I Love Sundays

Posted in WF Missions on November 14, 2010 by Kerri

Badges Earned to Date: Take the First Step

Missions Completed: 42/363

Missions Completed Today: Berry Picker: Blackberries; Berry Picker: Blueberries; Berry Picker: Raspberries; Breakfast Champ: Sit Down Cream of Buckwheat with Fresh Fruit; Crunch Time: Green Pepper; Garlic Breath: Garlic; Garlic Breath: Onion; Phat Fats: Olives; Roy G. Who?: Blueberries; Roy G. Who?: Red Onion; Scurvy Pirate: Grapefruit; Sorcerer of Saving: Pack Tomorrow’s Lunch the Night Before; Tour de WFM: Visit Your Local Whole Foods Market

I totally love Sundays like today!  I actually accomplished everything on my to-do list, so there was a ton of reading, relaxing, and watching football.

Breakfast was filling and warm!  I made some cream of buckwheat cereal topped with frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries), Udi’s gluten-free granola, and a splash of skim milk.

Four hours later, I was hungry so I ate two servings of Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels with onion dip while I read more of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Dan and I had a late lunch, consisting of chicken breasts simmered in rogan josh sauce, brown rice couscous, and green beans.

It took me most of the day to realize that tonight was Sunday Night Football with my New England Patriots!  Obviously, this called for some gluten-free pizza.  We took a quick trip to our local Whole Foods to pick up supplies–a variety of veggies from the salad bar for toppings, part-skim mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, and brown rice tortillas (they make excellent thin crust pizzas).  Yum.

I finished the day with a cup of grapefruit sections as I watched the Pats win, yay!

I’m on a Mission…

Posted in Today, WF Missions on November 14, 2010 by Kerri

Badges Earned to Date: Take the First Step

Missions Completed: 29/363

Missions Completed Today: ME! ME! ME!: Weigh Yourself; Berry Picker: Strawberries; Breakfast Champ: Fruit Smoothie; Food Stretcher: Cut up brown bananas for smoothies; Munch a Bunch: Bananas; Smooth Operator: Smoothie with nut butter; C Student: Carrot; Line Cook: Bake Some Squash; Cheesemonger: Parmesan; Cut It Out: Go a Day without Sipping Caffeine; Roy G. Who?: Green Beans.

I’m back again, with a brand new laptop (MacBook Pro, woo!) and a renewed sense of direction around healthy eating and weight loss.  Expect to see a lot more content here soon!

A few weeks ago, I found a free app for my iPhone from Whole Foods called Missions.  Besides healthy living tips and information about Whole Foods markets, the Missions app has over 300 personal challenges.

If I counted correctly, there are 363 missions to complete and I want to accomplish all of them in an effort to live a healthier life.  I automatically crossed off any missions that included gluten (sprouted grain bread, barley, etc.) and spinach because I am allergic to it.  Fortunately there are only 13 missions that contain gluten or spinach, so I have about 350 mission to complete…whoa!

I’ve also carefully thought through some rules about accepting this challenge:

1. While a majority of my shopping is done at Whole Foods, I also frequently use my local farmers markets, farm stands, fish markets, and Trader Joe’s for my groceries.  Using this app/accepting this challenge does not mean that I will shop exclusively at Whole Foods.

2. I’m a fairly competent cook, but I know for a fact that there are certain missions (taro root, sea vegetables, kimchi, etc.) that may taste a lot better if I skip purchasing them at a grocery store and find them prepared in local restaurants or from friends/family.  I will challenge myself at home with many of the missions (the seafood ones make me shake in my boots already–shuck a clam?!), but not all of them.

The only non-food challenge I completed today was weighing myself–ouch!  I have a lot of work to do.

Now, onto my eats for today:

For breakfast, I made one of my favorite foods–the smoothie!  Today’s had frozen banana slices (I cut up last week’s leftover brown bananas and popped them in the freezer), frozen strawberries, skim milk, 365 Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter.  I took my icy drink to-go this morning and enjoyed it on my drive to the mall.

For lunch, I baked some extra firm tofu with Dinosaur Garlic Honey BBQ sauce with Trader Joe’s baked beans and green beans.  Tasty vegan goodness.

After a trip to the library to pick up The Girl Who Played with Fire, I made a snack of carrot sticks, Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels, and onion dip.  I’m already 65 pages into the book!

For dinner, thanks to Pat’s Pastured and their incredibly delicious local chickens, I was able to turn a leftover roaster into Chicken Pot Pie with Crunchy Brown Rice Crust–an old favorite gluten-free recipe from Whole Foods.  For a side dish, I roasted some acorn squash slices with cinnamon and nutmeg.

To finish up the day, I had a mug of hot chocolate (mug from Gabriel’s, my favorite place!) while watching August Rush.

Do Nothing to Feed Hungry Rhode Islanders

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 by Kerri

Several months ago, I visited the Warwick Mall (poor flooded mall) with my brother Michael.  We were lazily browsing in each store, trying to pass the time on another cold winter day, when we were approached by a young man.  He asked if we wanted to participate in a taste test in exchange for a Dunkin Donuts gift card.  I inquired if the sample food was gluten-free, since Michael and I both have celiac, and I was assured that the sample was a-okay.

After signing a release form, we were led behind a set of curtains to a table and chairs surrounded by several video cameras.  The table held a microphone and a silver dome that covered a dish.  As Michael and I sat down on one side of the table, a handsome guy who looked like a news reporter or game show host took a seat opposite us.

He said that we were going to sample something that Rhode Islanders eat every day and he wanted our opinion about it.  I instantly started pondering–what do Rhode Islanders eat every day that’s gluten-free?  Iced Coffee?  Seafood?  Del’s Lemonade?

He slowly lifted the lid to reveal NOTHING.  An empty plate.  He gave us a moment to take it all in and then explained that many Rhode Island residents eat nothing.  They go hungry.

When asked how that made us feel, I said that I work for a non-profit organization so I know how many people come to us on a daily basis looking for food, clothing, shelter, etc.  I’ve watched these issues devastate so many people–home owners, small business owners, college graduates, small children, people who are running out of welfare benefits, youth aging out of foster care, the elderly etc.  Hunger doesn’t discriminate.

Our eye-opening taste test was part of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s new fundraising campaign.

Besides great videos, the Nothing campaign also includes billboards, radio spots, and these nifty Nothing brand cans that are for sale at local markets and stores for $2.99–the cost of purchasing 10 pounds of food for someone in need.  The cans also have a slot in the top to gather even more donations for the Food Bank.

This fundraising campaign has gained attention from NPR, the New York Times, and other media outlets.

Please considering doing nothing for hunger in Rhode Island.

Cold Pasta, Wahoo!

Posted in Food and Recipes on May 17, 2010 by Kerri

Besides tasty ooey gooey pizza, my second most missed gluten food is cold pasta salad.  In high school and college, I loved throwing together a box of whole wheat pasta with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and salad dressing for a quick and easy lunch to go.  When I wanted to mix things up, I would experiment with different types of frozen veggie combos, olives, artichoke hearts,  capers, sardines, cheeses, and other proteins.  It was healthy, filling, quick, and cheap!

I also made my mom’s low-fat macaroni salad (featuring low-fat mayo, carrots, onions, and bell peppers) regularly as a side dish for cookouts and office parties.

When I started eating gluten-free, I quickly found pastas that worked for me.  I particularly enjoy Tinkyada Brown Rice Pastas and Sam Mills Corn Pastas–I’ve cooked everything from stuffed shells to vegetable lasagna with no complaints.  Sure I’ve come across a few brands and blends that stick to the inside of the pot or produce glue-like residue (great for wallpaper!), but I found the pasta search to be much less challenging than my ongoing quest for good bread or pizza.

Except for one situation.  I hadn’t found a gluten-free pasta that didn’t turn hard and crunchy when refrigerated.  Over the years, I have wasted umpteen pounds of pasta and other ingredients when trying to replicate mom’s macaroni salad or my other favorite cold pasta dishes.   I thought I had a winner with the Sam Mills corn pasta when it still felt soft after several hours of refrigeration.  But after a full chill overnight, I awoke the next day to find crunchy hard macaroni salad.  Ugh…into the trash!

While surfing around on the web last week I came across this post about Andean Dream pasta, a quinoa and rice blend, working well with cold dishes.  I immediately took a trip to my local Whole Foods and found a box of their elbow macaroni.  The bad news is that this brand is pretty pricey at $3.99 for an 8oz box; but the excellent news is this:

It makes delicious, soft, non-plaster macaroni salad!!!  I gave it a full 24 hours in the refrigerator before deeming it a smashing success. The only thing I would do differently next time is cook the pasta for a couple more minutes. The box’s instructions said to cook it for 6-8 minutes and I drained it right at the 6 minute mark.  I think a full 8 minutes will make it less al dente next time.

MayDay! MayDay!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2010 by Kerri

Disclaimer: What follows is some personal evaluating, grumbling, and navel gazing.  I swear it leads to something positive in the end. Please stick with me.

I have spent the majority of the past several months in a deep, deep funk.

First I broke my leg which required surgery, followed by three months of physical therapy.  Despite the fact that I built some killer biceps from crutching myself all over the place, I managed to gain a lot of weight.  I consider myself lucky that I have little to no pain in my leg, even though I’m now a bionic woman with a metal plates.

I have always been deathly afraid of falling down (I can recount endless stories of hikes, leisurely strolls, winter wonderlands, small obstacles to climb, etc. that were filled with panic and anxiety).  Now, after falling down a flight of stairs and breaking my leg, I find myself even more panic-stricken and less motivated to move my body around for fear of something catastrophic happening.

I’m also still mourning the loss of school, after graduating in December, since learning and academic achievement are as important to me as oxygen (I kid you not).  Although school put me further in debt and it was often a struggle to balance school work with my full-time job, I loved every second of it.  Like when I finished my Bachelor’s Degree, I fear that I may never have the time or resources to learn again.

Speaking of my full-time job, it’s gotten incredibly difficult in terms of creating a work/life balance that allows me to focus on self-care.  Since I started in this leadership role five years ago, my staff size has more than tripled and the number of programs I oversee has more than doubled.  It has been nonstop since I returned from medical leave in November.  Many nights and weekends I find myself taking care of small tasks to keep myself alive (showering, brushing my teeth, doing laundry so I have clean clothes), then I dive back into work.  I can’t recall the last time I made more than one homemade meal (featuring a protein and a veggie or fruit) in a given week.  Or the last time I packed my lunch for work and actually had time to eat it.  My work to-do list is endless.

I’m having difficulty finding time (and money) to take care of myself.  Healthy eating and exercise are out the window.  I haven’t practiced yoga or written consistently since before I broke my leg.  I haven’t had a haircut since October.  My clothes don’t fit well anymore and it’s a struggle to dress myself in a professional manner every day.  I have ZERO extra dollars to my name and a mountain of debt.  I can count on one hand the number of fun things I’ve done in the past several months.

Where has all of this negativity lead?  To me spending practically all of my precious spare time (and spare money I don’t have) gorging myself on unhealthy foods.  Chips and cheese and gluten-free desserts and chocolate and soda and more cheese.  I am a binge eater.  It is my #1 way of coping with the hurt and the stress.

Every year, I try to set New Years resolutions that always get discarded by the end of January.  Who wants to renew themselves at a time when it’s cold and raw outside?  When everything is dead or hibernating?

As I lay down in bed this afternoon (belly full of more cheese and chips, disgusted with myself) I noticed how beautiful the weather is today.  May Day.  The birds are chirping.  New leafs are blowing on the trees.  Everything feels alive.  Warm.  Promising.  Fresh.  The kind of day where you want to pick fresh fruit and enjoy it in the warm sunlight.  A perfect day to send a distress signal to myself (it is mayday after all). More to come soon.

Rebirth of GFSM

Posted in Food and Recipes on September 28, 2009 by Kerri

The fiance and I have moved into a new apartment–a beautiful, roomy two-bedroom place with a huge kitchen perfect for entertaining and cooking up gluten-free food.  The apartment is surrounded by woods, a river, a small village of shops and restaurants, the bay, and a farmers market every Saturday.  We couldn’t ask for a nicer place to call home.

Everything was perfect until, five days after moving in, I took a fall down the outside stairs and busted my leg.  A broken fibula, a fractured ankle, and a surgery later, I am facing another 3-6 weeks of bed rest before I can even start putting weight on my leg. 

After Surgery and Before

After Surgery and Before

I’m out of work for this whole time and am running out of ways to entertain myself.  Daytime television is driving me insane–did you know that The Jerry Springer Show is alive and well?  I think I’ve read the entire contents of the Internet and I am almost finished watching the lengthy list of silly 80s movies I’ve never viewed in our collection.  Erik the Viking = thumbs up; Iron Eagle = thumbs way down! 

But it’s not all doom and gloom and synthesized music.  I started reading Eat, Pray, Love (a book that really speaks to me so far…I love the author’s voice) and finally taught myself how to use Twitter.  Since finishing my pain meds, I have found stretches of time and mental clarity to work on my thesis.  In the spirit of fixing my leg, I have focused more on healthy eating and upcoming physical therapy.  My Mom has been a blessing by doing all of our grocery shopping and helping me make feel good food. 

And now it is time to breathe some life into my writing–my favorite past time/vocation but the first thing I dump in case of emergency or times of stress. 

Welcome to the rebirth of Gluten-Free…Sexy Me, my journey in gluten-free, healthy living.  For now, I leave you with a photo of today’s lunch–Chickpea Patties with Greek Topping, a recipe from the latest edition of Vegetarian Times magazine. 

Chickpea Patties with Greek Topping

Friday Faves: Uno’s Gluten-Free Pizza

Posted in Friday Faves on December 27, 2008 by Kerri

A few weeks ago, my brother and I were Christmas shopping at the Providence Place Mall and decided to stop for lunch at Uno’s—a chain restaurant that has an impressive, relatively healthy gluten-free menu.  As we were discussing our lunch options, my brother said “I think I’ll get the gluten-free pizza.”  I quickly looked over my menu, saw no pizza, and told my brother that he must be seeing things.  He passed me his menu, which was certainly marked as the gluten-free one, and he was right—Uno’s was offering gluten-free flatbread pizzas with either cheese or pepperoni.  Whoa!  After a short celebration at our table, and an excited phone call to my Dad to tell him the news, we ordered a pepperoni pizza to share. 

The pizza is VERY tasty—better than 95% of other gluten-free pizzas I’ve tried.  The crust is thin and fortunately lacks the overpowering chemical taste that comes with many gluten-free items.  The sauce includes thick chunks of tomatoes and there’s just enough cheese on each pizza without being overbearing.  While the pizza is on the petite size (about the size of a regular small pizza), the price is affordable at $10.49 for the cheese and $11.49 for the pepperoni.  My favorite gluten-free pizza of all time, BZ’s in Dennisport MA, is more than twice the price (but well worth every dollar!) and just a little larger. 

Gluten-Free Pizza


The first time I ordered Uno’s version (pictured above), the pizza was a little undercooked and had to be eaten with a fork and knife because it was floppy.   Since my first visit I’ve had opportunity to try the pizza two more times and during those visits the pizzas were cooked perfectly.  I was able to pick up a non-greasy slice and eat it with my hands—a tricky feat for most gluten-free products because they tend to crumble like bad plaster. 

According to this press release, the gluten-free recipe took over a year to develop.  The plan is to roll out the gluten-free pizza at their restaurants in the northeast and then to the rest of the country if sales go well.