this blog. For those in the middle category, I would love to learn from you, and also remember that my gf, soy free, and dairy free restrictions do take out a lot of cheap options!

The July Budget Challenge is to spend $200 or less on groceries this month, and NOT EAT OUT! We do have a small “Date Night” budget allotted, so we may go to a dinner out once or twice, but no “Oh, I forgot to cook, lets go to Chipotle” moments!

So far I have made one Costco run for $80 and bought:

  • 6 packs of 2 chicken breasts each for $2.99 a pound
  • 4 packages of ground turkey- 1 lb each
  • 1 big bag of frozen fruit
  • 110 servings of oatmeal
  • almost 3 lbs of sliced turkey meat

1 whole foods run for $10.70 (this was out of convienience- typically I cannot afford to shop here!)

  • Kale
  • 2 Lemons
  • Soap

And one sprouts trip $46.89:

  • 1lb pork Italian sausage
  • 1lb chicken basil sausage
  • coconut water
  • rice milk
  • 3 bell peppers
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 limes
  • 1 onion
  • garlic
  • 4 apples
  • 1 lb baby red potatoes
  • 6 chicken breasts (they were $1.99 a pound… how could I pass them up!?)

I have a total of $72 left, but I have meat for the rest of the month, and all I should have to buy is veggies each week!

I would love to hear how you all save money on groceries, and what you think of $200 a month for 2.

photo

Pasta with Ground Turkey

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 package gf noodles
  • 1 bunch of kale
  •  juice of2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp gf, soy free, vegan buttery spread
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • white pepper

Heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil with 1 spring sage, chopped, and 2 cloves garlic chopped.

 

Place the turkey in the oil, add white pepper (I used about 1 tsp), and juice of 1 lemon and cook fully

In the meantime, boil noodles with a few sage leaves chopped, strain when finished

For a bit of sauce- melt the butter, heat with the rest of the sage, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1 clove of garlic.

Add the noodles to the pan with the turkey, add the kale in bite size pieces, pour the butter sauce on top, add white pepper and salt to taste, and add the rest of the lemon juice! Keep on the heat until the kale gets tender, then serve and ENJOY!

I can do that better then Food Network….

So, I was home today resting and enjoying summer, otherwise known as being bored out of my mind with nothing to do, yet not feeling motivated enough to do the things I needed to do, and I decided to watch Food Network. I love the Food Network Channel. It inspires me to cook healthy creative meals and I sit and aspire to cook as well as chefs, plating my foods beautifully and learning all of their techniques… 

I don’t get to watch the morning shows all too often, but this morning I got to watch “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals” and “Ten Dollar Meals.” When I saw the line up on the tv guide I was super excited to get some money saving tips! By the end of the first episode, Sandra was super excited that she had made a meal for 4 for $20! I was shocked that this would be considered money saving!! My idea of money saving is NOT spending $20 on a meal, if that were the case I would let Chipotle cook for me more frequently! Then as “Ten Dollar Meals” came on, the ingredient list included honey, sugar, orange juice concentrate, and quite a bit of mayo! Gross! To me, that is NOT a healthy meal! Maybe my idea of healthy is different from the norm, but I don’t want to cook food jam packed with fast processing sugar that will cause a sugar high then a CRASH! Now, I dont mean to trash on these shows, only point out that it seems these shows are targeted at a very different audience. 

So, my new aspiration in life is to become a food network star and get to cook allergen friendly, affordable, healthy meals. Okay, so maybe that is a really far reaching goal, and it would mean I would not be able to teach math anymore… and I would have to talk into the camera as I cooked… and people would see how much of a disaster I am when I cook…. and I have no idea how to plate or what proper techniques are… and then I start thinking that maybe I am not the right person to fill the void, but Food Network should really consider a healthy, affordable, and allergen friendly show. And they should consider giving me royalties for developing the idea…. and maybe a guest spot every few months.

Well, so here is my version of a “10 dollar meal” which when I sat down and did the math, I spent less then $7 on the ingredients for this meal! It is one of those meals I keep handy for days that I don’t feel ultra creative or like spending forever in the kitchen.

Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

ImageUg, I just realized the picture is blurry. Sorry folks. 

So, here is my recipe (and what I spent, just to prove I made a healthier, cheaper dish than food network)

  • 1.5 lbs of chicken breast ($1.99/lb for a total of $3… I buy my chicken on sale and freeze it. Plus this brand is all natural, hormone free!)
  • 1 bag of frozen veggies ($1 at king sooper) I know they are not as healthy as fresh, but sometimes you need a quick meal that does not involve the chopping of veggies! I always keep about 5 bags of these in my freezer to use on lazy evenings!
  • Fresh Ginger- about 1 tbs- Lets say the portion I used was about $0.50 worth.. I think that is estimating high
  • 2 tbs spoons of Coconut Aminos Soy Alternative (soy sauce) I am going to once again estimate high and say I used $1.00 worth. This is pretty expensive stuff since I cant use soy sauce. 
  • A splash of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Rice- 2 cups- $1.50

Boil water for rice. While waiting for it to boil cube the chicken, cook in pan with olive oil, 1 tbs soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. Add the frozen veggies in after the chicken is mostly cooked and put in the rest of the soy and a bit more salt and pepper to taste. When the water is boiling add the rice and simmer for 15-20 mins.

Simple, delicious, and cost a total of about $7! It made enough for both me and my husband tonight and tomorrow for lunch, or dinner for 4! Success!

 

Technology Failures and an Awesome Chicken Recipe

Well, it is officially summer, and let me just tell you why I have not blogged in the last few weeks- me and technology, well we had a falling out. First my computer fell down the stairs- luckily covered under black tie warrantee by best buy, but when they returned it, the keyboard didn’t work… something you think they would check out before sending it back! We sent it back, and in the meantime, my phone committed phone suicide by leaping out of my hand and into the toilet. What was I doing using my phone near the toilet? I wasn’t. I was standing by the sink one morning when my phone made the jump from my hand to the sink, where it slid down, hit the toilet paper roll and bounced right in the toilet. I would have taken the time to be in awe of the mighty feat my phone had just accomplished if I hadn’t been preoccupied by repeatedly squeaking “no…. no….. no….” and rushing to grab my phone and throw it in a bag of rice. Anywho, so I got my computer back, and now it is making a whirling clicking noise anytime it is on, so tomorrow I will take it back to best buy, and Apple was kind enough to comp me a brand new iPhone! 

Health-wise, all is fairly well right now. I was doing really well there for a couple weeks on my diet until the last week of school hit- you know those previews of World War Z? That is how I feel about the last week of school every year- grades are due, write finals, grade finals, wonder why you made your finals so long, parents need to be contacted, books get checked in, graduation ceremonies- extra if you teach both 8th and 12th grade, speeches to make at afore mentioned ceremonies, your room needs to be ready for maintenance to do their thing over the summer, and you have to take all your crap home. Plus, if you are super ambitious like me, your summer school curriculum needs to be established. It is a adrenal fatigued persons nightmare.  Add in a followup ultrasound to make sure everything is okay and back to normal and you have the perfect recipe for a meltdown in the waiting room when someone asks you if everything is alright and then a meltdown in the middle of the target baby section. It is possible I have an outbreak of stress hives again. 

But, its all good because I have one week to relax, clean, cook, and do nothing! I think I may read like 10 books and finish Lost. Oh, and follow the bachelorette of course! Also, since I have been doing well on my diet, I have been feeling AMAZING! I always forget how awful gluten makes me feel until I cut it out for a week then splurge. It seems like the more I eat gluten, the more just overall blah I feel, but if I cut it out and eat it once I am too sick to do anything else for the rest of the day. Its like my body reverts to a constant state of feeling tired and sick in order to cope with a constant intake of gluten instead of the violently ill I feel if I just eat gluten occasionally. Soy I have found I can tolerate in very small amounts, and dairy just makes me ill no matter what. 

Well, as promised I have an amazing chicken recipe for you. ImageLemon-Basil Chicken and Brussel Sprouts:

I grew up thinking brussel sprouts were this NASTY substance moms forced their children to eat. I am not sure I had ever tasted a brussel sprout until my husband made them for me! They are always on sale at the farmers marked I go to, so I have been determined to find the best way to cook them! I love the way the lemon soaks into the whole sprout, so that when you bite down they just burst with flavor! I am also obsessed with the flavor combination of lemon and basil. I have lemon basil scented lotion and soap, and I will automatically order a dish that uses lemon and basil together in a meal at any restaurant I go to, so I decided I would take a stab at lemon basil! This has turned out to be possibly my favorite dish that I make regularly- if broccoli is on sale, then broccoli replaces the sprouts! 

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 2 lemons (one would probably work too.. I just LOVE lemon
  • Chicken
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Basil
  • White Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with white pepper and basil. Put in pan with a table spoon or so of oil and juice of 1/2 lemon. Begin to cook at medium high heat. While that cooks, cut the brussel sprouts into halves or quarter depending on size and your energy level. As you move them to a bowl, cover each layer with white pepper, basil, salt, and lemon. Squeeze the rest of the lemon on them and toss to make sure every thing got nice and seasoned! Move to the pan with the chicken. Cook until brussel sprouts are soft and the chicken is cooked all the way. 

 

I hope you enjoy the recipe! 

I am blessed. And I have English Muffins.

IMG_0743

IMG_0738 Well, it has been almost 3 weeks since my miscarriage. 3 weeks ago I was starting to have really bad cramping, pleading with God that he might spare my baby’s life.

I feel as though I am in a healthy place for the most part. Every day is still hard, but some days are easier than others. I have no feelings of anger or regret, no guilt of things I might have done, just occasional pains of great sadness or momentary slumps of depression. I dont cry every time I see a pregnant woman anymore. Babies are still hard to see, but I was able to rejoice in a close friends recent delivery and celebrate their little girl 🙂 I didn’t even cry!

I have teared up everytime I see a mother’s day card/sign lately though. It feels as though I should be celebrating my first mothers day, and yet I am not. My heart has become a mother’s heart without a little one on earth to hold.

Right after the miscarriage, my mom and sister in law took me on a shopping trip. I was in too much pain and just too darn exhausted to walk around, so we rented a wheelchair. The picture above is proof of our shenanigans. My husband thought I had lost my mind when I sent him this picture. Plus he told me I could only buy that purple lipstick if we were moving to Jersey. I think I pull purple off well!

Work has been the hardest. Hanging out and crying with friends is one thing, but at work things need to go back to normal. I cant break down in the middle of teaching  The first few days were awkward. I didn’t want to talk to anyone for fear of breaking down, and many people didn’t know quite what to say, so many chose to avoid me. I was fine with this for the first week, as my main goal each day was to SURVIVE. Just make it through the day. The students have been incredible. Not one student has mentioned anything about it, and they have been angels. My motivation to be back at work is returning slowly. Life is normalizing itself.

I did realize on thursday of this week that although the Jr. High, and the 5-6 buildings had all been informed of my tragedy (even though I do not teach in the 5-6 building :-)), the high school staff had somehow missed the memo. I couldn’t figure out what people meant by “how are you feeling?” This could mean “How is the morning sickness?” or “Im sorry for your loss, are you okay?” I had 4 high school teachers last week ask me specifically about morning sickness, and one complement me on my baby bump. At this point I decided to send an email to all high school staff informing them that I was no longer pregnant, mainly to help them avoid that awkward moment when they want to say something about pregnancy and hear sad news instead.

But seriously, all that aside, I am incredibly blessed. I am blessed to work in an environment where people can pray for me, encourage me with scripture, and support me. I am blessed to know that when I was at home through all this, my classroom was managed, no one was judging me for being home, and my students would not suffer from my absence. I am blessed to have coworkers care enough to tell me they are willing to cover my classes if I ever feel overwhelmed or just need a break. I am blessed to have students who wrote me letters and notes for Dan to bring home. I am blessed by my past students who sent me encouraging facebook messages. I am blessed by friends and family who let me cry, sob, mope, and then turn and make me laugh. I am blessed to have a husband who has not asked me to make dinner or clean since the miscarriage and who will deal with all my insane mood swings. I am blessed to have a doctor who prayed over us at our follow up appointment. I am blessed to be apart of a church community of people who will just hug me and let me cry. Last but not least, I am blessed to have a God who is not far off, but is very close and speaks his loving comforts to me daily. I am overwhelmingly and incredibly blessed.

I know in the last post I was talking about the possibilities of an ectopic pregnancy. They have ruled that out, but also found a 5cm cyst that they are watching. I have to go back for an ultrasound in 3 weeks to find out the status of that cyst. They do not think it will be an issue for future pregnancies, apparently large cysts the size of golf balls are frequent and they just go away on their own. The doctors are very positive about our next pregnancy, and we can start trying in a couple months.

I do have a confession to make. Since the miscarriage I have eaten all the most delicious, gluten filled foods I can find. It started out with “Oh, I will just eat whatever I want for a few days then pick myself back up” and turned into “Oh, I will start next monday,” “oh, I will start next weekend,” “oh, I really need to eat healthy again!” I think it is just the insane exhaustion mixed with the emotions, mixed with the diminishing pregnancy hormones, and I just cannot seem to pick myself out of this rut. I know I need to start eating well, as I feel AWEFUL! Like seriously… my body cannot handle all the food I am throwing at it. I have a distended belly (hence why someone could complement me on my “baby bump”), my muscles shake uncontrollably when I wake up in the morning, I have constant headaches that turn into migraines around 9pm, and I just feel gross. Is anyone out there THIS sensitive to food and stress!? I am pretty sure normal eaters think I am nuts! Anyways, that is enough complaining for one post, since I am to blame for my poor diet these last few weeks.

I do have a new recipe for you guys! English Muffins!!!!! Seriously, I think these are the best GF baked goods I have EVER made. I have to give all credit to “Celiac Maniac” for these, and her cook book “The Healthy Gluten Free Life”

English Muffins-*ignore the burnt top in the pic… that happened from me toasting them too long… not from cooking them!*

IMG_0743

Yeast Mixture:

  • 4 C water
  • 1/2 C agave (she uses honey)
  • 1 rounded Tbsp active dry yeast

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 C sorghum flour
  • 1 1/4 C brown rice flour
  • 1/2 C teff flour
  • 1 1/2 C potato starch
  • 2/3 C tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2/3 C melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C hot water
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients, set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to “warm”
  3. Heat water to about 110 degrees (our hot tap water was warm enough) add honey and yeast, mix gently and store in a warm place (like the “warm” oven) for it to become frothy… about 5 minutes.
  4. Either prepare your fancy shmancy english muffin tins, or just spray a muffin pan with non stick cooking spray of your choice
  5. Mix dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and yeast mixture together, and mix on high for a couple minutes to mix well.
  6. scoop dough into muffin tins, leaving room to rise.
  7. Place in oven, let rise for about 15 minutes
  8. Raise oven temp to 450 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. They should sound hollow when you tap them.
  9. Cool and enjoy 🙂

I only made half a batch to try them out. They were seriously the Gluten Free Shiz-nit. I topped them with my new favorite product- Earth Balance Soy Free, Dairy Free buttery spread.

A Pregnancy and A Miscarriage

So, if you recall a couple posts back I was very emotional over giving up food. I mean, who cries over forgetting a smoothie at home or freaks out over people eating taco’s around them? A pregnant woman, thats who! 
 
4 weeks ago, when Dan and I were sitting across from the doctor hearing that we may want to start searching out infertility treatment options we were at the time PREGNANT, we just didn’t know it. How amazing our God is. Through the next two weeks I began to get emotional and cry all the time, was on this crazy diet and was not losing any weight (in fact I was gaining weight), and was hungry ALL the time! On March 24, a little over a week after my appointment and 4 days before my missed period, I decided to take a pregnancy test. Dan looked at me like I was crazy and told me “you can take your 1 for this month.” Yes folks, he has me on a pregnancy test limit since I seem to be convinced every month that I am pregnant. 
 
Well, I took the test, hopped in the shower while I waited the 3 minutes, and when I got out I saw a faint positive sign. At this point we were not convinced since back in December (new years eve to be exact) I had a false positive test. We left for the airport an hour later keeping our hopes in check, and 3 different brands of pregnancy tests in my purse. We were very early for our flight, so I snuck in the bathroom to take a second test. I waited for the result and was shocked when the second one came out a DEFINITE positive. I proceeded to grab the test and go running down the terminal screaming “Its positive! Its positive! I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant!” While waving the stick I had peed on only moments ago above my head. We decided we were only going to tell parents- that was it, until we could get back to Colorado Springs and see our doctor, so we called our parents to share with them the good news.
 
Well, our whole “not tell anyone” pact lasted about 5 minutes after we got to the house we were staying at. Dan was very excited about getting to eat sushi, and I looked at him and said “I cant eat sushi.. remember?” Which of course brought the question from our friends “Why CANT you eat sushi?!” We told them, called our siblings- because if friends new, siblings should know as well! 
 
The next day, my mood was off and I could tell Dan seemed down. We spent some time in prayer, talked about it, and realized we were both starting to prepare for the worst. We knew that I had hormone problems and health issues, so we were both refusing to be excited. Once we realized this was our mentality, we began to pray because we did not feel we were thinking about this in a healthy way. God really pressed it on my heart through a couple encouraging texts from my mom that He loved this baby more than I could ever, and the body of Christ is around us to rejoice with us when we rejoice and mourn with us when we mourn. There was a life in me, and whether God gave us this baby to celebrate for 75 years or 2 weeks, we felt we needed to celebrate
 
We then began to tell everyone we ran into. The morning sickness started, the exhaustion, and all hormonal changes began. We discussed names, planned what life would be like over the next 9 months, and just started dreaming, because, well that is what you do when you find out you are expecting. You hope. You plan. You fall in love with that life inside of you.
 
When we got back to Colorado I went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy and get my blood work done. I was definitely pregnant. The blood work came back a few days later, my progesterone was a little bit low, so I was put on progesterone pills. My temperatures had been dropping a bit at that point, but they went back up after I was put on the pills. I was beginning to get food aversions… mainly mayonnaise and fish… and was craving pineapple and chicken all the time. 
 
Monday, April 8 I began having moderate to severe cramps. I had been getting really mild cramps for weeks, and I figured my uterus was just continuing to grow. I called, researched, and prayed like crazy. I knew the pregnancy was out of my hands and began to pray for a miracle. All research told me was there was nothing that could be done if I already began to miscarry, and some cramping is normal. If I began to bleed, go to the E.R. immediately, but they would not be able to do anything. By Tuesday I knew something was wrong. My cramps were not going away, and they continued to get worse. I called the nurse hotline again and got the same answer- nothing could be done, wait for bleeding. Hopefully it was just normal cramping. Tuesday was the year anniversary of my Uncle Paul’s death and it happened to be a snow day. We went to my parents house to hang out. The whole day I could not shake the feeling that something was not right. I began to tell God (TELLING God what to do is not ever a very good idea…) that our family had been through enough this last few years, there is so much pain, so much hurt. This baby was supposed to be the joy in our family. A blessing to lift our spirits. New life. He couldn’t take that away! How would taking this baby be for anyone’s good!? 
 
I fell asleep that night after reading Psalm 30 and 31. I apologized for my selfish banter with Him earlier, and I knew that whatever happened, he was in control, and I would choose to trust him.
 
Wednesday morning I woke up, bleeding. I decided to still get ready for work, but during my shower I began to double over in pain. I walked out to the kitchen and told Dan it was time to go to the emergency room. We were immediately admitted. 
 
The doctor was very reassuring. He said that 1/3 of pregnant women who come in here have bleeding, and of that 1/3, 1/3 go on to have a miscarriage. He was trying to use these stats to comfort me until I informed him that I was a statistics teacher and was very aware of what that meant. He ordered some lab work, an I.V. to pump me full of fluids, a pelvic exam, and an ultrasound. The pelvic exam went well, my cervix was closed which was another positive. He said I was probably fine and would carry this baby to full term. I went in for my ultrasound next. We waited for the results, praying and hoping for the best, the doctor had raised our hopes, and we were in good spirits… planning the rest of our day.
 
2 hours later the doctor came back in. He informed us that the stats he gave us at the beginning of the day actually meant nothing in our situation. The ultrasound results showed no baby, no gestational sac, no sign of baby or life. My BHGc results came back at 386, which for my time of pregnancy should have been over 10,000. He explained that either their is a pregnancy somewhere, it is just an ectopic that they couldn’t see on the ultrasound, or, I have already lost the baby. He said either their was no implementation, or their was a normal implementation with a baby that did not fully develop. 
 
The news was crushing. I began sobbing uncontrollably. I still have to go in for more workup Friday to ensure that my body is not still acting like I am pregnant. I took the rest of the week off work to mourn, heal, and just spend some sweet time with Jesus and my husband. 
 
We cannot escape trials. Every time I have approached big news, I always ask myself what my biggest fear would be. When I got pregnant my greatest fear was miscarriage. I then ask myself: What can I do about it? and What will happen if my fears come true? The truth here was: I cannot ultimately do anything to prevent this, I can eat well, rest, take progesterone, and yet I am completely out of control. What will happen if I lose the baby? I will cry, mourn, pick myself up, and rest peacefully knowing my baby is with Jesus. My life will go on, more babies will come, and if more pain comes, well I will take that when it happens. We cannot live in our worst fears. We cannot live paralyzed by them. We have to keep moving forward, knowing that the peace of God surpasses all understanding. 
 
Psalm 31:7-8 “I will be GLAD and REJOICE in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy, but have set my feet in a spacious place.” 
 
Psalm 30:4-5, 10-12 ” Sing to the Lord you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment but his favor lasts a lifetime, weeping may remain for a night but REJOICING comes in the morning… Hear O Lord and be merciful to me. O Lord be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with JOY, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord, I WILL GIVE YOU THANKS FOREVER”
 
I will choose, today, and each day ahead of me to praise the Lord for what he has done, knowing that my feet stand firm in a spacious place. He sees my wailing, my anguish, and lifts up my head. There will be rejoicing. I will rejoice. 
 
It is amazing how verses come back from a time when you memorized them. The very first verse I remembered when I knew I had lost the baby was Matt 7:9-11 We memorized Matt 7 our Jr. year of highschool in bible class. Thank you Dr. Gordon for being so strong and pushing us to such high expectations. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” My baby is a precious and good gift from God, and I will hold tight believing that. Image

Traveling with Allergies

Our whirlwind Seattle/Portland trip is over, and it was so amazing! We got to see friends and family, attend our old home group, and eat lots of food! Traveling and dealing with dietary restrictions can be very difficult, but I was about 95% successful! So I have some tips that got me through the week.

 
1. Do your research- most chain restaurants have their nutritional menu’s online. Know what you can order at what restaurants. For instance- I know that I can order the Pasta Fresca at Noodles and Co. If I get rice noodles and no cheese, while I can order nothing substantial at Chili’s or On the Boarder. 
 
2. Know how to instruct your waiters- Most waiters can do a GF meal no problem- ask them to do GF, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, chicken dish and they normally have no idea where to begin. They are also probably mostly clueless on what “cross contamination” means, or what different things have hidden ingredients (red robin seasoning has both soy and egg in it, and I have had many waiters not know this). I know at most places I can order a grilled chicken breast, no seasoning, and no oil used on the grill if I need to. I can also (if I want to “fudge” and eat beef) order a hamburger- no bun and no seasoning. If you need to, ask for a manager to help. Also, many times I just hand the waiter a list of my allergies and let them go talk it over with the head chef- I have gotten many unique dishes not listed on the menu this way.
 
3. Ask about restaurant procedures- this one is extremely important for those who have severe allergies. Ask about cross contamination. Ask about what oils they use on the grill, and if they will clean it for you. Ask them if the frier they make their “GF” fries in also makes their chicken nuggets. 
 
4. Look for restaurants that promote “Gluten Free” or “Vegan” or “Allergy Friendly” I have much better luck at these restaurants, because they understand what dietary needs are and serve people with restrictions more often. I get much better service at these restaurants.
 
5. Find a restaurant that works and stick to it! I can not tell you how many times I went to “evolution fresh” this week. Seriously once a day. 
 
6. Carry snacks with you- The FIRST thing I always do when arriving at my destination is find a whole foods and stock up on protein heavy snacks that I can put in my purse. Cashews were my snack of choice this week 🙂 If I am staying somewhere with a fridge, I also buy cereal I can eat and Almond or Rice Milk
 
and last but not least
 
7. Know where you can fudge. It is vacation for pete’s sake!! I was very careful NOT to fudge on soy or gluten while I was gone. I did steal a bite of Dan’s ice cream one day, and a sip of his clam chowder.  Also, at P.F. Changs, all their meat is pre marinated in a marinade containing egg. I needed to eat protein more than I needed to stay away from the egg, so I ordered their Lemon Chicken. It also had sugar in it. I also ordered vinaigrette dressing on my salads. Sometimes, my need to eat and keep my blood sugar up surpassed my need to stay away from beef or sugar or even corn. I did not do this when I had an alternative, but a girl has to eat!!! This is why I can only claim 95% when it came to sticking to my diet. 
 
All in all, I am proud of how I did on the trip. Dan was super supportive and did not take me to a sushi restaurant or eat things I was craving around me. I hope this was helpful to those of you dealing with this as well! 

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk- or a Forgotten Smoothie

Cutting out all of my comfort foods has been a really emotional experience for me this time around. I have been brought to tears multiple times just because of food. I am going to share my favorite crying story with you.

Last Wednesday I got up early enough to make my smoothie with enzymes and protein  packed my lunch, got ready for my day, and pleased my husband by actually leaving on time. Mornings are always a little rough for us because saying I am not a morning person is the understatement of a century. Typically I snooze for about an hour, jump up with 10 minutes left until I have to leave, shower, grab whatever food I need for the day, and leave the house about 5 minutes late. Dan typically makes me a smoothie while reminding me often that it is time to go. If Dan tries to talk to me until we are half way to school his words are met with grunts and glares. 

So you can imagine why I was so excited to have gotten up when my alarm went off and made my own smoothie! Only problem was- we got half way to school and I realized that my smoothie was still home. I asked Dan if we could turn around, but because it was a testing day we really needed to be there on time. At this point I began to cry. Seriously?! I am typically a somewhat even keeled person, able to keep irrational emotions to myself, but I was so mad at myself for forgetting the only food that would hold me over until lunch. I was upset that there was no where I could stop that would truly be on my diet, and I was just tired and emotional. I also realized that each smoothie I make costs me $9.00 worth of products!

Dan proceeded to stop by Keva Juice and get me a smoothie. I was on the verge of tears the rest of the day. I know now to never forget my smoothie at home!

Anyways- with this being such an emotional experience, I have been searching for guilt free comfort foods. I have also been cooking multiple meals a night to keep me busy and full.

One thing I have been making a lot of is ICE CREAM! I can hear you all exclaiming “What? How is there any way she can eat ice cream?!” For those of you who are just tuning in let me give you a quick recap: I cannot eat any dairy, soy, or any fast processing sugar which includes sugar, honey, or maple syrup. There is not much left to resemble any sort of ice cream. What I CAN eat is coconut milk, agave, and coconut nectar. We got this awesome half pint sized ice cream maker for our wedding, and it has saved my emotional, comfort food craving soul.

Now, before I give you the recipe I have to warn you- I tried this out on my family- Dan says it is okay, my brother politely ate a few bites and then went for the real dairy free ice cream (with sugar), and my mom said “well, that tastes alternative..” But for me, it is frozen, somewhat sweet, and won’t spike my blood sugar. For those of you who have dietary restrictions- I know you know what I am talking about! Nothing ever truly tastes like the real thing, but sometimes you need something that resembles the real thing!

So, here is my ice cream recipe
1 cup coconut milk
1-2 teaspoons light agave
1-2 teaspoons coconut nectar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

I start with just a little bit of each of the flavorings and add to taste. If you don’t have to cut out sugar- you can use real sugar with this, or honey, or any sweetener you like! I choose light agave because the darker the color, the stronger the taste.

Looking forward- my next blog will be tips on how to travel and deal with dietary restrictions!