July 2018: Megan

After several months away to relax, stress, travel, GET ENGAGED, take an MBA course, stress some more, self-care a bit, etc. etc., I’M BACK!! We’re kicking off being back on the blog with July’s guest contributor: Megan.

Megan is hands down one of the best humans out there. She’s brilliant, hilarious, an amazing friend, and an even more incredible new MOMMY. Check out her motherhood journey below.

Being a parent is the most beautiful, emotional, and rewarding job on this planet. Being the middle of five children growing up, I always babysat my little brothers with ease. However, being a mother is quite the contrary.

Pregnancy was by far the most exhausting and exhilarating thing that my body has ever done. Once I got over that my size four jeans wouldn’t fit past my knee, I fully embraced it. Maternity jeans with the elastic waistband? Check. Soft and smooth skin? Check. Hair and nails growing like weeds due to my prenatal vitamins? Check and Check. I looked forward to every kick and every punch my baby boy would make in my stomach. I walked around my subdivision daily with my Weimaraner, and ate foods that were semi nutritious (besides my intense red meat cravings that made me end up at the Iowa Tap Room for Rubens and not beers.) I even tried to do light weights and walk on the treadmill for over an hour at my local Planet Fitness. I was, however, not expecting the post pregnancy feels.

Once I delivered my 9 lb. 5 oz. beautiful boy naturally, no one told me how to recover from such a procedure. I only saw Facebook and Instagram posts of babies after being delivered and recall saying in my head, “If she can do it, so can I!”

When the doctor was done stitching me up with +30 stitches, I came back to a recovery room full of hemorrhoids and sciatic pain. I have never felt so much discomfort in my entire life. Mind you, I JUST delivered my baby. I could barely walk, sit up, or move around when I was released from the hospital a few days later. Thoughts raced through my head: “How am I going to cook dinner? How will I get groceries? How can I have a balanced diet while providing enough milk for my baby, all while not moving?

Turns out, a lot can happen when you ask for help. For example, my husband just completed a Costco trip right before I was discharged from the hospital and bought a LOT of pre-made meals (enchiladas, stuffed peppers, rice), as well as frozen vegetables and meats. When I felt a bit light headed, Aussie Bites, cereal, and peanut butter rolled oats saved my life. They were easy to make, and I could eat them with one hand while breastfeeding with the other. Quick, semi-healthy foods were my lifeline in those first few weeks of being a new mom. Now that I have a somewhat pattern with our little guy, I try to include as many vegetables as possible into my diet. I can put him down to peel carrots, potatoes, onions, etc. I do not have any more food aversions, but am trying to cut back on my meat. Having a little one truly is a lifestyle change, and I am embracing all of it, every single day.

Megan Passman

It’s refreshing to know that not all new mommies are as it appears on Instagram. It’s important to realize that those photos or videos that we see on social media are snapshots in time and that those people are REAL and are experiencing REAL life just as we are. Those insta-mommies are just like us behind the scenes.

Thanks for sharing your mommy-hood journey with us, Megan! We’ll check back in with her soon to see how her self-care routines change as baby Carter grows up.

What have your experiences with new mommy-hood been like? Similar to Megan’s? Different? Let us know by commenting below!

April 2018: Bri

Many view traveling for business as a glamorous adventure on the Company’s dime. One of my best friends, Bri (the cutie above), shares that maybe traveling all the time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. See below for tips and tricks on how to maintain a healthy diet while on the road.

Eating Healthy While Traveling For Business

I travel a lot for work. I also feel sick a lot from food, so I’m not able to consistently cook for myself and eat food that won’t upset my stomach. I have gone to the gastroenterologist many times to try to figure out what causes my upset stomach. [Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders.] After many tests, we still can’t determine the cause, but because of this, I have learned how to eat healthy while traveling for business.

  1. Stay hydrated and drink lots of water. One of the most important things I’ve learned from traveling a lot is to make sure I drink plenty of water (this is key on an airplane). Many people love to drink coffee, especially when they are tired from traveling, but coffee is dehydrating, so make sure to drink plenty of water as well. Also, try to avoid super sugary caffeinated drinks. If I need caffeine, I personally try to stick to tea for the other health benefits as well. Also, people like to drink wine or beer on an airplane, but this will make you feel much worse the next day.
  2. Stick to a schedule. If you normally eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a certain times at home, try to stick to the same times while you are traveling. A lot of my colleagues skip breakfast when they travel, but I can’t survive the morning without it, so I always build in enough time to grab breakfast, even if it is just a muffin and banana.
  3. Pack your own (healthy) snacks. I always travel with KIND bars or RX bars in my backpack when I travel for any instances where I can’t eat on time in accordance with my schedule. A lot of my client sites have vending machines or free snacks that are chips, candy bars, etc., so it’s nice to be able to have something healthy available.
  4. Don’t feel like you have to drink at happy hour. Some people live for happy hour and having free drinks on the Company. Just because drinks are free doesn’t mean that you need to have a bunch of drinks.
  5. Choose a light meal.  Another thing a lot of people do while traveling for business is eat a large meal since the Company is paying for it. I’ve learned that just because its free doesn’t mean I should always eat large meals. If everyone is ordering steaks and a bunch of sides, it is okay to order a soup and salad if that’s what you want to eat.

Thanks for sharing, Bri! I have a big trip coming up and will DEFINITELY be taking KIND and RxBars with me to 1) make sure I have something gluten-free with me and 2) save some cash. What tips will you be implementing into YOUR routine next time you travel? Let me know in the comments below!

Easy Kale Chips

Woah, you guys. It.has.been.a.WHILE. Apologies for going M.I.A. for a bit there – life got in the way. Selfish how it does that sometimes, huh?

If you’ve been following my story, you know that I went through a pretty drastic dietary change about 8 [wow, there goes life being all sassy and moving too quickly again!] months ago. I was informed that I had Celiac disease and that I basically had to eliminate all things that brought me joy. That’s dramatic, but you get it. Thank goodness that it’s 2018 and food manufacturers have learned to put disclaimers on their products that call out if an item is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, etc. Even so, preparing well-rounded meals was still pretty difficult and I had to teach myself to enjoy all the green “nasties” as I used to call them. And seriously, if you don’t believe me, ask my friends – they know I RARELY ate greens. I was even gifted this book.  Fast forward to today and I can proudly say that I LIKE KALE. GASP!

I have been dying to share with you the easiest kale chip recipe that I’ve ever seen. Okay, being honest here – I can’t see how it could be hard in the first place – and if I can do it, you can do it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Kale (duh) Not the baby kind – Get the good “adult” stuff.
  • Oil – I used olive oil
  • Garlic salt because YUM
  • Parchment paper – Optional, but I like using it because I’m lazy and hate cleaning dishes
  • Pepper

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees. Low and slow is the method to go with.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Rinse and make sure to really pat the kale dry. This is key and helps them get nice and crispy.
  4. Remove the stems and tear into slightly smaller pieces.
  5. Place kale pieces onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil. Be light-handed here. Too much olive oil won’t allow the chips to actually become chips.
  7. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Toss!
  9. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and flip the chips. Return to oven for 10 more minutes. Patience!
  10. Best enjoyed right away.

Disclaimer: These don’t really work out the next day. I packed some in a plastic baggie for lunch the next day and they just didn’t hold the crispiness. They were still really yummy and flavor-packed, but lacked the chip-ness. I suggest just making as much as you’d like to consume that day. 

Enjoy!

Bon appétit! 

Completely unrelated from kale, but want to know something cool? I was featured on Metro Detroit’s own She’s Blossoming blog as a featured writer! Self-care is hard enough already, but when you add in a swamped schedule, it gets even harder. I share some easy tricks to set aside time to treat yo’ self. Head on over, give it a read, and let me know what you think!

 

 

Turkey & Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo

My first time cooking gumbo was definitely an interesting one. I’m a Michigan girl, born and raised an hour north of Detroit, so I’m pretty sure it can go without saying that gumbo wasn’t a dish that was frequently whipped up in my household growing up. I recently traveled to New Orleans (twice last October!) and fell in love with the creamy creole goodness that is gumbo. We’ve been through what seemed like 365 days of January, a snow storm, and then a cold, wet rain/sleet mixture, so naturally I’ve been reminiscing back to warm New Orleans and felt the need to recreate the gumbo that I grew so fond of.

Disclaimer: Let me just remind you that this was my first attempt at making gumbo, so there were most certainly a fair amount of mistakes made (man, that roux is tricky!). I have faith that the next attempt will be even better!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oil – We used canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups (4 whole) sliced chicken andouille sausage
  • 2 quarts gluten-free chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, cayenne peper, creole spice
  • 2 cups shredded cooked turkey meat
  • Steamed rice
  • Large soup pot

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Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make your roux: In your large soup pot, heat oil and GF flour together over LOW heat, stirring CONSTANTLY until it becomes a nice, dark brown color. This is where I messed up – I didn’t stir long enough before moving to step 2, so my roux was a more golden brown color vs. the darker, nutty brown that you’ll typically see. I didn’t notice a flavor profile difference in mine, but the visual just wasn’t the same.
  2. Once your roux has gotten pretty fragrant and met the dark brown color of your gumbo dreams, add in the onions, pepper, and celery. Stir frequently for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add in your minced garlic and the sliced chicken andouille sausage. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add stock, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper seasoning, and creole seasoning to taste. I added more seasonings to taste over time, so I advise starting with a little bit at first.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour.
  6. Add shredded turkey and simmer 30 more minutes. Feel free to taste test your yummy concoction and add more seasonings at this time.
  7. Gumbo gets better as the seasonings expose their flavors over time. Feel free to stop here, or simmer for even longer.
  8. Serve over steamed rice.

Enjoy!

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This recipe makes A TON of gumbo – I feel like we’ve been eating leftovers for years (I was naughty and made this a week or so ago and haven’t had time to post – sorry!). We’ve been keeping our leftover gumbo stored in our freezer and feel like it’s just as good or better each time we serve it.

I really feel like I went outside of my comfort zone with this recipe since it’s something I typically wouldn’t cook. To be completely honest, before my Celiac diagnosis, a lot of these recipes that I’ve been sharing I wouldn’t have made, but life throws you curveballs and you just have to adapt, right? I know it’s not the healthiest gluten-free meal option out there, but it’s comforting and definitely something we Michiganders need with this yucky weather.

If you try this recipe out, give me a shout – I’d love to see your results and know what you think! Give yourself time and enjoy the process – I know I did 🙂

Until next time, friends.

Bon appétit! 

 

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Energy Balls

We’re smack dab in the middle of Snowstorm Mateo here in Detroit, which means we have another cozy weekend inside ahead of us. After seeing the snowy forecast, I was able to run to the nearest grocery store to stock up on goodies for some fun new (gluten-free) creations in the kitchen.

I cannot wait for you all to try this recipe! I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting different versions of these oatmeal energy balls and had been dying to try to make them myself. They were a little messier to make than anticipated, but they’re SO delicious, healthy, and inexpensive to make – all worth the quick clean up in the end. Plus, pop them in the freezer and you’ve got yourself a quick fill-up that’s ready when you are.

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Here’s what you need:
  • Large bowl for mixing
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup ground flax seed
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. In no particular order, combine all ingredients into your large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix. I started with a wooden spoon but later switched to kneading with my hands to really make sure everything was evenly distributed. This contributed to my messy counter, but it’s okay – that’s why they invented sponges!
  3. Place the entire bowl in your freezer – set aside for about an hour. Some people will tell you to just set in your fridge, but I found my mixture held together better post-freeze sesh.
  4. Using your hands, roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Mine definitely varied in size, but that’ll just help when I need a bigger snack later on, right?!
  5. Place balls on a plate and set aside in your freezer for another half hour or so. Feel free to nibble on any falling pieces – I sure did!
  6. I stored my energy bites in a Tupperware container and am keeping them in my freezer until I’m ready. Enjoy!

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These little bites have the perfect combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and coconut and are sure to add that extra boost of energy needed post-yoga, during the mid-day slump at your desk, or as an easy grab-and-go breakfast. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Let me know what you think by posting a comment below or posting one on our instagram: AgainstTheGrainDET

Bon appétit! 

February 2018: Kristie

When I started my blog, I wanted to make a point to include other voices besides my own. I’m not the only one out there who is struggling with a love/hate relationship with food. I think it’s important to not only share MY story with you guys, but also let others use this outlet to express their learnings. What surprised me most in this process is how many of my friends are working through similar dietary restrictions as mine. The Guest Contributor Series in Against The Grain will include these friends (and possibly some of you!) sharing their journey and some recommendations for you all! 

I’m so happy to share one of my closest friend’s story with you today – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Here’s Kristie: 

 

To Cheese, or Not to Cheese, That is the Question

Kristie here. First time guest blogger, and so incredibly honored to type here. Much like Amanda I live a life with a diet that requires restriction. Unfortunately, my frenemy is cheese. This begs the question, who doesn’t love cheese? There are so many kinds that pair great with crackers, wine and conversation; however, cheese does not love me.

I discovered my affliction for cheese later in life, after my college graduation. I guess I always felt discomfort from the golden dairy goodness but it took my desire to begin a healthy post college lifestyle to discover a true sensitivity. I cut cheese from my diet temporarily, among many other things, like gluten, in order to get in shape. Once I began incorporating the omitted food back into my diet, I began to get sick. It took nearly 1 year to realize my illness stemmed from cheese.

Now, 6 years later, I am cheese free, but not completely dairy free. This may sound confusing but I somehow managed to develop this sensitivity through my restrictive diet to only cheese. It certainly perplexes any server who discovers my cheese, but not necessarily dairy free, ordering habits; however, I have learned to live with it. So today my contribution to Against the Grain will be my go to favorite dishes from various local restaurants. As a disclaimer, I don’t dash for cheese substitutes when I dine (I think this is mainly because I remember what the real thing tastes like). Instead, I go for dishes that come without cheese or are easy to order without it. As a result, a majority of the dishes I recommend are not completely dairy free. So order wisely if you are dairy free!

1. This first one is a recommendation I should have made to everyone about 1 month ago. The mushroom vegetarian dish from Craftwork Restaurant in West Village Detroit.  Unfortunately this dish is no longer on the menu; however, it is my absolute favorite. It is filled with mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and covered in a creamy, hearty, red sauce that tasted like it had mozzarella cheese in it. Seriously I had to ask my server like 10 times if she was sure there wasn’t cheese in it! It even comes with a grilled slice of baguette bread for dipping into the savory, pretending to be cheesy, sauce. Craftwork constantly changes their menu, including their vegetarian entrée, and it never seems to disappoint. This place is vegan and GF friendly.

2. The Caesar Salad from GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale. It includes almond parmesan “cheese” on top and it is a vegan and completely dairy free dish! GreenSpace is the only spot that truly understands how to re-create the cheese taste. Really anything from this place is amazing for those who are vegan, gluten free, nut free, and even soy free.

3. The Marinara Pizza from Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina in Royal Oak. I just call this place Biga. It is cheese free with Oregano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I like to add chili flakes for an extra kick. You can even get GF crust. They also have other locations in Ann Arbor, Southfield, and a traveling food truck.

4. The grits with a fried egg, chives and omit the cheese from Public House in Ferndale. The grits are creamy and delicious without the cheese and they add sriracha sauce for a kick. This place is great for brunch, dinner, cocktails and beer.

5. The wok fired brussel sprouts and seaweed salad from Peterboro in Detroit. The brussel sprouts are filled with garlic and some spicy heat, while the seaweed salad has crispy quinoa, chilies and pickled mushrooms. This is a Chinese spot, which means there’s basically zero cheese in their dishes. Hooray!

I could go on for days with all of my cheese free recommendations, but hopefully this is a good start to provide your taste buds with as much happiness as mine!

Quick Quinoa Risotto and Chicken Andouille Sausage

Trader Joe’s is an inspiring place. I think every time I walk out of one of their stores, my wallet may be lighter, but I’m feeling ready to conquer any recipe I come across. I mentioned in my last post that I’m not a chef – I’d barely even call myself “handy” in the kitchen, but I’m getting there slowly but surely.

Last week, post-Trader Joe’s trip and amped up with motivation to crush another recipe, I got to work on this yummy (and quick!) quinoa risotto with chicken andouille sausage. I was never a quinoa girl before, so there was most certainly a learning curve when I was making this – did you know that a little goes a long way?! I definitely didn’t… I wish I had taken a picture of how much I actually made – enough to feed a small army at least. The cheesy, creamy tomato risotto balances out the spicy andouille sausage perfectly and was a great lazy Sunday meal with enough leftovers for a delicious Monday lunch.

Similar to last week’s post, this meal is packed with protein and flavor and is obviously Celiac friendly!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Now, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Season with salt to taste.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the andouille sausage into half inch slices.
  3. Once water is boiling, add quinoa and stir. Turn heat to low and cover for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add a splash of olive oil to a hot pan and add sausage. Cook on high, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once quinoa is done, add in tomato sauce, chicken stock, cheese, and seasonings.  Stir.
  6. That’s it! Take a big ol’ heaping of risotto, divide between plates (or bowls if that’s more your style) and top with sausage. Garnish with any remaining shredded pecorino romano cheese.

Enjoy!

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I can’t wait for you guys to try this recipe – it’s seriously so simple and scrumptious. Let me know what you think – I’d love to hear from you!

Bon appétit! 

Day One. The Beginning of Against The Grain.

Hi everyone! Welcome to Against The Grain –  I’m Amanda!

I’m starting this blog as a creative outlet to share my experiences as someone very recently diagnosed with Celiac disease.

In August of 2017, I was admitted into the hospital with severe upper abdominal pain. After a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis and six extremely long days later, I was finally released from the hospital with plenty of unanswered questions about my health and what lay before me. The fact that the root cause of my pancreatitis was unknown motivated my doctors to perform a series of additional tests (separate from the ones done during my admittance in the hospital) that wound up being inconclusive. What they did find; however, was that my body rejected gluten – Celiac disease. To learn of this 27 years into life was extremely eye opening to me. It definitely answered a lot of questions about my health in the past – not only was I having stomach issues, but I realized that I was experiencing other symptoms of the disease my entire life. This blog is my outlet to share my story and to connect with others who may also have Celiac disease – or just to connect with those looking to eliminate gluten in their life.

I’ll share a little bit of my life, my favorite recipes, reviews of my favorite gluten-free meals at my favorite restaurants in my hometown Detroit and through my travels, and sometimes I’ll throw in a guest contributor’s thoughts on what they’re cooking up.

You can follow me on my Instagram (AgainstTheGrainDET & BaconAma) and Snapchat (BaconAma). Enjoy!