Gluten Free Friday – Ginger Peach Smoothie

Not exactly a winter comfort food (it’s about 7 degrees here right now!), but definitely a recent obsession! I had two of these smoothies while in Texas and blessed to visit the truly amazing flagship Whole Foods store there! Smoothie bar, juice bar, coffee bar, raw foods bar, roasted nuts station, chocolate fountain, chili bar, sushi bar….you name it, they have it there in Austin, TX! One day, I met my sister there in the early afternoon. We started with a smoothie, got coffee a while later, then dinner from the incredible prepared food buffet. We stayed at the same table the entire time – taking turns getting food and goodies so we wouldn’t lose our spot, and when we finally looked at our watches it was after 8pm! And we could have easily stayed for several more hours – never getting enough of each other or our surroundings!

And speaking of my sister and our trip to Texas, I have so many photos and stories to post, but coming back home always brings about that “Where do I even start?” feeling! There are suitcases to unpack, laundry to wash, notes to write, food to buy, schoolwork to get done, meals to prepare, calls to return, etc! I have been slowly uploading photos, and hope to share some highlights of our trip south soon!

For now, I will leave you with my own version of the smoothie I kept ordering at Whole Foods. It almost tastes like cheesecake – and yet is really good for you and your gut!

Ginger-Peach Smoothie

1 medium banana
1 cup frozen peaches (Or fresh)
3/4 cup kefir (I have been using goat milk kefir)
2 tsp grated ginger root
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp almond butter

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy – and try to stay warm in spite of this cold drink!

A Blessed OLDER Woman Today

Two years ago, I sat in a circle with some young women from my church. We had recently begun a Bible study together and were beginning our time that night by sharing our “highs” and “lows” from the previous week. It was Sarah’s turn to share. (That would be you, Sarah K.!) She shared a high and a low and then said..

“Oh! And my birthday is next week!”
“How old will you be, Sarah?” I inquired.
“18,” she replied.
18??? That means she’s 17 right now. That means that all of these girls are probably younger than 25! That is SO young. What happened to me? I thought I was the “younger woman” that Titus speaks of. I’ve been looking around here for an “older woman,” and I can’t find one.
Oh no! I think that she is ME!
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.Titus 2:3-5Now, just in case you didn’t already know, my church stays perpetually young with an influx of college freshmen each year, causing me to qualify for “older woman” status continuously! Fortunately, I have been blessed with my own “older women” through the years. I thank the Lord for His gift to me in each of them. As I turn 40 today (officially becoming “old”), I want to share them with you….First, all ladies “Fidelity” Classthen same pew, hymnal in handsmiles, warm hugs given, waves to allnext, home in the kitchen to stand
Always roast beef, potatoes, rollsoleo, grape jelly, and iced tealater dominoes, Skip Bo, and coffee – icedHer routines, how they still haunt me
Crippled physically, yet chosen “Most Beautiful”family long lost to accident, fluHeart now wounded, stifled by himyet maturity, strength, real wisdom she knew
Authentically humble, hopeful, at peacenot darkened, embittered by pain”Fidelity” once made me wonderNow I pray for the same~~~~~~~”How do you make macaroni?”was the call that I made to her homeReally just a needy child’s plannot to stay sick home alone
“Why are you home on a school day?” she asked(And I know that my plan is succeeding!)”Why don’t you come and stay at my house?”(Did she know that my heart was pleading?)
Blanket, TV, a thin toast BLTreads-alouds, medicine, company, restwho knows what plans I’d interruptedyet of the two of us said SHE was blessed
Twice an Air Force widow
Four grown children between the twolive-in mother, overnight grandkidsHer sacrifice only she knew
Swimming, mock weddings with her as the groomRepeating, “Jesus is right by your side”I believed her and learned by examplethat His sacrifice made me His bride.~~~~~~~Ed White Middle School Spanish Class6th, 7th, and 8th gradeSigned up for homemaking every yearbut Heaven’s decision was already made
Teaching nouns, verbs, and dialogueswith flash cards, skits, and gamesshe taught me more than languageshe taught me my real name
You are precious, you are lovedYou are the apple of His eyeLove is patient, kind, and selflessHe loves you, so do I
Its own regrets her heart held deeploss, persecution, lonelinessbut faithfully she perseveredrising above all in His loveliness
Every day with JesusEvery day by faithShe walked and still I watchnow understanding more His grace~~~~~~~
UT Student unionI was 20, she was 30bagel eating, Bible studynow she’s 50, and I’m 40
Romans was our book that yearRead it fifty times, the goalmemorize it, hear the gospellet His Word fill up your soul
And that it did, I love it soHer passion, my examplePassion that still stood firmwhen life was too painful to handle
Physical illness, pain aboundingfamily tension, accusationyet hope and joy still overflowingHis Word her constant meditation
But haggard and frumpy from pain and study?No way! You’d be so wrong!Fashion, lipstick, and cute haicutsall part of her signature song!~~~~~~~Steel blue eyes across the tabledeep wrinkles mark her facethey relay again her storyhow well she’s run this race
Well into her eighties nowfirst husband lost to spearthe next one lost to cancerthe memories still bring her tears
Graciously willing to lunch with a strangerthey sit here, she and husband threethey are giants of the faithstill wanting fellowship with me
Mother, writer, missionaryspeaker sought by allher godly choices are a marvelto us who follow the same call
Forgiveness, surrender, disciplinethese hallmarks, her refrainReceive His will with open handsAlways in my heart her example remains

Big Apple Birthday Adventure Part 2: The Food!

If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to say that I get equally excited about eating in New York City as I do about Broadway Shows and world famous museums. It’s true. I don’t think there is a better place to go and feel comfortable leaving your suitcase of emergency gluten free food and snacks behind for once. (OK. I did pack rice cakes and almond butter packets, but I get pretty panicky when hunger strikes.) And here is just a bit of proof that while traveling in NYC, you can rest and know that not only will you get to eat, you will get to eat something besides nuts, dried fruit, hamburgers without buns, white rice, and steamed veggies!

The lovely apartment loaned to us for 4 days was just a 2 block walk to Union Square, and the entire area was just brimming with nice shops, grocery stores, and cafes. Whole Foods was located right on the square, and we ate a couple of meals there. I don’t know about you, but seeing a Whole Foods just brings much joy to my heart! If I were a millionaire, (which you’d have to be, really) it would definitely be my one stop shopping location! Organic produce, toxic free cosmetics, cleaning products, clothing, prepared foods, salad bar, kombucha, and gluten free everything! I’m blogging from Austin, TX, where the original Whole Foods is located (Robert calls it the Mecca), and yesterday we made the pilgrimage sans children. I had a peach ginger smoothie (I had just been for a run, and then we dropped my dad at the Austin airport), and Robert had a sticky bun and coffee. My smoothie was SO good – peaches, ginger, vanilla kefir, almond butter, and cinnamon…oh my goodness! Robert watched me blissfully drinking kefir and said, “What have we become?” Ha! I’m sure he’ll get his fill of chicken fried steak and Mexican food while here in the Great State.
Anyway, it was wonderful to know that Whole Foods was right around the corner from us, with its plethora of delicious prepared foods. And it’s not the only one in the city. There is also one in the Time Warner Building which we also tried out – near Central Park. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but we are both pretty in love with Indian Food right now, so each time our cartons ended up full of chicken tikka masala, chicken korma, curried chick peas, etc. And then there was the detox salad, the chopped chard salad, the cinnamon rice…..I could go on and on. The great thing is that they are pretty good about labeling everything and quite friendly if you need assistance.

Whole Foods also has a wonderful hot breakfast buffet, but I didn’t want to default to Whole Foods for every meal, especially when there were plenty of gluten free options around. I think breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, but lots of gluten free bread-y stuff doesn’t make me feel so great, so I wasn’t really interested in traveling around to try out the places that offer gluten free pancakes, french toast, and muffins – though there are several in the city. I am much more of an eggs and bacon gal, and so we were delighted to find this wonderful restaurant right around the corner (literally) from our apartment building – The Gramercy Cafe. They were so friendly and kindly shared exactly what they put in their home fries – potatoes, and a few onions, and green peppers. So, this was what our breakfast table looked like EVERY day – except the day that it was delivered to me in bed!

It was our plan to eat at the Hampton Chutney Company while shopping in Soho. There is one located on Prince Street. The only problem was that I had it in my mind that it was on Spring Street – a block over. (Or vice-versa. Now I can’t remember!) We even called information twice (iPhone, sometimes I really wish I had you!) and got the address – #68 – while standing at #68 Spring Street. Not here! (Prince and Spring can sound a lot alike on a cell phone in the city.) So, we gave up, much to my dismay, because I just LOVE this place and have been several times, but wanted Robert to experience it, too. (And by now I’m sure you’ve gathered that he was just DYING to experience it, too. Right.) Well, trying to accommodate every desire of mine on this birthday trip, Robert discovered that there is another location and it was not too far from where we had to pick up our running numbers and packets for the New Year’s Eve race. So the following day, we headed over to the Amsterdam St. location and had lunch there. They are an Indian restaurant famous for their “dosas” which are giant crepes made out of lentil and rice flours. They then fill them with many different combinations of ingredients like spinach, arugula, goat cheese, jack cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives, etc. Mr. Chicken Fried Steak got the closest thing he could find to “Texan” in his grilled chicken, tomato, arugula dosa. Mine was goat cheese, kalamata olives, red onions, and tomatoes, and arugula. Perfectly light, but satisfying – and not too “bread-y!” While ordering, I noticed “cardamom coffee” on the menu, and being in love with all things Indian, decided I had to try it. It was delicious – like chai, but with coffee!
And by the way, I’m not demonstrating a viable method for eating a dosa here – it would have fallen to pieces had I kept going. They require a knife, fork AND fingers. Oh, and you get your choice of chutneys in which to dip each bite – curry for me, mango for him.
(“What exactly IS chutney?” he asked.)

Now, there are some occasions that do call for eating bread-y gluten free stuff, and Babycakes is one of them! A tiny little bakery in what seemed like a hole in the wall location (it was a nine block trek for us from the heart of Soho), Babycakes offers cupcakes, cookies, quick sweet breads, brownies, muffins, and cake – coffee, t-shirts, and their wonderful cookbook, too. I opted for a chocolate cupcake and two chocolate chip cookies – all delicious, and deliciously sweet for not using any refined sweeteners. Almost all of their goodies are free of gluten, dairy, and eggs. It was worth the walk!

After trying to visit a seemingly wonderful museum called the Morgan, with its Jane Austen exhibit, which had been recommended by our sweet apartment loaning friend (it was closed), we walked over to Macy’s and discovered this little bakery somewhere along the way. 36th street, maybe? Our friend Romy first introduced “macarons” to us in Switzerland at a fabulous chocolate shop, causing us to be just way ahead of the current food trends, because they seem to be all the rage at present – popping up everywhere – even Starbucks and Whole Foods were selling them. They were the obvious specialty of this French bakery, and the menu on their door stated that they were gluten free. And we all know that even if we’re pretty sure, it’s nice to see it plain and clear on the menu: gluten free. These tiny pastries are often made of almond flour and egg, looking like little hamburgers filled with sweet cream. So yummy!
If you are interested in making some of your own macarons (not to be confused with macarOOns) you should definitely pop over to Romy’s blog in which she participated in a baking challenge involving these trendy treats! She makes it look SO easy – and absolutely beautiful, too!
Are you hungry yet?
You can’t beat NYC to make your little gluten free gut perfectly happy!
(Or Austin, TX for that matter.)

Big Apple Birthday Adventure – Part 1

First stop: Carriage ride through Central Park. It was 20 degrees (wind chill – 0 degrees), but we did it anyway. We were just numb by the end! The last time we had been in a carriage together was on our wedding day in August of 1992. It was 100 degrees that day!

A wonderful combination of all of my favorite things: traveling, shopping, eating, live theater watching, running, picture taking and museum visiting made up a four day trip to New York City all arranged and lovingly planned by my amazing husband. Yes, the same husband who ten years ago panicked at the thought of airports and air travel, was too nervous to let us take a taxi during our first quick trip through NYC (I was pregnant, sick, had 2 little boys in tow and did not want to walk another block!), and also the husband who hates email, and all manner of “surfing the Internet” for anything.

Well, it was that guy who planned, phoned, emailed, printed maps and itineraries, purchased tickets online, researched restaurants, shows, museums, and coffee shops, borrowed a GPS, figured out the subway, hailed taxis, carried bags, opened doors, ate gluten free food, and even rubbed tired feet at the end of each day. Did I mention tea and breakfast in bed brought in from a restaurant nearby one day? Yeah, that too. He’s incredible – incredibly more like Christ to me every day, and I am blessed.
The city was still very festive since it was the week of the New Year celebration – bright lights and decorations everywhere. We saw the Broadway musical “Ragtime,” which was really spectacular – a lot more intense of a storyline than Mary Poppins, of course (which I refrained from seeing for what would have been the 3rd time!), but I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes much of the time at the talent of the performers and the emotion of the story. Highly recommended! (Would have loved to have seen “Wicked,” but it was sold out ALL week – unless you were willing to pay about $350 per ticket!)
After our carriage ride, we visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), which doesn’t really house my favorite art, but I have been to the Metropolitan a couple of times, and the Guggenheim, so it was time to see MOMA. We ended up really enjoying it for the most part, and found ourselves wishing we had gotten there earlier (we arrived 1.5 hours before closing), so we could have explored more – like photography and Monet! We did see quite a bit of Jackson Pollock, and were really drawn to the consistency in his pieces which first appear to be nothing but paint splattered on a canvas. (I know, I’m killing some of you aficionados, but I’m a traditional gal and modern art newbie. I’m working on my appreciation skills. That bottom right piece was created by placing cigarettes end to end!)
Did you know that you can walk from Chinatown to Little Italy in a matter of one block? I had no idea, but as we cruised past the Canal St. market in Chinatown, where the vendors enticed us into their booths in a regular voice while whispering under their breath, “Coach” or “Rolex,” we looked up a few moments later to find that we were surrounded by gelato shops, and Italian restaurants! We also shopped in SOHO and made stops into Bloomingdales and later, on New Year’s Eve, Macy’s. Inside (and outside), Macy’s was a site to behold! Such elaborate holiday decorations, I have never seen – and the window displays were equally extravagant. Purchases? Only crazy 2010 sunglasses at the Chinatown market and a replacement pair of leather gloves from Filene’s Basement for the pair I left in a taxi. (Which had been a Christmas gift from Robert the week before. sigh.)
The culminating event was the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run on New Year’s Eve. And by Emerald Nuts I don’t mean people wearing green who have lost their mind (although this crowd could have been tagged as just that), but rather Emerald Nuts, the company that makes all sorts of nut and trial mixes who were the sponsors of a 4 mile run around and through Central Park at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. We left our apartment (generously offered by a sweet friend and former church member now living in the city!) around 9pm, ate a meal at Whole Foods, hopped on the seemingly abandoned subway around 10pm, traveled UNDER Time Square (where all the thousands of people had been gathered for the better part of the day) arrived in Central Park around 10:30pm, listened to a DJ and live music while donning our numbers, crazy hats, and glasses IN THE SNOW (it snowed/sleeted the entire day and evening), and then took off on the course right at midnight along with 5,000 other nutty runners.

Finishing right before 1am, we hopped back on the subway which was a bit more crowded now with young folks wearing high heels, cocktail dresses, and suits! Way too tired, severely under dressed, soaked, and shivering, we skipped the champagne and opted for hot showers and chamomile while watching a replay of the ball dropping in Time Square at 3am on Fox.

What an experience!

I could go on and on about the many details of this wonderful 40th birthday trip and all of the ways it seemed to be so blessed by the Lord, but I was even more blown away to get into the van to leave and have Robert hand me a stack of cards from some who had helped make the trip possible by their gifts and prayers. Thank you. I am so humbled and grateful for this gift.

And thank you to the two who decided to purchase and have delivered to my house in my absence one new refrigerator and one new chest freezer – AND transfer all of my food into those new items before we returned home! The gifts of the Lord through His children are truly “beyond anything we could ask or imagine.”

Stay tuned for part 2: THE FOOD!

Gluten Free Friday – Roasted Tomato Soup

Happy New Year!
We just returned home from our trip to the Big Apple, and I can hardly wait to share it with you – SO much fun – and a city FULL of gluten free eating opportunities!

I wasn’t home long enough today to make a traditional New Year’s Day meal, and I just love black-eyed-peas, but I did want to share this recipe which was also served at our church staff and volunteer lunch at my house. The minestrone was so unapologetically “meat-atarian” as my friend Tracy likes to say, that I wanted to have an option for any of our vegetarians or vegans that might be there. This Roasted Tomato Soup is one I came up with after studying a few different tomato soup recipes. I have always loved tomato soup, but this particular one is just deliciously sweet – which is a nice surprise if you’re used to the acidity of canned tomato soup. One recipe I looked at had added sugar and a sweet potato in it to balance the acidity. I decided to just use the sweet potato, and the result was wonderful! One of our worship leaders, Ethan, made a point to tell me that he has never liked tomato soup, but thought this one was great.

For the gluten eaters I made regular french bread pizzas – cheese and pepperoni. For the gluten free folks, I used Against the Grain’s Artisan baguettes which are absolutely delicious! They are pretty expensive – about $7.99 for a package of two small loaves, but my kids think they are in heaven when they get treated to anything Against the Grain makes! And they even happen to be a local product for us – coming from Brattleboro, Vt, which is only about 30 miles north of here. I even went to a cooking demonstration by the founder of Against the Grain at our local Whole Foods store, and she would NOT give away any of her secrets, but if you read the list of ingredients, you can gather that her success has something to do with using lots of milk and cheese! (She had a powerpoint presentation on food chemistry and everything – very informative!)

But of course this soup would be just as wonderful with the traditional grilled cheese – or goldfish crackers. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Soup

1 white onion
1 Tbsp coconut oil (olive, canola, and butter would work, too)
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
5-6 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram
1 Tbsp fresh basil + some extra for garnish if desired
1 Tbsp ground coriander
10 Roma tomatoes, roasted and seeded OR 2 cans stewed tomatoes, drained a bit
1 can tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

In stock pot, saute onions in coconut oil 5 minutes. Add carrots, broth, and sweet potato and simmer 15 minutes. Add herbs, roasted or stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, and coconut milk. Simmer 15 more minutes. Transfer, in batches, to a blender or food processor and puree. Transfer back to stock pot, simmer 5-10 more minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.