On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: I miss you, garlic. {plus a Fire + Ice giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I’m now solidly in Week 3 of my elimination diet (no gluten, no high FODMAP foods, no fun… just kidding… sort of).  As much as I would like to assert that I felt my absolute best when living on Annie’s Shells & Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos, the past few weeks are proving otherwise.

[Image source]

If Week 1 were a work by Victor Hugo, it would be Les Miserables.  I had a raging headache the entire week, and felt compelled to slap the Diet Coke straight from the hands of people passing by.  While I did my best to pack enough food for the day, inevitably I came home starving.  And tempted to fall into a big bowl of hummus.  I did adopt one very important habit during Week 1, though: consistently eating breakfast.

I’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but then again, I grew up being told that Pluto was a planet.  I’m a born skeptic.  Regardless, I carved out time every morning for this meal– most important or not– and have stuck to gluten free cereal, unsweetened almond milk, heaps of fresh berries, and more bananas than any person should consume.  While I’d rather spend that time getting stuff done (like working, or talking to my dog), It’s refreshing to not want to eat my keyboard during a mid-morning conference call.

Week 2 was a vast improvement over Week 1, but that’s not saying much, considering I felt like hell on wheels for the first seven days of the diet.  By the second week, my deep longing for an IV drip of caffeine had waned, and I no longer sought physical violence against people who freely sipped the Diet Coke.  Avoiding all caffeine has three major upsides:

  1. I’m sleeping better.
  2. I’ve eliminated the risk of hitting a pole at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through, resulting in a dangling side-view mirror… again.  Yes, that really happened.
  3. If I can quit caffeine, I must be unstoppable.  Maybe.

I survived a weekend away, thanks to a stash of low FODMAP foods and some careful selection at meal times.  I was captain of the nerds with my handy allowed/not allowed food list always at the ready.  More than anything, I have such a better appreciation for those dealing with allergies.

[Image source]

I gave myself a free pass (which is less cool than a fun pass) to eat a small portion of baked penne, and a bite of a brownie after my grandmother’s funeral.  Oh, and a vodka and soda, light on the vodka, which is technically not forbidden… but not encouraged, either.  I soon regretted that free pass, but hey.  This is a learning process.

While I’ve experimented with various dairy-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free packaged foods, I’ve been trying to stick to unprocessed foods whenever possible.  I’ve been packing salads, low FODMAP fruits and veggies, a bit of almond butter, sweet potatoes, precisely measured wedges of hard cheese (file this under confusing: brie is considered a hard cheese, according to my handy reference guide), and the occasional rice cracker or one of Lucy’s Cookies.  Dinner has been similar.

When it comes to snacks, I find myself starring into the fridge, making eyes at the hummus and Greek yogurt.  It’s kind of a bad scene.  I broke out the mustard and Glutino pretzels for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, though, and quite enjoyed the combination.  I think this may be a lucky snack, so they will be on the table for Game 7 tonight, for sure.  Plus, they taste good.  And grainy mustard just plain old rules.

Week 3 has been the easiest so far, which makes sense.  I tried another go at the free pass last night, when I arrived at my front door famished and exhausted.  Rather than going all out (I think the baked penne from Week 2 hit just about every category on the ‘not allowed’ list), I limited myself to one forbidden column, grains, and experienced no side effects (and sadly, no vodka….).  While I am tempted to press my luck… I am not willing to risk a whammy (…best game show of all time).  Back to safe greens today.

I am (mostly) patiently waiting for the results of my blood work to come back, and am (fully) crossing my fingers that it will be clear what foods I should be avoiding from now on.  In the meantime, though, I am feeling surprisingly better.  I am much more conscious of cravings, my hunger levels, and how I feel after eating.  I have gotten so much better at preparing food in advance, rather than leaving things to chance.  With a week and a half to go, I’m thankful for this insight…. and I’m looking forward to a normal night out (at a restaurant that serves garlic and onions, preferably) soon.

To enter, leave a comment below.  I will select a random winner tomorrow evening (Thursday, April 26) after 8 PM EST.  If you’d rather send all your good luck to the Boston Bruins, you can purchase this sweet deal until midnight tonight.

CONGRATULATIONS, Stephanie!  You were the randomly selected winner. 🙂  Stephanie writes a great personal finance blog; you should check it out!  Many thanks to Eversave Boston and all who entered.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • LET’S GO, BRUINS! 🙂
  • Popsicles in Prosecco: a match made in heaven
  • Doing damage with my new label maker (watch out!)

What one food would you have trouble living without?  (Be sure to indicate if you want to be entered to win the aforementioned giveway, ladies and gents.)


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Today: Where did cavemen get agave nectar?

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]While I am happy to be an evolved, hygiene-obsessed, convenience-shopping woman of the 21st century, I can’t seem to get enough of this so-called paleo crunch.  Nick started making it a few months ago, and he’s been playing around a bit with the recipe he found at Simple Fitness ever since.  I whipped up my own batch this weekend and must say, I am quite pleased with the results.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups of raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (shelled)
  • 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts (or any other flavorful nut)
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds (I dipped into my GNC stash)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup of almond flour (if you’re patient, all it takes is almonds and a food processor… or you could buy a package in the gluten-free baking section of most markets)
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 a cup of honey or agave nectar

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Using a food processor or knife, chop almonds and hazelnuts to desired size.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Spread the mixture on a large jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with a lip, and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from the oven and stir ingredients carefully.
  7. Return pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until ingredients begin to brown.
  8. Let your paleo crunch cool before eating.  As it sits, the crunch will get… crunchier.
  9. Store in an airtight container, or in single-serving (approximately 1 cup) bags.

Paleo crunch can be eaten by the handful, as is.  That’s the most caveman-like approach.  It’s also great as a cereal with almond milk or sprinkled over Greek yogurt.  I bet it would also make a great topping for apple crisp, especially if you added a bit more cinnamon.

Oh.  I forgot one important last step.  Hop on your wooly mammoth and share your paleo crunch with all of your cavemen friends.  Good things are meant to be given away.

Also On Tap for Today:

What have you whipped up lately?  Feel free to share a recipe link!


108 Comments

Today: Totally jamming. {a chia giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]If I know anything about chia, it’s these two things:

  • Without it, there would be many a bald chia pet.
  • Those little seeds pack some major punch.

After doing some research Googling, I can’t help but wonder why we don’t sprinkle chia onto everything we eat.  The benefits seem to be endless.  Sure, they may get stuck in between our two front teeth right before meetings (why didn’t anyone tell me?), but those mighty little seeds serve as an excellent plant-based source of fiber, protein, Omega 3 and antioxidants.  Chia is a gluten-free whole grain that can be eaten raw, and incorporated into virtually every meal.  The Chia Company’s website boasts a variety of chia recipes, including drinks, soups, baked goods and desserts.  Like flax seed, chia seed can be used as an egg substitute.  It can be sprinkled onto Greek yogurt, salads, and soups or baked into your favorite granola recipe (I’ll share mine later this week).

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it’s also my least favorite.  I find I am always rushing out the door on weekdays, and then rushing back in the door because I’ve forgotten my lunch, my keys, and 13 other things.  The last thing on my mind  is a nutrient-rich, tasty breakfast.  The weekends, however, provide the perfect time to up the ante a bit, and put a little thought into my morning meal.  On Sunday, I surveyed the contents of our cabinets and fridge, while ripping open a bag of white chia seeds (I advise caution, unless you like decorating with super foods).  With a quart of raspberries and a few blood oranges left at the end of the week, Bob Marley played in the background, inspiration struck and I knew it was time to jam.

Raspberry, blood orange and chia seed jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 medium blood orange, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 packet of Truvia

Directions:

  • Puree the raspberries and blood orange in a food processor, or crush with a fork.
  • Mix in chia and water, and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Add 1 packet of Truvia, or a natural sweetener of your choice (honey, agave nectar).
  • Allow the jam to thicken, by storing covered in the refrigerator for several hours.
  • Enjoy as a topping for oatmeal, or a spread for toast, bagels or waffles.

This recipe yielded two small jars worth of jam, perfect for a week’s worth of breakfasts.

I feel a bit like Oprah today, not because I am gagillionaire, but because I am giving away not one, not two, but six packages of Australian grown chia from The Chia Company, courtesy of the nice people at GNC.  You get some black and white chia sheets, and you get some black and white chia seeds, and you get some black and white chia seeds!

That’s right.  Six of you will receive tw0 10-serving bags of chia (one bag of black chia seeds, one bag of white chia seeds).  This giveaway will close at 6 PM on Friday, February 24th. I will announce six randomly-selected winners shortly thereafter.  To enter, please leave a comment below.  For an additional entry, please feel free to tweet the following, and leave a second comment… so that I don’t space out and miss your tweet:

Want to win @TheChiaCompany chia from @GNCLiveWell and @ElizabethEv? #livewellnow #fitfluential http://wp.me/pySBS-1qO

Full disclosureGNC is the exclusive retailer of The Chia Co. products in the United States.  As a FitFluential Ambassador, I received complimentary product from GNC, but I was not compensated for this post, nor for hosting this giveaway.  I enjoy this product and I think you will too. 🙂

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to give your meals a nutritional boost?  Are you a chia fan?


3 Comments

Today: What’s wrong with this picture?

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Because it’s Friday, and we could all use a laugh, I will let this screenshot (captured while placing a Superbowl-sized Peapod order) speak for itself.

Click to enlarge

In this case, I advocate choosing conventional over organic produce.

Also On Tap for Today:

Let’s hear it: Patriots or Giants?


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Today: Patriots and paleo.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]There are two (possibly more… maybe, like, six or seven) things in the Universe that I know almost nothing about. Football and the much buzzed about “paleo diet” are two such things. What do you do when you’re totally out of the loop? Throw a (very exclusive small) party. And pretend you know what you’re talking about. With the New England Patriots playing the Denver Bronco in some sort of playoff game, and Nick participating in a paleo challenge at his Crossfit box (in normal human language, that’s a gym), the need for a get together seemed obvious. Helloooo, paleo and Patriots… they both start with p. (I am pathetic. That’s another p word.)

Though I aspire to eat as thoughtfully as my fiance does, sometimes I’d rather just eat nachos and call it a night. And I am fairly certain I would be the first member of the tribe to go extinct were I living in caveman times. I’d much prefer a blade of grass over a wooly mammoth leg, or whatever. While the paleo diet may not be for me, I’m usually up for something new. Especially if it involves feeding people.

According to The Paleo Diet Lifestyle,

A Paleo diet, also known as paleolithic diet or caveman diet, is all about natural foods to help achieve great health and a perfect physique. The human body evolved for more than 2 million years with the food found in nature: game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs and nuts. The human race was thriving on this diet high in animal fat and proteins and low in carbohydrates, but things changed when we introduced unnatural foods to our bodies.

Clark thinks he invented paleo. He’s like, “Dude. I’ve been eating fresh vegetables and nasty ass raw bones since you got me. If you’d let me forage for berries and magic mushrooms, I would. Old news. Give me a grain-free treat.” So sassy, that one (in my imagination, at least). Needless to say, I have a lot to learn.

Meanwhile, anything I know about football I learned from watching my younger brother play. And from listening to sports radio during my measly commute. Driving home earlier this week, a caller mentioned a poll running on the Denver Post’s website asking readers, “Whose life would you rather live: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s or Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s?” Is it wrong that I would rather be Tim Tebow? Man Uggs, Super Bowl rings, ponytails and supermodel wives are all well and good… but, um… no thanks. I am easily overwhelmed.

Being easily overwhelmed seemed like a perfectly good reason to hand off (hey, that’s sort of a football phrase) the paleo chicken wing responsibilities to Nick. Being a vegetarian who has undercooked meat on more than one occassion is an equally valid reason. I stuck to less terrifying recipes, ones that bore a lower risk of me giving away botulism:

  • Gazpacho
  • Shrimp ceviche
  • Paleo “sushi” (hollowed cucumbers stuffed with sliced turkey and avocado)
In addition to the wings, Nick also whipped up paleo-friendly margaritas and cantaloupe with prosciutto. He has also perfected a delicious granola recipe that includes pepitas, almonds, sunflower seeds, and coconut. It makes the perfect football snack. Our friends Tina and Mal joined us for the game, and brought the most delicious spinach dip, along with fresh vegetables and veggie chips. The four six of us (Frenchie and pug included) always have such a great time together.

When it was all said and done, the Patriots won quite definitively and the paleo-inspired food seemed to be touchdown dance-worthy. I am beginning to wonder if Clark those cavemen and women were on to something. On second though, those suckers didn’t have stoves. Or sports radio. Or mascara.

Also On Tap for Today:

Who would you rather be, Tom Brady or Tim Tebow? Who would you rather eat like, me or my dog? (Just kidding… unless you’re going to answer.)


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Today: Rosemary is the loveliest.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]The herb, not the lady.  (Though I’m sure that, if you know someone named Rosemary, she’s lovely too.)  My parents sent me and my sister back to the city after Thanksgiving dinner with a potted rosemary plant for each of us, and the thing seems to be getting bigger and bigger.  Much to my delight.  There is no such thing as too much rosemary.  Same goes for mascara, but that’s a different post altogether.  There are a million and one uses for this lovely herb, and I intend to partake in all million in one.  Starting with a zingy dip.  And ending with a wreath that may take a decade to complete.

Fresh rosemary dip

Before heading to my parents’ house for the holiday, I whipped up a bit of a ‘hmmm… let us see what’s left in the ‘fridge‘ dip, grabbing garlic, fresh lemons, and what herbs we had in the ‘fridge.  I combined some baby dill with a heaping amount of (you guessed it… and if you didn’t… well, that’s okay too) fresh rosemary, juice from half a lemon, two crushed cloves of garlic, and a pinch of cayenne  and blended for 30 seconds in the food processor before adding 1.5 cups of Greek yogurt (I used Stonyfield Organic).  Delicious, with just the right amount of kick.  Or zing.  Or ka-pow, whichever you prefer.

Sweet outdoor centerpieces

It was a bit to cold to eat outside on Thanksgiving (meanwhile, it is now December 6th and approaching 65 degrees in Boston) , but my parents dressed the table on their deck just in case anyone was feeling brave.  I loved the pairing of mason jars and clay potted rosemary.  Tasty and beautiful? That’s quite a multitasking herb.  I am hoping my little guy continues to grow and grow, so that come Christmas 2018, I will have enough rosemary to make one of these:

Rosemary wreath (or, what to make if you have 20 bundles of herbs just layin’ around)

[Click the photo for complete instructions, via Rachel Ray]

Welp.  A girl can dream.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite herb to cook, garnish or decorate with?


4 Comments

Today: Nice buns.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I don’t mind regular ol’ football, but I think NFL RedZone is giving me high blood pressure.  The network covers every game being played, jumping from one scoring opportunity to the next.  Holy crap, the Dolphins just scored!  And the Patriots take it to the house!  The Steelers are in the end zone!  My head just popped off! (Can you say “take it to the house” when talking about football?  I don’t really even know.)

While Nick’s brain can operate at that level, mine cannot.  So I retreat to the uppermost cabinets in our kitchen, where the sugar and flour reside.  For me, football Sundays are perfect for baking.  This weekend, I developed a weird craving for cinnamon rolls, likely a result of being exhausted and dehydrated after Saturday’s run.  Give me sugar, or give me death… Just give me the sugar.  So while our living room was all about tight ends, our kitchen was all about nice buns.  Get it? Buns?  Tight ends? …Cool.

I doubt anyone visits On Tap for nutrition advice, but just to be clear:  I am fairly certain cinnamon rolls are not “good for you.”  They are not appropriate fuel for marathon training.  They contain flour, sugar, butter, and more sugar.  And then you add sugar on top in the form of icing.  That’s what makes them taste so good.  Obvi.

When I want to make something healthy and clean, I consult any number of websites or cookbooks in my arsenal.  When I want to do the opposite, I go immediately to Paula Deen.  There is no point in messing around.  I followed her cinnamon roll recipe nearly to a t, but substituted ground flax in place of the egg, and cut back a bit on the filling after reading several comments on the recipe that referred to overflowing cinnamon sugar (oh, the humanity!).

When working with yeast, it’s important to be patient.  In other words, if you’re craving a food that requires baking with yeast, be prepared to be tortured.  Despite wanting to dip my own arm in cinnamon sugar and gnaw it off, I managed to give the dough (and eventually, the rolls) plenty of time to rise.  By the time the cinnamon rolls came out of the oven, I had consumed 1.5 liters of water, taken a nap, put on an actual (i.e. non-Spandex) outfit for Mass, and felt much more human and much less likely to eat 1,500 calories worth of baked goods in one sitting.

Sugar coma (...just kidding, no cinnamon rolls for you.)

After sharing a roll or two with my football fanatic, I packed up the rest (complete with a set of birthday candles) to bring to my sister’s.  These things were meant to be given away.  I mean, really.  Who doesn’t love a nice set of buns?

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a football fan?  What’s your favorite way to pass a Sunday?