Posts tagged ‘guest blog’

Finding Self-Empowerment despite Limitations

The following guest post is from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer, Candice Clifford of Embrace G-Free.

What does, “expect the unexpected,” mean to you? This was an exact interview question, which was given to me during my international service trip (ISP) interview.   As I heard these words I felt both fear and a thrill of excitement.  However, as I thought more about this central ISP theme, I began to realize this phrase could describe my life for the past eight years.

I don’t understand why certain events have happened in my life, but I certainly know that each hardship has taught me valuable life lessons. While dwelling on the “why question” was a part of my grief process when I was first diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’), I quickly realized this was not going to help me live my best life.

As Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America” says, “make your mess your message.” Whether big or small, we all have our own challenges.  In the end I truly feel that you will not be defined by your “something,” rather people will remember you for what you did with your life after you faced adversity.

Finding Self-Empowerment despite Limitations: Meeting the Group

That’s me starting my journey of empowerment (Keep reading, I’ll explain).

After I was diagnosed, I was full of fear. Food, going out to eat and getting sick again were fears hat controlled my life. However, in 2011 I made a choice to make a change by starting my blog, Embrace G-Free. Not only did this help get me back cooking in the kitchen, but it also empowered me.

Empowerment is one of the words which is continually tossed around in my counseling classes. However, I truly believe empowerment is a concept that you can’t fully understand until you personally experience it.   As a future counselor I feel blessed that I will have the opportunity to help my clients become empowered. However, it is possible to discover self-empowerment without the guidance of a professional.

One of the best things you can do to achieve self-empowerment is set a goal; big or small, size doesn’t matter. What makes the difference is your attitude. Throw the self-doubt out the door. “I can’t” isn’t an option. By no means am I saying you will achieve all your goals. I for sure haven’t; failing is part of life.  It is possible you may discover a barrier which prevents you from achieving your goal. However if you take all the proper steps and know you did everything in your power to try and achieve your goal, consider it a success. In taking action rather than letting your dreams pass you by, you will begin to feel more empowered.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, self-empowerment is something I am so passionate about because becoming empowered has moved my life in such a positive direction and has provided me with experiences which I am forever grateful for. Finding empowerment through my diagnosis was one of life’s “unexpected” moments, eventually leading me to achieving a goal which I was ready to give up on. However, a long-term college dream was achieved this past May when I was blessed to go on an international service trip to El Salvador.

Finding Self-Empowerment despite Limitations:  ISP Group

Me and my fellow students in the El Salvador ISP group

It was a long process to see if this goal could even be achieved. I started back in April 2012 and continued when I returned to school in September to make sure the sites could accommodate my needs. It was one thing to want to go on an ISP trip, but I needed to ensure I could do it safely. Patience, diligence, determination and an incredible program director helped me get through step one. Once I got the green light, it was onto getting over the hurdles of application selections and an interview process.

I will never forget the day I received the e-mail notifying me that I was selected to travel to El Salvador. I cried and would have screamed if I wasn’t at work. The planning process was incredible and in May 2013, my group and I were ready to head off to El Salvador.

Finding Self-Empowerment despite Limitations: Candice Clifford

How amazing is that view?

While many people see a service trip as a way to serve others, I can honestly say that the people and experiences I had taught me more than I could ever give to the people I served. Although I felt empowered prior to ISP, this experience truly allowed me to take my feeling of empowerment to a new level.  Not only was I faced with the challenge of new food allergy diagnoses a month before the trip, but while in El Salvador all my fears that I had prior to leaving happened. Despite this, I was OK.

Finding Self-Empowerment despite Limitations:  Building

I can honestly say that the people and experiences I had taught me more than I could ever give the people I served.

I truly believe it was my individual choices, which helped me overcome the challenges I faced. For example, rather then crying when I walked in the first night and realized I couldn’t eat the main meal, I took a deep breath to calm myself down, told myself it was going to be OK, and made an almond butter sandwich.  Overall that was one of the only meals I couldn’t eat and when I was unsure, I did without and turned to a safe option I brought with me.

After going on this trip I really began to realize even though food is our medicine, it doesn’t have to make or break our experiences. Of course enjoying some of the cultural dishes was wonderful and delicious, however, when I look back 20 years from now, I will not remember the foods I ate. Rather my memories will be of all the wonderful relationships I built during those 7 special days in El Salvador.

Food is our medicine, but don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals.  Become Empowered!

– Candice

About Candice Clifford & Embrace G-Free

Visit Embrace G-Free where you can find empowering tools to live your happiest and healthiest gluten-free life! Browse through great recipes, product reviews and helpful resources. Candice Clifford started Embrace G-free in January 2011, after being diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Follow her journey as she rediscovers her passions for baking and cooking. Candice shares her story with others to spare them from years of misdiagnoses and to inspire hope.

Follow Candice on Twitter (@CandiceRose90) and like Embrace G-Free on Facebook.

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August 19, 2013 at 4:10 pm 2 comments

Gluten-Free Pasta in Bolognese Sauce

The following recipe is from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Volunteer Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

Would you like to surprise Mom with dinner on Mother’s Day or on any day, for that matter? Why not an Italian dinner that you can easily make from scratch?

Bolognese sauce is pretty easy and this recipe shortens the time to 1 hour. There are various recipes out there, some simmering the sauce for 2+ hours, but you can achieve similar results with this one, which shortens that by half.

Bolognese sauce also varies in which meat you choose to use. Some recipes call for ½ ground beef and ½ ground veal. I’ll leave that up to you.

Here I used just ground beef, so feel free to follow this exactly or combine the two. Just use half as much of each, if you combine them.

I also don’t use “naked” ground meat. I prepare the ground meat as I would for meatballs. Then instead of rolling into a ball, you just leave it un-shaped and brown it in your saucepan, so its result is a loose meat within the sauce.

Please let me know if you prepare this and how you like it! Bon appetito!

Gluten-Free Pasta in Bolognese Sauce

Gluten-Free Pasta Bolognese

This dish will taste like you slaved in the kitchen for hours, but no one has to know this recipe cuts your cooking time in half!

Ingredients:
Meat Preparation:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Italian-flavored gluten-free bread crumbs- (I like Gillian’s)
  • ¼ cup grated Italian cheese
  • 1 slice of white gluten-free sliced bread that has soaked in small amount of milk. (You will use the center of the slice, the white part, and gently squeeze out the milk. It’s ok if it’s still wet, no need to get it too dry. It adds moisture.)
  • Dash of salt & pepper

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion- minced
  • 2 garlic cloves- minced
  • 1 carrot- shredded. (Use a food processor for speedier preparation or shred by hand.)
  • 1 celery rib, minus the green leafy end – minced or shredded in a food processor
  • The above-prepared ground meat
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Grated Italian cheese to garnish when ready to serve.

Directions:

  1. First, prepare the ground meat, as you would for meatballs.  (It’s easy! Place all of those ingredients in a large bowl, use clean hands and combine well. Don’t form meatballs, just leave it as combined.)
  2. Take a frying pan and brown the meat in the hot vegetable oil, loosely stirring as you brown it, and turning over to brown all parts. Drain off any fat and oil and then set aside until it’s time to add to the saucepan.
  3. In a large saucepot, place the olive oil and when hot, sauté the onion and garlic. Don’t allow to brown. After onion is translucent, add the shredded carrot and celery and sauté for about 4 – 5 minutes.
  4. Now, add the browned meat, and stir into the vegetables.
  5. Add the can of Crushed Tomatoes, the basil ,salt & pepper.Here’s a view of the simmering sauce:

    Gluten-Free Pasta Bolognes: Bolognese Cooking

    Your Bolognese sauce should start to look something like this!

  6. Cover and begin to cook on a low-medium heat. Keep checking. When it’s simmering, reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently and touch the bottom of the pot when you stir! This isn’t something you can set and forget. It will stick to the bottom and burn if left unattended for more than 10 minutes. So, if you feel you may forget to stir, set a timer for every ten minutes so your results will be the best!
  7. When it’s done, you can remove from heat and leave covered until your gluten-free pasta of choice is cooked.
  8. Boil the pasta until “al dente”.  Drain pasta and place it in a large bowl so you can pour this yummy sauce on top and fold into the pasta to coat well.
  9. Add grated Italian cheese on top and enjoy!!

About Annette Marie

Annette Marie

Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free

Annette is a native New Yorker, now living in New Jersey.  Since she was diagnosed with celiac disease well after the age of 50, Annette has made it her mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others won’t have to live for years with unexplained symptoms as she did.  Some of Annette’s recipes are inspired by traditional Italian recipes, but she adds other original gluten-free recipes to the mix.  Her “semi-homemade” and from “scratch” recipes are meant for busy families eating gluten-free.  For more of Annette’s gluten-free recipes, visit her blog at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.

May 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli over Rice

The following guest post and recipe are from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer, Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

 I am a former New Yorker, where there are more restaurants than you can shake a stick at! And quite often we enjoyed frequenting a Chinese place serving both Sechuan and Cantonese dishes, with all of the various tastes that just make your mouth water.  So, when I wanted something similar, (don’t get me wrong-I’m not that familiar with Chinese cooking, after all, I’m Italian-American!) I fiddled around until I was happy with this dish.

This is a really quick chicken recipe that’s a one-dish meal, ready in about 30 to 40 minutes. And with the warm weather months ahead, that’s perfect for supper after a day outside enjoying yourself!

The trick to this recipe? Cook the white rice on one burner while the main dish is going on a second. Then everything’s ready at the same time.

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli over Rice

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli on Rice

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli on Rice

Ingredients:

  • White rice (Cook as directed, amount is per your needs)
  • 6 or 7 chicken tenderloins, cut in half on diagonal
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, washed and stems removed.
  • 2 scallions sliced, but do not use the last 2 inches of greenest ends
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ lb ( or more if you prefer) sugar snap peas, washed
  • 1 cup gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (Natural Soy Sauce Alternative)
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Directions: 

  1. Put up the rice, as we said, to be cooking while you’re making the chicken-broccoli dish.
  2. In large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. When melted, saute the chicken tenders on a low to medium heat until there’s a golden tinge and there’s some golden-brown bits in the pan from the butter.
  3. Remove chicken and place on a plate, but keep the butter residue in the pan.
  4. In the butter residue, saute the scallions first, then add the peas and broccoli. Saute for about 3-4 minutes until starting to get a golden color.
  5. Add the broth, spices, amino liquid, and cover pan.
  6. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove cover and pour out about ½ cup of liquid into a measuring cup or small bowl.
  8. Add the cornstarch and hand-blend until combined.
  9. Add to the skillet and replace pan on low heat. Cover and heat for another 5-7 minutes until it only thickens a little. You should have a gravy-like liquid now. Shut heat.

The rice should be done and ready for your plate!

Quick! One-Dish! Ready to go!!

Enjoy!

– Annette Marie

About Annette Marie

Annette Marie

Annette is a native New Yorker, now living in New Jersey.  Since she was diagnosed with celiac disease well after the age of 50, Annette has made it her mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others won’t have to live for years with unexplained symptoms as she did.  Some of Annette’s recipes are inspired by traditional Italian recipes, but she adds other original gluten-free recipes to the mix.  Her “semi-homemade” and from “scratch” recipes are meant for busy families eating gluten-free.  For more of Annette’s gluten-free recipes, visit her blog at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.

April 25, 2013 at 10:41 am Leave a comment


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