A Gluten Free Haven at Linn’s Restaurant.

During my time living up on the Central Coast of California in the Santa Ynez Valley, I always loved any chance I got to head to Cambria. Cambria is 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo, and 230 miles south from San Francisco. A humble, small town, Cambria is known for their stunning Moonstone Beach, as well as their annual Scarecrow Festival and a great Main Street drag of restaurants.

One of their dining staples is the absolute gem of a cafe, Linn’s. Linn’s Restaurant is known for their “Olallieberry”; a Youngberry crossed with a Loganberry. The primary fruit grown on their beautiful farm nearby, a Olallieberry tastes similar to the Knotts’ famous Boysenberry, or blackberry. While very tart, it did not provoke any crazy  “lip smacking” and was a great sweet treat…on the MANY dishes I recently got to experience on a visit to Linn’s!

Heading in on a rainy Sunday, we were quickly greeted by our Hostess, Kim and while the place was bustling, she assured us it would be less than a 20 minute wait. We were so engrossed with their bakery and gift shoppe that it felt more like a 5 minute wait. All decked out and ready for the holidays, Linn’s shoppe may not be ample, yet, they manage to have enough variety and beautiful adornments that you feel inside a proper department store.

Just a glimpse of their gift shoppe.

 

Gluten Free Olallieberry Muffin

We were soon escorted to our cozy corner table with a great window view of the rain coming down and the locals enjoying a stroll under their umbrellas. Mr. Linn himself, Aaron, soon came over to greet us and was an absolute delight to chat with. A Cambria native, The Linn’s have been operating their restaurant and farm since the 1980’s. If you want to know anything about Cambria and their townspeople, go have a chat with Aaron and he can fill you in on the what/where/when of the town. Great guy!

They’re also not shy to encourage you to try the entire menu. I was very excited to head to Linn’s as nearly everything is gluten-free (or they will gladly assist you if an item is not). Aaron’s Mom has Celiac, so they know first hand the excitement  you feel when you hear “Olallieberry Chocolate Brownie Cake….Gluten Free” or, my personal favorite: warm bread baskets that are gluten-free brought to your table.

We began our food journey with one of their most famous appetizers, their Ocean Rose Farm Abalone. Having not recalled experiencing Albalone, I was anxious to see why this is such a special dish. One bite, and I knew. Locally sourced Albalone from nearby Cayucos is served with two hazelnut encrusted medallions, lemon-thyme beurre blanc and a decadent jicama-jalapeño slaw. While not a gluten-free dish, simply mention if you need it to be, and they adjust the encrusted medallions for you. Perfection!

Albalone.

Moon Stone Beach Omelette.
Photo: Michael Farah.

Hearst Ranch Hamburger.
Photo: Michael Farah.

With so much already having gone down (chats with the locals, gluten-free galore, great coffee, great atmosphere), it was time for Mike and I to make our big decision: Whats for lunch?! I decided to take advantage of a late breakfast (Weekends they serve it until 2pm, other days, 12p) and try one of their favorite omelettes, The Moon Stone Beach with an abundance of Shrimp, Dungeness crab, tomato, green onion, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. While Mike decided on an old reliable: their Hearst Ranch Beef Cheese Burger with fries.

The Moon Stone omelette was to die for. The seafood so fresh, I would imagine it could have been caught that morning, while the flavor combinations of the cheese and veggies enhanced it perfectly. Mike enjoyed his burger, and the presentation was gorgeous and made it hard to want to dig in (Just a little….).

We were very stuffed by the time we had many options for dessert coming our way….check out what Aaron and staff insisted we try….

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

See all this, folks? Mike and I were able to get it all down…and, as some of you know, I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I am pleased to say with the proper amount of insulin injections that day, I was able to keep my sugars in a  good range! I truly thought this could be my last supper. Death of a sugar rush. And, what a great last supper it would have been! 😉

First up, was that irresistible chocolate brownie concoction, followed by their famous Pecan Chew Cookie Delight with Linn’s Pecan Chew Cookie, Brazilian Coffee ice cream, house made caramel sauce, candied walnuts and just a little real whipped cream. Bravo!

 While I could continue to share my love for Linn’s, I will end here, and trust that you will do yourself a favor and head to Linn’s next time you are in Cambria. Learn more about them HERE and make sure to tell them Along Comes Mary sent you! xo
(*Disclosure: I was a guest of Linn’s Restaurant in exchange for this feature. All opinions are my own and it was a phenomenal experience!)

 

Grocery Outlet Knocks 20% more off ALL Cereals & Giveaway ends 10/14!

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(*Special thanks to Grocery Outlet for helping feed my shopping addiction and sponsoring today’s chat!)

I am ALL about frugal shopping. Whether its staying under a $100 budget at the holidays, or, when I am baking cupcakes for a get together, I always start out at the discount stores. Lately? I have been obsessed with Grocery Outlet.

Funnily enough, Grocery Outlet was never on my radar until Ariel (Remember my NorCal friend?!) showed me her adorable bobble heads of The Grocery Outlet “Frugal Friends”; There’s Lois Prices, Ben Saven (Get it?!!?) and other hilarious mascots of the bargain market chain. How could I resist seeing what Grocery Outlet was all about, when they had such adorable team members?!

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Since then, I have become rather addicted to cruising the aisles of Grocery Outlet and VERY pleased with the variety of goodies available. Recently, I ran to another  store and bought the usual necessities I get at Grocery Outlet….then, was floored at how much more money I spent! Michael and I are big cereal people….and complete opposites. While he grabs Cap’n Crunch, I am looking for the Rice Chex (or the Chocolate Chex for Muddie Buddies–Mmmm).

Because of our different faves, we had made a rule to switch off our selections, since cereal is not usually cheap. Then? I started bringing us home EACH our own box once I went to Grocery Outlet. Yes, folks–this is how awesome Grocery Outlet is! They’re usually 40-60% off the average price at the competitor markets.

 

Does your family love Star Wars? Can't beat 99 cents!

Does your family love Star Wars? Can’t beat 99 cents!

I was so excited when I found out that now through October 11th, they have knocked the cereal prices down to an extra 20%. This is up to 80% off over 50 cereals.

Grocery Outlet was kind enough to offer a reader of mine a $50 gift card to help you experience the bargain market for yourself AND create your own cereal recipe. Whether it be Rice Krispy treats, a cereal lover’s pie or the Chex Muddie Buddies, I wanna know what your recipe would be with cereals!

Enter using the form below before October 14th, 2016. Good luck and I’ll see you at Grocery Outlet! 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

(*Winner will be selected at random. Giveaway open to legal residents of the USA 18 and over. One entry per email. Sponsor will provide gift card to winner. No purchase necessary.)

 

 

 

 

Brunch at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood!

A topic I have been wanting to make a series on Along Comes Mary has long been features and reviews on a Los Angeles staple: Sunday brunch. Look around you anywhere in LA and you will see what I mean. So many of the fabulous eateries among our city limits offer amazing brunches each weekend, complete with the brunch must: Mimosa! Lucky for me, it was just one of my best friends birthdays and she decided on brunch at North Hollywood’s Federal Bar. Music to my ears!

The Federal Bar is no stranger to me. I love their happy hour and every dish I have had there has been excellent. Located in North Hollywood’s “NoHo Arts District” on Lankershim Boulevard, you will find an array of eclectic shops, bars and coffee houses to get cozy in. What sets The Federal Bar apart is their spacious building and diversity; upstairs is not one, but two bars you can utilize should you book an event there in either their intimate VIP room or in the wide open concert hall where most nights you can be treated to music or stand up.

Downstairs is their restaurant…and, two MORE bars for all your boozing and grub needs. They don’t take being called a “bar” lightly!

Our entertainment was great, too.

Our entertainment was great, too.

It was my first time checking out their brunch offerings, and, despite it just being a page, they have a lot of goodness to select from….even gluten-free pancakes. They were not on the menu, but, they do have them! A dish that caught my eye was their Salmon and Bagel Board; in-house smoked salmon, bagel and cream cheese and all the fixings. I asked our waitress if it would be possible to try that gluten-free, and, her suggestion was to substitute the bagel with one of their gluten-free hamburger buns. We both agreed it probably would not be as epic so, alas, I passed.

What I did decide on, though, was perfect. Their Scramble Stir Fry. I got a HUGE portion of their red quinoa (so, so good, folks) with veggies galore (mushrooms, carrots, peas, even brussel sprouts) and scrambled eggs on top. Delicious and very hearty. I must be getting old as I appreciated the fact that I had a power breakfast, and not a stack of sugary, carb loaded pancakes!

If breakfast burritos and eggs Benedict are not your thing, they do offer their lunch menu during brunch, beginning at 11:30am.

Our service was also great. Our waitress was very attentive and kept a great eye on us all (We were a party of 10). Our friend who ordered their bottomless mimosa would barely finish his glass and she was like a NINJA ensuring that his glass never got, well, bottomless.

Scramble Stir Fry

Scramble Stir Fry

While I passed on mimosa (I know, I know), for $12, you can get your bottomless fill on. For $30, you can get 2 brunch entrees and 2 bottomless mimosa. This, to me, is a STEAL and I now know where to recommend weekend brunch should Mike and I ever want to go, or if I want to catch up with a friend.

Due to the popularity of The Federal Bar’s weekend brunch, they do ask that you enjoy yourself for a maximum of 2 hours. Completely understandable, and a good idea if you are going bottomless on your “fruit juice.”

The Federal Bar was such an awesome afternoon, and I can’t wait to return. Tell me, where do you recommend I try for brunch in LA? xo

Art, Diners and Big Cats in Lancaster, Oh my! (Guest Post)

(Editor’s Note: And, here tis, folks! Lisa’s final installment on her 3 part series all about touring Lancaster, California. I hope you’ve enjoyed her guest posts and remember to keep up with her over at Lisa’s Hodge Podge! xo, Mary)
Lisa
Visiting The Museum of Art and HIstory 
We also got a chance to visit the Museum of Art and History along The Boulevard. This is a quaint museum with local artists showing their exhibits. One of my favorite paintings was from an artist by the name of Rebecca Campbell. It was a wonderful painting called Glow. The brush strokes were so interesting that it was hard to look away.
Lisa1
Sleepy Time!
After all of the festivities on Saturday, I stayed at the Oxford Inn on Avenue K. This Inn was very nice. I entered the lobby, very tired and looking to lie down. The concierge was very helpful. He did mention that if I want to sleep soundly, the fourth floor is the way to go. With my room key I got two drink tickets for the bar. Even though wine and beer were options, I chose a diet coke and went up to my room. The room had two beds and a little couch. I pretty much passed out from exhaustion as soon as my head hit the pillow. Overall, the hotel was very nice and cozy.
Sunday Fun Day at Cat House and Crazy Otto’s!
On Sunday morning, we met up and cruised in style to Crazy Otto’s diner. This place is the definition of diner. With the large portions and license plates on the wall, it looked like a great place to have breakfast on the weekend. Looking at the menu, the breakfast items looked standard for a diner. But the portions were GIGANTIC. Plan on sharing or taking some home. I had the french toast plate which was delicious. Someone in our group, however, had pancakes that were bigger than his head! I was in shock when I saw the size of those things! There are multiple locations in Antelope Valley and one that just opened in Santa Clarita.
Lisa2
Lisa3
After that filling breakfast we drove on over to Avenue G and drove over the musical road. This road was used in a Honda commercial years back. The bumps were once on Lancaster Boulevard, but due to everyone wanting to drive over it, they moved it to its new location on Avenue G. It is a fun thing to experience at least once.
Lisa5
Lisa4
We arrived at the Feline Conservation Center in Rosemond, lovingly nicknamed as the “Cat House”. This place houses over 72 different endangered wild cats that were brought here to save their species. We saw everything from Tigers to leopards and even smaller cats like the sand cat. I was impressed with everything they had to show us! They even have a family of peacocks that live on their site. They offer a twilight walk where you can see the cats in action and see them play in their pens. This walk is taking place on June 25. Go to www.cathouse-fcc.org for more details!
(Disclosure: Along Comes Mary was invited on this tour of Lancaster. All opinions are author’s own.)

The Very First 365 by Whole Foods Market Arrives in LA.

365_2

The newest hot spot to hit in Los Angeles is, no doubt, the arrival of the inaugural 365 by Whole Foods Market. Opening its door this past week, you might be familiar with the brand, 365, as it is the Whole Foods version of popular items (and, most likely a product you rarely would say, “Oh, what a great price”) that grace their shelves.

The very first 365 Market has arrived in the LA hipster land of Silver Lake, on Glendale Boulevard, whistling distance from Occidental College and the famous Sunset Junction. While its predecessor has changed the way many Americans shop, Whole Foods has certainly made it clear that they are not for everyone’s wallet. The quality of groceries may be superior than certain favorites you purchase at your corner super market, but, let’s get real, folks: Most of us are on a budget, and paying nearly $30 for an organic, vegetarian fed, humanely raised chicken, and a side salad and Kombucha tea, is just not happening.

Enter 365. 365 by Whole Foods Market is supposed to be their version of, say, Trader Joe’s. Its got all the amenities and values of a Whole Foods, but, at a more affordable rate. I have been VERY intrigued since I first learned these “discount” stores were on their way, so, Mike and I ventured over the 134 this weekend to see how it fares!

365_3

Taking up shop in an old Ralph’s Market, 365 is very un-assuming from the street. I was a little surprised at the color schemes as it did not scream “Organic! No GMO’s! Good Prices!!” from their signs or appearance. Perhaps that is the idea? I was very intimidated by the once do-able parking lot. Yet, it was actually quicker to park than the times I went to Ralph’s at the same location. They also employ a parking attendant who was helpful at keeping the flow of traffic moving and even assisting us on nabbing our front spot.

Upon entering, it is at last clear you are in a Whole Foods lovechild. Some tables, wooden benches, selection of cart sizes and fruits and veggies aplenty are at the ready to greet you. I was a fan in about 2 minutes as I scored a watermelon for $3, peaches at .50 cents each and a huge basket of Driscoll’s blueberries for $3.

365_1

365

Moving onto the meats and seafood, Mike and I loved their rather ‘futuristic’ packaging methods to a lot of the meats; the container is not covered in cling wrap, with the meat moving inside. They instead cling wrap and seal JUST the meats, making it a lot cleaner and keeping your filet in place. Pretty nifty. And, I got 2 small salmon filets for $3.56, and Mike scored a chimichurri  chicken for $5.18.

One of the reasons I do find myself shopping at Whole Foods is for their deli and sushi bar. Luckily, 365 offers their hot self-serve bar (with really good deals: Small to-go dish is $5.50, medium $7.50 and a large $9.50), tons of sushi to choose from and instead of a service deli, they offer a good variety of your faves from the deli packed and ready to go like sesame tofu ($4.50) and their quinoa salads ($3.50 for a container).

The dairy and refrigerated section was mobbed. We did a quick in ‘n out there. Grabbing our almond milk by 365 as well as OJ. They were their usual run of the mill prices at $2.99. I was interested to see what the WINE options were like. Not huge, nothing special. One of my faves, Mark West Pinot Noir, was the going rate of $8.99. They also had their own wine, Three Wishes  (Think “2 Buck Chuck”) at the everyday price of $2.99, and then, Bellini sparkling wines in a can for 10.99 for a pack of 4. That caught my eye!

Our cart of goods

Our cart of goods

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Their frozen selection is pretty vast, and many of the offerings in the case appeared to also be at a better than Whole Foods rate. I nabbed some gluten-free veggie breakfast patties at $3.29 for 6 of ’em, and while some of the name brands, liken Amy’s, were a bit steep, one of my gluten-free burritos was only $1.99.

Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to look much at the ice cream. But, they’ve got it. I was more interested at the adorable coffee, wine, and beer bar adjacent. If the check out lines worry you (which actually was way less scary than it appeared), you can chill out in between your shopping with a glass of wine for $7, or maybe an espresso shot for $2.

365_4

So, I was able to get salmon, fruits, juice, peanut butter, breakfast goodies, deli favorites, kombucha and some energy drinks for $26.43. This IS a good place, folks. I am almost interested to go to my Whole Foods and be a weirdo by adding up the costs of the same groceries in there. I know it would have been much more. So, I will return to 365!

(365 by Whole Foods Market is located at 2520 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039.)

 

Brunch at Downtown Disney’s Tortilla Jo’s!

Tortilla Jos5

While nothing compares to the magic of going inside the theme parks of The Disneyland Resort, did you know you can have fun, shop and dine outside of the parks? When Disney’s California Adventure opened in 2001, they also unveiled The Downtown Disney District which boasts an array of incredible shops like World of Disney (Imagine The Disney Store on major steroids), The Disney Vault (Loaded with couture boutique specialties) and Build-A-Bear Workshop, Casual dining like Jamba Juice and Wetzel’s Pretzels  then, for a fabulous experience at the Anaheim resort, there are several sit down, fine dining options.

Thanks to Gigasavvy, I got to experience Downtown Disney’s Tortilla Jo’s weekend brunch this past Saturday and let me tell you, brunch is good enough, but, add in bottomless mimosas and their famous margaritas? Heck yes!

Tortilla Jos

Upon entering Tortilla Jo’s, you definitely take note of the bright, hacienda like decor to the restaurant and cannot help but feel HAPPY with the red and yellow colors to their walls and the gorgeous tiles below you. I was directed upstairs to my bloggers soiree, which is where they hold their private events (perfect for a reception, birthday, meeting…) and you’re even treated to a separate bar. It was also fun to be able to peek downstairs  from up top and watch the venue prepare for the day.

Tortilla Jos2

Torilla Jos3

While Tortilla Jo’s is known for their authentic Mexican cuisine everyday, weekends find them offering their fabulous brunch that has all your faves like huevos rancheros, pancakes and chilaqules ….as well as cinnamon french toast, cobb salad and a dish I cannot wait to try next time: tequila cured salmon. All entrees are just $14 and include fresh fruit and desserts featuring mini apple chimichangas and churros.

Tortilla Jos4

Tortilla Jos3

Then, for just $10 more, you get the reason why most of us love brunch: The bottomless mimosas. You get them coming to your table for an hour. If a mimosa isn’t your thing, they have their famous margaritas, beers, coffee and tea to have, as well, including a cinnamon coffee. I got to try out their peach and mango margaritas and I can assure you I am already thinking about which to try next time 😉

Whether you’re an Orange County local, visiting Disneyland, just in need of a weekend brunch to catch up with friends at or perhaps somewhere to grab a bite before a movie at Downtown Disney’s AMC Theatre, Tortilla Jo’s is THE place to head to, and, you’re just steps from Disneyland. What could be better?! Check them out HERE and learn more.

 

Spanish Eggs Recipe with HERDEZ Salsas!

When I was invited to learn more about Las Posadas thanks to HERDEZ products, I was intrigued as I did not know much about it; Las Posadas is celebrated widely in Mexico & American-Mexicans in the southwest for nearly 400 years. Las Posadas is a 9 day celebration in honor of Mary & Joseph, searching for lodging, celebrating Mary’s pregnancy, & the birth of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, it is Mexico’s celebration of the birth of Christ, & an extended Christmas celebration.

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My most favorite cuisine is definitely Mexican, & Las Posadas is a great opportunity to take advantage of delicious, easy recipes via web-sites like HERDEZ. With some large jars of their Salsa Verde & Salsa Casera handy, I recently decided to whip up one of my favorites: my Spanish eggs. Nothing too fancy, easy to make & I am always told it’s the best dish I make (?!) Mike is always thrilled when he discovers I am preparing them for breakfast….or lunch, or dinner!

Heres the recipe….

Eggs

YOU’LL NEED:

2-4 eggs (Or more if you have a big party)
1 tablespoon of grape seed oil
HERDEZ Salsa Casera
Pepper Jack Cheese

Simply heat pan to a medium heat with the grape seed oil heating up in the pan, grab a bowl & whisk the eggs. Once eggs are in pan, add in salsa & any other peeps or spices that strike your fancy, add in cheese (I do one slice of  cheese per plate of eggs) & either scramble or go all fancy & omelette style.

Herd

This dish also calls for some great SIDES. I recommend cooking up some hash browns or rice & black beans to compliment this great, hearty & quick breakfast.

Extremely simple, but, isn’t that what we want on hectic holidays?! 😉 Make sure to check out all of the great recipes HERDEZ products has by clicking HERE! xo

 

33 Gluten Free Meals for Back to School.

 

GF collage

I have noticed quite a few articles & posts the past few weeks from my friends all about their kids heading BACK TO SCHOOL & gathering all the swag the season comes with: Theres new outfits, lunch boxes, notebooks & supplies. Something, though, that I have thought about is: What do you get if you have a child who needs to be gluten-free? While I was not as a kid, the signs were there I had wheat allergies. Looking back, cheese quesadillas gave me an awful headache, & crackers gave me a tummy ache. Back then, my Mom thought it was bizarre how I had ailments that came out of nowhere but, looking back, what I had for lunch played a huge role.

Thankfully, nowadays, it is nearly a SNAP if your kiddo requires gluten-free foods. The only draw back? The price, I know. Slowly, I am definitely seeing a small roll back in prices for gluten-free foods; especially if you can shop at Wal-Mart or Target. Listed below, are some great breakfast, lunch & dinners to consider if you have a gluten-free youngster hitting the school halls again soon! Enjoy 🙂

5 BREAKFAST FAVES

If its traditional faves you crave without a tummy ache by 1st period, look no further than Udi’s line of breads & bagels. My go-to’s are their white sandwich bread & the cinnamon raisin bagel. YUM. French toast sticks & waffles could easily be one of the most common gluten-free frozen item you see nowadays in stores with Van’s. And, luckily? They’re awesome. I grew up on french toast sticks from the fast food drive-thru’s & these are full of flavor, but none of the bad stuff I am sure my old day treat has!

Another favorite (although I admit its more often my lunch than breakfast) is Amy’s Tofu Scramble. Amy’s brand has been a pioneer in the vegetarian & vegan world, & as of late, nearly half of all their products are gluten-free. I absolutely love their Tofu Scramble, which also includes has browns on the side. It tastes like it’s from a diner, & takes 3 minutes to make.

Udi's Morning

Udi’s Morning

7 TIMES THE YUM FOR LUNCH

Grab some of that Udi’s bread & you’ve got yourself a PB&J. Need a more grown up lunch? CedarLane is an awesome brand & along with their vast selection of complete frozen meals (Quinoa enchiladas, Sweet Corn Tamales & Enchilada Pie), they also make the perfect pack of 4 gluten-free, vegan stuffed grape leaves. I get them at my Ralph’s in the deli section, & they hit the spot every time when I am becoming Mary Hulk (my boyfriends affectionate term for me when I am hangry). Theres loads of pasta’s available, too, (We always get De Boles) & you can easily whip up a pasta salad to enjoy cold, or make pasta shells with your little one’s favorite sauce (Mine is probably Amy’s basil sauce), if they can heat it up.

10 FAVORITE DINNERS

Speaking of dinner, this can be a pretty endless meal time. If you’re in search of the traditional pizza or macaroni & cheese, my favorite frozen pizza has got to be Amy’s Rice Crust Cheese Pizza, or, if you want to have a fun night of cooking together, grab Udi’s pizza crust then create your own from there! For mac ‘n cheese, my favorites are Trader Joes brand or Annie’s. While I wish I could recommend Annie’s instant mac ‘n cheese…I just cannot. It was un-edible, yet their boxed version is A-OK. If some frozen dinners are looking good, theres Amy’s cheese enchiladas, brown rice & veggies bowl, Amy’s chili with blue corn tortilla chips & some cheese (oh, yeah!), Udi’s kale & broccoli lasagna, Sweet potato ravioli & Tandoor’s Veggie pad Thai.

7 WINS FOR DESSERT

Luckily, most ice cream is allowed granted it’s not a flavor containing gluten (like cookies & creme–always read the label!), then we’ve got Amy’s chocolate cake, Udi’s cookies & brownie bites, Katz’s pies & donuts & Trader Joes mint chocolate cupcakes. Did you realize you would be this full going gluten-free, or having to accommodate a gluten-free loved one?!

Gluten Free. Its whats for every meal.

Gluten Free. Its whats for every meal.

AND, OF COURSE WE NEED SOME SNACKS….4 RECS TO BE EXACT!

I am currently loving Glutino’s animal crackers, which are under $4 at Wal-Mart, KIND bars have become a BFF as they’re all gluten-free & have such unique flavors as Hickory Smoked & Honey Mustard (yes, you read right). Glutino continues to save me as they have 2 of the most forbidden things EVER for me: pretzels & chocolate sandwich cookies with vanilla creme (AKA–Oreo).

I hope these tips make the new school year easier for you & your little one! What did I miss? What are your favorites? xo

thinkThin Oatmeal Giveaway through 6/20!

Mornings can be rough at our house. Especially when you have a couple who one loves rising early (my boyfriend) & me (I hate waking up, am grumpy & sometimes will beg my dogs to get the coffee pot on for me to no avail). I’ve also been working some very early mornings lately, getting to work at 630 or 7, which I am mucho proud of 😉

Something I am trying to become better at is eating breakfast. Its my favorite meal yet I usually love pancakes or eggs for lunch, this is where the new line of High Protein & Fiber oatmeal from the awesome brand, thinkThin, comes in! When they contacted me about this new venture with the morning favorite, I was so excited to try it out as I always buy their bars.

Oatmeal2

Made with a super grain blend of whole rolled oats, steel cut oats and quinoa, thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal is sold as a multi-pack box of six packets or a single serving bowl for a convenient, nutritious option that can be enjoyed just about anywhere. It is available in four enjoyable flavors: Farmer’s Market Berry Crumble; Madagascar Vanilla, Almonds, Pecans; Original Sprouted Grains (box only) and Honey Peanut Butter (bowl only). Each serving contains 10g of protein, 5g of fiber and is 200 calories or less. My favorite has got to be the berry crumble, & I absolutely love that they come in a ready-to-heat-and-eat bowl. I can even easily bring one to work with me to warm up & have on the spot.

How would you like to try some out to see for yourself how thinkThin is making mornings a bit more bearable? thinkThin has graciously agreed to send out some of these oatmeals to one of my readers. Enter by June 20th using the form below & don’t forget to check out my Sweepstakes rules tab. One winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter.

In the meantime, visit thinkproducts.com to learn more & find the store nearest you to start getting your THINK on! 😉 Good luck! xo

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gluten Free at The Marmalade Cafe.

A few years back when I was living near Orange County, I discovered an absolute gem of a restaurant: The Marmalade Cafe. It was still difficult for me to find a good amount of eateries that were gluten-free friendly, so, The Marmalade felt like a blessing as they offered so many awesome dishes that were perfect for me, like their famous Portobello Benedict; gluten-free and vegetarian, it boasts the traditional poached eggs & hollandaise sauce, but, in lieu of the typical english muffin, it’s served over a large Portobello mushroom, & its perfection.

Portobello Benedict

Portobella Benedict

Each location is decked out with adorable french decor & fun, lively oldies music like Sinatra playing. Despite that the cafe is always filled with hungry patrons, I have never waited longer than 10 minutes to be seated (They take reservations, too). Just feel like a small bite & one of their awesome drinks like the Raspberry Lemon Drop? They’ve got you covered as this small chain offers a bar, too.

Speaking of drinks, Marmalade Cafe is continually name dropped throughout Los Angeles as one of the best places for mimosas & brunch. While they offer lunch & dinner, I always have gravitated towards their massive selection of breakfast; this is the only cafe I have found that offers you gluten-free toast when you order the common egg dish that includes potatoes & bread…no asking if they will switch out for fruit here 😉 & its Udi’s, too, making it even more awesome, no? (Their coffee is spot-on, Mary approved, too.)

Frittata.

Frittata.

I was so excited last week to finally meet up with one of my favorite bloggers & friend, Anita, from One Sleepy Mommy. I decided to try their Garden Vegetable & Egg White Frittata; Carrots, squash, red onions, mushrooms, baby spinach and tomato are baked into a flat omelet with 3 egg whites. It sounds so ‘healthy’, but, Marmalade Cafe knows how to do healthy well!

While they do not currently have any OC locations, you can find multiple Marmalade Cafe’s throughout SoCal from Santa Barbara to LAX area. Whether you want a great place to catch up with friends,meet with clients, have a date night or simply enjoy a meal on your own, The Marmalade Cafe is perfect for ANY occasion. Psst, they’ve got an E Club with a $10 off coupon on their web-site HERE ;)You might even see me there! xo

Salmon Scramble.

Salmon Scramble.

(Featured image: Gluten free french toast.)

Pink is NOT Fat.

As someone who has a strong interest in women’s issues, I feel compelled to give my 2 cents about Pink (Does she still spell it with an exclamation point??) & the recent brouhaha about her weight.

As I read her response to critics thinking she looked “fat” last week at a charity event, I was deeply saddened & annoyed that this is the kind of society we live in, & that young people are growing up in. The only other time I feel such a rage within me like the feelings felt reading about Pink, is when I am subjected to seeing pop star, Chris Brown, continue to be on the top of the charts, supported by millions & opening award shows such as The Grammy’s. How can we be letting a man who beats his girlfriend (with the police photos to prove it) rule the pop music world? Strange, confusing world.

With these strong emotions I get from checking out the media, I feel its important I use my this blog as an outlet to say what I think, & hopefully others take to heart.

Ever since I was young, around 11 years old when puberty hit, I have had major body image issues. While luckily never battling a disorder, I often feel ashamed or guilty after I eat, or enjoy myself. Sometimes, every little bite I put in my mouth sends me into a stir crazy boiling pot of guilt & regret. Why did I eat that dessert? I didn’t need that. Oh, I can skip breakfast (say to self 100 times). NO! I can’t skip breakfast, I’ll pig out & then skip lunch. Blood sugar is shaky, eat entire fridge! How dumb! Must work out tomorrow. Oh, it’ll be ok, I’ll eat the pasta. Why did I eat the pasta? Too many carbs. Uh-oh, its 3am & my blood sugar is low. Raid fridge. Mmm, peanut butter. I won’t eat anything but almonds tomorrow.

Not to complain, but, that is how my mind is working some days because I fret so much about my looks & gaining weight. Mind you, I actually do eat healthy, & my weight has been within the same 10 pound range for about 12 or more years, yet, I am always concerned & sometimes have to remind myself to ENJOY myself & eat what I want, when I am hungry & in moderation.

Pink

Also for 12 or more years, I have read magazines, just nowadays they’re more like The Huffington Post or LA Times. Throughout my teen years, I was ALL about fashion/beauty/young women publications, think Seventeen, Jane, YM. While I eagerly awaited each month to have that thick book of 100 or more pages plopped inside my mailbox, I do think no amount of eyeshadow tips & “What Kind of Flirt” or “Which Buffy girl are you? quizzes made these magazines do more good than bad for me.

All of the ones I subscribed to had loads of professional models in each issue, no doubt. These women all looked gorgeous, with the perfect outfit, hair, shoes….and, body. While I admit there were times back then I felt several of them were way too skinny, I still secretly wished I looked that thin, & would get concerned that’s the only way to make a boy like you. Everything felt ugly on me.

Looking back, those years were tame for me compared to what I think is going on in this day & age. What the hell kind of message are we sending to kids about body & self-image? Pink looked beautiful, as she said herself, yet, still: The media has such a mighty voice in the world, that too many will think that they’re right. Not just girls, but boys hurt just as much with their looks, as well as being told that a normal sized women is obviously fat or unattractive.

I’m not writing this post just to vent, but, also? To remind myself to feel mad & out raged when I complain about my own body, not just Pink’s. As the musician says herself, shes beautiful, & I am sure she’d say you are, too.

I will now go enjoy my dinner. xo

A Day of Amy’s Gluten Free Cuisine!

Amy is like an old friend. I have been enjoying Amy’s All Natural Foods since I was 13, when I became a Vegetarian. She was also there for me when I decided to go gluten-free in 2009 to see if it would improve tummy aches & migraines. I never looked back & although I do now eat fish, still  definitely no other meat nor wheat/gluten for me (most of the time). I decided to try some newer additions to the Amy’s kitchen, as well as an old fave, & tell you how my breakfast, lunch & dinner were!;)

Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap: Garbanzo flour, sea salt, spices & (get ready…) organic HASH BROWNS! made this usually non-morning person anxious to greet the day! As a huge breakfast lover, I could easily have had 2. They would be great for lunch, as well.

Rice Mac ‘n Cheese: Such a convenient way to enjoy this comfort dish. I have taste-tested many GF macaroni & cheeses, with Amy’s frozen being among my favorite. Its creamy & the pasta is excellent. So easy to pop in the microwave for a complete lunch. It’s also now available GF and Vegan!;)

Rice Crust Cheese Pizza: Probably my favorite among the Amy’s items. I love the sauce & it cooks really well. I like that its rice-based as some corn-crusts I have tried seem to be flatter.

GF Chocolate Cake: One of their newest dishes, & this GF gal couldn’t be happier!;) Extra gooey. Extra chocolate-y. Extra YUM! The perfect dessert or special treat. I could see kids loving this, too.

Some really cool facts about Amy’s: NO meat, fish, poultry, eggs or peanuts are ever used in their foods. Making it perfect for those with allergen concerns or simply looking to cut certain things out of their diet.

It’s a family run business: After the birth of Amy in 1987, her parents founded this company with the intent of everything being vegetarian & organic. Along with their array of choices in your grocers freezer, you can also find pasta sauces, soups, chilis & beans!

A huge thank you to Amy’s for inviting me to review their meals! xo

*Disclosure: I was provided with coupons from Amy’s for complimentary meals to review.