May 24, 2014

Flavor Hacking With Massel Bouillon - Recipe Roundup

Massel bouillon and seasoning sponsored this post and provided me with products to use in the recipes; however, the opinions I share in this post are my own

One of my favorite ways to kick up a recipe is to add a little extra flavoring. Instead of using just water when cooking rice or quinoa, I'll add Massel bouillon cubes. When sautéing veggies, I sprinkle in a little Massel's powdered bouillon. When simmering leafy greens, I'll add a bit of Massel liquid stock. I'll poach chicken or fish in broth made from Massel bouillon. You get the idea. A simple little addition or swap can really enhance the taste of your recipe.

Here are some of my favorite recipes where I've kicked up the flavor using Massel:

Kale and Butternut Squash Sauté

I sprinkle in Massel bouillon granules

Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

I use Massel 7's Bouillon Vegetable Cubes to make the broth the recipe calls for

Greek Chicken Quinoa Salad

I add Massel's 7's Bouillon Chicken Cubes to the quinoa

Spinach and Feta Brown Rice

I use Massel's Chicken Ultracubes when cooking the rice

Forbidden Rice with Sauteéd Onions, Tomato, and Spinach

This one is a simple creation all my own. An easy dish to throw together in a hurry.

A serving of Lotus Foods Organic Forbidden Rice cooked according to package with Massel 7's vegetable or chicken cube,
1 medium yellow onion sliced
a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach
a few quartered campari tomatoes
goat cheese.

Sauté the onion in olive oil and Massel's bouillon granules
Once onion is nicely caramelized, add fresh spinach and tomatoes until wilted and soft
Serve veggies over the rice and top with goat cheese

Massel bouillon and seasoning sponsored this post and provided me with products to use in the recipes; however, the opinions I share in this post are my own

May 14, 2014

2014 Summer Bucket List

The view from Northerly Island

Last week Chicago was glorious in the weather department and I couldn't help but start thinking about the summer. The summers in Chicago make up for all of the horribleness of winter. Neighborhood fests, outdoor concerts, movies in the park, farmers markets are just some of the great things going on. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this summer:

Spring Flours - Kickin' it off with volunteering for the University of Chicago Celiac Center's annual benefit gala.
Wanderlust Festival - an outdoor yoga fest? Yes! 

Movies in the Park – Millennium Park alone has a great film series. I don’t even know where to begin. Ghostbusters? The Wizard of Oz? This is Spinal Tap? Woo!

Grab a Rainbow Cone (in a bowl, obv) 

Workouts in the Park – Once again Millennium Park is the place to be this summer.  For the past six or so years I've been telling myself that I’m going to do the Saturday morning workouts. This year for sure!

Logan Square Farmers' Market – Daley Plaza is usually my farmers market of choice, but now that I’m so close to Logan Square, I’m definitely going to check it out. Maybe even take a yoga class or two.

Downtown Sound - Really looking forward to My Brightest Diamond.

Dining al fresco - So many restaurants, so many patios.

Grant Park Music Festival - Basically I'm going to be hanging out at Millennium Park all summer.

Dining Out Gluten Free with Bruce - Da Luciano's dinner on the patio!

Hot Doug’s – Since word that Hot Doug’s is closing came, everyone in Chicago has been in hysterics over it. I've never been. I’ll have to BYOB and check it out before they close up shop for good.

#TECHmunch Chicago - Food Blogger's Conference.

Vintage Garage Sale – For the love of all things retro and vintage.
Magritte's "Time Transfixed"

Brunch at Tweet.

Eat ice cream sandwiches at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.

The Northman – Chicago’s first cider bar. Hopefully it will be open very soon!

Veruca Salt (circa 1994)
Chicago Jazz Fest  

VERUCA SALT! One of my favorite 90s bands has reunited and you bet I'll be hitting up a few of their shows.

Robyn and Röyksopp - Once again, I'll be at Millennium Park.

Head to the lake front. Beach? Biking? Just chillin'?

Support my awesomely talented friends - The Kates. Stardust Showcase. She's Crafty

Arcade Fire - You can never go to too many good concerts, right?

What are your plans for summer?

May 10, 2014

Cooking With Massel

Massel bouillon and seasoning sponsored this post and provided me with products to use in the recipes; however, the opinions I share in this post are my own.

I haven't shared any recipes here on the blog in quite some time; mainly because I haven't been creating anything original. I've still been whipping up fantastic meals using a bunch of really wonderful recipes. In my last post, I showed you the some of the things I ate while doing the 10-Day Detox. All of those meals were very flavorful since they used lots of fresh herbs, spices, and very little salt.

During the detox, every day for lunch I had a bowl of soup with a side of protein. Instead of spending oodles of money buying boxes of broth, I made my own broth using Massel bouillons. Not only was it cheaper, but it really kicked up the flavor since Massel uses premium vegetables and herbs, extra virgin olive oil and pure sea salt from the Great Southern Ocean, the cleanest ocean in the world.

I didn't stop with the soups. I sprinkled some of the Massel powdered bouillon over vegetables sautéing and used the liquid stock while simmering stir-fry since it's so incredibly versatile. What I really love about Massel is that you can use it as a seasoning while cooking. It will boost the flavor of your dish without adding a loads of sodium since Massel does not add MSG to their products.

Besides being gluten free, check out the other great qualities of Massel products:
  • Suitable for people with Celiac Disease
  • Vegan
  • Lactose-free
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Trans fat-free
  • Preservative-free
  • No added MSG
  • Made using GMO free ingredients 
  • Kosher certified
To top that all off, Massel is pretty active in the health and wellness community. They are a sponsor for the Celiac Disease Foundation and are celebrating Celiac Disease and Awareness Month. 

Together with Erica from Celiac and the Beast they are hosting a Twitter party on Wednesday, May 14th at 8pm (Eastern). Follow @masselbouillon, @celiacbeast and hashtag #CATB to join the conversation.

Additionally they are partnering with Tess Masters aka The Blender Girl, for her upcoming book tour. Tess had loads of recipes for gluten free and vegan soups, smoothies, and more!

Have you tried Massel bouillon? How did you use them?

Massel bouillon and seasoning sponsored this post and provided me with products to use in the recipes; however, the opinions I share in this post are my own.

May 6, 2014

Gluten Free Betsy Book Club - The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox by Mark Hyman, MD

Whelp! I did it. I actually followed through with a detox. For the past ten days I've been detoxing to help with some health issues I've been experiencing. For months my body has been a mess. Constant exhaustion and achiness were the norm. It took some serious motivation just to get myself up and going each day. You could say I had a huge case of FLC.  It could have been the horrible winter we finally just came out of or my fibromyalgia could be flaring up again (nonstop), but whatever was causing me to feel like crap, I wanted out.

Why the 10-Day Detox?

One morning I was watching PBS and caught Dr. Hyman’s presentation of the 10-Day Detox program. I was instantly drawn in to discussion about battling cravings, inflammation, and weight gain. I ordered the book right away.

Since we all know how healing food is for us gluten free folks, I knew this was probably the best way to get well again. If anything, it could help get me back on track with planning my meals so I’m eating healthier, since that had fallen to the wayside.

To be honest, I bought the book back in March and I took my sweet time preparing myself to give it a go. There were a lot of events in April that I knew I couldn't be detoxing from (I’m looking at you Gluten Free Expo). By the time the expo, Easter, and a gluten free meetup dinner were over, I was ready to give it my all.

The Detox Details

Prior to starting the detox, you are to prepare yourself by doing some detox prep work such as ridding your pantry of junk, taking your measurements, and completing a few quizzes about the intensity of your symptoms. Dr. Hyman recommends slowly weening yourself off caffeine, alcohol, and starches. 

The next step is to gather all your food and supplies needed for the next ten days. While not everything is essential, I did break down and buy a blood glucose monitor and blood pressure monitor. I told you I was in it to win it, right?

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the detox, but I will highlight the key points and routines that the detox entails:

  • Diet – The diet eliminates all grains (even gluten free grains), dairy, sugar or sweeteners (including stevia, agave, and honey), and alcohol
  • Vitamins – A daily vitamin, fish oil, and a few other supplements are suggested daily
  • Exercise – 30 minutes of “brisk” walking is encouraged daily
  • Meditation – 15 minutes of a peaceful meditation or Take Five break are encouraged daily
  • Detox Baths – A hot bath with Epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender oil are suggested daily
  • Measuring – Recording weight, waist, hips, thigh, (blood pressure and blood sugar optional) daily
  •  Journaling – Each day has a theme and questions are posed for you to reflect on your daily struggles and accomplishments during the detox
  • Media Fast – Unplug from the TV, internet, etc.

It seems like quite a lot of rules, but it was structured enough to keep me motivated and on track. I fully admit that I did not do a media fast. I cannot disconnect from the world while I’m still working and not on a tropical island soaking in the rays.

How Did I do?

Great!  There were some days where I did not get a set 30-minute exercise routine in (Sorry, Leslie!) or the detox baths, but overall I completed all steps of the detox. The diet was probably the easiest part, which is good, because it’s what the rest of the program centers around. All of the recipes I chose (minus a few smoothie recipes) were delicious! They were very flavorful and filling. I plan to incorporate them into my regular ol' way of eating since they were so tasty.

Asian Flavored Chicken with Wilted Leafy Greens
Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw with Turkey Meatballs
Chicken Breast with Ratatouille and Steamed Broccoli
Stir-Fry Vegetables with Almonds (and chicken breast)
Herb Crusted Chicken Breast with Roasted Garlic
Spiced Turkey Wrap with Watercress and Avocado
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Sauteed Kale, Onions, Mushrooms, and Cherry Tomatoes
Almond-Flax Crusted Chicken with Sauteed Asparagus, Garlic, and Cherry Tomatoes and Salad Greens
Beef with Bok Choy and Carrots

I did experience withdrawals from sugar and dairy. For the first few days I was having dull headaches and was a bit achy.  I would also daydream about certain off limit foods a lot. You know, tacos, pizza, nachos, cupcakes….

As the days drew on, I had a lot more energy and pep in my step, if you will. I was able to get out of bed in the morning, which is huge, since normally wild horses couldn't drag me out of bed. Eventually my aches and pains diminished and I no longer had cravings for a dessert after my meals. I was able to resist temptations easily when I was out socializing and junk food was right in front of me. 

Finally, in addition to gaining energy, sleeping better, and feeling less achy, in the ten short days I also:
  • lowered my fasting blood sugar by 8 points (it was already in the normal range to begin with)
  • went from hypertension stage 1 to prehypertension (high blood pressure also runs in my family)
  • shrunk 8 inches (waist, hips, and thighs combined)
  • shed 8.8 pounds 

What’s Next?

All of the positives of the detox definitely outweighed the minor detox symptoms. Towards the end of the detox, I didn't know how I wanted to continue. Obviously I’m not going to dive right into a gluten free pizza or raid Swirlz (although I couldn't stop thinking about them in the beginning of the detox), but I questioned if I even wanted to stop it. I feel A LOT better, so why end it here? I also worried about what would happen if I did start eating dairy and sugar again. Would I completely unravel? Would I become completely exhausted again? Would I gain ten pounds instantly?

As much as I enjoyed the detox (never thought I’d say that), I know that there are a lot of upcoming events where I’m going to want to have a piece of pizza, one of everything at Spring Flours, and partake in the social events that involve food. I know some people have to avoid grains, dairy, and sugar all the of time, and I’m very grateful I can handle them and not go into anaphylactic shock or have other serious reactions other than being tired and achy.   

Ironically I read an article the other day about the mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. The final point, detox regularly, struck a chord with me. The doctor recommends doing a ten day detox four times a year. While I will try my best to continue to eat healthy with little splurges here and there, I think doing this 10 Day Detox four times a year would work for me. In between I will enjoy all of the seasonal produce and limit my dairy, sugar, and alcohol to special occasions.

Have you ever done a detox? How’d it go?