Archive for ‘Just for Fun!’

June 20, 2016

Summer is For Ice Cream

There’s no doubt about it, summer is for ice cream! It’s barely summer and we’ve already had heat warnings because it feels 108º outside. To me this means it is important to stay cool. That means lots of icy beverages and a steady diet of cold food.
pour over ice
I love ice cold honeydew, watermelon, steamed asparagus, and gazpacho, but there are days when I think I could eat nothing but ice cream all summer. Of course ice cream comes in many forms with vastly different quality, taste, and calorie counts. My favorite flavors always seem to have the most fat and calories so I’ve been looking for ways to enjoy the cold, but cut the fat and calories.

For instance, I like Häagen-Dazs® Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. One half cup serving has 300 calories, 19g of fat and 22g of sugar. I also like Talenti® Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. It’s a better calorie choice with 11g of fat and 240 calories per half cup serving, but it contains even more sugar – a whopping 36 grams.

This is a common problem in American convenience foods. Fat is often replaced with additional sugar. While weight loss diets may measure the desirability of a food based on calories, fewer calories doesn’t necessarily mean healthier. The lower fat gelato also contains gum and natural flavors which I prefer to avoid.

Does this mean there are no good choices other than making my own sorbet or freezing a banana? I hate frozen bananas and I don’t want to make sorbet. I just want to grab something cold that’s waiting for me in the freezer when I happen to be hot and hungry.

I’m in luck! I have frozen yogurt bars in my freezer. They’re not perfect. They contain gum and natural flavors, but they’re only 90 calories with 2 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar and active probiotic cultures.

There are many brands of frozen yogurt bars. My current favorite is Blueberry Outshine® Simply Yogurt Bars. Yasso® offers a similar blueberry bar with no fat content, 80 calories and 13 grams of sugar. There are additional gluten-free flavors available in the Outshine and Yasso brands, and a variety made by Stonyfield, Yoplait® and Häagen-Dazs®.
yogurt bar
And I’m sure there are more depending on where you buy your groceries. You can choose your best match by reading the ingredient and nutrition profile then sampling the product. Hmmm, sounds a lot like dating these days, but I digress.

I suppose there are other options, but since the obsolescence of Banana Fudgecicles, I really prefer ice cream as my summer staple. On the other hand, I hate feeling guilty about consuming all those calories. I’m thrilled that Greek yogurt bars limit my portion size, provide probiotics, reduce calories, fat, and sugar, and still have the soft satisfying feel of ice cream. It’s my 2016 summer bonus!

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 21, 2016

Our Easter Bunny is Gluten-Free AND Fun!

Our Easter Bunny is gluten-free and fun! Who doesn’t love an Easter basket? The Easter Bunny’s gifts are so much more exciting than the average under-pillow cash left by the Tooth Fairy. When I was little, the Easter Bunny sometimes brought me a dress or a necklace along with a basket of brightly colored candy treats.
When my kids were small, we had a regular pre-Easter party with some friends who had no children, but loved to dye Easter eggs. We’d don bunny ears, eat some egg shaped jello shots, decorate the eggs, hide them, and let the kids hunt them. It was a regular tradition.

Sometimes it’s tradition that becomes a stumbling block on a gluten-free journey. We feel so attached to the specifics of the tradition that we forget that in reality all traditions evolve and change. Sometimes we inflate the importance of how things have always been over our current schedule restrictions, financial concerns, or health needs. And sometimes our family members pressure us to toe the traditional line in both subtle and overt ways.

One way to prevent a fear of loss, fear of change, or fear of being blackballed from leading you to make unhealthy decisions for you or your children is to get inspired and excited by the additional possibilities. I say additional because you don’t have to give up every single piece of a tradition. You can start with some comfortable, familiar elements and add new, exciting things to them. Think of it as upgrading from a flip phone to a smart phone or watching your favorite TV show online instead of on cable. You can still make phone calls on a smart phone, but you can also swipe your way through photos, use your phone as a TV remote, ask an electronic assistant for directions, voice text, and stream that TV show you now watch online. Additional features enhance the experience.
A gluten-free Easter can still include dyeing Easter eggs, hiding them and hunting them. It can include bunny ears. It can also include an Easter basket filled with Dove chocolate Easter bunnies, Peeps marshmallow chicks, Hershey’s plain milk chocolate kisses wrapped in bright colored foil, Jelly Belly jelly beans, many M&M candy products. You’ll have to leave out my favorite malted milk chocolate Easter eggs, and read all the labels to make sure the ingredients haven’t changed, but the resulting basket will still feel familiar.
color me
If you want to reduce sugar consumption, there are fun Peeps socks, hats, and shirts available. Etsy has a huge variety of Easter jewelry. For puzzle lovers, Puzzle Warehouse offers Easter puzzles from 36 to 1000 pieces.,147&cid=0&budget_from=&budget_to=&sort=mostPopular&show=15&stock=1 HearthSong® has a Color Me Bunny that I’d love to color right now, Hatch ‘Em Eggs with baby animals inside, and about 20 other things I want to play with! Now I feel inspired to play!
Everything seems easier when you’re excited about the possibilities rather than worried about the changes. It can be especially true when you choose a healthy path that means eliminating a food you love. So, find something that excites and inspires you and your gluten-free Easter Bunny will be fun too!
Have an inspiration you want to share? We’d love to hear it!

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 5, 2016

Forget the Resolutions and Pick a New Year’s Theme

Most of us make New Year’s Resolutions that we won’t keep for more than a few weeks, so maybe it’s time to forget the Resolutions and pick a New Year’s Theme. If we’re to believe media reports, most resolutions involve improved personal appearance or health like losing weight, working out more, eating healthy, or stopping some bad habit. Other common resolutions seek to improve our lifestyle by saving money for the future or ridding ourselves of clutter.

I’m not sure anyone really takes New Year’s Resolutions seriously. Maybe that’s the reason we fail so often. It does seem like a good idea to approach each new year as a new beginning in which we can improve our lives. In fact, I’m a big fan of setting intentions for pretty much anything. Unlike goals, intentions simply require that I be mindful, aware, and follow a process rather than achieve a certain outcome. It’s much harder to fail that way! But when it comes to creating a big picture path for the year, creating a theme can be much more fun! And adding more fun to our lives is always an improvement!

What are some possible themes and how could I implement them?

curiosityCuriosity would be a good theme for the year. It’s a choice that could lead me to watch documentary movies, spend time learning programming on Codecademy, attend lectures, try an escape room game, join a meetup group, try online dating, or read science fiction. It would also be a chance to step back and get curious rather than angry in any confrontational interaction.

peacePeace is a good theme for any year. For me, it usually begins with being mindful of spending my time with people who exude calm and kindness. It also means making a choice to curb my impatience when communicating with tech support and customer service reps.

comfortComfort sounds like a possibility. If I choose it, I’ll be mindful each day when I get dressed to choose fabrics that feel good on my skin, shoes that do not hurt my feet (no matter how cute they are), and waistbands that allow me to breathe. I’ll sleep on sheets that feel good. I’ll eat food that doesn’t hurt my tummy. I’ll choose furniture that fits me well.

yogaStillness is one of my favorites. Being able to sit still did not come easy to me, but has given me some of the biggest improvements in quality of life. Stillness can include a practice of meditation or yoga or can just be simply turning off the TV, computer, or phone, and spending time with yourself.

boundariesAfter some thought, I think my theme for 2016 will be boundaries. It’s an oldie, but a goody. Good boundaries are essential for healthy relationships and give me a guilt-free space in which to say, “no”. Lots of things remind me to be conscious of my boundaries: fences, curbs, ropes, hula hoops, parking spaces, walls, cubicles, carrels, plates, placemats, elevators, swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, porch rails, squares, circles, and doors. Lucky for me, the reminders are everywhere.

Are you ready to forget the resolutions and find a theme that will help you focus on improvement all year long? If so, join me and share your theme!

September 1, 2015

NO Labor Day! Ideas for Inexpensive Gluten-Free Holiday Fun

I’m thinking the upcoming holiday really should be revised to NO Labor Day! I’m pretty sure my boys would agree. digger danTo quote one of James’ favorite children’s books: “‘I won’t work. I won’t work. I won’t work today!’ hissed Digger Dan.”(1), and while the day is billed as a day to honor the contributions of American workers, most of us just want to join Digger Dan and take an extra day off! By the time we reach Labor Day in the South, we’re exhausted from relentless heat and humidity. The kids are back in school along with a bazillion activities and we won’t have another break until Thanksgiving. I’m with Digger Dan too – some time off seems right!

I always think it will be fun to spend some time with my friends during a long weekend, but I’m well aware that if I plan a big party or trip, my time off can quickly turn right back into work. Having faced this dilemma many times, the kids and I have come up with a few fun ways for the gluten-free crowd to enjoy the holiday with friends without a lot of work and without breaking the bank! Perhaps you’ll want to give them a try. Here are a few ideas:

A neighborhood parade.
Be sure to divide up all the duties so that no one has too large a task and communicate via group texts.

If you want to go big – One person can get permission from the city to block off the street for a couple of hours.
One person can be the grand marshall for the parade. The grand marshall will decide what time the parade starts and the order in which the participants will appear. One person can be in charge of “floats”. Keep this simple. Have the kids who have wagons bring them already decorated (or not). A few balloons taped to the side or some streamers or paper signs work just fine. If you have some soccer players on your street, they can wear their soccer uniforms and march along together. Taekwondo students can wear their uniforms and much like bands perform in parades, they can stop along the route to perform a basic routine. Another idea is to have everyone dress as what they want to be when they enter the workforce. If someone has an easy way to broadcast music, add music. If not, leave it out. At the end of the route, set up a folding table and lawn chairs and let everyone bring one food item chosen from this list that requires no research of gluten-free food:
Baby carrots
Celery sticks
Cucumber slices
Squash slices
Raw broccoli
Athenos Hummus
Bing or golden cherries
Watermelon slices
Honeydew cubes
Cantaloupe cubes
Sliced kiwi fruit
Potato chips
Tortilla chips
Wholly Guacamole
Cheese cubes

A sprinkler parade.
If you really want to keep things simple, this is a fun variation that’s especially good for a scorchingly hot day! Get all the neighbors to synchronize their automatic sprinklers or drag out the hose with a sprinkler attachment and parade from yard to yard through the spraying water. End with a Slip’n Slide in someone’s yard. In a dry yard, provide a couple of ice chests filled with cold bottles of water and an assortment of single serve gluten-free ice creams (they even have a spoon included), tapioca pudding and rice pudding like these:
Haagen-Dazs Single Serve Cups in Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Coffee, Strawberry, or Dulce de Leche
single ice cream
KozyShack Original Recipe Rice Pudding
KozyShack Original Recipe Tapioca Pudding
KozyShack Original Recipe Chocolate Pudding

If you’re not a fan of parades, invite a few friends over for a Tent Movie Festival. Take the mattresses off your beds and drag them into the TV room (or use air mattresses). Create tents over the mattress area using sheets. For this event, you can even wear your pjs!

At one of these parties, we drank Blake’s fresh jalapeño juice. I’m not going to recommend it as an option for the average consumer, but it was interesting and not as overpowering as I expected. It’s probably a better idea to choose some snacks from the above lists for your menu and then watch movies for hours in your festive movie tents. That’s about as much non-work as I can imagine.
party tent
If you don’t want to bother with the tents, have a Documentary Film Festival with a food theme. Cue up Fed Up; Bite Size; Food, Inc.; Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead; Just Eat It; Super Size Me; and Food Matters. In an ironic twist, James worked as the colorist on several of these movies – so much for having Digger Dan as a hero.

For your film festival, buy an assortment of teas – green, white, rooibos, pu-erh, chai, and passion. Serve them hot, cold, and/or blended into smoothies or milkshakes. Don’t drink too much passion tea in one day. It will make you drowsy and grumpy, not passionate at all. Seriously, I’ve done it and I felt awful!

Of course, your Documentary Film Festival doesn’t have to have a food theme. Cue up Happy; I Am; Print the Legend; Citizenfour; Dancing Outlaw; I Always Do My Collars First; and Naked States. With all the online streaming services, you can stretch this idea into a whole lazy weekend and never run out of options.

Wear a mustache and act surprised!
Sometimes errands pile up and a holiday weekend is a great time to catch up. Of course, that doesn’t sound very fun. Make it fun by gathering friends or family, donning fake mustaches, and then running your regular errands looking surprised! Snap photos or video of yourselves and people’s reactions along the way. When you get home, look back at the photos. The laughter will do you good for a long time to come.
That’s it. Done. You have entertainment, social engagement, food, and fun without a ton of work and expense. Of course there are a million variations on these themes. Let us know what you come up with!

Have fun, and happy NO Labor Day!

(1)Digger Dan by Patricia Lynn (Author), Si Frankel (Illustrator), 1953

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.”