Reliable Health and Wellness Resources Online

As I learn more about how our bodies work in my science classes, I evaluate the bloggers that I follow and the quality of the information they share. I appreciate the holistic side of healing and do think individuals without licensure do provide fantastic insight and tips on how to lead a well-balanced lifestyle. Nevertheless, some of my past favorite bloggers and podcasts often share information that is not backed by substantial evidence and can sometimes steer followers, readers and listeners in the wrong direction.

To counter this, I want to share five professionals that provide incredible lifestyle, recipe and nutrition education information on their sites, blogs or podcasts. These five individuals are absolutely worth a bookmark!

  1. Kate Scarlata – Kate is a registered and licensed dietitian based in Boston and is a FODMAP and IBS expert. As someone who wants to pursue nutrition and GI health, I am fascinated by the content Kate shares online. She shares Low FODMAP recipe inspiration, the latest learnings about this subset of dietetics and tips for those struggling to find a diet that works best with their gut. A bookmark MUST for (as Kate would say) anyone looking “for a digestive peace of mind.”
  2. Healthy Aperture – I recently discovered this site and love it for recipe inspiration. This site is an image-based recipe search tool that is actually curated and moderated by Registered Dietitians and focuses on healthy eating. It’s easy to get lost in the black hole of Pinterest as you often select a recipe that is completely unhealthy for you. This site inspires you in the kitchen and points you in the right direction to find a well-balanced meal idea.
  3. Diana Rodgers – Diana Rodgers is a Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Massachusetts that not only promotes nutrient dense eating but also teaches her readers and podcast listeners all about Sustainable Nutrition and today’s food system. I listen to her podcast on my car ride to school and I have learned so much about nutrition, animal welfare, food policy and sustainability. Her passion for this field inspires me as a future professional and her content keeps me learning and questioning, which I think is important for all of us to do today.
  4. Kara Lydon – Kara Lydon is a Boston-based dietitian and yoga instructor. I love her content because she includes a more holistic approach to nutrition and talks about mind, body and spirit when improving your overall health. She also posts the most beautiful food photos!
  5. Kath Eats – Kath’s blog and story were actual parts of my journey when I was deciding to leave my career in Marketing to enter the dietetics world. I started to follow her blog and learned that Kath had a liberal arts degree and decided to also start from square one, follow her passion and become a registered dietitian. Kath also opened a bakery in the process and her story, tips and food photos are all so captivating, you feel like you know her and in turn, trust her. Thanks, Kath for your story and for helping me take my big step!

Happy reading and listening!

 

Easy Lunch/Snack: Rice Cakes, Sprouts and Tuna

In addition to eating healthier in 2017, I am trying to minimize our weekly grocery expenses. I am always looking for fun ways to spice up our meals while still staying close to a budget. The other weekend I was so bored with everything in our refrigerator and I decided to make a makeshift sandwich out of rice cakes and tuna. The end product looked pretty pinterest-worthy and also tasted great. Thought I’d share for some weekday or weeknight inspiration.

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Rice Cake, Sprouts and Tuna Ingredients:

  • 2 Rice Cakes
  • 1 Can of Tuna
  • 1 tbsp of Chipotle Mayo (Vegan – I like the Just Mayo brand)
  • 1/2 of a Celery Stalk (diced)
  • 1/4 of an Avocado
  • 1 Cup of Wilted Spinach
  • Organic Radish Sprouts (other sprouts are perfectly fine but I like the little kick that radishes provide)

This recipe doesn’t require much prep work except to warm up and wilt the spinach. This is super easy to put together on a weeknight when cooking feels like the last thing you want to do. Simply stack all the ingredients on the rice cake in the order you see fit and then you have a fun dish to eat!

 

 

 

Twist Bakery & Cafe in Millis, MA

Whenever a blogger from a city like LA, NYC or Denver posts about one of their amazing vegan, raw, gluten-free, whatever eateries on Instagram, I am so jealous. We just don’t have many places like that here in Massachusetts but when I do find one and a GOOD ONE, I make sure to call attention to it.

The other day my husband was looking for a fun new place for us to stop and eat. He stumbled upon Twist Bakery and Cafe in Millis, MA which is a 20-minute drive for us. Twist Bakery and Cafe is basically a dream come true for me and I could never imagine finding this place in Millis. You can’t even find a place like this in Boston!

img_3467Just like our blog, Twist Bakery and Cafe’s food philosophy is that even if their ingredient list is limited their flavor is not. Everything on their menu is ALWAYS gluten-free, nut and peanut free. For all other products, they use colored markers to label if something contains a common food allergen like soy or dairy and they make a ton of things dairy-free. They also NEVER include corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and artificial colors so you don’t even have to think about that when you place an order. Their menu is full of sandwiches, salads,  snacks and baked goods

The philosophy sounded great but of course, a food taste was the ultimate test for the location. We split a Pulled Pork Cuban and a Meatball Sandwich (which I believe is seasonal so GO GO GO!) and both were heavenly. The bread they make is phenomenal and you would never know it’s gluten-free. They said that people apparently visit their from very far away to buy their breads and freeze so they can use it at anytime.  We were also able to  make both sandwiches dairy-free which was so helpful for us to share. We asked what vegan cheese they used in the sandwiches because we were so impressed by the taste and how well it melted. The manager said they used Daiya. It looks like they use a mix of Cheddar and American cheese in the sandwiches so that might be the secret to a better taste.

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Meatball Sandwich from Twist Bakery & Cafe. Look at this picture! Tasted even better than it looked. This was definitely my favorite of the two. Gluten-Free Bread, Gluten-Free everything and vegan cheese. I would recommend the cole slaw side dish.
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Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich from Twist Bakery and Cafe with the chickpea salad side. The sandwich was incredible. 

The staff was wonderfully helpful and even though it was very busy in there they were patient and accommodating with everyone that had restrictions and wanted to clarify if different food items were free of a certain ingredients. I usually the annoying one so I was in good company 🙂

My favorite part about the whole experience was learning that they have been kicking butt running this place for five years! Talk about being ahead of your time!

Now can you open up about six more of these in Massachusetts, please?

Even if you don’t have food restrictions AT ALL, Twist Bakery & Cafe has really good food and pastries and they also cater events. Stop by and enjoy a delicious meal.

 

 

 

 

Easy Weekday Lunch: 3-Step Potato Salad

When you’re on-the-go, it’s nice to have a lunch alternative that doesn’t require a microwave and tastes good at room temperature. Since I started my classes, I don’t always have access to a kitchen, so I try to find easy lunch options that are quick to prepare and easy to eat between classes.

I love potato salad but since I started eating dairy-free, I can’t eat traditional potato salad. I was never a big mayonnaise fan but I used to make a delicious potato and chicken salad using greek yogurt. I spent some time perfecting this potato salad recipe to make it dairy, soy, egg, corn and gluten-free and well…taste good. It’s a simple recipe that you can make during the week and eat for a few weekday lunches. This recipe is also a great dinner option to have when you get home late and don’t feel like turning the oven on.

What ingredients do you use to replace traditional “salad” recipes?

IMG_4740Ingredients for the 3-Step Potato Salad: 

Salad:

  • One bag of small potatoes – I love these multi-colored ones from the supermarket
  • Asparagus – 1 bunch
  • 2 Yellow Squash
  • Olive Oil – 1-1.5 tbsps
  • Salt – 1 tbsp

Dressing: 

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard (I get Annie’s Lite Honey Mustard)
  • Honey, fresh oregano, salt and pepper to your taste

How to Make the Potato Salad:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Chop small potatoes into quarters, skin and dice the yellow squash and chop up the asparagus. Grease the baking tray and then put down all the vegetables. Lightly salt and add olive oil across the vegetable covered tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Make sure vegetables are fully cooked and potatoes are crisping. (Note: If the tray is too packed, use two different baking trays)

IMG_4743IMG_47642. While the vegetables are cooking, make your dressing. Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk together. If you make extra, this is a great dressing to have in your fridge for another weekday salad. Taste as you whisk to see if you should add more salt, pepper, honey or oregano.IMG_47613. Once the vegetables are cooked, add them to a bowl and pour the dressing on top. Make sure to mix the salad up and coat all the vegetables with the dressing. You can eat this delicious potato salad warm or put in the fridge for a few hours and eat it cold. IMG_4765

Marissa’s Pantry Staples

For the second part of our Pantry Series, I (Marissa) am giving you a glimpse into the five items that are essential to my kitchen pantry. After discovering several food intolerances last year, I currently follow a diet free of gluten, dairy, eggs, corn and soy. I also try to stay away from processed food as much as I can for overall health and wellbeing. Because of these limitations, I am very loyal to the foods I like and can eat because well…they’re limited!

I used to hate the idea of repeating a food item several times a week but now I look forward to the foods I like and can eat. Here are the five items I use almost every week, even sometimes several times a week.

Are any of these items also staples in your pantry?

  • White Quinoa –  When I cut out gluten, I was looking for something to replace what typically accompanied my main dishes. Quinoa, which is actually a seed, is one of my favorite food items. It’s incredibly versatile because you can eat it for breakfast like an oatmeal and they even sell quinoa flakes so it has more of an oatmeal breakfast consistency. It’s also a great food for lunch, hot or cold and I of course love it for dinner to accompany the center of my dish. I prefer white quinoa over red quinoa but a mix of the two has a nice taste and consistency. I usually get the Nature’s Promise version but I really like Ancient Harvest as well. Quinoa can be expensive so look for coupons and when it’s on sale, grab a few bags or boxes.                                                                  IMG_1256
  • Chicken Broth –  It’s really frustrating when you find a recipe that calls for chicken broth and there’s none to be found in your home. I learned that the hard way and now I make sure our pantry is stocked with at least one box at a time.  So many recipes call for a good chicken broth or stock and a simple soup is an easy fix when you have broth on-hand. I was sad to see that so many broths had flour, soy and other preservatives but I get the organic version from Nature’s Promise which fits my food limitations.                                                                                 IMG_1255
  • Oat Flour/Quinoa Flour (Bob’s Red Mill) – I have both oat flour and quinoa flour in my pantry and the combination of the two work well for so many recipes. I use these primarily to coat chicken or fish and to bake snacks and desserts. I usually mix quinoa and oat flour which are both gluten-free and from Bob’s Red Mill to give it a more well-rounded flour combination. Gluten-free flours can get pricey but you never use too much of the flour so they last you a long time.                                                     IMG_1258
  • Chickpeas (Organic) –   Garbanzo Beans aka Chickpeas are heaven sent. I use them to make hummus during the week and throw them into the food processor with garlic, lemon and tahini. I often use them in salads to make our lunches more substantial and filling and I have heard people use the chickpea juice as an egg replacer. It’s a great versatile food that’s always good to have in your pantry. Please also note that like most canned goods, the regular garbanzo beans often have ingredients I can’t eat. I go for the Organic Nature’s Promise chickpeas.                     IMG_1257
  • Ener G Egg Replacer  – Giving up eggs was extremely difficult. Although this Ener G Egg Replacer box won’t make up for my loss of omelettes and quiches, I can use this powder mix when I bake chicken or fish and use flour. You can easily use this mix when baking and need a quick egg replacer. You simply measure out the powder and mix it with warm water. I am not sure where to grab this in-store but I ordered this one from Thrive Market.                                                IMG_1259

Top 10 Providence, RI Spots for The Food Sensitive

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My husband and I were very fortunate to move to Providence, RI right before our wedding in 2015. We have been amazed at the beauty of the city but also fascinated in the thriving food culture. As someone with many food restrictions but LOVES food, this weird city has welcomed me in to their kitchens with open arms. Each day I discover a new amazing restaurant or cafe that has menu items that I can not only eat but also enjoy. For all my New Englanders who live in Providence or can easily make a trip to the city, I wanted to write a little round-up of my favorite food spots that make it easy to enjoy a meal out even with food intolerances and restrictions.

I want to emphasize that if you have food allergies (nuts, celiac, etc) please contact each location before going and make sure the food isn’t cross contaminated.

Top 10 Providence, RI Food Spots for the Food Sensitive

  1. Wildflour Vegan Bakery and Juice Bar This place is one of our favorite bakeries and juice bars of all time. Wildflour is a bustling shop in Pawtucket (right outside of Providence but basically Providence) that makes tons of delicious baked goods that are all vegan but many are also gluten-free. There are several options that are also soy-free. They  serve amazing vegan chili, vegan and gluten-free lasagna and they have a great juice menu. There’s often a line here but it goes quickly and let’s be real, it’s so worth the wait. (Note: I was able to eat that delicious looking chocolate tartlet below! It was the best).
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  2. Like No Udder Like No Udder started as a dairy-free ice-cream truck that RI’ers have always adored. They just opened up a brick & mortar location on Ives St. I was super excited because the truck served ice-cream that was soy-based which I unfortunately couldn’t eat. Now the store location serves mostly ice-cream that is nut-based (note to my nut-allergy friends). I just indulged in “Peanut Butter Chunk” and “Thai Iced Tea” ice cream a few days ago which were both nut-based, dairy-free and gluten-free. There’s nothing more exciting than finally being able to enjoy a few scoops of ice-cream just like everyone else can!
  3. Small Point CafeSmall Point Cafe is a charming little cafe in Downcity that has funky tables and spots to sit, eat and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. I love their tea selection and they always have a few different vegan and gluten-free treats to enjoy. I love their energy bites which usually have peanut butter, oats and a dried fruit. They do have food here but please note that they use the same preparation table for salads and sandwiches so there is a lot of cross-contamination.
  4. BirchBirch is a splurge but maybe one of the best dinner spots we’ve ever been to in our lives. Most of the food on their menu can accommodate the top 10 food allergies and it’s also incredibly delicious and unique. It’s a pre-fixe menu and usually 4 courses for $49. You can also include wine pairings if you’re looking to go big that night! Please make reservations because they only have about 14 seats and they usually fill up.
  5. Chez Pascal We stumbled upon Chez Pascal a few weeks ago and were enticed by their unique German wine menu. We were looking through the menu and noticed that they were really adamant about making food available for people with food allergies and restrictions. The bartender said it’s a really important thing for the restaurant and the kitchen accommodates most restrictions. Great find!
  6. Nice Slice When I found out there was a place that served vegan AND gluten-free pizza, I knew I was in love. I recommend the margarita with the vegan cheese and vegan/gluten-free crust.
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  7. The Grange The Grange is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that emphasizes locally sourcing their ingredients. When I told the waitress that I had a few intolerances she said “hit me with them” and was completely unphased by my laundry list. The chef manipulated my dish to fit my restrictions and it was delicious. Bonus points for the cool live music they have during the week and the overall great vibe of the restaurant. IMG_0139
  8. The Shop This little cafe is on Wickenden Street and it’s the cutest place. I was a excited when I was able to actually order breakfast here and enjoy a delicious tea. They often have great oatmeal/quinoa breakfast options and some of their baked goods are gluten-free.
  9. Pizza J Of course I found another spot that has both gluten-free and vegan pizzas. Pizza J is owned by the same folks that own Julian’s which I have yet to visit. It’s a really good open set-up and the pizzas are gigantic. I do have to say the vegan cheese they use is not the best and if you’re not lactose intolerance, I would recommend getting the regular cheese on your pizza.
  10. Red Fin Crudo– Last but certainly not least, I love Red Fin Crudo in Downcity. This was one of the first places we went out to eat in Providence. Most of their food is tapas style which for me can be super difficult when sharing with a group of people. However, when I went there with five other people, the chef was able to make most of the dishes work for my sensitivities and taste amazing for everyone else on the table. Sometimes a simple ask of “putting the cheese on the side” can make the difference. Food and service were both phenomenal here!

I have fallen in love with Providence and the amazing food options here. It’s also an easy commuter rail ride or short drive from Boston! Come visit PVD.

Cauliflower “Pancakes”

 

When you can’t eat eggs, wheat, dairy and corn, cooking can be tricky. After some trial and error, I think a well-balanced breakfast is definitely the most challenging meal. I’m not a big breakfast person so some fruit, peanut butter and a gluten-free cereal will of course do the trick. But on the weekends, I definitely miss a big brunch with friends and family.

A few weeks ago, I tried to come up with a healthy but tasty alternative for brunch. I did some research online on how to use cauliflower for breakfast pancakes and found some great recipes. I played around with the ingredients and made my own version of Cauliflower pancakes. They are really easy to make and it’s a nice way to prepare something you can eat that will also be pleasing to your guests for breakfast.

Cauliflower Pancakes

Cost of Ingredients: $          Time: 1 hour total