Day 12 Gluten free: Learning about cross-contamination the hard way…

Day 12: My husband bought me my first gluten free cupcake yesterday from Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery in Dallas. DELICIOUS. Feeling like a judge on cupcake wars, I took a bite and was won over by the moist chocolate cake and sugary chocolate ganache frosting. Yes, I am still on my diet blog world. It was worth every calorie! I have been under my calorie goal all week. It was worth the splurge!

I don’t want to feel deprived and isolated because of gluten. With all the gf choices in Dallas, I have a feeling my world will start to open up once I research and find more options. We went to a restaurant that is very conscience of gluten + allergens and the importance of not cross-contaiminating the food.

For instance, we had Chipolte for lunch. I watched them make my complete meal. I even asked them to change their gloves before touching my food. My glorious bowl of cilantro rice with chicken, cheese, lettuce, fresh tomato salsa, sour cream and corn chips…all gluten free. It’s the biggest meal I have eaten since giving up gluten and it felt good. We were able to have a normal day.

Cross contamination happened to me on Day 8 when I had a spinach salad at Le Madeline. I thought for sure I made good choices, but when you eat dinner in a restaurant that serves almost everything with gluten full ingredients…you risk the chances of getting burned. I did. After dinner, we went to Tom Thumb for groceries, and I barely made it through the produce section. After violent cramps and a dangerously close call to the bathroom, I vowed to never “take my chances” again.

Gluten is evil. My life for the last year has felt like the stomach flu every day.  No one should have to live in torture.

I love my husband so much for sticking with me through this time of transition. We are realizing that he can’t cross contaminate our food either. For example, we can no longer share our foods. He has to keep his gluten contaminated knife out of my jar of peanut butter. He can’t spill Raisin bran all over the counter without contaminating the entire counter surface. It has to be wiped down.  We have been married for seven months. I know that with my improving health…he will no longer have to see me at my sickest or weakest. I love this man.

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Gluten-free diet is not a fad diet choice for me

Yes. My weight has fluctuated drastically in my adult years. Announcing today that I have to eat gluten-free foods is not my attempt at riding some fad diet wave to lose weight. I’m sick. Gluten is making me very sick.

I empathize with anyone who suffers from digestion issues. It’s a craptastic way to live.

I didn’t want to blog about weight loss or diets. I am terrible at maintaining my weight losses. I’ve been very successful at losing weight when I get on a health and exercise kick…but then I aways take it a little too far, and bounce back to fat again.

However, I feel like in 2014 that I could have a breakthrough in finally finding a balance to physical health and want to share what I learn. This is not going to be a blog bragging about how my body fits in new clothes, but an honest look at how I take charge of my health.

I will no longer yo-yo back and forth. Join me on the journey.

Economic Edibles: Chicken Cheesesteaks

sandwhichI love cooking with beer! When I found this chicken cheesesteak recipe on the blog over at Sally Cooks, I had to try it out! Mr. Cooper and I hate to be in a cooking rut.  These hearty sandwiches were a hit. Thanks so much, Sally!

Here is my take on the recipe:

  1. On the bottom of the crockpot, add a layer onion, green, red, yellow and jalapeño peppers. I used the frozen ones I already chopped (fresh from the farmer’s market).
  2. Mince four garlic cloves. Add to the pot.
  3. Add two large chicken breasts. It is okay if they are frozen, too.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken with a 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
  5. Pour a bottle of your favorite beer on top of the chicken. I used a 12 ounce bottle of Bud Light. It was the perfect amount.
  6. Cover and cook. I cooked this for 4 hours on HIGH. Sally suggests you cook it 6-8 hours on LOW. It will taste amazing either way. I didn’t have six hours before my hubby came home.
  7. Once it is done cooking, use a fork and shred the chicken. The meat falls apart.
  8. You can serve this with or without buns. I put two slices of ultra thin provolone cheese on a deli bun and topped it with chicken cheesesteak. Enjoy!

This sandwich will warm you up! There was enough left over for his lunch tomorrow! This one is on my economic edibles list!

Menu Planning + Ideas for saving money

We had some unexpected bills happen this week (car repairs we did not budget). I am genuinely frugal when it comes to grocery shopping.  However, with the car drama, I need to be extra strategic in menu planning.

This is not a “happy housewife” blog post. I am far from the Betty Crocker wannabe that some women in the 50’s dreamed up.   There is nothing wrong with being a housewife…and this situation is only temporary.

I fill my days with trying to figure out ways to make our lives run smoother while waiting on my opportunity. In order to make our income last longer, I have implemented some money saving strategies:

  • I clip coupons
  • I shop the sale ads
  • I freeze leftovers so we can use them in his lunch box
  • I make a plan for the week’s meals

Having a plan is the biggest part of the strategy.  Its just not economical to eat what you are hungry for at the moment. It is much more effective to make a meal that can turn into a next day lunch or pop into the freezer for the next week. Four months into this marriage and unemployment…I have figured this out. Not having a plan is too expensive and not healthy on the waistline.

What you are your ideas to keep lunch and dinner ideas fresh and cost effective?

Celebrating birthdays across many miles…

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Happy birthday, Mom!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday today! Even though she lives in Indiana (1400 miles away), Mr. Cooper and I wanted to send some birthday wishes, smiles and giggles. It wasn’t possible for me to fly home to spend the day with her. Instead, we did a few of her favorite things.

1. Eat tacos for birthday dinner. Check.

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2. Send a silly birthday greeting. Check.

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3. Indulge in a homemade cake made by her beautiful and creative daughter. Check. 🙂

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4. Sing her Happy birthday and tell her I love her…priceless. Thank goodness for FaceTime! I love you, Mom!

Side Dish Search: Jalapeño Cornbread (Happy Fall y’all)

My favorite season: FALL! This is my first autumn equinox not in Indiana, and I hope Texas will not disappoint in this season of splendor. The leaves are not turning the majestic oranges and reds yet as they do in Indiana. I am just grateful of how it is pleasant to be outside again. Texas is one hot state!

So is my chili and cornbread! My Texan approved chili has a new companion. Jalapeño cornbread! Yum.

We all have our secret recipes, and mine is chili. I’m not giving away the recipe for it. I will tell you the secret to this amazingly moist and spicy cornbread.

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Jalapeño Cornbread

2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (yes, a box mix)

1 can of cream style corn

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare corn muffin mix as directed. Add can of cream-style corn and pepper. Blend well.  In a greased baking dish, spread mixture evenly in the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer than what is directed on the muffin mix box. I baked mine for approximately 35 minutes. Test it around 30 minutes. My oven seems to over bake if I don’t watch it. It is one of the joys of renting!

Serve with your favorite fall stew, chili or soup. What is better than the first day of fall chili? Day two chili! Enjoy!

Sprinkles Cupcakes for my 35th Birthday :)

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Delicious!

Yum. Sprinkles almond dark chocolate cupcake for my 35th birthday.

Yum. Sprinkles almond dark chocolate cupcake for my 35th birthday.sprinklescupcake

Sprinkles. I ❤ Sprinkles. Mark this one off my 35 for 35 list.

Of course we judged our respective cupcakes with our best Cupcake Wars‘ Chef Florian Bellanger impersonations.

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Mr. Cooper selected a milk chocolate cupcake with chocolate sprinkles. He did not say in a heavy French accent, “I do not like this cupcake.” My almond dark chocolate cupcake with flakes of almond was the clear winner. No contest. Well done. Thanks for the birthday treat, Candace Nelson.

Next time, I would like to try the strawberry cupcake. It wasn’t on the rotation schedule. Darn, we have to go back.

There is also a Sprinkles Ice Cream shop next door.  We could only handle so much awesome in one day… maybe next time. 🙂icecream