Day 2 – Roma

We had training in Saturday morning with EF Tours. I woke up exhausted, but luckily after a quick-lunch and a trip to the Vatican – I was energized! It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

For lunch we went to Tradizione & Fantasia; it was near where we were supposed to meet our group, and we saw some other teachers inside eating pizza.

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I wish I would have made a better selection. The eggplant, spinach, and zucchini dish sautéed with olive oil and garlic was yummy; if I would have had three plates of them, I might have been full.img_9903

I ordered a gluten-free pasta with mushrooms – since the mushrooms the day before were so delicious. Well, 25 minutes later, the waitress informed me that the pasta had eggs. Boo. So she recommended the sea food salad. It was not my cup of tea. The salad itself was delicious, but cold octopus, fish, squid, and musels made me want to gag. Blah. This is what I got for being adventurous, and trying to avoid getting sick. Nevertheless, I picked out the seafood, put on some DiGize (it is a must for traveling!), and headed to the Vatican. Soon after I felt better, and I forgot about that nasty cold seafood on my plate.

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Although I’m Christian, I’m not Catholic, and I didn’t think that I would have loved the Vatican as much as I did. I stood staring at the beautiful marble statues, artifacts, history, gold tapestries, architecture, and paintings for 4 hours. I was always the last one behind the group.

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Threads of gold

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I can’t explain the awe that I felt in the Sistine Chappel, and a deep respect for Michelangelo – not only for his incredible talent, but also for the physical suffering that he must have endured in his body (especially his neck and back) for his faith and passion for art. He really earned his reputation. How did he paint 399 people in that ceiling in only 4 years? Just insane. I don’t have any images of it, because photos aren’t allowed.

From the Sistine Chappel, we moved outside and then went into St. Peter’s Basilica.

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After our tour, we went to the Vatican Shops, and I picked up a Papa Fransisco (Pope Francis) card and coin for my sweet friend. She has a picture of the Pope in her Spanish classroom; once a student asked her about the photo – and she replied, “It’s culture! He’s Argentine!” I also got a little necklace for my daughter; hopefully she likes it.

For dinner we explored on our own, and came across Vitti. img_0240img_0221I loved the decor – reminded me of a typical European movie. img_0225img_0235The waiters were sweet and so accommodating with my allergies. I asked what was the safest thing for me to eat – and he said steak is the only thing they guarantee to be safe and not cross-contaminated. Done. Here’s my take – these carrots were steamed and plain, but I know how to add salt. The salad was good (I love how Italians do natural olive and vinegar instead of our processed dressing); the steak was very filling, a little fatty, but sometimes that gives meat more flavor. I was starving. Presentation was a lacking…

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I wish I could have tried some of the desserts. One was a cheesecake with apples at the base and raspberries on top. I might try to steal their idea and make them dairy, egg, and gluten free!

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After the dinner we explored the city; we checked out little stores with beautiful purses and shoes, and ordered gelato. I have to say Wonderful Ice Cream lived up to its name. Since I was torn between both the dark chocolate and the mango – I got both. A medium was not enough; I should have gotten a large. It was amazing!

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IMG_0244.jpgWhile walking the streets on the way to the Piazza Popolo, we met some other teachers from our Tour Group. They were eating gelato as well. The guys in the shop were telling me that their gelato was better than Wonderful Ice Cream’s. So they had me do a taste test with their dark chocolate. I have to say, Wonderful Ice Cream won. Sorry. Although, I couldn’t have the candy bar ones…img_0247

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That night Carmen and I came together in solidarity to relax; I turned on 10 hours of relaxing rain sounds from YouTube to block out any snoring (sometimes I talk too in my sleep) and put a couple drops of Cedarwood on my feet. We also applied some Cypress and Panaway to our low-back and neck. (If you haven’t tried these oils, message me, and I will show you what you are missing! They are a must have for traveling!) The discomfort from looking up at the Vatican’s ceilings was worth it though. When Michelangelo painted ceilings, you will take the back tightness gladly that comes after a half a day at the Vatican of staring upwards.

However, I would have splurged for a decent bed if I had been given the opportunity to do so; they were sooooo hard. Would you rather have a mattress that’s too hard or sagging in the middle? Decisions decisions… Let’s just say it wasn’t a Marriott.

In the end, whatever we did – it worked too well. We overslept, and missed an hour of our Sunday morning meeting! Agh!!!! It made me think of what we called the “walk of shame” back at Ole Miss – watching college girls walk down fraternity row at 9 am on a Sunday in their clothes from the night before. I felt awful, doing my “walk of shame” into that meeting, but at the same time I was very rested. Lesson learned – maybe I don’t need the rain noise up that loud!

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Day 1 – Roma

After a very long flight, we arrived at the airport. There, I learned 5 very important things: (1) The phrase “Gluten Free” is universal, (2) uovo is egg, (3) latteria is dairy, (4) cappuccino de soya gets you a very great cup, and (5) not everyone speaks Spanish or English.

Let me tell you, I needed that cappuccino – I drenched myself in Dream Catcher, and took a Benedryl in order to make sure I rested at least a little on the plane. Yesterday was a long day…15975137_10154099456871283_7453963731543203390_o

We headed out-of-town to our Hotel Capannelle, settled in, and then, started exploring in the rain. We searched for this little hardware store in a neighborhood so that I could get a converter for 5.60 Euros. I seemed to have taken the right converter out of the suitcase, and included all the wrong ones instead. I have never even been to China, but somehow that converter was in my suitcase. I really couldn’t believe it. Ugh. On the way back to the hotel, we found a hidden gem – a restaurant named Hostaria Antico Lotto (Vino e Cucina). It was what I’d except to see in Italy, the decorations, food, etc. IMG_9691.jpgimg_9692 That’s my friend Carmen!

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Our blonde waiter was adorable; he gave us a little Italian lesson (I learned to count to 10), was so patient with our lack of Italian, and asked the chef what he could make me given my allergies. We started with an antipasto (a base of olive oil, prosciutto, olives, and spring mix), and they even surprised me with gluten-free crackers! They didn’t look as fabulous as my friend Carmen’s homemade bread, but I was delighted. The olives were harder than I expected, but no pits in side. img_9695

They had a gluten-free spaghetti, and recommended a spaghetti dish with olive oil, garlic, parsley, a tiny bit of green onion, and clams. I said, thank you! It was so simple, but delicious.img_9699

At this point, we were too stuffed for dessert, but he brought me two dark chocolates (chocolotina) and two homemade biscotti for my friend; the plate was lightly decorated with ground pistachios and peanuts. We made room for a little more, before having to go meet our EF Tour group.img_9702 Soon we headed to the Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain. img_9720

img_9746img_9730IMG_9756.jpgimg_9740img_9739I love all the architectural details on the buildings.IMG_9788.jpgimg_9791img_9793-1

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I took pictures of doors, because I LOVE taking pictures of doors. Is that weird?! img_9752img_9768img_9932img_9800

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Since the Pantheon (from 2007 BC) was converted into a church, it was adorned with beautiful art work and statues.

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img_9822-1img_9840We stood for a while and listened to a man sing opera in front of the Pantheon. What a beautiful voice!

For dinner, we headed to the Faciolaro for a dinner included with our EF Tour. IMG_9854.jpg

By then, I discovered that most places have gluten-free pasta. They made me a very simple gluten free pasta, with olive oil, garlic and mushrooms. I didn’t know mushrooms could taste this succulent, and the pasta was the highlight of my dinner. img_9846For the next course, they brought me a chicken breast with olive oil and garlic, olive oil and garlic potatoes, and a simple salad with olive oil and vinegar. Good thing I love olive oil and garlic! img_9849For dessert, they brought me two very sweet slices of melon. I was slightly jealous of everyone’s tiramisu; I wished they had offered a vegan gluten free one!img_9851

We walked under a full moon back to the bus, and I admired the charming displays in front of the restaurants; sweet touches that you don’t see in the United States.img_9859

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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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