Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lemon and Water vs. Coffee

Tuesday morning, I started my day with about 16 oz. of water and the juice from one full lemon.  I was a bit impressed because I didn't end up with a caffeine headache, and I even felt energized enough to go to a nice hot yoga class!  (It's been a while since I've gone to a class or even done anything at home)  Yay yoga!!  My day went well.  No obvious effects of no caffeine, and I think I felt pretty energized.  I am a firm believer in mind over body, so it may have been merely psychological.

Wednesday, I overslept.  Not sure if that had something to do with being overly tired, or a low volume on my alarm...I didn't get my lemon water until after I dropped the kids off at school.  Still, no caffeine headache, but I did feel a little off.  Regardless I stuck to my guns, went to another hot yoga class (yay, yoga!).  Was feeling a bit weak at some moments, but I think it was lack of water and pushing myself too hard.  Again, here, water=life!  Perhaps I pushed myself too hard with my new-found sense of "clean energy" and back-to-back days of hot yoga, because I fell asleep on the couch for a little over an hour.

Thursday, I was running behind in my morning preparation, so I took my water with the juice of one lemon to go.  I was doing just fine, but I decided that I needed 12 oz. of coffee to supplant my morning water.  There was Santa, and kids, and I had a meeting.  I needed coffee; at least for some reason my mind was telling me I needed it.  My body probably could have done without it.

So did I negate the whole 20 oz. of lemon water with my little cup of Turkish coffee with a dash of cinnamon? Who knows.  My body didn't feel any different than it did before the coffee, I didn't get shaky or have any adverse side effects.  All in all, I was rearin' to go!

I like the idea of the lemon water to start my day, but I wont count out having a cup of coffee.  Less coffee is probably better.  Interjecting more tea may be wise as well.  I also need to keep up with my yoga!  Tomorrow I'm going to try a little Hatha yoga, after my lemon water of course.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Water, the new coffee??

So I've been thinking a lot about this water thing.  Water is 70% of our world, and makes up 70% of our, no one is doubting it's importance.  But do we really understand how important it is?  Maybe not as important as what you put into it.

I know we need water, but I also know that we can consume too much water.  Remember that CSI where the college kid was being hazed and was told to chug a 5gallon container of water?  He literally died from drinking too much water.  Okay, so you can't always believe what you see on TV, but it's CSI people!  CSI is science and science is truth...Not that that is any excuse not to get my eight 8oz. glasses of water a day.

But back to the importance of water...I have been trying to make a better attempt at drinking more water.  The problem is, when I get up in the morning the first thing I think of is coffee ....Mmmmm... coffee...
Coffee is really something I never considered doing without.  I know it basically depletes you of water and negates any that you drink.  Two cups of coffee in, and I have to drink two more cups of water than I should be drinking...that means I have to try for ten 8oz. glasses of water and I'm maybe hitting four at this point, which means I should be trying for six, and if I do the math that means I'm really down four, I mean two, wait...okay, now I'm totally confused.

Alright, so I need to drink more water and less coffee - bottom line.  I have tea on occasion, but that really doesn't do the trick.  Earl Grey is alright.  Green is good, antioxidants and all that.  I just really love the taste of coffee!

What sparked this post was reading this from  According to the doctor who wrote this article, you get clean energy from drinking "water and fresh squeezed lemon" in the morning as opposed to dirty energy from drinking coffee.  Do you really think a lemon in my morning water from the local OB Water Store can replace my coffee??  I do happen to have a lemon tree in my backyard, so access is no excuse.  All I really need to do is try it, right?  Okay, so tomorrow morning it's water and lemon juice for some clean energy.  No dirty energy for me!

Speaking of dirty water versus clean water, did you know that there is only 3.46% of fresh or "clean" water available on earth?  Well, we'll leave that for another post.  So, here's to lemon water!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

America the Beautiful

It's hard to jump on the internet now-a-days and not see headlines like this:

Middle-class areas shrink as America divides into 'two-tiered society' of rich and poor 

                               This Is What Revolution Looks Like

Justice Dept. in deadlock with Alabama over illegal immigration law

I can recall a time when my parents told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be and "the sky's the limit."  We are instilled with this hope of a middle class future, where we can live comfortably and raise a family with all of the comforts we are entitled to here in America, the land of plenty.  We know too many people who have been laid off, who are under water on their homes and are just barely squeaking by.  Our local school district is on the brink of insolvency and the teachers are being asked to take pay cuts.  There's a presidential election coming in less than a year and the budget can't even be balanced.  Us Americans are supposed to have it together, we're supposed to be a Super-Power.  What happened?  Even our congress isn't proving as dependable as it has in the past, the divide is growing.

Congress Approval Rating Lower Than Porn, Polygamy, BP Oil Spill, 'U.S. Going Communist'

We head to the polls in limited numbers because people don't think their votes make a difference.  People stay at home in their little bubbles, dealing with their own personal problems; but with the way things are nowadays, can we really blame them?  Turn on the TV and all you get is bad news, sex abuse scandals, tales of people in powerful positions taking advantage of those with very little power, which CEOs are getting multimillion dollar bonuses the year after the tax payers bailed them out, and the list goes on.  There's more and more about how the gap between the rich and poor is growing and how the middle class is disappearing.  This is really disheartening.  It's no wonder the latest polls are saying:

Americans are becoming less optimistic about the future

I can see it.  It makes me sad.  How do I tell my children that they can be whatever they want to be when I don't even know if a college education will be possible?  The cost of higher education is just that, higher and higher every year.  I remember how much it cost for me thirteen years ago and it's definitely jumped exponentially since then.  What happens when all of those things our parents told us we needed in order to enjoy success in life are no longer attainable?

There are people camping in parks across the country trying to send a message.  So far, they've been there for two months and all I hear and read in the news is that the police are breaking up their encampments and arresting people.  So, is it working? Is it going to be heard by anyone with influence?  

The Occupy movement: More trouble than change?

My only hope is you; you out there with the power of the vote.  Yes, I am only one person, but I can still vote.  I can still pass on information and make people aware of things that are happening.  I can still encourage my friends and family to vote, to make their voice heard.  I can show my kids that no matter how bad it gets, no matter what happens to the banks, the schools, or the government, I'm still here and I'm still voting.  I guess it's really all I can do. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Damn Pizza

Some things are easier to resist than others.
So here I am, one week after I started a dairy-free week and I must say, I failed.  I made it six days.  But on the sixth day, there was gluten-free pizza!  This was my first time getting to try gluten-free pizza made fresh from somewhere other than my kitchen.  Did I mention there was gluten-free beer?

Okay, so I had some left-overs yesterday, too.  There was mozzarella and Gorgonzola, quite the combination along with crispy bacon, butternut squash, cucumbers and other tasty veggies.  It was sinful.  It was heavenly.  It was delicious.  And I knew that I was totally weak, had absolutely no will power, no ability to say no.  Then again, for someone who pretty much gets stuck eating salads everywhere I go due to limited options, I was not going to settle for a salad when there was gluten-free pizza on the menu!
I did learn a few things this week, though.  I learned that less dairy is definitely better for my system and that I need to keep up with my probiotics.  For those of you just delving into the world of probiotics, there are a lot of them out there on the market and a lot that really aren't worth much.  I use Jarro-Dophilus, which has 5 billion organisms per capsule and is room temperature safe, meaning I can toss a few in my purse and I can take one before a meal that may have potential gluten or dairy in it.  I have also been known to pop a probiotic before eating a totchos (tater tots as nachos...drool) at Analog in downtown San Diego or a cheese plate for dessert at Cucina Urbana...don't you just love the little smiley bacteria in the colon on the box?

I love food and the fact that I have food allergies limits me too much.  I really would rather enjoy life and deal with a little discomfort every now and then, than have to completely avoid the things I love.  Now as for gluten, I really can't indulge very often.  I did go to a beer and food tasting at Stone Brewery and was able to sample some brews without too much reprieve.  Eating gluten-loaded foods on the other hand would likely kill me.  I don't have celiac's disease, just a severe intolerance.  The dairy though, I'm not too sure about.  Still compiling data.

Recently I was told about another, very serious probiotic.  This is a type that you can really only get in certain places (Costco, I hear) from a pharmacist.  It's called VSL#3.  Apparently it packs quite the punch.  So far, I've only tried it twice so we'll see how it goes. 

So dairy and I don't get along so well and I usually have to use a buffer when we get together (kind of like bringing your wing man along on a blind date), so be it.  I should probably stop eating cheese and crackers and grilled cheese sandwiches, and I should probably stick to once a week on the cheese.

I would call this experiment a success.  I know my lactose limits and I know what I can do to increase those limits.

Now to keep working on the whole drinking 64 oz. of water thing.  I've really been trying, but I could definitely do better.  Maybe I need to get one of those beer hats, you know the ones with the two holders for cans and the straws...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Water: the cure-all

Day five of no dairy.  I think it's going pretty well.  A lot easier than I thought it would be.  The challenge for me now, is to drink more water. It shouldn't be a challenge, right?  I should be able to just keep a glass of water on the table next to me and refill it once it's empty...then repeat, right?  Right.

My mom used to drink a ton of water.  She'd have her water bottle with her at all times.  This was before personal water bottles were the "it" thing and you didn't find entire aisles of bottled water in the stores.  This was before Food and Water Watch showed us that you can't always believe what you read on the back of a bottle when it comes to the source.  She used to have this old beat up plastic water bottle that everyone knew was hers, because she was one of the only people I knew of that carried one.  These were the old-school water bottles, before BPA and all the other toxic chemicals were revealed as dangerous and we all started carrying around stainless steel bottles.  I wish now, that I'd started my habit of drinking water back then.

I think that the water obsession may have skipped a generation.  My daughter is an avid water drinker.  I could really learn a thing or two from her!

I was talking to my nutritionist friend and she was telling me that you should drink one ounce of water per pound.  Then there's the other adage that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  That's 64 oz of water, but if we go by one ounce per pound, we're looking at double that!  That's a lot of water.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the Institute of Medicine suggests 13 cups of "beverages" for the average man and 9 cups of "beverages" for the average woman.  That seems pretty close to the 8 by 8 rule.

So, for now, I'll shoot for those 8 cups of water a day.  We'll see how it goes.  Until next time, drink up!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Cheese Touch

So far, so good I cheese for three days.  That is, if you don't count those two mini Butterfinger candy bars I took out of the candy baskets of my children.  Yes, I am a candy thief.  I did, however, read the ingredient list on my other favorite, the tootsie roll.  No dairy there, but I was a bit curious about the "artificial and natural flavors". 

Just what is the" natural" flavor in a tootsie roll?
Don't even get me started on the contents of ingredient lists and nutritional labels...

So back to this whole cheese thing.  Sunday was a bit rough.  My husband, the chef, who cannot seem to attend a single tailgate party for the Chargers without preparing three or four homemade, delicious dishes, made macaroni and cheese (with Boar's Head Monterrey jack no less) and sausage and peppers.  Now, homemade sausage and peppers is nice, but homemade macaroni and cheese is downright sinful.  Even with gluten-free pasta, the cheese is the most important part of the meal!  It wasn't too bad, really, until my son said, "Mommy, it's too cheesy!"  I just about stabbed a forkful of his macaroni right then and there, gluten and all!

Monday was good.  No real temptations, especially since my husband used up all of the cheese the day before.  The kids finished off the cream cheese on their little mini bagels for breakfast, so no threat of mistaking the cream cheese for the jelly when no one was looking.  Darn!

Today was okay, too.  I did notice less "issues" in the intestines today, which is nice because if they didn't subside I was ready to go RAW!  Though, after reading this I'm not so sure I have it in me to even go one week!  I do like the idea of a banana, spinach and water green smoothie.  Perhaps I'll have to try it someday and report back.

Tonight, I tried my hand at some serious pad thai.  It was a multi-step process that took a bit longer than I was expecting, but that's pretty typical of me.  I used something tonight that I've never used before: tamarind.  Its paste is made from the pod of a tree native to Africa, but much of it now comes from India.  It's kind of sweet and really fibrous and seedy so I had to reconstitute it.  That's culinary speak for adding water and letting it soften.  Then I had to push it through a "sieve" and I add it to my sauce.  It turned out pretty well.  I was kinda impressed with myself.  Sure, there are things I'd do differently but that comes with every new recipe I try.  I'm just glad there wasn't any cheese I had to substitute.  I don't know if I can go back to the rice cheese :P

For now, the dairy-free crusade continues.  I will try my best to make sure I stay off the dairy and I'll even try to stay off the butterfingers...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Add another "-free" to the list!

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged.  Well, blogging hasn't been on the top of my list of things to do lately, mostly because it's been a VERY long list of things to do...
See, I could be blogging about Occupy this and Occupy that or the recent school closure discussions that have been hovering over San Diego Unified like a stinky cloud lately, but I wont.  No, today I really just feel like blogging about myself.

As a gluten-free eater I've had to rearrange my diet and pay more attention to nutrition labels.  As the mom of a daughter who was born with a dairy and soy allergy I got used to delving deeper into the nutritional content of everything in the house.  I had to remove all dairy and soy from my already scant diet while nursing my daughter, which aided in my milk supply drying up and me losing all of my baby weight rather quickly.  I noticed after I stopped nursing my daughter I still had trouble digesting dairy (or soy, who knows).

Oooh, intestines!!

Now that my daughter is four and has grown out of her birth-related allergies/intolerance, I have been focusing on just the gluten, wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc. for my diet restrictions.  Lately I've noticed that perhaps there may be another intolerance lurking within the walls of my intestines...It's not a fun thing to think about and most people don't like talking about their digestion habits.  Most of us either spend hours on Web MD or we sheepishly ask our doctors about why we're always so bloated, dancing around the real issue.  I have been refusing to admit an intolerance to dairy for a while.  Sure I cut back on it a year ago but MAN, I love cheese!

But, alas, I think the cheese has gotten the best of me.  I'm not the only one, though.  I know a lot of other women who have fallen victim to the dairy intolerance lately.  It seems that once we turn 30, a lot more than just wrinkles and grey hairs seem to reveal themselves.  According to WebMD, "Sometimes people who have never had problems with milk or dairy products suddenly have lactose intolerance. This is more common as you get older."

I've heard that technically we aren't supposed to be able to tolerate milk after we're one or two years old, anyway.  Those people who can tolerate lactose are more like genetic freaks than those who cannot digest lactose.  Though, at this point I can't remember where I heard that (but I will find out!).

So, today begins a week of being dairy-free.  This will be tough.  I know it will be tough because my diet often includes GF bagels and neufchatel, pepperoni and cheese, grilled cheese, or rice crackers and cheese.  Notice the cheese trend?  It will be hard.  I will do my best to check in and blog about my progress.  Perhaps it will help.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Psst...another "R" we don't like to discuss

I've taken a few weeks to mull this over and I've taken those weeks, too, to make sure that I don't over-react or say something that I would later regret...Now that I've gotten that out of the way...

There are a lot of subjects we don't discuss with people for fear that you may have differing opinions and it would harm the relationship, or you end up walking into a debate.  Politics is one of them, race is another, and then there's the other R word, Religion.

Of all the religions in the world, it seems that there is just one that wants me to be a part of it.  You know who they are, they come to your door, they offer to "share" something from the Bible with you.  You play along and smile, nod politely and then give them some random excuse as to why you have to cut their conversion - I mean conversation, short.  They leave you with a little pamphlet or booklet and depart.  Usually that's they way it happens and perhaps its just once or twice a year.  My poor husband had this happen to him right around Christmas time one year and they had the gall to call him a hypocrite for having a Christmas tree and to not associate with any certain religion.  See, my husband is not the type to simply play along, he tells them up front that he's an atheist and that he isn't buying their b.s.  Now myself, on the other hand, sometimes I play along and other times I just say, "No thanks!"  People have been knocking on doors to sell things to others for a very long time.  Whether it's a vacuum cleaner or a religion, we all manage to be nice for the most part and then send them on their way.  The thing that gets me a bit hot under the collar is when they try to sell it to my kid, at school, in the guise of a "present".

That's right.  One of those people who normally go house to house knocking on doors trying to sell people on their religion in the hopes that they'll convert more people, either that or out of pure insecurity on the part of the leaders of said religion...(haven't quite figured that one out yet) tried using proximity as a device for converting my child.  Just because my child was a schoolmate, it meant that he MUST have a copy of this very interesting piece of literature called, "Learn from the Great Teacher":

This book was wrapped and placed into my child's hand by a parent.

I am usually a very open person; I am open to new ideas, open to conversations about a lot of things, heck, I can even have conversations with people about subjects that make most other people rather uncomfortable.

But when you try to sneak religious materials into my son's hands at's a no-no.

The note on the package read, "To take home and share with your parents," because we ALL need to learn from the "Great Teacher".

I was mildly aghast, my husband on the other hand, had a more visceral reaction. His first thought was to get her phone number, call her and give her a piece of his mind.  Obviously, it didn't happen.  He instead wrote to American Atheists who in turn responded (albeit one month later) by telling us the school did exactly what they should have done in the situation, as did we.  The principal and the teacher were horrified and contacted the area superintendent as well as the district lawyer.  A letter was sent home with the students explaining that the school was not aware of the book's existence or the fact that it went home with every student.  All bases were covered.

I do feel a bit of sadness for that parent, who either is so insecure in her own beliefs that she felt the need to beg acceptance by sharing the book or she is just completely unaware of the fact that church and state have been separate since the creation of the United States of America.  Well, I'd like to believe it's the former and not the latter.

I'm always up for an intelligent conversation about religion and I do not discriminate against any religion.  I do however, have issue with those religions that practice the "seek and conquer" form of recruitment.  Sharing your beliefs is fine by me, just wait until I ask you what those beliefs are.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Representative?

A small post today...

I am not shocked by the behavior of some of our elected officials, and I find it rather funny when people become outraged that "so-and-so" did "such-and-such" and now it's become a scandal.

We elect people to represent us every-day people.  Do we expect them to be super-human, above average, and perfect?  Well, yeah, we do.  But they're still human.  They make mistakes, they err.  Unfortunately, some of them make really dumb mistakes and leave proof (like pictures or a whole child!)  I am not condoning such behavior, I am just merely stating a fact.  We elect people to make laws, uphold the rights of the citizens they represent and make good decisions.  It's the making good decisions part that I think was left out in several of these cases.  Sure, it's okay to make mistakes.  Just make sure it's not something that will end up getting you fired, put in jail or make you end up looking bad in front of an entire country of people.

And I really must just say it once, because, well, I just can't help it:

So did he really think that becoming a Congressional representative would earn him enough respect that people wouldn't make fun of his name??

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Race in America

This is a topic very close to my heart.  Race is such a touchy subject.  I know race is a social construct and I know that it was all a sham.  I believe such a thing as white privilege exists and I believe that we are all "created" equally - however you believe we were created.

Recently, there was an article published in Psychology Today online called, "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive?" For one, that question in and of itself is racially inclined.  I stumbled upon a blog post from Sam Sommers, PhD in response to the article.  You can read it here.

The article has since been removed from Psychology Today's site and has already created a petition to get PT to respond to the outrage from posting the article.  Now, I agree it may not have been in the best interest of the people at PT to allow such an article to be posted, but without having read the article, I can't really speak to it's content.  The whole idea of Race in America is so construed.  It's an ideology that was created by the majority around the 1690s; in other words, the old white men who wanted to make sure they didn't have to compete for the resources here in the new world with people who could be "labeled" as different because it was easier to do so due to the color of their skin.  Pretty sad.

This will not be my only post on this topic.  It's a topic that is evergreen and will always raise opinions and shouts from the peanut gallery.

Racism is something everyone who is alive today in America was raised with, socialized into and has been a part of at some time, whether you are aware of it or not.  Slowly things are changing and people are coming to the realization that racism no longer needs to dictate the actions of education, politics and advertising...a bit too slowly for some of us.  The unfortunate thing is that racism has become so institutionalized in our country that it has reached beyond our borders.

courtesy of
There is something myself, as a white person, had to confront...I am privileged primarily because of my skin color.  For as non-discriminating and non-racist as I am, there are things that have been socialized into our subconscious that we don't even realize.  If you watched television commercials from even a few years ago, it's a prime example.  More so now, though, I see people of all colors depicted.  We can't truly count on commercials as a measure of the collective conscious, however.  Commercials are made by people trying to sell things to consumers and more and more lately, consumers come in all colors and sizes.  Diversity is everywhere.  Yet, there are still articles being posted about how black women are less attractive.  Only if you believe the pseudo-science and the idiots that wrote The Bell Curve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dinner, again?

So, I've never been the kind of person that thinks about what to have for dinner AHEAD of time.  My husband used to ask me all the time, "What should we have for dinner tonight?"  I'd think to myself, 'We just had breakfast!'...but this is the way my husband was raised: dinners were pretty regular for him growing up.  For me, not so much.  I went out to eat a lot with my family, particularly after my mom went back to school for her Master's degree when I was seven.  Life was about convenience and what was easy.  I remember a lot of Arby's and Piccolos, this Italian/Mexican restaurant down the street.  My dad wasn't much of a cook, so we ate a lot of rice and beans, microwave meals (once we finally bought a microwave from a yard sale down the street) and lentil pilaf.

courtesy of

I can't even recall a time when I cooked a full meal when I lived on my own after high school, while I was going to the state college in Denver.  I ate a lot of Top Ramen and macaroni and cheese.  Oh, and I drank a lot of orange juice.  Let's just say I didn't have the healthiest diet.  What I lacked in cooking skills I made up for in waiting tables at restaurants with good food.  Which led me to my husband.  He was in culinary school and we clicked.  Now, he worked a lot and so did I.  When we were home together, he made dinner.  Then came babies, and I still didn't know how to cook.  Many a mid-day argument ensued over the fact that I couldn't really think of what to have for dinner, let alone prepare it.

Well, thankfully that has changed, much to my husband's appreciation.  My desire to learn how to cook has grown.  My allergies as well as my daughter's soy and dairy intolerance as an infant made for adventures in cooking.  My father-in-law said it best in the beginning, after I'd make something to accommodate both my daughter and I.  I would say, "Try this, it's dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free!" and he'd chime in with, "and taste-free?"  Well, after many attempts at what I love ~ baking cookies and cakes, I have found success!  I have also discovered a desire to make good, nutritious meals for my family.  My husband worked two  jobs, days and nights for five months before we moved back to San Diego from the DC area and I had to prepare dinner five nights a week.  Let's just say that with a bit of inspiration from my mother-in-law (who worked full-time and cooked every night for a family of five, then cooked every night for us when we stayed there) and our cookbooks and gluten-free blogs, I only ordered out a handful of times!

Now, I cook a few times a week and contribute to many of our evening meal ideas.  I feel more like a cook than I ever did, though I still take hours to make my meals and my timing is still not so great.  Most of our meals are gluten-free, many are dairy-free (no butter at all really), and all are full of fresh veggies and nutritious ingredients.  Sure we eat out sometimes and order pizza occasionally for the kids - I get an antipasto salad.

Scrumptiously delicious GF chicken and dumplings
What I love more than making meals for my family, is when my husband and I get to make meals together.  A prime example of this, is our recent collaboration on gluten-free chicken and dumplings.  I must say, they turned out fabulously!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pictures can be deceiving

Ah, the pictures in the cookbooks can be so deceiving and they really truly are either "staged" or photo shopped...I swear.  My cooking never turns out like the pictures.  Most of my dishes come out looking like limp versions of the photos.  However, I am getting better at the whole presentation thing.

Here is the photo from the cookbook:

  Here is my finished product:

So, lighting aside, and minus the fancy-schmancy plates, they look pretty similar.  Tasted pretty darn good too.  I am no gourmand and I don't have any technique but I can say that I'm trying to make more tasty meals that my kids will eat.  I am not Martha Stewart or even Rachel Ray...just a mom with a mission - to make sure my kids grow up healthy, eating right and getting the best variety of foods possible.  We are capable of making our children well-rounded eaters and lovers of all kinds of food.  "Food explorers" is what my mom always called us.  We tried everything.  I'm proud to say my children eat their vegetables, fruits, liverwurst (my daughters' favorite), and they are willing to try anything.  I also must admit that in the spirit of being food explorers we've accidentally turned our son into a sushi lover.  Whenever we ask him what he'd like for dinner his answer is more often than not, "Sushi!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gluten-free Foodie

I must admit, I've always loved food.  Eating food is and has been one of my favorite pastimes.  Now, cooking the food, not so much.  Which is why the running joke is "That's why I married a chef!"  I have always been a better baker than a cook.  I make a mean spaghetti and meatballs and I've gotten quite good at making quiche; but still, my abilities as a honest-to-goodness cook are lacking.

No wheat, oats, barley, gluten or rye!

To make matters more interesting, I am gluten-intolerant.  I was born this way, as was my brother.  It wasn't until after my brother was born and had a more severe reaction that my mother realized I had the same intolerance.  For quite some time in my adolescence I was able to tolerate some gluten and didn't follow a gluten-free diet at all.  Needless to say, I probably should have.  After my son was born I had the hardest time with my gut.  I had to call in sick to work because I was in so much pain.  My brother suggested I cut out gluten for six weeks - ta da!  Lost that extra 20 pounds of baby weight and felt better than I had in a year!  Five years later and I'm still working out the kinks.

I have some great gluten-free cookbooks that give me ideas and inspirations.  Bette Hagman has a great book for beginners and I like my Incredibly Easy Gluten-Free Recipes book that I picked up while pounding the pavement for a job in DC.  Tonight, I am attempting Orange-Almond Chicken.  I don't cook all that often, much to the chagrin of my husband, but I am trying to make a greater effort.  My dishes don't usually turn out like the pictures in the book and they tend to be slightly under-seasoned.  I'm working on that too.  Baking however, as my passion, I've put a bit more effort into.  So, here I plan on sharing a few of my favorite things.

(Not mine by the way)
First, one thing that I have successfully mastered in the gluten-free baking department: pancakes!!

Here's my recipe:

1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. sorghum flour
1/4 c. potato starch
2 teaspoons tapioca starch
3 T sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 extra large eggs
1 c. milk (I use rice milk)
3 T vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk dry ingredients together, add wet ingredients and mix until smooth.  Heat skillet on medium heat, when hot coat with non-stick spray.  Use 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake, wait until bubbles form on top then flip.  Enjoy!!

I love these pancakes and so do my kids.  I make a batch and the kids have four to six apiece and I put the rest of the batter in squeeze bottles, put plastic over the tops and the batter keeps in the fridge for about three days.  It's better than the store bought mixes and cheaper too!  It may seem like it's a lot of different flours, but I assure you, all five are worth it.  

Now, to tackle my Orange-Almond Chicken for tonight.  I've never been a fan of touching raw chicken, but I gotta do what I've gotta do!  Stay tuned for the results and a picture to picture comparison...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I think I always wanted to be a mother, even before I knew what it meant (or took, for that matter) to be a mom.  When my parents used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "A mommy!"  I thought being a mom was the coolest thing in the world.  My mom used to tease me and say that she learned things in "Mom School."  I believed this so wholeheartedly that I even told friends I was going to Mom School for college.  I was in elementary school, so who could blame me for believing that there truly was a Mom School.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh
I don't think that I ever was really prepared for what motherhood truly encompassed.  You fear more, you worry, you love harder, you think of things you never would have considered before.  It's an amazing thing, being a mom.  We have this great responsibility and have to care for, love, protect and nourish until they are...well, until you aren't able to any longer.  18 is no longer the cut-off, we have to serve as a family unit, looking out for one another at unlikely times and in times of need, for the rest of our lives.

All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does.  That's his.  ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895 
Though my mother is very different from my mother-in-law, I see many commonalities.  Regardless of their differences, they are responsible for the person I am and for the person my husband is.  I am thankful for the man my husband is because I think he makes me a better mother.

So I reflect and lament on this Mother's Day, as my son finishes his first year of school and my daughter sits at the edge of turning four.  Being a mom is hard work, a full-time job; no one can truly tell you how it's done or give you a manual.  So I am learning as I go, with the wisdom from my very own Obi Wan Kanobi and the help of my best friend.  Though there are many nights I lie awake wondering, "Have I totally screwed things up?" there are more days that I can sit back and say, "So far, so good." 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Things First

So after much mulling over, I've decided to start blogging.  Not because I've deemed myself all important, I just have some important things to say.

I'm a wife and a mom, I write grants for a small non-profit in DC that helps low-income families become more self-sufficient.  I am also gluten-intolerant, which makes cooking meals in my house a bit more tricky and interesting.  I pay attention to politics because I believe that you can't complain about the system unless you participate in the system.  I love my children and I want the best in life for them.  I am an active participant in my son's school and plan on keeping it like that until my daughter graduates.  I don't really do PTA, though, there's only so much I can do.  I am a very lucky wife - my husband is a chef and makes the most incredible meals!  I'm working on the whole cooking thing myself...I must say, I'm getting better.

I am a sociologist at heart. I have a degree in Sociology and I studied social problems and poverty in college not necessarily because I wanted to write research papers and be published, but because I am fascinated with human behavior and society itself.  I see things that amaze me about ourselves, our nation and our society itself.

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I believe our children are our future, as corny as that may's a true fact we really can't navigate around with politics, fancy Hollywood movies, pundits, and wars.  Education is probably the most important and the most under-funded institution in this country.  There will be a point at which our children wont be able to compete in a "global economy" because we've left them in dust.  But, without a voice in politics, they might as well resort to trade schools and retail.  I vow to give my children a voice and make sure I make it a loud one!

Now, posts may come from my heart, my mind or just the bottom of my shoe - cause there is some stuff that I end up stepping in that I find worth sharing.

I do hope to make things entertaining...a bit of this, a bit of that, an occasional gluten-free recipe or tid bit from my amazing chef husband.  It may not be brilliant or inspiring, but it just may be...Reid Me! to find out.