Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Clean Eating Coconut Blueberry Quinoa with Lime Recipe Review

Clean Eating Coconut Blueberry Lime Quinoa
a mouthful, yes, but a fairly yummy one

This recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs: The Gracious Pantry. Tiffany's site was one of the first blogs I started following, and her posts always inspire me to experiment, use fresh ingredients, and never let my kitchen intimidate me. Her writing style is very friendly, her recipes are always straightforward, and because she is always trying something new, you are bound to find something you'll like. While she isn't strictly speaking gluten-free, many of her recipes are or can easily be adapted to become gluten-free. In a nutshell--go check out this site!

Now, on to the recipe. Tiffany originally described this as a "breakfast 'salad'" created out of her desire to mix things up in the AM (like I said, she's always experimenting), but it could probably work as an afternoon snack or possibly even a side dish for a summer barbecue. Quinoa seems to be all the rage now, so that makes this recipe both tasty AND trendy--a combination sure to impress your guests, whether they are gluten-free or not!

The basic recipe is fairly simple, and preparing the quinoa is the only cooking required, so it comes together in a few minutes. If you don't like one of the original ingredients, you can easily swap them out for something you prefer. If you think of this recipe as an inspiration piece, it can open up a whole world of other options, using quinoa and fresh fruit as the base.

The ingredients
  • cooked quinoa
  • light coconut milk
  • fresh lime juice
  • fresh blueberries
  • honey
A few notes
  1. The lime juice was a little strong for me, so consider reducing the amount or substituting a different juice. I think lemon juice would pair nicely with the blueberries.
  2. I used a small handful of shredded coconut and sliced almonds more or less as a garnish. It was a nice finishing touch, and added a nice taste boost as well.
How would you customize this dish to suit your taste buds?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gluten-Free Shopping at Costco


Gluten-Free Shopping at Costco

You'll be surprised what you find.

If you are like me, shopping for gluten-free groceries can be frustrating. Yes, I know I can pop over to the closest health food store and probably find a host of options, but the price tags are often hefty as well. To get around this, I scour ordinary grocery stores for products that just happen to be labeled gluten-free but aren't marketed specifically to the gluten-free consumer. Surprisingly, Costco has become one of my favorite places to do so.

First, some tips if you decide to go:

  1. Plan to be there awhile and do a lot of walking. Costco's products change frequently, so I go up and down the aisles, eyes peeled for new items. You'll be amazed at what products you might have missed.
  2. Look for the right labels. Obviously, you should take a second look at anything that interests you with a gluten-free label. However, spotting phrases like "all natural," "non GMO," "Kosher," etc. can often lead you in the right direction. Companies that advertise these qualities are more likely to include a gluten-free label for appropriate products, and they may be less likely to add unnecessary gluten-containing fillers.
  3. Try new things. If you think you'll like a product, go ahead and buy it. Yes, you may waste a small amount of money on some mediocre food, but you may also find something you love!
  4. Stock up. As I said above, Costco's products change frequently, and this is especially true with some of the small-market items seen below. Check the expiration dates on products you enjoy and consider whether or not they can be frozen. If they have a long shelf life and or you've got room in your freezer, cram that cart, baby!

Second, a glimpse at the gluten-free products you might find:

I know that, ideally, these lists would include specific information about the price and quantity of each product. Sadly, I just didn't have the patience for I threw the receipts away months ago. However, I'll try to be more diligent in the future!

Shopping trip #1

From left to right:
  • Welch's Fruit Snacks
  • Kirkland Turkey Breast lunch meat
  • Kirkland Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Potato Chips: Sea Salt 
    • These are thickly cut, so they're a little hard & extra crunchy--not my favorite buy.
  • Mrs. May's Naturals Trio Variety fruit, nut, & seed bars  
  • Clif Kid Organic Z Fruit Rope
  • Mariani Premium Sliced Almonds
  • Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers: Five Seed
  • Tru Roots Organic Quinoa
  • Burgers by Amylu Sweet Caramelized Onion Chicken Burgers (10 ct. 1/4 lb patties)
    • These come individually wrapped & fully cooked. You can even MICROWAVE them, and they are absolutely delicious, even if eaten alone. I found them in the specialty section in front of the butcher section, and they are one of my favorite products. Buy them if you can! 
  • Late July Organic Sea Salt by the Sea Shore Multigrain Snack Chips
  • Ocean Spray Craisins
  • Nature Path Envirokidz Corn Puffs Gorilla Munch Cereal
  • Eat Pastry Gluten-Free Cookie Dough
    • Do not judge this cookie dough by it's uncooked taste, because it makes a great cookie. I found it in the frozen section, and we buy it every trip. If you have a sweet tooth and no time to bake, keep this in your freezer to crush that fresh-from-the-oven craving!
  • Nature's Path Gluten Free Trail Mixer Granola Bars
  • Peggy's Premium Edamame
    • Edamame is a healthy, protein-packed snack. While it is not labeled gluten-free, it literally has just one ingredient--Non GMO premium soybeans. Pop one of the packs in the microwave, nuke for 3 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt, and enjoy! Just remember the pod is inedible (too tough), so you'll need to pop the beans out to eat them--my husband learned this the hard way. Oops!

Shopping trip #2

From left to right (new items only):
  • Kirkland Beef Hot Dogs
  • GoPicnic boxed lunches (read more about them here)
  • Amira Premium Basmati Rice (20 lbs.--about half the price of Wal-Mart!)
  • Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce 
    • This is the only barbecue sauce my father-in-law buys, gluten-free or otherwise. Delicious!
  • Lea & Perrins Original Worcestershire Sauce
  • Plus a few of the same great finds from trip #1!

Shopping trip #3

From left to right (new items only):
  • Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage
  • All Natural Coconut Macaroons
    • Macaroons are like a chewy coconut cookie--heavy on the coconut and heavy on the egg. I have yet to find a brand that is not gluten-free, and they are Kosher, so you may find them stocked with traditional Hebrew foods at your regular supermarket, especially during Passover.
  • Lara Bar Fruit & Nut Bar Three-Flavor Variety Pack
    • Lara Bars are another great protein-filled snack option. Most health food stores sell them individually for a little more than a dollar a piece, and they come in dozens of flavors, all of which are gluten-free (to my knowledge). If you don't like the first one you try, there may be another one that you love!
  • Sabra Hummus Individual Packs
    • I found this product in the salsa, salads, etc. case located next to the cold produce section. Each individual pack holds roughly one serving, so I can easily enjoy hummus and crackers on the go. I usually pair this with the Crunchmaster crackers seen above.
  • Food Should Taste Good Sea Salt Brown Rice Crackers
  • Meatballs by Amylu Kickin' Cranberry Chicken Meatballs
    • My husband and I loved these for a quick meal. They are precooked, so they just need to be reheated. We like to drizzle them with honey for a special twist. They are just a little spicy (hence "Kickin'"), so they may not be the best choice for kiddos--I stopped trying when my son said, "They hurt my mouth." Oops, again!
  • And, of course, more of those gems from trips #1 & #2!

Finally, a resource for putting your Costco groceries to good use:

I recently started following Amy of A Little Nosh's Pinterest board "The Best of Pinterest," and found this pin:


The post provides recipes, a grocery list, and how much everything costs--basically all of the stuff I didn't provide here! If you are feeding a large gluten-free family and or are on a budget, it could be a great resource.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The blog lives on!

So, I came to an important decision today: I want to keep blogging. Shocking, right? Well, I am about halfway through my summer vacation, and last year that was my most productive time. This year, I haven't really felt it, and I haven't posted to this blog even once since September--even though I typically spend hours a day hanging out on my laptop. I knew I needed motivation to get posting again, but I wasn't sure exactly what would inspire me. Well, it wound up being, appropriately enough, some wise words by other bloggers.

First, I read "7 Ways You're Making Blogging Harder Than It Has To Be" by Tay at The Daily Tay. The information was helpful, the post was not in the least bit preachy, and a beautifully styled picture accompanied it. Next, I read "A Post Without Pictures" by Gabbi at Retro Ranch Reno. Gabbi's post was more about her personal experience, but, basically, it told me that it was okay that I haven't posted in 1, 2...9 months (Eek!). This is my slice of the blogosphere, and I get to jump back in (or ease myself out) whenever I feel like it. Finally, at some point during this process, I finally took the plunge and switched back to a Blogger profile and removed the Google+ comment format at the recommendation of Linda at Calling It Home. Additionally, I decided to nix the fancy titles for my weekly least, for now. Now that all of that is done, I'm ready to start blogging...again!