Busy Busy Bee

Even though I got things wrapped up for my spring coursework at the end of April, May has been a busy whirlwind for me!  I’m already leaping ahead trying to make sure I’m prepared for my summer capstone and independent study, so I haven’t really felt like there has been much of a breather between semesters.  On top of that, lots of traveling in a week’s time and I’m still a little spun around.  When I’m busy and I’m not in my own environment, eating well and making any attempting to sticking to the FODMAP diet are pretty tough!  The conference I went to had some pretty limited food options; for example, breakfast consisted only of muffins/baked goods or a horrific looking “egg”-croissant sandwich!  Ew..  Luckily I had thrown in some bananas at the last minute and of course had my trail mix handy, so that was my breakfast both mornings.  Lunch the one day was also a little rough: choice of chicken, beef, or veggie burrito!  Come on people, where are the GF options here??  I was thankful that avoiding gluten is simply a choice for me and not a requirement since I did not have time to go hunt down a better option.  Definitely nothing low FODMAP about these burritos (wheat, beans, onions, garlic, etc??).  Luckily dinner had some more options and then the second lunch was open choice of restaurants in town.  But yes, my GI system was not feeling so hot all day Saturday!

The one meal I made between trips was inspired by sage I bought a little while ago because I thought I had tons of recipes that I could use it for, but then really didn’t have time to hunt down said recipes.  Plus the sweet potato fries appetizer from the prior trip really got me digging sage! I used this ravioli recipe as inspiration, but made quite a few tweaks.  Here’s my recipe:

Brown Butter Pasta with Chicken, Walnuts & Sage

4 chicken breasts (only needed two for the pasta, so two were leftover)
Rubbed with a mixture of smoked paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.
4ish servings of pasta (I did two servings of GF pasta and two of regular spaghetti for the hubby)
1/2 cup walnuts
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves
1 thick slice of smoked gouda, chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp (ish) of grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub herb mixture over both sides of the chicken.  Heat a skillet sprayed with garlic olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes until golden brown. Flip and cook for two more minutes. Transfer chicken to oven-safe dish and continue cooking  in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-sized pieces. Boil and drain the pasta according the to package directions.

Place the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat and toast for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove and chop. Wipe the skillet clean, and melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. When the butter just starts to turn brown, add the sage and stir constantly for one minute. Immediately add the pasta and stir to combine. Add the chicken, chopped walnuts, smoked gouda, and parmesan and stir. 

GF pasta with chicken & sage

GF pasta with chicken & sage

Ended up very tasty- I asked the hubby if this was a repeater and he said yes!  Again, the smoked gouda may have played a role… 🙂

Otherwise, we have been nibbling on leftovers or going out to eat or just having salads this week so far!  I’m hoping to make up some burgers tonight for something different!  I did make up another batch of coconut milk yogurt with a slightly different formula.  4 cups Aroy-D coconut milk, 4 cups of homemade coconut-oat milk, 1 heaping tsp of agar and 3 tbsp tapioca starch (with half a container of SO Coconut yogurt as starter).  I wanted to see a) if using half “real” coconut milk and half homemade would still work and b) if having less agar would still make it fairly thick.  I just felt like the last few batches I could see little pockets of agar (like a small clear ball of gelatin), so I thought perhaps it didn’t need as much.  It seems to have turned out just fine, perhaps slightly less “firm” but I always felt like it wouldn’t hurt for it to be a little more runny!

My other project has been trying to get my granola to clump, without having to add more sweetener!  I think I have had success, though I still want to experiment a bit!  Still using the oats & amaranth granola recipe as a base, I again replaced the amaranth with sesame seeds as well as some sunflower seeds, did 1/2 cup hazelnuts and 1/2 cup pecans, and still used the egg white.  Oh and I also added some cardamom and smoked salt for slightly different flavor.  The big differences I made were I lined my pan with parchment paper (most recipes say to do this but I was lazy before) and I left it out overnight to cool.  When I went to break it up: tada!

granola clumps!!

granola clumps!!

So much easier and yummier for snacking!!  I will say, it tastes just a touch stale, so my next batch I’m going to just use the parchment paper, but not let it sit out overnight and see if that still yields clumps but keeps the crunchy-ness.  I also found a granola recipe that uses homemade milk pulp, so I might give that a try since I have a full gallon ziploc in the freezer full of coconut-oat pulp!

I really gotta get back to meal planning, that was so nice!!  The summer is going to be hectic, so it would be nice to have some meals already planned out to reduce brain-strain.. 🙂

Racing, Traveling, and Picky Stomachs

Eating while traveling is always tough when there’s a picky stomach involved, but adding to that the challenge of running a race while traveling, and wow!  I had a really rough time figuring out what to pack and what to plan to eat, etc.  I was almost frozen with indecision and even though it was a short four hour drive, I decided not to pack anything for dinner.  At the last minute, I threw in a big container of homemade coconut yogurt with some strawberries and granola to eat for lunch.  It felt pretty sad pulling that out to eat at the Mall of America, sitting in front of Johnny Rockets!

this is totally normal to eat at the mall of america, right?

this is totally normal to eat at the mall of america, right?

The rest of the day, basically I ate pecans, walnuts, and raisins.  I ate so many nuts that day that I’m surprised I didn’t turn in to one!  But I was so fearful to eat just about anything else..  For dinner, I had decided I would go somewhere that I could make my own salad, like Subway, so that’s where I went.  Problem: I accidentally ordered balsamic vinegarette, thinking I was ordering JUST balsamic vinegar.  Plus, she of course poured way too much on, and so by the time I got my salad, it was the saddest, limpest looking spinach, tomato, tiny slices of cucumber, and black olive salad I had ever seen.  I tried to eat as much as I could, but the vinegarette was overpowering and I kept thinking about how it surely had a bunch of crap that I shouldn’t eat.  I threw most of it away and went to my car, where, horrifically, I decided to straight shot warm apple cider vinegar in an attempt to fend off any potential ill effects from the vinegarette.  I tell you, I love vinegar more than any normal person should, but straight shotting warm apple cider vinegar might be the grossest thing I’ve ever done.  This is why having a picky stomach and being a runner makes me a little insane.   I know that I have to fuel properly the day before a half marathon in order to have energy, but if 90% of what I eat causes stomach problems, it’s a really tough battle!!

For my pre-race “breakfast” (hardly qualifies), I had dry brown rice crispies and two clementines.  Luckily, those seemed to be enough so that I wasn’t starving but also not too full.  The race went decently, though I still got a side cramp despite all of my best efforts!  It’s hard to tell if side cramps are caused by upset stomach or not, I sure get them a lot but they feel much different than a usual upset stomach.

The rest of the weekend I just decided to eat what sounded good, since with the race behind me I didn’t have to worry quite so much about an upset stomach holding me back.  I munched on a banana, trail mix, and a bag of potato chips post race, and then after a nice nap, I ventured out to find something for lunch.  My first try at a salad shop turned up empty, so I went in hunt of something like Au Bon Pain or Panera and found Cosi.  I had a yummy salad with chicken, bacon, and gorgonzola that hit the spot!  Dinner was a bit more of a problem, I searched yelp for something but nothing was sounding good.  I finally found a place and went out to find it, and again came up empty!  So I wandered aimlessly, also waiting to see if the hubby would be able to join, and let my hunger get away from me and got to that scary place that is beyond hunger.  It is the spacey, I need to eat but everything sounds horrible phase that usually ends with me crying and/or getting very angry.  Hangry, as it were.  Luckily, my hubby came to the rescue and we found somewhere quickly that had some good options.  I scarfed down almost the entire plate of sweet potato fries that were smothered in turkey gravy, cheese curds, sage, and cherries.  I know it sounds weird, but it was SOO tasty!  We also got dessert, chocolate torte, which was yummy!  I didn’t feel that great going to bed, but woke up feeling fine.  In fact, for brunch, I decided to try out an egg white omelette (with quinoa, spinach, tomato, and goat cheese) and I have felt fine all day, surprisingly!!

Only new food I have to share was something I whipped up before we left because I was afraid my coconut milk was going to go bad.  It was Coconut Milk Panna Cotta and it was very yummy!!  I didn’t have any cardamom (which I remedied today), but otherwise I followed the recipe.  I would say it makes four servings, I put it in to two bowls, but it was very filling and I only ate half.

coconut milk panna cotta

coconut milk panna cotta

More travels are ahead of me and I plan to bring at least lunch for the first day.  Some of the meals are included, so while that doesn’t always mean there will be something that I can/want to eat, I also don’t feel like trying to pack three days of food with me.  So I will just have to try my best and make sure I have trail mix handy at all times to avoid turning in to Hangry. 🙂

Back at it!

I have had a seriously crazy couple of weeks in regards to homework, holy cow!  I had some major cheat days (hello flour tacos from Tasty Taco??), but have been for the most part sticking to the low FODMAP diet.  Despite the chaos, I still had some time to try out a few new recipes and tried to snag some pictures when I remembered!  Here are the ones that I can remember:

Skinny Baked Lemon Dill Mahi Mahi: I didn’t have fresh dill so just used the dried that I had and I subbed my homemade coconut milk yogurt for the cream cheese.  It turned out super yummy!

mahi mahi

mahi mahi

Roasted Fennel & Quinoa Crunch Salad: I made this as a side for a family dinner and everyone thought it was great!  The roasted fennel was really good and all of the flavors and textures melded together really well.  I think I might make it again this weekend, especially now that I have a HUGE bag of quinoa courtesy of CostCo!

fennel quinoa salad

fennel quinoa salad

Carrot Fries: This looked really tasty and super easy, though it was harder to find the matchstick style carrots than I expected.  I found a bag at Trader Joe’s for $1.69.  I was very underwhelmed by it, not as crispy as I had hoped and they shrunk up super small- did not look like the picture on the website.  They weren’t bad, but I wouldn’t bother making them again.

Grilled Lemon Chicken Thighs with Tabbouleh: I have use this recipe before for chicken thighs and it is so easy and they turn out so yummy!  If you are afraid of grilling chicken because you think it will dry out, try thighs.  I always overcook chicken breasts on the grill, but thighs have enough fat that they stay nice and moist.  For the tabbouleh, I used quinoa instead of bulgar and added some chopped spinach.  Great meal!

Parmesan butternut squash: Yum!  I’ve had a squash hanging around for probably a month now that I keep meaning to use, so I finally had time to chop it up last night and decided to give it a try with parmesan cheese instead of my usual cinnamon and ginger.  I liked it!  The hubby said he liked it better with cinnamon, so I guess it’s a matter of preference.

Pumpkin Quinoa Flake Microwave Muffin: I’ve been wanting to make something like this since I got my quinoa flakes, so I finally had time one morning when I had off work.  I used ground chia seeds instead of flaxseed and 2-3 tbsp of maple syrup instead of Truvia.  It was very tasty but very filling so I saved half for the next day’s breakfast.

pumpkin quinoa muffin

pumpkin quinoa muffin

Oats & Amaranth Granola: I went through my last granola batch super fast- it was so good!  I wanted to try a slightly different variety and was wondering if steel cut oats would work.  I found a recipe that used steel cut oats as well as amaranth, which I bought quite a while ago.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, though added some pumpkin seeds and ground chia, as well as an egg white.  I added golden raisins and dried cranberries after it was cooked because I felt they stuck in my teeth in the last batch since I had baked them with the rest of the granola.  It turned out very good again, though honestly, I could do without the amaranth.  They are these tiny seeds and get stuck in my teeth, though do help to give a little bit more of a crunch.  I’ll probably use them again at some point so I can use up the bag, but don’t think I’ll use them every time.

oat & amaranth granola

oat & amaranth granola

Mint Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream: Just tonight I made this up- sooo good!  I had bananas already frozen in the freezer and several avocados hanging out from my trip to CostCo.  I made a pretty big batch so that my family can try some this weekend, so it was probably 5-6 frozen bananas, 1.5 avocados, 1 tsp mint extract, 1 cup homemade coconut-oat milk, and 1-2 tbsp maple syrup.  It was awesome!!  I used a mix of Trader Joe’s chocolate chips and EnjoyLife’s dark chocolate chips.

mint choc chip vegan ice cream

mint choc chip vegan ice cream

This week has mostly been eating on the chicken thighs that we grilled up as well as the whole chicken I roasted in the crock pot.  I used some of the chicken to make my version of “ave paltas,” my favorite Chilean sandwich.  It is just chopped up chicken, avocados, lime juice, salt and pepper, and a little bit of garlic olive oil mixed up and put on bread with a tomato.  For my bread, I made the GF instant flatbread several times.  This is a great, fast bread especially now that I’ve been mixing dried rosemary into the dough.

I haven’t had much brain power to do meal planning the last few weeks, but hope to get back to that this weekend.  I have a lot of options now that I made it to CostCo!

Even MORE New Foods!

I tackled a few more new recipes this week as well as buying some new foods to try through Vitacost.  My first new recipe was a Spaghetti Squash Veggie Bake, with several adjustments.  First, I omitted the red pepper, second I used garlic olive oil, and I used my homemade Turkey Tomato Basil marinara for the sauce.  I thought it turned out tasty, the hubby was just okay with it, but I supposed I wasn’t surprised by that.

spaghetti squash veggie bake

spaghetti squash veggie bake

Next, I wanted to find something that I could use some of my date paste for, especially since I just recently realized that it’s not something I should really be having, per FODMAP.  I knew dried fruit was technically off limits, but I guess I thought it was more because it can be hard to digest, not because of the fructose content, but apparently dates have VERY high fructose content.  Darn.  I found this recipe, Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, which I ended up also using my leftover oat-coconut pulp from making milk instead of just oats. I had to play with the amount of liquid since the pulp was more moist than oats would be.  I thought they turned out okay, not wonderful, but a good use of things I had on hand.

oat-coconut pulp, date paste cookies

oat-coconut pulp, date paste cookies

We had leftovers a few nights this week, which was really nice- I love knowing that I have several kinds of already cooked veggies in my freezer to choose from at any time!!  I did make this Tandoori Spiced Fish last night and I thought it turned out pretty tasty.  I think the chicken curry I made last week was much better though!  A good use of my homemade yogurt though 🙂  I had the fish with a side of this awesome pumpkin, ginger, rice pasta that I just got through Vitacost- yummmy!  I wanted to see how flavorful the noodles were by themselves, so I just melted a little bit of the coconut manna I also got (aka coconut butter- yes different than coconut oil) and some salt.  I didn’t necessarily get an overwhelming taste of pumpkin or ginger, but they were very good even as plain as I had them.

rice pasta; coconut manna

rice pasta; coconut manna

Some of my other findings at Vitacost, which had some products cheaper than Amazon but definitely not everything, was raw pumpkin seeds for only $5.79/lb (almost a dollar cheaper than Amazon), organic pumpkin for almost the same price as Hy-vee brand, and quinoa flakes cheaper than I’ve seen anywhere else!  I definitely am going to stock up big time on pumpkin come the fall, I use it all year round so it’s really dumb to be paying twice as much for it right now!

organic pumpkin- no BPA!

organic pumpkin- no BPA!

pumpkin seeds

pumpkin seeds

quinoa flakes

quinoa flakes

I’m excited to give the quinoa flakes a try, they can be used similar to oats and I have several recipes pinned that I want to give a whirl!  Since I finished off my homemade yogurt, I was able to do another batch of yogurt, but this time I wanted to try coconut milk yogurt!!!  I used the Aroy-D coconut milk that I got at the Asian grocery store, plus a bit of my homemade oat-coconut milk.  It ended up being about 6 cups Aroy-D plus 2 cups of homemade, mostly because that was all that I had of my homemade.  I used this thick and rich coconut milk yogurt recipe, but doubled it and like I said, used a little more coconut milk than she did since I didn’t have much homemade on hand.  I was very nervous if this was going to work, I had read other blogs that said never to mix in things like tapioca starch or agar while it’s cooking!  But I think it turned out GREAT!  It has a natural bit of sweetness, so I didn’t really need to add a whole lot of maple syrup to make it palatable.  I do think I might try next time to use less tapioca starch, it was plenty thick and I feel like I could kind of tell there was a starch in it.  But maybe I would need that much tapioca starch if I had had more homemade milk, not sure..  OH and I used a store bought SO Coconut milk yogurt as the starter, since the starter I have is dairy based and I wanted to make this one with no dairy whatsoever.  In any case, I think it was a success!!  A return trip to the Asian store to stock up on Aroy-D will be made next week!  🙂

homemade coconut milk yogurt!!!

homemade coconut milk yogurt!!!

I swung out to Trader Joe’s tonight so that I could gather some more ingredients to make another batch of homemade granola this weekend- can’t wait!  I think I’m going to try a version that uses egg white, I know I don’t really eat eggs, but I think it wouldn’t be all that much and supposedly that is what makes it nice and crunchy, which I missed with my last version.  While there, I was looking at beer for my husband and came across this NGB gluten free lager!  I’m enjoying it now after a chill in the freezer and it’s pretty good 🙂

ngb GF beer

ngb GF beer