Gluten-free-for-all

Thanks to goodnessknows for sponsoring this post and encouraging me to refocus on healthy living goals!

I remember once proclaiming that I’d rather date a vegetarian than someone who was gluten-free.  I said “vegetarian” like it was something utterly disdainful, the penultimate compatibility failure.  Fast forward a few years, and I’m the (most-of-the-time) vegetarian touting a gluten-free fellow.  Oh, how the tables turn!  Starting this blog 6.5 years ago was sort of like my healthy living “puberty” — back then, I was dipping my toe in the internet’s complex, often conflicting, never-ending pool of health-focused information.  I was intrigued, excited, and totally misguided.  But, just as our bodies physically mature over our lifetimes, our tastes, preferences, and views shift and expand, strengthen and sag too.  And thank god for that.  Otherwise I’d still be eating fat-free dairy for snacks and microwaved broccoli for breakfast every day. goodnessknows

Near the time I started blogging, I learned about the gluten-free diet from my friend Tracy, who, after an onslaught of tummy troubles, found that dairy-free, gluten-free foods made her feel “normal” again.  At the time, “gluten” was a word few people knew or cared much about, and this whole gluten-free diet thing sounded MISERABLE to me.  So, I made it my mission to find Tracy a decent gluten-free, dairy-free pizza so that her new GF life wouldn’t be completely devoid of joy.
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Viddlz Alertz {plus a sneak peek of J. Sam’s}

I have a few food obsessions.  Yes, besides my well-documented love of barbecue, there are some foods I simply cannot go without ordering.  Burrata.  Scallops.  Caramelized onion anything.  Housemade bread.  Bread pudding.  Bread.  We all have our trigger foods.  How cool would it be to get an automatic alert any time one of the foods you’re craving was offered by a imagerestaurant?  Blackberry cobbler, softshell crab, meatloaf.  Whatever!  That would cut out, like, hours of food research a week.  Am I right?  That’s why I’m super excited about a new concept in Charlotte called Viddlz Alertz.  It’s an online tool that lets you manage your cravings by alerting you when your particular food obession is offered in the area.  Plus, the Alertz system displays daily drink and food specials from restaurants and bars you follow (you can also get daily email updates with this info), and the Viddlz app is expected to be rolled out later this month.

J Sams Charlotte Scallops

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Lean Cuisine Loogie {review}

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago I subsisted on a diet rich in processed foods and Olive Garden takeout.  As a new college graduate, I found cooking dinner during the workweek especially challenging.  By the time I got home from the office and pulled a meal together, I’d be close to passing out from hunger.  And the reward for all my hard work?  Eating  the leftovers for dinner e-v-e-r-y night for the rest of the week.  Oh, the joys of cooking for one.

Back then, I had a few quick standbys–deli turkey sandwiches, blue box mac and cheese, and rotisserie chicken quesadillas, to name a few–but, my specialty was cheese ravioli, steamed broccoli, and Texas toast.  From the depths of the freezer to depths of my belly in 5 minutes flat.  When I was especially tight on time, I’d often turn to prepackaged freezer meals to fill the void.  Somedays, I’d have a Lean cuisine for lunch and another for dinner.  I was partial to the pastas, pizzas, and paninis, though it wasn’t the taste that made me opt for the frozen entrée route–it was the low price and the low-calorie counts displayed on the packages.

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Soul of the South–a Feast Food Tour {Charlotte, NC}

For better or for worse, my favorite thing to do on the weekends is EAT.  Each Friday night, Jarrod and I head out to a local restaurant for what we affectionately call a “slow dinner.”  We order drinks, we savor them.  We order an appetizer, we relish it.  Then, after turning the server away at least three times, we order our entrees.  And later (on occasion) we order dessert.  It’s like a progressive dinner, except we sit in one spot the entire night, with the exception of regular potty breaks.

Last weekend, we had the epitome of slow dinners:  six small meals at six different locations!  The best part was we didn’t have to plan a thing—everything was handled by Kristi of Feast Food Tours.

I met Kristi a few months ago, and I had an immediate urge to go on one of her tours.  She has several options listed on her website, including an Uptown Chic Tour and Charlotte Brew and Chew Tour.  But, for the love of barbecue, I chose the Soul of the South Tour, on which Queen City Q was our first stop!queen city q charlotte (2) Queen City Q opened earlier this year, but we hadn’t made it in for a visit prior to the tour.  Our first order of business:  pulled pork sliders! queen city q charlotte (3)

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KLUTCHclub {review}

It’s no secret that I love getting packages in the mail.  Even when I know what’s inside, just seeing the box on my doorstep makes me giddy.  Plus, now that I’m an old fart, getting a sweet package in the mail is the closest I’ll ever come to recreating the excitement of ripping through Christmas wrapping paper as a child.

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about subscription box clubs.  Basically, these are “clubs” you subscribe to, and as a member of the club you get a monthly box of goodies (food, clothes, etc.) in the mail.  Sounds like my kind of club!

I had my eyes set on KLUTCHclub and Cravebox, and decided to give them both a shot.  I’ll get to Cravebox in a minute—lets talk KLUTCH box review now.

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Blogging Your Passion {BYPU course review}

I’m a projects person—I love (and crave) having something to pour my energy into, especially if that something involves learning sweet new skills.  Since May 2010 my biggest project (and biggest obsession) has been my blog.  I’ve poured more hours, more sweat, and more calories into Fervent Foodie than I have for anything else.  Through my blog, my obsession with food seeped over into my love of writing, and a fetish for photography developed shortly thereafter.  My blog brings all those things I am most passionate about—the things I think, and fret, and fantasize about most—together in one central place.

imageEarlier this year, I FINALLY made the switch to self-host my website, and with that switch came a newer even weirder passion.  I’m talking about the passion for website development and administration.  I know this sounds incredibly nerdy, but if you’re thinking about self-hosting a website (or have recently made the switch) I KNOW you understand what I’m saying.  Self-hosting gives you an insane amount of flexibility—the hard part is figuring out what tools are out there, what exactly you want, and how the heck to implement it.  Implementation proved trickier than I anticipated—so I hit the web looking for help on the ins and outs of WordPress self-hosting.  I stumbled upon the Blogging Your Passion website last month, but when I searched for reviews of the program I came up short.  So I hesitated.

Then, I decided to sit in on a free webinar with the guys from BYP.  In that hour alone I easily learned over five new tools I wanted to implement on my blog, so I stopped hesitating and decided to give their Blogging imageYour Passion University (BYPU) 201 course a shot.  I’ve spent each night over the past week sprawled out on the couch listening to the videos, typing up notes, and making changes to the blog (thank god for pause buttons).  I’ve learned more about WordPress, site plugins, SEO, and getting my blog name out there in this week than I have learned in nearly two years of blogging.  I’ve gotten so much out of the videos, that I wanted to share my virtual two thumbs up with you all in case you too are searching for help with WordPress self-hosting.  The BYPU 201 course is the second in the BYPU series and is geared toward those who already have a self-hosted blog up and running and are looking to take things to the next level.  The BYPU 101 course is geared toward those who are just starting out in the blogging world and who need assistance with how to self host WordPress blogs.  Both of the courses are ridiculously inexpensive, and I cannot overstate how valuable I have found the 201 videos.

If you are interested, follow these links to read all about the BYPU 101 course and BYPU 201 course.

At the time of this post, the cost of the courses are as follows:

  • BYPU 101:  $18.50 (after 50% discount with promo code “101sale”)
  • BYPU 201:  $37.00 (after $20 discount with promo code “201sale”)

If you are looking to take your self-hosted WordPress blog to the next level OR are just starting out with self-hosting, I highly recommend the BYPU program.  The guys also offer a 5-part webinar/video series for $247, which I have not signed up for at this time.

Hope some of you find this information useful!

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If you tweet it, they will come.

Lately, it feels like I’ve been all over the place yet no place at all.  Sure I met up with the Charlotte food bloggers, painted a bookshelf, and got wined and dined at Fatz.  I ran my first EVER double-digit run (hello 10 miles, nice to meet you).  I body pumped, number crunched, and had an eyes-roll-back-into-your-head-delicious pulled pork Cuban sandwich at Midwood Smokehouse.  My computer died, I fell down during my walk to work (YES.. that happened), and, while speed cleaning my kitchen, I managed to headbutt an ajar cabinet door resulting in a rather large egg on the top of my noggin.  I ordered a new computer (for the love of god can it get here already), I got my taxes 90% done, and I extreme couponed my way through Super Doubles week at Harris Teeter.

And yet (until I spewed the paragraph above) I felt like I’d been at a standstill.  Sometimes you just need a little word vomit I guess, and that, my friends, is what Twitter is for.  Yes, the majority of the time my tweets are left unanswered.  Just random thoughts or ideas or questions tossed out into nothingness.  Even without a response, the simple act of extracting those words from my brain to the web somehow makes me feel lighter and more fulfilled.

 

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NuGo Slim Bar Giveaway!

I’ve been on the hunt for a tasty low-sugar bar for months… strike that.  YEARS.  I am hypoglycemic, so I’ve been making a real conscious effort to regulate my daily sugar intake in an effort to avoid peaks and valleys in my sugar levels.  Every low sugar bar I’ve tried to date has come up short.  Quest Bars, Think Thin Bars, Atkins Bars… all absolutely horrible in my opinion.  The most common failures for these low sugar bars are the texture and that horrible taste fake sugars give things.  Blegh!  I hate that… just thinking about it makes my teeth hurt!  Not to mention that the sugar alcohols always seem to upset my stomach and make me regret eating the low sugar bar in the first place.

A few months back Shanna from Shanna Like Banana told me about a new low-sugar line of bars from NuGo.  I was super excited to try them out, but I was cautiously optimistic.  I’d had SO MANY failures that I’d kind of reached the conclusion that low sugar unavoidably resulted in an awful taste.

Enter The NuGo Slim line, which consists of three flavors:  Roasted Peanut, Brownie Crunch, & Raspberry Truffle:

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Picnic in the Penthouse + #giveaway

Over the weekend, my mom, sister, and I made a trip to the Charlotte Farmer’s Market in search of delicious treats.  It was my FIRST trip to the market since moving to Charlotte.  What the heck have I been waiting for?!

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I was really impressed by the wide variety of goods for sale at the market.  Yes, they had your standard fruit and veggie selection, but they also had a fab selection of local meats, cheeses, jams, and even local crafts, pottery, and jewelry.  And a bunch of crazy vegetables I’ve never seen before.

Here are some pretty shots:

We did a lap around the market in search of dinner inspiration.

And ended up nabbing quite a few goodies including these fresh tomatoes and basil which we combined with fresh mozzarella from Trader Joe’s to make a fantastic caprese salad:DSCF7051

We opted (aka I demanded) to put olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar on top:

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We also snagged some corn on the cob and some grass-fed beef for our burgers.  I haven’t had corn on the cob in quite a while, and the cobs we picked up from the farmer’s market were so tasty and sweet and the kernels were just the perfect size to fit between the gap in my front teeth.

Makes me think I need to incorporate that veggie into my life more often 😉

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We sandwiched our grass-fed beef burgers between brioche buns courtesy of Trader Joes, and topped everything off with more tomato and onion from the market and lotsa ketchup and mustard, of course.

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I know these look like little baby burgers, but they were actually six ouncers dwarfed by those delicious brioche buns.

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The only things missing from our picnic in the penthouse were potato chips and dip.  In my family, we eat chips and dip as an appetizer, and as a first course, AND as a compliment to any summer meal.  We will down 2 bags with gusto, especially if there’s some Lawson’s chip dip nearby for dunking Smile

My belly was still obsessing over the thought of chips and dip when I came home from work yesterday and was greeted by a large box of York’s Harvest Garden Chips from Charlotte-based Tropical Foods!

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First off, coming home to a package of goodies to sample has to be THE BEST welcome home present EVER.  I immediately tore into the package to check out the Garden Chips.

The chips are made from real vegetables (awesome), and they are completely natural, completely crunchy, and completely addicting Smile

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I was sent a few different varieties to try, including Okra, Green Beans, and the Mixed Vegetable chips (sweet potato, taro root, squash, carrots, and green beans).  After trying each and every vegetable chip variety, I decided the carrots and the green beans are my fav Smile

Have you guys tried these veggie chips yet?

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More importantly, do you want to try them *for free*?!  We all know I love freebies.  I have no shame 😛

You can enter this giveaway for the York’s Harvest Garden Chips up to four times by leaving a comment on this post for each of the following:

1.  Leave a comment and let me know your favorite cookout food (recipe links are always welcome!)

2.  Add me to your RSS feed OR sign up for email subscription to my blog

3.  Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway:

4.  Like the Fervent Foodie page on Facebook:

Comments must be posted by midnight Thursday July 28, 2011.  Then I’ll use a random number generator to select a winner Open-mouthed smile

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Chocolate Coconut Love + Luna Bar Giveaway!

Guess what arrived?!?!?!

A giant package from DrugStore.com…………

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I currently have 15 strike that 14… ok 13 CHOCOLATE DIPPED COCONUT LUNA BARS in my possession 😀 😀 😀

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As soon as the package arrived, I tore into the box.

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Immediately, I tried to smell the chocolate coconut goodness through the wrapper.

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I don’t smell anything…

SMELL HARDER!

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This game didn’t go on long before I ripped open the package and took the first glorious bite of the new luna bar flavor.

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HOLY CANNOLI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

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Almond Joy lovers hold on to your seats.  This was so DELICIOUS and so worth the wait not to mention risking my life in a Cleveland ice storm.

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See all the flaky coconut goodness?

Lucky for you all, I’m ready to share my goodies!  So, I’m going to give one reader TWO Coconut Luna Bars plus a Blueberry Bliss Luna Bar (one of my all-time favorite flavors)!

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Here’s how you can enter:

1.)  Leave a comment including a link to the BEST healthy or healthified recipe you’ve ever tried.

2.)  Tweet about the giveaway (my twitter ID is @Fervent_Foodie) — make sure to leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted.   Here’s a shortlink for you:  http://wp.me/pW6Qg-1f0 

3.)  Like the Fervent Foodie page on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you did so.

I’ll let this run through Midnight eastern time on Tuesday Feb 15, and then I’ll use a random number generator to find out who I get to share some Luna Bar love with.  I hope you are as excited as I am… I know.. I’m obsessed.  It’s ok. 

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