Winter Weekends – January 23, 2016

For those of you in the northeast, you’re probably experiencing the same issue we have this weekend – all events cancelled and feeling a bit snowed in!  We’re meant to be seeing Matilda today, so hopefully that doesn’t get cancelled.  The one benefit of our morning events being cancelled, though, is more time for yoga and making fun breakfasts.  As a follow up from my last post, we have started our morning yoga routine and it’s been a blast watching my son enjoy it so much!


For our weekend breakfast, we had some FODMAP-friendly Banana Pancakes that we can both enjoy.  I’ve shared the easy recipe below.

FODMAP-friendly Banana Pancakes


  • 1 1/3 cups gluten free flour (I use the Bob’s 1:1 Baking Flour )
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (substitute regular milk or another non-dairy alternative)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium banana


Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium sized bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and oil.  After mashing banana in a third bowl, combine banana with the wet ingredients until mixed well.

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until smooth (all lumps should be removed).

Heat a frying pan or griddle and add butter (or non-dairy alternative).  Ladle approximately 1/3 cup of batter into the pan or griddle and cook each side until golden brown and cooked through the center.  Remove from heat and serve with sliced banana and powdered sugar.  Drizzle with 100% pure maple syrup if desired.

Enjoy on this snowy weekend! 🙂



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Nothing but Ketchup – January 19, 2016

Not related to ketchup, but on a similar topic of something that is always on my mind:  I’ve been talking about starting to add yoga to my workout routine for years, but I just haven’t done it.  I decided yesterday that I am going to try streaming some videos so that if I ever do get to a class, I am not completely clueless!  I found a video on Amazon Prime tonight, and my son came out just as I was about to hit play.  He then told me how much he loves yoga and how he wishes he could do it with me – I certainly couldn’t hurt his feelings by doing it without him! ; ) But we did commit to each other that we will do it tomorrow morning 6 AM – wish us luck!

Now on to ketchup: I’ve loved ketchup always.  When I was in high school, a friend of mine bought me a gag gift red t-shirt that said: “I Put Ketchup on My Ketchup”, which sums it up pretty well.  It’s the one area where I have really struggled to embrace the FODMAP restrictions and have suffered some stomach pain because of it – the high fructose corn syrup and garlic and onion powders are not a good mix for my stomach.  In order to consume my favorite condiment without side effects, I’ve started making my own ketchup.   The recipe takes a few hours and makes quite a bit of ketchup, so I freeze in small containers so that I can take out as I need them.

Tonight I served the ketchup with homemade burgers on Against the Grain buns with potato slices and roasted veggies!



FODMAP-friendly Ketchup


  • 2 – 28 oz. cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion (any sweet onion could be substituted)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt
  • 1/8 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 whole clove


Cut the onion into large pieces (these will later need to be pulled out from the ketchup).  Empty the cans of tomatoes into a medium size pot, swirling the 1/4 cup of water in each can and adding to the pot.  Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined.  Cook on medium-high, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by 1/4 – this should take 1 – 2 hours.  Stir the ketchup as needed as it cooks.

Remove the onion and garlic from the ketchup.  Remove the pot from heat and smooth the ingredients using an immersion blender – about 30 seconds.

If the ketchup is a bit watery, return to heat and continue to cook down further.  If the ketchup is a good consistency, transfer to a bowl and adjust for additional salt and pepper.

Store the ketchup in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how quickly you plan to eat it.  Enjoy!

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Snow Night! January 17, 2016

We had our first snow of the season tonight, and it feels great.  We don’t have any accumulation, but when it’s cold and gray, snow just fits.  My son and my dad are outside at the moment playing in the snowflakes.  They’ve been gone for a while, so I’m not sure what they’ve been able to create out there!

We had a great day today – crustless quiche and gluten free bagels at a friend’s house for brunch while vacation planning, followed by tennis class for my son and then my parents came over for the afternoon / evening. And this happened while re-arranging my hats and bags:


For dinner, I cooked one of my favorites – Shrimp and Spicy Corn and Tomato Salsa, recipe below.

Shrimp and Spicy Corn and Tomato Salsa



  • 1 lb. shrimp – peeled and cleaned
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lime – juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper


  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) white corn
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt


Add the shrimp, olive oil, lime, garlic, salt and pepper to a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour more to allow flavors to combine.

Drain the corn in a small colander.  Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Add additional cayenne pepper and salt to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Move the shrimp and marinade to a frying pan and cook the shrimp for a few minutes each side, until cooked through.  You can also grill the shrimp if preferred.

Serve the shrimp over the corn and tomato salsa.



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California Dreamin’ – January 13, 2016

Now that the half birthday has been celebrated, we can focus all of our energy on our next vacation to Cali for a visit with my sister.  My son has a few surprises (like a Chewbacca sleeping bag!) waiting for him, and plus we get to enjoy some sun – a much needed escape after the past few weeks of cold!  In the past when we visited we traveled around Cali a bit, but this time I think we’ll stay local and enjoy time with my sister, the beaches and my favorite green juice mixed with banana, almonds and almond milk (YUM!).  One other thing I’m looking forward to is a visit to the Orange County TJ Maxx – last year yielded a pair of Joe’s jeans and some Jimmy Choo wedge sandals!



In getting through the coming weeks, I have decided to switch up my normal weekday salad for something with a bit more jazz; I usually have some form of chicken over romaine and spinach with balsamic vinegar and oil.  This week I’m having kale salads with steak for my weekday lunches, and it’s been a welcome change.

Kale and Steak Salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch kale (I tend to go with curly kale)
  • 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond slices
  • 1/2 lb. steak (I used hangar steak this time)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper (or several twists of a pepper grinder)

To prepare the kale, cut all of the ribs from the kale and chop into bit-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Shake just a dash of salt and olive oil to the kale and rub all through the kale.  The massaging of the kale is an important step in getting the kale softer and less bitter.

Place the sliced almonds on low heat in a frying pan.  Cook for several minutes on each side until golden brown.  Slice 3 – 4 radishes thinly and then cut in half.  Add the parmesan and radishes to the salad and refrigerate while making the steak and dressing.  Leave the almonds to the side for adding when serving.

To prepare the steak, I always choose grilling if I can, even if it means using a Cuisinart indoor griddle!  Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper and cook on a grill / griddle until desired temperature (I aim for medium rare).

While the steak is cooking, mix all of the dressing ingredients together.  I add to a mason jar and shake to combine.

Slice the steak and add to salad along with the almonds and dressing.  Enjoy!






Happy Half Birthday – January 10, 2016

My son loves dates – birthdays, events, any planning that can be done with dates.  He’s been counting down the days as if it’s his full birthday; luckily he just expects cake today and not presents :).  Our local Italian deli has a delicious gluten-free limoncello cake (Italian lemon almond cake) made by a woman in our neighborhood.  We’ll be having that for dessert tonight!

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One night this past week when we were tired of sauce and meatballs, I made a quick and easy meal to get us some protein and veggies – Lime and Basil Chicken and served it with brown rice and spinach and zucchini mix. See below for the recipe.

Lime and Basil Chicken


  • 1 tbsp olive oil (and one additional tbsp for cooking)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp scallions (green end only)
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders


Combine all ingredients in a flat dish and add chicken.  Marinate for at least one hour (if possible, marinate overnight to allow flavors to absorb into the chicken).

When ready to cook, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large frying pan and heat on medium.  Transfer marinade and chicken mixture to the frying pan and cook until chicken is heated all the way through.  If you were only able to marinate for 1 hour, I would recommend lowering the heat and covering the pan for a few minutes at the end of cooking to allow flavors cook together.

Serve with veggies and rice for a perfect weeknight meal!

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Bread, Bread and More Bread – January 9, 2016

As I mentioned in my last post, once adopting a low FODMAP / FODMAP-friendly diet, I was able to go back to a well-balanced diet without having to count calories and stress about food intake.  I now consume starchy carbs (gluten- free bread, gluten-free rolls, rice, potatoes) with most of my meals, and I am so happy about it! During the days of stomach uncertainty, I was having a hard time keeping up my energy because I was also trying to cut out calories.  I am now able to fuel my workouts with the right balance of food.

It’s much easier to keep the starch in my diet when I’m eating at home – most places don’t have gluten-free buns with burgers or gluten-free pasta options.  Whenever I find a place that serves those things, though, I am eager to try!

For my birthday this past November, my sister and two of our friends decided on a splurge event at an upscale restaurant in the city that is meant to have a wonderful gluten-free tasting menu.  We had a bit of a disaster of a dinner – hours to get served first course, one of my friends was hit on the head by a waiter, service was just not what we expected.  In my opinion, the real saving grace of the evening was the bread.  They had the most delicious gluten-free focaccia bread I’ve ever had!  Birthday recovered. Sort of.

For our next gathering of friends, we took a slightly different approach.  Since we were hosting Christmas Eve brunch at my house, my sister and I had control of the menu plan and could make it as FODMAP-friendly as we watched (and have stellar service of course 🙂 ).   We struggled a bit when we started to work through the actual menu, though.  It’s challenging to do appetizers or multiple courses at brunch time.  So we decided that homemade gluten-free bread would be the perfect addition.  I shared some pictures of the entire meal on the Christmas Eve Brunch blog post, but I’ll share the details of the bread below.

The bread recipe is borrowed from the Sullivan Street Bakery, substituting gluten-free flour (Bob’s Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour).  It does take 24 hours to complete, but there is no kneading and no machine required! Here’s a pic of our bread from Christmas Eve.  We served with olive oil and balsamic for dipping.


I’ve adjusted to be FODMAP- friendly using the recipe that can be found on the NY Times website.

Homemade Gluten-free Bread


3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, more for dusting (I use either Bob’s or King Arthur flour)

1 5/8 cups water

¼ tsp. instant yeast

1 ¼ tsp. salt

Cornmeal as needed


In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. NOTE: This step is specific to the NY Times recipe and can be shortened significantly due to the gluten-free flour.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour or cornmeal; put dough down on towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake 30 minutes, checking as it cooks.  The bread may require another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

What is FODMAP – January 6, 2016

I’ve had a few questions lately about FODMAP – why I follow it, how did I find it, what is the real benefit?  So I am going to do my best to explain FODMAP and add in my personal experiences as I can. Most of my information has been gathered from the Stanford Digestive Health Center data available online, with some additional details from my doctor and other sources.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are basically just certain carbohydrates that may not be easily digested or absorbed by the body.  They fall in the following categories:

  • Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc)
  • Lactose (dairy)
  • Fructans (wheat, garlic, onion, inulin etc)
  • Galactans (legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans, etc)
  • Polyols (sweeteners containing isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc)

For a full listing of carbohydrates by category, check out the Stanford details I mentioned earlier.

When certain carbohydrates are not absorbed, they may cause a form of IBS with symptoms of bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other discomfort.  In order to determine which, if any, of the FODMAP categories cause IBS, a full elimination of all categories is recommended.  My doctor recommended that I complete the elimination diet for 6 weeks and then add in one category at a time for 1 week each.  That allows you to narrow down the exact foods that can cause stomach discomfort.

My experience:

It all started in Montreal July 2012.  Maybe it didn’t happen in Montreal, but I still blame the city J.  I went for a girls weekend in Montreal, met Redfoo from LMFAO, ate a ton of heavy food and came back to NYC with a messed up stomach.  I had a pain across the middle of my stomach that I couldn’t seem to get rid of – I tried cutting out red meat, coffee, then moved on to gluten.  I saw an internist for blood work and the ALCAT test (a slightly controversial test that is meant to identify food sensitivities), then on to a GI doctor for a CT scan, colonoscopy and endoscopy.  Everything was functioning normally, which was so confusing, because what I was feeling (pain, constipation, bloating, weight gain) didn’t feel normal!


I did the full elimination for 6 weeks and added back in a category at a time after that, landing on the below categories that I CANNOT eat at all:

  • Fructans
  • Galactans

Within Fructose, Lactose and Polyols, I can have a small amount of some items in there – I’ve kind of worked through how much lactose I can tolerate (hard cheeses, little dash of regular milk) and how much fruit I can have (a little avocado, a nectarine piece that is in my sangria 🙂 -recipe coming soon).

I cannot believe the change this has made for my body – I lost the weight I put on, I eat a normal and balanced diet and as long as I steer clear of the foods that bother me, I’m stomach pain free!

Leave me some comments on your experience with FODMAP, or feel free to ask me more about my experience! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

(Here’s my proof of meeting Redfoo!)


Back to Real Life – January 4, 2016

Today we got back into work and school.  And winter.  It all decided to come on the same day. The cold certainly shocked us back into reality.

I don’t really set New Year’s resolutions as I like to be thinking through new goals and priorities on an ongoing basis.  This year, though, I saw Oprah’s TV advertisement for Weight Watchers where she says that 2016 will be the year of her best body.  And she wants that for us, too.  I know, I know. It’s weird that it was an Oprah ad for Weight Watchers that got me all worked up, but something about the way she was talking resonated with me.  Not necessarily about my body, but just working towards being the best version of me.  I lost a bit of myself this year, and I want to make sure it’s the right version of me that comes back.  I don’t have any real steps to achieve that goal; I’m just keeping that in the back of my mind as I go through 2016.  Changing your mindset can be a powerful tool in moving forward.

(Side note: I know there’s been some different feedback out there on the Oprah ad, and I am not taking a stand on the message itself just how it got me thinking about my personal goals)

One thing I am not likely to change in 2016, or ever, is spending Sundays to cook and prep for the week.  That helps me get my head right for the week, and I find it relaxing.  Most Sundays I make sauce and meatballs, just like my Granny and mom did when I was growing up. I’ve had to make some changes to the recipe over the years as I’ve adopted a low FODMAP lifestyle, and it’s really just made the cooking that much simpler!


My portion and Matt’s portion.  I may have also had seconds – I had the gym this morning so I needed the energy 🙂

Sauce and Meatballs



  • 2 28 oz. cans whole, peeled Italian tomatoes (I prefer to use a San Marzano tomato)
  • 4 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt (and extra as required)
  • 1 – 2 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano


In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add the garlic cloves to the pot and turn heat to low.  Allow the garlic to cook into the oil for several minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the garlic is infusing into the oil, place the tomatoes and fresh basil leaves into a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour a small amount of water into each can to get the remaining tomato juice out and add the water / tomato mixture to the puree.

Remove the garlic from the oil and discard.  Add salt and oregano to the oil and cook on low for another 1 – 2 minutes.  Add the pureed tomatoes to the pot and raise temperature to medium.  Allow the sauce to cook for 1 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally as the sauce boils up.




  • 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
  • 1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (I recommend the 4C Plain Gluten Free breadcrumbs as they do not have any garlic or onion powders)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet – line or grease the baking sheet if they tend to stick.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix well using a wooden spoon or your hands (I prefer hands) to make sure that the ingredients are thoroughly combined.   Roll portions onto the baking sheet – should make 9 – 12 meatballs depending on the size.  Bake for 20 minutes, removing and flipping the meatballs 10 minutes in.

When you remove the meatballs from the oven, place them into the sauce to allow the flavors to meld in the pot.  Cook the sauce for another 30 minutes – 1 hour and serve with gluten free pasta.




Bring on 2016 – January 1, 2016

2015 was a weird year.  So many good changes happened, yet so many other things didn’t move forward at all.  We went on some amazing vacations – California, Florida, London, and so many great changes happened for my son in terms of schooling and overall developmental progress.  When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I see we have so much for which we are grateful and feel so blessed.  In the day to day, sometimes it is hard to see more than the things that are staying the same.  In short, I’m ready for 2016!

We rang in the new year by sleeping early after the big masquerade party.  I woke this morning to an excited little guy giving me a hug and kiss, saying “Happy 2016, Mom!!” He’s a sweet guy.


I sometimes forget the view we have from our apartment, but it strikes me every now and then.  Last night I was glad I could see 1 WTC through the clouds and fog – it’s helpful for keeping my own worries and issues in perspective. Plus it’s a beautiful part of NYC.


On to today – I started the day with a trip to the gym with my dad.  Always good to start the new year with a gym day.  And end the first of the year with cookies.  That’s also good.  I made another really simple recipe tonight while my son was in the shower so he could have one before bed.


FODMAP – friendly Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 12 cookies


  • 1 cup peanut butter (make sure the peanut butter does not contain high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp for sprinkling on cookies before cooking
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease cookie sheet with coconut oil (spray or solid).

In a medium size bowl, mix peanut butter and egg until fully combined.

In another medium  bowl, mix sugar, coconut flour and baking powder.

Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet and mix well with a wooden spoon. Make sure all lumps from the dry mixture are gone. Add the chocolate chips and mix again.

Form cookie shapes (1 – 2 tbsp worth) with your hands and place on the cookie sheet.  The cookies will not expand during cooking.  Sprinkle the extra tsp of sugar on top of the cookies before baking.

Bake cookies for 7 – 10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes once removed from the oven. They will continue to firm up when removed from the heat.

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Remember – I welcome comments / feedback – 2016 is the year for growing and changing 🙂