Living Gluten Free (and a great recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs)

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Since I had a few friends ask about the recipe I used and how it turned out, I decided maybe it was a good topic with which to step back into blogging after quite the hiatus.

First, a life update…

Most of my friends and family know that I am gluten intolerant. This is something I found out after several months of very unpleasant digestive issues and efforts to combat the digestive disruption to my life with an IBS diagnosis, meds, blood test, upper GI scope and then finally eliminating gluten to see if my symptoms improved (which they did). So I discovered my gluten intolerance in 2015 and I’m going on four years without the G. (Gluten joke, not funny I guess…)

I’ve since learned how to live life without gluten, and while it wasn’t a fun month or so cutting out all my favorite dishes cold turkey (literally every single favorite food of mine had gluten so now I just really love cheese – that’s my post-gluten favorite, seriously) it really doesn’t seem that difficult now and I have no intention to “go back.” Let alone the fact that any tiny bit of gluten wrecks havoc on my digestive track if I ever accidentally eat it, so the idea of reintroducing gluten to my body is super unrealistic this far in.

Going on four years gluten free, eating while traveling isn’t always fun but I can pretty much manage holiday gatherings, parties and dining out with friends. Cooking for one, on the other hand, isn’t easy even when you CAN eat gluten. So I had a very short list of my go-to single serving meals and didn’t get too adventurous in the kitchen over the years. Because… it honestly seemed like a waste of money. Gluten free alternatives can be expensive and to go the route of cooking foods that didn’t require gluten to begin with meant me expanding my food horizons and I wasn’t interested in buying enough of a vegetable to feed a family of four only to throw out more than half and have to figure out how to cut it, cook it and actually learn to like it. So I didn’t.

Fast forward to 2018, I meet my boyfriend Darrell. Our first date happened to be dinner and so right off the bat we discussed our food allergies and intolerance. I can’t eat gluten, Darrell can’t eat poultry, nuts or legumes. You can imagine the joy we are to servers everywhere!

Why am I sharing this on a blog post about spaghetti squash, you ask? Well first, I am frequently asked questions about living gluten free and second, I’ve decided to share more recipes and our experiences cooking without gluten, poultry, nuts and legumes. It seems only appropriate I first explain WHY we cook this way. Additionally, I know a lot of people are interested in eliminating a certain food and aren’t sure how to make the lifestyle change that doing so would require. It’s not as “scary” as it seems. And the food doesn’t taste like cardboard either.

So this spaghetti squash with meatballs… IT WAS DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to cook it again! I’m not sure why I had been so hesitant to try this meal when I’ve heard such great things from friends. But last week, Darrell and I decided to try three new recipes for our dinners over the three-day weekend.

I came across this recipe on Primavera Kitchen. This site has a bunch of low-carb, Whole 30, paleo and gluten-free recipes. It’s a well-organized website, making it easy to find recipes that work for our needs.

Below, you’ll find my notes detailing anything I did differently from what the recipe suggests. The notes are organized by the numbers assigned to the steps of the recipe.

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs

Ingredients

  • I opted for onion powder instead of actual onion because I’m not a fan of the texture of onions!
  • Additionally, we’re lazy and didn’t want to make homemade tomato paste, so I swapped that out for a jar of meat flavored Prego.

5. When making the meatballs, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture to form a single meatball… This seemed like way too much and I questioned how it would cook thoroughly. I recommend using 1 tablespoon of mixture.

7. I had to cook the meatballs longer than 4-6 minutes… I don’t know exactly how long I cooked them, but until the center of a test meatball was cooked.

8. I dumped out the oil from the meatballs, rinsed and dried the skillet before adding the oil for the spaghetti squash. I’m not sure that it was necessary, but the skillet had way too much oil and meatball bits in it for my liking.

Find the recipe HERE.

I cooked asparagus as a side item to round out the meal.

Have you tried spaghetti squash? Did you use a different recipe? I’d love to hear what you’ve done differently or if you give this one a try!

More posts coming soon about cooking with food allergies and intolerance!

 

We’ll Always Have Paris

First off, this isn’t a review of a movie – before I lose your interest or disappoint you… Instead, it’s more of a tale of my reaction to a classic. 🙂

One of my favorite movies is When Harry Met Sally. I’m a sucker for rom-coms. Friends make fun of me for how often I watch the film. But it’s a classic. If you know anything about the movie, you probably know that at multiple points throughout the story line, Harry and Sally debate the film Casablanca. It’s a movie I’ve had on my list to watch for quite some time. A few weeks ago, I noticed the beautiful little theater downtown was advertising a special showing of the film for Valentine’s Day. I had never visited Kentucky Theater and was excited for the perfect reason to go.

It was a lovely evening and I was so pleased with the black-and-white film. It wasn’t that I had high expectations, but I knew it was a CLASSIC so I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about.

The beauty of Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa and that classic voice of Humphrey Bogart as Rick in this black-and-white timeless feature, in the perfect viewing set up of a downtown theater of yesteryear, was a spectacular evening that brought color to the nostalgia and excitement I had for finally catching the show.

Isn’t it funny when you discover where certain phrases or ideas originated? Well that’s how I felt throughout the entire movie. I recognized so many quotes that had never truly made sense because I didn’t have the back story. I’ll explain…

I like to think I am an old soul. I’m old fashioned for sure. I read a description of my name in a baby name book as a teenager and it described “Sarah” as someone old fashioned. And even as a teen, I didn’t think “oh, that’s dull” but rather simply embraced it. For heaven’s sake, as a child I was most certainly old fashioned – and totally had my own sense of style – as the only nine-year-old who adored penny loafers, collared shirts and cardigans. (I still adore penny loafers, collared shirts and cardigans…)

So it’s not a surprise that I love old movies. And old music. And everything else from a time before me. But it’s hard to put into words just how lovely I found this movie. My love of Kate Spade New York design grew exponentially when I realized so many quotes on her trinkets came from this film.

Kate Spade New York brand embodies so much of the sweetness derived from the whimsical quotes sprinkled throughout the classic film. I’m easily so enamored by finding a correlation among some of my favorite things and this Valentine’s Day viewing of Casablanca had my heart so happy it could burst.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the movie:

One of Bogart’s lines toward the end that really tugs at you.

Rick: Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.

 

Bogart to Bergman in a flashback to when they fell in love, raising a glass to toast. Doesn’t this just give you butterflies and make you blush?!

Here’s looking at you, kid.

 

And another from the ending that really melts you…

We’ll always have Paris.

 

Have you seen this classic? Do you have suggestions for others I should see? Comment or send me a message!

Rainy Sundays Call For Chili

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There’s something about a cozy weekend day spent at home with no real plans. Growing up, these were the kind of days when dad most often seemed to get a hankering to cook. This usually meant one of two things, a hodge podge dinner of foods dad liked (soup beans, hoecakes [fried cornbread] and macaroni salad […? haha]), goulash (which I despised), meatloaf (revered as dad’s specialty and a family favorite), or chili.

There’s a small navy blue notepad my Nay-Nay (grandma on my dad’s side) filled with recipes for dad’s favorite dishes. She gave him this little pad of recipes with detailed instructions when he moved away to Louisiana for his first job out of college. It’s one of the most referenced “recipe books” in my parents’ house and I love to flip through the worn pages and read Nay-Nay’s perfect penmanship and notes to dad. I find it amusing to imagine a 20-something version of my dad around 1985 trying to cook his favorite dishes for the first time in what he once described to me as a very “70s” furnished apartment.

I’ve modified my two favorites (dad’s meatloaf and chili) since going gluten-free. But they’re both still very tasty!

It started raining last night and hasn’t let up since. I haven’t minded though because I was looking forward to the lower temps brought in by the rain. It’s about time it felt like fall outside! And I’ve been wanting it to cool off enough that I could fix a pot of chili. So it was the perfect cozy day for just that.

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There’s only one ingredient I have to leave out of dad’s recipe in order to make it gluten free. While it’s certainly not the healthiest chili out there, it’s something some of my gluten-free friends might want to try! And if you’d rather have the gluten, I’ll be sure to point out what you can add to make it “dad’s way.”

Ingredients:
2 cans chili beans
1 can pork ‘n beans
tomato juice
ground beef
chili powder
minced onions
(if you want the gluten, add in a can of spaghetti o’s – yeah you read that right)

*If you’re new to the no-gluten thing, be sure to read the back of the cans to make sure your canned beans don’t contain gluten! Same goes for seasonings…

Toppings:
sour cream
extra sharp cheddar cheese
Doritos (or Fritos, or if you’re boring… saltine crackers)

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Now, I’m no cook so this probably isn’t the most complete or detailed recipe and I don’t have the navy blue note pad to reference, so here’s a Sarah-style recipe… I honestly don’t think you could really screw it up that easily so y’all should be just fine. Just figure it out. Wing it. 😉

  1. Brown the ground beef. I like to use a little electric skillet. Ground the meat so that it is somewhat fine.
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  2. Empty your chili beans, pork ‘n beans (and if making the “gluteny” version add your spaghetti o’s) into a large pot. If you’re scared of the “pork” part of the “pork ‘n beans going into your chili, you can usually spot it at the top of the can and scoop it out haha.
  3. Once your ground beef has browned, drain the grease off and stir in as much chili powder (or seasonings of your choice) as your little heart desires.
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  4. Dump the seasoned ground beef into your pot o’ beans.
  5. Sprinkle in some minced onions as desired.
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  6. Pour in tomato juice.
  7. Cook at medium heat for about 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
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  8. Shred your cheddar cheese. You can use whatever cheese you like. I’m pretty particular about my cheeses and like the Cracker Barrel brand of extra sharp cheddar. No idea if they’re connected to the restaurant chain but the branding doesn’t lead me to believe so haha.
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  9. Remove chili from heat and let cool a bit before serving.
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  10. For toppings, add a small handful of Doritos (crushed), shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream.
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  11. Enjoy! (Chili is one of those dishes that’s always way better the second day so once it cools, store covered chili in fridge and reheat later.)

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What’s your go-to cozy day in meal? What are your favorite chili toppings? Do you have a particular take on chili that you prefer? I’d love to hear from ya!

xo Sarah

“I’m busy for the rest of my life”

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Transitioning from college and a routine that only ever lasted a semester before changing to a different routine, to a very set schedule working M-F with evenings and weekends free… has resulted in a lot less “busy” and a lot more “chill.”

I’m enjoying not having every hour of my day spoken for in my planner. Time for hobbies. One of which being blogging. So I’m throwing out all those “I’m busy for the rest of my life” thoughts I had in college and focusing on enjoying each day as it comes.

I like cooking, going on adventures, stalking fashion bloggers on Instagram, spending too many hours on Pinterest planning out my ideal closet and sharing my experiences with people… Good, bad, funny, embarrassing, mundane and everything in between. I love my career and hope to share some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way. I have pretty serious opinions on everything from cupcakes (I have an extreme hatred for them) to shades of nail polish (if polish brands could develop the colors I have in my mind, I know they’d make a fortune. In the meantime I can share with you the ones that aren’t to that standard of exquisiteness but will do until brands GET ON MY LEVEL.)

Let’s have fun!

xo Sarah