Gluten-Free: Fact or Fiction

Gluten-Free Fact or Fiction

Hello, again! I hope you had a fun-filled weekend and are ready for the (hopefully) short week ahead. I can’t believe it’s almost the 4th of July! Summer is flying by too quickly, in my opinion. I have things lined up every weekend from now ’til September and it seems like the weeks just keep picking up pace, too.

This weekend I made a trip up to the Minneapolis area for a bachelorette party for one of my closest friends from college. Her wedding is in just a few short weeks and if this weekend was any indication of how the wedding will be, I know we’re in for a good time.

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I arrived home yesterday completely exhausted from the weekend, so today, instead of a recipe, I’m adding another segment to my “Dietitian Ramblings” collection. This week’s topic: gluten. It’s a topic I hear about often what with the gluten-free craze/fad running rampant now. Here are my professional thoughts on the topic:

Is gluten or wheat “bad” for me? Can I lose weight if stop eating gluten? Will I be healthier if I go gluten-free? These questions and more are common concerns I hear frequently thanks to the barrage of — often misleading —information coming at us every day from the media.

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Cowboy Burgers

Cowboy Burgers

Maid-rites…Sloppy Joes…Taverns…it’s one classic Midwest favorite that has many names. I feel like the name you’re most familiar with depends on where you grew up (Taverns were something I hadn’t even heard of until about high school or college) and the consistency of the sandwich. While it’s essentially a simple base of ground hamburger with a ketchup sauce mixed in, for a sandwich with many names, there are even more recipes for it out there. How is one to decide?!

To make it easy for you, I’m declaring this version of the beloved Midwest sandwich the one you need from here on out. :) Don’t you love it when somebody makes a hard decision for you? I guarantee you won’t regret it and you’ll no longer be searching for that perfect go-to recipe that needs to be on the table in 30 minutes. (psst! it’s this one!)

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Now, I grew up having maid-rites all the time. My mom’s were simple, no fuss sandwiches with just 2 ingredients — ground beef and ketchup. My friend, Karen’s, mom made maid-rites, too, but were completely different and I absolutely loved those as well…as in, I’d probably have at least 2 sandwiches when I went to visit (which was often). Not to mention, we had baked French fries at Karen’s house to go with the maid-rites, something my mom never made. So, I devoured those, too. I think it’s safe to say I had a big appetite.

But Philip, on the other hand, didn’t have as fond of memories of maid-rites as I did growing up. When I put maid-rites on our menu board, he wasn’t all that thrilled. As always, he gave it a loving try and he instantly knew these were much different than what he remembered as maid-rites (in a good way). With the negative connotation still in his head, I declared them Cowboy Burgers — my version of a maid-rite with a revamped name. Problem solved. The sandwich has so many names anyway, why not add one more to the list?

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Caramelized Onion & Plum with Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread

Caramelized Onion & Plum with Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread

Do you ever have those weekends where you go, go, go and you finally come to a point where you have to take a nap or collapse before you try to do anything else without hurting yourself, getting overly irritated, or crying over spilt milk?

Yep, that was me this weekend. I knew it was going to be one of those weekends when on Friday night I stated how I couldn’t wait to “sleep in” next weekend…hello, what happened to this weekend?! Well, work on Saturday plus a very early triathlon on Sunday morning happened this weekend. Mixed in there were house and garden “chores”, a picnic with friends, and another get together with more friends. Yes, the busy summer schedule is upon us.

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Which means summer food is also upon us. And my Caramelized Onion & Plum with Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread is a great and fresh meal to get us started with warm days and cool evenings that go far past my bedtime.

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Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad

Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad

Welcome, friends! After a couple of busy weekends (doing this and this), it was nice to have a calm(er) weekend this past weekend. It was a good weekend to get caught up, I guess, because I spent my day off spending two hours at Target (yeah…you can only imagine what the bill was when I left Target, considering I can spend 15 minutes in Target and still spend too much. All that time spent and the most exciting thing I got was a new hair dryer…). And while I worked on the weekend, Philip spent another 1 1/2 hours at Farm & Fleet…yes, we are officially homeowners. :) In addition to those errands, we had grocery runs (yep, that’s plural) and a little bit of time to just kick up our feet and relax.

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What wasn’t calmer was our weather…remember how I said last week that I had fallen in love with Madison in the spring and fall? Well, except for when the weather mixes up those two seasons and the spring feels more like fall. Even though I had to break out my hat this weekend to go on a morning run, I still have faith that the weather is going to turn itself around soon. And what better way to encourage it than by turning up the heat in the kitchen with Latin Chipotle Quinoa Salad.

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Southwest Pizza with Lime & Cilantro

Southwest Pizza

Welcome back to the start of another work week after a long, fun-filled weekend! Boy, did it feel good to have an extra day added on to our weekend. Philip and I both agreed that we could get used to having a three-day weekend all the time…if only that was possible.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Memorial Day weekend. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday morning, so Philip and I started off the weekend by heading to the Madison farmers’ market, which surrounds the Capitol square. We picked up some plants and herbs for our garden and had an enjoyable time strolling amongst all the people. So many people!

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My friend, Sarah — who might as well be my sister — came into town on Saturday. We’ve been friends since freshman year of college when we were randomly assigned as roommates (we lived with each other for 4 years and still came out as close of friends as ever). It’s sometimes eery how similar we are…and we love it. :)

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We chatted into the night and woke up bright and early to run the Madison Half Marathon on Sunday. Somehow I convinced her that she should do her first half marathon in Madison and had so much fun sharing the experience with her. There’s nothing quite like completing your first half or full marathon. Thankfully we both outran the rain and were finished by the time the downpour started.

Madison Half Marathon

Monday started out looking gloomy, too, but by the afternoon, it cleared up enough for Philip and me to take our first bike ride of the season together. I’ve fallen in love with Madison during the spring through fall (it hasn’t won me over for it’s winters yet). The wild flowers were blooming and wild life were everywhere along the bike trails.

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To finish out a great weekend, we fired up the grill and had the perfect summer meal — Southwest Pizza. Seriously, yum. I barely have words to describe how tasty this was. So many flavors coming together to create a flavor explosion in your mouth. Philip was pretty much speechless and couldn’t get enough of it — which is always my gage to see if recipes make it to the blog. Based on his reaction, I knew this recipe was one I needed to share with you ASAP, so you could enjoy it as long as possible through the upcoming summer months (and beyond).

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Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad

Happy Monday, everyone! After a fun trip to Illinois to see family this past weekend, it’s back to the normal workweek grind in Madison for me today.

But this past weekend was anything but a normal weekend. And it was definitely anything but boring. My sister-in-law’s three kids were turning 5, 3 and 1 (over the course of 3 months) and this weekend she threw a big circus-themed joint birthday party for all of them — bounce house and all. Let’s just say, my sister-in-law knows how to throw a party! She single-handedly made our wedding look 10x better than if it had been solely up to me. I think it’s safe to say her motto is “Go big or go home.”

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Although the rain put a damper on things, it was still a glowing success and gave Philip and I a chance to connect with family and for me to see his old stomping grounds again — including some of his favorite restaurants he grew up going to as a kid. Every time we go back home, it’s safe to say we’ll either be having “Gondolas” (a ham and salami sub sandwich) from Avanti’s Restaurant or pizza from Monical’s, a family-favorite pizza place in town. I love seeing how food can bring so much joy to people and bring back fond memories; especially for Philip since he gets so excited when he knows a childhood favorite is coming, like the grilled steak dinner I made for him last weekend.

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Another childhood favorite of his that happens to also be a favorite in my family as well is a Midwest classic: Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad. Only in the Midwest can something containing Jell-O and Cool Whip be considered a “salad.” By no means am I promoting this as a healthy alternative to a green-tossed salad, but in light of recognizing the joy food can bring and the memories certain foods can hold, this is one that I keep in my back pocket for nostalgic purposes (oh, and okay, because it tastes so gosh darn good).

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The Perfect Grill-Out Steak & Vegetable Marinade

Steak & Vegetable Marinade

I’ve come to realize more and more over the past 2 years how blessed I am to have the husband that I have. Not only does he willingly do all the dishes that I regularly dirty up while cooking, help with laundry and house chores, and cross things off the honey-do list with no complaining (although he’s jokingly warned me not to ask for a 20+ frame collage on the wall), he also is pretty easy to please in terms of meals.

He willingly accepts almost anything I make him – no matter how “healthy” it is or how foreign it is from his childhood “meat and potatoes” meals. In the past 2 years, I can count on one hand the number of dishes he hasn’t been a big fan of…and he still ate the meal and the leftovers anyway.

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Although I wouldn’t mind if he did, he also doesn’t have a long list of meals he grew up with that he requests me to replicate – he lets me freely experiment with new recipes and make my old favorites how I wish. Plus, talk about pressure to bring back a childhood favorite! Nothing ever tastes the same when somebody else is trying to copy it.

Howeeeeever, there is that one recipe. The one I hear about every summer: Grilled steak and vegetables that have been soaked in a saucy marinade accompanied by grilled Texas toast (because there has to be Texas toast to complete the meal, according to Philip).  It was the only recipe card he had when we got married, stashed away in one of his cookbooks his only cookbook.

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Detox Your Body: How it can fit into a healthy diet

 Whew, what a weekend! I need another weekend just to recover from my weekend. It was a great one though — fun, productive, relaxing, and celebratory! Here’s what we fit into a single weekend:

I ran my first race of the season on Saturday morning. I couldn’t have asked for a better race to start the season off; it was perfect weather, a great course around Lake Monona (one of the two lakes in Madison if you’re unfamiliar with the area), and (most importantly) the food at the end was a full on smorgasbord.

Lake Monona 20K

The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning out our garage (this is the productive part of the weekend). It was the final “room” that needed to be cleaned out since we moved into our house in December. What a great feeling to have everything finally all cleaned and its place!

A date night of sushi and ice cream (we’re keeping it classy) followed our productive day and the fun just kept on going into Sunday with a wedding for two of our close friends from Madison. Couldn’t be any happier for the couple!

It certainly felt like summer was here — or at least just around the corner — this past weekend! With all this spring cleaning and donation trips to Goodwill going on, it got me thinking about the importance of spring cleaning our bodies, too. Instead of a normal recipe post today, I thought I’d share a little bit about my dietitian thoughts on detoxing…

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Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Do you think it’s safe to say the weather has finally come around to this idea of it being spring…finally?! I feel like yesterday our moods were lifted and neighbors were out and about once again after being dormant for the past week with all the cold, windy, and rainy weather we’ve been having. But now…now the weather is warmer, the sun is shining, and I sense cool evenings on our porch, sipping on wine and socializing with our neighbors, are in our near future. Watch, next week is back to 40 degree weather…

Whichever way the temperature wants to go, whether it be cold or hot, life has gotten busy! Well, it always has been busy, I suppose, but for some reason our busyness has been kicked up a notch over the past few weeks.

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I’m passionate about meal planning (find out more here and here). It’s definitely not always easy and straight forward, especially when you work late at least one night during the week, have small group another night, and still want to fit in some swimming in the evenings before your triathlon that’s coming up in a month (Eek! I should probably get that bike down from the garage, huh?).

Meal planning has become almost like a puzzle (and to be honest, I kind of like it in some bizarre way). If we want to eat grilled chicken and Cherry-Almond Farro Salad on Wednesday, I need to have the time to prep the salad on Tuesday night. If we have an event to go to on Friday with no time for meal prep, whatever I make on Thursday needs to make enough leftovers for Friday…and this is just the start of my weekly dilemmas. I honestly understand why people don’t meal plan and resort to going out to eat.

Although prepping meals the night before or counting on leftovers are very useful, sometimes it’s nice to have a healthy, balanced meal that comes together in just a half hour with only a couple of pans to clean up — no advanced, in-depth planning needed. Cajun Chicken Pasta is just that and is light enough to enjoy on a (hopefully) warm spring or summer evening.

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Soft Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies with Vanilla Glaze

Soft Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies with Vanilla Glaze

Hello again, everyone! You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA over the past week, but boy, has it been busy around these parts! I’m proud to say that during that time, we’ve now become official owners of a grill and a lawnmower. Does that not make us homeowners or what?

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We had my parents and aunt & uncle visiting us for the first time in our new home last weekend and we were able to break in the new grill with them. We received some helpful grilling tips from my dad and uncle and savored every bite of our perfectly grilled salmon and steaks for dinner. Nothing beats the smell of grilled food…except maybe freshly cut grass if you’re my husband. He said he had to pause a few times while mowing this weekend to inhale breathe in the smell. It’s the small things in life, right?

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You know what else is just as simple and refreshing? Having the windows and patio door open with a slight breeze blowing in, hearing birds chirping away while you whip up a batch of Soft Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies with Vanilla Glaze on your day off. It’s the simple things, I tell ya!

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