Recipe: One Bowl Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Quick Bread

I am in love with my Gluten Free on a Shoestring books.  I always have been.  I always will be.  Because the recipes utilize items you would normally have in your kitchen.  Not only that, all of the recipes are super easy to prepare and have been DELICIOUS!

I mean…DELICIOUS!

I own three of the four Gluten Free on a Shoestring books by Nicole Hunn.  However, this particular recipe I stumbled across through a post on Facebook…and it is not in any of her current books.  That being said, I pinned it to my Pinterest account and then made arrangements to make it that weekend.

And I did.  And it was awesome.

I loved how light and full of peanut butter flavor this bread was. While the chocolate chips are optional, I highly recommend it.  Great topped off with jam or…as I enjoyed preparing it…as French toast…with blueberry maple syrup topping it off.  Whether you like it plain, jammed up, buttered up, or French toast style…this quick bread is super easy to make and even easier to devour.

Recipe: One Bowl Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Quick Bread

One Bowl Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Quick Bread

One Bowl Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Quick Bread

Servings: 10-12
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 60 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 cup smooth natural peanut butter (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Unsalted Natural Peanut Butter, but I bet any other nut butter, or non-nut-butter would work beautifully)
  • 1-1/4 cups milk, at room temperature (I used Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk)
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Mina’s Purely Divine Gluten Free All-Purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or try arrowroot or potato starch) (I actually used arrowroot)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but recommended!) (I used Enjoy Life)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease or line a standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and set it aside.

In a large, heat-safe bowl, place the peanut butter and microwave for 30-seconds on high power just to loosen up the peanut butter and make it easier to stir. Remove it from the microwave and whisk the peanut butter until smooth.

Add the milk, eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda, whisking to combine well after each addition. The batter will be thin.

Switch to a large spoon or spatula, and add the flour and cornstarch, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be relatively thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Using a very sharp knife, score the center of the loaf along the length from one end to the other in one swift motion. Scatter the (optional) chocolate chips over the top of the batter, and press the chips gently into the batter to adhere.

Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (about 1 hour), rotating once during baking.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the loaf pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice thickly and serve, topped off however you want. Wrap any leftover slices tightly in freezer-safe wrap and freeze until ready to use. Defrost at room temperature.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

Serious…serious yum!  I mean…yum!!  And if you want a protein-packed breakfast or snack, this is the bread to make.  It has great flavor, great taste, great texture.  It was light (not dense and heavy) and the chocolate chips gave it this nice touch of sweetness without overpowering the entire recipe.  And, as I said, it is great as French toast.  For real!!  I was sad when my roommate and I polished this off on Friday for breakfast, but I will definitely be making this again.

I hope you do too!

*already craving more*

Product Review: Daiya Cheezy Mac (Deluxe Cheddar, Deluxe Alfredo, White Cheddar Style Veggie)

Product Review: Daiya Cheezy Mac (Deluxe Cheddar, Deluxe Alfredo, Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggies) – $4.99+/each

There is just something that is so uplifting about finding a newly released product rather quickly in your regular grocery store.  That was exactly how I felt when I stumbled across the new line of Daiya Cheezy Mac, which I didn’t even know existed.  So…surprise, surprise!

Usually I keep very up-to-date on any forthcoming gluten-free and dairy-free products, and Daiya is always my go-to when it comes to anything involving cheese!  I have been a fan of Daiya vegan cheese products since I first had to go dairy-free.  While I find that most of their products have that “Daiya” flavor…it doesn’t really change the fact that it is delicious vegan cheesy goodness.  Gotta love it.

So, yes…imagine the happy dance of joy that occurred when I was walking the natural food aisles at my local Kroger and…as I turn around from the vegan milks…there on a shelf right at eye-level are three different varieties of the Daiya Cheezy Mac products.  OH. MY. GOD.  There were only 1 box left of each on the shelf.  And they were all coming home with me.

I’ve been cutting out a lot of processed foods, but there is always a time and a place for easy-to-prepare products, especially on those weeks where you’ve planned out breakfast, snacks, and dinners…but forget about the ever-important lunch meal.  Which is exactly what happened this past week.  But, thankfully these beautiful boxes were sitting on a shelf in my pantry and definitely saved three days of lunches this past week (the other days brought allergen-free soft pretzels from the local gluten-free bakery, Annie May’s Sweet Cafe, and I cooked up a gluten-free vegan pasta with fresh veggies from the garden).  Guess it was a week of pasta lunches…and I’m way okay with that.

So…let’s start with the first one that we tried right out of the gate…

Daiya Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy Mac

Daiya Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy Mac

Daiya Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy MacDaiya Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy Mac

This was the smartest pic of the day when we devoured this for lunch of Tuesday.  There was a serious lack of veggies happening that day, with our local professional soccer team playing that night.  The morning was filled with some gym-time and leftover couscous cakes and dairy-free yogurt.  That at least had some fruit in it.  But dinner, for me, was simply a protein bar (Luna Protein Mint Chocolate Chip if you were wondering…) so the veggies were a nice touch and perfect on this day.  This box comes complete with a package of gluten-free brown rice pasta and dehydrated veggies (think peas, carrots, and red bell pepper) and a pouch of dairy-free “cheeze” sauce (not powder), which is white cheddar flavored in this particular version.  As the noodles are boiled for 7-8 minutes to reach that perfect al dente, the veggies re-hydrate, adding not only a touch of color but some depth of flavor too.  Noodles are drained and then put back into the pot and the cheeze sauce is then poured over top and mixed in.  LOVE!!  I LOVED THIS!  I was so happy with the first bite I took of this pasta.  It was creamy and dreamy and fluffy and awesome.  And just…REALLY FREAKIN’ GOOD!  How’s that.  The veggies are a very nice touch and one that doesn’t leave semi-hard veggies into perfectly cooked pasta.  It all came together.  And the sauce being in a pouch and being a sauce, not a powder, meant it was silky and creamy and not lumpy and gunky.  I really enjoyed this!  I shouldn’t have been surprised…but I was.

Ingredients for the Daiya Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy Mac are: Brown rice pasta (whole grain brown rice, rice bran, water), filtered water, dried vegetable blend (pea, carrot, red bell pepper), tapioca starch, non-GMO expeller pressed: canola and/or safflower oil, coconut oil, sea salt, vegan natural flavors, pea protein isolate, potato protein, tricalcium phosphate, evaporated cane sugar, lactic acid (vegan, for flavor), xanthan gum, yeast extract, titanium dioxide (naturally occurring mineral), onion, vitamin B12.  It is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, certified vegan, and also kosher.

As for nutritional information for the Daiya Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy Mac…my roommate and I split these to make a bigger meal, but the serving size is 1/3 of the package with 3 (obviously) servings per box.  One serving will provide 290 calories, 9 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat (from the coconut oil), 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 590 mg sodium, 48 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 6 grams protein.  How about that??!!

Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac

Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac

Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac

So then, along came Thursday.  And when I went to the pantry on Wednesday night to prepare the pasta for Thursday’s lunch, I asked my roomie if she wanted alfredo or cheddar.  She went with the classic cheddar.  And so, out that box came.  Same basic cooking instructions as the other box.  Which makes it really easy to plan on preparation timing.  HA!  Into the boiling water went the noodles (no veggies this time).  Once they were done, they were drained and sauced accordingly.  And this one…this one really wins the day.  When I first started making the (highly processed) Velveeta Mac & Cheese meals at home, I loved how the sauce would just taste on the noodles, coating all of them in this great ooey-gooey-ness.  And THAT was what Daiya did here.  Daiya brought me the flavors of my adolescent years…in a version that I safely can devour and gorge myself on.  Which, I could easily do.  The rich, velvety cheeze sauce is a perfect cheddar flavor, coating each noodle in its creamy goodness.  I was in heaven while I devoured this one at my desk that day.  Seriously…beyond anything that I expected!  I would marry this product.

The ingredients in the Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac are: Brown rice pasta (whole grain brown rice, rice bran, water), filtered water, tapioca starch, non-GMO expeller pressed: canola and/or safflower oil, coconut oil, sea salt, vegan natural flavors, pea protein isolate, potato protein, tricalcium phosphate, evaporated cane sugar, lactic acid (vegan, for flavor), xanthan gum, yeast extract, titanium dioxide (naturally occurring mineral), annatto (color), onion, vitamin B12.  This product is also gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, certified vegan, and kosher.

As for nutrition, a serving of the Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac is 1/3 of the package and the package is meant to serve 3.  A serving of the Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Cheezy Mac will provide you with 300 calories, 9 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat (again…coconut oil), 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 580 mg sodium, 48 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 0 grams sugars, and 5 grams protein.  It is filling and delicious and amazing and I love, love, love it.

Diaya Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac

Diaya Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac

Daiya Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac

My roommate didn’t grow up eating anything with alfredo sauce…so moving in with me has been an adventure.  I’ve made this usually dairy-heavy sauce out of cauliflower and now have dished it up using Daiya’s version of this amazing sauce.  While this one turned out to be her least favorite, I think this was my second favorite (cheddar being the best!).  Same easy prep…same simple directions, but this time…that awesome those cooked noodles were drenched in the comforting white sauce that is alfredo.  Yes…alfredo can be just as delicious without all the cream and dairy and Daiya proves it.  I loved the little touch of black pepper, which brought a depth of flavor to each bite.  The creamy sauce clung to the noodles, making each bite feel so sinful, but in honesty, it wasn’t.  And that is what makes this the ultimate comfort food of all time.  And, yes, this does have that cheesy, creaminess that is associated with alfredo for sure.  You won’t even miss the real thing.  This was true love.  True, true love.

The ingredients that go into the Daiya Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac are: Brown rice pasta (whole grain brown rice, rice bran, water), filtered water, tapioca starch, non-GMO expeller pressed: canola and/or safflower oil, coconut oil, vegan natural flavors, sea salt, pea protein, potato protein, tricalcium phosphate, evaporated cane sugar, lactic acid (vegan, for flavor), xanthan gum, titanium dioxide (naturally occurring mineral), yeast extract, spices, onion, garlic, vitamin B12.  As before, this product is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, certified vegan, and kosher!

As for the nutritional information for the Daiya Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac…a serving size is 1/3 of the package with (again, obviously) 3 servings per package.  If you stick to that serving (my roomie and I just split it in half), you will be taking in 290 calories, 9 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat (hello, coconut oil), 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 48 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 0 grams sugars, and 5 grams of protein.  A creamy and dreamy product.

I believe in Daiya.  I really do.  They are experts and proving dairy-free and gluten-free alternatives to the grocery store aisles.  Seriously…these boxes were some of the best investments I ever made.  I loved the flavors and the creaminess that each different variety provided.  And they really did all taste different…and while I certainly have my favorites, all three were a fantastic way to enjoy one of life’s best comfort foods, without destroying my stomach in the process.  Daiya is proof that there is a God that loves the dairy-free (and gluten-free) people.  And even if you aren’t required to eat this way, I highly recommend trying out these products regardless.  My roomie is very much in love with these products and she doesn’t have to eat this way.  She just does because I do.

Daiya…our love affair continues.  Thank you!!

Product Review: Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Product: Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais – $5.00+

Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…who used to always cook with couscous.  Then she was diagnosed…as a Celiac…and couscous had to vamoose.

Here’s the story…of this thing called Cuisine Cube…who was packaging up gluten-free products.  And in May, the box included couscous…and there was much rejoicing in the land.

*cough*

Sorry…I couldn’t resist.  My last name is Brady…so the Brady Bunch theme has pretty much been a big portion of my life.  And, for just over a year, I can honestly say that Cuisine Cube was a big portion of my life.  I hated to have to give up my monthly subscription, but I had medical bills from this torn hip labrum eating into my budget big-time.  But that’s not to say that I don’t miss it.  I am in the process of using up the final few things that I have from past cubes…and part of me hopes to jump back into the subscription again soon.

So, first let me recap for you what Cuisine Cube is all about, shall I?  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!

So, as my sing-songy typed up intro to this blog explained…one of the May (Is For Mom) 2015 Cuisine Cube included an 18 ounce box of Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous.  I was thrilled…because I used to use couscous all the time in recipes.  And now, it wasn’t off limits.  Here, right in my clutches, was an amazing box of gluten-free couscous.  And I totally get that it took me until the end of August to actually get around to using it, but…wow…was it ever worth the wait.

First of all, the Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous is simple and easy to prepare.  Pour one cup of boiling water over one cup of the uncooked couscous.  Add a pinch of sea salt and cover, allowing it to sit for about 5 minutes.  After the water is absorbed, gently separate the grains with a fork and spoon, add olive oil, and top with your favorite condiments.  Which…is normally what I would do.  But I went a little CRAZY this last week.

A couple of weeks ago, my roomie picked up some lamb chops at the local farmer’s market for me to cook up.  Hey…I have dreams of appearing on Master Chef…so she said I needs to learn to cook all the proteins, even if I don’t eat them.  She volunteers for that.  So, with the recipe on hand for Honey Balsamic Lamb Chops ready to go, I pulled up a recipe online from Giada De Laurentiis’ couscous cakes…which involved cooking up the Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous Cakes.  I just took 2 cups of the cooked couscous (which was made from 1 cup dry), mixing it with fresh basil, 2 eggs, ground coriander, lemon zest, salt, black pepper, and gluten-free all-purpose flour.  Place 1/4 cup of olive oil into a pan and pat the mix into little 1/4 cup cakes (it will make 8) and fry them up, draining them on a paper towel.

Of course, with the leftover couscous, I had to try it out.  Untouched.  And…OH MY GOD…this is really the first gluten-free couscous (I tried 2 others) that really has that real couscous texture.  I would have questioned the authenticity of the gluten-free status of this product, but it’s right there in print.  Amazing.  And, let me tell you, when I combined it with the listed ingredients from Giada’s recipe and made the couscous cakes…the flavor was only elevated.  The taste and texture of the Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous was phenomenal.  I mean, I was beyond surprised.  In fact, I had to double-check the box just to make sure it truly was gluten-free.  To say I am blown away is an understatement.  This wowed me in every way possible.  It paired great with her honey balsamic lamb chops and my honey balsamic portobello mushroom cap.  Seriously.  So yum!

Let’s discuss the ingredients of Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous.  This amazing couscous is made from organic corn flour and water.  That’s it.  Yep.  It’s that easy.  Clean eating at its best.

As for the nutritional information, one serving is 1/4 cup of the couscous (about 40 grams). This serving will provide you with 140 calories less than 1 gram of fat, less than 1 gram of saturated fat, 30 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of sodium, about 0.5 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.  Isn’t that fantastic?

So, without a little help from Cuisine Cube I never would have known about Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous.  Made from 100% corn, the taste and texture are amazing and honestly…spot on.  You would never guess that this was a gluten-free version of one of my favorite grains to cook with.  And now, it is back in my life again. You can order Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous from online shops such as The Shop Agora.  Trust me, this one is not to be missed!

Honey Balsamic Glazed Portobello Mushroom Cap with Couscous Cakes made from Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Honey Balsamic Glazed Portobello Mushroom Cap with Couscous Cakes made from Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk – Louisville, KY (August 22, 2015)

Me at the start of the Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk - Louisville, KY

Me at the start of the Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk – Louisville, KY

Race: Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: August 22, 2015

Time: 25:01

It is that time again and that time of year.  Yep.  My comeback.

*SIGH*

Okay…you know, I have to actually look at the positive on this one.  The hip labrum tear could have been so much worse and if that had been the case, this race would have not happened this year.  So…there it is.  Not to say I wasn’t in full-on panic mode…but this race means a lot to me as it does benefit research for colon cancer prevention, a disease that took my Aunt Debbie.  And so, yeah, this one is an important one.

The first thing you will note is that this year, this race has a new name.  The Colon Cancer Prevention Project (or as Cathy likes to call it C²P²) renamed the race this year from the very long and awkward “Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run” to the “Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk.”  I love the change, personally.  And, despite what people have said, this race is not geared more toward walkers.  There are a ton of runners that show up for this one, many of whom are some of Louisville’s best.

So…this is how it stands.  I have been running at a very leisurely pace (comparatively to where I used to be) for just over a month now.  I only run 3 days a week, 2 days during the week and one long slow distance run on the weekends.  I’ve been working with a certified Coach, Linda Word, who developed a training plan that incorporates enough cross-training and cardio that is not running to keep me sane, at least.  So…there is that.  Am I happy about a 3 day running week…to be honest, I thought I would hate it.  I really did.  But so far, it’s been easy on my body and has allowed progress to really start to come through.  I sometimes run faster…sometimes slower…than my prescribed 9:00/mile training pace.  But it’s never by too much…and it varies on each day I run depending on how my hip is feeling.

So, after doing a 5K race in Birmingham a few weeks ago with my sister…where I stuck with her and got her to the finish line at her pace…this was the first official race back for me.  As in…my coach gave me permission to push my pace if I was feeling good.  And, I was both nervous and excited at the prospect.  I think I was nervous up until the car pulled into the parking lot at Iroquois Park in Louisville.  With all the health tents and the other booths set up for this race, I started to feel right at home.  My favorite local food truck, Sweet ‘N’ Savory, was on hand as well with their gluten-free crepes and smoothies.  They were the first thing I spotted as we drove in and it totally lifted my spirits.  Funny how the promise of gluten-free food at the end of a race just makes you feel a little more confident about everything, right?

The morning was a little chilly, but I knew that it was going to warm up fast.  I shed the tanktop I was wearing at the car, opting for being the sports bra runner that I am on warmer days.  I think I was one of the few brave enough to do that.  I don’t care that I don’t have nice abs (I’d love to have them!), this was more about being comfortable.  And I am not comfortable in lots of extra fabric when it gets warm outside.  Therefore, despite the low humidity and low 60s temperature…sports bra was it.  And, I really didn’t get too chilly just mulling about before the pre-race programming.  I went and said “HI” to Richard and Ashley at Sweet ‘N’ Savory and told them we’d see them after I ran.  This meant my plans to go to my local gluten-free bakery were now…changed.  I still went, to retrieve the allergen free toaster treats I had them hold for me…but not for breakfast as planned.  Today, not only was I running to help raise money for colon cancer research and prevention…I was running for that delicious sounding peach crepe.

HA!

With that being said, I went over to the stage area where the employees and volunteers of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project were doing their opening ceremonies, talking about what research is being done in the fight against this curable disease, and then bringing out Louisville’s own “Semi-Colon” (aka: Caleb Payne, who had just returned from a 5-month journey along the Appalachian Trail) to speak a little about his accomplishment and how being a colon cancer survivor has changed him.  Then, they did the survivor recognition, complete with cheerleaders this year.  This is always such an uplifting and emotional ceremony.

And once the recognition was given for survivors and the top fund raisers and fund raising teams…it was time to officially kick some butt on the hills of Iroquois Park.  Cathy walked me over to the starting area, where a crowd was already forming.  For some reason, all nerves I thought I’d have were gone.  I just took a couple of deep breaths…and received a good luck hug.  She went up a little ways past the start with my sign…and I got into the crowd of runners near the front.  I was up front the last time I ran this race, but I was nowhere near in shape or in any condition to run like that this time around.  I was greeted by the amazingly fast, Lynn Riedling, and our little conversation and good lucks were all we had time for.  She was off at the horn with all the other amazing runners, walkers, and survivors.  I gave a wave to Cathy as I went past, being left in the dust by a lot of people.

But, hey, this was more about the race than the pace.  And my hip was feeling amazing.

I will now mention that while my hip was feeling amazing, I woke up on Saturday with a rather tender ankle.  No clue what happened with it as I didn’t turn it or anything.  But…it was tender…and still is to this day.  A little puffy.  But, it didn’t really bother me while I was running, so that is a good thing.

Anyway…back to the race.  One of the first things that happens in this race, or any race that starts at the amphitheater of Iroquois Park, is that you go up a hill.  I wanted to push it, but also conserve some energy for…you know…pushing it more, especially at the end.  Comeback races are hard.  You walk a very fine line and it’s scary to push beyond it.  But, as I rounded the corner and went up…up…and up in that first mile, my legs felt strong, and I even managed to pass a few people.  That was exciting!

At least at Iroquois Park, where there are uphills there are downhills.  If you are training for a hilly race, this is the park to run in, for sure.  This was the simple loop, not the hard dash up to the top like I did back in January.  And it was agreeing with me today.  It was like something switched off in my body, and if anything was supposed to or going to hurt…it wasn’t.  Not from the start.  Not any of that.  Warming up with walking and stretching probably helped, but here I was, feeling semi-fast…and really good as I moved past the first mile.

Mile 2 is the killer on this loop at the park.  The downhills, I tended to ease up on my pace and let my legs and momentum carry me, because I’m just trying to run smart and happy these days.  BUT…that being said, those uphills were my time to push and challenge myself.  I also discovered that my hip does better on uphills than on downhills, currently.  So…hey…good to know.  Mile 2 is packed with uphills.  Some small, some big, and one that just feels like it goes on forever.  In my mind, I kept telling myself to focus on my form, push off my toes, and just to stay comfortable.  And with all of that going on, my second mile ticked off, slower than my first, but hills do that to me, even when I try to push them a little.

Into the last stretch I went…and still feeling good, I picked up my pace again.  Just a little.  I also know that there is one last hill that gets me every time, near the end of the race.  The first time I ran this race, I walked the hill.  I haven’t walked it since, and I didn’t have to walk it this year.  It does feel like it never ends though, and pushing it on that one is a mental challenge and a physical challenge.  But I stayed the course.  And once I conquered it…I knew it was time to finish this race strong.

And so, I just ran.  I focused on my core, my form, and how my body was responding to each push-off from the pavement.  Nothing twinged.  Not once.  I could now hear the roar of the crowd at the finish line.  It is an amazing sound to hear at a little 5K, but this race brings it every time.  As I came into the final stretch, I could hear Cathy screaming at me.  “GO TWIN!  GO!!!”  She normally does this, but there was an urgency in the tone.  Turns out, another female runner was hot on my heels, trying to pass me up.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t look.  I just ran as hard as I dared and crossed that finish line.

My Garmin said 25:03.  Not my best 5K by far…not even my best time at this race (I ran 2013 in 22:45)…but not my worst 5K time either.  And definitely an accomplishment for someone who went for 7 months of no running (I don’t count the Boston Marathon as I ended up hobbling and walking most of it!) to easing back into a running routine that was made, specifically, to get me back out there without causing further damage.

Cathy came over and asked me how I was.  I told her that I was fine…but the race was hard.  She said I was about the 11th female to finish, so it was possible that I might have placed in my age division.  Possible…maybe so.  So, we walked around to keep my body loose and limber and then went and grabbed some gluten-free crepes from Sweet ‘N’ Savory.  I got the Peaches crepe…which was SO amazing.  It came with gelato, and they were kind enough to give me their dairy-free one.  It was strawberry.  I split it with Cathy.  Cathy, for the record, got the breakfast crepe.  I thought about doing that one…but eggs were not sounding tasty at the moment.  Sweet peaches, however, did.  YUMMY!!  With crepes made, we went and settled in to eat, then move around a little more while waiting on the awards.  This was where a gentleman spotted me and said, “I know you!  I read your blog on this race!”  HA!  That totally made my morning.  We stood around for a bit and talked about running and upcoming races…but it was nearing time for the awards, so we parted ways with well-wishes and all.

Long story short…I came in 4th in my age division.  So, things are pretty much back to normal.  HA!  Missed it by a mile (or just under 2 minutes) though.  Lynn, however, was listed as being 35 years old…which is not true…but it wouldn’t have affected my placement regardless.  And in the end…I walked away with the satisfaction of well-run comeback (again) race.

Me after finishing (strong!) the Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk - Louisville, KY

Me after finishing (strong!) the Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk – Louisville, KY

So, the results of the Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk are that I finished in 25:01.  No new PR…no course record…but a strong finish.  I was 48/970 finishers overall, 11/577 female finishers, and I was 4/63 in my age division.  I’m happy with these results, honestly.  Considering how much I hate 5Ks (I am NOT a sprinter), it was a challenge just getting to this start line.  I put in a lot of time, stretching, and tears to get to a point where I could race again, and this race certainly showed me what I was capable of…and where I can definitely improve.

And, as always, the Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk is dedicated to the memory of my Aunt Debbie.  Already looking forward to coming back and running it again next year.

So, as it stands the official results for the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run are that I finished in 22:45.  It wasn’t a new PR…but I was only 30 seconds off.  Had this course been flatter…well…maybe.  Anyway, I was 27/799 overall, 4/496 female finishers, and 1/67 in my age division.  Considering 5Ks are my least favorite distance (yet…I run a lot of them)…I was totally thrilled with these.  And I dedicated this race, as always, to my Aunt Debbie…who I think gave me some wings on that uphill at the end today.

So, on a hot and humid Saturday morning…I went out and ran for a good cause…and had a good time.  Already looking forward to next year!  It’s for a great cause…and I couldn’t imagine missing it.  Not ever.

Foam Glow 5K – Birmingham, AL (August 8, 2015)

Me (on the left) and Karla (on the right) crossing the finish line at the Foam Glow 5K - Birmingham, AL

Me (on the left) and Karla (on the right) crossing the finish line at the Foam Glow 5K – Birmingham, AL

Race: Foam Glow 5K

Place: Birmingham, Alabama

Date: August 8, 2015

Time: 39:51

Everyone remembers their first 5K…or their first race for that matter.  It’s special.  You go in with your own goals and expectations, not exactly sure what to expect, and not exactly sure how you’ll do when all is said and done.  The first race is an important one, I believe – no matter what distance it is.

Just before I got my go-ahead to return to running, I found out via a phone call that my sister had taken up running.  She goes out a couple times a week with her Couch25K program and her group of ladies…and runs.  She will tell you she’s not fast…and she struggles…but she loves the company and the way she feels (despite some knee issues, which I helped clear up with KT Tape and getting her into proper shoes!) after she runs.  She was training for a 5K with her friends.  YAY!  The only thing that was difficult for her was that she’d be pretty much running it on her own.  Her pace is a little more deliberate than the girls she runs with, so she is often left to run on her own on training runs, and the race night would be the same.

When I got cleared to run, it also turned out the race coincided with a weekend where I had nothing else planned.  And so…I talked it over with her, signed up for the race, and made arrangements to be in Birmingham to run WITH her at the race.  I gave her the rules…her race, her pace.  I’d stick by her side the entire time.  She was more than okay with this.  And, just to be cutesy, we started working on matching running outfits so we could be twinsies too!  She ordered the shirt and I picked up matching shorts, knee-high socks, and said she had to have pigtails in, as that is the hairstyle I am best known for when I run.  HA!

So, in the weeks leading up to the 5K, I was slowly adding on the minutes, then the miles to my runs.  I had topped out at 7 miles in my friend’s very flat neighborhood the weekend before, and was a little sore afterwards, but nothing that really slowed me down.  After work on Friday, I grabbed dinner (gluten-free peanut butter & jelly with grapes and a piece of dark chocolate) to eat on the road, and the roomie and I piled into the car (which was stuffed with my mountain bike that was just sitting on my balcony and that my sister could get some use out of) and made the trek down to Birmingham, Alabama…arriving a little later than planned (it took the roomie 30 minutes to use the bathroom at a gas station, I kid you not!), but getting in.  Of course, I was up late just getting caught up with my parents (my mom had just recently broken her hand), but we were all winding down regardless.  I climbed into bed around 11 p.m. CST (that’s midnight my time!) and set an alarm on my phone to wake me up at 5 a.m. so that I could get dressed, stretch, eat a little something and then get outside as it was getting light out to fit in the 8 miles ahead of the 5K that my coach had me scheduled to run.

I did just that…and it wasn’t easy.  My parents’ neighborhood is just…HILLS!!  So, I ran the first two miles easy and got warmed up, then wound my way through their neighborhood up to the walking trail.  And there was where a majority of the run took place.  Just as I was cresting the top of the start point, I heard a rumble, which, I thought might be thunder, but I was so close to the road, it could have been a car too.  I figured it was a car…and I was off.

I was also wrong.  It was thunder.  And rain soon followed.  And I was, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere, on this paved path that ran through Helena, Alabama.  There is something about me running at my parents house and having it rain on me.  It happens…all the time.  Must be the Frankfort (Kentucky) affect.  And if you don’t get that reference, you haven’t been reading my blog long enough (it storms/rains/precipitates every time I run in Frankfort, KY).  So, I kept going, made it back to the start, and was greeted with a gorgeous rainbow flying high over a church.  It was awesome.  And I took a picture before winding my way back to their house for the last mile of my run.  I ducked inside, took a shower, ate some breakfast, stretched…and then my sister came over with her kiddliewinks.

And it all got chaotic and fun.  Karla (that’s my sis, btw) and her boys all tried the gluten-free strawberry breakfast cake I brought with me (my parents devoured it too!)…then we made a run to the grocery store for some necessities for the race and for lunch.  Back home, where we got everyone ready to go and eat lunch at my roommate’s favorite spot, The Depot, in Pelham, Alabama.  My mom and I had veggie burgers we prepared at home with some gluten-free pretzels.  It was the big meal of the day as the race was at night and I didn’t want to run on a full belly.  After lunch, my dad, Cathy and I hit up 2nd & Charles (bookstore), then made our way back to the house so that Karla and I could start getting dressed.

And that’s when the rain returned.  Big monsoon as she and I climbed upstairs to my room to get into our matching running outfits.  We checked the weather and it looked like it was going to pass…so that was good.  After we got dressed, I put her hair in these tiny little pigtails, then did my own, strapped my Garmin onto my wrist, and we went downstairs so that Cathy could work some KT Tape magic on Karla’s troublesome knee.  This was where I got to play with the cutest baby girl…as my sister’s youngest isn’t quite 1 yet.

With everything in order, and Karla’s hubby (that’s Bryan…who once ran a 5K with me) told me he approved of the tight running pants I selected for his wife to wear, we were climbing into their car (as in Bryan, Karla, Cathy, the two boys, and me) to make the over an hour drive to Talladega Speedway, which is where the race was actually being held.  Well, we were dropping off vehicles at Cracker Barrel and then carpooling to Talladega.  The boys needed some dinner, so it was Happy Meals at McDonalds (Cathy got one too!), and then…to the parking area of the race.

The Sole Sisters...and no, we didn't actually plan to line up by shirt color. That just sort of happened!

The Sole Sisters…and no, we didn’t actually plan to line up by shirt color. That just sort of happened!

Parking was super-easy, but expensive.  A whole $10.  Really?!  Cathy footed the bill and Bryan got us parked right on the end of one of the rows.  It would make finding the car in the dark a whole lot easier, for sure.  We were some of the first ones here, as in of the group of ladies running, all of whom my sister trains with at some point.  Two others were there before us, and Karla got us to where they were and introduced me to them.  So, now I knew Margie and Lauren…(and yes, we were asked if we were twins!) and the rest were all a blur as they all began to arrive prior to the start.  My sister and I decided to eat our protein bars early (that was our dinner), and split one if we got hungry between then and race time.  After I devoured my bar, I actually got to meet up with a friend of mine (who I used to work with), Julie Hayes, who was walking the 5K with a friend of hers.

As the rest of the group arrived, along with the ring leader, Jenn, we departed for group shots and then…the most important part…hitting up the big foam pit.

Yep…after all…this was the Foam Glow 5K.  And you can’t have a Foam Glow 5K without foam and blacklights.  The sun was only just beginning to set, so the blacklights weren’t on yet…but the foam was being shot out these giant cannons.  It was a lot of fun, stepping inside the staging area and just getting blasted with this soapy, foamy mess.  The kids (most of the ladies brought their families!) absolutely LOVED it.  I loved it.  What a blast.  After getting foamed up pretty good, it was back out to the group to get any last minute touches to our outfits.  Jenn gave each of us the little bright yellow stripes under our eyes.  We were now ready…for the race.

Until my sister’s 8 year old son went missing.  YIKES!!  He separated from the rest of the kids, who had all come running back to where we were from the foam.  Karla was, naturally, in a panic so I went to the foam pit to find him.  And I did, relatively quickly, getting him back over to his parents and saving the day!  With that bit of hysteria out of the way, Karla was now in a good place to enjoy her first 5K and her first race.  Whew.

And that was that…the sun had gone down…the wind had gone away, and the ladies in the crazy bright tank tops with the words, “We Don’t Sweat, We Glow!” on them all started toward the start area.  The race was going off in waves, it it felt like only 20 people were going at a time.  Once we got closer, we realized that wasn’t the case, but at least 10 waves went off ahead of us, and we were relatively close to the front.  Karla, myself and Margie were actually corralled ahead of the rest of our group, so we ducked under the rope and rejoined our group.  The group ahead of us was off…and we moved forward.

Karla looked so calm.  She was smiling.  She was joking around.  She was relaxed.  That was awesome.  And, then, with a small countdown…the emcees at the race sent off our wave.  And Karla was leading us off.  She fell right into the pace, getting a little sucked into a first start with all the excitement, but that’s fine.  That’s okay.  We hit the dark course and she looked like a pro, already dodging and weaving through any more deliberate runners or the walkers that went ahead of us.  I even told her she was already running like a pro.  And, to take her mind off of the task at hand, I would frequently bother her with inane questions about how she felt, how her pace felt, how her knee felt…

At one point, I thought that the race people were sending us up the stairs to the speedway itself, but it was just people doing photo-ops.  Karla kept us on course and we headed into what was going to be the first (of three) Foam Zones.  This was a bit refreshing as the night had grown humid and the wind had died.  So, the first one, we bounded through together and kept on trekking.  Karla asked about distance and my 1 mile beep went off on my watch.  I let her know that the beeps meant we hit a mile, so she had 2 more of them.  She didn’t look amused.

Me and Karla in the big Foam Pit following the Foam Glow 5K - Birmingham, AL

Me and Karla in the big Foam Pit following the Foam Glow 5K – Birmingham, AL

This course was not easy.  You pretty much get sent up a hill near the start, which is fine, but when it’s dark and you’re not expecting it…yeah.  Well, I was there with Karla to give her some hints about how to properly run hills (Lord knows I’ve run my share of them!), such as push off on your toes, power up them with your arms, and take shorter steps.  She listened and did really well.  And when we got to the top, I congratulated her on a job well done.  As we headed toward Mile 2, I hear “GO KAREN AND KARLA!” and it’s Julie!  We threw our hands up in the same way (not planned…twinsies, you know!)…and continued on.  At the halfway point, they were handing out water bottles.  I asked Karla if she wanted water and she shook her head and said she just wanted to keep going.  I snagged one just in case and we were back to bobbing and weaving and avoiding treacherous pavement on the dark path (seriously…some lights on the course would have been nice!).  We hit the second Foam Zone and Karla, putting safety above all, decided to walk through the soapy sludge.  Good call.  The instant she was through, she picked her pace back up and we continued on.  We were coming around the back part of the speedway, I think, and she slowed a little just to catch her breath.  I handed her the bottle of water and she took a sip.  Then, she passed it back, took a few breaths and picked her walk back up into a run.  She was really making me proud.  The second mile beeped on my watch.

One more mile.  I told her as much.  And the path seemed to be getting more treacherous.  Karla twisted her ankle twice, but kept on going.  I tripped on uneven pavement…but somehow, we were managing to stay on our feet.  We were hitting up the final Foam Zone, which we walked through again, and when she picked back up to her run, I knew we had to be getting close.  I checked my watch…and I figured from the pace she had been running that she had about six minutes left of the race.

“Six minutes,” I told her.  “You can do anything for six minutes, right?”

“YES!” she said.

I taught all the girls my Power Pose for the end of the race!  Foam Glow 5K...DONE!

I taught all the girls my Power Pose for the end of the race! Foam Glow 5K…DONE!

Jenn caught up to us as we were nearing the Mile 3 mark, giving Karla a firm smack on the ass.  We were so close.  I would give Karla minute increments on how much longer she had…and I heard some walkers repeat it.  They’d be out there a bit longer since they were walking (hehe).  I told Karla that when we saw the finish line, we were going to sprint for it and cross it together.  Well, I could hear the music at the finish, so we were definitely getting close.  With encouragement, Karla lifted her head and put on her game face, focusing on her form and getting to that finish line.  The blacklights were in view.  The music was pumping…and I reached out and took her hand.  For the last .1 miles, we ran together, holding hands, until we crossed that finish line.  I paused my Garmin and there it was…Karla’s first 5K race…her pace…DONE…in a fantastic 39:15.

I gave her a huge hug and told her how proud I was of her.  Those of us who were done stood around and took some fun pictures, drank lukewarm water, and just had a jolly good time.  We were waiting on the remainder of the group, and once they crossed…it was after party time.

The husbands and kids were already living it up at the after party.  Bryan was covered in foam when I saw him next.  And that was exactly where the rest of us were heading.  It was humid and hot and sticky, and the foam pit was cooling, a bit messy, a lot wet, and a whole lot of fun.  I have never been so soapy in my life…and I love a good lather as much as the next girl.  I hurt from smiling and laughing so much.  I’d get all this foam sprayed all over me…manage to shake it off and wipe it away, only to get plastered from another canon on the other side of the staging area.

Honestly…it was a blast.

And afterwards, as things were wrapping up, the ladies returned to the cooler where I had packed Pink Salad for everyone to enjoy as a treat post-race.  We were messy, soapy, and happy.  We enjoyed our refreshing treat, which Karla graciously scooped up for everyone, and then…we all departed to head home.  I had so much fun meeting these wonderful ladies who have drawn my sister into my world of running.

And I felt incredibly special to have been able to run her very first 5K with her.

Karla’s eldest son was spent, and he fell asleep on the way home, just after our gas station stop for some cold water.  Her youngest was playing his Nintendo DS, but he was fading.  As we pulled into Cracker Barrel, we said our goodbyes…and I once again told Karla how proud I was of her and how much fun I had.  I was leaving early Sunday morning to head back to Louisville…so this was our goodbye.

I have to say…despite the path not being lit, the crush of walkers with the runners, and the uneven pavement…despite all of that, I had such a great time.  Being able to run with my sister in her first race meant the world to me.  She told me, “I’m slow.”  And I told her…it didn’t matter.  All-in-all, she had a great pace, and looked like a natural out there.  I was truly blessed with the opportunity to see her through this run, meet the ladies who she goes out and runs with, and just have a fun experience that didn’t have me freaking out or tense prior to the start.  There is something to be said about doing things with people you love.

Karla…Thank you for letting me take part in the Foam Glow 5K with you and allowing me to accompany you on your very first 3.1 mile run.  Keep on running.  I am so proud of you and can’t wait to see how you improve and where this road takes you!!

Sunset, foam, and blacklights - FOAM GLOW 5K - Birmingham, AL

Sunset, foam, and blacklights – FOAM GLOW 5K – Birmingham, AL

Inside Out

Returning from an injury is a delicate balance of emotions.  Trust me…this isn’t my first time having to do so.  That being said, the torn hip labrum that I have been dealing with since January…has been the hardest to recover from, both physically and mentally.  The foot issues, I’ve worked through, but this injury has affected me on a deeper level.

Perhaps part of it is that after getting a Cortisone shot before the Boston Marathon and attempting to run 26.2 miles on a very newly diagnosed injury, and then having one of the worst and most painful runs of my life…running doesn’t come as easily for me.  In fact, I’d wager to say that I’m suffering from a little Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to what I dealt with on the Boston Marathon course…not just the weather and the wind and the cold…but the paint too.

And now, even the thought of lacing up can leave me feeling paralyzed with terror.  Every anxiety I have ever felt toward this sport that I love flashes into my mind.  Sometimes I can’t breathe.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometimes I just let all the whispered doubts run across my mind and leave me feeling uncertain.

And all of this leaves me feeling exactly how I, personally, feel: scared, washed-up, incapable, weak, and miserable.

Running used to be my escape.  It would quiet my anxieties, help me focus, make me happy, keep me healthy, and help me maintain some semblance of sanity.  The torn hip labrum I was finally diagnosed with just days before Boston, has all but broken me since then.  This injury has left me fighting my inner emotions, trying to resist the need to scream and cry and just collapse.  It’s a daily struggle.  Ever day…every twinge of pain…it sets me back.  And it SUCKS!

I don’t like being afraid of one of the things I love the most in life.  It’s like every emotion in me is on a tripwire…and I never know from one moment to another which one is going to bubble over.  I hate living life like this…but as of now, I have to take everything day-to-day…and go by how I feel.

Not an easy thing, when you feel so messed up…so lost…so uncomfortable with…everything.  And those emotions…those voices inside my head…well…they aren’t much better…nor do they make it any easier…

JOY!

JOY!

You know, first and foremost…I do keep in mind that it could be worse.  I could have needed surgery on this injury (and, I admit it, at times I wonder if I’d recover better if I had actually had to have surgery).  I could have been out from running longer than the 7 months (save Boston) that I did no such running in that time period.  I reflect…I bask in the fact that…while I might be running at a pace I don’t like running…at least I AM running, which is way better than where I was prior to getting the okay.  So there’s that, right?  I’m not where I want to be, and nowhere near where I was…but I’m at least able to push through the discomfort and put in some miles.  That’s better than nothing…right?

SADNESS!

SADNESS!

My mom used to always tell me, “Baby, you don’t run, you fly.”  And, sadly, now I’m lucky if I crawl.  In fact…I went for a 14 mile run on Saturday at a very comfortable pace…quite deliberate…and still came out of it hurting for most of the rest of the day.  It is so disheartening…knowing where I was and seeing where I currently am.  And…wow…is it every frustrating.  I can’t even put into actual words the depth of sadness I feel when it takes me 10 minutes longer to run 5 miles than it used to.  Hell, sometimes it takes me 20 minutes longer.  Every time I finish a run and end up having even the slightest twinges of pain in my hip or leg is just another emotional setback.  It makes me rethink everything.  It makes me dread the next time…or the next mile.  I hate using the word slow…but when I used to kick out a 7:00/mile like it was nothing…and now can hardly hit 8:30/mile when pushing it, it just…well…it SUCKS!  And I love my friends…I love their accomplishments and their continued improvement…but it’s hard to not compare myself to where they are.  They’ve improved…I’ve fallen behind.  Again.  Sadness…depression…self-loathing…self-doubt.  Oh yeah…it’s there.  It’s real.  It’s a struggle.  I am always happy to see other excel and achieve great things…but a part of me breaks inside at their progress and my downward spiral.

DISGUST!

DISGUST!

There is nothing, my dearest friends, nothing harder than watching all your hard work get scrapped and having to start over at square one.  My Facebook feed, Twitter, and Instagram are filled with marathon training plans, new PRs, pushing past the limit and doing amazing things, and here I sit…literally…doing my best not to come apart at the seams by pushing too hard too fast.  Running at a 9:00/mile does not come easy for me.  Even worse, looking at my training run times now, knowing where I was last year, the year before…and comparing them…in my head…makes all of this even harder.  Will I ever run faster than 8:30/mile?  Will I win age division awards ever again?  Will I ever BQ at a marathon again?  Will I ever be described as fast?  There are moments when I’m running where I hate my pace, I hate my body, I hate everything about the run.  I don’t like the fact that can’t run faster, and that despite feeling effortless, I pay for every run for at least a few hours afterwards, especially if I don’t keep moving.  I don’t know how I’ll come out of my next marathon, my next half marathon, or my next race for that matter.  I don’t like having panic attacks before heading out for more than 5 miles.  I don’t like being afraid of running…but I am.  And I hate myself for it.

ANGER!

ANGER!

Of all the emotions…I think anger is the one that shows up the most, in various ways, mind you.  First of all, I’m angry that this even happened.  After running the Charleston Marathon back in January, I took ample time off for recovery.  Woke up one morning and BAM…back hurt.  Took more time off…and then…hip hurt.  So, this injury happened when I wasn’t running.  In fact, I wasn’t doing much of anything!!  It’s aggravating and frustrating!  I hate how long it took to diagnose the problem as it was.  The poking and prodding and guessing and physical therapy that did nothing to improve my situation prior to the Boston Marathon was beyond frustrating.  The medical bills are unending it seems, and each more expensive than the last.  I’m angry at myself…or my performance at Boston.  I hate my finishing time.  I hate that I had hypothermia.  I hate that I cried and walked most of the course because I hurt do damn much.  I hate that I had to make that run all by myself…even though I knew plenty of people who were running it.  Because I’ve given up races to see friends through theirs…and yet, no one would do the same for me.  I hate all the races I missed because of this injury and all the race fees I’ll never get back.  Waking up every morning and having that initial pain and stiffness in my leg is so disheartening.  Being able to walk but not run SUCKS.  Running and then hardly being able to walk afterwards SUCKS EVEN MORE!  The fact that this injury will NOT EVER heal itself makes me wonder if being in pain is just my new normal.  There is so much I am angry about when it comes to this injury.  And I keep it pent up for the most part.  I lose it every now and again, have one of my meltdowns, but I try…for the most part…to reserve that for my mid-week run, early in the morning, when I can cry and no one can see me do it.  And, yes, I’m angry that I am brought to tears by all of this.  Yes, I am thankful for the progress that I have made, but it just isn’t always fast enough for me.  And then, I get mad at myself because now I’m not fast enough for me.  It’s a never-ending, horrible cycle…and one that I can’t seem to get myself out of, no matter what I try to do to make myself think more positively.  Yes, I’m angry…but I feel I have a right to be.

FEAR!

FEAR!

What’s even worse than being angry at the situation and myself…is being afraid.  And, there are moments that I currently suffer from paralyzing and unrelenting anxiety and fear just before a run.  Usually a longer run, but always before a run.  Even short ones.  Every scenario plays in my brain.  All the questions that run through my mind…and the uncertainties.  It is hard to even haul myself out of bed sometimes to even attempt to be active.  Part of it may be depression, but most of it…is that I’m afraid.  Push yourself…just not too hard.  Keep going…unless it hurts.  How bad does it hurt?  Is that a twinge or something worse?  What if I get hurt again?  What if I make it worse?  What if my next race is just as bad as the Boston Marathon was for me.  I can’t handle another Boston Marathon.  Why can’t I just get better?  Why can’t I just have one day where I don’t hurt at some point?  Should I push through or should I stop?  Should I just give up?  Hang up the running shoes and miss it for the rest of my life?  Why am I so afraid of putting one foot in front of the other?  Why does not moving hurt?  Why does moving hurt?  Will this ever stop?  Why can’t I run faster?  When will I run faster?  Will I ever run faster?  Why am I afraid of running faster?

THIS….this is what goes on in my head!  Is it any wonder that when my alarm clock goes off, my initial response is to hit snooze and curl back up.  I used to hop out of bed, gear up, and get out there at 3 a.m. to fit in my run.  And now…I’m lucky if I manage to fit a walk in, let alone a run.  Getting up on days I’m supposed to run is even more trying than on gym or rest days.  And to make things worse, all these questions and doubts and worries continue to cycle through my mind even when I am out and running.  And when, at the end of the run, I’m a little sore…or, like on Saturday, a lot sore, I freak out.  I panic.  I wonder how the hell I’m supposed to tack on more miles when sometimes 5 has me sore and uncomfortable for the rest of the day.  I don’t want to be out for life.  I want to be someone who has a lifetime of running.  But where is the balance?!  Where is that fine line?  I am so tired of being afraid of every little thing involved with running.  I just don’t know how to make it better…

So, you see…injuries aren’t just a physical thing…they take their toll mentally too.  I feel so messed up at times.  I don’t like the way I look, the way I move, the way I think…but I can do very little to change it.  I hide it from my peers.  I put on that smile and that brave face.  I laugh.  I pretend that it’s all just any other day for me.  But the truth is…

Boston scarred me.  It scarred me emotionally, physically, and mentally.  And somehow, somewhere along the line, I need to find my mojo again.  I need to be able to not be afraid to run a little harder…go a little faster…

I need to stop comparing myself to people who have not been in my shoes or understand what I’m going through.  I do it.  Every fucking day, I do it…but it serves no purpose other than to frustrate me even more and bring on those dreaded tears.  Will I ever be the runner I was?  Right now, it seems unlikely.  Right now…it seems like I’m just treading water.  I feel stuck.  I feel paralyzed.  And, for the most part, I just feel washed up.

And I just want to feel like me again.

I just don’t know how or if that will ever happen again.

Product Review: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams

Pamela's Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon GrahamsProduct: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams – $4.99+

Graham crackers.  They are so simple…so commonplace.  They are something that conjure up memories of campfires, toasting marshmallows, gooey chocolate, and sticky fingers.  They recall afternoons where you grab a graham cracker (probably a cinnamon one because that dusting of sugar on top made it feel like such a treat) and snack on it while heading out to play with friends before dinner, or settling in with a good afternoon television show.

That was my childhood.  That was my adulthood.  Well, maybe not the playing with friends thing…but graham crackers had such a prominent part of my life.  Especially when bonfires and campfires were involved.

S’mores are one of the best treats in the world.  It’s got all the textures, all the sweetness…everything that makes a treat a treat.  Who doesn’t love s’mores.  The problem being…I’ve only come across a few gluten-free graham crackers since being diagnosed with Celiac.  Kinnikinnick was the first brand I knew of that existed, making S’moreables for that graham cracker craving.  Then, Schär came out with their Honeygrams, which I have tasted, but never purchased.  They are also good.  But that was basically it…unless you made your own.  I love to bake, but I haven’t tackled crackers yet…or any sort.

And then, at Expo West this past year, I saw images come through from Pamela’s Products that were touting their latest product: Graham Crackers and Mini Grahams…in three (3) flavors: Honey, Cinnamon, and Chocolate.  Oh, and also available in two (2) sizes: Graham Cracker Size and Minis.

I searched high and low in my area for these and finally gave up, believing that it would take at least a year for the Louisville area to get them in.  But then, randomly one afternoon with a quick stop by my Kroger (of all places)…there two flavors of the mini grahams sat on a shelf.  And, yes, I snagged a box of each and took them home with me.  I had to have them.  I’d been searching for them.  It had to happen.

Well, back on Monday, August 10, it was National S’mores Day.  And, I didn’t know this until after I used these to make a small dessert S’mores Bowl…but Monday was the day I pulled these off the top shelf of my pantry to serve up for dessert.  Coincidence, yes…but perfectly timed.  YAY for happy and delicious coincidences.

The Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams are little medallions of graham cracker goodness, each cracker being around the size of a quarter, perhaps just slightly smaller.  The Cinnamon flavor (which is the box I opened first) looks like the perfect miniature cinnamon graham cracker.  Honestly.  The little hexagon shapes are one-bite sized and are good for popping if you just want something mindless and easy.  But, you know me…nothing can ever be that easy. Although, for the sake of the blog, I may have popped a couple without the rest of the toppings in the S’mores Bowl that I created.  The S’mores Bowl is a layer of the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams, a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips, and then vegan marshmallows, which I then torch with my kitchen torch, successfully melting the chocolate and toasting the marshmallows to perfection.  I did this for my roommate and then again for me.  And so…we settled in to get our first taste of the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams.

Want to bring back the taste of your childhood?  Well, these will do it.  These miniature graham crackers are everything that is right and good in the gluten-free snack world.  I don’t buy many treats like these often…but I had to try these.  I was craving s’mores for a long while now…and these gave me a way to make a fantastic dessert with all the flavors of the s’mores without making an actual s’more.  Once I find somewhere local with the actual Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Grahams, then I’ll make the real things.  But…as of now, I’ve only found the minis.  That should change though.  Count on it.

The Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams are lightly dusted on the top with cinnamon and sugar.  This coating brings this nice touch of sweetness to the rich graham and molasses flavor of the crackers themselves.  I love the flavors that erupt with each bite.  It’s sweet and rich and tastes just like the graham crackers I was guilty of sneaking out of the pantry as a child.  I thought they were the perfect base for the S’mores Bowls, easily scooped up with melted chocolate chips and toasted marshmallows.  They are bite-sized graham cracker bites of goodness.  Perfection.  Sheer graham cracker perfection.

Let’s discuss what the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams are made from, shall we?  This particular treat is made up of a gluten free flour blend (brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum), organic non-GMO butter (salted), brown cane sugar, sorghum flower, gluten-free oat bran, molasses, organic non-GMO honey, gluten-free flavors, cinnamon, grainless and aluminum free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potato starch, sodium bicarbonate), baking soda, sea salt, spices, and a topping that is made up of organic sugar and cinnamon.  This product is certified gluten-free by GFCO, made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and kosher certified.  They are gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free, egg-free, contain no artificial flavors or additives, contain no hyrdogenated oils or trans fats, and contain no corn syrup.

So…that’s awesome!!

Speaking of awesome, the nutritional facts for the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams aren’t too bad either.  A serving size is 10 crackers (29 grams) and there are about 7 servings per box.  This serving will provide you with 150 calories, 6 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 8 grams sugars, and 1 gram of protein.  Not too bad for a graham cracker, right?!  I’m happy with it.

So, go ahead, pop open a box of Pamela’s Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams and crunch, dunk, dip, or pile high with chocolate and marshmallows…and devour.  Do whatever it is you want with these little miniature graham crackers.  These gluten-free treats are fantastic.  And I’m sad I have only about 2 servings left.  Time to go pick up more.  Just simply put…delicious!

 

S'mores Bowl made with Pamela's Products Gluten-Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams, dark chocolate, and vegan marshmallows

S’mores Bowl made with Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams, dark chocolate, and vegan marshmallows

 

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels

Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels

Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels – $7.25

They’re back!!  Not just bagels my friend.  And not just those crazy poppy seeds that get everywhere, screw up drug tests (or so I’ve heard), and make everything taste amazing.  Nope.  I’m talking Sweet Note Bagels!  If you missed out on my initial fawning over this brand of gluten-free bagel…then you’ve missed out.  So it up and pay attention!  And if you remember it all too well, welcome back…because they hit another one out of the endzone…or something!

You see, a long time ago in a Twitter-verse far, far away, I posted a blog regarding the Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bagels that I had actually found in my area.  Much praise and accolades were given.  And then…a highly efficient PR person for another gluten-free bagel company replied to my tweet and told me that if I enjoyed Canyon Bakehouse…then I would love what they were serving up.

I was skeptical, naturally…but found myself clicking on the link to go to their Web site.  And lo and behold…a virtual gluten-free bagel bakery awaited my every bagel desire.  Well…maybe not every desire…but they had quite the variety.  And what was even more important, especially to this former New Yorker and bagel-enthusiast, they were New York style!  And yes…New York does have a style for bagels.  Smaller and more dense.  For such a big and bustling city, you wouldn’t think small and dense would sup up the bagel style.  But it does…beautifully.

So, Sweet Note Bagels started in 2012, when founder and president, Michelle MacDonald, stepped up to a challenge.  She had been baking ever since she was a child and was very passionate about it.  When her grandfather and sister were diagnosed with Celiac Disease, she took the first steps on her entrepreneurial journey.  Her family really missed a good New York Style bagel.  (Hey…I can’t blame them…I know this feeling all too well). So with a lot of experimentation and trial and error, MacDonald perfected the recipe, getting huge approval from her family (also bagel lovers).  Gluten-free bagels that taste good?!  It was a reality.  Sweet Note Bakery’s vision is to make gluten-free options more readily accessible.  Those of us who live with Celiac understand how isolating this disease can be, when you can’t have a meal while out with friends and family, be it at a restaurant or a ballpark, or wherever your adventures take you.  MacDonald wanted to change that…one gluten-free bagel at a time.

And, as you know, I have already sung the praises of the Plain, Everything, Cinnamon Raisin, and Chocolate Swirl.  Which means…Poppy and Sesame are all that remains.  I’d been meaning to place an order with Sweet Note Bakery…but life’s been a bit hectic as of late.  It kept slipping my mind, although in the mornings I’d be all “I wish I had bagels.”  So, one would think I would take drastic action.  But, alas…craziness.

But then I finally made the trip up to Columbus, Ohio, to visit my friend Jenn for a weekend.  And, one of my favorite stops to make (and one reason I travel with a cooler) is at The Raisin Rack.  It’s a great natural food store with a gluten-free section that blows my mind.  And, as I was meandering down the aisle…what should I see in the freezer…but Sweet Note Bagels – Poppy and Sesame variety.  The two that I hadn’t tried yet.  It was an omen.  It was a sign.  Yes…both flavors were in my basket, in my shopping bag, in my cooler, and then in my freezer.

And last Monday, I busted out the Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels for breakfast.  Per the instructions on the packaging, do not thaw these bagels on the counter.  Just don’t.  Obey the bagel goddesses who are in charge of these fantastic bagel-y treats.  They say nuke each one for 60 seconds, until they are soft.  Allow to cool slightly (or don’t)…and then slice in half.  Toast…in a toaster or, if you’re like me and don’t own a toaster, in the oven at 350°F for about…10 minutes.  This gave me time to toss them in the oven and then toss myself into the shower (Hey, Monday morning is spin class…and I had an office I didn’t want to offend with my workout funk!)…and upon my return, I pulled them out of the oven.  And they were perfect.  I mean…golden brown perfect.  Each half got a liberal schmear of the vegan cream cheese that is in my fridge and then my roommate and I dug into the Poppy variety.

DUDE!  YUM!  The packaging says…“For flavor that POPS…” like Poppy Seeds…get it?  HAHA!  Well, the fact of the matter is, those little black seeds really are a powerhouse for flavor.  And what’s more is that Sweet Note Bakery knows how to properly coat a bagel, prep a bagel, and put out a good quality bagel.  Sure, some seeds fleck off, but that’s what happens.  That’s life.  You simply wet a fingertip and pluck them up, or turn your cream cheese side down and dab at them.  It’s all good.  The bagel itself…a nice crisp on the outside with that soft, chewy center.  It’s amazing what a good bagel can do to start your day off right.  And the Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagel is not a good bagel…it’s a damn good bagel.  It’s a happy bagel.  A poppin’ fresh bagel.  It’s an everything is going to be okay bagel.  The poppy seeds bring this nutty flavor and aroma to the toasted bagel.  The bread itself is perfection…no airpockets of “WTF WHERE IS MY PRODUCT?” that can happen with gluten-free bread products.  It’s…love in a bag.  Every flavor I’ve tried has been outstanding. And this one just got added to the list.

So…let’s talk about what goes into the Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels, shall we?  These bagels are made from LOVE (Yes, that is on the ingredient list), water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flour, sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, poppy seeds, and salt.  These bagels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  LOVE IT!!  Vegan and gluten-free…yes, please.  More of these!  Like for life.  Just keep them coming!

Now, let’s look at the nutritional information.  A serving size is one (1) of the Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagels.  This bagel will provide you with 310 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 22 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 62 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugars, and 5 grams of protein.  Yes…these bagels are filling, and that’s what I love about them.  With other gluten-free bagels on the market, I am full for an hour, then hungry again, despite being twice as big.  Most others on the markets are made with fillers rather than real ingredeints, and that’ makes a difference by leaps and bounds.

Love.  Love is their main ingredient.  And love is what I give back.  Sweet Note Bagels is doing the gluten-free community a lot of justice by putting out quality, delicious, amazing bagels.  If these were served to anyone, no one would be able to tell that they are gluten-free.  That is how outstanding these bagels are.  With this package polished off, all that remains is the Sesame…before I need to restock.  Maybe the Pumpkin Spice will be back by then…

Stay tuned!

Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagel topped off with a schmear of vegan cream cheese

Sweet Note Gluten Free Poppy Bagel topped off with a schmear of vegan cream cheese

Recipe: Gluten Free Strawberry Breakfast Cake

It was one of those moments where you receive an e-mail with a recipe…and you’re out of town visiting a friend, who happens to keep gluten-free goodies at her house just for you!  And every ingredient needed for said recipe that caught your attention is already in her pantry, fridge, or freezer.

To me, that sounds like a sign to make something for sure.  And as it is traditional for the two of us to cook at least once together when visiting…this recipe seemed to fit the bill.

And why did it catch my eye?  First…the word “breakfast” was involved.  We all know that my favorite meal of the day is breakfast.  Secondly…the word “cake.”  Yes…CAKE FOR BREAKFAST!

I have actually made this recipe twice now…and found the flour I used for it the second time (Mina’s Purely Divine Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour) worked a lot better than the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free All Purpose that we used at Jenn’s.  I served this up to my parents, my sister, and my nephews…and all loved it as much as my roommate, Jenn, and I did.  So…this is forever being made.

The original recipe was from Gluten Free on a Shoestring…posted by Udi’s Gluten-Free.  The recipe below…is how I make it!

Cake for breakfast…it sounds so sinful, but, even more importantly…it’s delicious.

Recipe: Gluten Free Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Gluten Free Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Gluten Free Strawberry Breakfast Cake

Servings: 16
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Mina’s Purely Divine Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vanilla Greek yogurt, (If dairy-free, use soy/almond/coconut yogurt) (you make need to add more to mix)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh roughly chopped strawberries

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, then line it with crisscrossed sheets of unbleached parchment paper, overhanging both sides of the pan. Set the pan aside.

Make the batter.

In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well.

Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, yogurt and eggs, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be thick.

Add 1 cup of the chopped strawberries and mix gently until the strawberries are evenly distributed throughout the dough, taking care not to crush the strawberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer with a wet spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup chopped strawberries over the top of the batter, pressing them gently into the batter.

Bake the cake.

Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is very lightly golden brown (about 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before lifting out by the overhung parchment paper and placing on a wire rack to cool (peeling off the parchment from the bottom of the cake if possible). Allow to cool completely before slicing into 16 squares and serving.

**NOTE: I store this in the fridge and give it a 20-30 second heat up in the microwave before eating.  It is DIVINE!**

~*~*~

This cake is not just for breakfast, but it is a rather healthy, low-calorie, and amazingly moist and delicious way to have breakfast.  Nothing better than having your cake (for brekkies) and eating it too!  I was so impressed by this recipe, and totally made only a few slight adjustments to the recipe, but it came out perfect.  And I intend to make it again very soon.  It’s easy, it’s delicious…it’s what breakfast should be.

Cake.

ENJOY!

Product Review: GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets

GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets

GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets

Product: GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets – $8.49+

HOLD. THE. GLUTEN. FREE. PHONE.

Reread that product name…

Go ahead.

YES!!  Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets.

FINALLY!!

Bless you GeeFree.  Bless you for bringing these into the gluten-free world.  Thank you for putting these out on the market.  Why?  Because I’ve looked at the very complicated and confusing instructions on how to make gluten-free puff pastry at home and it was not something I thought I was capable of producing.  Not well.  Not at all.  And I love to bake and cook.  So…THANK YOU!!

It was at Expo West in 2014 that the GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets were introduced.  I saw the pictures on the various Twitter feeds and Instagrams that I follow of people who were fortunate enough to attend.  And I was excited.  SO excited.  And then…let down at the fact that I have never…ever…seen this brand carried anywhere in my area.  I looked though.  And it took a trip to Columbus, Ohio…and the natural food store Raisin Rack, before I found these…three weekends ago.  Believe it or not…it took over a year.  I bet you’re wondering if the wait was worth it.

GeeFree Gluten Free began when Susan Hougui, a veteran of the food industry for over a decade, was visiting with friends while traveling overseas.  The family needed to avoid gluten and Susan was served the most delicious puff pastries.  Intrigued, as she had never seen anything like it, she tried them and found them to be crispy, yet tender, treats.  Excited with this discovery, she called her friend and master baker, Steve Leyva, to help her recreate and perfect the treats that Hougui had been served…and that she knew would be a sensational hit.  The first three products to be released in the savory line from GeeFree were Spanakopita, Franks in Blankets, and Chicken Pot Pie.  And now…PUFF PASTRY!!

Puff Pastry…for sweet or savory.  For desserts or dinner.  PUFF PASTRY!!  GLUTEN FREE PUFF PASTRY!!

Thank you…GeeFree Gluten Free.  Thank you!

So…since I now had the GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets in my clutches…and my freezer…I knew immediately the first thing I wanted to make with them.  Way back…back before I went gluten-free, I made these amazing Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts, with the aid of a recipe from The Barefoot Contessa, and fell in love with them.  This was just before I had to go gluten-free…and so…when it happened, this new favorite recipe was now forever gone.  I attempted it a couple of years ago, in 2013, with the Pillsbury Gluten Free Pie & Pastry Dough.  It wasn’t the same at all.  So…when a recipe that actually calls for puff pastry now can have real (gluten-free) puff pastry, I, naturally, have to make it.  So I did.

GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheet

GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheet

I put the pastry sheets into the fridge the night before I was going to make this dish, allowing them to thaw from frozen.  When I got home from work, I began to work on caramelizing onions for the recipe, slicing tomatoes, giving my homegrown basil a julienne, and then went to snag the pastry sheets from my fridge to prep them.  My counter top got a liberal sprinkling of gluten-free flour, as did my rolling pin, and I rolled out the sheet to be thinner before cutting 6 inch circles from it.  I used a paring knife to score a ¼-inch-wide border around each pastry circle.  Then, the center circle was scored with the tines of a fork and given a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, not leaving the border of that second circle.  The caramelized onions were placed on top, along with crumbled goat cheese, a slice of tomato, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper.  I sliced shards of Parmesan to put over the top and went to bake these tarts, praying that this all worked out just as I remembered.

The bad…the puff pastry didn’t puff up around the edge that was not scored.  So, if you are looking for that flaky, layered, soft crust that puff pastry produces when it puffs in the oven…this didn’t happen.  The puff pastry remained completely flat…like a pizza crust.

The good…it tasted phenomenal.  And even though I baked it at a higher temperature (per the recipe I was using, as opposed to the box directions), it didn’t burn (like the Pillsbury pastry dough did), and it did have that light texture you expect from a puff pastry…just without the lift.  And that’s fine.  It got to this gorgeous golden color.  And it worked as a great base for the tart I was making.  So, it wasn’t like the one I used to be able to eat…it sure tasted like it.  Looks aren’t everything.  And this didn’t look bad, it just didn’t get puffy.  The flavor, buttery, crispy, soft, amazing…yeah…it was worth the wait for over a year to actually try this stuff.  And I think next time I’m going to try it in one of their suggestions online…like a fruit tart…or a vegan version of a pot pie.  Hmmm…that might be what I do actually.  YUM!!

Let’s discuss what goes into the making of the GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets.  These pastry sheets are made from potato starch, butter (sweet cream, natural flavorings), water, canola oil, eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, flaxseed meal, whey protein concentrate, inulin (chickory root), guar gum, baking soda, citric acid, and annatto.

Each package contains two 9×7 frozen puff pastry sheets.  This box is meant to serve 6 people.  A serving size is 1.5 ounces of a pastry sheet.  This serving will provide you with 150 calories, 9 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 25 grams cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 18 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 0 grams of protein.  Not extremely filling…but definitely full of delicious flavor and texture.

I am impressed with the innovation of gluten free puff pastry sheets that can be bought at the store in the freezer section instead of having to go through the quite labor-intensive way of making it from scratch.  GeeFree Gluten Free took all the hard work out of the task and simplified it into puff pastry sheets that are there for your convenience.  I am one happy little baker and chef right now.  Oh yes…so very happy.  If you can find the GeeFree products, get the Gluten Free Puff Pastry and create some puff pastry goodness.  Just…amazing that it has happened.

Gluten Free Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart made with GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets

Gluten Free Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart made with GeeFree Gluten Free Puff Pastry Sheets