Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Girl's Night

Every week I get together with two fabulous ladies for a much needed girls night of stories, food and a fantastic activity. Tonight we took it easy and stayed indoors at Miss Cassie's house. The girls asked about my health challenge and catered dinner and dessert to me being GF. 

Their willingness to contribute to my challenge made me think about the importance of having a support system. Especially if you are going GF for health reasons and not just a challenge. Being GF is difficult; you have to look at every label sacrifice a lot of delicious foods. Having family and friends to support you make the lifestyle change makes a world of difference. 

The dinner Cassie made us. I'll have to ask her for the recipe and share this upcoming week.

Kate brought exotic organic chocolates. The most interesting? 
A coconut curry milk chocolate bar from Theo.

And just because these are the cutest salt and pepper shakers I have ever seen.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gym Relief

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am to 8pm I have 12 hours straight of work and then school. My only "break" for the day is the 1/2 hour window I have driving from work to school. I literally have 10 minutes to make it from one class to the next. I'm not complaining, just setting the groundwork to say: on those days I am tempted to skip the gym. BUT there's nothing quite like a gym workout after a long day. If you also have a busy schedule and are lacking energy at the end of that day, go to the gym anyway. 

It will actually improve your energy and it realigns your body. 

I am fully aware that this has nothing to do with the GF challenge this month but it a part of our 12 week challenge to be posted in April.Thus, it has relevance. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Gluten Free, Take Two

As mentioned in the last post; with the restructure of our blogging we decided to get a little more technical in our posts. There's always room to improve right? So let's kick off our GF challenge extension but this time the right way. ;)

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein composite made up of gliadin and a glutelin found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten produces the elasticity in wheat, barley and rye products. Basically, it's what makes bread rise, stretch and hold it's form. I.e. the fluffiness of French bread.

So why are people going gluten free and eliminating all the delicious products that are derived from these glutinous grains?

Let's start with a bit of intestinal anatomy. The small intestines are the main site for absorption of nutrients, like amino acids and simple sugars. The intestinal villi that line the epithelium of the intestinal wall are the main structures responsible for this absorption. These highly vascular, finger-like projections increase the surface area of the intestines and allow for maximum and efficient absorption into the blood stream.

For people with Celiac disease (also known as Celiac sprue) their bodies cannot properly absorb nutrients when foods with gluten are consumed. The body creates "antibodies" to gluten, which help the immune system identify gluten as a "foreign invader" and respond in a way to eliminate this threat. Essentially, the immune system reacts to gluten like it might react to a bacteria or a virus. This reaction attacks the intestinal lining and damages the villi. An attack on the villi leads to malnutrition regardless of the amount of food or vitamins a person consumes. This is just the beginning - if left untreated, malnutrition can lead to unhealthy weight loss, constant fatigue and weakness, anemia, osteoporosis, easy bruising, nerve damage, infertility and so much more.... 

Our GF Challenge Motivation

We both have friends and family who suffer from gluten intolerance which is why we decided to go GF for (now) 6 weeks. We hope that by going GF we can understand more about this intolerance, gain a deeper respect for those with Celiac and learn how to make delicious GF options to serve at gatherings. Plus, any healthy nutrition challenge has benefits; clearer skin, increased energy, shiny hair, beautiful nails and much more. We just couldn't pass those benefits up!

Ashley & Brittany


Sorry I couldn't help it... that song is stuck in my head. Anyhow after a marathon meeting/planning session/grocery shopping trip with Brittany we have decided to extend the gluten free challenge half way into January! We hope you don't mind but it's taken me the last two weeks to get a feel for being GF and Brittany just joined the GF challenge. Plus, we also wanted to get a little more in depth than just posting recipes so the extension seemed like a great idea. Also we want to announce that tomorrow we are starting a 12 week fitness program! (LiveFit - Jamie Eason's challenge.) We will be posting in April about our experience and look forward to sharing our results then.

Other challenges to look forward to this year: 
Clean Eating
Mixed Marshal Arts
Training for a 5k+ run

If you would like to pose a challenge for us to try please send it our way!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Homemade GF Pizza

 After a day at Mt. Hood Alex and I were starving. On the way home we stopped at our local Safeway and grabbed ingredients for homemade pizza. I made the pizza dough using this recipe but of course made a substitution due to what was available. I used all-purpose GF baking flour and the recipe turned out great.

Prepped station, waiting on the dough to rise.

Rolling out the dough:

Alex doesn't have a rolling pin so I used a wine bottle. Simple solutions.

Added toppings, baked and enjoyed!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Starbucks + GF = One Happy Girl

Starbucks chai tea's are GF which is a blessing from the universe. And today I found this gem in one of the mini food baskets:

GF friends, eat your heart out. These are amazing.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spicy Chicken and Cherries

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. 
I love their tangy yet sweet taste and the colors are so vibrant.

Alex makes the best grilled chicken, I'm really glad I bought him a grill for his birthday last year.

Alex 's Spicy Chicken

4 pieces of boneless chicken breast. 
A Ziploc bag
1/3c Oil (I know this seems excessive but it'll mostly cook out.)
2/3 cup Stubbs Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce
2T Tapatio Hot Sauce
GrillMates Fiery Pepper Spice (enough to cover the chicken)

1. Add the chicken breast to the Ziploc bag. 
2. Add the oil, BBQ sauce, Tapatio and spices.
3. Refrigerate for a minimum of  two hours, he generally let's it sit overnight.
4. Stab each piece of chicken with a fork 
5. Grill over fire at 400 degrees or high heat a cast iron and cook evenly until the middle is white.
6. Enjoy!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicken and Kale

Last night I needed a quick dinner so I typed "chicken and kale" (the ingredients I had on hand) into Google and found this recipe. Per usual I tweaked it a bit according to what was in my cupboards. Here's my version of the recipe:

Chicken and Kale Sautee

1T olive oil
2 1/2T red wine vinegar
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1/2c cooked brown rice
1 1/2T of McCormick's grill mates firey 5 pepper seasoning
1/2 white onion sliced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
5 large kale leaves chopped

1. Cook the brown rice. (I didn't let my rice cook fully as I wanted semi-hard rice instead of soft rice.)
2. Heat the oil and 2T of vinegar in a large skillet on medium heat.
3. Add in the sliced onions on chopped garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and the garlic is browned.
4. Add in the chicken.
5. Add the remaining 1/2T of vinegar when the current liquid starts to evaporate. 
6. Once the chicken is golden add in the rice and kale. Cook until the chicken is slightly browned. 

This will be added to my quick meal favorites, enjoy!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pan-Seared Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Onions and Port Sauce

As mentioned in my last post I was desperate for inspiration for GF meals when I came across Shauna 's recipe book. I used the 'potato puree' and the 'pan-seared beef tenderloin with balsamic onions and port sauce' recipes to make Alex dinner on Saturday. The tenderloin recipe calls for veal stock but I have a thing against cooking with animal bones (creeps me out) so I just omitted it form the recipe altogether. I'm sure it changed the taste of the dish comparatively but it didn't matter what we ate that night was beyond amazing. 

A few lessons learned:

1) When I was shopping for the ingredients I spent quite a bit of time talking with the butcher. If you don't have a relationship with the butcher where you shop you should start one. They are generally super friendly and happy to share their vast knowledge about meat. My butcher looked over my recipe, gave me suggestions and cooking tips and then cut me a piece of meat on the spot to meet my needs. He's a pretty rad guy. 

2) Beef tenderloin = filet mignon.

3) Port and Marsala (Marsala will be used in one of the upcoming recipes!) will both be found in the dessert wine section of your grocery store. Which made this dessert wine lover super happy, leftover wine in my cup? Yes please.

4) I need to invest in a splatter cover. I'm not sure if these even exist, Google searching will commence. But I really dislike ruining clothing and getting hot oil everywhere while cooking.

Anyhow, if you want a date-night recipe to impress this is the one! 

This recipe is a bit more expensive then the regular go to recipes but it's so worth it. Just make sure you allot enough time to put some TLC into this recipe.

Sorry about the crappy end product photo, I was starving by this time and the lighting was bad but hey at least there is one!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kitchen Inspiration

I have been stuck trying to figure out what to eat and make for meals. Going gluten free has proved a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Kudos to those who have to make this change, my respect for this lifestyle grows daily. One thing I realized this week is that I will need to spend more time in the kitchen. Living in Vancouver means most restaurants/cafe's are part of chains and their GF menu is very limited if existent at all. Portland on the other hand has a glorious selection of GF restaurants and menus. Unfortunately during the work week I spend the majority of my time in le couve and can't make the commute to Portland. 

After my revelation about kitchen time I headed to the local library looking for some help. I found 'gluten-free girl and the chef' by shauna james ahern & daniel ahern. Admittedly, I had viewed her website last month in preparation for this challenge and didn't give it enough credit. I passed it by. But a few chapters into her book and I have changed my mind. She is witty and spunky and the passion about food makes you hungry. I have to eat while reading this book. I'm not kidding I'm munching on mango slices while staring at her baked eggs with taleggio recipe, right now.  So if you are like me and in need of GF inspiration, I would highly recommend this book. Also, check out her website for other great recipes. 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Roasted Red Potatoes

As I try to find replacements for bread, pasta and my other go-to gluten laden carbs, I'll be sharing my recipes here. The recipes will be catered for one person so adjust the measurements accordingly. Today's  recipe is an adaptation of  this over roasted red potato recipe from

Items you will need:
2 medium sized red potatoes.
Olive Oil.
A knife.
A cutting board. 
A Ziploc bag.
A baking pan.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Cut up your potatoes into chunks. I prefer bendable cutting boards, they make transferring food super easy and cleaning up a breeze. 

Add your spices and oil to the Ziploc bag. The original recipe calls for onion soup powder and I didn't have any so I used citrus pepper, an Italian blend and parsley flakes. I used approximately 2.5T of olive oil. 

Add your potatoes to the bag and shake it up until each piece is evenly coated.

Add the potatoes to the baking dish. Bake them in the oven for 40 minutes.

Enjoy! Please excuse the lack of photo of the finished project, they were so good that I forgot to snap a shot. :)


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grilled Chicken, Quinoa and A Salad

The last two days have been all about catching up from the laziness of the holidays and I haven't had time to cook. Today was no exception but I forced myself to find twenty minutes before heading to yoga to throw together a dinner. Last Sunday Alex grilled two flats of chicken for me so that I could have an easy protein option for the week. I cooked quinoa and cut up some peppers and an avocado for my salad. Altogether it ended up being about 25 minutes of cooking and clean up. Not bad for a meal on the go.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Pears and White Cheddar

I admit last year (and every year before that) I have had a slight, no make that large addiction to cereal. I would eat it as a snack and it was always my lazy go-to item. Going gluten-free has forced me to stop this trend. Even though there are a few GF friendly cereals; Kix and Chex being my favorites. I have taken this as a wake up call to be healthier with my snack choices.

Today's snack of choice was one of the pears and some white cheddar I picked up from last week's trip to Seattle. You can read about that here

What are your favorite go-to GF snacks?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome 2012!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a safe and fantastic New Year's Eve. I'm excited to start off this year with our first challenge of going gluten free for the entire month of January. Today I realized I am behind and need to do some serious GF food shopping! Reviewing my daily intake I felt like a cave woman. Protein shake for breakfast, pulled pork for lunch and chicken breasts for dinner. While these are all great things eating just protein left me feeling a bit unbalanced. 

What are some GF staple foods you keep around the house to ensure meal diversity?