Making the move and more

Since WordPress has an app for my phone and I think that will help me be a more regular blogger, I am going to make the move.

Follow me to WordPress
Twitter @amethystjean

Watch my twitter feed for 366 days to the newest you. I hope to expand on them in my blog.

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Glutino Genius Bread


This is the first in a series of tests of Glutino gluten-free sandwhich bread. It comes frozen. As it was breakfast and I was on the run, I made toast. Genius is, however, supposed to need not to be toasted like most gluten-free bread. I have kept mine in the freezer, though, so it wouldn’t dry out, as I am only one person and not planning to eat nothing but sandwiches for the next three days.

I bought this because I had a $1 coupon. The regular price was $5.99. As, I normally buy gluten-full bread for $2, this is hard to swallow. I had a coupon, so I thought I’d give it a try. I wouldn’t have bought it at $5.99, at least not right now, when I am still eating gluten part time. I’ll just eat regular bread and not as often. I wanted to buy another loaf of gluten-free bread (El Petro) that was on sale for $4.99, so I could compare it to Genius, but it was like brick. I just couldn’t do it. And $10 for 2 loaves of bread?

I hoped the bread was not as hard to swallow as the price.

As I said, I toasted my Glutino Genius bread. It is called multigrain, but it is not grainy like the gluten-full multigrain breads I am used to (like Country Harvest, for example). It was also suprprisingly white. I suppose there is no reason multigrains need to be dark, but I expected them to be. I chose this one because it is my belief that the more grains the better in gluten-free baking – to avoid the odd taste these baked goods sometimes have. Similarly, I avoided the white sandwich bread because I expected it to taste like white rice flour or tapioca starch, though I admit, I haven’t even read the ingredients.

I buttered my toast, and as you will see, ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture. I guess it really was good! I wouldn’t say the texture was like gluten-full white or brown bread but it was close. I wanted peanut butter, as I believe in having protein with my toast. This tore it (which even my slightly cold butter did not). Though my peanut butter is natural and refrigerated and the bread had absorbed the butter by then. I will test it again with just room temperature peanut butter. I don’t usually use butter with my peanut butter, but I wanted to taste test it.

Please forgive the short and not so sweet (i.e. eloquent) post. It has been a bit of a rough time lately. I have been pretty ill.

I will return with further tests of this bread, including as an untoasted sandwich bread, for which it stakes it’s claim to fame.

I bought this product (and all prior products I have reviewed) with my own money and am not being paid to review it.

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Lasagna sparks identity crisis.

My grandmother pulls out a lasagna for lunch. Cheese. A part of me starts screaming inside. 7 cheese. I fight the urge to run. Bechemel sauce. Oh my gosh, I think I’m going to die. Yet, my grandmother is only serving me what she knows, what is available on the market. It reflects the fact that still, people knows what to feed vegetarians.  I have lived 18 years as a high-dairy, high-carb vegetarian. Yes, that’s what I should be called, not lacto-ovo. No, it’s more accurate to say I eat a starch and cheese diet, than a vegetarian diet. And now I find myself wishing I hadn’t lived those 18 years, because it is becoming very hard to transition to gluten-free and vegan from a diet that was nearly the opposite. I wonder why I have’t made the transition earlier. Perhaps I thought my diet was “good enough”. I stopped eating what I didn’t like (meat). I ate what was available. (Not much.) No, most people don’t know what to feed me. I can’t believe the ignorance. I still get the same stupid questions I got 18 years ago. Do you eat chicken or fish? Um, no. Didn’t know those were now classified as vegetables. (See, I say to my 10th grade teacher, there are stupid questions).  The truth is, I always thought that was a stupid question. To me, it always seemed self-evident that I would not eat those things.

Yes, I recognize there are so many things on the market now that are better than that 7 cheese white lasagna. But where are they? The specialty aisles, special sections of the freezer, even a separate store or mail order. Who wants to search high and low in the supermarket or all over town? Why have they not become mainstream? Why is it still so difficult and expensive to get these things. Well, part of it is that people don’t know. We are not learning what to eat and our families are not learning what to feed us, so it is still the minority that is buying and requesting these foods. In turn we eat what is available, and so it continues. Further, only 6% of the world population is vegetarian (well…more about that) and less than 1% (1 in 133) have celiac disease. So supply and demand dictates the availability and cost (i.e. economies of scale). However, it seems to me that demand is increasing, evidenced by the rapid increase of gluten-free products on mainstream store shelves. Or is that just me? So demand the vegetarian and gluten-free products you are looking for. Tell your local store what you want and need.

I am sorry, I don’t have a vegan or gluten-free lasagna recipe, but you can swap out gluten-free noodles of your choice to make any lasagna gluten-free. That said, I’m going to miss my perfect cheesy lasanga. It has 2 cheeses, not 7.

Oh, who am I without cheese?

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Excuse the mess as I renovate my life

Well, I suppose it is inevitable. I would get away from my computer. I would start using my phone for everything and forget about the computer, which would remind me to come blog. Then I would go on vacation. Then I would forget my password. Well, truth be told, life is always a work in progress, as is the premise behind my blog, so please forgive me for being imperfect. I suppose the harder thing is forgiving myself. I am already back on track in other areas of my life. I’ve started exercising again after about 6 months. I’m working more than ever and starting a new course at school. Life is good. I will return to my posting duties, perhaps once a week instead of three and then nothing. Balance, right?

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30!

family birthdayI had a landmark birthday this year. 30. Let me tell you this, thirty is awesome. I am in the best place I have ever been in my life and going places. 30 is only old to a child, or maybe a teenager. I’m a lot wiser than my 20s, more sure of myself and discovering the wonderful person I want to be. (and am!) Why would I want to be 20?  I have a friend who refuses to be 30. His birthday is coming in the summer and he wants a 29th birthday (again). Then he will skip to 31. What is the big deal? Is our culture that obsessed with age? I don’t think so, at least less and less. I think more and more women are finding out how fabulous 30 is. More successful celebrities than ever are falling in this age range, one that used to be a killer for one’s career: you are too old to play a young woman and too young to be a hag. (Excuse the term). People are redefining the way age is conceptualized. Even older women are beautiful, successful and praised for it. A complement for an older woman is that she looks like she’s in her 30s. Well, beauty is more than skin deep and there is a lot  more to the 30s than beauty. I conceptualize it as power, success and opportunity; “the prime of your life,” as they say. And another thing, I don’t believe that ends at 40 either.

Higlights from my birthday:

I threw my own party. I wanted a cocktail party and I knew I would have to throw it, if I wanted it to happen. It’s also a good excuse to throw a party, one that more people would (hopefully) attend.
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I also made my own cake. (Cupcakes actually). They were lemon with cream cheese frosting. It was supposed to be rose cream cheese frosting. I chickened out, not wanting to scare away my guests. Ditto on gluten-free and vegan.
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However, I made an amazing spread that was vegetarian, some gluten free and some vegan. Here are three of the things I made.

Spinach Feta Rolls
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Mango Salsa Wontons
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Cucumber cups
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Yum yum!

It happened to be Earth Hour that night. We turned out the lights at 8:00 pm and didn’t turn them back on until the tealights went out at about 1:30 am. I was worried, but everyone loved the candlelight!

 

…”Couple’s Getaway”
I went away the weekend before. I never go away and if I do it’s as cheaply as possible. Well my friend and went to Niagara Falls and lived like queens for the weekend. We ate at Mossimo Capra’s restaruant and went to the spa. We had a wine tour. I can’t curl my tongue, but I can properly taste wine now….That didn’t stop me from pretending I knew what I was doing until this point!
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We had drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe.
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We dressed up, and pretended to be richer and fancier than we are. (I’ll take any excuse to dress up).

 We didn’t even take any falls pics…or even go right down to the falls. Even though Niagara Falls is nothing new to us, I kind of wish I had a pic to go with the whole weekend album.

It was the ultimate couple’s getaway. Well, we’re always joking that I’m her wife….

P.S. Does anyone think that I look both skinnier (arms) and wider (body) in the cocktail party dress, and then both skinnier in the waist and wider (proportioned) in the arms in the other dress….well I could write an entire blog on body dysmorphism and dressing proportionately. Just a thought.

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Mushroom Soup Recipe and FitClick

mushroom soupAs promised, I tried “Carolyn’s Mushroom Soup” which I will get to in a moment, I promise.

It is from FitClick. This is a free place to track food and exercise, but it’s more than that. You can specify your workout, for example how many bicep curls and what weight, how long rest between sets. Very detailed. FitDay has “strength training” in it’s calorie counter and if you are only looking for a calorie counter that may be fine, but this is a way to track more about your workouts and progress. There are free workouts and menus too. I hope you can view the link to the recipe without being a member, but trust me, it’s worth it too. I have put in my recipes in order to get instant nutrition information. I used to use a recipe site and wait for it to be approved, several days!

On to the soup!

I used regular old button mushrooms, but would have loved to use portabello. They are my favourite. I made my own refried beans from this recipe. Mushing the beans with my spoon was not enough, so blended them. I used thyme (which I love with mushrooms), basil and oregano instead of a prepared italian spice.

The soup calls for 16 cups of water. I found that to be too much compared to what was going into the soup. I used 12 cups at most. When I make it again I will use 8 or use more mushrooms and maybe even an extra can of whole beans. I don’t like my soup to be mostly broth. I found that the beans blended to create an almost beef-like broth. The flavours were great. I just needed more to my soup. I was very happy to have a vegan and gluten-free soup, but because of the thinness of it, ended up eating crackers with it. That led to my quest for gluten-free soda cracker recipes. I will have to try those soon and make this soup again.

I give this recipe a definite thumbs up for it’s flavour and with my adjustments to make it more dense it will be absolutely perfect. That will increase the calories somewhat, but it should still remain a low fat, low calorie and high protein vegan, gluten-free meal.

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Gluten-free Spaghetti

brown rice spagettiI tested gluten-free brown rice spaghetti from the Bulk Barn.

It cooked up quick and easily, like regular pasta. It tasted pretty good. It was better than the last gf pasta I had (I think it was white rice, but I don’t know). It does taste different than “regular” pasta but it is something I could get used to. I used a lot of sauce.

spaghetti and sauce

Some things you should know:

  • Use a large pot and lots of water. Suggested 20 cups for 454g of pasta. I cooked half of it in a large pot half full with water.
  • Cooks in 7-10 min
  • The water gets cloudy. It’s very starchy.
  • The pasta sticks together. Alot. Add your sauce right to it. It will be hard to serve otherwise.
  • The Bulk Barn site says to rinse with cold water. This may help with the stickiness, but you’d want to put it into the sauce to warm it back up for a minute if you do that.
  • There are alot of calories in it. 360 per 100 grams. It turns out that is what I ate and it wasn’t a lot. There was about 4 servings in the prepackaged bag.
  • Store in a sealed container in a cool dry place.
  • Contains only brown rice and water. No preservatives or additives
  • This particular one is packaged by the Bulk Barn, not a manufacturer
  • It is less likely to be contaminated than loose gf items in a bulk store, but cannot be guaranteed
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Product Review: Irresitables GF pancake mix

Irresistables Pancake MixWhen my grocery store began selling gluten-free products and had them on sale, I thought I’d try something. I picked pancake mix.

I had such high hopes, but even feeling the package I could tell it was starchy and perhaps gritty. I worried.

I did not like the fact that it needed milk and egg. So much for vegan. I would try them with substitutes after the initial test.

I looked at the ingredients after I had tasted them. Yep, white rice flour is the first ingredient. They tasted like it.

Not only did I not like the taste at all, they did not work well at all either. You will see that they bubbled and looked like pancakes should, but…

stuck to the panThey stuck terribly to the pan.

I thought it was my pan not preheated enough. So I tried again with a new, clean pan. I preheated it an tested the heat.

Nope. Still stuck. The only one that came off was about the size of a toonie – that’s a Canadian $2 coin (I can only guess that might be the size of a silver dollar, though I have never seen one). There was also a lot of oil. I don’t like that.

Because I cannot get the pancakes out of the pan and I do not like their taste. I give this product a definite thumbs down. I will be trying homemade pancakes instead.

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Misadventures are Part of Learning

As I mentioned, I had a stressful week and a disasterous week in the kitchen. In order that we all might learn from my mistakes and that I may accept my inperfection. I am going to share my humiliation with the world. (yay)

I made a quinoa and tofu dish that, while tasting great, looked like dog food. What did I learn from this? Use very firm tofu. Don’t crumble it if it is going to be brown and without other colours. I also couldn’t find the corn at the time. I did later and added it to my leftovers. It was great and so good for you. But, it originally looked like this.

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I made a gluten-free pancake mix for the first time. It stuck to the pan, badly, twice.

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I gave in and had gluten-full pancakes.

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My energy bars never set. I didn’t take that pic. I saved them with more oats and almonds, but added calories and fat in the process.

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I will have to try again. I will be a better blogger and document the process on my next attempt, but it was really a late night spur of the moment thing.

I made gluten-free brown rice spaghetti. You probably can’t tell that it is one sticky mess under that sauce.

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I don’t think I had enough mushrooms for my soup. I didn’t even use all the water suggested and found it too brothy and not enough content. I also didn’t document the process.

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More on these to come! I am going to share these recipes and tips and a full review on the pancake mix, I promise. I hope you don’t mind though, I’m going away for the weekend. It’s time for some spa and wine. It’s also an early birthday thing.

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Less than perfect

Reality is a state of mindIn addition to being a crazy busy week last week, it was also a flop in terms of the things I tried. It is hard not to feel like a failure but I remind myself that these mistakes are part of learning. I had to make three batches of brownies before I discovered the perfect recipe at Christmas time. So, why should I expect anything else to be different? I think I have this notion that I have to do everything well. We could get into a discussion about where this comes from, but we won’t. Instead I will focus on the process of becoming less than perfect. Okay, I wasn’t perfect before, so I should say learning to accept less than perfect.

I’ve always been an “all-or-nothing” thinker. So, if I couldn’t do something perfectly, I just wouldn’t do it. That is why you will not see a university transcript full of A’s. For several years I’ve been challenging these “black and white” thoughts. I suppose you could call it CBT(cognitive behavioural therapy) or DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy). I have done a bit of both of these, but it manifests in my life currently in my own way. It might go something like this: “I have do perfectly on this…I’m running out of time. I won’t be able to do it perfectly, so why bother?” Now I try to remind myself, “You don’t have to be perfect; no one is perfect. You’ll still do great.” Positive self-talk, it’s a big part of this. Instead of “this recipe didn’t work out, I must have done it wrong (failed),” I challenge myself with,  “What if the recipe isn’t right? You followed the recipe and it didn’t work out, perhaps the recipe is wrong” and also “You are very smart and creative and have managed to rescue (or figure out) several recipes before. You can fix this one too.”

It’s time we all stop beating ourselves up for our mistakes and recognize that they are learning opportunities. It is time that we focused on our strengths, not our weaknesses. Step one, be aware of those times you are judging yourself and beating yourself up. Practice mindfulness and be able to sit with them, eventually non-judgmentally. Step two, challenge those thought distortions. Even if you don’t fully believe it, use your rational, logical mind to step back and find an alternate explanation. There you have my minimal DBT and CBT practice. There is much more to it, and I think having done more work in it has allowed me to skip to my basic version. Still, if you can challenge one negative thought/self-talk, I think you are on your way toward happiness and acceptance.

Coming tomorrow, in acceptance of my imperfections, I shall share them with you.

Recommended reading:
Online:
“Letting Go of All-or-Nothing Thinking”.
DBT skills practice and lessons
DBT in a Nutshell(trusted pdf)

Books and Workbooks
Mind Over Mood Greenberger and Padesky
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and IllnessJon Kabat-Zinn
The Miracle of Mindfulness; and, Touching Peace (I want to check out Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Meditation). I have several by Thich Nhat Hanh. They are all great.
The Dialectical Behavioural Therapy Skills Workbook McKay, Wood, Brantley and Marra
Radical Acceptance Tara Brach

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