Friday, October 2, 2015

Dipping Delights with Foster Farms

I often feel like the more structured my life  becomes, the more deconstructed my food ends up! Now that I'm back at school, I rarely have time to make a formal lunch. My solution? Embracing a single-person buffet full of sides, leafy greens, and, of course, dips.

And nothing inspires some new dip recipes like a couple boxes of Foster Farms gluten free corn dogs in my freezer! (The benefits, my roommates say, of living with a celiac blogger).  

Dipping party material!
I've shared a couple of my go-to dips in the past (hello seed stuffed pesto and creamy radish greens sauce) - and trust me, these green beauties compliment every kind of meal. With limited greens in the fridge and a hankering for something different to sink my teeth (or sweet potato rounds and corn dogs!) in, though, I ended up on the golden road. 

Which left me with mustard's a spicy curry cousin. AKA, the perfect counterbalance to sweet breaded corn dogs. Addiction, nearly guaranteed.

Perfect fall treat!
To get started, gather up a few simple ingredients:

Spicy Curry Mustard Dip:
(1 small serving)

1 TBSP coconut milk
little less than 1/8 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder 
Sprinkle of turmeric
Sprinkle of oregano

The best thing about this recipe? It's five minutes from desired to done! I just stirred all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, but for an even smoother sauce, toss this in a small blender and give it a few whirls. Some important tips to remember:

This baby can overdo the heat factor easily! To make sure you don't overpower your taste buds, start out with less curry and mustard powder and keep adding small amounts until you get it right. If you add too much (like I did a couple times, I'll admit!), lower the heat by adding more coconut milk. For the creamiest, thickest texture, try using coconut cream instead of just the milk. (Coconut cream can be bought separately or made by refrigerating a coconut milk can upside down overnight and scraping off the cream).

Dipping action!
As usual, this recipe is entirely customizable. Love cayenne? Chili powder? Thyme or even an avocado for extra creaminess? Throw them in the pot (or blender) and experiment away! 

As they are, this dips pack a tasty and a nutritional punch. In the curry dip, coconut milk provides healthy fats and a creamy consistency. Combined with curry powder and turmeric, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, this dip turns corn dogs into a comfort meal that would actually comfort the body. 

A few of my favorite things...
One thing is definite: you won't need to worry about figuring out how to eat these dips. On corn dogs, with homemade sweet potato wedges, poured over roasted veggies....The sky stomach is the limit! 

When life gets crazy (or goes to college!), organization can fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Luckily, with some delicious dips (and corn dogs for pairing), the messiest of meals are usually the tastiest!

What's your favorite dipping sauce? How do your meals change between summer and school? Comment below! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Stacked, Food Well Built: Restaurant Review

All of my good friends know that "stacked" is a food philosophy I often live by. I stack my salads up in towers to heaven, stack my stuffed potatoes with all the melted goodies, and my pizzas? All those toppings add up to a casserole feel. So, you can understand why a restaurant named "Stacked" started out on my good side. Throw in a customizable gluten free menu, and I was drooling.

I first learned about the California chain, "Stacked, Food Well Made" from a friend with multiple food allergies. For a girls' night out, Stacked was the one place everyone could eat at safely - not to mention deliciously! 

My new favorite place! (Picture thanks to this lovely source)
The concept of Stacked is personalization to the extreme. Instead of ordering through a waiter or waitress, customers build and order their own meals on an IPad. And, because every ingredient is customizable, you only pay for what you get. No more paying for burger toppings you just set to the side!

While the lesser waiter involvement may sound like a red flag for those with celiac or food allergies, Stacked ensures that every gluten free ingredient shows a "No Wheat symbol" when it is clicked on. No celiac spiel needed - just click, check for the GF symbol, and prepare to dig in! 

Some Ipad action!
I also love Stacked because of its menu variety. Besides offering burgers, they also have salads, house specials, pizzas, Mac and cheese and desserts - all customizable (of course) and all with gluten free options! One of the big selling points for me? House made fries and potato ships marked as "gluten free" to show that they are made in a separate fryer. Score! 

So far, I've gone twice in one month since coming back to school. First with friends as a double date; second as my birthday dinner out with my family and boyfriend. Both times received raving reviews. The gluten-eaters devoured a Thanksgiving burger with a pretzel bun, a pizza my sister swears is the best she's ever eaten, and a Burger Mac and cheese (basically a burger minus the bun and plus a lot of Mac and cheese goodness). 

Perfect for the gluten and gluten-free eater!
As for me and my gluten intolerant mom, we both are suckers for a good gluten free bun. While my mom ordered (and loved) her Beef burger with a Thanksgiving twist, I stuck with my favorite: a blackened chicken burger with avocado, tomato, greens, daiya cheese and ketchup. (I've had the blackened salmon burger in the past and loved it equally, but Stacked knows how to cook their chicken!) My mom and I also ordered a big serving of gluten free French fries to split. 

On both visits, my chicken was cooked perfectly - charred on the edges, but juicy in the center. The bun held together decently and tasted delicious thanks to a little crispifying action. As for the toppings, they tasted fresh and were definitely stacked high. The size of our order of fries was equally generous - mom and I donated a handful to the other eaters and still took some home with us! 

Favorites from my three visits!
It is true that some of the entrees can be pricey; however, in quality and quantities, you get what you pay for. And being able to walk in, order and eat safely as a celiac without a huge fuss is priceless in my mind! 

As a girl who loves experimenting and combining foods to the max, Stacked earns a solid 9.5/10 review in my book! From the endless choices to the high quality of food, I wouldn't have picked anywhere else to celebrate my big 2-0. Not to mention many non-Chipotle date nights in the future

Have you ever eaten at Stacked? What's your favorite toppings for a burger? Comment below! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

End Allergies Together + Team Gluten Free Campaign

I forget a lot of things - where I put my car keys, what I needed at the grocery store, even how to get back to my apartment. But, I rarely forget I have celiac disease and that gluten can literally kill me. I'm not alone. Over 100 million Americans follow special diets, whether due to personal choice or medical issues like celiac disease, food intolerances, or diabetes.

Are you?
And, for ninety days, End Allergies Together and Team Gluten Free are running a campaign to change this.

How exactly?

First, to raise funds dedicated to increasing research and awareness. With every dollar raised, this campaign wants to ensure that more research is dedicated to curing a little girl's nut allergy. That people like me are diagnosed with celiac on their first doctor's visit, not their fourth. And that more advocacy and education focuses on bettering the quality of life for everyone suffering from gluten-related disorders.

Goal: less of these stays
Everyone deserves to be able to enjoy their food safely. And this campaign aims to empower every allergic-celiac-intolerant foodie to do just that.

A portion of the funds will also be used to create a second method of attack: building a food-based application designed specifically for those with special diet. Called "Nomsy," this free app lets readers choose their dietary preferences and scan customized articles, places, recipes, and topics. As a gal whose constantly searching Pinterest, blogs, and Find Me Gluten Free for the newest foodie finds, you can imagine how excited I am at the idea of it all being in one place!

A few snaps from Nomsy's info video!

Nomsy will also fulfill every user's online social needs. Members can save, comment on or like articles; host topics; ask and answer questions; and basically connect with fellow foodies who know how it feels when food doesn't like them back! As for the food itself, a peak at Nomsy's blog of preview recipes had me ready for major nomming. Pesto cauliflower pizza, homemade applesauce, and tips on how to cook the fluffiest quinoa were just a few of the articles that caught my eye (or, more accurately, appetite).

It isn't easy to be a celiac who doesn't spend a ton of time planning out his or her food - and I'll embrace any app that will change that status quo.

A snapshot from one of the campaign videos!
To learn more about the campaign and how to bring Nomsy into the online sphere, visit Nomsy's official website and sign up for the beta (like I did!).

Because we deserve to be more than a statistic. More than the "weirdos" who need to read all their food labels or can't kiss their significant other unless a toothbrush did first. Sure, this campaign won't make me forget that I'm a celiac - but more research, better tools for learning about and cooking safe recipes, and increased public awareness can make a difference.

My name is signed up!
And I know I want to be part of it. How about you?

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's Link Party!*

What is the most exciting thing about Nomsy for you? Do you ever "forget" about your eating limitations? Comment below!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Good Scone: Review and Giveaway!

I'll admit that being a gluten free blogger has its perks. Meeting fellow celiacs from all around the world. Spreading awareness of gluten free college living. Oh, and receiving an email from a small company called, The Good Scone.

(Spoiler alert folks: when you get an email from a business that specializes in gluten free and vegan baking mixes, you will jump up and down before replying that you'd love to review their products.) 

Our sponsors!
Ironically enough, the Good Scone is right up my alley in more ways than one. First, they are located in Point Loma, where I go to college. Secondly (and most importantly to my taste buds), they produce three (so far!) gluten free and vegan baking mixes: an All Purpose Flour, a Chocolate Cake Mix, and a Vanilla Cake Mix.

As soon as The Good Scone's box of products arrived on my doorstep, I tore into their All Purpose mix. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've developed a new love for the galette, a French pastry that can be give a savory or sweet twist. As a last hurrah to summer baking, my mom and I whipped up  two galettes with some help from The Good Scone. 

Just a little galette action!
Though I needed to add a few more tablespoons of water than the recipe called for, the flour eventually formed a supple, spiced dough perfect for (messily) folding over filling. In the savory version, we added thyme and oregano; in the sweet, cinnamon and vanilla. Compared to the King Arthur baking mix I used before, the galettes' crusts browned beautifully without any egg wash or added oil. 

And the taste? In both the chicken pot pie and the strawberry, pear, banana galettes, the crust was the star. Light, but with a crunch. Crumbly, but still hardy enough to withstand the toppings. Needless to say, neither the dinner nor dessert lasted long! 

Our delicious finished products...
My second taste test emerged only a week later, thanks to my 20th birthday. Picking the chocolate mix thanks to its decaf coffee flavoring, I gave The Good Scone the ultimate mission: pleasing gluten-loving college students! 

My favorite part of the cake mix was definitely the ease of baking it! Following the instructions for a gluten free and vegan cake (or cupcakes, in my case), I only had to add vinegar and dairy free milk and "butter"  to the flour mix. A few quick stirs, several messy pours into cupcake tins, and fifteen minutes in the oven later? My dorm apartment smelled amazing and I had two trays of big chocolate cupcakes, and one tray of minis

In five easy steps!
The cake mixes don't come with frosting included, so I ended up making my own homemade chocolate topping. Following this recipe, I threw melted chocolate, ripe avocado, agave nectar, and spices in my blender, prayed to the dessert Gods, and nearly licked my Vitamix clean of the leftover fudgy frosting! 

Hannah, one of my roommates, volunteered as first taste tester. Even knowing it was allergen-friendly, she devoured the whole cupcake and was glad to hear I had plenty more. 

The first (chocolate) victim!
Like most gluten free baked goods, the cupcakes turned out denser and more chewy. However, everyone loved how the cakes were crumbly on the edges and moist in the center. Plus, you can never go wrong with with a coffee-chocolate combo! 

Even the mini cupcakes, which didn't have frosting, disappeared quickly. After many (obviously required) taste tests, my roomies and I agreed they mimicked bite sized brownies. While I devoured quite a few of these as desserts, I also crumbed them on my smoothie bowls and yogurt parfaits

Chocolate heaven!
I have yet to try the Vanilla Cake Mix, but plan on experimenting with some gluten free and vegan cookies (probably with chocolate chips, knowing my chocoholic self). Considering how quickly the other The Good Scone goodies were devoured, I'm sure this mix will be just as delicious.

The extra exciting part of being a blogger? Thanks to the generosity of The Good Scone, one lucky reader will get a chance to taste all three baking mixes for themselves! The options on how to use them are truly endless - besides the goodies I whipped up (the recipe I used for the galette is linked in my Foodie Favorites post), The Good Scone website also provides recipes for scones (of course!) biscuits, banana bread, crepes, muffins, pie, pizzas and more! 

All the excitement!
And another spoiler alert? That winner will have a lot of delicious, allergen-friendly treats in their future!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What would you make with the baking mix? Have you ever tried The Good Scone? Comment below!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Seven Minutes Until Heaven: Loaded Baked Potato

A hard morning workout. A long day of classes. Dealing with hot and humid or cold and rainy weather. These are just a few of the many (excluding undiscovered activities) factors that turn my stomach into a boom box of hungry growls.

And just a few of the reasons why this college celiac is all about the easy dinners. This particular recipe lands on my menu at least twice a week, and I'm constantly craving the simple combo of unprocessed carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Besides, nothing says comfort food like a stuffed baked potato ready for eatin' in a mere seven minutes!

A beautiful potato bouquet!
Just imagine a baby red potato, fluffy in the middle and crisp at the skin. Top it with tender black beans and ground turkey, juicy broiled veggies, creamy avocado, plus a few shreds of gooey melted daiya cheese - and poof! You've invented a new game called seven minutes until (edible) heaven

To get started on your own potato present, gather a few simple ingredients from your pantry, fridge or freezer. Note that, to make this a college-friendly seven minutes, certain ingredients should be prepared ahead of time. 


1 large baby red/golden potato (or a medium russet)
1 large handful of chopped veggies (I use green beans; sauteed spinach; sliced zucchini, squash, and radishes) 
1 serving of pre-made ground turkey, shredded chicken, or vegan protein source (optional) 
1 serving of black beans (I defrost bags of black beans from the freezer) 
1/2 a ripe avocado 
1 small handful of daiya cheese (or your favorite dairy/vegan cheese) 

Whipping up this recipe is just as simple as it sounds! Start by turning on your oven's broiler, chopping your veggies into thin slices, coating them lightly in olive oil and popping them on a baking tray in the oven. Spending on how thinly the veggies are sliced, I usually cook mine for about 5-6 minutes, rotating the tray once. You could also alternatively saute them on the stove top for a baking-free dinner. 

Two simple tools!
While the veggies cook, poke holes in your potato with a fork or knife and toss it in the microwave to cook. I usually cook mine for around 5 minutes, but the time will vary depending on the potato's size and your microwave's power. I love boiling or baking my potatoes in the oven too, but when I'm crunched for time, microwaving is the way to go! 

If you need to defrost any ingredients (as I usually do!), you can do so in the microwave after the potato is cooked and cooling on your serving dish. As a person cooking for one, I've found that freezing ingredients that I bake in large portions - like beans, meats, or sauces - keeps food from going bad and adds easy variety to my weekly meals. 

How I really make cooking easy...
Once all of the components are cooked, I usually stack everything in a bowl, toss on some cheese, and microwave it all for a final 30 seconds. A small sprinkling of melted cheese always turns my potato from great to gloooooorious! (At least in my taste buds' opinion!) 

Like most of my other recipes, this dinner is extremely versatile. I've eaten it with leftover salmon and sauteed mushrooms, pesto sauce instead of cheese, a potato given the broiled butterfly treatment and using veggies all sauteed in chicken stock and daiya cheese for the ultimate gooey feast. And all of these versions have tasted equally scrumptious - so get experimenting! 

You bet I devoured this baby quick!
With classes in full swing, lots of intentional and unintentional exercise (like walking to my boyfriend's dorm across campus!), and loads of homework, this celiac needs all the easy fuel possible. And a healthy dose of nutrients and flavor doesn't hurt either!

And while I've never played the original "seven minutes in heaven," I have fallen in love with this seven minute dinner. Bon appetit! 

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*

What's your go-to easy dinner? What would you stuff your potato with? Comment below! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kicking Butt as a Busy Blogger

It's safe to say that, especially during the school year, this college celiac is busy. A full 17 units of classes, two jobs as a teaching assistant, an internship, and a few friends I like to enjoy life with. Throw a blog into the mix, and you have the recipe for a packed batch of cookies.

A little juggling needed!
When my fellow students ask me how I survive this juggling act, I usually shrug. I'm just that kind of person. That if-I'm-not-busy-I'm-planning-to-be overacheiver. (Plus, it does help when one of your blogging responsibilities is taste testing delicious, gluten free food!) The more I thought about it, though, the more three tips kept popping into mind.

Three tips that I dove right into (and shared the usual amount of embarassing/quirky personal stories) in my latest post for my internship at San Diego Writers Ink.

Asking the hard questions!
What's my favorite way to write blog posts (as weird as it may be!)? What tools or apps do I keep handy for my writing muse? And what mindset does every blogger need to stay sane and productive with a full calendar?

Head over to my post, "How to Write with a Busy Schedule" to find out!

And don't even try to use "I'm too busy" as an excuse not to!

How do you keep blogging during busy times? Do you have any writing quirks? Comment below!

Monday, September 14, 2015

How to Party Gluten Free with Foster Farms: Friends Edition

The first week of college classes means a lot of things. The return of homework and the need for an attention span. Reunions of friends scattered during the summer. And, for this lucky celiac and her best buds, a Foster Farms fiesta!

As I mentioned in my last post, throwing a celiac-safe party for family has its challenges. For friends? That's a whole different (party) animal! But with some help from Foster Farms and tips on how to wow even the most gluten-loving gals and guys, anyone can kick off the school year with a (delicious) bang! 

Not quite as exciting as this...but close?
First, keep it simple, stupid! While I embraced a more "upscale" menu for my family party (hello a full dinner!), I stuck to snacks with my friends. While my friends obviously love free home-cooked meals, they - like most teens - are just as happy to chow down on a bowl of Glutino pretzels and dip, and Foster Farms corn dogs. Know your audience, and, in this case, if they're easy to please!

In the same thread, lean towards more self-serve stations than fully loaded dinner plates. In my case, all available snacks landed in one drawer, free to whoever grabbed it first! (Quinoa crackers with hummus were definitely one of the bigger hits!) 

Hannah, the first cupcake taste tester!

As for dessert, rather than a cake that needed to be cut up, I whipped up some chocolate coffee cupcakes (gluten free and vegan thanks to The Good Scone's delicious cake mix). Easy to grab and even easier to watch them all disappear...

Next, experiment with gluten free (natural or alternatives) substitutes to teenage favorites. Rather than laying out spreads people have never heard of (quinoa, hint, hint), rely on familiar foods enjoyed by most.

Some of my favorite suggestions? Homemade guacamole with (GF) corn chips, homemade sweet potato rounds or wedges, cut up veggies like zucchini, cucumber and carrots with a dressing on the side, or even strawberries with peanut butter or melted chocolate to dip them in! 

Homegrown strawberries? Absolutely the best!
And if you do throw a quirky ingredient into the menu, you can always save the big reveal until after it's been tasted (while, obviously, being aware of any food allergies in your guests). My chocolate cupcakes boasted a frosting made of avocado, melted chocolate and cacao powder...but I didn't share the ingredient list until after everyone exclaimed how much they liked it!

Finally, make the party about more than just the food. For my evening, the food only accented the other activities. (The main of which, I'll admit, was watching a walk-through of a horror video game. Don't knock it till you try it!). 

The suspense!
The party experience is what you make of it, and, especially if food supplements some other party fun, no one can (or, more aptly, should) complain! In fact, your friends may even enjoy learning how to eat like a celiac for a few hours. 

Returning to college always triggers an avalanche of business and stress - which made it the perfect time to gather the friends and gluten free goodies for a relaxing night in! 

My favorite game!
And, really. "Gluten free" labels aside, what college kid would turn down the chance to catch up with old friends, eat some tasty (FREE) food and escape academics for a few hours? I know my pals didn't! 

What tips do you have for throwing a gluten free party for friends? What's your favorite GF party food? Comment below!