Thursday, October 23, 2014

G-free at Aldi

A few months ago, I gleefully discovered Aldi's Live G-Free in a store. I wasn't sure if this was overstock that would only be there during that one visit, so I bought several items - three different varieties of granola, four baking mixes, crackers and wraps (aka tortillas).  I've since found out that stocking up and hoarding the products is not necessary; it sounds like they'll be regulars at Aldi now. 

Quick reviews, then I’ll get to the real point here:

Granola: 2.5/5 stars. I don’t like the texture. I’m not sure which ingredient it is I don’t like, but it doesn’t seem to soften at all in milk (almond, of course) and it left a weird residue in my mouth. I’ll pay a little more for my favorite kinds from other stores.
Baking mixes: 3.5-4/5 stars. I’ve used the yellow cake mix in a few recipes (but not as an actual cake) and it worked great. I’ve also used the cornbread mix twice. It is delicious, but very sweet – sugar is one of the first ingredients. I have brownie mix, cookie mix and pizza crust mix that I have used yet.
Crackers: 4 / 5 stars. Love them. The texure is thinner and lighter than Crunchmaster, but I really like them. The Rosemary and Garlic is kind of salty. I prefer the Sea Salt – great with nut butter and fruit for a quick snack.

The real point of is blog is the wraps. I freaking love them. I’d been using Toufayan and like them okay, but they don’t seem to travel well and get crunchy/chewy too quickly. I give the Live G-free wraps 5 / 5 stars. They taste like the wraps I used to know and love. They are thin enough to easily wrap, but don’t fall apart too easily. They do not need to be refrigerated. I’ve rediscovered my love of burritos and wraps again.

This week I’ve had chicken, black bean and avocado wraps twice and today it was a regular old burrito with ground turkey, black beans, salsa, and lettuce. Here’s my tricks to a good lunch-time wrap:

  1. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 12”x12” and set it aside.
  1. Get ingredients ready for wrap – meat, beans, veggies, avocado, hummus, greek yogurt…whatever you want. I’ve found that it tends to work best if the filling is room temperature or warmer. I heat up the meat and beans. I also mix everything up at this point so it is well-distributed in the wrap.
  1. Place wrap on plate and cover with microwave-safe plastic or another plate. (you could also heat it on the stove in a pan over a low temperature – you don’t want it to get toasted, but soft). Microwave for about 20 seconds.
  1. Immediately slide wrap onto center of foil square and dump ingredients in middle of wrap.
  1. Fold up one side of the wrap to make an end. Then fold one side over, then the other side. As you fold up the wrap, keep the aluminum foil tight around the wrap, starting with folding over the bottom so the wrap stays together. Once you have the entire wrap folded up in foil, tuck the top over to close the foil and keep everything inside.
  1. When you eat, start at the top (Mark the “top” with a marker if you need to so you can make sure this is the end you start from) and slowly remove the foil as you eat so nothing falls out.  
This method has kept my wraps nice and soft even when stored in the fridge until time to eat.



Chicken Avocado Wrap
3 oz shredded chicken
1/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 avocado, diced
1 green onion, chopped
Dash of cumin
Dash of salt
Sriracha, to taste (optional)
1 gluten-free wrap

Mix chicken and black beans in a small bowl. Microwave on high about 1 minute. Mix in other ingredients except wrap.


Following instructions above, place ingredients in wrap and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Eat it. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lemon update

I succeeded with both the dishes I made this weekend. Although it did take two rounds to get the rice right. Lemon juice in the water when steaming rice, makes the rice stickier than I would like.

Lemon Rice Salad
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 tsp lemon zest
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
¼ cup green onions, chopped
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup craisins

Dressing:
½ tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Using rice cooker, stove top or microwave steamer; cook rice according to directions, but add 1 tsp of lemon zest to water before steaming.
  2. While rice is cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients.
  3. Once rice is done, fluff with fork.
  4. Combine rice, spinach, onions, walnuts and dried cranberries. Toss with dressing.
  5. Serve at room temperature.


Gluten-Free Lemon Sugar Cookies
1 box gluten free yellow cake mix
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup (1 stick) of butter or your favorite butter substitute, softened
1 egg or 1 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 3-4 Tbsp water (if using flax “egg,” let sit for 5-10 minutes to gel)
1 tsp vanilla
Yellow food coloring, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare two cookie sheets for cookies – I like to use parchment paper on my cookie sheets to prevent sticking.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg, butter and vanilla with electric mix. If using food coloring, add it now. 
  4. Add cake mix and lemon juice. Mix until forms a dough.
  5. Roll rounded spoonfuls of dough into balls and place onto cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 11-12 minutes in preheated oven.
  7. Let cool a couple minutes after removing from oven.


Yields about 2 dozen cookies. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lemony inspiration

I'm sorry I'm not a daily or even weekly blogger anymore. I really do enjoy what I do at work, but working every evening in addition to all day AND continuing to work out or run everyday doesn't leave a lot of extra time. And did I mention I've got a pretty active 9-year-old to chauffer around as well? This year we're trying swimming twice a week and eventually if she enjoys it, that will progress to four days a week. sigh.

But this weekend is Labor Day and I'm taking a four-day weekend...so minimal work. But I have a family cookout on Sunday so I have to come up with dishes. Lemons are inspiring me right now. We had a pretty mild summer here in Indiana and just recently in the past two weeks it's finally gotten hot and humid so I want that light taste of lemon. My plan is lemon sugar cookies (gluten-free, of course and possibly vegan - I haven't decided if I'm going to get all crazy and include *gasp* butter in them - sometimes I'll eat a little dairy and cross my fingers) and a rice salad.

For the lemon sugar cookies, I plan one of two recipes I've found online - one uses a gluten free baking mix + sugar and lemon juice and zest. The other uses gluten-free cake mix with lemon. Not sure which I'll go with. It might depend on whether or not any of the GF cake mixes are on sale!

For the rice salad, it's just a concept right now. I have the wild rice salad recipe that I like. I want something similar to that. Also, I've had lemon rice at my favorite Indian restaurant (which unfortunately is located in California) and I want to something that will taste similar. The ingredients so far are black rice, jasmine rice, lemon juice and zest, spinach, green onions and walnuts. I'll probably cook the rice in some lemon juice and add the zest to a dressing I'll make with olive oil and a little rice vinegar. We'll see how it goes. I'll be back to update, assuming it all works out, later this weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By golly, it's gazpacho!

This will be a quick one because I'm super busy...hence the lack of posts. I took a new job in February and I'm working more hours, but I haven't cut back on any of my other commitments so this fell by the wayside. But in searching for camping recipes I found one that I modified (of course) and it got really high marks from the family (well, 3/4 of the family) and it's super easy.

Gazpacho

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cucumber, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, optional...or add more if you like!
Salt to taste


Puree half in a blender or food processor, then mix back into the chunkier portion. Serve cold or at room temperature. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Warm soup, cold day

So we've been sucked into a polar vortex here in Indianapolis and we can't seem to get up into the double digits for more than a day or so. Soup seems to be on the menu a lot. This weekend I made version of Olive Garden's zuppa toscano - a potato and kale soup with Italian sausage. I still have one bowl of that soup left. And tonight I used the butternut squash I've had stashed away into a soup.

I love butternut squash, but it's such trouble to peel and cube. I wish my local grocery store carried already cubed squash. But it does not. So I do the work myself. Anyway, I had butternut squash and I had pork loin leftover from the weekend. I decided sliced pork with a curried squash soup on the side sounded good. I had a similar soup at the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful a couple weeks ago when I went to visit my sister in Yellowstone country.

Here's what I did.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, deseeded and cubed
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup chicken broth
Cilantro for garnish

Steam butternut squash until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

In a medium pot, combine squash with coconut milk, tomato paste, spices.  Puree squash with immersion blender until ingredients are well combined. Add broth slowly until the soup is the consistency you like. (You can also use a food processor or blender to puree the mixture, then simmer.)


Over medium heat, let simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Add cilantro for garnish.  

Serves 2 bowls, or 4 cups of soup. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In denial

I'm getting a cold. I don't want to admit it, but I've got the pressure in my head and that little tickle at the back of my throat making me want to clear it all the time. So tonight may be an early night.

In the meantime, I'll keep drinking my water, shots of Emergen-C and tea until I feel like I've kicked it.

Tonight's dinner was black bean tacos with diced onions, avocado and salsa on corn tortillas. I had three of them. The kiddo had cheese nachos.


Water drinking 101 and some other random advice for today

This started out about some random things I was thinking and became a blog about how to drink a water. We'll start out with the random though.

After you blog about being exhausted, don't try to catch up on your DVRed shows; you'll just fall asleep and miss most of them. I always think maybe I can just close my eyes during the commercials, but we all know that just doesn't work.

If you find an item of clothing you love, buy a few of them. If you buy most of your clothes at thrift shops and you find an item you love...well it sucks to be you (or me, in this case). Thankfully the currently pair of pants I love this winter are from Kohls, so I'm stocking up in multiple colors. Last year's pair was from Goodwill and eventually the zipper broke. Yeah, I realize I probably could have found someone who could replace the zipper, but I would have ended up spending more than the jeans were worth and they probably would have sprouted holes as soon as I paid for the repair. :(

Don't drink a gallon of water on the day you have to sit for prolonged periods of time or won't have easy access to a bathroom. This should be obvious, but sometimes I forget. On second thought, maybe you should drink water on days you have to sit for a long time so you are required to get up and move/stretch your legs.

When I'm trying to drink more, I use a 20ish oz water bottle. I fill it up from the water cooler first thing in the morning at work. Then I make sure to finish it before I go to the bathroom and I refill it each time I go to the bathroom. I've been doing this for awhile, so I can drink 20+oz between each bathroom stop - I suggest a smaller (10-12 oz maybe) container if you are just starting to drink more water. Your bladder will adjust.

Also, and this you may not know, if you drink a gallon of water a day, you might want to add a small amount of salt to it (like 1/2 tsp per gallon) to avoid an electrolyte imbalance - yes, too much water can be a bad thing. You won't taste the salt, but your body will appreciate it. I keep a small container of Himalayan salt and a measuring spoon in my desk at work for this purpose.

Using a dry erase marker, put a tally on the side of your water bottle each time you fill it up during the day to track how much water you drink (I tally when I finish each bottle - I had 135 oz during the workday yesterday).

Two yummy snack ideas:
  • PB Yogurt - Plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I like Fage) + PB2 + honey + cinnamon. Great as a dip for apples. Or just eat it with a spoon. I'm guilty of both. 
  • Popcorn, roasted almonds and dark chocolate chips mixed together in a bowl. (I wait until the popcorn is cooled so the chocolate doesn't melt, but you might want the chocolate to melt). Do it.
That's all for now.