Why I Eat Gluten Free

Why do I eat gluten free? Should you?

Of course it seems super trendy, and I’ll be the first to admit I jumped on that bandwagon a few years ago.  It promised less inflammation, probably weight loss (less carbs!), and an overall high vibe wellness-y life!  Seemingly so at least.  To be clear, when I “went gluten free” back then, it was with little purpose other than testing it out, hoping it would be the golden ticket to perfect health and my perfect body. I never actually was very strict about it.  I would pretty much get a packaged product and think, “ooo, it’s gluten free!  It must be healthy!”  And, if there was something amazing like say, fried pickles or a delectable cookie, I’d eat it, guiltily. Needless to say, I never noticed a difference.

I was feeling pretty lackluster and very low on important vitamin levels for a few months despite eating very cleanly and (what I thought was) super healthy. I finally got a food sensitivity test done when all my other tests came back negative (thankful) for other major issues.  To the best of my knowledge, I do not have Celiac Disease or an allergy to wheat or gluten.  However, I have a severe sensitivity to gluten, wheat, rye, and soy.  This is actually a lesser-known issue they call Non-Celian Gluten Sensitivity. I truly can tell when I’ve been “glutened.” This is a personal choice of mine to stay away from it as much as possible.  I am far from perfect and thankfully a little bit here and there or cross-contamination will not cause lasting physical effects that I feel.  But I do know, when I knowingly have something with those ingredients in it, I feel tired, sometimes get stomach pains, my throat will hurt, and my eyes feel dry.

It’s really important to keep in mind just how different we all are.  This might not do anything for you!  Or maybe you have it worse than me and have a true allergy or Celiac’ s and need to avoid it completed.

There might not be any reason to avoid gluten/wheat, and you don’t have to!, but if you do want to give it a try it might help if you have an autoimmune disease to lower inflammation, lift brain fog, and help with digestion issues, among other things. Remember, just because something is gluten free does not mean it’s better!  Still focus on whole foods when you can.

Right now I do not worry too much about cross-contamination if I would really like to try something. That might change or it might not.  Plus, I will have something like a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery if I’m in NYC.  I just will try my best the rest of the day to be completely G-free so I don’t end up feeling totally wiped.  Another thing I do is pay close attention to how I feel after eating something new. Sometimes I might eat something with oats (usually have cross-contamination), and will feel some negative effects.  If that happens I probably won’t buy that brand/item again.

*Hot tip: This is controversial but I can tell a big difference taking an activated charcoal pill after I’ve been glutened.  Just don’t rely on it!

This is just one tiny piece of the puzzle when it comes to health and wellness so take it with a grain of salt.  I’ve been testing things out for YEARS and finally feel like I’m more in tune with what makes me feel best.

Something different works for all of us.  Wellness is not one size fits all. I don’t eat like this for any other reason other than I feel my best without these ingredients.

Leave a comment and tell me why or why not you eat gluten free!  Or if you have any questions, I’d love to see if I can answer them.

~Whitney

 

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Current Favorite Snacks

My eating habits have had such a roller coaster ride over the last few years.

I’m pretty over labels and rules and restrictions and anything else that tells me I can’t have this or need to eat that.  However, I’m still into health and feeling my best. I’ve cut out certain foods off and on for years. Seriously, I’d say almost 15 years.  I was searching for that magic bullet, the mystical diet that would change my digestion, my body, and my life.

I’m here to say that diet does not exist. Maybe paleo works for you right now but it may not in a year. Maybe I feel better eating less sugar this month but by September I might feel just as good having dessert every single night.  Things change, so do I.

I know now that I can have whatever I want (except bananas. I really believe I have an allergy…), in moderation. “Moderation” can be an annoying term but it really means something different to everyone. I just had to figure out my own moderation.

Anyway, I’m talking about my current favorite snacks that make me happy and satisfied. Maybe you’ll find something new!

Epic Bars

I’m a little tired of most snacks, especially bars, being sweet. I’ve always been more of a savory/salty person so these are perfect!  It’s more portable than jerky and has great, clean ingredients.  Fave flavor is the Bison Bacon Cranberry but I’ve tried a bunch and they’re all good.

Siggi’s Simple Sides

So far I liked the Almonds and Dried Cherries flavor the best. I’ve eated these for breakfast along with a muffin or just alone for a snack. I love the crunch that the toppings add because I’ve never been one for the normal texture of plain yogurt. I love that there’s like 16 grams of protein in each one because I notice I feel fuller longer when I have enough.

Happy Yummies Gummy Bears

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I am not super into candies. Normally I’d rather pick chocolate but since I’ve been experimenting with running fuel (which gummies are great for!), I randomly picked these up at Marshalls on clearance the other week.  They really are some of the best gummies!  The bag I bought has 12 flavors, like Pink Grapefruit and  lemon, and they’re the softest, non-sticky gummies I’ve ever had. It’s nice to grab just like five or six of them after lunch for something sweet.

Black Bean Brownie Bites

And my final snack I’ve been having lately is black bean brownie bites! Really, this is such a good version of them. You would never know the beans are in them, but it gives them such a great, dense texture and really compliments the chocolate well. I love the bite size and the chunks of chocolate chips in them. I’ve been having one after dinner and it’s the cutest little dessert to end the night! This recipe made about 20 so I froze them to keep whenever I want a treat.

‘Till next time!

💕Whitney

Whitney Lately Vol. 1

Listening Lately:

Jess Glynne, Ella Henderson, and Leona Lewis

Those empowering girl singers were my music of choice this week.

I love this song.  It makes me want to smile and dance around in the kitchen.

Watching lately:

Grace & Frankie: Binge-watch an old lady show?  Check.  It’s hilarious and I’m sad I’m all caught up and have to wait months for new eps.

Drinking lately:

Mango LaCroix 

Love love love sparkling water for when I need something other than plain water or coffee. I picked up this flavor at Whole Foods.  It’s now my current fave.

Eating lately:

Gluten free Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

This warm, melty chocolate cake was excellent with the cold ice cream from The Peanut Bar. I’m impressed it was gluten free! It would have been a little too sweet all to myself though. It’s meant to be shared!

Wearing lately:

Leather half gloves

I’m obsessed with keeping my hands soft, especially in the winter, but I hate the fact that gloves are either too big for my child-sized hands or they’re bulky and don’t let me pick up anything.  These are so cute.  (Butttt, not warm. I wore them in NYC in December last year and almost got frost bite. I had to buy thicker gloves in Bryant Park because I literally couldn’t use my fingers at that point. Sorry!  Style over comfort every time. )

Mine were from eBay like five years ago. Here is a similar pair.

Loving lately:

2018 Winter Olympics

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics

The Olympics only happen every 2 years and obviously, the Winter is every 4 years, so this is big!  Closely related to my addiction to sports movies, the Olympics are the best of the best for inspo of all kinds.  Endless motivational stories and competitions and history-in-the-making for 2.5 weeks straight! I’ve been watching them for as long as I can remember.  No lie. Like, probably since Keri Strug stuck her landing. I had a kid’s book about Michelle Kwan and I’m still semi-crushing on Apolo Ohno. Ahh, I can’t wait! Whitney heaven.

Have a lovely weekend!  Do something that lights you up.

~Whitney Victoria

Mocha Protein Muffins – Gluten Free & Vegan

Sometimes I want to eat cake for breakfast…but when I actually do that I end up on a downward spiral for the rest of the day, craving more sugar, more carbs, more unhealthy anything.  These muffins can be a great option for those days when I really want the cake without the crap.  IMG_7395

This is the nice middle ground between a muffin and a brownie.  I tweaked a recipe from Tone It Up. These aren’t dry like some gluten free recipes and they have a rich chocolate flavor because of the coffee.  Coffee brings out I learned that from Ina.

So easy. Tasty as a snack or dessert.

Mocha Protein Muffins

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 oat flour

3/4 cup vegan chocolate protein powder (using this kind at the moment)

1/4 cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/4 cup raw honey

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup coffee

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax dissolved in 2 tbsp water)

Instructions:

Mix dry ingredients together. Add all wet ingredients. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.  (I prefer coconut oil spray) Pour batter evenly Bake 24-28 minutes until just firm.

Let me know what you think!

~Whitney Victoria

 

Food In Review

First off, let me just say I’m pretty happy the Eagles finally did it again. I heard fireworks and people hooting and hollering in the neighborhood! But….. that doesn’t mean I watched any of it. I was refreshing the score a tad obsessively near the end though…Wait, I lie!  I watched this Chris Pratt commercial…twice, and I’m not apologizing.  He makes me happy.  Just following my bliss…hah.

It’s not news that I’m obsessed with grocery shopping.  The food, the endless new products, the coffee bars, , the mini carts with cupholders to carry the coffee I just bought…The only thing I don’t love is the freezing temperature that somehow is not just in the frozen aisles.  Another recent trip to Whole Foods was as delightful to be expected.

Also unsurprisingly, I love trying new healthy products and want to share whatever I learn.  As much fun as it is to do some testing, it’s not great fun to spend my hard-earned money on something I don’t like and end up ditching.  Thus, I’m a nerd who reads food reviews.  Here are some of my own!  Most of my new purchases are snacks.  You know snacks are the best.

Ripple Half and Half

I’m usually into black coffee but lately I’ve been wanting just little bit of milk to smooth it out.  If I ever add something to my coffee, I prefer real half and half for the richness it adds without the sweetness.  There are a lot non-dairy creamers out there and I am underwhelmed by most of them.  I recently discovered Califia Farms line and enjoy it but I’m not settled enough to stop trying new ones.  I’ve seen Ripple milk for awhile but never saw the half and half until this weekend.  Pleased to say it’s great for a creamy touch with only 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon and clean, pea protein.

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Verdict: Great as a non-dairy sub for half and half. Not so great if you’re into sugary creamers.

Whole Foods Americano 

IMG_7474Wow, I can’t believe I waited this long to get an Americano from the WF coffee bar.  It was delicious just straight up, no cream. I’m still finishing it up cold because I’m weird and drink coffee any way I can get it.

Verdict: Bold.  Yes, please.  Trading it in for the Costa Rican blend I usually go for.

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I love salt.  I used to be a cracker addict.  I could finish half a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting.  The problem with that is it’s all chemicals, gluten, and artificial dyes. These rice snaps are not low sodium but they are gluten-free, crispy, and richly flavorful.  The first word that comes to mind when I try to describe the taste is umami. According to Urban Dictionary, it’s definition is the pretentious way of saying the 5th human taste (salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory, aka “umami”) Sorry, I watch a lot of Top Chef…

Verdict: Satisfying as lunch topped with tuna and good with hummus or avocado as a snack.

Hail Merry Sea Salt Caramel Bites

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I am doing a gluten detox for at least three months to get it out of my system and I really wanted something cake-like yesterday.  It’s not that easy to find, even at a Whole Foods.  No, this wasn’t the heavenly WF carrot cake that I was craving but these little, refrigerated cookies were good.  Butttt, these were an impulse buy, fueled by hunger so I didn’t realize they were coconut macaroons.  I was hoping for more of a crumbly/pastry-type cookie.

Verdict: I’d buy them again if I’m looking for a coconut taste and texture.  The sweet caramel flavor was nice and I only needed one to feel like I had dessert.

P.S. This Cookie Dough Is Good Ror You

It’s edible, protein-packed, chickpea-based cookie dough.  Um, duh.  And, it’s in a nice little container for 190 calories.  This is nice because I’ll admit I’ve bought those terrible, break-off pre-made cookie dough packs and popped them like candy…like you haven’t.  I’m glad this is one serving.  No need to have an endless supply of dough in my fridge.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH

Verdict: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough flavor was pretty amazing. If I didn’t know it was chickpeas, I don’t think I would have guessed it was conventional cookie dough.

Anyone buy any random new foods lately?  Obviously, I’m always open to suggestions!

~Whitney Victoria Eating well is a form of self respect - AZENDA.com

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Walnut Apple Oat Muffins (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Funny story.  I’m making a pecan pie for Thanksgiving and had all my ingredients last week.  I was super proud of myself for having everything ready to go so early.  I was in the kitchen and glanced at the counter where I had that bags and noticed my pecans said “walnuts” on the bag!  Hah, I thought it was a little hilarious that I got everything but the pecans for a pecan pie.  I’m actually excited for this pie.  It’s a Whitney creation…Suffice it say, I had a large bag of chopped walnuts burning a hole in my pocket.

Enter these muffins.  I wanted to make something breakfast-worthy.  That means filling, with some fiber and protein, and not loaded with sugar.  I found this recipe then added my own spin, like I do.

These muffins are moist, hearty, and just sweet enough to still taste like a treat!  The nutty topping adds an extra crunch.

There were pretty many ingredients but they most things you probably have on hand.
img_8131.jpgPre-baked muffins.IMG_9597Post-baked muffins!img_2983.jpgI had some overflow onto another pan since the apples bulked it up.  I think next time I’ll split the batter for exactly 12 muffins.  I like high muffins that rise up over the paper edges.  It makes them look more like bakery-style ones!  img_6845.jpg

Another option could be pear and almond!  That might be good actually.

Walnut Apple Oat Muffins

(Approx. 12-16 muffins)

Ingredients:

     Muffins:

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax with 2 tbsp water)
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
  • 1-1/4 cups gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 apples, chopped

     Topping:

  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (use salted butter if you’re not following a vegan diet)

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Fill muffin tins with liners
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the applesauce, milk, melted coconut oil and flax egg until blended.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients (oats, flour, walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).
  5. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Fold in chopped apple.
  7. Fill muffin cups until they’re full.
  8. In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients.
  9. Gently press topping over the batter in each cup.
  10. Bake for 16 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  Let’s be real and think of some things to appreciate.

~Whitney Victoria

Autumn Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (GF!)

Happy Monday morning!

I’m all about the Christmas vibes already.  Got my first holiday Starbucks cup of the season and felt like a tiny child, ready for Santa.

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I’ve been meal prepping for the holidays, all geared up to bake all the recipes I can.

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I’m in love with these flowers I got at the farmer’s market for $5!  They’re cute and just what I want to see when I walk in the front door.

img_6255.jpgLet’s start things off fresh with some fall-inspired breakfast treats.  I wanted pancakes, and I wasn’t feeling my protein versions.  They are great most of them time but really don’t compare to the real thing.  However, I didn’t feel like eating the original, white flour recipe that only keeps me full for about an hour.

Fuji apples make me drool.  They’re always so sweet and crisp and I wanted them in breakfast.

IMG_6269Oh, and I had some brown rice flour I’ve been meaning to use up so they just so happened to be gluten free and fabulous.

These pancakes are soft and fluffy and are the perfect recipe to prep the night before for a Fall brunch or prep for the week’s breakfast like I did.  I loosely based mine off this recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes – Gluten Free

Makes about 6 pancakes

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup almond milk 

2 eggs

1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seed soaked in 2 tbs water – takes about 90 seconds)

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

2 tsp honey – I used raw

1 tsp cinnamon

1 chopped apple – I like keeping the skin on but you could peel it!

  • Whisk eggs together with flax egg
  • Add milk
  • Add in melted coconut oil
  • Add honey, salt, and baking soda
  • Whisk in flour until there are no lumps
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight
  • Spray pan and cook on stovetop at medium heat, flipping once.
  • Enjoy topped with sliced apples, 1 tsp butter, and 1 tsp maple syrup per 2 pancakesimg_6286.jpg.

This same recipe would be great with blueberries or chocolate chips too!  Let me know if you try them, please!

What are you favorite pancake mix-ins?

~Whitney Victoria

 

 

Meal With a View

Continuing my recap of Connecticut, I thought I’d focus on some amazing food we experienced. The first night we were there, we were craving lobster rolls.  I googled it so see who was serving them in close proximity to our hotel since I wasn’t up for a long car ride after the drive up there.  I found Sunset Grille.  It was about 6 miles from where we were staying and they had a waterfront view!  We lucked out and it was literally the last day of the season that the restaurant was open!  It was nothing special as far as decor goes, but the ambiance was there with the yachts, sea breeze, and delicious food.

IMG_5756IMG_5746IMG_5814IMG_5762IMG_5731They had two kinds of lobster rolls. One was warm with butter, and the other was cold with mayo and herbs. Both were amazing.  We got one of each and then split them!  I couldn’t decide my favorite.  The french fries were also seriously great.  I didn’t leave one on the plate.img_5852.jpg

Up close and personal. IMG_5832IMG_5751IMG_5817IMG_5878We found a beach down the road that was free to walk on since it was October.  It was so windy but really fun to just walk around and look out at the water. IMG_5805IMG_5904The next day was New Haven. The little shop was called Maison Mathis and had a great vibe.IMG_5972 This was an impromptu stop for coffee and I got a wonderful brown butter chocolate chip cookie. I wish I took a picture to commemorate it and would like to make my own batch.  img_5942.jpgI’m a tad OCD about researching things so I did my homework and knew about most of the cafes within 5 miles of the Yale campus. We hit Claire’s Corner Copia for a late lunch.  Isn’t that such a cute name?  They specialize in vegan and gluten-free food and have been open since 1975! I had some Asian noodles and veggies.  It was so filling and satisfying after a day of walking around the city.  But, it also tasted light and healthy.  After not having real homemade bread for, basically years, this little loaf was breathtaking.  I was obsessed with it, ate every crumb, and want some more.  I had some unsweetened blueberry iced tea that was little tart.  I actually added stevia and I hardly ever need to do that.  IMG_6046IMG_6047Our third day was for traveling home.  I found a cute, organic spot for brunch called Baldanza in New Canaan.  I have to say, my brioche french toast was probably the best french toast I’ve ever had.  Uncured bacon and fair-trade coffee were musts.  I loved the diverse but clean choices there.  Next time I’m in town, I’ll be back. IMG_6002IMG_5815img_5726.jpg

My mom had the gluten-free egg sandwich and also said it was the best ever!  Mmmmm.IMG_5924

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I think my biggest smiles are when I’m posing with food.  I’m not ashamed one bit.

~Whitney Victoria

Health Food Finds

I hit up my favorite health food store today because I was craving a diet Coke and really did not want the chemicals.  It gives me an instant headache with the aspartame!  But, I was so sick of lemon water and I wanted something sweet.  I knew I needed some Zevia.  it’s an amazing all natural soda sweetened with stevia and I swear it tastes so similar to regular soda that I like it better taste wise.  My favorite is Dr. Zevia, the Dr. Pepper version. Mmmm, they have every kind now like orange, citrus, cola, grape, root beer, ginger ale!

Of course I couldn’t leave with just a 95 cent can of soda so I wandered out, paper bag in hand (I was disappointed in myself for not bringing a canvas tote like a good little wellness hipster would), filled with some products that I’m ready to try!

Coconut butter.  It’s also sometimes referred to as “coconut manna.” Manna meaning miracle food.  Maybe not quite miraculous but it is pretty good.  I’ve had it before but not this brand.  I’m excited to try it because the other kinds I’ve had were not very smooth.  What do you do with it?  Well, I do a lot!  It’s just like coconut oil in that it hardens when cold so I’ve drizzled it on frozen blueberries or orange slices.  Try it on a piece of dark chocolate for a seriously rich dessert or use it in the place of wherever you use nut butter.  It melts in your mouth!  A lot of paleo recipes like this one use coconut butter too these days.

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Reishi Detox tea.  Reishi is the new cacao.  It’s about to be everywhere, mark my words.  This tea jumped out at me on the shelf so into my cart it went!  I felt like tea would be a more subtle way to try out the Reishi.  This has dandelion root (a common herb in detox teas that aids the liver in eliminating toxins), cinnamon bark, carob, etc.  According to Wellness Teas, Reishi is known as the mushroom of immortality, supports healthy immunity, and delivers antioxidants to boost your body’s natural defenses.” Reishi also offers cardiovascular system and brain/mood support, as well as natural energy support.

The tea is “a spice-kissed, velvety brew”  Boy, do I love good copy!  That description is quite cheeky.  Who doesn’t want a velvety brew??  It’s worth a shot, right?IMG_5050

Know Brainer coffee creamer: I can honestly say I’ve never seen this product before!  It’s hard to show me something new when I read natural health magazines in my down time…This is a coffee creamer that is capitalizing on the huge ketogenic/Bulletproof coffee boom.  I tried blending coconut oil in my coffee probably 3 years ago now, and every time it would be like an oil slick on the top no matter how hard my Magic Bullet tried.  Plus, it was supposed to keep me full for hours….it made no difference at all in my ravenous appetite.  I’m totally open to trying it again.  Maybe I missed something…?

This product has me optimistic!  Also dairy-free, it’s called “The Thinker’s Creamer” for gosh sake.  It does have 200 calories so it’s not like you’re adding a dash of splenda, but the point is to get your healthy fats in your brain in the morning.  I’ll report back!IMG_5046

Last things!

Aidell’s Chicken Meatballs: I adore the chicken sausage from Aidell’s already, but never felt the meatball call….hah!  Caramelized onion seemed like the right flavor to tempt me.  This brand is gluten-free, nitrite-free, uses all natural ingredients, and tastes great in place of beef.  They are fully-cooked already so you just have to heat them up!  I usually throw them in the oven to brown them (375 degrees).  I prefer one step up from burnt…I also baked them on a tray with grape tomatoes and sliced onions for a veggie side.  Roasting brings out the sweetness in some vegetable like these.  I could eat trays full of it.  (The cute little tomahtoes are from Giant.) img_5045.jpg

Since we’re on the vegetable train, for supper tonight I roasted cauliflower and asparagus with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.  It’s addicting!IMG_5063

P.S. I’m prepping a “conventional” recipe day tomorrow for a work thing. Sometimes it’s totally understandable baking with butter and sugar!  Balance, balance, balance.  After all, we can’t deny Ina’s genius.   Stay tuned for a Barefoot Contessa Chocolate Chunk Blondie bonanza.

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Anyone try any wellness product lately?  I’d love to hear about something new!

~Whitney Victoria