Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

This past Saturday was filled with lots of holiday activities. In the morning I finished baking cookies to bring to the Chicago Healthy Living Blogger’s Christmas Cookie Decorating Party. I haven’t decorated cookies in a very long time & I was really looking forward to it!

Bethany graciously hosted the cookie decorating at her apartment. She had a table set up with lots of cookies and decorating supplies. It was very festive!

Decorating SuppliesI made two gluten-free vegan cookies from Manifest Vegan. The Russian Tea Cakes turned out yummy. I also made the candy cane cookies but didn’t shape them into candy canes. I was just happy that they held together without falling apart. I thought that gluten-free baking was going to be intimidating, but it wasn’t so bad!

russian tea cakes

It was so much decorating cookies! This definitely jump started my holiday spirit!

decorating cookies

time to decorate!

cookiesAfter decorating cookies, I went to a gingerbread house making party. That was a lot  of fun & tomorrow’s post will showcase my wonderful house making skills! 😉

Do you decorate cookies for the holidays? What is your favorite Christmas {holiday} cookie?


Christmas Cookbook Wish List

I already own many cookbooks, but I am always on the hunt for more! There are cookbooks that I haven’t even cooked from, but I am always wanting to add to my collection! It might be an addiction, but I am ok with it. I find recipes online, but sometimes they don’t turn out. I have much better luck with recipes in cookbooks!

Since I am newly gluten free, I have a whole new cookbook genre to explore! I have complied a list of gluten-free cookbooks that I would like to own. Maybe my list will help you find a cookbook for someone who is gluten-free and vegan!

Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats: Cut Out the Gluten and Enjoy an Even Healthier Vegan Diet with Recipes for Fabulous, Allergy-Free Fare By Allyson Kramer


{Via Amazon}

Allyson Kramer is the author behind the popular blog Manifest Vegan. I have been reading her blog for awhile and have really been intrigued by her gluten-free recipes. This cookbook looks like it would be great for beginners. I really love that the nutritional information is included. This book is at the top of my list!

Review from VegNews Magazine:

“Top-notch photography, interesting-yet-not-overwhelming recipes, and an affable, approachable style are the hallmarks of Manifest Vegan, and each of these qualities shines through in the 200-plus page Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats.”

Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays: Celebrating the Year with Simple, Satisfying Recipes and Menus by Jennifer Katzinger 

glutenfree and vegan holiday

My eye caught this book because it is geared towards the holidays. Finding vegan and gluten free recipes that can be enjoyed during the holidays can be difficult and having recipes in one book is a great resource to have all in one place! I am especially interested in the holiday cookies, cakes, and bread section! I have been struggling to find really good gluten free christmas cookie recipes!

Review from VegNews:

“Katzinger’s expertise sets this book apart. As founder of the Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle and author of Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book, Katzinger bucks the stereotype of gluten-free baking as boring and tasteless.  Her recipes…would be welcome on anyone’s holiday table, whether the host is vegan, gluten-free, or just hungry. Katzinger also includes tips on where to source specialty ingredients (just in case your local supermarket doesn’t regularly stock teff), and organizes her recipes into complementary menus for each holiday that make planning out your meal a breeze.”

The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal

allegen free baking

 I like the idea that this book focuses on baking for those with all the common allergies  It can be hard to find a baking recipe that doesn’t call for wheat, eggs, soy, etc. 100 recipes are included!

—Review from Cookbook Digest “Somehow, without using wheat flour, dairy, soy, eggs, or nuts, Pascal finds that baking ‘possibilities are endless’ and with recipes for Chocolate Chunk Brownie Bars, Classic Yellow Cake, or Brandied Peach Tart, she is very convincing.” “the kind of advice that can make you an intuitive, allergen-free baker.”

The Gluten-Free Vegan: 150 Delicious Gluten-Free, Animal-Free Recipes by Susan O’Brien

the gluten free vegan

The beginning of this book has an introduction to eating vegan and gluten free. I love when cookbooks provide information, especially if you are new to vegan/gluten free cooking. It is really helpful. It also looks like most of the recipes call for real, whole foods, which is very important for me!

Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread: Artisanal Recipes to Make at Home byJennifer Katziner

artisan bread

I will be honest. I am intimidated by gluten free baking, especially with bread recipes. Maybe this book would help with my fear of gluten free bread making? This book looks wonderful and would be a great addition to a cookbook collection!

These 5 gluten-free & vegan cookbooks are definitely on my Christmas wish list this year! If I do get any of these books, I will do a more in-depth review!

Do you own any of these cookbooks? Do you have any cookbooks on your list this year?

Monday Happenings & Eats

Happy Monday everyone! I hope that your week is off to a great start! I can’t believe the weather. It is really warm here in Chicago & I am wondering if this winter is going to be mild.

For breakfast I tried a new frozen waffle: Nature Path’s Buckwheat Wildberry Waffle. I really loved that these were gluten free! I normally make my own waffles, but I wanted to have something that was easy & didn’t take a lot of time to make. I have been eating oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday for the past 5 years. I am really sick of it & looking for new options!

nature's path waffle

This morning Chicago was extremely foggy. I haven’t rode my bike to school in a few weeks & it felt really nice to get out there again! I really love riding the bike, except in the wind. For some reason I really struggle when I am riding against the wind.


foggy bike ride

For lunch, I had an African sweet potato & peanut stew from The Vegan Table. It was yummy! I love the combination of sweet potatoes and peanut butter. {Sorry for the crummy photo! It just didn’t turn out with my phone!}

African Sweet Potato & peanut stew For dinner, I made my own version of Mexican rice using brown instead of white. It was really yummy! I have made a chili rub tofu before & it has been really good. While I was making it today I ran out of mild chili pepper and had to add some really hot pepper! The tofu was so spicy, but the avocado helped cool it down!

Mexican rice & tofuI really want to start posting here on the blog a lot more! I also want to show my eats on a more regular basis. I am now off to read some articles for my thesis project.

Have a great night! 🙂

Healthy Eating {Gluten Free}

This past few months I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should be. This needs to change asap. One thing that I have been noticing and paying close attention to the past few months is my gluten intake and how it makes my body feel. I have discovered that I tend to have these side effects when I consume gluten: my head hurts, joint pain, stomach issues, tingling and numbness in my hands & bloating. These symptoms only arise right after I consume gluten. I don’t really want to be tested to see if I have a gluten intolerance. Plus I don’t have a doctor here in Chicago and I am not sure where to go. I know that “gluten free” has become a popular diet and I think this is why I haven’t tried to go eliminate it from my diet.

My stomach issues have become more of an issues & I have decided that now is the time to try and eliminate it from my diet. I have done some preplanning & hopefully shouldn’t have any problems finding gluten free foods in my kitchen!

One thing that I am worried about is the fact that December is filled with lots of holiday get togethers. Also, my family isn’t too accommodating with my vegan eating. I will be bringing my own dishes to pass! Another thing that is a concern is gluten free vegan baking. This will be something that I need to try. I have found quite a few recipes, so I will have to try them out! Plus, it isn’t like I need to have baked goods all the time.

The rest of December I plan on testing out a gluten free diet and see how I feel. I also would like to cut back on my sugar intake. I want to feel lighter & my best by the time I run the Disney World marathon in January. I definitely want to keep a detailed account & plan on blogging a lot more about my eats. This is something that I have been wanting to do for awhile anyways.

I am really nervous about posting anything about eliminating gluten from my diet, but I really want to share this with everyone. It has been a couple of days without gluten and I feel really good! A lot of the symptoms that I have been having lately are gone. Hopefully this keeps up!

**Disclaimer: I am not advocating that going gluten free is best for everyone. I just feel it is best for me to try it right now. These are just my opinions that I write here on the blog. 

Book Club & Empanada Making

Last Sunday, I went to my first book club with the Chicago Healthy Living Bloggers. This  months book was MFW: Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche. I really enjoyed reading the book. I learned a lot of valuable tips about making friends. I could really use the information and tips because since I moved to Chicago last May, I haven’t been able to make that many friends.

It was also great to meet other bloggers living here in Chicago. It was so much fun! I can’t wait for this month’s book club!

Photo from of Kelsey! Thanks for taking the pictures! 🙂
We each brought a dish and I wanted to make empanadas. I also wanted to make something that was both vegan & gluten free. When I read the recipe of Pumpkin and Potato Empanadas from Viva Vegan, I knew that I had to make them! Instead of a flour based dough, it called for Columbian/Venezuelan masa harina, which is just corn flour. Masa harina can be found in latin grocery stores. In Chicago I was able to find it at a market in Edgewater (I can’t remember the name, but it is on Devon). Back home in Michigan, I found it at a Mexican grocery store in Pontiac. The best part was that the dough didn’t need any shortening, which made the dough so much easier to roll and shape. I also used butternut squash instead of pumpkin.
In the book, there are set by step instructions on how to roll, shape, and fill the empanadas. This was extremely helpful!
Following the shaping instructions was very helpful! They turned out great and I think that everyone enjoyed them! I served them with the green onion salsa from Viva Vegan. If you don’t have Viva Vegan, I highly recommend that you get it. It is a wonderful cookbook and I have made a lot of the recipes and they all were very good!!

In denial…

Hey everyone!

These past few months, I have been in denial, or at least I think that I have been. Certain foods really upset my stomach, mostly foods that have a high amount of gluten in them, like  French bread. Some gluten foods don’t upset my stomach, but it seems more and more that I am having a lot of stomach issues. I have had a problem with acid reflux since I was little & even had to have a hernia removed a couple of years ago. I have been noticing that I also have been having more stomach issues while I am running. Is this a gluten sensitivity? I don’t know.

Now, I’m in denial because I don’t want to give up gluten. I have tried, but I give up. It seems like it is too much work trying to figure out what I can & can’t eat. Maybe I am just not willing to give it the time. My current solution to this problem is to slowly eliminate gluten from my diet. I don’t think that I can cut it out right now, especially since I am visiting my parents & I barely have any food options in the house. I think that if I cut out process foods from my diet that will also help. So, my plan will be to slowly cut out gluten & processed foods from my diet. It won’t be too easy, but I think that I can do it!!

It’s time to stop living in denial!!

February, Where Did You Go?

I can’t believe that tomorrow is March! February went by so fast! It seems like just yesterday it was February 1st and I was registering for the Chicago Marathon! 

I didn’t make any set goals for this month, which I probably should have. I did try and tweak my diet a bit. I really want to start eating a mindful diet. I don’t want to have to count calories or worry if something is not good for me. This week I have been trying to eat gluten-free. I have always struggled with stomach problems and I have realized that January & February I have been eating way too much gluten than previously. I blame my boyfriend Hector because he loves all things with gluten! 😉 I want to see if this solves the stomach problems that I have had pretty much my entire life. So far this week has been pretty good. I have been trying to prepare my meals somewhat ahead of time. I will probably be posting more about this topic! 

Today’s lunch was really fast and easy. I just heated some cooked brown rice, spinach, and then added a tomato & 1/2 an avocado. It was so good & a really simple lunch.

I am really looking forward to March. By today’s weather being 60 degrees, I feel that spring is almost here! Today I will work on my goals for March. I will post them tomorrow! 

Happy Leap Day!