Green Smoothie Spring

It's time. Winter's almost done (except for the nor'easter about to hit New England on Sunday), and as the temperatures rise, I am reconnecting with my blender. It's smoothie season! Here are the best things about smoothies:

  1. Fun straws.
  2. You get fruits & veggies. Check, check.
  3. You can drink them on the go if you're in a rush.
  4. No time spent cooking, you just pour things into a blender and press "Blend".
  5. They give you an energy boost and keep you feeling full.
  6. Super fast clean up time: add a teeny tiny bit of dish washing soap with some hot water, put the lid on, blend it a few times, and voila. You just have to give it a rinse and it's done.
  7. Fruit makes the smoothie sweet, so it's the ultimate healthy dessert.
  8. You can throw in a handful of kale or spinach and no one would be the wiser. Except of course if it turns green :)  ..did i mention you get veggies?
  9. They're refreshing.
  10. There are a million ways to make them so you can never ever get bored!
  11. It is an easy gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free treat to make. As long as you check whatever milk you add. 

Some of my favorites:

* Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana: 1 banana, a few scoops of peanut butter, 1 tbsp of cocoa, and 1-2 cups of almond milk. More milk = thinner smoothie.

* Pina colada: 1 banana, handful of frozen mango & pineapple, pour in a little coconut milk, about 1-2c of almond milk. You can throw in spinach to make it super green.

* Mash-up: 1 banana, handful of frozen blueberries, a handful of kale and almond milk.

And then of course, you can decorate your jars with fruits like kiwi and banana!


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Carefully Replacing Trigger Foods

When your stomach cramps, your body aches, and the thing that keeps you alive is making you sick, your head is all over the place. What do you do? You can't just stop eating. You have to eat. I remember many days of my life where I refused to eat. It always led to being dizzy, light headed, and nauseous. Sometimes I preferred that to the sharp pains in my stomach and the embarrassing runs to the bathroom during school. But my hunger strikes could only last so long. I had to start eating again.

My first notebook: I took incredibly detailed notes on what I couldn't have. I didn't pay much attention to what I should actually have.

My first notebook: I took incredibly detailed notes on what I couldn't have. I didn't pay much attention to what I should actually have.

I'll never forget the day of my colonoscopy and endoscopy. The "cleanse" had my stomach feeling fine for the first time in 12 years. My doctor told me to try a Celiac diet, and so that was the end of me eating gluten. 2 weeks later, I burped for the first time that I could remember. It was so relieving - normal body functions! I decided to cut out dairy too, in an effort to clear up my skin. It worked!

But a few months later, I was experiencing symptoms I knew all too well. Stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and general discomfort. I didn't understand. There was no way I was being gluten-ed. I was being so careful. There was so little chance of cross contamination, and I had been calling all manufacturers of food products I was buying. The timing coincided with the early ideation of the Thryve app. So as my first prototype, I was taking pictures of everything I ate. In weeks, I had realized the problem staring me right at the face.

The first thing- I had replaced gluten with rice, which would be fine in moderation. BUT, I was having rice-based cereal. I was eating rice cakes, plain rice, and gluten-free bread with rice flour. Very often. The second, was that I replaced dairy with soy. Soy milk in my cereal, a glass of soy milk here or there, soy "cheese", and soy in my dairy-free products. I was someone who prided herself in being healthy, yet my diet had become so limited. I did some research, and realized that over doing it on rice and soy could easily be the cause of my problems. I cooled it with the rice and soy, and I started to feel way better.

Now, I'm much more mindful to use veggies as an option. Kale happens to go fabulously with eggs.

Now, I'm much more mindful to use veggies as an option. Kale happens to go fabulously with eggs.

Over the years, I've occasionally fallen into this habit where I stop paying attention to food, and eat the same few things - it's so hard not to. I can only tell because my face will break out, or I end up craving the same things every day, or my body and stomach always have a presence in my mind. When you move meal to meal, day to day, week to week, it's really easy to lose focus on the big picture. Our lives are so chaotic, how can anyone remember what they've been eating and what they need to eat more or less of? So much time can pass before we realize we haven't had a vegetable in a while. Or like I did early after my diagnosis, consume so much of one thing without blinking an eye.

This is why I created Thryve. The first big thing is to help people figure out their trigger foods. The second is to help them manage their eating style once they know what to avoid.

As you eliminate foods from your diet, be careful not to just completely swap it. Remember to be mindful about how you eat, and be sure to avoid my past mistakes. It's better to replace a food with a suite of options, instead of just one.

And if you are looking for a food diary that you can use to also track symptoms, we'll be launching in the next few months! Check our homepage here, to sign up as a beta tester or to be notified when we officially launch.


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Crunchy Chick Peas

One thing I love: finding cheap food that is delicious and good for my body. I see these crunchy chick peas a lot now in Whole Foods, and they seem a little pricy for how cheap beans are. So I started to make them myself, and it costs about $1. A can of chick peas is usually less than a dollar, even when organic. The rest of the spices needed I happen to have at home, so I'm good to go.

If you're craving something crunchy and delicious, try out these crunchy chick peas! 

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 can of (washed) chick peas (15oz)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • Sprinkle of Garlic Powder
  • Sprinkle of Salt

Mix it all up in a bowl, then pour onto a baking sheet. You want enough room so the chick peas are flat, not bunched up on top of each other. Then bake at 350• for 30-35mins. Remove from the oven and let cool. 

For ultimate crunch and flavor, it's best to eat them right away (once they've cooled). They don't store very well.



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The Anti-Boring Way to Eat

I can't tell you how often people feel sort of sorry for me and my food intolerances. I can't have pizza, boardwalk fries, soft ice cream on a cone with chocolate sprinkles, etc -- and I feel like I can see that flash across people's eyes when they hear about my eating style. My 'food life' is really not that bad, I promise. It's not even lame - I actually dig it. I think once you have to live this way, your mindset shifts and you eventually stop feeling sorry for yourself. There's far better things in life than ordering Domino's with one click on an iWatch. There has to be.

But, since I don't get to enjoy some "simple pleasures" such as grabbing a churro at the fair, eating a funnel cake at a baseball game, or trying a ciabatta roll from the new bakery, I have to find my own ways to delight my taste buds- and stay happy and engaged with my meals. One of those ways, I've found, is in preparation.

If you have found a favorite food, learn as many ways to cook it as possible. Because if you're anything like me, you'll eat it a million times in 4 months, get completely sick of it, and never touch it again. And there goes a perfectly good option! Fearing this would happen with every new food I tried in the last few years, it's been my mission to "explore my favorites". To date, I've successfully avoided this from happening with eggs (I average 3 a day) and especially sweet potatoes. I don't eat sweet potatoes every week, but I do eat them enough and they are a go-to.

Eggs are the obvious one- boiled, over easy, sunny side up, poached, scrambled, egg "muffins", quiche, deviled eggs, and the list goes on.

A little less engrained in your brain- sweet potatoes. If you're looking for a naturally gluten-free starch, sweet potatoes are a great option. Besides the obvious "mashed" and "baked" potato, here are my two favorite ways to eat them. 

First, is the sweet potato slice. You cut slices about 1/4" - 1/2" wide. (if your knife is sharp enough, you can go even thinner). Only cut your slice about 3/4 of the way down the potato. You don't actually want to slice off any pieces, the bottom of the potato should stay in tact. 

Then, lightly coat the potato in olive oil, getting in between the slices. Then apply as much salt and pepper as you'd like. Bake at 425° for 50 mins to 1 hour. Or until the potato is soft (you can check with a fork).

Let it cool and ENJOY! 

The other thing I like to do is make sweet potato fries. Slice a few potatoes into long fries (sticks, really), about 1/4" - 1/2" wide. Place potato sticks into a bowl, lightly coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's best (and the most fun) to mix it all around with your hands. Then, spread on a cookie sheet - you want the fries laying flat. Bake in the oven at 425° for 20-25mins.


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"Participating in Life" On a 'Special' Diet

Whether you're new to any sort of elimination diet, or have been dealing with intolerances or allergies for a long time, one thing that never changes is awkward social outings around meals. Honestly, I don't feel like they get that much easier. I just think it becomes familiar. But who knows - it's only been five years.

We hosted brunch with friends, and the entire meal was gluten free. I didn't eat sugar either. It was fantastic, and no one missed the gluten.

We hosted brunch with friends, and the entire meal was gluten free. I didn't eat sugar either. It was fantastic, and no one missed the gluten.

Think about it - when you are with a bunch of people who can eat anything and you have to restrict X, Y, or Z, all of the sudden you're the outcast. Do these people pick somewhere you can safely eat? Would they even know what that means? And if they are unwilling to acknowledge your needs, what do you do? And if they're not, do you confront them or hang back? Do you try and find new friends? (I vote find new friends).

For the most part, I've been surrounded by people who show a willingness to try and feed me. With my husband, he always gives me dibs on a restaurant choice or preference for dinner. "I can eat anything I want whenever I want," he tells me, "you can't. You pick". My friends always ask me to pick a place to eat, if they're not suggesting somewhere they know I already frequent and love. My dad and sister stock up the house if they know I'm visiting, and always make sure I can eat at any restaurant we visit. And family parties show a consistent pattern of real effort. Even people who get seriously confused on what foods are or aren't "gluten-free", still spend a lot of time consulting with me. If they can't ultimately feed me, I acknowledge and appreciate their effort. That used to leave me really hungry and cranky, but now I know it's my responsibility to feed myself. When other people do it, it's really nice, but not mandatory.

My expectations are not that everyone will get it. My expectations are that people who care about me will at least try.
Where the Thanksgiving magic happened.

Where the Thanksgiving magic happened.

This past Thanksgiving I did have the blessing of it being all gluten free. My brother-in-law prepared everything naturally gluten free, with the exception of our gluten free stuffing. My mother-in-law's delicious pumpkin pie was gluten free. There was also great care taken to ensure there would be ZERO CHANCE of cross contamination. I could have cried with delight. I was so grateful, but I also realize this is the shooting star of get togethers. It's not most people's experience. It's not even usually mine.

So, what to do? If you're going out to a party, eat beforehand. I know, it sucks that you have to eat pre-party, while everyone else carelessly picks at anything catching their eye. And it also sucks to eat before going to a big meeting because your work "friend" never asks anyone if there are food allergies before ordering pizza for the crew. And yes, it gets really annoying bringing your own food to Christmas *just incase* there's nothing for you. But you know what? If you're bringing your own food, odds are it's way healthier. You ate before the restaurant, but you're not going to get sick. I find, in most cases, people seem to envy MY meal, not the other way around. Yes, my gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free pre-prepped meal. Or dessert. Or dinner. What I have on my fork is not the norm, it grabs people's interest, and ALWAYS breaks the ice and starts a conversation. As weird as I feel, I think most other people envy my *discipline*. Although we know that's not really what it is. There is simply no choice.

If your friends aren't willing to help, keep making new ones. You shouldn't keep finding yourself at a restaurant where you can't eat anything. Truly good friends are out there, and they're awesome and they'll make your life better on more levels than just dinner. And if you're headed to a gathering around food, bring something from home. It's a sure way to break the ice and get people talking to you.

And a pro tip - that irresistible pizza you smell? It never tastes as good as it smells or looks. Remember that, and you will keep your sanity! 


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