Posted on | October 4, 2011 | 13 Comments
It seems like there are so many new sitcoms on this television season. There’s New Girl, Happy Endings, How to Be a Gentleman, and Whitney. Most of them are pretty funny too. There was one show in particular that I wanted to like so badly, mostly because of the cast, and that was 2 Broke Girls with Kat Dennings.
2 Broke Girls is about a rich girl named Caroline (Beth Behrs), whose father loses all of their money, forcing her to move in with Max (Dennings), who comes from a working-class family and works at a diner in Brooklyn. Okay, it sounds like a pretty good setup, albeit a little clichéd and perhaps a The Odd Couple wannabe. It has potential though.
Watching the first two episodes was painful. The writing was lame, the acting was forced, and the comedic timing was completely off. But still, I liked Kat Dennings enough to continue watching. I’d seen her be funny before and knew that there was a chance that the creators (Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, star of Whitney) would turn it around.
Nope. They didn’t. Within the first five minutes of the third episode, I switched the channel over to PBS to watch Prohibition.
Let’s set the scene. Max and Caroline are at the diner, working as usual. Caroline approaches Max and says that one of their customers has asked if they have anything gluten-free. Max’s reply is, “Tell her she’s not allergic to gluten. She’s just masking an eating disorder.”
I wanted to puke.
I understand that television shows nowadays have to find ways to be edgy and funny. Nothing can be considered “crossing the line” anymore, which in certain ways is a very good thing. I was never one for being “politically correct.” This, to me, doesn’t excuse television from its responsibility to those watching. Television can be a great way of spreading awareness and understanding. It can also, however, spread bigoted beliefs and misconceptions unlike any other medium.
For example, a lot of people could have walked away from this episode of 2 Broke Girls, thinking that those of us with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances are just using it as a cover for an eating disorder. When they had the chance to spread even the smallest bit of awareness that there are those with special dietary needs out there, they instead made a mockery of it.
In my personal opinion, the comment is doubly offensive because of the way it treats those with eating disorders, as though their problems are something about which we can joke. Maybe some people find this kind of humor funny. I don’t think humor that is hurtful to any group of people is funny. Period.
I’m not saying that I expect Celiac Disease or eating disorders to be represented our favorite comedies or dramas. However, I would appreciate it if they refrained from spreading anymore misconceptions in the future.
If I were ever treated this way in a restaurant or bakery, I’d leave and never come back. And when I’m treated this way on television, I change the channel and erase past episodes from my DVR.
Posted on | June 29, 2011 | 3 Comments
Last night, I was sent a tweet that contained a link that apparently had “gluten free secrets.” The nosy person that I am had to open the link immediately to see what these secrets were. Maybe I was missing out on some huge gluten-free secret that would change my life forever. But the second I took my first glimpse, I knew I wasn’t missing out on anything. It was an advertisement for a book called Gluten Free Living Secrets. The header of the page said, “Who else wants to lose weight, enjoy perfect skin and experience limitless energy? All by eliminating just one basic ingredient from your diet…”
Okay, I was alarmed when celebrities started going on the gluten-free diet to lose weight. I feared that the gluten-free market would transform into a bunch of money-hungry manufacturers looking to slap a gluten-free label on their products to make a pretty penny—not to assure the health of its customers. Let me just say this. There is no research that lends itself to the hypothesis that eliminating gluten from one’s diet will help you lose weight. People without any kind of intolerance to gluten are probably seeing results because they are cutting out calories and some carbohydrates from their diets. We also have to consider the fact that many gluten-free products are also organic and, therefore, healthier.
Each individual with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance reacts to gluten differently. Some of us have trouble losing weight until we start the gluten-free diet. Others actually have trouble gaining weight until they have been gluten-free for some time. I am of the latter sort. At my current weight of 104 pounds, if the gluten-free diet caused me to lose any weight, I would eventually shrivel up and die. I was even thinner before I started the diet, a very sickly double-digit number. The gluten-free diet has allowed the villi in my small intestine to become healthy and functional again, thus allowing me to absorb the nutrients that I need and gain weight, slowly but surely. Interestingly, when some us of go on the gluten-free diet, we gain because we finally feel well enough to eat in larger portions.
The advertisement goes on to say:
“Are you sick and tired of trying every weight loss program out there and failing to see results? Or are you frustrated with not feeling as energetic as you used to despite what you eat? Perhaps you always seem to have a bit of a ‘dodgy stomach’ and indigestion seems to be a regular part of your life?
There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a nice big plate of pasta and enjoying your meal only to be met with a growling stomach and the inevitable rush to the toilet.
It’s that bloated feeling you get after eating a piece of bread that just ‘doesn’t seem right’. Almost as if you’ve eaten something poisonous.
For years I thought I just had a weak stomach and was resigned to a life of low energy and a feeling of just being sick all the time.”
Not once has the writer, Katy Miller, mentioned any kind of Celiac Disease diagnosis or gluten intolerance. She seems to suggest that gluten is “poisonous” to everyone, or that everyone experiences these adverse effects when they ingest gluten, even though the symptoms she mentions are the exact symptoms I experienced before my own Celiac diagnosis. She makes this explicit later when she says, “Here’s the thing… we are not supposed to eat gluten. Our bodies can’t process it properly and it is quite literally treated as a poison when it enters our system. The reality is that the human body can habituate to anything and we become ‘used to the feeling’ and eventually not even aware of the harm it’s doing us.” However, I know plenty of people who consume gluten on a normal basis and feel completely fine. They don’t experience the bloating or stomach pains that Miller is describing. The countless food blogs I follow that are not gluten-free show healthy, fit individuals, who don’t fall into the hype or promises of the magic gluten-free diet.
Miller also claims to have done two years worth of research on this subject. I would love to see this research. What has her research shown her? She just casually mentions that she’s done the research, so you should believe what she’s telling you. Yes, I’ve done two years of research so you should believe me when I say that gluten is poison for everyone. Honestly, I’m extremely offended by this. I feel like she’s telling me that Celiac Disease doesn’t exist. Gluten is just bad for everyone. Oh, I’ve been just so stupid for the past four years, thinking I had this disease that the doctor told me I had when really I’m just like everyone else. The only difference is that they don’t have any symptoms.
What frighten me are the other two claims in the headline. Perfect skin? I’ve been gluten-free for nearly four years and my skin definitely isn’t perfect. I haven’t noticed any change in it since I’ve started my diet either. I definitely don’t want people thinking that this is some cosmetic decision. I’m not gluten-free because I want a clear complexion or a tiny waist. I’m gluten-free to be healthy. I’m gluten-free so I can someday have children, so I won’t have early-onset osteoporosis or cancer, so I can spend as much time being with my loved ones and feeling good.
The other assertion is that you will have more energy once you’ve gone gluten-free. This might be true, but chances are it’s because you have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. So please, I’m begging anyone who will ever see this post or this blog; please, don’t fall for all of the hype. I urge anyone suffering the symptoms Katy Miller has described to be tested for Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance and to find the real causes of these symptoms.
Stay healthy and stay informed.
Posted on | June 1, 2011 | 4 Comments
I thought a lot of different things about my life once I graduated. I thought I would finish writing cover letters and applying for jobs. I thought I’d have at least one job interview at this point. I thought I’d go straight from school work to real work. I even thought I would take time to update this blog more frequently, to become inspired once more. I feel like I’m always apologizing for my lazy ways, but never find the will to actually change them. But here I am now with more food to share with you.
Ever since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I haven’t really frequented many fast food establishments. I’ll admit that Taco Bell does hold a special place in my heart and that McDonald’s is good for an order of large fries when time and options are lacking. But what I missed the most was Kentucky Fried Chicken with its flaky original recipe fried chicken and those seemingly synthetic but oddly pleasant mashed potatoes. It’s the guilty pleasures from my past that still pull at me even now that I’m nearing my fourth gluten-free anniversary.
So Mama was determined to make gluten-free fried chicken and mashed potatoes one weekend.
We used Choice Batter to coat our chicken. It’s certified gluten-free and made in a facility free of gluten, egg, dairy, nut, soy, shellfish, and fish. The batter is also said to absorb fifty percent less oil than most wheat-containing batters.
So after coating our chicken in egg and batter, Mama fried them up.
Alongside mashed potatoes made from our favorite Yukon gold potatoes, the fried chicken looked far more appetizing than this photo might depict–returning home also meant leaving the nice lighting of our apartment living room at Rider. While the meat was tender and juicy when your teeth sank in, the coating was crunchy, as as the batter claims, not very oily. My fingers came away with only crumbs, not with the slick sheen normally caused by fried foods of the greasy sort.
To be honest, it was better than KFC ever was (or at least how I’d built it up in my head during the past four years). Though we had a wonderful meal–and a plethora of leftovers–our Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner was incomplete without the biscuits. This will be our next challenge. I can’t wait.
Posted on | April 28, 2011 | 2 Comments
I’ve never done so much writing in my life, and somehow none of it has gotten here, where I want to see it the most. A whole semester of food writing class, and I haven’t been able to make a single post. I really shouldn’t even be posting now. God knows I have more than enough papers to write for next week along with copyediting for Cineaste. But my final semester at Rider is coming to a close. I have my cap and gown sitting in my closet, and two weeks from tomorrow I’ll be receiving my diploma. A B.A. in English Literature. Magna Cum Laude–not Suma thanks to sociological imagination. Today was my last day of class, my last day of work over at Grad Ed. Yesterday was my last day of food writing and Dr. Goldie.
I’m stuck. My brain is telling me to get my work done. The sooner I get my work done, the sooner I can get home, the sooner I can take a breath. College has always been a race for me, where the finish line is that moment when I walk into my house and hug my mom as tightly as I possibly can. She doesn’t know this, but I cry just a tiny bit every time I make it to that finish line, just enough so that a tear just quivers on my eyelid before I pull myself back together and straighten my spine again.
But there’s another part of me that says to stay here, to cherish every moment we have left before we don the caps and gowns we’ve stowed away, out of sight. I feel nauseous and woozy, thinking that I won’t see my girls as often as I do now. These are the people who healed me when I felt so alone on this campus, so sick and miserable with the gluten contamination from the dining hall. They’re the people I’ll be most proud to see succeed after leaving Rider, the ones that will reduce me to uncharacteristic tears as they walk at commencement. The ones I’ll miss the most.
I’m sorry I stopped sharing my life with all of you, who also healed me by accepting me into this community of gluten-free bloggers and, most importantly, gluten-free eaters. I can’t tell you how quickly the past four months have gone, a semester that sometimes seemed as though it would never end, gone in a whirlwind of paper and ink.
I’m sorry that my mind wasn’t always on food. I don’t have any pictures or recipes to share with you now. But I will. For now, I can only share this semester’s best memory: the senior ball. I can tell you that I ate salmon with potatoes and green beans and a Caesar salad. But the night wasn’t about the food. It was about the girls sitting at the table with me.
P.S. The lovely photos were taken by the equally lovely Rachel Gouk. <3
Posted on | January 22, 2011 | 5 Comments
It’s no secret that I have been less than inspired to write these past few weeks. I’ll admit that my final winter break caused me to fall into a pattern of laziness once more. This pattern involves waking up, spending some hours on the computer with random shenanigans, moving downstairs to have a late breakfast, watch some television (especially when Oxygen is showing marathons of Roseanne all day), have an awkwardly placed lunch at about 2:30 p.m. and finally hang out with my mother at night. My new year was not filled with resolutions, but with kicking back and enjoying the last chunk of time I will be able to simply do nothing before graduating from Rider.
This only changed when I came upon a post by Lauren, affectionately known as Celiac Teen. This month, she is hosting Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free!, a monthly event created by Naomi Devlin of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried, in which bloggers post recipes related to a theme chosen by the host. Lauren has chosen a fantastic theme: Follow the Calendar.
January has so many great days dedicated to fantastic food. January 4th is National Spaghetti Day, the 11th is Milk Day and just two days ago was National Cheese Lovers Day. Can you imagine a whole day dedicated to cheese? I’d have a bit of a tummy-ache due to a slight lactose intolerance, but it would be glorious nonetheless.
Needless to say, I picked my day on the calendar and became inspired once more. Today, my friends, is National Blonde Brownie Day. I can’t tell you how many times I go to restaurants where they have these amazing looking blondies on their dessert menus, usually with warm caramel and some whipped cream. Though I’ve gotten over my food-envy, I’m always on the alert for foods that I realize I miss quite a bit so I can recreate them in a new, gluten-free way.
Besides being National Blonde Brownie Day, today is also the day I move back to Rider University for my final semester as an undergraduate student. And tonight, we’re celebrating a certain birthday. So what better way to spend such a day than sharing and eating the gluten-free blondies I made just yesterday? After moving back into the dorm and unpacking everything, blondies are the perfect way to start off the semester. And the recipe is so easy that it’s probable that we’ll be enjoying plenty of blondies throughout this upcoming semester.
Gluten-Free Blondies (Adapted from the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe)
2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I still use the Ahern Mix)
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Mix your eggs, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.
Add in your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) and mix together to make a dough.
Here’s where we can vary. Yesterday, I decided to add in chocolate chips because I have quite the sweet tooth. These would be good without any additions, but I’ve also been toying around with the idea of adding cashews. Play around with it and find what you like. So mix in whatever you’d like to add to your blondies.
Place mixture into an 8×8 baking pan.
Bake in the oven at 350° F for twenty-five minutes or until the edges brown.
Let them cool, and there you have it! Cut them into squares and serve. With chocolate chips, these warm treats are very sweet (though I do think I might have added too many chocolate chips this time around). Even when they cool down, they remain soft and gooey in the middle while the top stays nice and crispy.
A word to the wise, however…don’t leave these lovely treats in the pan too long or you’ll have some trouble getting them out. It was a struggle, but we managed to do so without mangling them too much. We wrapped them so they would be ready for today’s birthday shenanigans. National Blonde Brownie Day might just have to be my favorite food holiday (though it has pretty tough competition with National Cheese Lovers Day), especially when I get to bring food with me back to Rider to share with the ladies.
I wish all of you a happy National Blonde Brownie Day. And good luck to those of you starting up a new semester!
Posted on | January 20, 2011 | No Comments
Last night I looked out the window in our foyer to find a package on the front steps. I’ve been expecting quite a few packages thanks to past and upcoming birthdays (Keri turns twenty-two on Sunday!). I should have been expecting a package from Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery after having received an email from them a couple weeks ago. In my post-holiday/pre-birthday rush, I had completely forgotten about it. So when I saw the label on the side of the box, I was pleasantly surprised and gleefully skipped into the kitchen.
Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery has started up the Spread the Bread program, which is geared towards raising money for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) “to help in their efforts to better education physicians in the diagnosis of Celiac Disease.” I don’t think I need to go on about how important this is. I’ve heard so many horror stories about people who went from doctor to doctor for years before finally being correctly diagnosed. I was incredibly lucky. It seemed the second I decided to find out what was wrong with me, I knew. More physicians who are educated about Celiac Disease would make it possible for others to be as lucky as I was. Others can find their way to health before experiencing some of the more serious consequences of untreated Celiac Disease.
So Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery is giving one dollar (up to $20,000) to the NFCA’s Continuing Medical Education (CMU) program for every one dollar coupon downloaded on their website and their Facebook page.
Along with the information about their Spread The Bread program. Rudi’s sent out free loaves of their gluten-free bread, sandwich boxes, magnets and coupons. I was excited to receive their gluten-free multi-grain bread. It smelled and felt fresh. I know those of us who don’t always make our own bread are used to very stiff bread that is only edible if toasted. Some have resigned themselves to believing that being gluten-free means being bread-free. Rudi’s rejuvenates my hope that store-bought gluten-free bread can be delicious and fresh.
Already having had dinner, I left the bread for the next morning and went to sleep dreaming of sandwiches, toast and multi-grain satisfaction.
This morning, however, I would no longer bar myself from what I most wanted. Curious about the taste of the bread, I took a piece and ate it straight. I didn’t toast it or cover it in lunch-meat. I just ate it. And it was good. It was soft, textured, and it tasted real. There’s so much that I want to do with this bread. I wanted every possible kind of sandwich I could possibly think of. We’re currently lacking in sandwich fillers at the moment, so I decided to go with a classic for breakfast: buttered toast. It’s so simple and so perfectly satisfying.
I’ve never been so happy to have toast. Rudi’s gluten-free bread is made of all natural ingredients and you can tell. There’s none of that over-processed Wonder-bread taste. Besides the multigrain, you can also get their original sandwich and cinnamon raisin. So please head on over to the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery website to download your one dollar coupon and Spread the Bread!
Posted on | December 12, 2010 | 2 Comments
This hiatus has been brought to you by Rider University. Luckily, I have time for a short post about one of my favorite products.
The end of the semester brings on the same doubts and fears as midterms. It’s also the time where studying and preparing and perfecting papers becomes more important than your social life, physical appearance (haven’t worn heels in days) and your health. That final stretch towards the finish line is a long one, and I find that food becomes important only as sustenance in order to keep studying and writing and revising. I load up on snacks that I can hoard in my room while working, liked pretzels and hummus, which leads to web-cam shenanigans like this:
As you can see, my brain isn’t exactly functioning too well during this crucial time.
Food has to be quick and accessible to the max now, at the expense of this blog. When food shopping, I wasn’t thinking about what I can make this week like I usually am. I was thinking about what would be easiest, what would fill me and what would keep me alert and functioning
at least a little bit. This, along with the sudden winter cold, led to me buying a decent amount of soup.
I love soup when the frigid air leaves me frozen long after coming indoors. But being gluten free makes it challenging to find great soups that I can just shove in the microwave and enjoy. I used to love Campbell’s broccoli cheese soup, but once I was diagnosed, that went out the window. Wegmans, as per usual, comes to the rescue. I find all of my favorite gluten free products at Wegmans, my crackers, cookies and pretzels, even my hummus. Their frozen section even houses my favorite chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and frozen pizzas all of which define a college student’s diet. But my favorite thing about Wegmans is their soup. Wegmans has a bunch of different flavors, but my favorite is their Broccoli and Vermont White Cheddar soup.
See that little “G” on the left? Wegmans marks their soups with Gluten-free labels along with other allergies when they apply. It’s makes my shopping much easier. I hate looking at soup can after soup can, hoping that there isn’t any wheat flour listed in the ingredients and getting let down over and over again.
Of course, convenience is great, but what good is it if the soup doesn’t taste good? I try to save this soup for the coldest of days because it warms me immediately. Cheese and broccoli is the most genius combination in the world (besides chocolate and potato chips). This soup gives you nice whole pieces of broccoli too, which is really tasty. It’s a warm hearty soup, perfect for the sudden winter chill and the end of semester rush.
I always put some of my favorite Schär table crackers in my soup and let them soak. Yum!
Check out some of Wegmans’ other gluten-free options so that when the winter wind comes howling and final exams are knocking on your door, there’s a quick, easy and delicious way to satisfy your hunger.
Good luck to those of you going through finals right now!
Posted on | November 17, 2010 | 9 Comments
Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. You know those days where you just feel down on yourself? Well, I’ve been having those. I can’t explain why it happens, but it does. Perhaps the semester has been getting to me, along with the work and the fact that I barely see my girls now that I don’t go to the dining hall everyday. I spend a lot of time in my apartment and it feels as though I’m missing out on certain things. When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt despondent and lonely. I could have slept all day had I not had to go to work. But before I went to work, I picked a book off of my shelf, just in case I had some down time. It was the best decision I made all day. You see, I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love.”
I know I’m a little late to jump on this boat. I’ve been meaning to read the book and see the film, two things that I hadn’t done as of yesterday morning. I don’t usually have time to read outside of what I read for classes. My heart leaped at the idea of reading for fun again. So I eagerly grabbed the book and shoved it in my purse before running out the front door. And as I thought, graduate education wasn’t roaring with activity and provided me with the time to sit and read.
“Eat Pray Love” is Liz’s story about her travels to Italy, India and Indonesia and how she tries to balance worldly pleasures with spirituality. She heals as she travels. I find that reading her witty prose helps me to heal along with her. She makes me want to travel, to get out of the country and to experience the world around her the way she does.
Of course, I can exactly do that. Lacking the resources and the time, I had to think of something else that would bring my spirits up. In her novel, Liz obviously writes quite a bit about food. So food was what I would turn to. For a while now, I’ve been seeing everyone’s posts about pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Then Sam’s mom made us pumpkin butter and I knew I had to make something with pumpkin (Ask any of my roommates…I’ve been saying this a long time.). I decided to make pumpkin cookies along with some cream cheese frosting.
I decided to base my cookies on the Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies recipe that Libby Pumpkin posted on Very Best Baking. I’m not confident enough to make my own recipes yet, but did improvise a little bit on the recipe. For this you’ll need:
2 1/2 cups Gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use the Ahern All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix)
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (I love Cinnamon!)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of Butter, softened
1 cup Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix your flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in one bowl until uniform in color.
In another bowl, mix your softened butter and sugar. Then add in the pumpkin. If you’re having trouble mixing your butter and sugar (for those of us who are too lazy use the mixer), add the pumpkin in early. It helped me to have more wet ingredients when mixing everything. Then add your egg and beat until smooth. Do the same with the vanilla extract. Gradually add your dry ingredients and mix until you get a smooth dough. The dough is pretty loose but very sticky.
The recipe suggests plopping 1 tablespoon worth of dough on the baking sheet as one cookie. I made bigger, thicker cookies. So if you make them thicker like mine, you’ll want to bake them at 350° for about 25 minutes instead of 15.
Since I made mine thicker, the outside got firm while the inside, though cooked, was still nice and soft. The cinnamon and pumpkin taste are so warm and reminiscent of Autumn. They’re not too sweet, so for those of you who like a mild cookie, this is perfect.
Libby’s recipe also calls for a glaze, but I thought it might be interesting to try a cream cheese frosting with the pumpkin cookies. Cream cheese frosting is great because it’s so thick and rich that you only need a little bit of it to sweeten whatever it is that you’re eating it with.
Cream cheese frosting is really easy to make, as I found out thanks to the Food Network recipe for it. You’ll need:
4 ounces Unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
I didn’t exactly follow Food Network’s directions on this one. Again, I’m too lazy to use the mixer because that ultimately means more to clean once I’m done. So I just used a spatula to mix my butter and cream cheese together. Once they were smoothly mixed, I sifted the powdered sugar one cup at a time (as the recipes recommends). The vanilla extract came last. Mix it all and there you go!
Eating the soft, warm cookies with the cooled cream cheese frosting really brightened my spirits. I even took them down the hall to share with the girls, feeling inspired by food to leave my apartment at least for a little bit. I can now look at myself in the mirror and say, “You’re okay.” I’m okay. I have a great life and there’s no reason to get down about it. And when I get lonely, I can enter the kitchen and all of those feelings are gone. I go back to being myself and life continues. Don’t you hate those days when you feel like doing nothing but moping and eating chocolate ice cream? If you’re in a rut like I was, indulge in making something new and delicious. Vigorously beating dough is a great way to get rid of some of that angst!
The next time I feel this way, I think I’ll also turn to Elizabeth Gilbert again. Someday, I want to travel the world to learn and write about it just as she does. It would be pretty liberating to say the least. For now, though, I’m going to focus on staying healthy and happy and devouring these pumpkin cookies.
Posted on | November 9, 2010 | 7 Comments
How was everyone’s Halloween? Mine was cold, but fun. Going to NYC to walk in the parade was so much fun. I’ll admit it; I was a bit of a sourpuss when the wind started howling. It was so cold I could barely walk (thanks to the loss of feeling in my extremities). I probably looked pretty ridiculous, trying to walk to the subway station with my limbs going all willy-nilly. But that’s what I get for buying a skimpy, girl costume, right? (Never again. I’ve learned my lesson.) But then, once we got inside from the cold (and a drink in me) I was feeling fine once again.
I II was a pirate this year and a pretty good lookin’ one thanks to Kat’s makeup (visit her makeup blog here).
With the passing of Halloween, most people’s minds immediately go to Thanksgiving. Not mine. Though the holiday most centered on food does linger there in the background, there’s one thing that comes first: Lily’s birthday. With one sister living in Baltimore, another at school in New York City and me at Rider U, our youngest sister’s birthday is one thing that brings us all home at the same time. So the clan returns home for birthday festivities, a whole weekend full of food and fun.
Lily is very special. She’s autistic. Growing up with an autistic sister is really different. My mother was told that Lily would never be affectionate or have any kind of imaginative play. I’m not going to lie; there were times when she pushed me away and I felt pretty hurt, despite understanding that she had no intention of hurting anybody’s feelings. But there are also moments where she surprises you with a hug or a kiss or just wants to hold your hand or say hello. It’s moments like those that shoo any doubts or woes away.
In high school, I spent nearly every afternoon babysitting Lily, and she’s taught me so much. Sometimes I feel more like a parent to her than her sister, but that’s okay because it means that when it’s time for me to step up and take care of her, I’ll be ready to do so along with Molly and Caitlin. I know her routines (of which she has many), most of her favorite television quotes, how to prepare her lunch, where to pick her up at school, and how to get her ready for bed. I know her case manager and I’ve met every teacher she’s ever had. I go to her school meetings and parties. I’ve become more confident in myself because I’ve seen who I can be for her. I’m positive that I would be a completely different person if I had never known her.
So her thirteenth birthday had to be super special. Trust me; it was.
Saturday, we all went to the movies to see Megamind. I’m going to tell you right now to go see it because it was one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen. Lily had some of her friends from school and the theater was nice enough to let us come in before opening to have the theater to ourselves. The staff was incredibly accommodating and really understanding. It was amazing and everyone had a great time.
Sunday, we had the family over and boy did we party! Mom decided that we would have a bunch of appetizers out throughout the party and then dessert. Since it’s getting so cold out, I drifted towards the warm hors d’ oeuvres, specifically the seafood dip that my genius mother makes. Served with crackers, this dip is the best for any kind of gathering because it’s easy to make, and it’s sure to be a hit. The crab, clam, melted cheddar and cream cheese are so perfect together.
For this recipe you’ll need:
16 oz. Cream Cheese
16 oz. Crab Lump
13 oz. Chopped Clam
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (as much as you want!)
This is the easiest dip to make. All you have to do is throw it all in your pan, mix it together and put the stove’s heat on low. You want to warm it up until the cheddar cheese starts melting. You can serve it as soon as this is finished. However, if you’re making a bunch of different dishes, you might want to make this a little earlier. If that’s the case, once you’re done heating it up, put your oven on 250°F, pour your dip into an oven-safe bowl and leave to keep warm.
This is one of those dishes that’s so pleasing because everything just melts together so perfectly. The clams and crab meat add a nice texture to the dip as well. Serving them with gluten-free crackers is a great way to make a really easy and delicious snack or appetizer. To be honest, I could eat this dip without any cracker. It’s that good.
I only wish that Lily would eat something like this dip. She only eats a small group of foods: french fries, pizza, waffles, potato chips, cinnamon bread and perhaps a few snacks here and there. Sometimes we consider trying a gluten-free diet with her, but there’s always that fear that she’ll eat even less than she already does. As she’s gotten older, it seems she’s more open to trying new foods. That’s the way it is with her. She learns to try new things, and we come to new phases in her life. There’s always a new challenge to overcome. Maybe as she continues to grow, we’ll be able to introduce more foods for her. Her life is hard enough as it is. I can’t imagine not being able to enjoy food. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be reporting to you a year from now, telling you that she’s eating a wider variety of foods. I definitely hope so.
Speaking of next year, I know what I’m getting Lily for her next birthday:
There’s one thing that I’m sure of. No matter how old Lily gets, she will always be our little baby. Let’s not mention that she’s nearly as tall as me and can now officially be called a teenager. No, I guess I have to face the facts. Lily is growing up into a beautiful young woman. Though there are times where that scares the living daylights out of me, I can’t imagine being anywhere else than by her side, watching, learning and loving.
To donate money or time to autism reasearch, check out Autism Speaks.
Posted on | October 30, 2010 | 1 Comment
Two posts ago, I wrote about why I love my body and how I’m going to do right by it. Well, when I sat down and took a look at what I was eating, I realized that I was over-doing the potatoes and pasta and wasn’t getting enough, if any, protein. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat that often. And for a person my height and weight, sixty-four grams of protein a day is recommended. So when I went food shopping this week, I was looking for all I could that would bulk me up with the daily value of protein. I bought Greek yogurt, Bell & Evans Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders, hummus, sliced turkey, anything I could. I have to say, I felt a lot better this week than I had the week before. It really made a difference during a very stressful week, filled with homework, internship work and GRE studying.
However, I know that I’ll get sick of these foods if I only eat them and have no variety over the next couple of weeks. So when my mom suggested finally making egg salad this morning, I was thrilled (I’d been craving it for weeks…My body clearly knows what it wants.). Eggs are interesting in that there always seems to be some debate going on about them. Some say not to eat them because they’re high in cholesterol; others say to eat them because they’re high in protein. Each egg has around six grams of protein. I’m going to go with those who say eat them. Eggs are also easy to make. Throw them in a pan with some butter or oil and shuffle them around a bit, maybe put some cheese on it. Or make them sunny-side up! Or boil them. Or mash them and make them into egg salad like I did!
Egg salad is really easy to make and if you’re making for just yourself, you can put it in the refrigerator and eat it throughout the week. This is one of my favorite recipes because when my mom makes it for me and my sisters, it’s always a treat. It has been since we were kids. Lunch was such an easy choice when we had a bowl of homemade egg salad in the fridge. So now I can make it for myself and enjoy it even when I’m away from home.
For this recipe you’ll need:
3/4 cup of Mayonnaise
*Some people like celery in their egg salad too. If you’re one of these people, feel free to add in some chopped up celery for an added crunch to your egg salad.
Like I said, nice and simple. Put your eggs carefully into a pot and fill the pot with cold water until it reaches right above the eggs. Put the pot on the stove and the heat on high until the water comes to a boil. Once it’s boiling, bring the temperature down low and let the eggs simmer for twenty minutes.
After that, take your eggs off of the heat and carefully pour out as much of the hot water as you possibly can without losing any of your eggs. Fill the pot with cold water and ice and let the eggs cool.
Now it’s time to peel the shells off! This can be a pretty annoying chore, but sometimes doing it under running water helps. Try to get the running water underneath the shell. As you do this, put the peeled eggs in whatever container in which you plan to keep your egg salad.
This is the best part. After adding as much salt and pepper as you’d like, get your masher and beat away at those boiled eggs. This is where egg salads can vary. I like mine with a lot of egg white still intact. But sometimes you might want your egg salad to be smoother. So mash as much as you’d like until the eggs are where you want them to be.
Here’s where the mayo comes in. I love mayo. It’s probably one of my favorite condiments. So add your 3/4 cup of mayonnaise into the eggs and begin to mix. You might want to add more or less depending on how you like you egg salad, so play around with it.
Then your egg salad is complete! Eat some immediately or if you don’t like it room temperature, shove it in the fridge until it cools. I put my egg salad on a gluten-free roll and had a great lunch.
Doesn’t that look good? Eating it with a soft roll reminds me of those days when I could have fluffy, gluten-filled white bread, but it tastes better and is better for my body. It just evokes those memories of eating mom’s egg salad as a kid, bringing it to school or having it for lunch after playing outside. There are so many different ways to eat egg salad. You could serve it as a spread with gluten-free crackers. I used to eat my egg salad on a bagel sometimes. It’s even good to eat by itself with a spoon. No matter what you decide, it’s going to be delicious.
For those of you trying to add protein to your diet, don’t forget about the incredible, edible egg.
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