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Week At A Glance: On Living Gluten-Free

Quick confession for you: I’ve been feeling like a bit like a failure lately. Third week in a row I don’t have a proper family meal plan to share with you, our current schedule just isn’t allowing it and I’m feeling myself slowly spiral out of control.

You see, without that plan in place I’m left to my own devices. You can be almost 100% sure if I don’t know what’s for dinner ahead of time, we will wind up eating pasta! And as tasty as it may be, it’s not always the most healthy. I’m only in town a few days this week, then I’m off again this time jetsetting from gorgeous fall foliage in Ohio, to the incredible Oregon coast. I feel blessed beyond measure by all the opportunities coming my way, but also significant pressure to drop these few pounds I picked up last weekend in Houston … they are 100% potatoes. Can you say, Truffle Fries? Oh. my. gosh.

Anyway, since I don’t have a meal plan for you, per se … and won’t have one again next week while I’m traveling. I thought we’d try something new. Why not give you a peek at what I am eating?! How I’m living gluten-free: Real life, real food, real photos. It’s a pretty good interpretation of what we did … and what I need to keep doing to stay on track. So here it is, as much for you as it is for me.

Living Gluten-Free ... and loving it!

clockwise, L-R

My secret for feeling healthy and energetic lies in fresh fruits and veggies. I know this, yet I still sometimes struggle to get enough of them in my diet. Having an AMAZING salad dressing, makes eating salads a much more interesting choice for me. Since going gluten-free, and trying to cut back on processed sugars and salt I’ve had a hard time finding a salad dressing that suits my palate and my fancy.

Enter homemade salad dressings. If you can make one you really truly LOVE, like the one pictured here you’ll be looking forward to eating salads each day! This one is about a 1:1 ratio of red wine vinegar and olive oil. I like to add the vinegar first, then a 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic and all the spices I can get my hands on. Freeze dried basil, white pepper, a blend of 21 spices I picked up at Trader Joe’s, whatever else I see in my pantry! Add the oil, shake, shake, shake and suddenly my salad is pure happiness again.

The photos pictured here are backwards, the lentil salad you see next is actually what I ate last. Running short on greens, and all out of strawberries by this point I needed something a bit more satisfying to get me through a long day. Lentils it is. I’m amazed at how much I love them. A simple tossed salad, a scoop of warm lentils, and of course … red wine vinaigrette. (You’ll start to see a pattern here soon)

Next up, this incredibly sounding rich and creamy Lemon Chicken Penne from Pioneer Woman. I needed something comforting and new and I thought this would do the trick, but I was actually pretty disappointed. The recipe as is was very beige and bland — pasta, chicken, cream and cheese. I should have seen it coming, there wasn’t much color save for the herbs she garnished with here. I will say, I didn’t have the right cheeses on hand, so perhaps that makes all the difference? But the end product, felt heavy, and dry, and fattening. I used just half and half instead of the full cream and half and half she suggested, but it was still too much for us.

I have plenty of plans on how to improve on this and make it healthier next time! but what you see here is Day 2. When I added zucchini, artichokes, some cayenne pepper and more lemon. It was better than the first time around, but I’m still excited to try this again, my own way. (Made with brown rice penne of course)

A strawberry walnut salad I would eat, EVERY DAY.

Here’s where things get interesting. Little man woke up on Friday with a plan. He wanted a mint smoothie and he knew just how to make it happen. He gave me strict instructions. Add leaves (spinach) and almond milk first, then blend. Boy loves his greens! Now mint, we picked some fresh chocolate mint from our garden. 5 leaves, plus a few for smelling on the way inside. A bag of blueberries, some more almond milk, some green mint tea we had on hand. We blended and blended, then tasted. He thought a dollop of honey would be a great idea, I happily obliged. Five minutes late we were sipping on his new creation, the Blueberry Mint Smoothie. It was tasty, and I love that he isn’t afraid to experiment with new tastes and flavors.

We’ve gotten away from smoothies everyday since school started … need to get back into this stat! I feel so much better if I have a green smoothie for breakfast.

And more strawberry salad, because well it’s pretty much the best thing ever. This one we had for dinner, the WHOLE family loved it. Even my meat eaters and non-strawberry eaters. Huge win for me. Another spin-off from the recipe linked to above.

Missing from these photos is an amazing Brown Rice Spaghetti Happy & I made using ground turkey and panchetta. I sauteed some portabellos and zuchhini to add to mine, sprinkled with real parmesan cheese and I was in full carb lovers heaven, just a gluten free carb lovers version. Next on my list is a polenta version, with the same sauce as a base, but using garlic shrimp and pancetta instead! Yum.

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