Archive for ‘Lifestyle can be a Piece of Cake’

October 10, 2017

Trick or Treat?

halloweenIf you offer something besides candy, will the little ones think it’s a trick or treat? Halloween is swiftly approaching. I love the costumes and watching the kids. I don’t love all the candy. It’s predicted that 2.7 billion dollars will be spent on candy in the US this Halloween. That’s a lot of sugar that none of us really need.

I not opposed to occasional candy or dessert and I don’t want to take the fun out of trick-or-treating, but this year I’m going to explore some edible candy alternatives rather than giving you lists of gluten-free candy or non-candy items. After all, getting something different to eat is fun too!

ghostsGarden Veggie Ghosts and Bats

If you’re a fan of Sensible Portions® Garden Veggie Straws (which I like because they’re actually straws that you can blow air through), you’ll love Garden Veggie Ghosts and Bats! They’re crispy, salty snacks shaped like, you got it, ghosts and bats. Packaged in .05 oz bags for Halloween, these crisps have less fat than potato chips.

Popchips® Galaxy Puff’s

Who doesn’t think Darth Vader is scary? Aged White Cheddar Popchips shaped like Star Wars ships and characters are now available in .8 ounce bags perfect for Halloween. These gluten-free chips have no cholesterol and no trans-fats.

Caramel Apple Chips

Seneca 100 calorie bags of Caramel Apple Chips are gluten-free, kosher and have 30% less fat than regular chips. I like the plain apple chips, but the caramel apple flavor is a great riff on retro Halloween treats.

Popcorn Mini Bags

These look just like regular bags of microwave popcorn, but are only 1.6 ounces. Some years you can find orange and black packages especially for Halloween. Other years, it’s only the smaller size that differentiates these from regular microwave popcorn. Several brands are available online and from brick and mortar retailers.

Already Popped Corn

Snack sized bags of SkinnyPop Popcorn are GMO and preservative free. Flavors include Sea Salt & Pepper, White Cheddar, Jalapeño, and Dusted Dark Chocolate in addition to regular. If you prefer SMARTFOOD® Popcorn, the White Cheddar Cheese, Theater Butter, and SMARTFOOD Delight® Sea Salt and White Cheddar Cheese flavors are gluten-free.

popcorn ballHalloween Popcorn Balls

While we’re talking about popcorn, you may like Kathy Kaye Foods’ Halloween Popcorn Balls. This option contains sugar in a retro presentation. Remember when these were homemade? Each ball is 110 calories and 18 g of sugar. That’s the same amount of sugar as a Snickers® Miniature, but with 60 less calories and a lot more novelty.

Go-Gurt

Individual yogurt servings in an easy to carry, easy to open, package. The packages have trivia, games, and jokes on them making them fun to unpack from your trick-or-treat bag. Although each flavor contains 8 grams of sugar, it also has probiotic cultures, calcium, Vitamin D, and protein.

raisinsRaisin Mini Snacks

Wouldn’t it be great if they packaged these as monster poop for Halloween? The size is good. The raisins are sweet and healthy. The only thing lacking is themed packaging. Nonetheless, this is a good gluten-free option.

Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds

Although I love them, I hesitate to recommend nut mixes for Halloween. Seeds are an alternative to nuts. FritoLay® offers a variety pack of Spitz® Seeds in various flavors. Salted Sunflower Seeds, Chili Lime Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Pepper Sunflower Seeds, Dill Pickle Pumpkin Seeds, Dill Pickle Sunflower Seeds, Salted Caramel Sunflower Seeds, Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds, Seasoned Sunflower Seeds, Smoky BBQ Sunflower Seeds, and Spicy Sweet Chili Sunflower Seeds are all made without gluten-containing ingredients. Please note that these flavors are not made in a dedicated facility or on dedicated gluten-free equipment. Use appropriate caution.

Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos

Variety snack packs of mainstream chips are available everywhere. If you need to grab something at the last minute, this can be an easy option. Avoid Sun Chips and stick with the gluten-free flavors of Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, and Lays Potato Chips.

I realize that some of these options may be more expensive than what you’re used to buying. Keep in mind that most of them are bulkier than mini candy bars, so children are less likely to grab a handful meaning you won’t need to buy as much to begin with.
food group
If you live in a neighborhood like mine where many children are food insecure, you can also think of this as a way to reduce hunger in your community. Spend a little more and give fruit and vegetable pouches or individual cups of applesauce, mandarin oranges, peaches, or pineapple. Put a box of raisins and an individual serving packet of peanut butter in a plastic bag (you may only want to give these to older children who can monitor their own allergies) for a do-it-yourself sandwich kit. Include individual cups of salsa along with corn chips. Give instant oatmeal cups, individual bowls of Cheerios, microwaveable brown rice, or pouches of tuna.

If you decide to give substantial food items, but don’t want kids to feel awkward about taking them, get some Halloween treat bags (Oriental Trading has a good selection) or create your own Boo Bags using brown paper bags, bag up the food and hand out the bags instead of individual items. The surprise factor will entice. Hungry kids will be appreciative. Any child who is disappointed will get plenty of candy from other homes.

Getting something different to eat is fun! Getting something gluten-free is special when you’re gluten intolerant. Getting something nutritious to eat is critical! I let this be my guide to trick or treat.

https://www.sensibleportions.com/en/products/ghosts-bats-garden-veggiechips/

http://www.sunmaid.com/products-details/raisins.html

http://shop.popchips.com/Galaxy-Puffs-Multipack/p/POP-218142&c=PopChips@GalaxyPuffs

https://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Apple-Chips-Caramel-Ounce/dp/B004981WJW/ref=sr_1_7_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1507647315&sr=8-7&keywords=seneca%2Bapple%2Bchips&th=1

https://www.skinnypop.com/our-popcorn/

http://www.smartfood.com/

https://kathykayefoods.com/collections/kathy-kaye-popcorn-balls/products/kathy-kaye-halloween-popcorn-ball

https://www.snickers.com/Nutritional-Info#SnickersMiniatures

https://www.gogurt.com/tube/

https://fritolayvarietypacks.com/home

http://www.fritolay.com/snacks/special-dietary-needs/us-gluten-free-products-and-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.htm

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/booooooooo-gluten-free-halloween-candy/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/halloween-treats-dont-candy/

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.”

October 3, 2017

Fun with Food – Edible Books

farewell
You don’t need to have a food fight to have fun with food! This weekend, I checked out the local library’s Edible Book Contest. You may have one of these events near you. Ours was in conjunction with Banned Book Week.

Each entry in the contest is an edible representation of a book cover and is displayed along with a copy of the book. At our event, anyone who attended got to vote on the winner. Your local contest or festival may work differently, but what can be the same is having some fun with food!

Entering one of these contests can be a great family activity! The kids can choose a book, determine the materials, and help you cook and/or decorate. It’s a good way to learn that collaboration can make an end product even better than you could imagine on your own. Not to mention, it’s just fun to put a sword in the hand of a lemon to represent Lemonade Wars, or turn raisins into flies for Lord of the Flies.

Your entry doesn’t have to be a straightforward representation of the book. It can be a clever play on words. Think: Who Moved My Cheesecake (Who Moved my Cheese), War and Peas (War and Peace), The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (hot dog), In Search of Scones (In Search of Stones), Hop on Pop (soda), Green Eggs and Spam (Green Eggs and Ham), Atlas Shrugged (a book of maps wearing a short sweater), or A Confederacy of Brunches (A Confederacy of Dunces) all made of food, or course.

We saw the simplest of simple – A Raisin in the Sun represented by a sun made of stacked sunflower seeds outlined with a bead of bright yellow icing with a single raisin sitting on it — to a lavishly constructed fondant rendition of Atlas Shrugged. While I appreciate the skill that went into the pulled sugar ice forms on A Song of Fire and Ice and the variety of materials used to illustrate Matilda, I preferred the simplicity of ham on top of an omelet for Hamlet, and the cleverness of a full pan of cheesecake next to an empty pan with a mouse asking who moved his cheesecake for Who Moved My Cheese. In the end, Who Moved My Cheesecake got my vote.

I don’t know who won the contest. I got distracted by the chocolate samples in the next room. Besides that, it wasn’t about choosing a winner as much as enjoying the creativity and coming up with ideas I might want to try.

There was a moment when I saw a book on a pedestal without an edible entry. I think the participant hadn’t shown up, but it made me wish I’d entered the contest with the book The Emperor’s New Clothes and nothing at all to represent it.

I guess that’s the point of all of this anyway. I like to laugh. I want more laughter in the kitchen, in my home, and in my social activities. If fun with food can make me laugh, then I’m all for it!

https://www.pinterest.com/staleylibrary/edible-book-festivals/

https://www.library.illinois.edu/ediblebooks/

http://swpaf.org/projects/edible-book-festival/

http://hendersonlibraries.com/edible-book-contest

http://news.lib.berkeley.edu/2017/04/19/edible-book-festival-results/

http://wnybookarts.org/5th-annual-edible-book-festival/

http://www.shorelinearts.net/event-program/edible-book-festival/

http://ncn21.com/state-news/edible-book-festival-arrives-at-the-kearney-library/

https://www.rochesterpubliclibrary.org/my-rpl/edible-book-festival#ad-image-0

May 8, 2017

Let Yourself Be Surprised

Sometimes it’s best to let yourself be surprised! I write a lot about planning, being prepared, and managing expectations. When you have to follow a specific dietary plan, those are important concepts. It’s hard to stick to a gluten-free regimen without preparing in advance. While that’s a reality, sometimes it’s nice to drop the preparation and let the universe provide.

When circumstances require us to focus on what may be missing, lacking, detrimental, or dangerous, it’s easy to slip into a perpetually defensive posture. For some of us this will feel like hopelessness, futility, or defeat. For others, it may feel like anger, stress, or frustration. Whatever its manifestation, the more time and energy we devote to seeing what’s wrong, the less we see what’s right. This can eventually erode our sense of safety, well-being, contentment, and happiness.

Perhaps it’s an innate desire to protect ourselves from this eventuality that leads patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease to respond in overwhelming numbers to the diagnosis as if it were worse than cancer. That brief glimpse down the road of constantly being on guard every meal of every day for the rest of your life – that’s overwhelming. To top it off, often while you’re still trying to get your mind around the idea, some medical professional is telling you it’s hard to follow a gluten-free diet.

Holy crapoly! How are you supposed to deal with all this stressful news when you’ve just been told to eliminate your favorite comforting cookie, doughnut, brownie, cinnamon roll or cupcake?

A large number of patients choose to ignore the diagnosis, or partially comply with a gluten-free diet. While this may alleviate some of the immediate stress, it ultimately creates more misery as the autoimmune system continues to assault and damage the body. It is especially important for patients who do not experience or attribute their symptoms to celiac disease to recognize that by the time they understand the importance of being gluten-free, they may have developed irreversible damage and/or have shortened their lifespan.

But what about those of us who feel so much better without gluten that we’re not tempted to cheat, but sometimes get weary from always trying to stay one step ahead?

Having to round up a snack hours in advance to make sure you won’t get too hungry if your after work event doesn’t serve gluten-free food can affect your sense of well-being on an already overbooked and stress filled day. By itself, packing that snack is no big deal. On top of a series of pressing deadlines, that snack can mean the difference between feeling content and feeling overwhelmed.

One way to help balance, and even offset, the weariness of wariness is to occasionally let your guard down and trust the universe to provide. The risk is that you’ll miss a snack or a meal. The advantage is, you may discover a new restaurant, convenience store, or product you’d otherwise miss.

I just finished two back-to-back road trips. Although I had a night in my own bed in between, I was home less than 24 hours. Because the second trip had come up suddenly, I had little time to prepare. I threw a banana, some almonds & some raisins in the car and headed out.
cheesewich
Three hours into the trip, I was hungry. I needed something more substantial than a banana. I stopped at a convenience store resigned to the possibility I might just need to finish off the almonds. I walked over to the refrigerated cases looking for water, and discovered an unfamiliar gluten-free snack – CHEESEWICHTM.

All four CHEESEWICH options contain one piece of salami sandwiched in between two pieces of cheese. A 2.5 oz serving has 0 carbs, 16 grams of protein, and 210 – 260 calories depending on the cheese flavor chosen. The product comes vacuum packed in a peel apart plastic package that’s convenient for travel or packing a lunchbox. Ready to eat as is, the combination can also be put between pieces of bread or placed on top of a cracker.

The salami is paired with your choice of Mild Cheddar, Colby Jack, Provolone, or Pepper Jack. I saw the cheddar first, so that’s what I grabbed. I ate it on the road because it was late in the day and I didn’t want to be too tired before I arrived. The CHEESEWICH was easy to hold with the package and eat without any mess, and the protein gave me plenty of energy.

Not only did I feel reinvigorated, I felt provided for. It was a great reminder that I often find what I need when I quit worrying about not having it. Reflecting on this makes me feel safe, positive, and calm.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I once flew into Canada spur of the moment. We parked the plane, rented a car, and headed out with no food, no hotel reservation, and no Google. About the time I thought we’d be sleeping in the car, we happened upon Pond’s Resort. There was dinner with a prominent New Brunswick resident, a room, and world class fly-fishing awaiting us. And that’s not the only time travel flexibility has delivered a great experience.
ponds
Even with this recent reminder that I can relax my efforts, I won’t stop planning altogether. That’s not the way I’m wired. I do intend to carry forward the good feeling that comes with letting go of expectations then being pleasantly surprised…at least until I need another reminder. Then I’m sure the universe will provide.


http://cheesewich.net/

December 29, 2016

Environment Affects Healthy Habits

new year
It is clear that environment affects healthy habits. I’m in my hometown for a holiday visit with family. Funny thing is, there’s not much family left here so I’m not running from party to party with no time to spare. I’ve had time to notice how quiet it is in this little town. It reminds me of a snow day when there’s no traffic and a blanket of white absorbs the noise.

There’s a wonderful new restaurant in town. I eat there every time I’m here. Last night when I finished eating, the manager walked me to my car. It was about 7pm, but really dark outside. There were more bright stars visible in the sky than you can imagine. The whole scene struck me as ironic. In a town so small that I can see every star in the sky, the restaurant manager is courteous enough to make sure I get safely to my car…at 7pm.

This stands in sharp contrast to a recent experience in the neighborhood where I live. After a concert at a highly touted restaurant, in order to reach my car I had to walk past two men who had rolled out a mattress in the parking lot where they were openly smoking crack and talking to the car next to them. The car was empty, but the alarm had gone off causing the men to loudly admonish it. There was no security guard and certainly no restaurant volunteer to walk with me.

This is not the first time I’ve encountered a crack-encumbered man outside of an upscale restaurant in my city. One night on the way to my car, another man who was flying high hugged me after I told him I wasn’t going to give him money. He could just as easily have shot me.

I felt pretty sure a gold-toothed man I encountered at a gas station was going to hurt me whether I gave him money or not. I don’t go to that gas station any more, but I don’t think my instincts were wrong. Four people have been shot and killed near that intersection in the past year. And so it goes where I live. In the past month, a two-year-old and a 3-year-old were shot and killed while riding in cars.

You might dismiss this as a large inner city problem, but I don’t live in a large city. The population is under 200,000. You might dismiss this as my choice of neighborhoods, but I live 5 blocks from the governor’s mansion. In an even more affluent nearby neighborhood, two women were recently robbed at gunpoint in a grocery store parking lot. My daughter-in-law had just left that store moments before.

Today I’m left pondering the contrasts – a small town that is often called ultraconservative, redneck, closed-minded, uneducated, bigoted, and the most racist small town in America where a total stranger wants to make sure I’m safe on a short walk to my car vs a small city that is considered more sophisticated, diverse, educated, inclusive, and enlightened where it is commonplace to encounter danger and uncommon to encounter concern for my welfare.

If I had grown up in the community where I now live, would I believe that I would live long enough for healthy habits to matter? Would organic produce seem important when I’m rolling off the couch into the floor to crawl away from external walls because I hear the rapid-fire shots of an AR-15 and the screeching tires of the car out of which it’s being fired? Would I be more likely to seek comfort in a high carbohydrate, endorphin releasing meal?

I can answer one of those questions. The most recent drive-by shooting at my house was within the past year. Nothing seems more important than hitting the deck when you hear gunfire outside. Period. You’re not going to make sure to grab your phone so you can call the police. You’re sure as hell not going to make sure you grab a salad while you wait for your heart to stop pounding.

If there’s a way to import the attitude of community concern I experience in my insular hometown, sans bigotry, to the city where I currently live, it’s sorely needed. Self-care begins by giving our bodies good nutrition, adequate sleep, plenty of movement, and enough stillness, but the feeling that we are worthy of self-care begins when we feel valued. That feeling comes when our environment provides safety and responsiveness to our need for food, warmth, comfort, and touch.

It is ideal when that responsiveness comes from our parents and extended family in our first moments, but it can be healing even when it comes later. The violence and divisiveness in my community exposes a huge need for healing. Extending a hand may require courage. It could make us vulnerable. But if we don’t begin to summon some courage to reach out, we all become more vulnerable anyway.

As I move into the new year, it is with an acute awareness of the unhealthy environment in which I live. No matter what I do within my household, I am still affected by my neighborhood and the community at large. I must decide how I can best take care of myself while best contributing to the larger community. It is the ideal time for reassessment and reevaluation.

The extent to which I am willing to face my failures, own my weaknesses, understand my limitations, enforce my boundaries, and feel my shame will determine the extent to which I am effective in contributing to healing, health, peacefulness, and joy.

In 2017, I hope you will join me on a journey to create an environment for ourselves, our partners, our children, and our communities in which we can all become healthier as well as more whole, peaceful, and joyous. We may not solve the world’s problems, but when we show concern and kindness one walk to the car at a time, we will make a difference.

Happy New Year!

Additional Reading:
http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42878/1/924159134X.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12034132