Archive for March, 2014

March 29, 2014

It’s Not Fair, so Why Compare?

It’s not fair! Ever start looking around at other people in a restaurant eating pie or cheesecake while you have to opt for dessert later since there’s no gluten-free option and begin to wonder why they have it so much easier than you? Ever feel annoyed when you sit empty handed while the rest of the office is oooing and ahhhing over a box of cupcakes they’re consuming?

Once you allow that comparison thought train to begin, does it gain steam down the track and cause you to compare, and compare, and compare until you’re sure you’ve gotten a raw deal as compared to everyone else? Now that you’re on the comparison train, do you move from feeling annoyed to feeling downright angry? Does this anger interfere with your compassion for those to whom you compare yourself?

How well do you know those who you believe are less encumbered? Is it possible that you don’t really know them at all? Is it possible that they are deliberately projecting a certain image in public that hides their grief, sorrow, shame, loss, confusion, or anger? If so, have you considered that although they can eat dessert immediately, their lives overall may not be easier or better than yours?

It’s easy to jump on the comparison train if we’re feeling a bit deprived, scared, unworthy, or sad. Focusing on someone else allows us to avoid feeling our real feelings in all their depth, breadth, and height. We may even know the comparison train never takes us to a positive destination, but jump on anyway in an attempt to get away from our internal noise.

When you’re looking across that restaurant or gritting your teeth while the office eats cake, are you seeing the whole picture before you begin comparing? Even if you’re at your grandmother’s dining table, it is possible you’re missing some pertinent facts?

To help us get a better visual picture, let’s play a game about perspective and perception.

The following list describes real people. The second list describes their real characteristics or actions. Match the description in the first list to the action in the second list you believe best fits each description.

Description
1)Perfectly Coiffed, Suit Wearing Executive
2)Highly Educated Teacher with 3 Advanced Degrees
3)Successful Business Owner who sits on Multiple Governing Boards
4)Single Mother Earning Poverty Wage
5)Married Woman Pregnant With Baby From Affair
6)Mechanic at Tire Store
7)Award Winning Financial Advisor

Action
A)Home is filled with trash and rotting food.
B)Poops on sidewalk outside hotel.
C)Daughter wears doo rag to church funeral.
D)Volunteers time to adult literacy organization.
E)Frequently travels to Europe to value antiques.
F)Blackens his wife’s eye, sprains her fingers, and holds her down on regular basis.
G)Chairs yearly high-profile charity event for a nonprofit organization.

While you were making your choices, were you focused on actions that you would expect from the description? Did you stop to think for a moment about the things you do in private that may seem incongruous with the persona you deliberately project to the public? Do you recognize that many comparisons are based on assumptions derived from a public persona that only partially reflects the internal state of the person to whom you’re comparing?

Now take a look at the real matches. Remember these are real life people and none of the actions are made up.

Correct Answers
1)Perfectly Coiffed, Suit Wearing Executive…C)Daughter wears doo rag to church funeral.
2)Highly Educated Teacher with 3 Advanced Degrees…F)Blackens his wife’s eye, sprains her fingers, and holds her down on regular basis.
3)Successful Business Owner who sits on Multiple Governing Boards…A)Home is filled with trash and rotting food.
4)Single Mother Earning Poverty Wage…D)Volunteers time to adult literacy organization.
5)Married Woman Pregnant With Baby From Affair…G)Chairs yearly high-profile charity event for a nonprofit organization.
6)Mechanic at Tire Store…E)Frequently travels to Europe to value antiques.
7)Award Winning Financial Advisor…B)Poops on sidewalk outside hotel.

Did you get a perfect score? If even one of the answers surprised you, it can serve as a reminder that each of us knows very little about most of those with whom we interact every day. Because of this, comparisons of ourselves to others are futile.

The next time you hear the voice in your head saying, “It’s not fair that Marjorie’s eating my favorite chocolate cake and I can’t have any. Not only that, she’s tall, thin, blonde and can run a marathon. She has it so easy. I wish I had it so easy….”, perhaps it will be helpful for you to know that she also has high blood pressure, takes numerous meds, and lost her daughter in a car accident a year ago. There is always more to the story.

Yes, I realize when we stop comparing, we have to do something else to get through an uncomfortable moment. The easiest thing I know is to substitute gratitude. The minute I hear an “It’s not fair!” in my head, I stop and say, “I am grateful for (fill in the blank).” At that moment, I may grasp for anything: I’m grateful the sun is shining, my car is full of gas, my afternoon appointment canceled, my hair looks good today, this chair is short enough for my feet to reach the floor, they painted that wall purple…. Once I’ve found the first thing, 10 more will come rushing behind it and that chocolate cake seems less and less significant.

Gratitude may not be the only thing that works to get past a temptation to compare. Tell us what your technique is. We’d love to hear what works for you!

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March 22, 2014

Get Your Ducks in a Row with this Gluten-Free Pasta!

ducks in a row

Even your kids will want to get their ducks in a row with this duck-shaped gluten-free pasta. The raw ducks make for an enjoyable math lesson prior to cooking and an art lesson while your child eats. Made from nothing but corn flour and water,these adorable ducks can be used in soup, with a sauce, or to stretch a one-pot meal.

As often happens, I found this pasta while shopping for something else in a store I don’t usually frequent. The bright green bag full of Sam Mills Pasta for Kids boasts that these ducks are free from Gluten, GMOs, Dairy, Cholesterol, Egg, Sugar, Yeast, Soy, Sodium, and Nuts. They’re even Kosher. And they’re made in Romania for a bit of foreign flair to boot.

pasta for kids

One serving contains 194 calories, .5 grams of fat, 44.2 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of dietary fiber, and 3.1 grams of protein. That seems like a large carb count, but the bag also promises a low glycemic index of less than 40. There are 6 servings per 12 oz. bag

After a mere 8 minutes in boiling water, the ducks are tender and ready to swim in a meat sauce or chicken soup. As long as it’s not overcooked, the pasta retains its shape nicely. Like other corn pastas, both the flavor and texture are benign. Your kids will be happy to eat it and to share with their gluten-eating buddies.

pasta in bowl

I don’t often eat pasta, but I like to have some in the house for those moments when I need a quick filler. This particular item offers a high fun factor and little to object to so it is more than adequate to fill that role.

Sam Mills offers a wide range of gluten-free products including an alphabet pasta with the same positive attributes. Once our ducks are in a row, let’s get the kids in the kitchen for some pasta and word play!

 

 

http://www.sammills.ro/sammillsusa-en.html

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.”

March 16, 2014

The BEST Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World?

Barts BoxThis box promised me “The best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World!” – now that’s a big promise. Of course, the way I see it, it’s also a challenge. I will take that challenge and see if these cookies live up to the hype!

Bart & Judy Greenhut’s cookies stood out on the shelves because of the retro-rustic looking packaging. I was immediately drawn to the plain paperboard box with its retro graphics. Then there were the enticements listed on the box: Best in the World, Imported Belgian Chocolate, Little Bites of Happiness, No GMO’s – and that’s just the front of the box. The top contained a warning not to consume in an environment requiring my complete attention because it could lead to personal injury.

The back of the box had a personal anecdote from Bart, Judy, and their son, Jordan. It mentioned Steve Jobs. You think reading the cereal box in the morning is entertaining? You could spend weeks on this box. It has a side full of quotes, a side full of nutritional information, and an inside filled with poetry, Bart’s life observations, and a thank-you.

Before you even get to the oxygen-barrier foil bag or the folded insert, it is clear that Bart & Judy have a much larger mission than bringing you delicious cookies. While there’s a part of me that momentarily felt they were forcing the issue a little too hard, I was drawn back in by their obvious sense of humor and dedication to putting their money where my mouth is.

barts with insert

According to the box insert, Bart & Judy had the courage to sell their house to buy a 100′ oven to begin baking these cookies. Inspired on a trip to Paris, they embarked on a new career at the ages when many people retire.

Having passed the age at which I’m allowed to swim at the “senior center”, I am well aware that many of us begin to question what we’ve been doing and explore our options as we age, but I know few who decide what they want and go for it full speed ahead. For this reason alone, I’d buy these cookies at $5.49 per 4.2 oz box. I admire this kind of gutsy determination.

cookies and milk

So what do you get for $5.49 per box? 45 – 50 crunchy cookies about the size of a nickel or a quarter. They’re handmade so they all vary. The point is that they’re very small. A whole box is 480 calories. That’s 4 servings with 11 cookies per serving.

Total carbs per serving is 12.2 grams. That’s not bad for a dessert. The question is whether you can limit yourself to one serving. The cookies are delicious and not overly sweet. Of course, I followed the instructions to let them “breathe” for 10 minutes after opening the package. There’s no odd aftertaste and no weird texture, but if you like chewy cookies you will not be happy because they are CRUNCHY! I don’t know if they’re the best in the world, but they are hands-down the best packaged gluten-free cookies I’ve tried.

Celiacs are warned that while the ingredients are gluten-free, the cookies are prepared in a kitchen where other cookies containing wheat, milk, and tree nuts are also prepared. Ingredients and equipment are kept segregated, so consumption will come down to a judgment call. I tasted these two days ago and again yesterday and have suffered no ill effects.

And the content doesn’t stop with the cookies and the box. There are quotes contained in each foil bag. You can submit a quote to be included. Some inserts contain a holographic serial number that let’s you register online to receive “Fun and Thanks”. The rewards are secret other than an occasional give-away of a trip for two to Paris, but if I’m going to blindly jump on a roller coaster ride, Bart & Judy seem to be the kind of people I’d want to ride with so I have registered. We’ll see what happens.

You can check out the team, the quotes, the philosophy, and the products at www.bartsbakery.com.

Have you tried these cookies? If so, let us know what you think.

 

 

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.”

 

March 9, 2014

Congratulations Chef Matthew McClure!

Chef Matt McClure is one of our favorite chefs. Since Cooking2Thrive® recorded him for our interview series, Chef Matt has been receiving rave reviews as the executive chef of The Hive at 21C Museum Hotel near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Matt McClure

Congratulations are again in order. Chef Matt has been chosen as a semifinalist for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in the “Best Chef: South” category. It is quite an honor to be chosen by the James Beard Foundation for recognition in what is sometimes thought of as the Academy Awards for food.

Chef Matt is known for featuring fresh, local ingredients in the dishes he prepares. He often takes the country cooking I grew up eating at home or at dinner on the grounds after church and changes it from humble to refined.

Having a preference for using local fruits and vegetables as ingredients makes Chef Matt a gluten friendly chef by preference, but he cooks gluten-free at home by necessity to accommodate his wife who is gluten intolerant. He sums up what many of us wish more people knew when he says, “Gluten is not the secret ingredient in fine cooking!”

The final nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards will be announced Wednesday, March 19. We wish chef Matt the best!

Haven’t seen our interview with Chef Matt? You can view it at the link below:

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/video/Chef_Matt_Interview_v2.mov

For more information about the James Beard Foundation awards, visit http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the president of 3 Squares Productions, Inc., the company that contracted with Chef Matt McClure for this interview. I have no material connection with the James Beard Foundation. Regardless, I only recommend products I have personally used and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”