Pizza, Pizza! Without Gluten or Cheese. Sigh.

I woke up sick as a dog today, so what the hell, let’s make some pizza.  Vegan cheese can be made of mostly oil, depending on the brand, and that much oil makes me feel seriously sick to my stomach.  No better time to try a new fake cheese than when my stomach is already a disaster.  Honestly, all I want is some apple juice, but I’m not willing to leave the house to get it.  Yay, Monday?

I’ve done well with the frozen Daiya pizzas, but they’re $10 even at Sprouts.  That has to mean $15 at Whole Foods, right?  Plus, I can add pepperoni to my vegan pizza, which feels subversive.  This is how I break the rules these days.  It’s the 50 Shades of Grey of pizza eating – not really the kink that’s advertised, but just a little shot.  Just the tip, if you will.  Anyhow, I love the pizza sauce at Trader Joe’s and thought I would give this a try.

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Here’s my ingredient list:

  • Trader Joe’s pizza sauce
  • Trader Joe’s roasted red & yellow peppers
  • Trader Joe’s artichoke hearts
  • Trader Joe’s sliced black olives
  • Udi thin gluten free crust
  • Go Veggie Lactose Free Mozzarella “flavor” shred
    • Shit, mozz “flavor”?  I missed that.  Totally getting the Lisanetti almond cheese next time, even though I have to manually shred it with a kitchen tool that I currently do not own.  Ack.  Oh God, it’s going to kill me.  Never let it be said that vegan is all that healthy, especially if you eat anything besides fruits and veggies.  These substitutes are insane.
  • Fiorucci Uncured Pepperoni
    • Because nitrates are the devil, and my skin agrees with me.  Leading cause of acne, at least that one time I consulted Dr. Google.  When you consult Dr. Google and you find any one thing that lines up with what you already want to believe, you stick with it.  And not to be a hater, but according to everything in the news in the last two weeks, my anti-vaxxer friends will understand this philosophy.

Yes, that’s a lot of toppings.  I like my veggies and I like pepperoni.  I miss mushrooms like whoa on pizza, though, almost as much as I miss dipping it in ranch.  Not enough to actually get off my lazy ass and make a ranch substitute, but I digress.

Hmm, this cheese isn’t melting.  Lemme try two more minutes.

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Okay, so it’s not going to melt and my crust will burn.  No courtesy melt, Go Veggie cheese?  Daiya has melts for days, but that’s probably because of the high oil content.

Result?

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The TJ pizza sauce can really make anything taste like gold, and this was pretty decent.  My veggies were delish as always and the crust was only moderately weird.  The edges were crisp and pretty tasty, even.  I might keep this crust in my freezer for when I’m in a pinch, but otherwise I’ll probably stick with the pre-made Daiya pizzas.  Or what I really should do is try some of the homemade stuff again now that I have my Kitchenaid mixer.  That hot pink appliance of love can surely make an excellent crust, especially if I read the directions.  Right, Mom?

Cheers,

Christina

I Bought a Mixer! A Hot Pink Kitchenaid!

Oh geez, so excited.  I think it’s from watching Pioneer Woman all through the holidays with my family.  She has a super snazzy hand painted version that costs $1350 smackers (does that include tax and shipping?) but I can work the fabulous hot pink with a glass bowl!  Does it match my kitchen?  Nope.  Any of my stuff?  Nope Nope Nope.  But it’s PIIIIIIIIINK and I love it.  Excellent price from our friends at Amazon, too.  I’ve been stalking it for a while and when the price dropped to an agreeable level, I pulled the trigger.

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She’s so pretty.  I’ll have to check to see if Anthropologie makes an owl cookie jar with some pink, just to tie it all together.  Three owl cookies jars isn’t enough, right?  Sigh.  That glass bowl.  The shine of the paint.  Love!  One of the guys I work with is a fierce baker in his free time, and he essentially said his Kitchenaid would have to be pried from his cold, dead hands.  He advised that I get one of the beaters with built in spatulas, and after my experiments this weekend, I agree! Not having to scrape the sides during the mix will be very helpful.

First up – pancakes.  PANCAKES!  My mom was a gem and made up little individual baggies of the dry ingredients to make gluten free pancakes.  And can I give you a pro tip here?  If you happen to run out of regular coconut or almond milk, and all you have is the tasty, tasty chocolate?  Oh, it’s delicious.  You will have gorgeous chocolate pancakes.  If you want to mix them with God’s Great Glory of Chocolate ‘Mega Chunk’ Chips (made by Enjoy Life Foods, available at my Target in the ‘hood as well as the regular grocery store in Springfield, MO) then you’ve got something SO GOOD. I might have added the part about God’s glory.

Not good for what it is, mind you.  Just good.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t add syrup.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of them.  What’s wrong with me?  I guess that’s how fast they went into my belly.  I just fell into a rabbit hole, didn’t I?  SQUIRREL!   And now I’m thinking about the equally delicious gluten and dairy free chocolate chip cookies mom made.  Again, just good.  Not good for what they are, just good.  It’s those damn chocolate chips.  They’re out of this world.

Anyhoot, here’s what my first batch of pancakes looked like on Saturday morning, right next to my much improved second batch:

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Julia Childs always reminded us to Not. Crowd. The. Mushrooms!  What a mess, right?  Clearly a disaster.  Well, I learned the hard way to not crowd your pancakes.  Also, use medium-high heat.  You’ll all be relieved to know that they were delicious once I figured it out.  I risked a gluten attack and used a tablespoon of my super amazing Woodinville Whiskey Company Maple Syrup.  It’s pricey, like all maple syrup that happens to be put into casks formerly used for making bourbon and rye and bundled into beautiful bottles would be, but it’s a worthy purchase.  Thanks Jason and Ben for introducing it to me!

Pancakes, check.  What’s next?  The three overripe bananas on my counter commanded me to find a recipe for Banana Nut Bread.  I made muffins because I figured that would be easier to portion out, and less risk of a burnt crust and raw inside.  They’re so good!  Here’s the recipe, thanks to the Civilized Caveman.

I had to leave out the cinnamon, which was kind of a miss, but the coconut oil was a great sub for butter and some organic peanut butter I had lying around from my experiment with gluten free bread (disgusting) worked too.  I might try to make my own gluten free bread, but it looks insanely complicated and I’m just not there yet.  Maybe another six months of watching cooking shows will inspire me.

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The crumbled up friend on the right is what you get when you try to dump out the muffin pan too early.  I only have one and wanted to get the next batch going.  I guess I didn’t sufficiently re-grease the pan and got a little aggressive when slapping the back of it. Oops.  I ate it anyway, and it made for a funny pic.

These little guys have been paired up with eggs and Applegate chicken sausage links for breakfast the past few days and it’s as good as can be!  Much more decent on the calorie content than I thought – 174 calories and 13 carbs.  Don’t ask me about the fat content, but you can take a wild guess based on the coconut oil and peanut butter.  At least they’re satisfying?  Plus they’re made and served with egg whites, which helps.  Kind of.

One more cooking discovery this week – Thai food!  Well, I need to explore it in a broader scope, but Target has some Archer Farm dinner kits that didn’t have any of my allergens.  The panang curry was seriously delicious, and God bless coconut milk.  I have dinner plans with a girlfriend on Thursday, so I’m going to check into a few local restaurants and see if I can make that magic happen out and about too.  I LOVE curry.  Both Thai and Indian food use a lot of coconut milk, so maybe if I avoid the paneer I can make it work.

Cheers!

Meal Planning & Going Out

The story goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  That is so true when it comes to me and the kitchen, and it’s always been that way.  I will freely admit I’m not the best at planning my week, and I’ve thrown away my fair share of rotten veggies…big old sad face if they came from Whole Foods and/or were organic.  I don’t mind paying extra, but you gotta use what you buy.

When I lived in Seattle with Jason and Ben, I got a great lesson on meal planning.  Every week, Jason would sit down with his pad of paper and plan our lunches and dinners for the week, and then derive the grocery list from there.  When we were all in town and work wasn’t crazy (never often enough!), we had an excellent system down.  Monday was grocery night, and we almost always had tacos – super quick for a tight week day schedule.  Jason would cook while I would sit at the breakfast counter with wine (and whine.)  Ben and I had clean-up duty, which usually meant Ben was scrubbing and I was packing lunches.  We all got to do the things we liked best, or at least tolerated the most.

BTW, Ben – I’m sorry.  I leave dishes in my sink, sometimes overnight.  I didn’t do it while we lived together, but I’ve gone back to my bad ways  Bad single girl behaviour is real.  I’m ashamed and will look to find ways to improve this terrible, lazy habit of mine.

At any rate, I’ve adopted Jason’s method for meal planning for myself. Lunches on the left, dinners on the right.  Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, but if it’s something too messy or random to pack for work, I’ll just keep it for dinners.  I even tossed Chipotle on here – I knew I would be running errands all day yesterday. Their allergen menu is fantastic!

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The key to success for me is prep work. By the time I get home, I’m just fried and don’t feel like cooking.  If I’ve already done the work, great!  Prep for lunches this week was easy – chicken sausage with veggies.  The sausage is pre-cooked, so all I have to do is make the veggies, dump it into a container and call it a day.  I keep single serve hummus on hand, so I bundle that up with carrots and celery, bag up some hard-boiled eggs for snacks, divvy out fresh fruit for fruit salad, and all week it’s grab and go.

BTW, why do sausages look so dirty?  I had to laugh when I took this pic.  I know, I know.  I have the mentality of a fifteen year old boy and I’ll admit to it.

Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage paired with sweet potatoes and a kale/quinoa mix:

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No big deal to eat this for three days.  Tonight I’m making tacos (ground beef, Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, a can of rotel) and I’ll rotate between tacos and taco salad the rest of the week.  I’m already planning dinner out on Thursday night, and I know I’ll screw up one night and be off my schedule.  I stock soup for those nights, or I’ll have a Daiya frozen pizza.  I’ve mapped out my other activities as well, so I’ll have an idea of what’s going on when I’m grocery shopping.

The party planned for Saturday is a bit trickier, because I adore the couple hosting and a little one’s birthday party could likely turn into an all day event.  It’s a Saturday, we’ll have great company, cocktails may be poured.  Just saying.  I’ve shown up to Susie and Charlie’s with my own cooler of beer to watch football, but this time it’ll likely be a mix of booze and healthy snacks to help keep my face out of the birthday cake.

Eating outside of my house isn’t necessarily hard, but it requires the same amount of planning on my part.  House parties are the trickiest, though usually I can dig up some fruit and veggies and I almost always have almonds or beef jerky with me in a pinch.  And let’s be honest – I’m not going to starve.  I’ve got some reserves, kind of like a hibernating bear.

Local friends – I promise I can still go out!  I like going out!  I like going to dinner and I love going to brunch!  If you want to go out, let’s go out.  I can always find something, I promise.  PROMISE.  I’ll do the research ahead of time and I’ve gotten the hang of ordering.  Big ups to Anna and Colleen in particular for vetting restaurants and being patient with me in the beginning when I had a hard time figuring it out.  Tito’s Vodka is everywhere and if all else fails, there’s salad 🙂

I am super thankful to have friends and family that are way supportive of my admittedly somewhat restrictive diet, but I know some of y’all worry.  Thank you!  The best comparison I can make is that if you think of me as being on Paleo, or low carb, or whatever whole food diet is out there – it’ll cover 90% of the stuff I can’t eat.  No biggie.

XO

Adventures in Cooking

As my fellow singletons know, cooking is dubious business when you’re cooking for one.  Sure, there’s a hoard of recipes out there to cook for one person, but where do you get 1/4 of an onion?  Last time I checked, they are sold whole.  I know I can cook pre-diced frozen ones and use just a bit, but it’s much easier for me to justify my half-assed cooking attempts by saying it’s too hard to cook from scratch.  Fortunately, I’m not a super picky eater and don’t usually mind eating the same thing for a few days.  I also survive on Aidell’s chicken sausage sold in bulk at Costco and whatever random veggies I’ve picked up.  This is probably why I’m losing weight.

In an effort to find a substitute for that disgusting macaroni and cheese problem I’ve been having, I made spaghetti.  Spaghetti sauce is something I’ve always done well, and I make a kickass lasagna.  Since lasagna is now my nightmare food, full of delicious cheese, mushrooms, garlic and gluten, guess I’ll have to suffer through modified spaghetti. I browned up some organic, grass fed hamburger (thanks, Costco!) and added some roasted red and yellow peppers, two cans of artichokes and two glass jars of spaghetti sauce.  One is from Kroger, one is from Target, and they are both organic, relatively garlic free deliciousness.  One is actually pretty spicy, which was nice!  Plus I got to use my Le Creuset pot, which is gorgeous and always makes me smile.  Thanks, Mom!

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So, call me Sandra of the Semi-Homemade Cooking show fame, but whatever.  At least I didn’t jump warm it in the microwave and call it a day.  I got four lunches out of the leftovers, two servings for dinner because I have no salad stuff here and I’m feeling like a big fatty today, plus six cups for the freezer.  BOOM.  At least I’m still within my calorie threshold for the day and I got a lot of iron from the beef.  Take that, Anemia!  I will kick you in the pants.  Sure, it’s barely 6 pm and I can’t eat anything else today, but I’ll survive.  That’s why God blessed us with fizzy flavored water.

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I used the Ronzoni Gluten Free Penne Rigate.  It tastes pretty normal to me and I like the chunkier noodle with my chunky sauce.  Regular spaghetti noodles seem like they’ll make a mess.  OH!  That reminds me that I bought myself a spiralizer that should be here tomorrow, so along with my salad stuff I’m going to pick up a zucchini and see how that works.  I really like spaghetti squash with my pasta sauce, so hopefully I’ll like the zucchini just as much.  Less mess and chances for microwave explosions (coughMaryAnnecough.)  I’ll post pics of that this week, and I promise it’ll look like a Pinterest fail.

Speaking of Pinterest, my girlfriend Erin asked where I was finding recipes these days.  God bless her, she’s allergic to shellfish just like my Uncle Ray, who I hear willingly almost put himself in the hospital to bulldoze through a famous buffet in NYC back when I was a baby.  Crazy man.  Anyhoot – Paleo has been pretty popular for a few years now, and thank goodness, because anything Paleo normally has none of my allergens, aside from garlic, blueberries, spinach, and the other randomly good for everyone else that walks the planet foods that I can’t eat.  And some of the stuff I’ve been eating for years thanks to Weight Watchers is allergen free too, like my shredded chicken!

That, btw, is just a can of Rotel for every pound of chicken, taco seasoning and heat on low in your crock pot for about six hours, until the chicken shreds.  I normally eat it with black beans and avocado, but it makes great tacos too 🙂

All that said, I think I’m still allergic to tomatoes.  They apparently don’t screw up my blood and exacerbate my inflammatory issues, but I’m typing this blog with a tightened throat and my face feels like it is sunburnt.  Hmm.  Did this with Suzy’s awesome allergen free taco soup the other night too, so I think tomatoes will continue to be in my diet but VERY. SPARINGLY.  Tonight is good since I don’t have any big plans.  Hopefully I won’t wake up with hives tomorrow.  PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE.  Hives are the worst.  It could be the spices, though, especially since black pepper in on my naughty list.  Who the hell knows?  Again, just put me in a bubble.  I guess I need to live on protein shakes and oatmeal 🙂  Or just have permanently sunburnt cheeks and perpetually chapped lips.

Anyone got a great lip balm they love?  I’ve tried the Eos (no longer work for me and make my lips worse) and I’m concerned that my honey intolerance makes beeswax an issue, so that rules out Burt’s Bees.  Carmex doesn’t seem to make things worse, but it does burn when I first put it on.  Maybe I’ll save this question for my dermatologist post that I’ve been pondering for a few days now.

Cheers!