Great Balls of Goodness

Glutinous rice or sticky rice is completely safe to include in a gluten free diet. Don’t let phonetics confuse you! Glutinous rice flour, a derivative of glutinous rice, does not contain proteins (gluten/gliadin) that are harmful to gluten intolerant individuals. Instead, it can serve as a wonderful thickening agent in lieu of wheat flour. Its high starch content helps thicken sauces, and when used in baking, it produces a texture similar to mochi.

There are wonderful things that are made from glutinous rice–such as sweet soup dumplings or “tongyuan,” a popular Chinese dessert. Tongyuans are typically served during the Lunar New Year or Lantern Festival season, and are often made from scratch. But when I crave for a quick way to satiate my sweet tooth, I like to reach for these frozen tongyuans by Laurel’s. They come in a variety of flavors in the frozen foods section of well-stocked Chinese grocery stores, but my favorites are black sesame or peanut filled.20130103-114956.jpg
They are easy to prepare too! Just plop them in boiling water for 5-8 minutes and the sticky balls of goodness are ready to be fished out and served.

20130103-115757.jpgI like to eat mine plain, but it is also popular to add a delicious syrupy soup. 20130103-115126.jpg20130103-115302.jpg
I’ve cut a couple open to showcase the fillings– here we have black sesame on the left, peanut on the right.

I Scream!

Even though Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone, I am so happy to find that Pumpkin Ice Cream is still IN. The holiday season is one of the more difficult times to navigate as a gluten intolerant individual, especially if deliciously dangerous desserts have held a special place in your belly years prior.

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This is why I am so thankful for this gluten-free tub of awesomeness from Trader Joe’s, where indulgence won’t wreak havoc. You get two desserts in one- it really tastes like the best pumpkin pie you could imagine, in ice cream form! Personally, I think Pumpkin ought to become a staple flavor, but then…I’d need spoons permanently strapped to my hands…

The Meaning of Life–According to Siri

I’m getting to know my new personal assistant…and I think I am in love. She is organized, timely, sexy, sassy…good at math AND philosophical…

Question: What is the meaning of life?
Siri’s response with a cup of coffee:

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Siri’s response at happy hour:

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WORD.

A Quick Gluten Free Lunch: Pepperoni and Cheese Mac

Macaroni and Cheese was and still is one of my favorite dishes, but it is nearly impossible to find a gluten free version on any menu. To satisfy this craving, I made my own and even added a little pepperoni for flare. This is how I did it!
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Ingredients for single serving

1 cup of DeBoles corn* elbow style pasta
1 or 2 slices of Muenster cheese
2 slices of thin pepperoni, squared
¼ tomato, cubed
1 scallion, chopped
1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Add the cup of pasta to boiling water, and allow 7 minutes of cooking time.

2. In your serving bowl, add the pieces of pepperoni, slice of Muenster cheese and teaspoon of Greek yogurt.

3. Once the pasta is finished, drain the excess water and immediately transfer the hot pasta into your bowl. (A little residual liquid actually helps the cheese to become saucier.)

4. Allow the hot pasta to melt the slice of cheese before mixing in the tomato and scallions.

5. Salt and Pepper to taste

6. Bon appetite!

*Rice pasta may be used as a substitute, but I have found that the consistency and texture of corn pasta is closer to that of regular pasta.

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The Life Changing Cookie

It has been quite a while since I’ve had a good cookie. So today I stopped by the grocery store and picked these up without any expectations, only to have my mind blown away!!! Exaggerating? Maybe slightly… But really. I think my opinion on this one will only steer you toward deliciousness.

These chocolate ones are similar to the Keebler’s Fudge Striped cookie, and having them took me back a decade (or more) to my sweet childhood of gluten rich days. Sure, they look a little anemic, but don’t be too quick to judge because the pale looking cookie combined with a chocolate dipped backing made the perfect marriage.

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The vanilla ones are good too, and I will definitely buy them again…but the chocolate ones are a hard act to follow. For store bought gluten free cookies, these make an excellent snack. They are even individually wrapped in pairs for portion control!

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Europe’s #1 gluten free? Yup. Verified by yours truly, the non-European!

FNO FTW!!!

It’s that time of year, and it’s way better than Christmas! Fashion’s Night Out, abbreviated FNO, will be taking the states by storm TONIGHT!!! Sales will be on, refreshments will be had, and smiles will be flashed!

In Georgetown, M St. and Wisconsin Ave. will be littered with shoppers donning champagne in one hand and goodies in another while they peruse the season’s best.  Last year Emily, Alice and I had an amazing time at this event, and I even won a raffle! So grab your girlfriend and shop till you drop!

To help plan your outing in DC tonight, I’ve identified the shops that will be offering some worthy discounts. Those with the stars are where you can fetch a flute of bubbles! For more information, check out www.FNOgeorgetowndc.com

ALDO 10% off

*Charm 50% off

Ella-Rue 40% off

*Hu’s 80% off

*Karen Millen 20% off

Lacoste 20% off of $150

Maxstudio 25% off

Papyrus 20% off single item

Urban Chic 15% off

Vineyard Vines 10% off

A Sweet Summer Pick: Juice and Freeze!

Watermelon is a summertime favorite and is always welcome at any gathering, but finding the perfect one can be tricky. When shopping for a ripe and ready melon, some key features to consider are: color, weight, and shape. Typically, you want to reach for one that has a deep green color because the riper the melon, the darker the green will be. Examine it for a yellow or white spot–this is also known as the “ground spot,” which is the area that the melon used as its bum during growth. A yellow ground spot indicates that the melon is ready to be enjoyed, whereas a white spot indicates that it was picked prematurely, and no spot=no good. If you lift the melon, it should be heavy for its size, which is predictive of how juicy it will be; maybe the best way to tell is to compare it to another of similar size. Also try to avoid deformed watermelons because an odd shape could mean that it had inconsistent growth conditions, ultimately compromising its quality. As for drumming on the melon…if someone could describe this sound test in a comment below, I would be so very appreciative! I’ve never been able to draw a meaningful correlation between the potential of a watermelon and its musical thuds!

Once you’ve picked your perfect watermelon, you can serve it in three different forms at your next summer party!

Cubed
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Here I’ve cubed and served it in its pure form. So simple, and so good!

Juiced
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Then I took some chunks for juicing. Because watermelon is over 90% water, it is a wonderful fruit to juice. If you want to spike it for adult-only festivities, rum, vodka and gin are great options for concocting a gluten free cocktail.

Frozen: (Watermelon Granita pictured with a scoop of homemade Pinkberry)

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Take the remains from the juicing process and freeze it into a granita!

Boil a 1:1 mixture of water and sugar to make a ½ cup of simple syrup.
Combine your simple syrup with about 3 cups of watermelon remains.
Squeeze a ½ lemon or lime into the mixture.
Place your mixture in the freezer.
Fluff your mixture every hour to get the right granita consistency.

Optional: Add a small amount of Triple Sec or Grand Marnier to prevent overfreezing your granita!

Music for Monday

I don’t always use background music when I work or study. But when I do, it’s usually instrumental so that I can still hear my own thoughts.  Hope these tunes help keep your spirits high as you reflect on your weekend and plan for a productive week!

1. Never Mess With Sunday Yppah

2. Intro The xx

3. Forest Gump (Feather Theme)

4. Life/Universe Detektivbrian

5. Struggle for Pleasure Wim Mertens

6. Primavera Ludovico Einaudi

7. For Mom Buckethead

8. Angry Birds London Philharmonic Orchestra

9. Sunshine Adagio in D Minor The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

10. Long Life (Instrumental Remix) Bonobo

11. Minor Swing Django Reinhardt

12. Eskimo Kiss Years of Rice and Salt

13. The Letter that Never Came Thomas Newman

14. The Creative Part Kate Simko

15. Happiness (Instrumental) The Foreign Exchange

Listen to Music for Monday on Spotify!

The Traveling Gym

Chances are good that you’ve heard your body could use some exercise every day. But for those who are busy globe trotters or regular business travelers, finding time to exercise can be challenging, and a gym may not always be accessible. Although many great workout routines are now more focused on using your own body weight, packing your suitcase with some light equipment may be a good idea if you’re not sure what might meet you at your next destination.

Two of my favorite light-weight pieces are the jump rope and these Gliders.

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The jump rope is a great cardio alternative to the treadmill, and can get your heart rate up pretty quickly. Certainly a rope made of any material could do, but a light-weight plastic one (like the one pictured) may be the best option for your suitcase.

Gliders are round disks that help reduce friction, and are great for doing variations of the mountain climber. To do the basic mountain climber, place each foot on the Gliders, assume the push-up/plank position, and shuffle your feet like you’re scaling the floor by tucking your knee to your chest. This exercise targets the abdominals while building core strength and agility. Although Gliders aren’t completely necessary, they can help you climb faster, making your work out more efficient. This exercise is best on a tiled bathroom floor, since most hotel rooms are carpeted.

And of course don’t forget to stay hydrated and wipe off your sweat!

Morning Buzz: Summer’s Perfect Cup

Many of us share the common morning ritual of sipping on a cup of coffee to help start our day…and what a great ritual it is! The benefits of coffee are ample—from increasing your rate of metabolism…to enhancing performance and focus, it is no wonder that coffee has become a staple in our society. I mean…there’s more than um…10,000 Starbucks, 6,000 Dunkin Donuts, just over 200 locations of Peet’s, and a countless number of wonderful independent mom and pop cafés!

Because this drink is so deeply ingrained in our culture, the process of brewing coffee is often considered a form of art. There are a variety of techniques and many methods to yield a great cup—traditional dripping, French pressing, stovetop pressurizing are only a few at the tip of the iceberg! With the rising temperatures this season, colder versions of coffee are becoming more popular; if you are trying to save a buck (or four) this summer, I recommend cold-brewing your coffee at home.

Cold brewing coffee is a slower process, where you mix cold water with ground coffee and let it steep in your fridge overnight. Here, I used Adagio’s ingenuiTEA for the process, but you can easily achieve the same results by making the mix in any glass jar and filtering with a regular coffee filter.

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The taste is milder and smoother than a hot cup, and this is because less alkaloids are extracted. This also means that your end product will be less acidic and much easier on the stomach. Cold brewing is an especially good option for people who avoid coffee because of stomach cramps or excessive jitteriness…and if you like this method because of its milder effects, you can still have it hot when the weather cools down! Just use more grounds and less water in the steeping process; end product will be a thicker and stronger coffee syrup, which you can later dilute with hot water.

Wishing you all a fabulous and productive Thursday! Cheers!!!