June 22, 2015

Travel Tip #12 – Cold Soups Vary in Different Countries

BowlIf you maintain a gluten-free regimen, it’s good to know that cold soups vary in different countries. It’s easy to assume that cold soups are lighter and less likely to be thickened with flour than a hot soup. Whether you’re in the US or traveling around the world, that can be a dangerous assumption.

I love a crisp, cold gazpacho. In the US, you really don’t even need to ask if it’s gluten-free unless it’s marketed as a traditional Spanish version or is garnished with croutons. American gazpacho recipes begin with fresh vegetables and most often contain tomatoes or tomato juice as a base.
Tomatoes
In Spain, the traditional liquid-salad gazpacho recipes begin with pieces of stale bread blended with olive oil, vinegar, and ice water. They may or may not contain tomatoes. In La Mancha, a hot meat stew is called gazpacho manchego. When traveling in Europe, be sure to ask before you assume the gazpacho is gluten-free or even cold.

In the US, borscht recipes are sometimes gluten-free as many are in Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania, but some versions in the US are thickened with flour and many variations in Poland and Romania contain rye bread, dumplings, wheat bran, or barley bran. Be sure to verify, borscht before ordering anywhere.

Vichyssoise sounds very fancy and French, but seems to have been invented in the US. This cold mixture of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock gets its thickness from the potatoes and leeks leaving no need for an additional thickening agent. When you’re outside the US, it’s good to ask since this fact may get lost in translation.
peas
As the weather heats up, chefs around the world create delicious cold soup combinations. The majority are filled with perfect pairings of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. I know you can’t wait to enjoy a taste, but take a moment to ask if it’s gluten-free. It’s still better to be safe than sorry.

http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/id/64/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazpacho

June 16, 2015

Feel like a chef? Be a chef.

Feel like a chef? Be a chef. Last week I had the privilege of leading a Cooking at College session for some teens in a College Bound program. The students were broken into 4 teams. Each team prepared 2 different Cooking2Thrive recipes, then presented and served them to the rest of the students plus parents and staff. Chef’s hats were provided for everyone.
chef thomas
Before we even got started, it was clear that some of the students already felt like chefs. They grabbed a hat and chattered about things they like to cook. There was no need to encourage them to begin; they were ready to show off their skills!

Asked about his favorite thing to cook, one young chef readily admitted he had never cooked anything. He said this with a smile, his head held high, and eagerness to get to the cooking. He wanted to be a chef. He saw himself as a chef. He had full confidence that he would excel at preparing his dish.

Others weren’t so sure at the beginning. After they read their recipes, made a shopping list, and procured ingredients at our “store,” they began to get comfortable. Eventually, they too felt like chefs although they never donned the hats. In fact, once they hit their stride, they challenged me to a taste test — their tomato soup vs. my tomato soup.
store
One chef assured the group that she deserved applause for having baked them Parmesan Crisp Mini Pizzas. Even though they had yet to taste her contribution, she successfully solicited the applause she desired. She clearly was in charge of her kitchen!

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of chaos, occasional frustration, and some necessary regrouping here and there, but overall it was clear to see that as the students participated in the process, they gained the confidence to see themselves as something they’d never been before.
group
That is the joy of trying something new! Through the process, our world opens to possibilities we never imagined. We may take an introductory flight lesson and begin to see ourselves as a pilot. We may try out a pottery wheel and begin to see ourselves as a potter. We may begin to run each day and eventually sign up for a marathon. We may try a yoga class and eventually become an instructor. We may feel compelled to share the story of a friend’s struggle and become a documentary filmmaker. Or, maybe we prepare one delicious meal when we feel like a chef.

My favorite moment of the day was when a student decided to taste the left-over French fry casserole he’d just finished cooking. His look of surprise, appreciation, and accomplishment as he exclaimed, “Ooo, that’s good!”, was priceless. You could literally see it register with him that he had created something delicious. In that moment, he felt like a chef and I felt his joy.

Luckily for all of us, joy is even more delicious than the very best food! I wish you a boatload of it.

Download video of student cooking techniques here:
Tomato Soup
French Fry Casserole
Banana Pudding

June 9, 2015

Beer Goggles vs Fear Goggles

Beer goggles vs fear goggles – which are worse? Fear fascinates me. I see its effects in my choices. I feel it intensely at the most unexpected moments. I feel its power over my interactions with those who are afraid. I’ve seen fear prevent compassionate parenting, business success, relationship longevity, personal satisfaction, creative achievement, and informed healthcare choices, not to mention joy, peace, and happiness.

fear

Fear Goggles


I don’t think much about beer, but I have spent many an afternoon at happy hour trying to alleviate the deep feeling of restlessness I carried with me for the much of my life. My friends and I spent a lot of money on expensive wine. We formed bonds with our favorite bartenders. We talked too loud, cussed too much, and went home too late. A lot of it was fun and sometimes it momentarily colored how I saw things.
beer

Beer Goggles


So, which leaves you worse for the wear – beer or fear?
-Both can affect how you perceive the situation around you.
-Both can keep you from exercising good judgement.
-Both can hold you back at work.
-Both can create strife within your family.
-Both can cause you embarrassment.
-Both make some people aggressive and obnoxious.
-Both make some people withdrawn and sullen.
-Both can make you physically ill.
-Both can leave you feeling exhausted.
-Both can cause you to drive erratically.
-Both can wreak havoc on your finances.
-Both can result in ill-advised liaisons.
-Both can cause you to feel shame.
-Both can create a monster boss, husband, wife, or teen.
-Both can lead to a betrayal of trust.
-Both can cause you to neglect your responsibilities.
-Both can be toxic.
-Both come with interesting labels.
-A little of either can have a positive effect.
-Enough of either can paralyze you.
-Either can bring you to destroy your life.

The biggest difference I can see is that beer is an option and fear is unavoidable.

In fact, it is precisely this difference that makes it critical for us to be aware of, and have a strategy for handling, our fear. If we do not, it can easily spiral out of control or leave us feeling numb. Left unattended, fear can sap our strength, our power, our resolve, and our joy as fast as any addiction leading us to make unhealthy choices or preventing us from making healthy ones.

Embraced, fear offers us a mechanism for both protection and improvement. It signals to let us know where our boundaries are. We then have a choice to honor that boundary or risk changing it. Of course this happens very quickly and often at a subconscious level. Allowing ourselves to fully experience fear with the confidence that it will dissipate rather than overwhelm can turn our lives in a whole new direction.

If you have ever been forced to live with, or in, fear, please know that you deserve to feel safe, secure, loved, valued, important, and supported. You are not damaged beyond repair. You have simply suffered wounds that will take time and care to heal. You are worth the effort!

Here are some of my favorite resources to assist you along the way:

http://www.traumahealing.org/

http://rhondabritten.com/

http://www.havetherelationshipyouwant.com/confidence/

http://brenebrown.com/books/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

June 2, 2015

It’s About to be Hot, Hot, Hot in the kitchen!

Before you know it, the spring storms will be through delivering this year’s unusually strong punch and it will just be hot, hot, hot in the kitchen. In my house in summer, I feel like I’m baking before I even start cooking!
tree
A couple of days ago I lost my shade tree, so this year may prove even more brutal. In anticipation of this possibility, I’ve been playing with some simple microwave recipes that will keep me out of the heat as much as possible.

This Left Over French Fry Breakfast Casserole takes less than 10 minutes in the microwave AND it gives me another reason not to finish all the fries on my plate. I’m calling it a breakfast casserole because it contains ham and eggs, but it is hearty enough to serve for dinner.
breakfast casserole
Left Over French Fry Breakfast Casserole
Makes 4 – 6 Servings

Olive oil spray
1 8 oz package diced ham
1/2 cup Creole mix fresh chopped green peppers, herbs, and onions
1 1/2 – 2 cups left over french fries, cubed
4 eggs
1 tbsp water
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of pepper
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Spray a pie pan with olive oil spray. Place ham, creole mix, and fries in pan. Stir together. Cover and microwave for 3 minutes. While mixture is in microwave, break eggs into small bowl, add water, and stir briskly with fork to mix yolks and whites until uniform. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper.

Remove mixture from microwave. Pour eggs over mixture, and stir. Once mixed, cover and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and stir. Microwave for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove pan from microwave. Stir in cheese and press top with back of spoon to make the top level. Let stand for 1 minute. Serve hot.

I make this using 96% fat free ham and ingredients that contain no gluten. It can be easily adapted to fit your eating plan. Later today, I’m going to try a version using left over gyro and Feta cheese in place of the ham, Cheddar, and Mozzarella.

Have another version you’d like for me to try? Submit it below and I’ll let you know how it turns out!