January 26, 2015

Travel Tip #10 – Carry the Little Things

EVOOWhen it comes to any plan, it’s often the little things that make it or break it. Now that my condo hotel is reserved, I’m ready to start making lists of things I need for my upcoming trip. Of course I’m going to start with the food. I could start with a list of clothes to pack, but cooking sounds like more fun than doing laundry!

First I’ll make a loose menu plan. Once that is done, I’ll divide the ingredients into items I’ll carry with me and those I’ll buy on location. When making that decision, I always consider my mode of transportation and the potential availability of ingredients on location. If I’m making a road trip to a remote area, I may opt to carry more with me and buy less once I get there. If I’m flying to an urban area, I may only carry snacks for the plane.

My next trip is via car to a condo style hotel in a small city. A quick search tells me there’s a Whole Foods there so I’ll be able to pick up anything I need once I get there – even gluten-free snacks. Does that mean I don’t need to carry anything with me? Not exactly.

I want to carry some snacks for the road, a couple of time-saving home prepped items, and some tiny little containers of things like olive oil, spices, salad dressing, or other condiments. It drives me crazy to have to buy a bottle of olive oil that would last a month or two when I only need enough for three or four meals.

Here’s how my carry along lists are shaping up for this trip:

Carry Along Car Snacks
Used cottage cheese containers filled with golden raisins & raw almonds
Snack size Brie or Gouda cheese
Gluten-free crackers or pretzels
Gluten-free protein bars

multi spice
Carry Along for Later
Frozen gluten-free Cooking2Thrive Success, Biscuits!
Coughlan’s Multispice Container with paprika, curry, cayenne, garlic salt, black pepper, and salt
– Available for $8.09 from http://www.coghlans.com/products/multi-spice-9961 Either a 6 pack of Backpacker’s Pantry Organic Olive Oil available for $4.80 from http://www.backpackerspantry.com/products/four-person/snacks-and-extras/organic-olive-oil-6-pack.html
or a 1.75 oz bottle of EVOO for $2.01 from http://www.minimus.biz/FoodMain.aspx

I’m actually so enamored with the cute little containers from Minimus.biz, I may order all kinds of little things I need, and some I don’t really need, for this trip. They have hot sauce, cute little jars of ketchup for $1.37 each, bottles of mustard for $1.42 or packets of Guldens Spicy Brown Mustard for 13¢ each. There’s real mayonnaise; honey in tubs, packets, or jars; Parmesan cheese packets; vinegar; balsamic vinegar packets for 32¢ each; and A1® Steak Sauce in adorable 1.4 oz bottles for $1.97 each. And yes, you can buy single bottles. In the specialty food section of the Minimus.biz website, you can find gluten-free salad dressing packets for 93¢ each, sugar free foods, and much more.
ketchup

But I digress. The point is that I can carry trip sized olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices without having to buy little containers and fill them myself. This saves me time, doesn’t break the budget, and keeps me from wasting a bunch of food. Not to mention, these little tiny packages are CUTE! For me this is a win all the way around.
mustard

If you prefer to pack your own spices, there are specialized containers available like the GSI spice missile with waterproof caps and shaker modules available from http://gsioutdoors.com/products/pdp/spice_missile. The price starts at $9.95 for 2 compartments and you can add more sections for cumin, cinnamon, tarragon, etc. This flexibility allows you to be more specifically prepared for your desired travel menu.
spice container

While I don’t need every detail tied down for a trip, I feel better when I start with a few things in place. Having a food plan is one of the things that’s important to me. Now that I know I can carry the little things, I am ready to finish the menu plan.

So what is my travel menu? Check out Travel Tip #11 coming next week.

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.”

January 20, 2015

Travel Tip #9 – Stay in a Condo Style Hotel

Welcome to Travel Tip #9. It’s a new year and I’m planning a trip! I want to attend a TEDx Conference, ride horses, watch NCAA Tournament basketball, and sit on the couch in front of the fire and play 2048. The locations of these activities are located a few hours apart.

There was a time at which I would have fueled a plane and flown from location to location, but alas my pilot’s license is no longer current. Given the falling price of gas and a desire to really experience each unique moment of my time off, I’m thinking now is the time for a ROAD TRIP!

Living out of a suitcase the whole trip doesn’t sound very relaxing, so I’m going to land in one place from which I can do day trips. I need a home base – one with a comfy couch and a kitchen, but I’m not really comfortable staying in someone else’s home while they are away. Somehow that makes me feel like my personal space is being invaded. Yes, I realize that’s backward, but I get the same creepy feeling.

My solution? A condo or apartment style hotel. I can move in, unpack, stock the refrigerator, and RELAX! Having the option of a full kitchen assures me that I will be able to stick with my eating plan even if nearby restaurants do not offer appealing options. And, if I decide I’m not in the mood to ride horses after all, I can sleep late, eventually wander over to the couch and watch the fire while eating leftovers. Just like staying home on a long holiday weekend, I can play things by ear without having to go anywhere unless I decide I want to.

I love this idea. And I love the accommodations I’ve found in this category. Most of them include a washer/dryer, dining table, and more extensive kitchens than their cousin – the residence hotel. This means I can carry frozen homemade gluten-free biscuits and pop them in the oven. I prefer eating breakfast in my PJs so this makes me very happy. I really hate that walk from a hotel room to the lobby breakfast area in some kind of rigged outfit I threw on because I’m not ready to get dressed yet. It feels like some kind of perp walk with all the other prisoners watching to see how I look when I roll out of bed.

Take a look at some of these great places! They’re reasonably priced, and located across the country.
AKA kitchen
AKA BR
AKA can be your point of demarcation in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, LA, or London UK. Rates at the Times Square location begin at around $245.00 per night. The rooms are sleek, modern and spacious. http://www.stayaka.com/
Radio City Kitchen
Radio City Apartments gives you an additional option in Manhattan. A bit pricier than AKA, they’re still quite reasonable for the city with rates beginning at about $473.00 per night. http://www.radiocityapts.com/
Twelve Atlantic Kitchen
The Twelve Atlantic Station Hotel in Atlanta offers this kitchen with an incredible amount of workspace. You may not even want to leave for dinner. Prices begin at around $204 per night. http://www.twelvehotels.com/atlanticstation/
Residences Biltmore LR
Residences Biltmore Kit
The Residences at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina is incredibly affordable with studio condos beginning at about $105.99 per night. One and two bedroom condos are also available and you can walk from your room to the Biltmore mansion. http://www.residencesatbiltmore.com/
MAyo Full Kitchen Suite
The Mayo Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma is an older structure that’s less condo style than some newer facilities, but it offers two levels of suites with either a butler’s kitchen or a full kitchen. Prices begin at around $260 per night. http://www.themayohotel.com/
Condotel
Condotels in Lansing, Kansas have enough space for the whole family. All of the suites have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, seating for 6, and a full size washer and dryer. Rates are available by request. http://www.condotelsks.com/
Venice Beach Suite
Venice Beach Suites are charming and available with or without a view of the Pacific ocean. Prices start at around $159 per night. http://www.venicebeachsuites.com/
Marqueen Kitchen
The Marqueen Hotel in Seattle takes you into the popular Queen Anne neighborhood of this city known for delicious food. Rates begin around $213.73. http://www.marqueen.com/

With so many terrific choices, I’ve got to narrow the field or I’ll be gone all year. Luckily, there’s next year, and next year, and the next year. I have confidence that I can get to many of them. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to pack and what I’m going to purchase on the spot. I’ll let you know in Travel Tip #10.


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.”

January 11, 2015

Bart’s Bakery Gluten-Free Cookies and Gluten Free Watchdog – A Bit of Housekeeping

Barts
Bart’s Bakery Gluten-Free Cookies and Gluten Free Watchdog – a bit of housekeeping is required before we move ahead in full force for 2015. Our March 2014 review of Bart & Judy’s The Best gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World generated a concerned response from a member of the website Gluten Free Watchdog. In an effort to bring you the most reliable and accurate information possible, we reached out to both Bart’s Bakery and Gluten Free Watchdog.

We received the following response and lab report from Bart Greenhut of Bart’s Bakery:

Hi Cheri, this is in response to your email to my son Jordan. Sorry it’s taken so long, your email got lost in my “junk” folder for a while.

We bake the highest quality cookies in the world, literally.

I spent roughly 4 months developing our own gluten-free flour as none of the standard mill flours measured-up.

We only run gluten-free cookies once or twice monthly. We do have a shared facility however we very closely control the environment when we run gluten-free, even to the extent of allowing the air in the facility to settle for 10 hours after our wash down, prior to processing. 

After every run we send samples out for testing. Our latest typical test result is attached.

We maintain a proper “chain of custody”. If a test result were to be higher than 9ppm we would summarily scrap the batch.

Thank you for your interest, please advise if we can be of further service, Bart

Bart’s email was accompanied by this lab report:
Lab Report

From Gluten Free Watchdog, we received this response:

Hi Cheri,

Gluten Free Watchdog is a subscription-based food testing service. Results are available to subscribers only and can not be reprinted, republished, etc without written permission.

When Bart’s cookies were tested Gluten Free Watchdog released the following statement:

URGENT: Bart & Judy’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
We have received numerous requests from subscribers to make publicly available general information about last week’s test results on Bart and Judy’s cookies. We have made the decision to release information because of the seriousness of the findings. If information like this is important to you, please consider subscribing to Gluten Free Watchdog. Information on gluten contamination levels of food labeled gluten-free would not exist without this service and we need the support of the gluten-free community to keep it going.

If you would like to share this information please use quotation marks and post the statement below in its entirety.

“Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC recently tested a box of Bart and Judy’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies for gluten contamination using the R5 ELISA Mendez method. The product tested well above 20 parts per million of gluten. Detailed test results are available only to subscribers of Gluten Free Watchdog. Test results provide a snapshot picture of the gluten content of this product at one point in time. There is no way of knowing without testing many more samples whether the results of the one sample tested are representative of the gluten content of this product as a whole. For more information about Gluten Free Watchdog see https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/…/bart–judys-gluten…/241. This statement was posted with permission of Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC.”

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Hope this helps. 

(Just as an FYI, Bart’s cookies are scheduled to be sent to the lab next week for follow-up testing)

Kind regards,

Tricia 

As you can see, the lab report provided by Bart indicates vastly different results than those indicated in the statement from Gluten Free Watchdog. Without access to both full reports along with the lot numbers of the cookies tested, it is impossible to draw any significant conclusion regarding this issue.

Rather than engage in a debate about the safety of any specific package of prepared food, I’d rather offer you a simple alternative. The best way to know what’s in your food is to make it yourself from ingredients about which you can gather the most definitive information. Buy fresh and local as much as possible, read all labels, avoid prepackaged and processed foods, and trust what your body tells you. A damaged gut can be sensitive to many substances that will no longer create problems once the gut has healed. If a food consistently makes you feel bad, avoid it – even if it’s naturally gluten-free.

I’m looking forward to a year of simple solutions! How about you?

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/best-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-world/#comments

http://www.bartsbakery.com/

https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=processed+food

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.”

January 1, 2015

Looking Backward, Moving Forward

Now that it’s the new year, do you find yourself looking backward, moving forward; looking backward, standing still; or looking forward, moving forward? I think the implied correct, societally acceptable answer is to smile and indicate that the past is the past – I’m looking forward and moving forward with gusto!

But is that really true or are most of us pretending when we say it? Watching many of my friends, acquaintances, customers, and colleagues, I feel like many of us are pretending and I’m wondering why? It seems more acceptable to say we’re moving forward and then behave in ways destined to keep us stuck, than it is to say we’re struggling.

When I have verbalized difficulties, the real ones below the surface that make me feel most vulnerable, some friends have encouraged me to call my doctor for happy pills or said they’re worried me. In contrast, they never said that when I was wearing myself out working too much, playing too much, and buying too much stuff. Whatever the cause, I feel saddened that the result is a culture that supports overmedicating, overworking, and overindulging rather than supporting feeling, and healing. Let’s change that!

If you find yourself at the apex of this new year feeling alone or discouraged, but determined to make positive change, we applaud you! Not for feeling alone, of course, for having the ability to envision a better future and the courage to practice positive change. And we’re here to let you know you’re not alone!

I have spent a lot of time looking backward in order to move forward. It’s kind of a tricky move because looking backward makes it tempting to stay stuck in the same place, especially when the past was painful, difficult, or felt unfair.
looking backward

Yep, that pose is exactly how it feels sometimes! Are my emotional abs strong enough to pull me up to look ahead? Most of the time, they are now (thank goodness we’re talking emotional abs), and it’s been a long process for me to get here, but the result has been freedom and an abundance of choices! Isn’t that what all of us want as we move forward?

The recipe for practicing positive change includes these key ingredients:
Desire
Vision
Courage
Determination
Commitment
Truth
Good boundaries
Intentions
Paradox
Time to sit still
Feeling your real feelings
Trusting your body’s messages
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude

The process will be facilitated by:
Inspiration
Acceptance
Kindness
Humor
Playfulness
Celebration
Positive emotional connections

The rest is just practice, practice, practice in a series of small shifts that lead to large change as we move forward.

Get your ingredients together. We’ll be here all year long to provide inspiration, playfulness, celebration and a safe place to share your concerns, struggles, and triumphs. Look backward, move forward, and make 2015 anything you want it to be!

Happy New Year!