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!

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Week 5 Meal Plan

On to Week 5!  I made it, mostly, for my original 30 day challenge and it really hasn’t been that hard to omit some of the issue causing foods, so I’m going to keep at it, for the most part.  This weekend I did have a few cheats; in class, one group gave a presentation about Japan and brought so many fun-looking Japanese treats that I just had to try!!  And I quickly paid for it, oof.  Not sure if it was the peanuts or possible wheat or soy, but it was almost instant stomach pain.  Darn.  Today I cheated a bit at PF Chang’s, I had their chicken lettuce wraps, which have mushrooms and I’m sure there was probably a few other things mixed in there that I shouldn’t have had, plus I had a little of my husband’s chicken and broccoli.  Surprisingly, I didn’t feel all that bad!

week 5 plan

week 5 plan

week 5 plan cont.

week 5 plan cont.

week 5 prep

week 5 prep

Today I made up another granola recipe as well as making a savory porridge.  For the granola, I followed this “how to” from Buzzfeed to create my own mix.  I used a mix of rolled oats and quinoa flakes, pecans, almond slivers, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, ground chia seeds, coconut chips, golden raisins, and dried cranberries.  And of course CINNAMON, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.  I used maple syrup with some vanilla for the sweetener, melted coconut oil, and an egg white.  The egg white was what was supposed to make it crunchy, so I thought it was worth a try.  It turned out GREAT!!

DIY granola

DIY granola

For the savory porridge, I mostly followed the recipe, but used homemade coconut milk instead of whole milk and I added chopped, fresh spinach because I thought it needed some more GREEN.  Looks tasty, should make for fun lunches this week!  Great way to use some of the homemade chicken stock in my freezer.

savory porridge

savory porridge

Into Week 3!

So here I am, third week in to my 30 day FODMAP challenge and it’s been going great!  I have found it pretty easy to make some massive eliminations from my diet and have actually really gotten into meal planning and trying out new and exciting things, like yogurt-making!  For the most part, I think my energy levels are better and even my attitude has been up (most days). I’m able to think more clearly about what my future is going to look like in the next year, which is a personal issue I’ve been struggling with a lot lately.  My stomach is definitely better, which is really all that I’m asking for.  I have found giving up gluten really easy and probably the only thing that I’ve needed a few mini cheats has been chocolate.  Probably my next mini cheat would be a fun cocktail, kind of have missed a little alcohol here and there 🙂

The only kind of weird thing is that I have felt like my appetite has been HUGE, I’m just super hungry all the time!  And not even with specific cravings, like I am missing sugar or something, just that I’m starving and need to eat.  A friend asked if I was weighing myself through this and I said no because that wasn’t the point, but since I feel like I’ve been eating more I did want to make sure I haven’t GAINED weight lol!  That certainly wouldn’t be my intention either!!  So far I’m normal, so I guess that’s good.  Would have been nice to see a pound or two loss from removing gluten and most sugar, though!

Despite having class this weekend, I still made some time to try a few new foods, including using my homemade yogurt to make Greek yogurt!  It was easy, I just put it in the cheesecloth that came with and hung it over the sink overnight.  It was very thick, so I think next time I wouldn’t hang it for quite so long.  I used it to make these Pumpkin Oat n’ Honey muffins.  I used 1/4 cup of maple syrup and a 1/4 dextrose instead of honey and added chopped pecans and shredded coconut.  Oh and use a food processor, not a blender, my blender definitely did not work for this!

GF pumpkin oat-yogurt muffins

GF pumpkin oat-yogurt muffins

Next up, I made these yummy looking Oatmeal Pumpkin Pie bars!  I haven’t had a chance to try one yet because the recipe said they were best after sitting overnight in the fridge.  I plan to freeze some since it made a 13X9 pan.  Adjustments I made included using the GF flour mix I bought instead of spelt flour, I used more pumpkin instead of applesauce, dextrose instead of coconut sugar, and milled chia instead of flaxmeal.  Oh and I sprinkled some shredded coconut on top!

oatmeal pumpkin pie bars

oatmeal pumpkin pie bars

I also made another round of the Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal because it was so yummy!  The main change I made was that I blended fresh spinach with the coconut milk, so it’s a lovely shade of green this time lol!  I just missed knowing that I was getting some veggies in the morning since I usually add spinach to my smoothies, so I thought this would be a way to add it to my oatmeal.  Turned out good, does taste a little “greener” but not terribly.

And finally I made up burgers inspired by these Paleo Sun-dried Tomato & Spinach Burgers and homemade ketchup.  The burgers are a funny story, I kind of went overboard on the spinach, so I ended up adding a half pound of ground turkey.  They still just seemed boring, per the recipe, so I decided to spunk them up with some garlic-infused olive oil, coconut flour, grated cheddar cheese, and spices including smoked paprika, ground mustard, and tumeric.  Thankfully, despite my random additions, they turned out great, including husband approval!  For the ketchup, I followed the recipe pretty much exactly except that I warmed it on low on the stove (I didn’t think the brown sugar would blend properly otherwise) and added only a tiny bit of cayenne pepper.  Tasted great, though it makes a lot, so I hope I can use it up before it goes bad.

spinach & sun-dried tomato burgers

spinach & sun-dried tomato burgers

mm ketchup

mm ketchup

lotsa ketchup!

lotsa ketchup!

At the end of the weekend, I had to laugh at my recycling pile: FOUR cans of pumpkin and an entire container of oats!  That’s totally normal, right???  Guess all I can say is: I LOVE PUMPKIN AND OATS!  😀

pumpkin everywhere!

pumpkin everywhere!

Week 3: Ready to see improvements, come on!

I was hoping by week 3 I might start feeling a little better, but so far I would say I haven’t seen a lot of improvement.  Friday was my work luncheon and dinner party, so I was super careful about what I ate: salad and chicken at the lunch; sushi, candy (hah), and wine at the dinner.  And yet I felt horrible on Saturday, and not just like a “I had too much wine” type of horrible 🙂  So that was pretty frustrating since I felt just as crappy by being careful about what I ate as I would have had I just indulged in the delicious looking pecan pie!!  I know these things take time, so I’m trying not to get discouraged.. :-/

On Sunday, I tried out Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal, which contains brown rice, corn, buckwheat, and sorghum.  It had a consistency kind of between oatmeal and cream of wheat; I added raisins, sunflower seeds, and agave nectar.  It’s okay, I can’t quite decide if I like it more than steel cut oats or not.  I have a few bowls left in the fridge, so we’ll see what I think at the end of the week 🙂  I also made some vegan oatmeal cookies: http://www.cookiemadness.net/2008/06/chewy-vegan-oatmeal-raisin-cookies/  I thought they were pretty tasty and even my Bible study friends and husband thought they were good, so score one for cookies I can eat haha!

It certainly has been hard with all the Christmas parties trying to be “good” haha 🙂  But at the same time, sometimes it has been nice to have an excuse to not eat stuff that’s not good for me anyways, diet or not.  I just try to always have things on hand that I can eat  and not get to the “I’m starving” stage that might cause me to eat whatever is first in sight 🙂

Tests and Trials

I have tried a few more new foods and recipes the last few days.  Breakfast wise, I’ve kind of just been sticking to the smoothie and meat option, even though I know I should be mixing things up a bit more but I am a creature of habit, especially in the morning!  I have varied the fruit a bit, bananas and blueberries a few days (oh adn I’ve been adding a handful of fresh spinach too) and then this morning I added some frozen mango since I had that on hand.

I did finally get around to making my waffles, though they did not turn out as good as the last time I made them!!  I am not sure if it was because I used a different kind of milk- I did half rice, half coconut milk, but whatever it was, those suckers stuck to the waffle iron like nobody’s business!  I ended up just peeling them off in pieces; at least they are nice and bite sized now hah!

While those were going, I also made up Nutty Oatmeal Raisin No-Bake Bites (see recipe at end) to use up some of that hemp protein I have.  I had one tonight and it was pretty good and really quite satisfying for an after dinner dessert.  Mine came out to be more like 10 balls, but I thought one was plenty.  The walnuts were a bit bitter, but not overwhelmingly so.

I did end up having a craving for some hot chocolate later, so I made that up and for anyone interested in how to made milk free hot chocolate, here you go: take 2 heaping spoonfuls of Hershey’s Cocoa and 1ish spoonful of sugar (up to you how sweet you like it) and mix them together in your mug.  Warm up in the microwave about a cup of whatever kind of milk you can use (rice, almond, coconut, etc), then pour it into your cocoa mug and mix.  It’s basically as simple as that!  I like to add some extra “flavorings” in the form of peppermint schnapps 😀 and as many marshmallows as I can cram in.  Recently at Hy-Vee they’ve had chocolate mint flavored marshmallows and they are AWESOME!  Hey gotta get your sweet kicks where you can 🙂

For dinner tonight, I made up the rice pasta I bought at Trader Joe’s.  It was pretty good, maybe a little on the gummy side, but I’m really not that picky about that sort of thing so it was fine for me!  Couldn’t have any of my husband’s meat balls, though, since those had bread crumbs, eggs, and parmesan cheese in them.

Since Wednesday is 10% off health food at Hy-Vee, I swung by there to pick up some flour because I had used all of my oat flour.  I settled on a 2 lb back of brown rice flour that was regularly $3.39, so compared to all the other flours, this seemed to be the best deal.  I also perused some other items that had caught my eye last week since now I could get them an extra 10% off woot!  I ended up getting Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks, which for 10 oz was regularly $4.49 and they are fabulous!  I really bought them for munching not for baking… 🙂  It’s amazing that there are only three ingredients in them: Evaporated Cane Juice, Natural Chocolate Liquor (non-Alcoholic), Non-dairy Cocoa Butter.  I also wanted to get some sort of bread, preferably something to use with hot dogs since we still have like 5 packages of them from our party in May!  I looked at Ener-G’s selection of breads and they just seemed so expensive and this particular Hy-Vee didn’t have their hot dog buns, so I moved on to the freezers to see what they had.  I happened upon these very basic looking breads that said they were made out of millet flour: Deland Bakery’s- Millet Hot Dogs.  It was weird though because the label said that it contained wheat, gluten or yeast, but in the ingredients list, none of those things appeared!  So just to make sure, I went back to look at the flours and the millet flour said it was gluten free and not a derivative of wheat, so, triple checking the short ingredient list on the buns, I decided to go for it!  For 6 buns, it was $4.99, so kind of pricey, but cheaper than anything else I had seen that I could eat.  My final health food purchase was Tinkyada’s Rice Spaghetti- 16 oz for $3.45.  My mom had spotted some GF Bisquick and sent that home with my husband, so that will be a handy item to have as well.  I also got the pea protein from my aunt, but am going to try to finish up some more hemp protein before starting on that.

I had a chat with a friend of mine who is allergic to gluten and she said her favorite grain has been quinoa.  I have enjoyed this grain before as well, but only in savory fashions with dinner, but she said it also made a great breakfast option.  So I need to find some time to make up some of that and give it a try for breakfast; maybe it will be more palatable than the steel cut oats!  Really not sure what my deal is with those, I love oats usually!  I did recently discover, when looking at my husband’s instant oatmeals that not all instant oatmeals have “bad” ingredients!  His (just regular Quaker Oats Apple & Cinnamon) didn’t have any soy, milk, or wheat, so it is good to know that if I’m in a jam, I can grab a pack of instant oatmeal and eat it at work.

Nutty Oatmeal Raisin No-Bake Bites

  •  4 Ounces Nuts (see below)
  • 2 Teaspoons Living Harvest Organic Hemp Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Agave Nectar (optional)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Living Harvest High Protein Hemp Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 Cup to 3/4 Cup Quick or Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Raisins

Grind the nuts in a food processor or spice grinder until they begin to turn into a paste or “butter.” Place the nut butter in a bowl, and stir in the oil, maple, honey or agave (if using), and vanilla (is using). Stir in the protein powder, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Stir in the oats and raisins. Start with ½ cup of the oats, but feel free to add more if desired. Some nut butters may be a bit oilier or softer than others, so more oats may work better.

Roll the dough into 12 little balls, and flatten a bit like cookies if desired, or leave as balls. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready for a snack.

Nuts: I used all walnuts, which are tasty but slightly bitter. For the sweetest and smoothest results, I recommend using cashews, though almonds and even sunflower seeds should work well too. When using walnuts, 4 ounces was a generous cup, or a scant 1-1/4 cups. For cashews,  you will be looking at a little less than 1 cup since it is a denser nut.

Week 0-1, Breakfast: Baking/cooking new things

On top of buying lots of new food items, I also wanted to try baking/cooking a few new things to see what works and what doesn’t work.

My first attempt was coming up with new things for breakfast, both for the new diet restrictions but also because my aunt said I need to be having protein and next to no carbs/sugar in the morning.  Since my normal breakfast consisted of cereal, I new this would be quite a challenge for me!  Especially since the thought of certain items first thing in the morning make me wanna gag 😛  So when she suggested steel cut oats with some fruit and nuts, I thought that sounded like something I could handle.  I picked up a bag of Bob Red Mill’s steel cut oats (cheaper than the other brands) and cooked 1 cup on the stove  with some cinnamon, according to the instructions (about 4 servings).  Once it thickened and cooled, I separated it into four different containers and stuck them in the fridge to eat throughout the week.  I took one out in the morning, added some frozen blueberries, chopped walnuts, rice milk, and ground flax seed and heated it up in the microwave.  First taste, BLAND.  But I wasn’t supposed to have sugar!! so I choked down as much as could and headed to work.  The next morning, I decided I had to add some agave nectar or I just couldn’t get it down.  No morning was able to eat an entire “serving,” it just was not very enjoyable.  SO I will return to steel cut oats at some point, but I have decided to take a bit of a break until the thought of them doesn’t make me gag…

So since then, I have moved on to making smoothies most mornings and having some Canadian bacon or smoked salmon.  My smoothies haven’t been super appetizing either because I have been adding ProGreens probiotics (this green powder substance that’s part of my supplement regimen), but believe me, the ProGreens masked by fruit, etc is MUCH better than just trying to drink it straight up in water.  So typically my smoothies have been frozen blueberries, a few frozen peaches (just b/c I had some), rice/almond/coconut milk, ProGreens powder, ground flaxseed, and maybe a little Truvia or agave nectar if needed.  This was ok, but still hard to drink, so I thought to add some sunflower butter and that has made a huge difference!  To get a little more protein, I have also added vanilla flavored hemp protein powder.. it’s hard to tell if this is cruddy tasting since the ProGreens is also green and gross, but so far I’m not overly impressed.  Especially when I attempted to just mix it with rice milk this morning and it was all grainy and chunky.. ick!  So I’ll keep choking this down, but I don’t think I’ll buy it again.  My aunt is supposed to get me some pea protein, so maybe that will be better.

Another attempt at breakfast was squash!  I had a butternut and pumpkin sitting around so I got those cooked up one night just to get them into the freezer and then thought hey, that doesn’t sound too bad for breakfast!  So I left some out in the fridge and the next morning, I mixed in some rice milk, walnuts, ground flaxseed and cinnamon.  Now, if I had stopped here I think it would have been fine, but I thought hey I need some more protein, so I added some hemp protein.. and proceeded to turn the whole thing a rather sickly orange-green color.  I brought it with me to work since I was running late and zapped it in the microwave.. and it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either mainly because of that darn hemp protein!  *sigh*

One of the things that goes with this whole elimination diet is trying not to have the exact same thing every day, so I’m constantly trying to think of things that sound good for breakfast, but so far the smoothie/meat combo has tasted best.  I did just realize that a waffle recipe I was making for myself during my marathon training will still work with my new restrictions, so I’m going to make some of those up and freeze them soon.  Here’s the recipe:

Vegan Pinole-Chia Waffles

Ingredients

3/4 cup medium to finely ground cornmeal or pinole (I just used regular cornmeal and didn’t grind it up, it seemed pretty “fine” to me!)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup oats, ground
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup almond milk (I added a few more splashes b/c it just seemed too thick)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

If starting with cornmeal instead of pinole, toast it lightly in a pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it is lightly browned and fragrant.  If you are using real pinole, grind in a coffee grinder to make into a fine-textured flour.

Preheat waffle iron.

Stir together the cornmeal, chia, ground oats, salt, and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, mix together the applesauce, milk, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry to combine into a smooth batter.  Spray the waffle iron with baking spray even if it is nonstick, and pour batter into hot iron.  Follow the directions of your waffle iron, or wait until the iron stops steaming.

Carefully remove waffles from iron, re-spray the waffle iron with cooking spray, and repeat.  This was enough batter to fill my waffle iron two and a half times, making 5 small waffles.

To enjoy immediately, top with maple syrup and the fruits of your choice.  Alternatively, slice into bars, freeze and take on your next run.

Total Servings: 4