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Friday, December 30, 2011

Perfect Excuse For Baking

Since it's the holidays, I've been doing some baking. I know that I'm not supposed to consume too much sugar, but for some reason this time of the year it's hard to say no to cookies and cakes. Since I can't eat most, I decided to make my own. I discovered this amazing website: So many great gluten free and vegan recipes.

To take to my husband's parents for Christmas I made the Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies. The only change I made was instead of using 1 and2/3 cup of brown sugar I tried 1 and 1/3 cup of coconut sugar. The cookies were very rich tasting. They had almost a caramel flavor. Not sure if it's my reawakened taste buds or the fresh addition of coconut sugar.

I also made mini cupcakes from a gluten free mix I had bought some time ago. The mix called for eggs, but I subbed Ener-G Egg Replacer. The mini cupcakes were light, airy and super chocolate-y.

For dinner the other night I made the Mexican Pumpkin Soup. The soup is super spicy and filling. If you have a cold, this dish will make you sweat it out. The soup made a lot, which I like. Leftovers make life easy. I also toasted a gluten free burrito. I spritzed it with olive oil and sprinkled cayenne and sea salt on it before setting it in the over for about ten minutes. The chips went perfectly with the soup.

Most mornings I begin with a glass or two of green juice followed by g-free oatmeal mixed with fruit. Some mornings my body says it can't stomach another bowl of cereal. About a twice a month a bake a batch of muffins. Half of which I freeze to have on hand when cereal falls out of favor. Yesterday morning I made the Carrot Muffins. The recipe required coconut flour. A new ingredient that I was skeptical of purchasing. Would I use the flour again? For this recipe, instead of using 1 cup of light brown sugar, I added in 3/4 cup of coconut sugar. My husband ate one right of the oven. No complaints. And he's a muffin connoisseur. He usually picks one up from Crumbs or Zabars at least two or three times a week. The muffins have a rich taste and are very satisfying. I've tried other g-free, vegan muffin recipes. None compare to the Carrot Muffins.

Karina of Gluten Free Goddess, mentions that the secret to g-free baking is finding the perfect mix of flours. In most of her recipes she uses three to four flours. She writes that g-free fours have a more pronounced taste than regular wheat flour. To keep one flavor from over powering another, you have to find the perfect blend. When I began g-free baking I was skeptical of purchasing so many tiny bags of different flours. At this point, I've accumulated so many that baking isn't such a pricey trip to the grocery store any longer.

Next up is buckwheat flour and Karina's Flourless Vegan Chocolate Cake.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Return To Peacefood Cafe

After Monday's failed attempt to snag a table at Peacefood Cafe, I returned yesterday. This time my husband and I grabbed one of the few two-seater tables still available at 12:20pm. The place was already pretty full.

To kick things off we shared a green lemonade. Notice the double straws. Usually you see this kind of thing in malts not green juice.

For my lunch I had the chickpea fries, which my husband also sampled, along with roasted japanese pumpkin and brussels sprouts. The fries came with a tangy dipping sauce and sprouts. I think the sauce has some sort of soy product. I did dip a little, hoping that a small amount of a sensitive food wouldn't be too problematic. I experienced my usual back of throat mucus, but nothing too extreme.

My husband had the seasonal veggie panini on their homemade focaccia. I neglected to snap a shot with my Blackberry. He really liked it. The bread looked great. Being cut off from yeast, I really miss bread.

Seated very near us, was a woman constantly pushing her incredibly over sized stroller, while she ate. My husband said all the back and forth pushing he spied from his peripheral vision was making him sea sick. I'm not sure if the woman was attempting to burn off the calories she consumed by simultaneously exercising her right arm. Being a mom, I would roll my baby's stroller until he feel asleep. Then I would stop. This woman had no concept of stop. In addition, she kept pushing her gigantic stroller into people.

As a mom, I understand the challenges of raising a baby in the city. But geez, can't people be mindful of the close quarters in the city and choose a not so huge stroller? I purposely didn't go for a Bugaboo for three reasons. For one, it costs almost $1000. Secondly, it's of mammoth proportions. Not the best for rolling into cafes shops or even apartments. Thirdly, once a kid hits age two he/she looks ridiculous in a Bugaboo. An umbrella stroller like a Maclaren is a much better choice. It's more compact. You can use it up to age five. And it costs between $200 and $300.

Back to our meal. I was hopping to have room for one of their g-free desserts. But I was too stuffed. I also had wanted to try one of their soups. A return visit sometime soon is definitely in order.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Lunch That Didn't Happen

One of the things I've been looking forward to during my week-long break from work is lunch at Peacefood Cafe. The restaurant is 100 percent vegan. They press their own made to order fresh juices, make interesting smoothie combinations, offer raw and cooked entrees and have many gluten free options. Also, it's delicious. My husband and I walked in today. Well, we attempted to walk in. There was such a big crowd waiting for a table that we could barely fit. It was like trying to get on the 2 train on a Monday morning. Somehow we managed to squeeze in where we realized that the wait for a table could easily be an hour long. We just weren't up for or expecting a que.

While I was bummed out that I didn't get to have lunch at one of my favorites spots, I was happy to see that a vegan restaurant was booming. All I can say is we need more spots like Peacefood Cafe. On my way out, I caught sight of the gluten free pumpkin loaf. Life is so unfair.

Friday, December 23, 2011


One of my favorite shows growing up was the A-Team. The quote that always comes to mind was Hannibal saying in between cigar puffs, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Yesterday's all-day juice detox was just the opposite. My husband and I began the day by walking our son the fifteen blocks to and from his school. On the way home, we hit Trader Joe's for a few cooking essentials, even though we weren't eating that day. I came home drank juice, cleaned, drank juice, did laundry and drank more juice. Around 3pm I began to feel incredibly cold and hungry. At this time Juice No. 4 was up. The lemon, water, cayenne and agave mix. The lemon drink made me feel like I was straddling line between nauseas and hunger.

An hour later my husband said, "I'm so hungry."

"Me too," I added.


That's when we broke out the veggie chips.

So, I didn't juice all day. But, I like to think I reaped some of the benefits of drinking almost 50 ounces of juice in a day. For dinner I had a very healthy brown rice, kale, azuki bean burrito rolled up in a g-free wrapper along with homemade guac.

Overall, I think Blue Print Cleanse's green juice is too sweet. I'd be "sweet" if they offered an all veggie green juice or a less sweet green one. I tried a shot glass amount of the cashew nut milk and was heaving over the toilet afterwards. Bon appe-puke.

I've had issues with nuts over the past year and a half. I'm hoping some time in the near future that my body accepts nuts. I've began taking digestive enzymes with most meals. I'm already noticing an improvement with a little less bloating and intestinal ruckus.

I think the next time I embark on a juice detox, I will either make my own or purchase Organic Avenue's all veggie juices. I will also plan on eating a healthy dinner, unless I'm feeling totally satisfied by a day of juice.

As B. A. Baracus would say, "Don't be a fool...," and as I add, "...and feel you have to stick to a plan that's not coming together."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One-day Cleanse

This is a peek inside my fridge this morning. The juices arrived from Blueprint Cleanse yesterday. My husband said, "One is white!" I explained that it's a cashew nut milk, which we're supposed to drink last– a sort of liquid dinner. Of course I woke up this morning feeling very hungry. I drank several glasses of water, as I tackled the every growing pile of papers and mail accumulating on the kitchen counter. I have one juice down and five more to go.

Juices 1, 2, 3 and 5 are a green mix of celery, cucumbers, romaine, apple, parsley, kale, spinach and lemon. Very sweet tasting. Juice 4 is a blend of lemon, water, agave, and cayenne. Juice 6 is the nut milk which includes cashews, water, cinnamon, vanilla and agave. Curious to try 4 and 6 since I usually only drink green blends.

Right now I'm feeling a little sleepy. Probably has more to do with the fact I got about six hours of sleep than the lack of food. Happy I have the day off to detox, clean and nap.

Well, it's time for juice number 2!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Beef With Beef

While at the gym on Saturday, I caught a repeat episode of Top Chef. The contestants were challenged with preparing a multi-course meal for an American Cancer Society benefit in Texas. When one thinks of Texas the mind often lands on...beef. Similarly, when I think of Cancer my mind zeros in on beef.

Guess what the main course at the Cancer Benefit's dinner was? Beef! With the meal being broadcast nationwide, the program seemed like a great opportunity for the chef's to demonstrate their culinary muscle while creating a meal that wasn't carcinogenic. The various employees of the Cancer Society got right in on the blackened steaks. No mention of eating a diet of foods that help prevent cancer.

I realize that benefit dinners come with big ticket prices. In return guests expect to be wowed by their plates. I think a healthier, nutrient-dense meal would have wowed patrons, challenged chefs and been equally meaty. Don't mess with beef. Do mess with veggies.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Once again I've dove full force into a wellness related book. My current one is Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger. The book goes into great detail about mucus. Something I'm all too familiar with. Shoot, I could probably write my own book on this topic. The book details that our bodies make mucus as a protectant from irritants such as chemicals, prescriptions drugs, junk foods, consuming dairy, pesticides and more yucky stuff. The problem is when enough of this mucus gets made it gets stuck in our bodies. Signs are puffiness, dark circles under the eyes and even enlarged pores. Sounds like my portrait.

While I am feeling somewhat better with my new Fluconazole and decongestant regimen, I still have a lot of mucus being formed in my sinuses. I can only imagine what the rest of my body looks like. Probably like an old fashion Nickelodeon slime fest.

I'm going to try a one day juice cleanse next week. I know it's only one day, but I want to see how my body handles this. I just recently stopped experiencing a daily loss of feeling in my fingertips and chills. If all goes well, I plan to try a three-day cleanse another time. The best part is, I talked my husband into doing it with me. We both already drink at least eight ounces of greens daily and often much more. My husband even makes the juice himself. Now I have to decide between Organic Avenue and Blueprint Cleanse. They both offer delivery. Stay tuned for the juicy details.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wellness Toolbox

Things are leveling out since I restarted the Fluconazole last week, by taking a half a tablet every other day. Last week was a bit hellish between sinus inflammation and drainage, constant itchiness, plus insane thirst from taking decongestants. Today, I'm finally feeling like my body is calming down.

I visited Dr. Firshein today. He spoke about how I now have my toolbox of supplements. He said depending on how I'm feeling, I can open up my wellness toolbox and choose accordingly. For example, if I'm feeling more tired than usual then I should take D-Ribose, L Tyrosine, and Enada. If allergies are aggravating me then take extra Quercetin. This strategy makes me feel empowered rather than helpless, as I've felt so many times over the past few years.

Despite all the set-backs, I feel hopeful that my health is coming under control. Next month I have some work related travel. A couple of months ago, the thought of work-related travel really stressed me out. As my health comes under control, I'm slowly getting my life back and able to enjoy things more.

The moments that I can breathe clearly, I never take for granted. I hope to get to a point where I can take these times for granted.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Fun Blogs

Instead of writing about my current state of health, I thought it'd be fun to highlight two blogs I'm enjoying reading.

My friend Sandra moved to London with her family in August of this year. I miss all the fun times we had together: working on Macy's holiday ad campaign, concepting ads for the first chewable, minty-fresh birth control pill (no joke. and we got paid to do this.), co-teaching at NYU and Media Bistro, eating at Sweet Melissa's, and playdates in Brooklyn. Her observations about life in Tooting are honest and make me laugh. Read it and giggle:

Another friend of mine, Ann, left Manhattan as well. Ann suddenly found herself free of the commitment of a full-time job. She sublet her apartment in the East Village and took off on a whirlwind adventure. I find her blog empowering. I first read it on a day when I was feeling overwhelmed by work and my health. Her blog re-set my frame of mind, lifting me out of my state of yucka. Check it out:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tummy Time

My Glutenfreeda Oatmeal test went very well. My tummy didn't go bonkers yesterday. I had a tiny bit of pinging, which lasted ten minutes but not the usual three-hour plus belly-roll-athon.

Instead of packing lunch today, I visited Organic Avenue where I purchased their zucchini pasta with pesto. The dish came with a side of pine nut parmesan. I sprinkled the nut cheese and dove into the pasta. Halfway through, I felt like my throat was closing. Next, my stomach let me know that it wasn't happy. I pushed the $10 dish aside and ate some gluten-free crackers I keep in my desk.

I'm well aware that nuts are a new allergen for me. Since I happily ate them for many years, I have a difficult time always avoiding them. I tried almond butter again for the first time in three months last week and my sinuses revolted. I really don't know what I was thinking by consuming the nut cheese. I guess I was optimistically eating. Hoping by being non-judgemental toward the pine nuts, my body would follow. But that wasn't the case. Now I sit at work with my lower region doing somersaults.

Also, I've been up since 3:30am. Not sure why. Maybe side effects from the Allerga D? Between gastrointestinal distress and a lack of sleep, I'm a real fun gal.

Now let's change topics to my husband's hands. During the cold months, I often put lotion on my husband's rough hands. They're so rough, that I could easily snag a pair of tights on them. The other night I reached for his hand. Instead of feeling roughness, I felt smooth skin. I asked if he had already lubed up his hands. He said, "No."I was shocked. How could Mr. Roughskin have such smooth skin? Could it be all the green juice he's been guzzling? On that note, I'm going to go pour me a tall glass of green.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Glutinous Insurgents

Lately, I've been experiencing a lot of rumbling, pinging and other strange occurrences coming from my abdominal area. It's like a monster truck show is going on in my intestines. I remember before I switched my diet from glutinous and animal-based to gluten-free vegan that every afternoon I had major gas and bloatedness. Basically, I looked pregnant. Pregnant with a gaseous monster.

I reflected upon my diet, which is totally gluten free. Well, I thought totally gluten free. I think I singled out the possible culprit. I believe the source of my discomfort could be the organic oatmeal I've been eating in the morning. Oatmeal is one of those controversial foods simply because by nature it doesn't contain gluten. But oatmeal is grown in fields adjacent to the evil wheat. Also, it's a rotation crop meaning it's grown on soil that also grows wheat, barley and rye certain times of the year. So contamination in the field is one issue. Secondly, some oats are processed in facilities where wheat or other glutinous grains are handled. Again, contamination.

The solution: Glutenfreeda Oatmeal!

The oats in this box are grown on oats members only soil. No glutinous outsiders. And these oats have their very own exclusive processing facility that boasts a huge "Gluten Keep Out" sign. Hopefully, no belly swell or strange noises from the nether regions today. I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Raging Green Juice-aholic

Over the past three weeks, I've been experiencing bouts of nausea more than likely caused by taking oral fluconazole. The drug can be toxic and one of its side effects is liver damage. So it seems you don't have to be a raging alcoholic to mess up your liver. You can be just the opposite, a raging green juice drinker. I stopped the fluconazole, went on a green juice bender and had my liver checked.

Today, I spoke with my doctor who said my liver numbers were perfect. I picture my liver beaming with pride and happy to autograph glossies of its self. That's the good news.

The bad news is my congestion has worsened and my sense of smell is gone. I have constant yucky drainage down the back of my throat. My doctor told me to try taking a half a fluconazole tablet every other day and decongestant as needed. I'm off to buy a fancy pill cutter when I finish this post.

Tonight, I plan to make green juice using the goodies I bought from the farmer's market yesterday: cilantro, parsley and giant bag of apples ( for $2!).

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Latest Vegan, Gluten-free Breakfast

My new breakfast invention isn't actually so new. Actually, it could be labeled lazy. The centerpiece of it is cold oatmeal. That's right, I pour a bag of instant gluten free oats into a bowl. Next, I add about a tablespoon of ground flax meal and about half a cup of Erewhon gluten free brown rice cereal. On top of this, I stir in chopped apple or pear plus banana. Additional add-ins include cacao nibs, goji berries  and dried cherries. I top it all off with organic rice milk. I love it.

I had been making hot oatmeal, which I had to add agave too.  The hot stuff got boring fast and the taste became almost icky. I find that eating it cold, tastes better and requires zero agave. You could toss in nuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon or other spice of choice or berries. If you're feeling really wild, a few Enjoy Life chocolate chips are a nice treat too.

About half an hour before eating the cereal, I have a glass of green juice. I try to always quick-off my day on an alkaline note. Pretty soon after arriving at work, things usual go acidic anyway.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sick Avoidance Tactics

Yesterday, I started feeling like a cold is coming on. Or, possibly it's my fungal infection trying to take hold again. My husband has been sick, so there's a good chance he cold have passed on the evil germs to me. In an effort to give my body a boost, I've been taking echinacea drops twice a day, attempting to get more sleep (last night I went to bed at 9:15pm.) and drinking more green juice. 

This time when I visited Organic Avenue, I boldly selected their Mellow Green blend, which combines cucumber, celery, romaine, spinach and parsley. This stuff is the color of a dark forest. I expected this juice to be stronger than other green versions simply because it's lacking fruit. However, I was surprised to discover that it's actually smoother than the Green Love, which has lemon and pear. The name Mellow Green says it all. The juices are a whopping $12 for 16 ounces. However, if you return the glass bottle, you get a $2 credit. Yesterday's cost my only $8, since I turned in two bottles. 

I've also been trying not to touch my face. Why does my face always itch when on the subway?