Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Easy School Morning Breakfast

Hello again!

As a commuter student in college, it is often hard to find the time in the morning to get up and make breakfast. And, of course, most quick breakfast foods, such as muffins and bagels, are not gluten free. So how does one get a healthy breakfast on the go? Make sure you have some breakfast foods ready to go in the fridge! Here are some of my favorites.

1. Yogurt and Fruit
This requires very minimal preparation. Like to invest in some single serving gladware containers, and mix my yogurt in that. If you are going to be mixing your own yogurt cups, it will save you quite a bit of money if you buy a large container of yogurt instead of the individual servings. I like to get the Stony Fields plain yogurt. It makes it easy to change the flavor with whatever fruit I may want to add. Simply take 1/2 cup of whatever yogurt you chose, and mix it with a hand full of wherever fruit you desire. If it is something like a peach, make sure you cut it down to bite sized pieces. Make sure you mark the expiration date on the container!

2. Egg Muffins
As much as I am not a fan of the South Beach Diet, they have some fantastic gluten free recipes. Egg muffins, by fare, are the best of these recipes. It's exactly what it sounds like, a muffin made from eggs. For each muffin you would like to make, simply whisk in a bowl, 1 large egg, 1/2 tablespoon cream or milk, and 1/2 tablespoon of each of the veggies or meats you would like to add to your muffins. I like to chop mushrooms and peppers for these. You can also add any cheese you may like to these. Bake them in the over at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until they no longer wiggle when you shake the pan. Use a knife to help pop them out of the pan. You can either eat them right away or put them in baggies and store them in the fridge. I microwave them for just a few seconds to warm them up the morning I eat them.

3. Hash Brown Cups
These are super easy, and super tasty too!! I am a huge hash brown fan, and these are just fantastic, and pair great with the egg muffins. Simply grate a potato and dry out as much as the moisture as possible. Salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. oil a cupcake pan generously, and in each well, fill about half way with hash brown mixture. Cook in the oven at 350 until brown. (Usually 10-15 minutes, keep an eye on it!!) Like the egg muffins, they can be stored in baggies in the fridge and quickly heated the morning of. 

I hope you enjoy these simple recipes! They are a great way to get a good breakfast when you are sick of eating cereal every morning. 

Happy Back To School!!!

End of Summer Blues!

Hello Everyone!

I know I kind of dropped the ball with the celebrity week. It's been a long week with some family being sick, and getting ready to go back to school. Good news is, I got some really awesome deals on my back to school supplies and some awesome new recipes for packing lunches!

If you or your child are already back to school, then yay! It's the start of a new and wonderful year!

I hope that all of you have taken advantage of the low prices of fish this summer. If you have not, there is still time! Fish prices have plummeted this summer due to the mass amounts of fish that have been pulled in by fishermen this summer. Even the price of lobster has dropped! The beautiful thing about seafood is that most of it needs little to no seasoning for it to taste fantastic!

Also, thanks to back to back to school time, the stores are full of easy to pack things for lunch. There is such a variety of single serving food that there is something for even the pickiest eater! My brother is quite fond of gushers and smart food.

And big news!! ROOTs Fest is on September 8th!! I will be posting all sorts of information that I get from the festival on the blog. Also, the owner of ROOTs has agreed to let me come in and talk to her and the staff about the benefits of local healthy foods. Be sure to keep an eye out for that post!

Enjoy that last gasp of summer!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Living with a gluten intolerance and/or Celiacs disease is no easy task. For those who were raised eating glutenous food, it's a complete lifestyle change. It can be hard, and the support someone needs is not always there. Especially if you are like me, and live in a very small town. A majority of the people I know had never even heard the word Gluten until I got sick. When we are faced with a challenge in life, and need a little extra support, people often look to somebody they can admire. This can be a relative, a teacher, or for some people, a celebrity. This week I will be writing posts about celebrities who live a gluten free life, and are still able to leave an impact on the world.

The first celebrity I would like to talk about is the beautiful and talented Miss Zooey Deschanel!

Name: Zooey Deschanel
Age: 32
Profession: Actor and Singer
Best Known For: New Girl, 500 Days of Summer, Elf
Special Diet: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free
About Zooey:
I have admired Zooey Deschanel for quite a while now. She is a very talented actress, and she has a beautiful singing voice. I watch her show "New Girl" every week! She is so quirky and fun, and it was only recently that I read a post in her blog where I found out that this lovely lady and I share a common disease. 
Once a Vegan, Zooey has many food allergies, one of the biggest being gluten. The loveable actress gave up her vegan diet after being diagnosed with Celiacs Disease. ".. it was very difficult to eat and get enough calories. It was even impossible to eat at a vegan restaurant." commented Zooey in an interview about her gluten free lifestyle. And who can blame her? There are a lot of people on the internet who are Vegan who are upset that she gave up a vegan lifestyle, and say she's not a good influence, but let's face the facts: Not being able to eat any gluten, soy, eggs, or dairy cuts a lot of things from her diet! Everybody needs to have an essential amount of nutrients to survive and that can be very difficult on such a limited diet.
Zooey is a smart and funny person, who is very talented and beautiful. She is an idea person to model a positive outlook on gluten free life after. She sees everyday as an adventure and makes the best of each situation. 

Alcohol: How to Stay Safe and Still Have Fun

So, as an end to my college themed blog posts, (not that there will not be loving advice during the school year) I thought it would be appropriate to take the time to talk about something that every college student will face in their college career:

Regardless of where you go to school, it is a known fact that college students are notorious for getting their hands on alcohol. I am, first, going to start off with the following statement:


On that note, even if you are under 21, you will probably be offered a drink while you are at school. Since you are no longer living at home, your parents will not be there to tell you "Drinking is bad! Don't do it!" and the decision is 100% your responsibility. Some students will be responsible and wait until they are 21, but many others will not. If you are a person who is living a gluten free life and you drink alcohol that is not gluten free, then you can get EXTREMELY sick. I am speaking from experience here. You think a hangover is bad? Try having a hangover where your small intestine feels like it's getting stabbed by 50 knives. It makes things a lot worse. Not to mention that alcohol gets absorbed into your body a lot quicker and a lot deeper than most things you ingest, so it will take a lot longer to get out of your system.

ON THAT NOTE, for those of you who decide to drink (hopefully you are 21!), you want to make sure you have some gluten free spirits at your disposal. Some liquor stores have staff who know exactly what is and isn't ok for you to drink. Others may have no idea. So for your convenience, here is a list of alcoholic
beverages that are ok to drink:

Armagnac (it's made from grapes!)
Beer: Before I list gluten free beers I would like to point out that although a beer may say it's gluten free, it may not be 100% gluten free. It is your responsibility to check the label to see what is says. Some beers are brewed without gluten, and some are passed though a filter that tries to extract the gluten.
        Bards Tale Dragons Gold, Bard's Tale Beer Company
        New Grist, Lakefront Brewery
        Passover Honey Beer, Ramapo Valley
        RedBridge, Anheuser-Busch
        Sorghum Molasses Brown, Outer Banks
        Tread Lightly Ale and 3R Raspberry Ale, New Planet
Cider: Like beer, is not always safe. Read labels!
        Woodchuck Brand Cider
        Old Deadly Cider
Cognac (again, made with grapes!)
Kirschwasser (cherry liquor! yum!)
Margarita Mix:
        Jose Cuervo
        Mr & Mrs T
        Club Extra Dry Martini (made from corn and grapes!)
        Club Vodka Martini (again, corn and grapes!)
Mead (distilled from honey for all you renaissance fair people out there!)
        Jose Cuervo Mistico
Mixes & Cooking Alcohols:
        Club Tom Collins
        Diamond Jims Bloody Mary Mystery
        Spice Islands - Cooking Wines - Burgundy, Sherry and White
Ouzo (made from corn and anise)
Scotch Whiskey
Sparkling Wine

Ok, so after reviewing the list I would just like to emphasize that YOU MUST READ LABELS. Special brews of alcohol and different brands that come out may use gluten in their drink so PLEASE do your research before you drink. I have yet to meet a wine in my life that has ever contained gluten, so my key is: When in doubt, buy Miscatto!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Move In Day: Starting A New Gluten Free Life

I thought I would start off my week of college blogging with the way all students start their college career; Move In Day! Every year students pack their parent's cars full of everything they need to survive a year of school (and a little more!) and drive great distances in the wee hours of the morning to try and get to campus early. The streets around campus will be packed (I try to stay miles away from any college on move in day) and there is a certain excitement in the air that can only mean the start of not only a new school year, but for a lot of students, the start of a new chapter of life. Some will adapt very well to college, but others will struggle with the lifestyle change.

When you are packing your essentials up for school, it will suddenly hit you that you are going to be 100% on your own, without your parents, for the first time in your life. It's a scary, empowering, and thrilling feeling. For those of you who are on a gluten free diet, this may present a little more of a challenge that the average student. A lot of gluten free children grow up with their parents preparing all of their food for them, and unless their parents took the initiative to teach them to cook, they are in for a culture shock. Here's what you can do to make your transition into your new life easier:

1. Pack Some Gluten Free Basics
Crackers, bread, instant rice and other basics are essential to any sort of move. You want to make sure that whatever you pack at first are non-perishable food items. My advice is to buy a crate (which will become your new favorite storage tool) and pack that will some gluten free essentials. Everybody has their favorites when it comes to brands, and things they eat often. make sure if you have roommates, you label ALL of your food, or some of it might disappear!

2. Find Out More About Your Living Situation
There are many different ways you can move to a new college. To start off, dorm rooms are small, and have the very basics. Some of them provide you with a micro-fridge (a fridge with a microwave built into the top) and some don't. Make sure you figure this out before you plan your food supply so you don't get caught off guard. Some dorm buildings have shared kitchens. make sure you find out what this consists of as well. I have had friends move to a new school where the "kitchen" is a wall of microwaves and a counter and sink. If you are living in on-campus apartments, you are significantly more likely to have what you need. These places are usually old apartment houses that the school bought from a neighboring piece of property and have dressed up to look new again. There is usually a full kitchen, but again, please call your school and make sure. Lastly is off campus living. If you get a single room apartment or a full apartment with friends, you need to figure out what you will have access to.

3. Get To Know Your Dining Services
Every campus has a dining services area, and if you are living on campus, it is very likely that you will be required to have a dining plan. As soon as you know this situation, contact the head of dining services for your campus. Although I personally had a bad experience with the dining services at my school, I promise that not all schools are like this. Most dining programs are more than happy to work with you. How much they are willing to work with you is what you need to find out. Some places ask that you bring your own bread and pasta and they will prepare it for you. Others will fully provide food for you to eat. This is why it's important to contact your dining services and see what they are willing to do. You are paying hundreds of dollars to them to eat, and they are there to serve you, so don't let them cheat you!

4. Get To Know The Area
There are two ways to do this. 1. Go to the area with a friend or family member before school starts and explore the area. This is a very fun way, but it's not always the most efficient. If the city your school is in is big, you might not know where to go, and if it's small, you might need to go to a neighboring town. 2. Make friends with a local and ask them. I am active on the Fitchburg State University new students Facebook page right now so I can make new friends, and help those who are new to the area find what they need. I have met two lovely girls so far who are gluten free and I have been telling them about our local restaurants and stores where they can find food. The best part about knowing a local is that they know the little hidden gem stores that might not be hugely popular.

I wish everybody who is starting school this fall the best of luck on their new adventure in life. It's scary and exciting and will definitely have a big impact in you. The good news is, there are thousands of you going through the same feeling who are all there to support each other. The friendships you make now will be some that you will have for the rest of your life.

Again, I would love to hear about your college experience. Please feel free to e-mail me at ad4458@gmail.com with your story.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Celiacs and College: A Cautionary Tale

Back in the fall of 2007, I was a wide eyed college freshmen who couldn't wait for my own chunk of independence. I was away from my family for the first time, all the way across the state, and felt empowered that I was in charge of my own life. My first few years had its ups and downs, some very very bad, and others very good. All of them life changing.

In the summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with Celiacs Disease. For those of you who have experienced this, you know that it's hard news to take. Any news that means you have to change your lifestyle permanently and immediately is hard for anybody to take. I spent the remainder of my summer learning about celiacs disease and gluten free living, trying to prepare for a fall semester without being home.

When I arrived at school that fall, I immediately set up an appointment with the head of the food services department at my college so I would be able to eat. Being a residential undergraduate student, I was required to have a meal plan. The manager of food services was very helpful, and very understanding. He himself did not know a whole lot about gluten free lifestyles, but was willing to listen to my suggestions for meal ideas. The first few weeks of school I saw things like a veggie and hummus bar once a week, or gluten free pasta offered at the pasta station. The first few weeks were fantastic, and I ate well and healthy. As the semester progressed, the gluten free items were offered less and less. The staff were saying that they were not popular, so they would only be offered certain times a week. I pointed out to them that celiacs disease is not something that comes and goes for a menu, and I have to stay gluten free all the time. They would normally shrug it off. During the lunch hours when the manager was on duty, I would always be able to get a good meal, but at dinner service when it was just the night staff, I would get served breaded food and get told to "just pick off the bread stuff". Needless to say, I became very ill that semester.

Me in 2009

After about a school year of being fed food that contained gluten at school, or being lied to about gluten content, I had become ill to the point that I was missing classes every week. I ended up failing most of my classes for the semester, and got suspended from the college. I decided that fighting to get back into that school just to be sick again was not worth my while. There had been other issues I had with the school as well, but this was the major thing that moved me to transfer.

In the spring of 2010 I stared my academic career at Mount Wachusett Community College. I was able to live at home, where I could cook my own food and still attend classes. I just graduated this past spring with a 3.4 GPA and an acceptance to the English Literature program at Fitchburg State University. Taking charge of my diet and how I wanted to live my life was something, I feel, made me a stronger person. There are so many people with a diagnosis with Celiacs who either ignore their symptoms, or just deal with it because they don't have access too the food they need. People should not have to settle when it comes to health matters such as this. For the next week, I will be blogging about ways that people with celiacs who are going to school this fall can empower themselves and make sure they do not have to leave school the way I did because of a lack of support.

Me today, over 50lbs lighter, healthy, and doing well!

If you have a story about dealing with celiacs in college, please e-mail it to me at: ad4458@gmail.com. I would love to hear from others about their experiences.