Author Archives for My Real Dish

About My Real Dish

Sue Ellen is a mother, Spanish teacher, Young Living essential oil user, world traveler, and follows a strict wheat, dairy, and egg free diet loaded with veggies. So if you have food sensitivities and you are wondering what you can eat, here on this blog she will share not only recipes, but also her dish on health, essential oils, and life. Get ready to make some yummy foods and DIY essential oil products!

Veggie Hash

Eggs were a staple in my diet, but they were causing my non-stop bloating and gut pain. So, while I miss their taste, I don’t miss how they made me feel. When I want a big breakfast on the weekend or a healthy dinner at night – this is an easy way to incorporate a lot of veggies into my diet and they oddly fulfill my desire for eggs. I can’t explain why it makes me not miss eggs – I think because sometimes I just want a filling breakfast and this dish hits the spot. The essential oils (or fresh herbs) make this dish delicious.

Ingredients

  • Perfect Sliced Potatoes (you will need to make this dish as the base for your veggies)
  • 2 white mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (pick the thin asparagus, not the thicker ones)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots (or 1 large onion)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Roma tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil and / or avocado oil
  • 5 drops Basil Young Living Essential Oil ( 2.5 – 3 tablespoons fresh, 2.5 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 drops  Young Living Sage Essential Oil (1/2 teaspoon dried, 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 1 drop Young Living Rosemary Essential Oil  (1/2 teaspoon dried, 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • Meat if desired (can be bacon, sausage, vegan meat: see my dish on coconut bacon)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Ketchup (optional)

Veggie Hash

  1. Clean  veggies. I like to clean them with Thieves Fruit & Veggie Soak to avoid chemicals.
  2. Prepare your bacon (to make it vegan make coconut bacon) and / or sausage. If you are going to make this with bacon, put it on a cookie sheet, and bake it on the oven for 15 minutes for 425. To include the sausage, start cooking it as well in a small pan.
  3. Prepare the Perfect Sliced Potatoes.
  4. Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the ends of the asparagus; where it naturally breaks, is how you know what to use and what to pitch. Throw the ends in a compost or the trash. Snap the asparagus in half again.
  5. Chop the vegetables.
  6. Heat 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil in the pan (I like avocado oil because it is great at a high heat), or if you used bacon, you can use the bacon grease from the cookie sheet. Pull the bacon from the oven, pour the grease on the pan, and put the bacon back in the oven to cook.
  7. Sauté all vegetables on medium high heat (except the tomatoes), and add essential oils / herbs.
  8. Sauté until tender but not mushy (~8 – 10 minutes).
  9. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, just before the vegetables are tender, toss in the tomatoes cook them for 1 minutes with the rest of the veggies.
  10. Layer the Perfect Sliced Potatoes at the bottom of the bowl, top with vegetables, and sprinkle the bacon and / or sausage on top if you desire.veggie-hash
  11. I have made this for friends that aren’t vegan or allergic, and I topped the entire dish with a fried egg for them 🙂

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Spraying Your Sinus

Everywhere I go right now, I am surrounded by coughing congested people – it makes me want to slathering them with Breathe Again and buy them a NeilMed. When people talk about a Neti Pot, I think – YUCK. I hate the weird tilt that you have to do with your head. Anyway, what everyone should be talking about is NeilMed, because it cleans out nasal passages much better than a Neti Pot, and you don’t have to awkwardly tilt your head.

What is a NeilMed? It’s a squeeze bottle with a plastic tip for easy insertion into your nostril so that you can do a saline rinse. You can buy it at a pharmacy, Wal-Mart or Target for ~$10 for a starter kit or ~$13 for the complete kit that has 50 packets of saline solution packets. The complete kit is worth it.screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-6-42-35-am

How can saline nasal irrigation help you?

  1. If you have allergies, the saline solution can flush out allergens that you might have inhaled during the day. It’s great for maintenance.
  2. If you have a sinus infection, the saline solution can help wash out bacteria from your nasal passages. It’s cleaning out the bacteria that builds up and creates inflammation, congestion, and pain. 
  3. The saline solution helps moisturize your sinus membranes, therefore soothing these membranes, reducing swelling, and pain. By reducing inflammation, it makes it easier for you to breathe.
  4. The saline solution helps flush out mucus and stop post-nasal drip. That means you don’t have to swallow all that nasty snot that runs down the back of your throat. Delightful description, I know…

How do you use a NeilMed?

  1. Fill the squeeze bottle with purified water up to the line at the top of the bottle. I read this article once that talked about the small chance that parasites that can be in tap water and go into the brain when we use Neti Pots or NeilMeds. Why risk that?IMG_9525.jpg
  2. Another thing that is great about NeilMed is that you can put it in the microwave to warm up the water in 10 second increments. You want the water warm, but not hot. It can burn your sinuses if it’s too hot or cold.
  3. Add the saline solution to the water in the NeilMed. I also like to add a drop of Young Living Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils to give the solution a kick; these two oils soothe your skin, and Tea Tree is also known for its cleansing properties. It feels weird saying that you need to soothe the skin in your nasal passages, but it helps so much! 
  4. Get some tissue ready and stand in an upright position over the sink.
  5. Insert the black tip into your nostril, and squeeze only half of the water in the bottle. The saline solution will go up one nostril and come out the other.
  6. Blow your nose, and repeat with the other nostril using the remaining saline solution.
  7. Obviously, you cannot breathe through your nose while doing this. However, you can breathe through your mouth, but I try not to. If some goes into your mouth, spit it into the sink, but this happens much less with NeilMed than Neti Pot.
  8. Empty the remaining water from the Neilmed, and clean the squeeze bottle.
  9. I do this once a day when my allergies are bothering me, but if I’m struggling with sinus – then I do it once in the morning and at night before bed.

img_9518Tip: do not use regular table salt with the NeilMed. I cannot describe the discomfort it causes…

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The Perfect Sliced Potatoes

When I got the results of my wheat, egg and dairy allergy, I thought – how will I eat breakfast without a cheese omelette?! Well, the answer is a good potato. It is a great base for a load of veggies; it tastes amazing as a side dish for dinner, like with ketchup and a burger. It is a homemade and healthier way to fulfill my craving for french fries. I miss being able to go to a restaurant and have a side of fries, but if I succumb to temptation then my stomach and head will pay the price (I don’t need a migraine for days!). Cross contamination kills me. So, I make these sliced potatoes instead.

The Perfect Sliced Potatoes

You can find my dish about cooking with oils here. The oils add a savory flavor with these potatoes, and you don’t have to worry about having fresh herbs on the counter.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Clean the potatoes – I put them in a bowl of water with the Thieves Fruit & Veggie Soak in order to clean them naturally without chemicals
  3. Chop the onion or shallot
  4. Smash the garlic with the flat part of a knife, and finely chop it
  5. Spread the potatoes on a large cookie sheet
  6. Evenly distribute the onion / shallot over the potatoes
  7. Pour the ¼ cup olive oil in a liquid measuring cup; add the garlic and herbs / drops of the Sage, Basil and Rosemary Essential Oils.
  8. Pour oil mixture over your potatoes
  9. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes – I like mine a little crunchy.
  10. Remove from the pan and salt and pepper to tasteimg_9007
  11. Serve with ketchup if desired or use as a base for a veggie hash. I’ll share this dish soon!IMG_9091.JPGlogo-small

Chili Peppered Cabbage (Paleo)

One day, my son and I were rushing to Costco while my daughter was at gymnastics. They were giving samples of the Columbus Turkey Bacon (it’s nitrate, MSG and gluten free). In attempt to keep my kid quiet in the store, I gave him a sample. He LOVED it. So I tried it, and it was really good! I normally do not like turkey bacon, but this has a nice texture. My kids will eat it plain for breakfast. So, if you think you dislike turkey bacon, try this brand and let me know your thoughts!

Did I mention that I never used to eat bacon because it is bad for you? And, it is…Ugh, guilty pleasures. I felt like I had given up everything with my diet, so I caved after I went dairy, wheat and egg free. I felt like I needed some pizazz in my diet. But, guess what?!  You can make this recipe vegan in a snap with coconut bacon! Cookie and Kate has a recipe! Check it out at: http://cookieandkate.com/2014/how-to-make-coconut-bacon/.

Chili Peppered Cabbage with Bacon, Peppers, Onions and Garlic

  • bacon (whatever kind floats your boat: 1 pack turkey, pork, or coconut; if you are making coconut bacon you will need coconut flakes, GF soy sauce, GF liquid smoke, and maple syrup)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 drops Black Pepper Essential Oil (I use Young Living Vitality Black Pepper) or 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt (I used Redmond Real Onion Salt)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste – I used Redmond Real Salt)
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

Tips: 

  • If you are making the coconut bacon it takes 2 minutes to prep and 13 minutes to cook. Set your oven for 350 degrees, and mix it together.
  • For the turkey bacon, I set the oven to 375 degrees, put the bacon on a cookie sheet, and bake it for 15 – 20 minutes. I like to bake my bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven because it’s easy; I set the timer, and start chopping my veggies. Then I won’t burn it on the stove, splash grease everywhere, and set off the smoke alarm.
  • You can read about my dish on cooking with essential oils here and real salt here.

Directions:

  1. Prep the bacon, and while it’s baking – chop the cabbage, onion, and garlic.
  2. Heat a large pan to medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil for turkey bacon or 4 tablespoons for the vegan / vegetarian option using coconut bacon.
  3. Pull the bacon from the oven, and pour a little of the grease, and put the bacon back in the oven. Obviously, skip this part if you are using coconut bacon.
  4. Add the cabbage, onion, and garlic to the pan.
  5. Chop the red bell pepper next, and then add it to the pan (I like it a little crisper so I don’t cook it right away).
  6. Continuously sauté vegetables and add the Young Living Black Pepper Essential oil, paprika, chili powder, onion salt, and salt. The secret to this dish is the chili powder, and I like the subtle flavor of the Black Pepper essential oil. 
  7. Vegetables will be tender and done at approximately the same time as the bacon. Pull your bacon off the pan, and chop it into small chunks with a knife.
  8. Mix the bacon and the veggies together, and serve.

My son and I ate it as a complete dish. My 4-year-old gobbled it up!! He said that it needed the bacon because he didn’t like the cabbage and peppers alone; that’s cool with me – when he eats cabbage and peppers, I do a happy dance!

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Gluten and Dairy Free Lasagna

What food did I miss most when I eliminated wheat and dairy? Lasagna. My uncle owned a fine-dining restaurant, and he taught me how to make a melt in your mouth delicious lasagna. It’s the perfect comfort food. I tried to recreate it with Daiya cheese, and it was just disgusting. I could not bring myself to eat it. So here is my twist…

The only vegan cheeses that I enjoy are the cashew cheese that I make and Vegan Chao Slices. We did a French raclette meal and I used the Chao Slices – they actually melt like real cheese and don’t have a weird taste. It is the closest to dairy cheese that I’ve tried so far. Anyway, buy Chao Slices; they will change your veggie burger.

ChaoCombo3DF_Rgb-1024x547.pngWhen I first made this, I had never used Chao Slices at the top layer of my lasagna. I used a goat cheese block from Trader Joe’s, and grated the cheese at the top of the lasagna to give it the firmer cheese top.img_9060

If you are vegan, or are allergic to goat cheese, use Chao Slices on top if you want a solid cheese top to your lasagna. Or, just add the cashew cheese first, then sauce to the top and sprinkle with Veggie Go parmesan.

Gluten Free Dairy Dairy Free Lasagna

  • Loaded Veggie Pasta Sauce  – my husband says you can’t even taste the veggies!
  • 1 box of rice lasagna noodles 
  • cashew mozzarella cheese (I doubled the recipe)
  • Veggie Go “parmesean”
  • 1 brick Goat’s Milk Cheddar Cheese or Chao Creamy Original Slices – you can decide if you want to make it vegan

Directions:

  1. Create your Veggie Pasta Sauce.
  2. Bring a large pot of hot water to boil for your lasagna, and begin your Cashew Cheese. 
  3. When your water is boiling, stagger your lasagna noodles in the pot in a  criss-cross placement around the pot; it keeps them from sticking together and helps them cook evenly.
  4. Cook your noodles ½ the time that the box suggests. This keeps them from getting mushy.
  5. Carefully remove the noodles from the water, place them on towels, and pat them dry. This keeps them from sticking together and overcooking in the water.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375.
  7. Begin to prep the lasagna.
  8. First spread a layer of sauce at the bottom of a large pan (instead of using an oil spray).
  9. Put one layer of lasagna noodles, a layer of sauce, scoop the vegan cashew cheese, top goat cheese (if desired but not needed) and then repeat for 3 layers. I have done it with or without goat cheese – both ways are delicious.img_9057IMG_9062.JPG
  10. On the top layer pick what suits your preference: start with lasagna noodles (1) put a layer of sauce, vegan cashew cheese, goat cheese, and Veggie Go parmesan cheese as pictured. Or, (2) put a layer of sauce, the vegan cashew cheese and top with chao cheese slices (3) put a layer of the vegan cashew cheese, then the sauce and sprinkle with Veggie Go parmesan cheese 15 minutes before the dish is complete. IMG_9066.JPG
  11. Cover with aluminum foil, and cook at 375 minutes for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil, and cook for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted on top.
  12. Let cool for 15 minutes and enjoy!img_9074

Loaded Veggie Pasta Sauce

Have you ever wondered how to get your family to eat more veggies? My husband complains about squash and zucchini because he doesn’t like the texture, and he hates the flavor of eggplant. His vegetables are limited to broccoli, green beans and peas. When he’s not traveling for work, I set out Young Living MultiGreens for him, but I feel like I’m constantly slathering him in Thieves and Oregano essential oils (our kids are germ boxes and he takes the hit), and his immune system could definitely benefit from some veggies. So I sneak the veggies in this sauce, and he eats them because he likes its flavor. 

The secrets that make this dish delicious (even for a non-veggie lover) are:

  1. Cut your vegetable into very tiny pieces. I slice the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and shallots lengthwise in half. Then, thinly slice them in ¼ inch rows. Next, slice them ¼ inch rows horizontally.img_9046-updatedimg_9049
  2. Sauté your vegetables until they extremely tender.
  3. Essential Oils – I love cooking with oils and sautéed vegetables, because it adds a very flavorful mild taste. It’s also convenient for me, because when I buy a fresh herbs they often spoil quickly or I don’t have them when I am ready to cook. On the other hand, Young Living oils never expire and I can use them for lots of other health benefits too. Make sure that you are only using medicinal therapeutic grade essential oils if you cook with them, because a pure oil is not really pure. 100% pure means that an oil only needs to contain 10% plant, and that leaves room for chemicals and fillers; I wouldn’t apply them to my body, let alone ingest them. If you’d like to cook with essential oils – the 2016 Essential Oil Culinary Collection is a great place to start. 2016-culinary-collectionI never thought that I would cook with oils, but I was traveling to visit friends and wanted to make a veggie hash for breakfast. They didn’t have any fresh or dried herbs, but you know that I had my oils! We were all floored at how delicious the dish turned out. You can learn more about cooking with essential oils here: https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/vitality

 

Loaded Veggie Pasta Sauce

  • 3 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 jar Organic Pasta Sauce (I use the Kirkland brand from Costco or Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cans organic tomato sauce (I use the Kirkland brand)
  • 5 drops Young Living Basil Essential Oil ( 2.5 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 2.5 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 drops Young Living Thyme Essential Oil (1.5 tablespoon fresh or 1.5 teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley (dried works too)
  • Extra virgin organic olive oil (I use the Kirkland brand)
  • 1 lb grass-fed organic ground beef or bison (optional – Costco has a great selection)
  • ½ tspRedmond’s Real Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Gluten-Free noodles (my favorites are Andean Dream Quinoa Pasta or Trader Joe’s Quinoa Pasta)

Directions: 

  1. If you are going to use meat – brown it first. Drain the juice from the meat, put in a bowl, and set it aside.
  2. Cut your vegetables very fine. See pictures above.
  3. Peel your garlic cloves, smash them with your knife, and finely mince them.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan. Add your vegetables and sauté them. Add additional olive oil when needed.
  5. Chop your parsley and fresh herbs if you are using them instead of oils or dried.
  6. Add the parsley, basil, and thyme, and continue to sauté until they are very moist and tender.
  7. Add pasta and tomato sauces, salt and pepper to taste, and meat if desired. Stir and simmer on low heat.
  8. Creates a hug pot of delicious veggie sauce.
  9. Serve over gluten-free noodles or make a killer lasagna with it; I will post the dairy-free gluten-free  lasagna recipe with cashew cheese next.

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Modification: Not in the mood for pasta? I sometimes substitute the tomato sauce and pasta sauce for a can of organic tomatoes. These vegetables have so much flavor that you can eat them as they are or serve them over rice!

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Cashew Mozzarella Cheese

I tried Daiya cheese when I first found out that I had a dairy sensitivity, but it has a very strong flavor that I didn’t like. I was sad that I would never have a tasty mac n’ cheese or a lasagna again. I had never heard of cashew cheese, until I went to this brick stove vegetarian pizza place in St. Louis called Pizzoli’s; the pizza was amazing, and you would have never known that the cheese was vegan! It tricked my husband, and my kids said it was their favorite pizza.

Then, I started thinking about making my own cashew cheese. I saw Sunwarrior post a DIY cashew mozzarella cheese on Facebook, but I adapted it by adding Redmond Real Salt, and garlic; I wanted a little more flavor.

Let’s talk salt for a minute. People think that salt is bad for them and it is! “Regular table salts have been heat processed and stripped of their natural trace minerals.” However, I specifically use Redmond Real Salt, because it is unrefined and full of  60+ natural minerals. You can read about it on their website: http://www.realsalt.com. Our bodies need these minerals, and it’s especially beneficial for people like me with thyroid issues to take a 1/2 – 1 teaspoon in warm water a day. Ditch your table salt and buy Real Salt! Back to cheese…

Here are the things that I learned while making this cheese:

  1. Tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour. I stood in the aisle searching for a while until I realized that I wasn’t reading the fine print on the bag. #mombrain
  2. Nutritional yeast is not the same as active yeast or baking yeast. It is actually a protein that give the cheese a nice flavor too! It’s not located near the normal spices and yeast in the baking aisle. I found it in the bulk section at Fresh Thyme. 
  3. You have to soak your cashews. It makes them soft, and also helps them to release enzymes so that they are easier to digest. Let’s be honest, many of us are giving up dairy because of the gas and other stomach issues it causes, and we don’t need it from nuts too! You want to soak them at least 4 hours. I soaked them for 11 hours. 
  4. You can add basil for added flavor, and it tastes great on pizza or lasagna.

Cashew Mozzarella Cheese

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 tablespoons lemon (~½ a lemon)
  • 5 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp Redmond Real Salt (add according to your taste)

Directions

  1. Soak your cashews, for at least 4 hours.
  2. Pour out the water and rinse the cashews until the water is clear.img_9015
  3. Put all  ingredients in your blender and mix until smooth. I used my Vitamix, and the result was creamy. img_9051-updated
  4. Heat on medium heat on the stove in a large pot and have a rubber spatula ready. Constantly stir and scrape the sides until the cheese is thickened.img_9056
  5. Salt to taste, but you can wait depending on how you are going to use the cheese. I added additional flavor to the cheese by using it in a sauce with a variety of spices.
  6. Options: (1) If you aren’t going to use the cheese right away or you want it to be pretty and smooth in appearance – pour the mixture into a metal pan and freeze it for an hour. Then you cut it into cubes, and place the cubes on pizza for example. (2) Use it immediately – I was not worried about the appearance of the cheese and I didn’t need it in perfect squares, so I scooped the cheese right out of the pot and made a lasagna; I’ll post my recipe for that next!

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

It’s holiday time! I am a highschool teacher; I may get a couple of gift cards, but it’s the elementary and preschool teachers that get the good stuff. I mean, they deal with our kids ALL DAY LONG; I just have them for 45 minutes a day!

I contributed money for my daughter’s teacher, but we don’t have a room mother at my son’s preschool. This left me scrambling at Target on Saturday, hoping that they had something decent that I could pick up. I got them each a Starbucks Gift Card, but I felt lame.

My skin has been pretty dry, and I thought about making a scrub this weekend. Why not make them one too? While I was at Target, I picked up some washi gold and white tape, a gold and white ribbon, a gold Sharpie, and a snowman carrier in order to make them pretty. I had the jars in my basement already, which I had bought on Amazon; check out Ball Mason 4oz Quilted Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12.

I don’t know if his teachers will like this sugar scrub, but at least it is a thoughtful addition to a non-personal gift card. Plus, it makes your hands feel soft and moisturized, and it smells divine! I’m obsessed with all things Lime. Try it in the diffuser with Bergamot at night – you will thank me later 😉

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup coconut oil ( I used cold-pressed unrefined organic coconut oil that I got from Costco)
  3. 40 drops Young Living Lime Essential Oil
  4. 6 – 4 oz jars

This mix is so easy!  

Directions:

  1. Mix the sugar and coconut oil together.
  2. Add the Lime Essential Oil and combine until evenly distributed.img_9202
  3. Put the scrub into jars.
  4. Wrap the washi tape around the top of the jar for a little decoration.
  5. Tie a ribbon on top of the tape for some added flare.img_9211
  6. Write on the top of the jar with the Sharpie.img_9234
  7. I put them in these little cute snowman carriers for him to deliver tomorrow.img_9240

Happy Holidays!

 

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Dos and Don’ts of Bikram Yoga

Have you ever thought of all the ways your life has changed after having kids? Pre-kids, I used to wake up every morning and stretch. My mom enrolled me in ballet lessons when I was 2, I danced consistently for 24 years, and my muscles still crave a good stretch. About 7 years ago, before I had my oldest, I used to take several yoga classes a week; I was even doing power yoga 8 months pregnant. I can’t believe what my pre-child body used to be like or look like. #KidsDestroyYou.

After I having kids, I am too busy rushing to get out the door in the morning to stretch, and I spend my evenings lesson planning, cleaning, working my oil business, or writing my blog; there’s no time to breathe, let alone stretch. The mom guilt even brought me to join a fitness class called Hot Mommas, it is a stroller workout class that let’s you bring your kids with you while you exercise. I mean, after working all day, I couldn’t put them in a daycare while I worked out in peace! However, I love that class, and go try to go at least twice a week.

One day, my neighbor sent me a text message. She bought a Groupon to take Bikram Yoga classes and wanted me to join her. I responded, “10 classes for $20 was cheap. I am in! Let’s do it!” Did we ever go together? Nope, not once. Finally, my Groupon was going to expire, so I had to go. I had no clue what I was getting into. I showed up with my dirty exercise mat from my Hot Momma class, and did not expect to see men in their boxers, or the smell of all those sweaty bodies (someone PLEASE diffuse some purification in that room!!!!!).

If that Groupon shows up in your email, and you are tempted to give Bikram a try, here’s my dish about what to do before, during and after a Bikram Yoga Class so that you aren’t as clueless as I was:

  1. Bring a clean mat, and resist the temptation to go cheap and get a 5 And Below Mat; they shred.
  2. Bring a hand towel. It is 105 degrees in the studio, and prepare to sweat like you’ve never sweat before. Even my knees were sweating! I reached for bent knee triangle pose (trikanasana), and my elbow slipped on my knee. You will want to wipe down your entire body throughout the 90 minute class.
  3. Yes, it is 90 minutes long. 90 Long.Hot.Minutes. Bring a very large water bottle with cool water. I love this insulated Takeya 40 ounce water bottle that I bought at Costco, and it keeps your water cool for 24 hours.
  4. Bring a microfiber hot yoga towel to place over your mat. So without that towel, you might sweat and slip off your mat! I took one step into dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana (Standing Separate-Leg Stretching Pose), and almost slid off the mat and pulled a groin! It will also protect your shoulders from sliding off the mat. It soaks up the sweat.
  5. Yes, I said dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana. Say what?! Position yourself in the back behind the person modeling the class, because you will not have a clue what these names mean!
  6. Shall I mention again that it’s 105 degrees in there? Do not wear yoga pants. Wear shorts and a tank top or sports bra. I personally am not comfortable sporting a sports bra and shorts (I do have 2 kids), but you want to wear minimal clothing. Maybe that’s why these men wear their boxers… Anyway, I like Asics – 2-N-1 Woven Shorts because they have a built in biker short underneath. So when I bent over for Padahastasana (hand under foot pose), my butt cheeks weren’t hanging out! NO ONE needs to see that!
  7. Let’s go back to the sweat. At least bring a change of clothes, because they will be soaked. I didn’t the first time, and the leather seat in my car needed to be cleaned after I drove home. I am not a “shower in the gym kind of gal.” Being the germ freak that I am, it just gives me the hebegebees. My mother-in-law likes to save water and shower in the gym – I just don’t get it. However, I would gladly risk the hebegebees, because the nastiness that I feel after 90 minutes of Bikram yoga is way worse than fear of athlete’s feet from a studio shower.
  8. Toss the mat, your towels and your clothes in the wash machine immediately when you get home. They will be wet and stanky. I left the clothes in front of the wash machine in my mud room, and couldn’t figure out what was smelling in my kitchen!
  9. Get your bottle of Deep Relief ready. After the class I had a pain down my arm and around my elbow. I actually overworked my shoulder muscles. I never knew that someone needed to get a massage under their armpits. It was the most awkward 30 minute massage of my life. I didn’t know I even had muscles there that could hurt! Bottom line, you will be sore in places that you didn’t know existed.
  10. Tell yourself that you can do it! I takes a lot of focus to do those poses, and even more determination to want to go back after you can’t walk for a couple days. Each time gets better. You can go deeper in the poses, hurt less, and are more comfortable with the routine.
  11. It’s worth at least 2 tries, because the first time you really are just experimenting. Give it at least a 2 attempt, even if you think you didn’t like it. It grows on you!

So far, I’ve used 4 of my 10 Groupon classes at Bikram Chesterfield, and I really would like to keep up with it after I’m done. I feel great when I leave, refreshed both mentally and physically. I work out muscles that I normally don’t and didn’t even know that I had! FYI, If you don’t like it, hot yoga is is a little cooler in the room, and physically not as exhausting.

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2 Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes

 

My Quest for the Perfect Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie

All the cool gluten-free kids talk about almond flour, because it’s low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and a high source of protein...blah blah blah. I felt like I should experiment with it, but I’d been sheepish because sometimes nuts bother my stomach. When I’m making a gluten-free vegan cookie, I want a nice texture so that you don’t know that it’s vegan and gluten-free. And, when I’ve experimented in the past with dense nut flours, they offer a different texture. I’m especially picky because I love Namaste Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend. It rises well, and is the most similar to actual wheat flour that I’ve tried; my cakes, cookies, and cupcakes rise light and fluffy. I buy it cheapest in bulk at Costco. However, it’s available online at vitacost.com if you don’t have a Costco membership or a store close, and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg.

Speaking of Costco, while I was there I walked by this bag of Blue Diamond Almond Flour. I figured if I’m going to experiment – go big or go home! There was a chocolate chip recipe on the back, so they must rise and make a decent cookie, right?! Here’s how I adapted the recipe to make it vegan and cane sugar-free. Note: I played around with it, and it could not be made completely vegan and not mushy without adding in another flour.

Oh, the decisions… I made two batches of chocolate chip cookies for a taste test: one with Blue Diamond Almond Flour and the other with my treasured Namaste Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend; then I let my family and friends say which one was best. The taste test was on!

Tips for Making them Vegan:

  • To eliminate eggs: You will need an egg replacer (I use Ener‑G Egg Replacer – it’s available at Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, and Amazon) AND you will need half of a banana or ¼ cup applesauce regardless of using egg replacer. If you skip the banana or the applesauce, they will be too dry and crumbly. 
  • To eliminate dairy: You will need an alternative to “butter.” I used Smart Balance because they had it at Costco, and I was on a shopping mission that day, but I’ve had great results withEarth Balance too. I love that Earth Balance comes in easy to use sticks instead of just a container.

Tips for Making Them Sugarcane Free:

  1. Organic Pure Maple Sugar instead of brown sugar – you can buy the Coombs Family Farms Maple Sugar brand from Fresh Thyme or Whole Food. I also like Pure Indiana Maple Sugar that I get from a local co-op. It is a great flavor, it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, and contains important antioxidants and minerals like zinc and manganese.
  2. Coconut sugar instead of cane sugar – coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar because it contains a fiber called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption. A lower glycemic index means that you don’t get as much of a sugar rush and insulin spike with maple syrup sugar and coconut sugar.
  3. Chocolate chips –Lily’s Baking Chips are sugar-free and are sweetened with stevia. Vitacost has them for less than the store. They are awesome. If you can’t find any Enjoy Life contain cane sugar, but are vegan, dairy free, soy free, and allergy friendly option. My mom used carob chips growing up, but I just don’t like the flavor they provide.

If you aren’t sugar conscientious, then just throw in the brown sugar and the sugar cane. However, if you give these a chance, you will never taste the difference.

Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie With Almond Flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine gluten-free and almond flours, baking soda, and Redmond’s Real Salt in a small bowl.
  3. Prepare your egg replacer (take with 3 teaspoons egg replacer, 4 tablespoons warm water, and mix until it thickens)
  4. Beat vegan butter, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until creamy.
  5. Egg replacer 
  6. Gradually beat in dry ingredients.
  7. Add in the ½ banana and continue to mix.
  8. Stir in the chocolate chips
  9. Drop tablespoons of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet. I used a knife to get the dough out of the tablespoon because they were very sticky, and then gently smoothed the top. If you don’t smooth the top with your hand – they will look jagged like the top right image. 
  10. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until they are lightly browned on top and firm to the touch. (I baked them for 12 minutes)
  11. Cool for 2 minutes then move to wire racks to cool completely.
  12. Makes ~2 dozen cookies

Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine gluten-free flour, baking soda, and Redmond’s Real Salt in a small bowl.
  3. Prepare your egg replacer (take with 3 teaspoons egg replacer, 4 tablespoons warm water, and mix until it thickens)
  4. Beat vegan butter, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until creamy.
  5. Add Egg replacer.
  6. Gradually beat in dry ingredients.
  7. Add ½ of the banana for vegan cookies
  8. Stir in vegan chocolate chips.
  9. Drop by small rounded teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. (I cooked them for 11)
  11. Cool for 2 minutes then move to wire racks to cool completely.
  12. Makes ~34 cookies

Taste Test Results

Both are delicious, and you would never know that they were vegan and gluten-free! The appearance is smoother and lighter with the Namaste Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend cookie; you must smooth out the top of the Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie if you want it to look like rounded and smooth. The Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie Cookie is denser and a tad sweeter, which is rare, because it has less sugar. I consider that a plus! It also has a crunchier browner outside. The gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie with theNamaste Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend has a softer texture, more like a normal cookie, and is a little lighter color. You really can’t go wrong with either one! After tasting the almond flour vegan chocolate chip cookie, I have visions of chocolate almond flour cookies dancing in my head!

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