Y’all might be just as relieved as I am that the holiday has ended. I won’t be writing blog posts about it til next year! In all seriousness though, I’m welcoming the end of the holiday with a smile. We celebrated freedom and ushering in spring. What could be better!?
The last 8 days have been interesting for me from a food perspective. I ate a lot more meat, cheese, and nuts than I usually do and almost no grains. Potato consumption wasn’t too frequent either, save for a few meals and whatever was mixed into the matzah I was eating. These shifts in my diet meant I was hungry every 1.5-2.5 hours instead of my usual ~3-4 hour intervals. I welcomed yogurt back into my daily eats and have enjoyed cool, creamy Greek yogurt as an afternoon snack with some fruit mixed in almost every day. My bones have to be thanking me for the extra calcium!
I didn’t really crave that many things that I wasn’t able to eat during the holiday. Most tempting were the vegetables that were off limits (legumes, green beans, peas) and least tempting has been corn anything. Asparagus, broccoli, and I are in love. I’ve eaten a lot of those 2 perfect spring time vegetables this past week! I feel a little bit trimmer and less puffy (less bloated?) but this was definitely not a diet! I didn’t sleep well.at.all while avoiding grains. This was a fascinating shift in my routine for sure.
So now that spring is out in full force and I had the chance to really clean out my apartment, my pantry, and switch over to lighter, warm weather eats, I’m excited to keep up these meals. A quick shopping trip to Trader Joe’s yesterday made me tempted to restock on many favorite things I missed in the past week. I only grabbed a few items and am planning to continue eating big junk salads, extra protein in the forms of yogurt, nuts, and (local) meat. The rice I had last night was delicious and while I felt a bit different after eating it, I’m sure that I’ll be ushering other yummy gluten free grains back into my diet. I’ve also slept like a baby the last 2 nights after eating some form of carbs in the evening. Coincidence? I think not!
How do big changes in the way you eat affect your body? Am I nuts – are carbs and sleep quality related? What’s the biggest difference in your warm and cold weather eating habits?
I apologize if it seems like I’m killing the topic of eating during Passover. I find that folks have even more questions about eating gluten (and other allergen) free during the holiday because matzah usually is the first thing that pops into folks’ minds for meals. If nothing else, I’m hoping to prove that anyone can eat outside the box during the 8 day holiday and eat plenty of whole, clean, delicious meals that rely on little to no processed foods.
When I landed back in DC on Wednesday the first thing to do (after eating lunch, of course) was go grocery shopping. My fridge was pretty bare and there were things to pick up that hadn’t been opened and therefore would be kosher for Passover.
My Trader Joe’s haul:
romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli florets, portobello mushroom caps, carrots, chives, cauliflower, vegetable broth, artichoke hearts, red pepper spread, feta, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, frozen berries, frozen broccoli
And, Whole Foods:
frozen asparagus, organic, local chicken breasts, sweet potato, Greek yogurt, red onion, coconut water, pears
My total was $63.15 including organic chicken and lots of fresh produce. This doesn’t include the special Passover foods I purchased a few weeks ago. Since I’m not eating out this week, feeding myself meals + snacks for this amount is pretty reasonable!
This week I thought it’d be kind of fun to share how I check to see if a product is gluten free. Last week I listed a bunch of foods (though not exhaustive) that are naturally free of gluten. However, once those foods are processed their certainty of being gluten free disappears. Unless a company prints a certification, disclaimer, or labels something gluten free, I’m wary and tend to avoid putting it in my shopping cart.
Gluten Free Investigating Methods I Use:
- Reading. You might be thinking “duh” but what I mean is reading labels. Many companies are labeling things gluten free, even if it’s obvious, to help put consumers’ minds at ease. For example, my all natural 365 brand peanut butter was always gluten free and now the jars are printed with a GF label. I even check to make sure vitamins and supplements are gluten free!
- Google. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve Googled “product name + gluten free.” There are a lot of companies and folks out there who have done extensive research that makes searching easy. I trust the sources as well because many search results are from Celiac foundations and other sources that I’m comfortable trusting. A couple of my favorite GF confirmations include sriracha and my beloved Trader Joe’s Eggplant and Red Pepper spread.
- Company websites. I spotted Stubbs Barbecue sauce at the store 2 weeks ago and was tempted to buy it on the spot. However, it wasn’t until I was able to go to their website and see the ingredients prominently labeled as gluten free did I feel comfortable purchasing the item. Nowadays, if a product is gluten free, the manufacturing company wants you to know it (and buy it) so websites are becoming increasingly easier to use to do your investigative work!
- Grocery store lists. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (where I shop most but I’d imagine other stores do this too) have massive lists both online and in the store of all of the products on their shelves that are gluten free. Print this off or pick one up to make your trip just a little bit easier!
- Social Media. I’ve built strong relationships with a few gluten free companies, including Udi’s. These relationships are helpful because I can share feedback, know what’s coming down the pike, and ask questions about ingredients. Whether on Facebook or Twitter, if I ever have a question about something being gluten free I can just ask! I also follow other gluten free bloggers and when they use a new (or new-to-me) product I make note of it.
- When dining out I ask A LOT of questions. Next week’s tip will focus solely on dining out but don’t be shy when eating in a restaurant. I ask if items are prepared in / with flour, if they share grill space with things I’m allergic to, and nix the bun on a burger (after checking there are no breadcrumbs in the mix!). I can’t wait to share even more tips on this topic with you all!
These are my go-to ways to check for gluten but I can assure you, like a detective, I probably employ even more tactics on a daily basis. When it comes to being thorough versus spending time not feeling well, I’m happy to dedicate some time to staying healthy!
How do you check foods to make sure they are free of things you are allergic to?
Does anyone else remember this movie? My brother and I were obsessed with it growing up and would watch the video tape every year as Thanksgiving drew near. Last night ABC showed the special and I felt obligated to watch it. And photograph my favorite part – Charlie Brown and Snoopy preparing their Thanksgiving meal in the kitchen! I guess I was destined to love food
Anyhow, watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving got me pumped up for Thanksgiving next week. I have a full and exciting weekend but am most looking forward to my flight home early next week. The rest is just [quality] filler to pass the time!
Yesterday morning I mixed up my fruit toppings for my hot cereal. Into the standard mix went some diced pear and pomegranite arils. Nut butter was non-negotiable
I packed a quick and easy lunch to bring to the office: a burrito. While I was eating breakfast I pulled a Food for Life brown rice tortilla out of the freezer to defrost. When I finished I added a serving of refried beans, spinach, roasted green beans and onions and wrapped it up in foil to go. This took maybe 5 minutes of actual prep time and was filling and tasty! With a side greens salad, this held me over through the afternoon quite well.
We had an all staff meeting in the afternoon and at the end of it I grabbed a small handful of red grapes to snack on. Then, of course, I snacked on some edamame crackers at my desk. I’ve been enjoying those Trader Joe’s gluten free gems but they’re dangerous to have readily available! After work I walked downtown to shop for a shirt to wear to a party next week. I found this one which I think will be perfect with jeggings and boots. What do you think?
On the way home I got another craving for soup and knew I couldn’t eat beans for 2 meals in a row. I ended up heating some frozen broccoli, spinach, and peas in vegetable broth and blending it up for a bright green soup. I added garlic, salt, pepper, and ~1/2t of cheddar cheese and enjoyed it alongside a small sweet potato.
I then watched the aforementioned Charlie Brown show and Grey’s Anatomy and got myself to bed.
This morning I did not want to get out of bed but sunshine and the promise of eating out of an almond butter jar lured me out of my warm bed. There was only a generous 1/2 tablespoon left in this jar! I had prepped my cereal last night with blueberries and some maple syrup mixed in. This morning I reheated it and added it to the nut butter jar. I drizzled some melted fig jam and crushed pecan bits on top and am hoping that it’ll hold me over well this morning!
Any other Charlie Brown Thanksgiving lovers out there? What things did you love as a kid that you still love today?