The Monkey Left My Back

The monkey that has been plaguing my back has finally gone away! Actually, I have been carrying two monkeys on my back that are now gone.
The first monkey was a financial one, cause and effect of being well-employed, unemployed and then under-employed for the last six years. I am so glad that one more bill burden is gone!
The second monkey was a professional one. Because it has a lot to do with why I started back on this whole blog, I may never say what company it involves. Also, because I have so many jobs, I like to think it is pretty difficult for many people to guess. This monkey left me bittersweetly. I am proud of myself for putting up a good fight and really giving it “the old college try.” I tried, I fought, and a middle ground was met. I now have a pretty firm grasp of what I consider employment law and ADA compliance. This battle was big for me. I am very thankful that a common ground was finally met. I hope and pray that nobody has to go through that stress like I had to. However, I plan on continuing my advocacy in the “adult world” and fighting for and helping others who find themselves in this similar situation.

My boss gave me this cross today for my new home. It is a nice reminder that there is a higher power and force in the world. I am thankful for that.

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The Pseudo-Healthy Way to Stress Eat, according to me

In case it wasn’t super obvious, I LOVE food! I love snacks. I LOVE cookies. I love cookies so much, my big dog is named Cookie!
This week has been pretty rough, with random, wild and crazy stress in my personal and professional life. So, while at the grocery store yesterday, I picked up this box of cookies.

20130328-083823.jpg Before yesterday, I was not a fan of Mary’s Gone Crackers. I have only tried their crackers and really did not care for them: too much quinoa, or too crispy. I don’t know, I just knew I didn’t like them and they didn’t agree with me.
Now, however, I am in love with this box of Love Cookies! These chocolate chip cookies are everything I need, and have the crunch and flavor of everything I miss from not being able to eat traditional Tollhouse cookies. It was as if my mom made them and I was a kid again, sneaking into the cookie jar for one more cookie.
These Love Cookies are organic, Non-GMO Project, vegan (no egg, no milk in that chocolate), and contain chia (protein and vitamins). I love that these cookies were not crumbly, like gluten-free cookies tend to be, they were also not hard as a rock, like you would think of a “vegan” health-food cookie or biscuit would be. I guess you can tell I love Love Cookies and will be purchasing more in the near future! Mary’s Gone Crackers Love Cookies for the Gluten Free WIN!

Thankful

I am striving to be grateful for everything I have this week.
I have a great new place to live for my dogs and myself. We will be so happy there!
I am thankful for my friends who have been supportive through the last couple weeks and have given me the great advice to FIGHT!
I am so lucky to have a support system in this gluten-free community! Some people are supported by their family. I am given the strength to fight for every day through my gluten free family.
I am blessed to have a family that is willing to support me when every job I have barely pays the bills.
I am thankful.

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Food from the last week

It wasn’t much, but I ate some stuff. Most of this was made at Vegeria Vegan Restaurant in San Antonio, TX. Thank you, Fred Anthony!

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The only thing I ate not from Vegeria: Special Order Veggie Gluten Free Sandwich (made in back of house with all fresh and new ingredients, no cross contamination) at Life Cafe (inside Lifetime Fitness 281/1604), San Antonio, TX on Udi’s bread!
I told the staff I was severely allergic and they totally accommodated me! Those guys are awesome!!! 20130324-043026.jpg

Now that’s a sandwich!! 20130324-043358.jpg

Depression

I have not been this depressed in a while. Maybe it is hitting me today because of my thyroid. Maybe it is because of my many jobs. Maybe it is because of the jobs I do not have. Maybe it is because of the lack of money in my bank account after paying student loans and buying gluten free food. Maybe it is just a little brain fog bubble that needs to get out. Maybe it is just stress catching up with me. Maybe it is a sign to be better and do more. I do not know what it is that is making me depressed today, but I do know I am loved by my dogs, and that is enough.

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Powers and Prayers

20130318-062809.jpgI’m trying to be strong. I’m trying to be brave. I’m trying to look the other way. I’m trying to move forward.
I’m facing yet another trying time in my life and it always seems like the powers of good vs. evil whenever this happens. This time, however, I am armed with a medical diagnosis. For this, I am thankful. I know what I need to do. I just need some help and prayers to get me there.

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Expo West envy… SXSW wins…

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My Expo West envy began when I realized I had a new addiction to chia seeds, and everything that is good about chia: chia pets, chia powder, chia “boogers,” chia vitamins, chia omegas. So as soon as my dear friend Celiac and the Beast got to try a new Mamma Chia snack pouch at Expo West, I was on a mission to get anything and everything related to Mamma Chia! Lucky for me, there was a rep demo at the Austin, TX Whole Foods Flagship Store during my first night at SXSW! He hooked me up with some swag and a coupon I used that night! 20130311-185134.jpg

Before my chia addiction, there was an ice pop addiction. Yup, I love sugar (it’s glucose, not gluten), I love fruit, and apparently I love flowers mixed with mint! Good Pop is a locally owned business, based in Austin, TX. These guys created a brand in creating “good for you” ice pops. They are my favorite, and the Hibiscus Mint is what got me hooked on them a couple years ago at an in-store demo. This company is great too, every year they have a contest with Austin elementary school children to create a new flavor. This last year’s winning flavor was created by a group of children, I believe the flavor was blueberry lemonade. 20130311-184943.jpg

I saw this guy wandering 6th Street and he asked for a picture. All I could think of was a fellow blogger’s site, Breaking Up with Captain Crunch, so I had to take the picture for her, whether she knows who I am or not. 20130311-185018.jpg

I got to share a ride with my fabulous driver, Chuck Manley (yup, that is his real name), and with Nat Jones. Nat was super cool, a hilarious good guy, from the great state of Chicago – apparently Chicago is now a state within the state of Illinois. He has a great YouTube site as well, so check him out for cool new workout videos and reviews! 20130311-185809.jpg
I finally made my way to the food truck area of SXSW and found this great Houston-based Vietnamese food truck. Phamily Bites was able to accommodate my food allergies and made me a safe, gluten free, (although they didn’t have their vegan broth, and they had just run out of all the veggies), big bowl of phō. This hot bowl of soup was much needed on a cold night!
It was a cold night, but you know I love food, so I had to try everything that promised to be gluten free and delicious! So I stopped at Jeni’s Frozen Yogurt truck and got one scoop of each of their gluten free flavors: dark chocolate, lemon, and salty caramel. The other two were great together, but I could easily eat a gallon of lemon and not be sorry for it. It was that good! The great thing about Jeni’s is that they are local to Columbus, OH and can ship to all 50 states on a dry ice pack overnight. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me! You can count on me begging for “ice cream” all summer long in San Antonio, TX! 20130311-185046.jpg 20130311-185031.jpg

While driving around the city, I did get to see a couple cool things: The Texas State Capital building is really the prettiest building I’ve ever seen. I love the dome and the reddish color of the exterior. 20130311-185009.jpg

I’m pretty sure that guy in the crowd with the creamy white hat being interviewed is LL Cool J. Though I was far away, it was still kind of a highlight moment. 20130311-195947.jpg
That concludes my SXSW experience this time around. I’m sure to have a few more updates from the music portion of the event later.

Some girls buy shoes, some girls buy food…

So, this week’s blog was supposed to be about the ups and downs of life, of having Hashimoto’s, of never knowing if your food will make you sick because of food allergies or unknown gluten contamination. But it’s not going to be about all that, not really. I’d rather write about my cool new finds and another way I just noticed I deal with my emotions: retail therapy.
In the last week I have easily spent over $200 on food: safe, healthy, great-tasting, gluten free food! I guess it may be part of my love of food that drives me to use this as a form of retail therapy, but it also may just be because I am always hungry! I love food, everything about food: taste, texture, and smell. I’m not saying I don’t buy shoes as part of my “retail therapy.” I’m just saying I think of food before shoes most of the time. I have always been this way, even before I knew I had food allergies and intolerances. This is why I am so thankful that I have such a special relationship with food. Although my food bills six years ago included more food for my dollar, my life is better and I feel better with the better quality and “real” foods I am now purchasing. My former stress-coping mechanism has become a passion, and I’m no longer afraid to admit that and share that with the world.
(These are one of my new pairs of shoes – super comfortable, super cheap.)
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This is my dog, and my new favorite Woodchuck Cider. It’s called “Spring” and really does taste delicious! It’s like drinking apple pancakes covered in fresh maple syrup. I enjoyed every drop after a stressful day of working two jobs. I honestly never thought I would enjoy a hard cider more than a good red wine. Woodchuck had me with their new Reserve flavor – made in Heaven Hill Bourbon’s barrels – I’m now a loyal Woodchuck flavored hard cider fan with this Spring flavor. Woodchuck just keeps bringing it!
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Chia seed is my newest favorite addition to my protein and juicing mixes. After seeing updates and reviews from fellow bloggers attending Expo West, I was super bummed that I wasn’t there and didn’t get to try Mamma Chia’s new chia food pouches. (I love food pouches – baby and tot food pouches from Happy Family and Ella’s Kitchen baby food are my favorites!) I had no idea that Mamma Chia made other products, so I became a super-fan as soon as I met my area’s local representative at Whole Foods in Austin, Texas. He knew about the new pouches but did not have any with him. However, he was sampling all the fun new-to-me flavors of Mamma Chia drinks. I love that everything is gluten free, vegan, and organic. I also love their brand’s image: a woman who looks like she is deep in meditation. This is very much the way chia seeds make me feel. They are loaded with vitamins and omega’s that make me feel at peace inside.
This is me rocking my new Mamma Chia pin with my two favorite flavors of Mamma Chia drinks in the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin, TX.
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In other news… I’ve been at South by Southwest all weekend and totally rocking my Celiac and the Beast sweater all over Austin, TX. Keep spreading awareness!
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Food and meals of the week…

Most of the foods I’ve eaten this last week are pictured below. All are clean, real, and safe.
Of course, I must start with all the delicious, fun, healthy desserts and “tacos” from Vegeria Vegan Restaurant in San Antonio, TX. I love this place! It’s my safe haven in my crazy gluten-filled life in San Antonio. All the recipes are so creative, fresh, and a delicious vegan and gluten free spin on the norm of Tex-Mex dining.
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-High-protein desserts to be jealous of: Sunbutter Energy Fudge, Almond Butter Fudge, Sunbutter Fudge with Coconut Creme Cupcake-20130309-225228.jpg

-The first hot meal I’ve had since Christmas Eve: Portabella Avocado Custom Creation “Open-Faced” Taco.-20130309-225237.jpg

-Custom Quick Veggie Taco-20130309-225312.jpg

-Strawberry Lavender and Lavender cupcakes-20130309-225510.jpg
-Lifetime Fitness has a restaurant inside, so I purchased a veggie sandwich on Udi’s Gluten-Free bread.-20130309-224637.jpg

-Raw Revolution has the best tasting raw energy bars. I picked up a bunch of samples at the GFAF Expo and am just now getting to eat them. They were worth the wait! I highly recommend them, all of them! If you can find them: Buy Them! If you have to mail-order, beg, borrow, or steal for them: Do It!- 20130309-224655.jpg

-Udi’s never let’s me down, never let’s me go hungry. Again, I am just going to say this package of mini chocolate muffins may or may not have been a meal this week. (If you’re following me on Instagram, you know the delicious truth.)-20130309-224744.jpg

-I’m not a huge fan of soy-and it’s not a huge fan of me either. If I was cool with eating a bunch of soy, I would surely recommend these No-Gi bars above all else, because they taste so good, the texture is pretty nice too.
Because I enjoy this flavor, I do want to recommend Better Batter’s Zion’s Bar. It’s consistency and flavor is actually better too: stronger mint and chocolate that resembles a certain thin, minty Girl Scout Cookie, with a slightly less-demanding crunchiness. And Better Batter’s bars won’t ever melt in your car or purse!-20130309-224830.jpg

-Enjoy Life’s version of the Crunch bar… My first candy bar after going gluten free over five years ago. This one has a special place in my heart and will ALWAYS be welcomed in my belly!-20130309-224939.jpg

-Tru-Bar, from Bakery On Main, is a great new thing! I love how they like to surprise me with chocolate chips mixed in with what otherwise would be called: allergy friendly trail mix in a bar. I have tried all the bars I picked up at the GFAF Expo now, and I honestly cannot pick a favorite! I am probably not going to be buying Bakery On Main’s granola anymore, because these portion-controlled bars have more flavor, ingredients, and nutrients.-20130309-225004.jpg

-Freedom Foods has these great cereals that are very appealing to parents and kids alike. These were my favorite from the GFAF Expo: Tropico’s. they are the allergy friendly version of the national branded fruit o’s. Although they do have non-GMO corn as a main ingredient, I did not have a bad reaction to this cereal. I attribute that to all natural plant and flower-based food coloring, and that these are vegan (no egg) too.-20130309-225042.jpg

-Olives! These olives are packaged in Morocco, super delicious and healthy. Another great go-to snack that is full of flavor!-20130309-225119.jpg

-My absolute favorite KIND Bar: Coconut Almond. This is my go-to emergency food, sold at every Wal-mart, so I know I can always get something in a bind, while traveling for work.-20130309-225200.jpg

-My love of foods in a squeeze pouch was mastered by Happy Family brand. This squeeze pouch was just perfect! A much needed snack to help me make it through the end of my work day. Taste and texture are always nice with everything Happy Family makes. My favorite thing is that they are simple- few fruits. They are always organic, always natural and always gluten free. I travel a lot in my car for work, between jobs, etc., so having fresh fruit for an afternoon sugar spike is not always an option, this makes it possible.-20130309-225020.jpg -Happy Safe Snacking!-

Today was a good age day…

Today was a good age day. I was just getting started at my first job of the day and this guy (who admitted he was under 30 years old) thought I was under 25 years old. This wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. But it’s huge for me. It’s huge because two days ago I felt like I was dying. Three days ago I was miserably sick. Four days ago I could not feel my feet. Five days ago I was super tired. Six days ago I was too sick to work a full day. Seven days ago I slept most of the day away.
I’d like to thank my parents for these wonderful genetics: big hair, big cheeks, big eyes… When I’m feeling good I look ten years younger than I am! (I won’t mention it’s mostly genetics that made me sick to begin with.) I’d also like to thank Red Apple Lipstick for helping my lips pop and shimmering eyeshadow that helps keep me looking young.

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