Simple Salad

Today was an exceptionally naughty 8 hour shift at work. One of my co-workers , Allyn, is a regular Betty Crocker. On a weekly basis he makes cupcakes and brownies for us Goodwillers to gobble up. All except me. Which is good, because I’d totally own that brownie pan! Phew, sometimes being gluten free is a blessing in disguise. Allyn is also known for making some exceptional fudge, so I finally worked up the courage to put in a dietary restriction related request.  I was elated to find a full Tupperware container of chocolate fudge this morning. I had a piece here. I had a piece there. I had several pieces everywhere. End of shift=Commencement of unbuttoning pants.

I was still very full when dinner time rolled around, which worked out perfectly tonight because we were making some salmon with a light accompanying salad. I held off on the salmon—tomorrow, stomach, tomorrow—and ate a large bowl of this simple, cooling, and  soft textured salad.

I got the idea from the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere, and she got it from a NY Times article on 101 Simple Salads.  I love these sorts of meals because the measurements don’t have to be exact. You can mix and match whatever you like and tinker with amounts to get the best flavor.


1 Avocado

4 Small Peaches (or 2 big)

1 Roma Tomato

½ Red Onion (I actually had used the red onion for a previous meal, so I went without this time, but I think it’d be an excellent addition)

Splash of Lime Juice (fresh squeezed or bottled. I went with the bottled this time, because I didn’t feel like getting out my juicer)

Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes.

Cut the avocado, peaches, tomato, onion, and put them into a bowl. Because these are soft ingredients, gently mix them together. Pour (or squirt) the lime juice on top and sprinkle on the red pepper flakes. Gently mix again. Savor.

This is a perfect snack (or meal if paired with some added protein like chicken, steak, beef, or vegetarian/vegan substitute) on a hot summer’s day. And, for anyone of you getting your wisdom teeth out in the next few months, since summer seems to be prime removal time, this would be a hearty, yet soft snack for you to eat while you ice your cheeks and dose off in a (RESPONSIBLE) pain killer induced haze.

Peel Away ❤


Eating healthy at school- Salad & other tips

I have the college luxury of being able to cook my own meals, but for 2 years I suffered eating dining hall food, so I understand what a pain it can be to enjoy what you’re eating, never mind eating healthy. Last year at my school—when I wasn’t eating meat—I asked if the dining hall (who claimed to be really open to conversation) could start serving healthier options for the meat-less. A pasta-lifestyle does not a healthy diet make. Let’s just say I was shocked at the push back I got from a certain head chef who “claimed” they cared about the health of her students. It was appalling and still makes my blood boil.  The cooks practically went out of their way to make healthy food unappealing.  Eating healthy doesn’t need to be overly expensive, per say, but it is a lot cheaper to feed everyone pizza and chicken nuggets than fresh food. It’s a sad truism in this country. It seemed Sodexo (the notorious food provider we had) was more interested in saving a buck, getting rebates from the junk snacks they were hocking at us, and being lazy in their chef prep skills. Thankfully, there are ways to navigate the pizza, fries, burgers, and soft-serve machine. One of the first things I started doing was incorporating a salad into my lunch and dinner. I allowed myself to eat what the main course was, but filling up with good for me foods  beforehand helped me cut down on the greasy, buttery, salty, laxative (mmmhmmm) laden food.

Can I make a salad? Or can I make a salad?!!

Now, salads can seem really boring, but once you get used to eating them I guarantee you’ll crave them. For starters, you need to make a real, healthy salad. Ditch the ice berg lettuce and try using the darker, leafy greens, as these are true super foods! Add in hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, baby corn, mushrooms, onions (bring gum), olives, etc. Sliced apples, mandarin oranges, and pears are a nice added touch. Nix the croutons, bacon bits, and cheese. If you want something sprinkled on top try dried cranberries or sliced nuts. And for Pete’s sake, no more calorie heavy dressings like ranch, Italian, or Catalina! Why undo all your hard work by slathering it in gunk? Instead drizzle on some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You’ll feel fresh and light afterward, and since your stomach registers volumes you won’t be as ravenous.

At the same time,  accept the fact that your body will crave different things during different times of the year. A lot of it is weather dependent. Most people like eating salads, fruits, and raw vegetables during the hot summer months and warm, hearty foods during the winter. During the fall season you have to practically force a salad down my throat, but oddly enough, come winter, I’m back on the greens. We’re all wired differently, but I can safely say that most of us could use more salads in our lives.

Just as delicious!

Other tips:

Only get ice cream or a dessert one day of the week.

Even if it kills you, get up in time to have a sit down breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, milk, juice, yogurt, etc, whatever you want. Don’t be the student who’s always grabbing a bagel on the run; trust me, your waist will thank you.

Wean yourself off of sugary sodas and juices by starting each meal with at least one glass of water.

Grab fruit like bananas, oranges, and apples for mid-day snacks.

Peel Away ❤


Why I Made the Change

So, I haven’t really told you guys how I made the change over from being a fairly average nosher to a more cognoscente and mindful eating. I did mentioned how Tara Stiles was the catalyst to listening to my body and observing what I put into it. It wasn’t until this past January when I really put it into practice. It all started by going pescotarian (someone who eats seafood but not land meat.) I started reading about how the animals in many slaughterhouses in our country are treated. Slaughterhouses are stressful places to work and it doesn’t take much for the handlers to start abusing the animals. Pigs are sodomized by objects lying around, chickens are thrown like soccer balls, people, very disgustingly, shove electric shockers into cows’ vaginas. I’m not one for swearing, but that shit is sick as fuck! I felt immense guilt for eating meat, especially since my family (or school) wasn’t regularly buying meat from reputable farms. There was no weaning myself off of red meat, then chicken, then pork; I went cold turkey. I was surprised to find that after the first month I didn’t really have cravings except for fried chicken, pork from Chinese restaurants, and the occasional burger—all relatively unhealthy. I had no desire for steak or grilled chicken. Unfortunately my school wasn’t very vegetarian friendly (a person needs more than tofu and veggie burgers, people!) and I found myself learning the art of the salad. I mean a real, colorful salad, not the kind with ranch, cheese, croutons, and those squiggly crunchy bits. I slowly started learning about other diets like the raw food and vegan. Though I never went completely raw or vegan, I tried to as much food in its natural state to my diet.

There was also food I found myself eating less of. Bread was no longer a big part of my diet, as veggie sandwiches really weren’t that enthralling. My milk consumption decreased significantly as well, as I started eating more Greek yogurt to add protein (which the average person really doesn’t need loads of, despite the typical ‘how do you get your protein’ claim), and iron, which I admit was hard to get. I noticed myself feeling better and having more energy almost immediately. I used to always need a nap in the afternoon. During the summer I started venturing into fake meats. I never wanted them to become a huge part of my diet, as they are highly processed, but Chris and I fell in love with Morning Stars Hickory Smoked “Ribs”.  Summer is also when I started feeling like absolutely crap again. July was brutal. There were many mornings when I would wake up, make an egg, and feel so exhausted that I had to go back to sleep again. I could barely function at my job and was an emotional wreck. My hair was falling out, my hands hurt, and I was deathly frightened. I thought it was the lack of meat that was doing this to me. The doctors ran blood tests and my iron levels and thyroid were fine. Everyone chalked it up to stress, but I knew it was more than that. It wasn’t until a few months into the school year that I finally began putting the pieces together.

Image: JupiterImages.Jen Christiansen

One morning I was eating toast and within minutes my hands started hurting. It felt like my bones were itching. I’d eat pizza and the next day I wake up feeling like someone had hit me with large beam. After some internet sleuthing, once again: thank goodness for Google, I stumbled upon sites talking about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that more and more people are having difficulty digesting. It can cause severe stomach pains, gas, bloating, hand pain (!), brain fog, and numerous other conditions. Celiac Disease has the same symptoms, but if you keep eating gluten it damages the lining of your stomach, making absorption harder. I decided to test this theory out. It’s very hard to do something and not subconsciously cause yourself pain, but I knew I wasn’t lying to myself when not long after eating a slice of whole grain toast I doubled over onto the bed in intense stomach pains. Then there was the brain fog that would follow me around for a few hours. In severe cases when I ate a lot of pizza (which is now my kryptonite) I would have intense feelings of gas in my stomach that would never, erm, work their way out. Not to mention if I kept eating more wheat my stomach would start lurching. I’ve thrown up 6 times in my life, so I knew this was not normal. After realizing this was something I couldn’t eat anymore, I also had the horrible realization that right now was not a time in my life where I could not eat meat and wheat/gluten products which are found in so many foods. After a few weeks of telling myself that it was okay and that my health was just as important, is started eating meat again. One thing I notice is that the amount of meat I eat is so miniscule to what I used to eat, and I still hardly crave red meat. I have a much healthier relationship with a food group. I try my hardest to buy meat from good farmers, but I cannot all the time. I’m not much for dinner time grace, but I do say a little thank you to the animals. Almost instantaneously I felt better. I started dreaming again and realized a big reason why I felt better back in January wasn’t necessarily from kicking meat, but from limiting my gluten intact. And the reason I felt horrible in the summer is because wheat and gluten are generally the first few ingredients listed in fake meat.

I got tested for celiac disease over break. Unfortunately gluten sensitivity is not something they can easily test for and the general celiac disease panel they use only shows 2 of the 5 possible inhibitors that can show up for celiac positive patients.  But after explaining my symptoms to my doctor she said she felt 100% okay letting me avoid gluten and wheat. The worst part about the testing was that I had to eat gluten a few weeks before hand. I was in so much pain and was extremely grouchy for several days, and I didn’t feel completely right for quite some time. My test results came back this week and they were back normal. Still, this still doesn’t change the fact it makes me feel absolutely horrid. Life is going to be pretty different for me. I’ve been trying Udi’s gluten free bread (awesome), gluten free rolls (disgusting), and reading all labels. I’ve also been playing around with how much bread I can eat before I feel sick and am realizing that it is a very delicate balance between feeling fine and being knocked off my ass. So long sweet pizza. You will be missed.

It took me a really long time to figure this all out. What is most scary is that this is something I know in my heart has been plaguing me for years. It wasn’t until I started peeling away all those unhealthy eating habits that I could get to the source of the issue. The more you strip away the uglier and more painful it gets, but it is absolutely necessary. Again, I cannot stress this enough, listen to your body. If you always feel gross after you eat then simply start eliminating foods to see if you feel better. And don’t let doctors try to sell you the easy answer. Three people told me “oh, it’s just lactose that is making you feel bad.” Errrr, wrong! I can drink all the milk I want and feel excellent. You are the best judge of your body. Just listen carefully and it’ll tell you what to do.

Now Peel Away!