Gigi makes gluten-free living simple, nutritious, affordable & fun with "Smart Nutrition Backed by Science" facts, practical tips and strategies to live your best gluten-free life, recipes (all free from gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts) all with an upbeat, positive approach!
This is a sponsored post, with featured clothing provided by prAna. All opinions are my own.
We talk a lot about our food, asking questions about how it’s grown, harvested and prepared. We want to know the impact those processes make on the earth.
Don’t you think it’s time we start asking those same questions about the clothes we wear? I do.
So do the makers at prAna. From field to factory to your closet, prAna is making a positive difference in helping the planet as the first brand in North American to produce fair trade certified clothing.
Sustainable clothing made with organic cotton and recycled fabrics in fun, functional – and dare I say luxurious – styles you’ll never want to take off!
Inspiring healthy, active, free-spirited living, the people behind prAna are yogis, world travelers and doers. We’re talking details, going bold, using color creatively, designing functional pieces you’ll love to wear – for how they make you feel, for what they allow you to do and for how they make a difference for the greater good.
Conscious Winter Clothing from prAna
Some of my favorite “feel good” pieces are the Crestland Pullover (in love with this Khaki Rose color!!) and the Diva Jacket (shown in black).
If you’re like me and you chill to the bone once winter arrives, you need this pullover – now! This is the definition of warmth. I slip on a thin layering tee underneath and I’m set for the chilliest days here in Atlanta. Just look at the attention to detail! I love the metal insignia at the back of the neck.
And the pockets are super deep, lined and keep hands very warm! The patchwork woven design is so pretty and versatile, too!
As for the Diva jacket – can we talk about how comfortable the Sherpa lining.
It is the softest. And the rib knit side and underarm panel are perfect – the allow for some ventilation and make moving around so easy. I love this jacket because I can stay toasty without feeling like I’m so bundled up I can’t move.
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This post is sponsored by Alcon and SheKnows Media.
Do you have issues with dry eye? It’s no surprise that it’s an issue for me considering I spend hours in front of my computer each day writing. My “escape” from the screen involves getting outside daily for a walk, gardening or simply being in nature.
Chances are you’ve experienced dry eye, too. After all, it’s a common condition, affecting more than 30 million people in the US. And even if you don’t have ongoing issues, if you travel often like I do, you know being exposed to the dry air in airports and on planes may lead to dry eye symptoms.
When it comes to dry eye, much of what causes it – like my work, love of the outdoors and travel – are part of life, and we need some tactics to combat dry eye and a way to effectively alleviate the symptoms.
When it comes to spending hours in front of the computer, remind yourself to blink often and to glance away from the screen periodically.
Outdoors, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and wind.
Remember to stay hydrated when you travel. Adequate hydration is always important for so many reasons and it may even help relieve symptoms of dry eye.
In addition to these preventative tips for dry eye, I use SYSTANE® Complete when my eyes feel irritated and dry. I keep a bottle at my desk, so I can easily reach for it. I stash another bottle in my purse for when I’m on the go.
Have you heard of SYSTANE® Complete?
It’s designed to help dry eye sufferers find real relief from every major type of dry eye.
What I love about this product is that it quickly relieves my dry eye symptoms, and it helps keep my eyes lubricated. That’s important because dry eye essentially means your eyes can’t adequately lubricate themselves. No fun!
I like SYSTANE® because it’s made by the #1 doctor recommended brand of eye drops, and it’s easy for me to find just about anywhere. Look for it at major retailers, pharmacies, at your eye doctor and online. And be sure to learn more about the SYSTANE® Complete eye drops by visiting the website.
And just like our lifestyles can sometimes lead to dry eye, there are also adjustments we can make to support overall eye health.
Steps You Can Take to Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms
Foods like fish rich in omega-3 oils are eye-protecting and have been shown to support healthy tear production and overall macular health.
Don’t forget two of my top “musts” for your health: Exercise and handwashing. Both are so easy to do every day. Exercise contributes to overall health, including healthy eyes, and handwashing is always important. When we’re talking about the eyes, it’s especially crucial to wash our hands thoroughly before putting in drops or applying makeup.
Do recipes get too simple for you? Me either. The older I get, the less time I want to spend in the kitchen. Realizing I say this after having spent seven months this year on a cookbook. I still love cooking and creating new dishes (nearly daily), it just seems those recipes are more streamlined and simpler than ever.
Before we get to the recipe, let me tell you that I never liked nachos. I know, I am the strangest person. Pizza? Not a fan. Mac ‘n cheese? No thanks. But my kids, different story. They’re far more normal than I am, at least in their food choices. And we all know, when there are kiddos, there are kiddo foods. I always try to make the healthiest version while hanging on to taste and texture. And before I get a note from one of the girls reminding me they are all grown up, I should tell you, they’re all grown up. :-)
This soup was for me, based on a this recipe, which I did create for my nacho cheese loving kids a long time ago. I didn’t look back at that recipe to see how different it is from the current one. Until just now because after typing that, I felt like I should. They’re pretty similar, but the other is definitely “sauce” with less butternut, and this one is most certainly “soup”. Anyway, similar, yet different and you need both recipes.
Speaking of butternut, that’s squash. You can get the proper way to roast it here, but if you saw my recent Instagram Stories, you know how I do it now. Whole squash, into the oven, bam! Easy, with no risk of losing a finger in the butchering process.
Butternut squash – even if you’re not a fan, try this! Roasted butternut lends a smooth, velvet texture to soups and sauces and packs a nutritional punch.
I use unsweetened coconut milk, but you can sub any dairy-free milk you like.
Daiya cheddar slices are my go-to because I think the slices melt and taste better than the shreds. Use your favorite cheese sub. I like these because they are free from all the foods I’m allergic to.
Salt – you’ll want to add it to taste. I go very light on the salt in all my recipes. I’ve never liked very salty foods, so this is my personal preference. You should adjust to match yours.
The nutritional yeast I use is this brand. I keep this on hand at all times. It adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to foods. Just trust me.
Now, let’s get to the recipe!
Gluten-Free Vegan Nacho “Cheese” Soup
Makes 4 servings.
4 cups cooked, cubed butternut squash
3 slices Daiya cheddar slices
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, onion powder, ancho chili powder and ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to your taste
Garnish and accompaniments:
sliced green onion
sriracha or other hot pepper sauce, to taste
1 – Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat to boiling.
2 – Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
3 – Remove the lid from the pan; remove from heat.
4 – Blend the soup until smooth.
Blending method 1: Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pan until smooth.
Blending method 2: Cool the soup until just warm, then transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth. Reheat before serving. Do not blend hot liquids in the blender or food processor.
5 – Serve soup with tortillas chips, green onion, cilantro and sriracha on top.
If you’re considering taking advantage of the ultimate in Halloween fun and attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, I have some info to help you make the most of your evening plus details about gluten-free and allergen-free trick-or-treating in Magic Kingdom during the event. But before we talk about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Gluten-Free & Allergy Options, let’s get some details about the event in case you’re not familiar with it.
What is it?
A special ticketed event that takes place on select nights in Magic Kingdom.
This year, party nights fall between August 17 and October 31, 2018.
The party begins at 7pm and lasts until midnight.
For exact nights, tickets and more details, click here.
How it works?
Your ticket is automatically added to your Magic Band.
Once you scan into the park with your Magic Band, you receive a party wrist band and a party guide brochure.
Attendees can enter the park as early as 4pm.
The park closes to non-party guests at 6pm.
Cast Members help non-party goers exit the park via Main Street USA.
Time flies when you’re on Disney time.
With the party lasting five hours, entering early may seem unnecessary, but if you only have one night to attend, you may want to consider it.
Factor in a two-hour wait for a single character meet, 20 minutes for parade viewing, an hour to make your way around trick-or-treating, plus time for snacks, rides and shopping and you can see how five hours zips past!
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Gluten-Free & Allergy Options
It’s no secret we are a Disney family and we love how easy it is to eat gluten-free for celiac disease, allergen-free (soy, peanuts, tree nuts) and dairy-free at Walt Disney World and Disney Springs.
But how about trick-or-treating at the Magic Kingdom?
We attended MNSSHP last week, so I want to share our experience and some tips with you in case you’re able to attend this year or in the future.
As I mention above, those not attending the party exit out Main Street USA. To enter the party, avoid Main Street and go to the right. Enter through the inflatable arch and you will see special Halloween statues of characters like Donald and Minnie.
Get your Trick-or-Treat Bag
At that point, cast members hand out trick-or-treat bags. For individuals with food allergies, simply request a teal bag. You can get a treat bag at any Treats location throughout the park if you miss it when you first enter.
There are 14 trick-or-treat stations throughout the park marked with an illuminated inflatable marked “Treats” with an M&Ms image. Treat lines are cordoned off, making it easy to enter and exit.
For those with food allergies, simply ask for a teal token instead of candy. The tokens are later exchanged for allergen-free candy. I really tried to get a clear image of a token for you, but between lighting, crowds and my child-like desire to just have fun, alas, I did not. They’re plastic, teal and about the size of a half-dollar.
When you’re finished trick-or-treating, go to one of two exchange locations to turn in the tokens for allergen-free candy.
One exchange center is the Theater on Main Street USA (it is on your left as you exit the park). The other is Liberty Square Ticket Office located next to the Hall of Presidents.
When you exchange your tokens for candy, you will be asked about your food allergies and shown a chart (portion of which is pictured above, but the lights were so bright it’s hard to make out what it is) with all the candies available so that you can decide which are right for you. Then, you simply let the cast member know which candies you would like, and they fill your bag.
It’s a simple process, it seems to work well and hats off to Disney for making it possible for kids (and kids at heart!) with celiac disease and/or food allergies to enjoy the fun.
The Impact of the Token Exchange Experience
While I don’t want to come across as negative, I want to mention how the token collection and exchange experience made me feel. Keep in mind, I’m an adult, was diagnosed with celiac disease and multiple food allergies as an adult and I have never felt uncomfortable about my food differences, until MNSSHP.
This was the first time I ever felt like I was different or “singled out” for my food allergies and I admit, it was a bit bothersome. Being diagnosed as an adult in 2007, I never experienced a situation where I couldn’t eat what the other kids at school were eating or how it feels to be the kid at the party who can’t eat the cupcakes. It’s never been an issue for me personally when I couldn’t eat the regular birthday cake at a wedding or a party. Really, to me, no big deal. But again, diagnosed as an adult is very different than being diagnosed as a child. We adults can reason out, I can’t have this because it makes me sick and I can have something else later that is gluten-free, allergen-free, etc.
Awkward is not something I normally feel!
Trick-or-treating at Disney made me very aware of my difference from the majority. It felt awkward asking for a token and having the Cast Member put down a handful of candy to search for a token in their pocket. Three stations we went to were out of tokens. For me, it didn’t matter because I was trick-or-treating to learn how it worked so I can share with you.
But it made me stop and think about kids in that situation. Tell a child no candy, only tokens until we’re done. Then, have the Cast Member say “sorry, I’m all out of tokens” and you’ve got a disappointed kiddo on your hands, understandably so!
I’m grateful for the experience because it helped me see a situation I am very familiar with – living with food allergies and celiac disease – through another lens. I feel I understand, at least a bit better, how you parents feel when your kids are told “no, none for you” or “you’re different” just because of their special diet.
By the end of the trick-or-treat rounds, I noticed myself making comments to Dreamy and my daughter about being “the special kid” and I’m not kidding, it messed with me for a minute. I just felt like I wanted to be “normal” and get a handful of regular candy like everyone else. How’s that for a reality check?? Have you experienced this as an adult? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
About the Candy
For food allergies, you can see the treats in the picture are predominantly Enjoy Life Foods chocolates, morsels, trail mix and cookies. There are also Surf Sweets, Smarties, Free2be Sun Cups, Gogo Squeeze, Werther’s candies, Beanfields Bean Chips, Yum Earth lollipops and several non-edible treats like slap bracelets and bookmarks.
The regular treats are mostly various flavors of M&Ms (caramel, peanut, plain, peanut butter), Life Savers gummies, Skittles and mini Snickers. The Life Savers gummies and some of the M&Ms are gluten-free. You can read about which Halloween candies are gluten-free in my updated list here.
As for quantity, it is excessive. We left with POUNDS of candy each.
And speaking of all that candy, especially the chocolates, I have some tips for you for making the most of MNSSHP.
Gigi’s Tips for Making the Most of MNSSHP
What to wear.
Dress appropriately for the event and for the weather. I wrote about packing for the unpredictable fall weather at Disney here. And be sure to review Disney’s costume guidelines here. You don’t want to be turned away at the entry gate!
When choosing your costume (or just your regular clothes), remember that temps are still quite high in central Florida in the early fall. It was hot, even at night, during our recent visit. If you attend MNSSHP in October, evening temps are likely to be cooler.
Always take a poncho in case of rain.
What to do first.
Character meet and greet.
The lines are long regardless of the time; however, most younger kids want to trick-or-treat first thing when the party begins. That’s an ideal time to jump in line for your favorite characters.
For us, our must-see were Jack and Sally, so we went straight to them. The wait was about two hours, I thought I might have a heat stroke and my feet hurt from standing in one spot for so long, but it was totally worth it, and I’d do it again. Jack and Sally were fabulous!!
Character meeting spots are marked in the party map you receive when you enter Magic Kingdom for the party.
Be sure to get water before you get in line. When it’s hot out, you’re in costume and standing for what might be hours, hydration is essential!
What to do last.
Trick or treat!
Save the sweets for last so you don’t have to carry the candy. Disney is not going to run out of candy, I assure you. Also, if it’s warm out, which is likely, chocolates will melt and you’re going to receive loads of chocolate candy. You don’t want it to be melted and squishy.
Which parade to see.
See the second parade at 11:30pm.
Get a spot near the park exit. It’s great viewing and you’re first out of the park at midnight when the party ends. ;-)
Several locations around Magic Kingdom offer special Halloween-themed treats during the season. We only tried the candy corn soft serve from Autie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies in Tomorrowland, but there are a few others that are gluten-free such as:
Mickey Pumpkin Cheesecake – Main Street Bakery
Oogie Boogie Meringue – Gaston’s Tavern
Worms and Dirt – Peco Bill’s
There is so much going on that it’s a challenge to make it to everything during the five-hour party! My tip if you only have one night to attend is to decide in advance your “must-see” characters and entertainment and build a schedule around that. Here are a few special events during the party:
Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular – this is the show in front of the Castle (8:30pm, 10:45pm and 12midnight)
Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade (9:15pm and 11:15pm, but the 11:15 parade started much later, around 11:40pm)
Happy Hallowishes Fireworks (10:15pm – great viewing while eating the candy corn soft serve in Tomorrowland seated on a bench!)
Scream-O-Ween Ball (7pm and 12midnight – for the kids)
Passholders receive a ticket discount, but tickets go fast, especially the closer it gets to Halloween, so book now. Get all the details, tickets and more on the Disney site.
Yup. I give all my recipes silly names. You wouldn’t get most of them. But I figure we all know the meaning of 420 (if you don’t, read this). I also assume you’ll think Baked at 420 Chicken is a humorous recipe title and you’ll chuckle then go make this ridiculously crispy oven baked chicken that tastes better than breaded fried chicken.
If you don’t find the humor in this, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t get along in real life. (But you’ll still love the chicken, so at least there’s that.)
Anyway, in case you don’t have a funny bone and you take this drug culture humor too seriously, let me put your mind at ease. I don’t do drugs. A single glass of wine is my strongest vice. But… you know, I married an old hippie 20 years ago and I had an older brother growing up, so I’m no stranger to the ways of the world.
I should probably also mention that if you look up 420 Chicken in the Urban Dictionary, you’ll learn it means some fine chicken, like the best thing you’ll ever eat. That basically describes this chicken, and you don’t need a bad case of the munchies to feel that way, I promise. (Warning: if you’ve never used UD, the language there isn’t for everyone, hence my not linking it here.)
The UD also points out that name could refer to another illicit substance, so I totally learned something, and I won’t go around bragging about the amazing 420 chicken I make in my home kitchen.
Normally, if saying something here just because I think it’s funny requires that much explanation, warning and prefacing, I ditch it and stay on the safe side of the street. But you know, that’s no fun. That’s boring. And honestly, that’s not me. I’m hilarious and sometimes, what I say is a touch off-color. I don’t apologize for who I am because I’m pretty amazing.
And whether you like my recipe name or my commentary on it, if you eat chicken you’ll love this recipe, so lighten up and go make it!
A few serious notes on ingredients, prep and serving for your best success:
Drying the chicken is important. Water on the skin creates steam and the chicken skin won’t crisp properly.
Maldon salt is my absolute favorite. Get some here. If you don’t have any very coarse sea salt in your cupboard, you can use table salt, but reduce the amount by half or the chicken will be so salty it’s inedible.
Don’t omit the lime. The acid cuts the fat, lifts the flavor and makes the dish pop.
The best accompaniment for this chicken is a tender bed of undressed butter lettuce and a glass of dry champagne. (The lime juice squeezed over the chicken and the chicken fat make a nice “dressing” for the greens. Trust me.)
Be ready to serve immediately after you take the chicken out of the oven. Here’s the way to make it happen: When the chicken bakes, prep the lime, set the table and have the champagne ready. When there are a couple minutes left on the timer, pour the bubbles. Then it’s time to sit down and enjoy!
The research-based short answer to the question Will Gluten or Other Grains from Chicken Feed Get into the Meat? is No.
And from Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Department Chair in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University:
“The simple answer is no. The animal converts food proteins into animal proteins by breaking down their structure during digestion (amino acids are separated and then repackaged during metabolism). Therefore, the meat will never contain any consumed proteins in their intact form. Meat, regardless of what the animal is fed, will not contain any gluten. The only way gluten could be in the meat is if the meat has been processed using fillers or if breading or some other type of preparation is done that adds a product containing gluten. But meat, by itself, is always gluten-free.”
So, if you’ve heard otherwise, I have the facts so that you can help me spread the word, clear up the misinformation and set the record straight. ;-)
Let’s start with this juicy chicken feed fact:
Chickens Don’t Eat Wheat
Most poultry for consumption in the USA is from commercially grown broiler chickens. Those birds consume a high protein, nutritionally enhanced ration of corn (70%) and soybean (20%) meal. The remaining 10% of the ration consist of vitamins and minerals.
And They aren’t Vegetarians
Why the supplements in that corn-soy ration? Because chickens are omnivores. The oft-touted “vegetarian” diet they are fed is nothing more than a marketing ploy. In fact, it is not the best diet for a chicken.
Chickens Gone Wild
In the wild, chickens eat insects, worms, seeds, and nibble on green leafies and berries when they can find them. A chicken will even snag a small creature like a frog given the chance. As more and more people want to get back to what is most natural for the animals, we see some farmers raising pastured chickens.
While it sounds magical and lovely for chickens to roam the meadow and frolic their (short) feathery lives away, it’s probably not exactly like you imagine. They do live outdoors quite a bit, with room to roam, but they are also provided shelter from inclement weather, predators, etc. They also still eat chicken feed. Check out these pastured chicken facts.
Land used for pasturing and housing livestock and livestock feed and bedding crops must qualify for organic certification.
Poultry must be under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life. That means chicks can be purchased from a standard (non-organic) hatchery at 1 day old, but not older, and that poultry older than 1 day old must be from an organic hatchery.
All certified animals must receive 100% certified organic feed. All pastures must also be certified organic. If roughages are used as bedding, they must also be certified.
Administering preventative vaccines and other veterinary biologics is accepted.
The point here is that regardless of the type chicken you eat – standard commercial, pastured or organic – you still eat chicken fed a grain ration.
Now, for the science that supports how the grains in chicken feed don’t get into the poultry.
Will Gluten or Other Grains from Chicken Feed Get into the Meat?
First, we must consider the animal’s digestion.
My training in animal husbandry and pre-veterinary medicine, not to mention my research science background, comes in handy here.
Did you know I did my time working in a chicken house vaccinating thousands of chicks? (Truth! Those houses are like 95°F!)
I’ve also artificially inseminated a turkey. (Successful!)
And I’ve performed surgery on a chicken to clean its crop of large gravel. (It survived.)
There’s more, but it’s on the neuro research side and will probably bore you to pieces. Let’s just say, I know my way around a chicken.
Now that we know those fun facts, let’s look at how chicken digestion works.
Here’s what happens to food chickens eat.
Domestic fowl have a unique digestive system that differs from that of humans. The specific organs and their detailed function aren’t necessary to know to understand the basics of how the ration is broken down in commercial fowl, but here’s the short version.
After food is ingested by fowl, saliva breaks it down. Next, the food undergoes a series of chemical and mechanical processes, further reducing it to a form that can be readily absorbed into the bird’s system.
These processes involve various organs. Some, like the gizzard, used for mechanical breakdown of food, are unique to birds. Other organs, like the pancreas and small intestine, which release digestive chemicals, are familiar to us and resemble those structures in our body.
Ultimately, what is important to understand about chicken digestion is that the ration they eat is reduced to simple building blocks (amino acids) that can be absorbed through the wall of the small intestine and into other structures to be used by the bird for maintenance of normal bodily functions and growth.
Particles that escape this breakdown and absorption process are not lost. These are acted on by bacteria in a unique structure (the caeca), then absorbed into the system.
What remains after digestion is nothing like the starter ration. Everything ingested is reduced to very basic molecules and anything beyond that exits as waste.
So, even if broiler chickens were fed wheat (which they are not), what would happen?
As stated, chickens are not typically fed wheat; however, if they were, the gluten protein would be broken down into individual amino acids (the basic building blocks of proteins), which are very small, short-chain fragments. No gluten protein would make it into the meat and onto our plate.
The resulting poultry we buy in the local grocery store, then, would be gluten-free (barring the addition of any seasonings, breading, sauces or marinades that may possibly contain gluten, of course).
And if you’re confused by hearsay about hormones, steroids and such, here are a few fun fowl facts.
Here are some other facts that might surprise you about poultry production in the USA:
You’re conscientious about what you put into your body, and what you feed your family. Those of us making our way to the peak of our optimal health care about how our food is cultivated, handled and treated. That’s why, on top of paying a premium for eating gluten-free (at least at times), we do what we can to budget for purchasing organic, too. So how do we, as contentious shoppers and health advocates, make budget-wise decisions when it comes to investing in our health by choosing to eat organic? By using these 7 Simple Ways to Eat Organic on a Budget. It’s a sure way to make organic more affordable at every meal!
7 Simple Ways to Eat Organic on a Budget
Eat in season.
I cannot stress this enough. In-season produce is much more affordable, and it is better for you. For example, if you love strawberries, but cannot take the high price of organic, wait until they are at their peak and every supermarket in town (not to mention curb markets, farmers’ markets and berry farms) will lower their prices to rock bottom, even for organic. That’s when you stock up and get busy in the kitchen preserving. For example, with strawberries, you can freeze, can and dry them. Stock your pantry and freezer with foods you eat often when they are in season, and you can enjoy organic all year.
Shop farmers’ markets.
Many areas have farmers’ markets open all year, even in winter months when many cruciferous vegetables are at their peak. If there is one near you, bundle up and venture out on a weekend morning to shop for local, organic in-season veggies!
Find a local CSA.
Community supported agriculture, or CSA, is a convenient and cost-effective way to buy organic food. If you are a single-person household or have a small family and fear you won’t be able to use the monthly bounty, split a share with a friend or relative, making your organics even more affordable! Check out Local Harvest to locate a CSA in your area.
Menu planning is key to affordable eating, especially when it comes to special diets and eating organic. Take 1 hour of your weekend to plan for the week’s meals – don’t forget to incorporate ideas like “cook once, eat twice”. For example, a big batch of millet, quinoa or rice goes a long way in making weeknight meals. The same goes for roasting a whole chicken or making a large batch of chili in the slow cooker.
Sharpen your kitchen skills.
If you do not cook, it’s time to start. Buying convenience foods – even salad greens – adds a LOT to your grocery bill, especially if you buy organic. Opt for “whole” foods – a head of cabbage, a bunch of collards or kale, bulk whole carrots, etc. On your day off each week, take an hour or two and prep veggies for the week. You can even pre-cook foods like carrots, if you really want to get ahead of the game. Make it a family event – it’s fun and it is a terrific time to educate children on healthy eating.
Reducing food waste is one of the easiest ways to reduce your grocery budget – especially when you are investing in organic produce. To eliminate waste, keep close tabs on what you purchase and use it in a timely manner. For example, if you purchase bananas and apples, be sure to plan to use the bananas first, since apples keep longer.
If you find yourself with an abundance on organic foods from your own garden, or from your CSA, learn to preserve it. Your freezer is your friend!
Look into private labels.
Often, store brands come in regular and organic varieties. Markets like Whole Foods, Kroger, Publix and even Wal-Mart are getting in on the private label organic action. And remember, even if it’s a store brand, if a product is certified organic, it is regulated and must follow certain guidelines.
Take these tips with you the next time you buy groceries and enjoy saving some green on your greens!
Earlier this week, I shared 10 Simple Ways to Maintain an Anti-Inflammatory Diet. This recipe for Anti-Inflammatory Grass-Fed Beef Broth is something you can sip along with a meal, like a broth or soup before your main meal, or as a light snack or pick-me-up in the afternoon. I love making it when the weather turns cold and sipping it in the morning to warm up my body. Regardless of how you incorporate it into your diet, it’s simple to make but has powerful anti-inflammatory compounds in it. See more uses, including help with weight loss, below the recipe!
There is a recipe in The Big Book of Gluten Free Cooking for making your own homemade beef, chicken or veggie broth. You can certainly use your favorite recipe for making broth at home or use your favorite store-bought bone or beef stock. I use unsalted broth so that I can control the amount of sodium. This is especially important for when we are battling inflammation, so I recommend you use unsalted broth.
You can use full fat canned coconut milk or unsweetened coconut milk from a carton, if you prefer. The benefit of canned coconut milk is that you can buy brands that are pure with no additives, which is always best. And thankfully, we can now find brands without added gum or other undesirable ingredients. What’s even better is that I found this brand I order from Amazon that is pure, organic coconut milk and it comes in a BPA-free can! If you’re on SCD, GAPS or another similar program, this is something you might want to keep in the pantry. And speaking of the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD), all the ingredients in this broth are SCD legal, providing you use the coconut milk I recommend and link above and all fresh ingredients as noted. It’s so healing for the gut!
When you peel and slice your turmeric, wear kitchen safe gloves to avoid staining your fingers and hands. These food safe gloves are inexpensive and great to have around for such an occasion. Also note turmeric will stain surfaces like cutting boards and counter tops. I have a bright yellow cutting board I use for slicing turmeric so stains don’t show.
As for cinnamon sticks, I like these organic ones. And make sure your apple cider vinegar is raw and contains “The Mother”. I use this brand for everything from baking to drinking.
There are two types of inflammation and it may surprise you to know, both are not “bad”. Acute inflammation is usually short-term. It’s a positive protective response the body makes after an injury or infection occurs. Examples of acute inflammation:
Redness and swelling at the site of a splinter in your finger
A fever when you get a virus
I focus on chronic inflammation in my articles here on the site. This was my specialty area in neuroscience research, and it is the type of inflammation that affects those of us with autoimmune disease.
Chronic inflammation is also called:
“systemic” meaning it affects other body systems
“low grade” because it doesn’t always manifest as an overtly obvious issue
“persistent” because it is enduring
Chronic inflammation occurs when the body produces an inflammatory response when none is required. The body detects a threat where there isn’t one.
Responding white blood cells have nowhere to go and nothing to do, but because they are “trained” to do their job as defenders, they sometimes attack “self” tissue in the body. That’s where we get the term “autoimmune” disease. “Auto” meaning self, indicates an immune response causes the body to take negative action against its own tissue. This is the case with celiac disease where the small intestine lining is destroyed when gluten is consumed.
Do you have chronic inflammation?
You may be nodding your head “yes” already, or you may be scratching your head wondering. If you’re not sure, I shared 5 Signs of Chronic Inflammation with you here on the site. In my 28-page eBook, Understanding Chronic Inflammation, I explain exactly what happens in chronic inflammation to cause each of those symptoms and discuss them in detail, plus LOTS more!
As you can guess, food plays a huge role in inflammation in the body. That’s the primary focus of both my eBooks on how to fight inflammation, but both contain different info. In Fight Inflammation with Food, I give you 12 very specific ways to reduce inflammation with food.
Today, I want to share 10 Simple Ways to Maintain and Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I hope these tips will help you achieve your best health!
10 Simple Ways to Maintain an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
1 – Make a pitcher of ginger tea daily in the morning and sip on it throughout the day.
2 – Reduce the amount of red meat you consume and replace traditional red meat with grass-fed.
3 – Add Omega-3 rich fish to your weekly meals at least 2 or 3 times.
4 – At each meal of the day, be sure to have at least 3 different colored fruits and vegetables on your plate for variety and to balance anti-inflammatory plant compounds.
5 – Add organic ground flax seed (flax meal) to your morning meal.
6 – Fresh, in season fruits and vegetables are the best bet when you want to reduce inflammation quickly.
7 – Be sure to eat vegetables from the brassica family in at least one meal each day. These foods are also known as cruciferous vegetables and are foods like arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collard greens and all similar dark leafy greens like mustard and kale, Daikon and regular radish, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, turnips and watercress.
8 – Replace at least some of the coffee you drink in a day with green tea to reap the anti-inflammatory properties of the tea and to reduce the caffeine in your diet.
9 – Stay well-hydrated by consuming an adequate amount of pure, filtered water daily. Aim for 2 liters daily.
10 – Be sure to use oils properly. Heating oils that do not have a high smoke point can cause toxic release from those oils. For example, use olive and flax oils for salads and cold dishes and use avocado and coconut oils for high heat cooking.
Fall is the most up-in-the-air time at Disney in terms of weather. We visit several times each year and have covered every season multiple times. Early March to early May is my favorite time to visit in terms of weather and crowds. But fall is my pick for events at the theme parks.
I’ve had two fall trips cancelled due to hurricanes. Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from June 1 through November 30, with a peak in late August through September. Just like storm activity can depend upon the time you travel, temperatures do, too. September feels much like summer, October is moderate and November can be quite cool, especially at night.
Average fall temps in Orlando:
September highs upper 80s, lows mid-70s
October highs mid-80s, lows high 60s
November highs upper 70s, lows high 50s
Clearly what you pack will depend on the month you’re traveling. These are my tips for packing like a pro so that you don’t get too hot, too cold or too wet. And of course, so that you always look fabulous, no matter what the weather!
How to Pack for Unpredictable Fall Weather at Disney
How much to pack?
How much clothing, shoes and accessories you pack depends on how long you stay and whether or not you do laundry while you’re away. Our Disney trips range from five to 12 days, depending on when we go, what we’re celebrating, etc. I pack more in the late fall and winter when I might need wear shorts during the day and pants for cooler nights. Different outfits usually leads to more shoes, and the list grows.
Doing laundry while on holiday? Yes! We love it for two reasons:
It helps lighten the packing load – I remind myself when packing that I can do laundry and re-wear outfits while we’re away. I try to pack clothes that mix and match well to keep my outfits interesting.
We can wash new purchases to wear (I don’t wear anything new before washing – eeew!) – Also another point that helps me pack less.
And in case you’re wondering if we buy that much clothing while we’re at Disney, yes, we do. We’re Annual Passholders, so we take advantage of discounts at some of our favorite shops at Disney Springs like Johnny Was, Columbia and Cherry Tree Lane at the Marketplace Co-Op.
Getting your purchases back home:
ship from the store to your home
take an extra checked bag large enough to accommodate them
So, you know the weather is unpredictable, you know I’m an advocate of doing laundry and buying new clothes when I travel, but what about what goes in the suitcase??
When I fly, I opt for nice slacks that suit the season, a top and a cardigan (planes are cold) with Tieks. I literally never travel without my Tieks. Another never? No shorts when I fly. And don’t get me started on yoga pants or “athleisure”. To me, those are for yoga or exercise, not regular clothing (if you agree, please leave a comment because we’d probably get along well!).
If it’s cold when we fly out of Atlanta, I add a leather jacket to keep warm to/from the airport. I don’t need it in Florida; it hangs in the closet during our stay, and I have a warm jacket for my trip from the airport home once we touch down in Atlanta.
Favorite airport tip: I tuck a pair of ankle socks in my bag for going through airport security. If I must remove my shoes, I slip the socks on to avoid walking barefoot through screening. I toss them in the rubbish on my way out. (If you do this, leave a comment because we should know each other!)
I could cut down what I take along, especially in the shoes department, but I love shoes, love to wear different shoes with every outfit and there’s usually room in Dreamy’s bag to sneak a few extra pairs, so why not?
In addition to the Tieks I wear on the flight, I pack:
One pair of sneakers for Magic Kingdom days
Another pair of sneakers (usually my Frye low lace metallics)
One or two pairs of heels for dinners out
An additional pair of cute shoes that aren’t heels, like wedge sandals, but comfy enough to wear all day if needed
Another pair of flats
My favorite furry slides for around the villa because no bare feet on strange floors!
Sometimes (ha! usually), I buy more shoes at Disney Springs. Am I extra? Yes, I am.
So I take about eight pairs of shoes, BUT a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of comfy flats will do! Don’t forget your socks and adhesive bandages if you’re prone to blisters.
What to Wear
For early fall (September through early October), I dress like it’s summer except in seasonally appropriate colors. I skip the pastels and opt for richer colors paired with navy and sometimes black. And for this Southern Belle, the whites are packed away post-Labor Day. Later in the season, mid-October through November, I pack a couple extra pairs of pants in addition to the pair I wear on the plane and only a couple pairs of shorts (because you might not need them at all).
I also bring along a cardigan (or two, depending on how outfits are matching up). It comes in handy on the plane, as well as on cool evenings in the parks or at Disney Springs.
I pack a few short sleeve tops to layer with a cardigan and a few tees. The only time I wear printed shirts is when we’re at Disney, and they are Disney themed, of course. I also take two long-sleeved tops just in case and a Disney hoodie (or two) for those tee shirt and sneakers days/nights (MK!). A sweatshirt or silk pull over sweater (my favorite!) comes in handy at night, too.
One or two dresses are a must for dinners out. Depending on the dress style, sometimes I pack a wrap to wear instead of a cardigan.
You get the idea, bring layers, expect to use them, expect weather fluctuations, bring a cardigan or wrap.
And be sure to take along these essentials:
Camera + extra memory
Phone + charger + power bank (I love this one. It’s the size of a tube of lipstick!)
Medications, if you’re taking any
Mickey / Minnie Ears!!
Jewelry to coordinate with your outifits
In addition to packing, you’ll want to book your dining and special events well in advance.
In the case of fall travel, you’ll need to book your Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets well in advance of late summer to fall travel. The dates for 2018 are August 17 – October 31.
If you go, don’t forget to pack everything you need for your costume, too. Read the costume guidelines here!
Regardless of the time of year you’re visiting Disney…