Happy New Year 2014 – Love Thyself

When I got up this morning I said, “It’s a brand new year. A brand new day.” Then the geek in me came out and I proceeded to sing “Brand New Day” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog. Oh yes, I am very proud to be a geek. It’s a wonderful thing to be proud of who you are. Don’t hold back. When I was in high school I had a very hard time fitting in. Heck, I had a hard time fitting in through most of my youth. The geeks didn’t want me. The goths didn’t want me. The preps didn’t want me. The punks didn’t want me. Thankfully, I had a couple of good friends who also didn’t quite fit in anywhere, and we sat together on the floor in the hall for lunch. We fit in together. That’s what’s important in life. Don’t worry about fitting into a bigger crowd. Find the people who you fit well with, and be together. Link arms, and stride through the world with your heads held high. My message for the new year is for you to love who you are. Don’t give up your true self to please others. Follow your heart. Follow your bliss. As for me, I’ll be geeking out hard core over here.

 

 

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Congratulations Hawai‘i!

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Passion Flower (a.k.a. Lilikoi blossom)

 

Today Hawai‘i passed a marriage equality bill through its last stage of our state congress. It still needs to be signed by our governor, who has the intention of signing the bill into law. Seeing no reason this will not happen, I am happy to go ahead and say thank you to all of those people who worked so hard to make this happen. Thank you to our legislators who voted in favor (and endured days of nearly endless testimony of both the perfectly sane and far gone varieties). Thank you to national and state organizations such as Human Rights Campaign and Equality Hawai‘i. And, an extra special thank you to the volunteers (e.g. my friend Kyle) who put in countless hours of phone calls, canvasing, and public education campaigns. Finally, if you even signed your name to one online petition in favor of marriage equality (either in Hawai‘i or another state), thank you for letting the world know how important the recognition of love and human rights truly are.

I know I lost a few followers on Twitter, but I know I gained even more than I lost over the last few weeks as the state in which I live worked toward equality. If you stuck with me through it, thank you to you too. If you’re new, welcome and thank you! To those who left, I’d say I’m sorry you’re gone, but that wouldn’t be the full truth. I’m more sorry that you can’t see your fellow human beings as equal to you, and worthy of the same rights you have. I hope some day you’ll learn to see the humanity we all share.

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Product Review: Jeff’s Naturals

Olives. It seems like people either love them, or hate them. Yet, I seem to fall somewhere in the middle. For most of my life I have despised olives. They just tasted so wrong to me. Especially the green ones. Yet, in the last couple of years I have taken a minor liking to kalamata olive tapenade. It seemed like it was probably the only way I’d like olives.

Then I tried Jeff’s Naturals kalamata olives. I randomly saw this line of certified gluten free products on the shelf as I was walking down the aisle of condiments. I figured that since I had liked kalamata olive tapenade that I might like kalamata olives on their own. So, I picked up a jar. I took them home, chopped them up, and threw them on a pizza. They rocked! I then popped one in my mouth, and I fell for them. Hard. I now have two jars in the fridge, and I seem to be putting them on a lot of my food.

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Last week I noticed that the line had capers. I have liked capers for most of the last decade, and considered it odd since I didn’t like olives. Especially the green ones (I know I said that already, but it’s worth repeating). I picked up a jar, opened it last night, and about half the jar is gone already (I even splashed a bit of the liquid into my pasta for extra kick. Yum!). I’m so glad they’re not expensive.

The last item in the photo are the pepperocinis. I like pepperocinis. They used to call them banana peppers at Subway. In the past I’d get a six inch veggie delight and have them load it up with these mild, tangy zips of flavor. The thing about pepperocinis is that they’re spicy, but not lingeringly spicy. They’re more zippy than spicy. There’s even a little pucker action that happens when I eat them. They make my salivary gland come alive! Jeff’s Naturals offers stand up pepperocinis that I am happy to buy a jar of for less than $3.00(US). I’m also happy about that price since Devin could probably devour the whole jar if given the chance. I won’t have to ration these!

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I’m really thrilled that there is a company out there making certified gluten free, vegan, kosher, non-GMO, organic jarred olives, peppers, sundried tomatoes and capers. I haven’t seen them anywhere but Mana yet, but if you have please let me know where on the island you’ve spotted them.

Note: I was not compensated in any way to write this review. I spent our own money buying these products and chose to review them on my own.

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Demons in My Food

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Oh no! They’re not organic, and they likely contain GMO. Screw it. Pass the salsa.

 

I’m tired of looking for the demons in my food. Hunting out the gluten is hard enough sometimes. Even if I read the label, has the company been honest? What about shared lines? Is that even mentioned on the label?

Damn, I live in Hawai‘i. That’s right. The company is closed by the time I get to the grocery store. I guess I can’t call while looking at the product. I’ll try to search the internet.

Huh, no good information. It is labeled gluten-free, but it’s not certified. Should I chance ‘em? Maybe not today. I’ll try searching more when I get home.

Oops, I got distracted by the rest of my life and forgot. Here we go again, back at the store with uncertainty. Maybe the same product, maybe not.

There’s no other option. I guess I’ll go without.

That’s the life of a celiac in the grocery store. That’s a good part of why I’ve decided to stop searching for every other demon in my food.

Yes, GMO is really bad. I get that. I really do. But, sometimes I just want some freaking tortilla chips that are gluten free, and fit my budget. They might not be organic, or GMO free, but dammit I want them anyway.

Yup, there might be some non-organic soy in something else I want to eat; but guess what, it’s gluten free certified and fits the budget. I’m going for it.

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It’s certified gluten free, but it contains non-organic soy. It’s likely GMO. Oh no!
Bring on the chicken and rice noodles.

 

Don’t be mistaken. I definitely try to buy as much organic, and non-GMO products as possible. But, I refuse deprivation because of these demons.

Today I was in Mana Foods (a local health food store), and was looking at the gluten free bread in the freezer. As I was contemplating which one to get I saw a man looking at the freezer case as well. He called over to his friend, in a rather snobby and snarky tone of voice, “Oh… look. Gluten free junk food.” I turned to him and said, “Damn right!” grabbed my bread, and carried on with my day. I heard him whisper to his friend, “I don’t care if it’s gluten free, it’s still junk food.” He’s right, gluten free junk food is still junk food. Yet, I have to wonder when the last time he ate a gluten filled pastry was. Or when he had a bowl of ice cream last. I’d bet it wasn’t too long ago.

I know what’s healthy. I know what isn’t. I have studied many nutritional philosophies for more than half a decade. I still eat a healthful diet compared to most Americans. I definitely am not on the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet).

But, I do like snacks and treats. Who doesn’t? I’m just tired of demonizing food. I’m tired of feeling more anxiety when I’m already an anxious person. I am tired of food guilt. I just want to eat.

So, I will. Are you tired of hunting out every demon in your food? If so, give a shout.

If you’ll still scrutinize every thing you eat, tell me why it’s important to you.

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Garden Fresh Gluten Free Arugula Pizza

What do you do when you have garden fresh arugula and basil? Make a pizza! Well, there are many things you can do with these two ingredients, but I really wanted to highlight them by making them the stars of a pizza. Pairing them with this gluten free crust recipe from Living Without magazine was clearly the right thing to do. My first intention was to do a pesto sauce, but I realized that I’d upstage the arugula and possibly make a flavor clash if I did. So, I decided to just go with olive oil on the crust (though a little minced garlic would also be nice now that I think about it…). Although arugula is already quite peppery on its own, especially when picked the same day it’s being used, you should put a bit more fresh cracked pepper with it as the nutrients become more bioavailable (according to a good friend of mine with whom I shared this pizza).

Everyone said this was the best gluten free crust they've ever had.

Everyone said this was the best gluten free crust they’ve ever had.

 

Once the crust is ready to go this pizza comes together quite quickly, so it’s a good choice for a healthful meal on a busy night if you have a ready made crust. It’s also a good choice if you want to take some time to make a crust from scratch. In the ingredients list I am estimating at the amount of each topping used, and this is fine to do because you might more or less of something that you really like. But, it’s a good starting point. You can also choose not to use the feta, but you’ll lose some of the saltiness so add it back in with a few pinches of quality finishing salt. I also added a tablespoon of chia seed to the crust recipe for some extra nutrition. Feel free to leave this out as it was not a part of the original recipe. Chopped chicken breast would also be outstanding here.

Super crispy and well flavored.

Super crispy and well flavored.

 

I invited a friend to join us for dinner and Battlestar Galactica time, and although she wasn’t a huge fan of the show she was a huge fan of the pizza. She declared it the best gluten free crust she’d ever had, and Devin agreed. They both really loved the freshness of the toppings; and we all had to restrain ourself from devouring both pizzas in one evening.

Garden Fresh Gluten Free Arugula Pizza

AmandaonMaui

  • One recipe of Easy Gluten Free Pizza Crust by Living Without (or 2 ready made medium crusts)
  • Cornmeal
  • 4 Tb good tasting olive oil (plus extra for the pan and drizzling)
  • 4 cups roughly chopped arugula
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of basil leaves, medium chiffonade
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper

Place your pizza crust onto an oiled pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal. Onto your unbaked pizza crust brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil (you can use your fingers or a basting brush). Top each crust with half of the arugula, half of the feta, half the lemon zest, and half the basil. Sprinkle each with half of the black pepper. Bake at 450F for 20-25 minutes. Drizzle the baked pizzas lightly with olive oil.

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