Category Archives: Healthy Ideas

Food Fotos

My friends and family have done it again…

I happily went over a friend’s house for dinner the other night for some warm company and good food after a tough week.  On the menu was EVERYTHING Lauren friendly.  It was such a nice treat, both the food and the kindness, so I had to share:

There was hummus and rice crackers…

Prosciutto wrapped melon…

Raspberry walnut salad…

Sweet garlic corn on the cob…

Roasted sweet potatoes…

Cauliflower mashed potatoes (like Fake Outs)…

Honey mustard crusted chicken…

Coconut milk chocolate ice cream…

Topped on gluten free brownies!

What a meal, and what a great dose of company.  I cannot thank all of my friends and family enough for the thought and care they put into meals when they know I am coming over…I certainly never feel deprived!  Happy Allergy Free Eating!



Filed under Healthy Ideas, Recipes

Sneaking in some Cinnamon

With the fall season embracing us (against my wishes to live summer all year long), I find myself sneaking in some cinnamon wherever I get the chance.  Not only is it delicious, but it is also an antioxidant!  Lately, I have seen myself reaching for some sort of cinnamon-sugar combination in my morning, afternoon, and evening meals.


I usually make a protein enriched fruit smoothie, but the cooler weather begs for a hot breakfast.  So, I have been making enriched oatmeal.  Using gluten free oats, I cook according to package directions and then add soy milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Totally delicious and filling!


I really enjoy a good Starbucks latte in the afternoon, but sometimes I make my own to avoid the expense.  Using my Keurig, I make a cup of decaf coffee.  I then add a healthy dose of soy milk and stir with my Aerolatte.  The Aerolatte makes it look like a real Starbucks latte!

Finally, I add about 1 tsp. of chocolate syrup, 1 tsp. of vanilla syrup (both found in my grocery store), and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.  What a nice afternoon treat!


Apple Cinnamon Shmash is perfect for this time of year, and of course includes cinnamon.  But after dinner, I tried making an Apple Cinnamon Martini… and really enjoyed the results!  In a martini glass, add one shot of cupcake vodka (seriously, you need to try this), one dash (half shot) of Amaretto liquer, and top off with apple cider.  Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top or around the rim, and enjoy!

Happy Allergy Free Eating!


Filed under Healthy Ideas

What’s in the fridge?

It’s been a busy week, which hasn’t left me much time to plan weekly meals.  So, I turned to my fridge and freezer… crossing my fingers that I could make a few dinners out of some odds and ends.  I found some rice, frozen baby shrimp, corn, snap peas, and soy sauce… and so a stir fry was born.  I usually buy a few extra things at the grocery store each week, “just in case” items or items that are on sale.  This week they came in handy!

While the frozen baby shrimp were defrosting, I made 1 cup of jasmine white rice according to package directions.

I then added the thawed shrimp, about 1.5 cups of frozen corn, and 2 cups of frozen snap peas.  (You could defrost the veggies a bit if you have time)

To get it all mixed together, I added 2 tsp. parsley, 3 tbsp. soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. honey, 1 tbsp. garlic chili, and salt and pepper to taste.

I stirred until the veggies and shrimp were cooked and heated through, then served.

With minimal time and effort, I had a satisfying dinner!  Stir Fry to the rescue!  Not only does stir fry take minimal time, but you could vary the flavors, or add different proteins.  The varieties are endless, even though my time wasn’t.

Happy Allergy Free Eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas, Recipes

Two New Gluten Free Favorites

I recently found two new gluten free products that I want to share with you.  One is a breakfast item and one is a snack item… both tough parts of the day to be gluten free!

Cocomama Cereal is a new product that my mom found online. It is made from quinoa, which means that it is naturally gluten free and high in protein.  Similar to oatmeal.  Breakfast is the toughest part of the day for me, so when I found out about Cocomama, I was happy to give it a taste.  I ordered the cereal packages online, and they arrived within 48 hours of my order… talk about fast service!  I ordered 6 single serving packages of this quinoa cereal for $25 (including shipping), which is a bit pricey for “cereal” but I was eager to try it.  Among their 4 varieties, I ordered the honey almond.

I poured one package into a bowl and heated it in the microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.  It looked delicious, but I added some soy milk just to give it a more soupy texture.  At first bite, it was pretty good!  I liked the flavor, the consistency, and the nutritional facts.  Each package boasts 250 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.  Pretty impressive for a breakfast cereal.  Furthermore, it did keep my appetite in check until lunch!  Overall, a great product, but I would like to see the price drop a bit.  (Although, they did give me a coupon with my order!)

The other product I recently found was the Kind Bar.  Kind Bars are like granola bars, but gluten and dairy free because most of them are made with just fruit and nuts.  I have seen Kind Bars in Starbucks with other snack items, and recently also found them at Whole Foods.  I bought one to try as an afternoon snack… and it was one of the most delicious “granola” bars I have ever had!  I bought the Almond and Coconut one for about $1.79.  It was sweet, very coconutty, and also very filling.  I was very sad when I realized the package was empty!

I will definitely buy these again as an afternoon snack, or as part of my lunch.  Their slogan is “wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce,” which is not only true, but comforting.  I love reading ingredient lists that only have a few raw ingredients because you can feel good about snacking.  If you look on their website, you can see how many different varieties there are, and how many different products they have.  I can’t wait to try more!

Happy Allergy Free Eating!


Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas

Food Matters

I just finished reading “The Food Matters Cookbook” by Mark Bittman… twice.  The cookbook is based off of his NYT bestseller, “Food Matters” and he reviews the concepts of “Food Matters” in his introduction.  I found the concepts so insightful that I had to read them twice.

Both books are based off of the idea that we should be eating responsibly, eating like food matters.  He encourages “us to concentrate on eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods.”  The statistics he presents about our consumption of animal products is astounding… like the fact that each American eats 200 pounds of meat a year.  Or that producing meat uses 20 times as much fossil fuel as does vegetables.  Or that at least 70 percent of our calories come from animal products or processed foods.

I don’t know about you, but those statistics are startling to me… and gross.  Producing processed food is cheap and quick… necessary for our busy everyday lives.  And yet “these cheap products still come at a cost: we wind up paying for the cost of obesity and other dietary diseases in our health care system.”  This price tag is $840 billion annually, according to Bittman.  Ouch.

So what can we do?  We should be looking towards the food that our own earth gives us… fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains.  What I like best about Bittman’s advice is that he doesn’t advocate that we totally eliminate meat and processed food from our diet, merely cut back.  Can I eat at least one less meal each week that doesn’t have meat in it?  Sure.  Will my decisions help the environment, our society, and my health?  Absolutely.

You don’t have to search any harder for more natural foods, you just have to think differently.  That is what I have learned by having food allergies… the food my body wants is readily accessible; I just have to cook it and not automatically grab the pre-packaged grab bag just because that is what I am used to doing.

Now I’m off to make a surprise meatless dinner… stay tuned for the recipe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas

Renewing my food vows

It has been about a year since my doctor called me to say; “Your allergy panel came back.  You are allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, white fish, and several environmental allergens.  You are going to have to change how you eat.”  A phone call that seemed so overwhelming and upsetting at first, but now seems like a life saver in retrospect.

Not only did I have to change what I eat, but also how I think about food.  I have had to read labels, ask questions, and experiment to see if a reaction occurs.  Most people would think of these tasks as annoying or oppressive, but I see them as enlightening.

Through personal research about wheat and dairy products, I have come to learn how prevalent they are in our society.  They are prevalent because they are cheap and easy to mass produce.  And marketers use words like “natural” to make us think that these products are good for us.

These findings have led me to further research vegan diets as well as diets based on local products.  I have learned that they aren’t “diets” but ways of life… these eating plans urge people to really examine what we put into our bodies because what we eat affects us.  And there is no coincidence that our American diet has led to such high rates of high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, cancer… at least higher rates than other countries’ with vastly different diets.

I know more about food now than I ever did, and I think that is a blessing.  Unlike people who eat mindlessly, I actually know what I am putting into my body and how it affects me.  Most of my foods have one ingredient and aren’t packaged.  I urge you to also take a greater insight into your diet.  I believe that you are what you eat, but also that you can always make that better.

So, I am renewing my food vows for the next year… I will only eat food that is good for my body, that is less processed than how I used to eat, that is more plant and animal based than factory based, and food that makes me feel good.  I hope you do, too.

For more inspiration, read my upcoming review of Mark Bittman’s “The Food Matters Cookbook.”  A wonderful insight into the idea that what we eat matters to our bodies and where it came from.

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas

Seven Secret Savings

The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year reminds me to refresh my ideas on budgeting both my time and money.  Since my allergies, my food bills have increased greatly.  I am eating healthy options all the time, but that comes with a price tag.  Since I have finally figured out how to eat well, now I am going to focus on how to save some money in the process.

Here are my Seven Secret ideas on how to eat on a budget:

1.  Coupons.  I was never a big coupon clipper, but there are so many coupons online now.  Check your grocery store’s website for coupons, or use a mobile phone app. has an app that brings the coupon right to your phone… no more clipping!  Those $.50 coupons can really add up and save money in the long run.

2.  Often times, coupons print out with your grocery receipt.  But I have noticed that these coupons are often of the “buy 2 and save” variety.  So, buy two and check expiration dates.  You can buy coffee creamer with a close expiration date, but also look in the back of the shelf for products that have expiration dates a while from now (that is where they are hiding!).

3.  Check out the Dollar Store and Target.  Soap is soap.  And often times the soap you buy at the grocery store is the same soap in the dollar store for less.  Same goes for ziploc baggies and other paper goods.  Target is great for packaged items like juice or frozen veggies.  I just bought frozen veggies at Target for a $1 a bag!

4.  Look online at your grocery store’s website and see the weekly specials.  Then plan your meals around the specials.  This also lets you get a little creative by challenging yourself to combine different special ingredients!  Furthermore, when you see a product like chicken on special, buy a couple of packages and freeze.

5.  Sign up to receive online newsletters from your grocery store.  Not only do they tell you weekly specials, but they send you secret deals as well.  Recently, my mom got a whole package of hamburger meat for free because she got the secret email!

6.  Utilize farmer’s markets and grow your own herbs.  Farmer’s market fruits and veggies can often be cheaper because they don’t need to involve the middle man, the grocery store, to sell.  Growing your own herbs also saves money… those small packages of herbs are expensive!  Might as well use your own dirt.

7.  Preserve your veggies with those cute plastic containers that look like the veggies you store in them.  I use them and swear that they work.  They really do keep veggies fresh for a long period of time so you aren’t wasting money by throwing out sad looking veggies.

Happy Saving!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas

Let your fruits and veggies mingle!

Seriously, the fresh fruit this time of year is unbelievable.  For someone who eats fruits and veggies with every meal, the different varieties available now are bliss.  In fact, I have gotten so excited about fresh fruit and veggies, that I have been letting them mingle together in salads.  Here are my top three summer fruity salads:

Number Three: Nectarine, Cranberry, Pine Nut Salad

Over salad lettuce, I tossed some craisins (although, if I had more time, I would have used fresh cranberries), sliced nectarines, and pine nuts.  For a more savory salad, use arugula instead of salad lettuce.

Number Two: Pear and Walnut Salad

Over salad lettuce, I sprinkled sliced pear and chopped walnuts.  A great crunch combination.

Number One: Tomato, Basil, Watermelon Salad

My personal favorite.  I chopped very ripe yellow tomatoes, freshly cut watermelon, and fresh basil and layered the ingredients.  No lettuce needed.  An unexpectedly delicious combination!

All salads were topped with just simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but you could certainly get more creative with the dressing.  That is what’s great about salads… you can’t really mess them up.  Just find your favorite combination!

Happy Allergy Free Eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas, Recipes

Summer Salsa Talk

When I visit my parents, my mom goes on a culinary binge creating gluten and dairy free meals.  She is always on the lookout, and I often go home with numerous copies of recipes… and a full stomach.

This week, my mom made salmon with summer salsa on top, with roasted green beans and quinoa on the side.  We went to the local farmer’s market to get fresh fruits and veggies for the salsa…always the best way to get fresh and less expensive produce.  The salsa included chopped mango, red pepper, tomato, jalapenos, shallots, a tablespoon of apricot jam, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lime juice.  A perfect summer topping.

After dinner, my mom and I were talking about how homemade salsa can take on so many different varieties.  Here is how the conversation went:

“This was so delicious.  You could also add red onion for a kick.”

“Oooo, or how about capers and olives?”

“Or you could make a citrus salsa by adding orange slices.”

“Or grapefruit!”

“What about some crunch… like nuts… pine nuts would be good.”

“And celery.”

“Waldorf salsa… celery, grapes, and walnuts.”

“Or BLT salsa… with arugula and chopped bacon.”

“And you could put this over chicken, or in a salad, or even over sausage in the morning.”

“You know, we really should write all this down…”

And so it goes.  My mom and I really love talking about food and how different flavors come together.  We often look at recipes and then discuss how we could change them with different flavors for different seasons, meals, or tastes.  To me, this is what makes cooking such a fun challenge. 🙂

Happy Allergy Free Eating, and talking… go make some salsa!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas

Filling up on Flavor

Always on the hunt for new recipes, my mom found this fabulous cooking magazine called “Cooks Illustrated.”  She picked it up at a local grocery store a couple years ago and has continually renewed her membership.  There are few ads in it, just pure cooking talk.  Recipes, ideas, tips, and of course illustrations… and all so simple yet so profound.

The most recent issue had a two page spread on how to add flavor to your meals.  I never really thought about such details, but this article really opened my eyes to how flavor is enhanced during the cooking process.

My favorite tips included:

1.  Scoring meat before you marinate it.  Makes perfect sense… poke small holes in the meat so the marinade can actually get inside and add flavor.

2.  Add hearty herbs at the beginning of the cooking process and fine herbs at the end.  That way, the hearty herbs can last and the fine herbs won’t lose their flavor.

3. If you want intense pepper flavor, add pepper at the end of the cooking process.  Otherwise, the pepper will lose flavor over time.

4. Toast your nuts.  To intensify the flavor of nuts, toast them in the oven on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan over low heat on the stove for a few minutes.  I have done this, and it really does work!

5.  To kick up commercially bought spices, saute them in a little butter or oil over the stove.  This will bring out their flavor so they seem fresh.

6.  Ever added just a bit too much flavor?  If food is too salty, add an acid or sweetener.  If food is too sweet, add an acid or seasoning.  If food is too spicy, add a fat or sweetener.  All about balance!

Happy Allergy Free Cooking!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy Ideas