Thursday, January 31, 2013

Going Gluten Free: First Product Review

Well, I've been doing this gluten free thing for a little over a week and so far it's not so bad! I have tried several new GF brands! I thought I would share the one's I've tried and tell you my opinion on them (a couple of these my sister actually tried but I trust her opinion so you should too). Hopefully this will help people weed through some of the sub-par brands out there!


  Kroger Pasta
I made this with baked Italian chicken and put Ragu pasta sauce over it (all Ragu pasta sauces are GF but double check labels just in case). If I didn't know there was a difference I probably wouldn't have been able to tell. There is a slightly different texture but it's still yummy! Kroger has a BUNCH of different pastas and GF products. Here's a list.

   Schar Classic White Rolls
I used these to make a hamburger. My sister also made a hamburger and she also tried using it for her chicken salad sandwich. The hamburger was pretty yummy. The rolls are pretty thick so you have to have a big mouth (no problem here!) and it tastes perfectly fine. When Maegan used them for her chicken salad sandwich she said that the moisture from the chicken salad caused her bottom bun to fall apart. So, good for burgers or other things that don't have a lot of moisture. BUT we have a solution to your chicken salad sandwich!

After we cooked it.
   Gluten Free Pantry Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix
This bread is GOOD! We used our bread machine and I don't know if/how it would turn out if you used a loaf pan but with the bread machine it was really really yummy! The outside/crust got really hard and I ended up cutting my crusts off like a 3 year old but the inside was nice and fluffy and yummy! Tasted a lot like whole wheat bread!

   Udi's Hamburger Buns
These were pretty good and Udi has a lot of GF options! If I remember correctly they were a little thick but tasted like good 'ol hamburger buns!


   Glutino Gluten Free Cereal Apple & Cinnamon Rings
I honestly was not impressed with these at all. I got the apple cinnamon flavor because I wanted to be able to put some in a Ziploc and snack on it at school but these things were SO bland! Maybe a different flavor would be better, I don't know. I will probably just stick with Chex cereal since it's naturally GF.

   Glutino Gluten Free Organic Bars Chocolate & Peanuts
I eat these every morning on my way to class. They're not the most amazing things I've ever tasted but they're pretty good. I might try to shop around a little bit more but if I can't find anything I like more it won't be a big deal. I would recommend these, at least as a starting point.


    Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies
Oh. My. Gosh. Gluten Free Mom mentioned these on her blog and I KNEW I had to try them! If you know me at all you know I LOVE Oreos. When I was little my dad would bring me 2 Oreos and a glass of milk EVERY night before bed. Every. Night. Imagine how broken hearted I was when my Google search informed me that I would no longer be continuing my Oreo-bedtime ritual. Between that, and the fried pickles, it was getting to be too much (no, this is not me being dramatic). BUT I can continue my ritual! No, they're not Oreos, but they're better than nothing! And when everyone else is eating Nutter Butters and Chocolate Chip Cookies... you thank God (seriously... thank Him now) for these cookies. They don't taste exactly like Oreos, but then... nothing will ever taste exactly like Oreos. BUT, if I say they will work as a replacement then you can bet they're pretty darn close! Thank you Glutino for ending my misery and ending my gluten-free Oreo debacle.

    Annie's Gluten Free Cocoa & Vanilla Bunny Cookies
These are basically like graham crackers only not. They taste yummy. They have several different flavors too just make sure the box says "Gluten Free" on it because they do make some flavors that contain gluten. Here is a link for more of Annie's GF snacks (they also have pastas).

So, those are just some of the products that I have tried so far. I really haven't changed my diet that much. I have been purchasing A LOT more produce, specifically bell peppers and onions and TONS of fruit! I usually take some grapes in a Ziploc bag to class with me for a snack between classes.

A few restaurants I've found accommodating are:
    Boomerjack's Bar and Grill
They actually carry GF buns! I was at the Murphy location and our waitress was really sweet. She made sure to tell the kitchen about me being GF. Of course, I'm not GF because of celiac or anything so I was too paranoid about it. It was also really the first place I've eaten out since I've started the whole GF thing.
    Buffalo Wild Wings
I LOVE this place. Before we went I looked up their allergen list to see what I could have there. I usually do boneless wings, and this time I had to get them bone in but I could still do my favorite sauce (Honey BBQ). There wasn't a game the day we went and we went before the usual dinner time crowd so Ryan and I were pretty much the only people there. The waitresses took their time to make sure I was squared away. They fry their traditional (bone-in) wings in a separate fryer than they do the boneless wings (which contain gluten). The waitress even made sure that the kitchen prepared my food in a clean area of the kitchen. If you live in the Dallas area, we were at the location off of 75 and Spring Creek.
    Pure Delight Cupcakes
They don't have many locations but there is one in Carrollton, for all of you who live in the area. I haven't been there but Maegan went and she said it was AMAZING!!! I can't wait to head over there myself!!!

Well, that's my GF Southern Soapbox (yes Dad, I'm aware gluten free and southern don't go together, but I'll make them go together!). I hope this has been helpful to y'all! I am sure I will be trying more brands and finding new restaurants and as I do I will post about them! What products do you like? Do you have any GF recipes you want to share? Do you have any brands you want me to test out? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wonky and Woot-tastic Wednesday

    - This weather is driving me nuts! It's beautiful for a few days... then it's cold and rainy and gross. Then back to being nice and sunny and warm. Pick one already (preferably sunny and warm).
    - Whatever happened to manners and just simply being polite. "Thank you", "Excuse me", holding the door open for others, removing your hat inside, dinner table manners, where did all of these things go?
    - Why is it that construction crews close a mile of road just to fix a TINNNYY little bump? Seriously. A mile.
    - Is it weird that I think this diagram of all the muscles/tendons/ligaments etc and how they work is REALLY cool?
    - Someone asked me yesterday what TV shows I watch on a regular basis. After listing them (Bones, New Girl, Raising Hope, (sometimes) Glee, Being Human, Dexter, NCIS, Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Big Bang Theory, Castle, Justified, Hart Of Dixie, Once Upon A Time, Leverage, Suits, Grey's Anatomy... just to name a few.. seriously.. there's more) I realized... I watch A LOT of TV.
    - The fact that I was about to take a nap and thought of the above thingy-ma-jig and jumped out of bed to come type it before I forgot and the thought would be lost for eternity.
    - A lady on staff at the Playboy Mansion died on Monday, her name was Mary O'Connor. She was Hef's secretary for 50+ years. That is sad, but that's not my point for this. My point is... I knew exactly who she was when I saw her name come across my twitter feed. No need to Google or anything.
    This diagram of all the muscles/tendons/ligaments etc is REALLY COOL (see what I did there?)!
    - I finally caught up on all the episodes of Castle! If you haven't seen it. Watch it. Now.
and on that note....
    - I am now watching Justified. You should also go watch that.
    - I have found several restaurants that are pretty accommodating to the whole gluten free thing! Not only does Boomerjacks have REALLY good food, they also offer GF buns! And they even made sure to prepare my food in a cleaned off area of the kitchen (or at least the very sweet waitress said they did). I will be making a post, probably tomorrow, about different products and restaurants that I've tried out (click here for link).
    - I spent 2 hours at the gym yesterday. I was going to go today but my hips aren't working so well. Guess I over did it a bit.

Well, that's my Southern Soapbox. See y'all tomorrow for my Gluten Free Product Review!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fashion Friday: The Over-sized Sweater

It's Friday! TGIF! Another week down YAY! Wednesday and Thursday it was SO BEAUTIFUL outside but now it's back down in the 40's. Sad day. When it gets chilly and I have to wake up early I LOVE wearing an over-sized sweater! I don't always wear them with high heel boots, sometimes I do flat boots, but I feel the boots are needed to compensate for the frumpiness of the sweater. Anywho, I looovvveee this sweater! And the Boots! Enjoy!

  Winter sweater


Well, that's my Southern Soapbox! I hope you enjoyed and I hope you have a fantastic weekend! Stay warm y'all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wonky and Woot-tastic Wednesday

It's that time again! Here we go ladies and gents!

    - Yesterday morning I woke up...on my own... at 9am. That's without an alarm people. It depresses me when I wake up early.
    - Chinese food, Oreos, most of Chick-Fil-A's menu and Cookie Butter are not Gluten Free :( and I just discovered (and bought) cookie butter like 3 days ago!
    - I helped coordinate a wedding this past weekend and am STILL recovering. Totally worth it though!

    - The fact that the picture above is completely true. And then after that we all RUSH home (although carefully, for fear of slipping on the still falling snow...) and lock ourselves in our houses and refuse to leave, or risk certain death. You northerners laugh... come join us for summer and see who's laughing then!
    - The whole flu thing is kinda freaking me out. Every time I look on Facebook or Twitter someone else is sick.
    - Sometimes when you ask AJ to say something.. he says.. something.... but it sounds NOTHING like what you really wanted him to say. I mean.. NOTHING. Not even one letter is the same.
    - The fact that the first thing listed under "woot-tastic" makes me, genuinely, excited.
    - Ryan's playing some game on his phone where he tries to kill the entire world with some disease..... should I be concerned? Oh let's face it.. I should have been concerned long ago.

    - I love clean sheets. There's nothing like snuggling into bed after a full day (or not so full..) and having clean sheets on the bed. And then Rebel and George lay all over everything and that feeling is gone. Oh well. It was good while it lasted.
    - AJ has been saying his own version of "I love you." for a while now (I would tell you what it sounded like but I honestly don't know) but it's now sort of sounding more like "I love you".. now it sounds kind of like "uuwwy you". Also, when I go over to hang out and knock on the door before he even sees me I can usually hear him say "JuJu" from the other side of the door.
    - This whole Gluten Free thing actually might not be so hard (except for the Chick-Fil-A, Chinese food, Cookie Butter thing...). Maegan actually found out several things that we LOVE are naturally GF! Like Kettle Chips. Yum! Sprouts is my new best friend!
Hedgie Splat

  - Prim is possibly the cutest thing EVER. Next to AJ, of course. Mom made her a sleep sack, just to see if she could. She can. It's cute. I'm excited because now I can take Prim to class! I haven't been able too because it's been SO COLD! I took her today and she was really really cute! She slept most of the time and did the cutest little hedgie splat (see picture above) on the drive home. Her leg was twitching and everything!
    -The high today was 73! I drove around with all the windows down AND IT WAS GLORIOUS! The high tomorrow is 73! Then back down to the 50's :(.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Going Gluten Free: Just the Beginning

So, I realize there are A LOT of GF blogs out there, and I, by no means, have as much experience as they do, BUT I do want to share my experience as I make the change! So here I go!

First, I realize how overwhelming this could easily become if I let it, but I'm not going to. I have done my research and am going to take the advice of all those gluten free bloggers and start simple. Meats, fruits, vegetables. I know for a fact that they are GF. There is list upon list upon list of ingredients to avoid (I've printed it out for future reference and emailed it to myself for phone access) and it can get a little crazy so I'm starting small. This blog is a good place that tells you what to watch out for when starting out.

Another thing I've read/learned.... stay open minded when starting to make your own gluten free version of things (like pasta or breads). If you go in expecting it to taste the same as the gluten filled things you're used to then you're going to hate it. Realize that things will have different textures, but that doesn't make them bad! Have you ever had Almond milk? The first time I tasted it, I was told "Ohhh it's just like regular milk!!! You'll love it!!!" Um... WRONG! It was DISGUSTING! But then I tried again, knowing it was different, and I actually LOVED it. Stay open minded.

Try different brands/options/recipes. Go on Pinterest. There's a GAJILLION (translation: a whole freakin' lot) of GF chocolate chip cookie recipes. Seriously. There's a lot. And a lot of them are different. If you don't like the texture of your first recipe, try a different one. Play around with different flours, they have different textures. Don't give up just because ONE recipe didn't taste quite right. Read Gluten Free Mom's story of their first GF meal. It was a disaster, to say the least. She also gives a list of things you can eat now that are naturally GF.

Google as you go. Today I was curious about different snacks I could carry in my purse that are GF, so I got out my phone and Googled "gluten free on the go snacks". There are TONS of options! Most of them are naturally gluten free, like almonds or sting cheese and there are several power/breakfast bars you can buy from Whole Foods too! Google really does know everything, so take advantage! Instead of trying to know everything right now, I just Google it when I think about it. Also, if you search Pinterest for "gluten free" there are TONS of things on there too!

Get together with your GF friends and ask them for help! I happen to know a lot of people through my church that are GF and we are having a dinner party (hopefully in a month) to trade secrets! I'm hoping that it will work out that everyone makes/brings their favorite dish and some recipes with them. It's going to be FUN! If you don't know any one, ask. Go up to the person in charge of planning events and tell them to put it in your church bulletin that you want to throw a GF dinner party to help you learn more about it. Someone will help you!

A word about restaurants. When you're out at a restaurant ASK your waiter if things are GF! That's what they're there for! You can also look online at Find Me Gluten Free or GFRAP OR at UrbanSpoon! TONS or resources!

Well, that's what I have so far. I am off to my sister's house to do some more GF planning/research. Is it weird that we're both kind of excited about this? Maybe it's because we are choosing to go GF instead of being forced. Don't despair my GF friends! Together, we can become gluten free and happy! I hope you enjoyed this gluten free Southern Soapbox!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gluten Free?

So, my sister and I have decided we're going to try this whole gluten free thing. We've been told over and over that because of our inflammatory diseases (I have fibromyalgia and she has psoriatic arthritis) cutting out gluten would be very beneficial, so we're going to try it for a few months and see how big of a difference we notice.

A few things I'm already missing... oreos... and cookie butter (which I JUST discovered.. like 2 days ago.. so that's a bummer) and bread. Thankfully now-a-days there are SO MANY gluten free options, like gluten free pasta and bread, that it will simple take a trip to Whole Foods to pick up "specialty" items. There are also TONS of people that have been kind enough to make blogs that have research AND recipes! Gluten Free Girl so far is my favorite! And we can't forget Pinterest!

By no means do I anticipate this to be "easy", I'm already craving things I can't have (the MOMENT I decided to go gluten free I immediately wanted some bread smothered in butter....) but with all the resources out there and the substitutes I think I can make it. I hope. Tonight for dinner, Mom and Dad had red beans and rice, which I don't like anyways but it contains gluten so instead I made lemon pepper chicken with sauteed onions, bell pepper and green beans on the side. I even drizzled some fresh lemon juice over the veggies and chicken! It was YUMMY!

Well, that's my Southern Soapbox! I will be updating y'all and maybe even posting some of my own recipes!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wonky And Woot-tastic Wednesday

IT'S BACK! So excited to be back doing this segment! So, let's not waste any time!

    - Classes started on Monday. YUCK. Even worse... my first class is at 8am! Which means I have to wake up at 6:45. In the morning. Before the sun is even up. Have I mentioned before that I am NOT a morning person?

    - It has been SO COLD! Seriously, I live in Texas. Everyone knows it isn't supposed to get cold here... and yet it has snowed THREE times this winter. THREE. Ugh. I also hate the cold.
    - Since it's SO COLD I can't take Prim to class :( Which REALLY is a bummer. She's a good class buddy.
    - As of 6:45 on Monday morning... I desperately want a Keurig. It was 26* outside and FAR too early for me to be awake and I wanted a warm beverage infused with caffeine. Anyone wanna get me a Keurig?!
    - If you haven't already heard Microsoft is doing away with MSN. They bought out Skype and are wanting people to switch their contacts over to Skype. Well that's great and all except the "easy to use method" DOESN'T WORK! Also, when installed Skype on my desktop it also installed this annoying thing called StongVault? I have no idea what it is but the fact that when I try to uninstall the program it doesn't let me makes me rather suspicious (thus the reason I have a software programmer for a dad and a computer genius for a boyfriend... "Ohhhhhh bbaaaaabbbbeeeee") Poor Ryan. Poor Dad.

    - The fact that the above mentioned things are the "crappy" parts of my life. Seriously, it's a pretty good life.

    - Seriously. Look at that face. It's the CUTEST FACE EVER!
    - If you've never watched Castle you're seriously missing out! It's hilarious... and it has Nathan Fillion (the dude from Firefly.. which if you've never seen that... don't talk to me. OK.. you can talk to me.. but you also have to watch Firefly.. and Serenity.) Nathan Fillion = amazeballs.
    - Shout out to my Saster. She's pretty much awesome. Woot to her :D.

    - I seriously LOVE this CD. They're a great group with great songs! Go listen!

Ok, that's it for my Wonky and Woot-tastic Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed this Southern Soapbox!

Menu Monday: January 7th- January 20th, 2013

Yes. I know it's Tuesday. And yes, I know it's not the 7th. I started back to classes yesterday so that took up half my day, then I spent the rest of it at my sister's house so, sorry it's a day late. I originally wrote this menu a week ago and have been using it for the past week. Anywho, here's the menu!

    baked beans


Beef Tenderloin
    green beans
    grilled potato slices

Balsamic Chicken (Pinterest)

Lasagna Soup (Pinterest/Maegan)

Loaded Potatoes

Lemon Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken (Pinterest)

Chicken Enchiladas
    refried beans
    mexican rice

Veggie Beef Soup

La Madeline's Tomato Basil Soup

Tacos and Burritos
    refried beans

For this menu I even wrote down ideas for lunch!

Lunch Menu

"Fajitas" -using leftover tenderloin
Grilled Cheese
Deviled Eggs/Hard Boiled Eggs
Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

I am going to try to post a few recipes over the next few weeks but it is the first week back to school so I am trying to get back into my rhythm (which I will probably master just about the time finals roll around.) Feel free to leave a comment if you have a specific recipe you want!

I hope you enjoyed my Southern Soapbox of the day! See you tomorrow for Wonky and Woot-tastic Wednesday!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fashion Friday: A Yellow Trench

Fashion Friday is back! I will soon be adding a little "twist" to this segment! An awesome friend of mine over at Marissa Ann Photography and I are going to team up and take some pictures of some outfits that I actually wear. I haven't decided on all the logistics yet but since I have a limited number of outfits and certain people would not be too happy if I went out and bought a bunch of new outfits in the name of good blogging (at least that's the excuse I would use) I will probably still be doing some Polyvore outfits as well but for now, enjoy this awesome outfit I put together!

Yellow trench

I LOVE the yellow coat and have boots that are very similar to those! Instead of those earrings I would probably wear these coconut earrings that I'm selling on behalf of Haiti's Jewels. We all know I'm a fan of big bags so I paired a cute brown purse to complete the outfit!

Contact me if you're interested.
Well that's my fashionable Southern Soapbox! I hope y'all enjoyed!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Where have I been?!

Wow, I haven't posted on here since Halloween! I'm sorry to have abandoned y'all! The holidays got CRAZY busy! So here are a few pictures that I've taken between now and then!

I made this using PhotoGrid on my phone so I hope it looks ok.

The pictures are not in chronological order but I'll do my best to explain each. The top left picture is of AJ and Maegan in front of mine and Maegan's uncle's plane. My dad's brother, Jim, is a pilot and was in Dallas for a few hours and offered to let us come see the plane! The top middle is AJ in his Halloween costume. He was a police officer and even had "Officer AJ" sewn onto his uniform! He still asks to wear it sometimes. The top right is a picture of Jixer I took tonight because I thought he looked cute. The middle left is a cute picture of George. He likes to steal my spot when I get up from my desk. The middle picture is of our white Christmas! It's the second ever white Christmas I've had! Second row on the right is of Prim next to the Christmas tree and the bottom left is of AJ looking at the Christmas tree with a couple of shots of the tree itself. AJ helped us decorate the tree by handing me and Maegan ornaments. We managed to only break 3 ornaments (only one of which was AJ's fault, Mom and I broke 2 of the 3). The middle picture in the bottom row is Prim's New Year's picture. Ryan and I enjoyed our traditional lobster and steak at our good friend Brett's house. The last picture on the bottom right is what AJ does if you say "AJ smile big!" Isn't he the cutest thing ever?!

2012 was a fantastic year and I am looking forward to 2013! I will be back to regular postings on my blog now that things have calmed down. Friday will kick off Fashion Friday for the new year (and a special treat will be coming your way!). Monday I will post my Menu Monday post, with Wonky and Woot-tastic coming next Wednesday!

That's my Southern Soapbox! See y'all Friday!