Easier than I thought it would be…

It has been two weeks since we started our gluten free journey.  
I must say it was easier than I had expected it to be.

What I’ve realized most recently, is that it’s important to talk to positive people about this journey.   I’ve talked to people who were very negative about being gluten free – and it made me feel almost as if I have a big disability and my life is “sad.”

The fact is, we are choosing to eat healthier.   We can still eat a huge variety of different foods and feel completely satisfied.   In the past two weeks, I have went to lunch and attended events where fresh baked bread and pastries were served – and I didn’t feel the urge to have “just a bite.”   I’m positive that this is because I know that it will hurt me and that I’m choosing to eat better for my family and for me.

Given that I’m very new to this journey, I figured it would be good to chronicle the lessons learned and the tips I have to share.   I found benefits so far and a few downsides.

The benefits that I have noticed:
– My stomach has not been feeling bloated.   I’ve had a problem with a bloated stomach and sharp pains for as long as I can remember, and on a daily basis for the past few months.   But after day two of being gluten free – my bloating has disappeared.
– We are eating healthier, mainly because we have gotten rid of all sweets and processed food.   We are eating veggies and fruit and lean meats mainly.
– I have dropped 5 lbs in the first week and kept it off in the second week.   Although I’m not doing this with the sole purpose of losing weight, I do hope that this lifestyle will come with the benefit of weight loss.

The issues we have faced so far:
– We are getting bored with our menu on some days, so I need to look up more easy meals that have variety.
– You cannot just grab a bite to eat from any fast food place if you didn’t have time to prepare a meal.   This can be a positive outcome though, because we won’t be eating just and are forced to really think about what we eat.
– Gluten free foods like bread and pasta cost more.   For a family that is on a strict budget – that has presented a bit of a challenge.  However, I am confident that I can make this work with our budget – especially if we focus more on eating fresh veggies and making light meals such as soups.

Do you have any amazing recipes to share?   Do you have any tips for a newbie?  Please comment on this blog and share your thoughts.   Also, if you’d like to be notified of my new posts, please make sure to subscribe to this blog.

By the way, my brother and his wife are writing an interesting and educational blog about gluten free living.   They also posted a link to an upcoming seminar on gluten: http://glutenlite.wordpress.com

Easy Slow Cooker Chili

Hubby and I love a bowl of hot chili, especially on a chilly day.   Here is our favorite recipe that tastes amazing and is super easy to make!   Enjoy!

Spicy Chili
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Modified from the Taste of Home Slow Cooker Classics Cook Book

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef
1 can (28 oz) Crushed tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
2 cans (14 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped onion
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup beef broth
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chillies
1 tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp each salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Brown the ground been in a skillet.   Transfer the beef and drippings to a 5 quart slow cooker.  
Add the remaining ingredients (except the cilantro and cheese) into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.    Stir in cilantro.   Serve with cheese, chopped onion, cilantro and sour cream (tortilla chips optional).

I’m Back (and ready to POP)!

Ok, so it’s been an extremely long time since I posted anything on my blog.   I know, I know – what a terrible writer that makes me!  I’m hoping that I will be able to write a bit more, now that I’m on maternity leave.

Well, to catch you up – I am now pregnant with our second child.  In fact, I’m officially at week 37 of my pregnancy.   Our baby boy is considered full-term now, so technically he can make his appearance any day now.   However, I think I would prefer if he would wait at least another week or maybe two.   I’m not exactly ready for him just yet…and I would like him to be a nice healthy size.   Although, doctors have been telling me all along that he is measuring two weeks bigger.

I would like to finish the list below before going into labor:

1) Pack the hospital bag for me, baby and hubby
2) Finish thoroughly cleaning the house (wash all bathrooms, floors, clean out office).
3) Do one more family nature outing (for a whole day)
4) Cook at least two weeks worth of freezer meals (Already made two batches of stuffed cheese crepes – thanks to my wonderful hubby!)

I think that’s it…at least for the big items.

I pray that God blesses this delivery and that I’m given the chance to have a natural birth.   I know that everything is in God’s hands, but I do hope that He would bless me with a safe and natural delivery.   My first delivery was an unplanned C-Section, and it made things very hard for me and I did not succeed with breastfeeding for more than three months.   I hope and pray that this time our baby boy will nurse well and I would produce plenty of milk.   If you remember me when you pray, please mention this in your prayers.

One other item has been worrying me lately – my spiritual health has been on the back-burner lately.  I’ve been neglecting my time alone with God, reading scripture and regular prayer.   I can feel that I’m so weak spiritually, and I thirst for a closeness to God – but for some reason I just can’t seem to find the time in my day to set aside and just be alone with God.    I always find other things to occupy me.

God, please bring me closer to you by your Grace.   Please be merciful to me and don’t let it take a painful lesson to have me come running to you (as is usually the case with me and I’m sure many others).

Well, that’s it for now.   I do hope that I can get this putting my life on paper a more regular occurrence.

Amazing Shrimp Pasta Recipe

We had some friends over for dinner on Monday, and my dear husband made this amazing pasta dish.   Of all the shrimp pasta dishes I’ve ever had – this is by far my favorite and I wanted to share it with you all.   This is a copy of an Olive Garden Dish, and the source of this recipe is posted below.   — Enjoy!

Shrimp Caprese Recipe

★★★★★

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces*
  • 20 medium fresh basil leaves, stems removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound (26/30 or 21/25) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound capellini (angel hair) pasta
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • * To preserve juices and seeds, use a pairing knife to remove just the top of the core on each tomato.

Directions:

Combine tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, Italian Seasoning, and salt in a large bowl; blend thoroughly. Cover, set aside, and marinate for at least 1 hour.
Either sauté or grill the shrimp; cook approximately 2 minutes on one side; turn and cook another 1 minute or until shrimp are opaque in center (cut to test). Remove from grill and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pan to keep warm. Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.
Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Stir in white wine and bring just to a boil. Add heavy cream and Parmesan cheese; bring to a simmer; let sauce continue to simmer and reduce to desired consistency. Remove from heat.
Add cooked pasta and marinated tomatoes to the skillet. Stir to thoroughly coat pasta with sauce. Transfer pasta and sauce to a large oven-proof serving platter; top with mozzarella cheese. Place serving platter under broiler to 2 to 3 minutes or until mozzarella cheese has melted. Remove from oven and top pasta with the cooked shrimp. Serve and enjoy!

I’m a Foodie, and It Shows!

In my opinion, everyone has an addiction of some sort. Whether it’s gambling, drinking, collecting things, working out, working…

Hi, my name is Katerina and I’m addicted to good food.

I’m a Foodie, and it shows. It shows on my waistline, my arms, my thighs…you get the picture. It’s not that I like to gorge on food, it’s just that I truly enjoy food and all the different flavors that this world has to offer. Maybe someone out there knows what I’m talking about. When you get the right combination of flavors – it’s like your taste buds are having a party.

Over the years, my way of trying to manage the results from being a Foodie was to diet. Atkins diet, Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, Herbalife – you name it and I’ve probably tried it. This year, I have decided that this needs to stop. Now. I need to learn to enjoy the flavors of this world, without slowly killing myself with the unhealthy results. I’ve already developed high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and I’m at risk for Diabetes. All of this, and I’m only 28 years old. Also, last year, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and realized that I now have a “copycat” that will follow my every example.

This is why I have decided to apply for the Get Fit Challenge, Season 4 at work. I was selected as a contestant, and have been in the program for eight weeks now. With the help of a Registered Dietitian (Michele Gilles), I know I will learn how to enjoy great food in moderation and to choose food that will benefit my body. Taking the time to log food is hard, but resisting temptation of that delicious but empty food is still the toughest part of this whole journey.

I do want to report that the delicious Russian “Drunken Cherry” cake was calling my name last night, and I looked it straight in the eye and said – “not tonight, I had enough calories for the day.”

Big Blob

Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve blogged about my journey. I suppose a lot of it had to do with the fact that pregnancy took away a lot of my energy, and I’ve been to tired and lazy to write after I come home from work. Sorry friends!

Well, I’m in my third trimester now. Officially, there are 9 weeks and 3 more days to go before the due date.

I have to say, this third trimester is challenging. I feel like a huge blob. I have not gained that much weight (15 lbs), but my uterus is so high up right now – it is the culprit in me feeling this way. My stomach, intestines, lungs, and every other organ are all squished towards the top of my body – making me feel out of breath, heavy, and like I’m going to pop any moment. The heartburn is back (terrible!), the feet are getting more swollen, the back hurts, and I’m exhausted all the time.

It doesn’t sound fun, but I am willing to endure all of this for the gift that God is giving me at the end of this suffering – my baby girl Abigail.

By the way, on Monday my midwife said that Abigail has turned around and is now laying head down. I’m so excited, because now we can do the 4D ultrasound that we’ve been waiting for. I’ve scheduled it for next week.

Updates:
Nursery: Done (actually, waiting for curtains)
Name: Picked out (Abigail Katerina Kalyandra)
Shopping for baby items: Waiting until after my baby shower (it’s very hard to wait – I LOVE shopping!)

What am I missing?

Our First Ultrasound

We had our first ultrasound on March 30th! I was very nervous because my appointment was with a male OBGYN, and I have never had a male OBGYN before. Usually, a woman can see any doctor she wants, but during pregnancy she has to see all of the doctors, because any one of them could be delivering the baby. Therefore, I had to just suck it up and face the male doctor.
Vitaliy kept talking during our drive over to the appointment, but all I could think of is I can’t wait for this appointment to be over. At the same time, I wanted to treasure the first ultrasound, but the fear of having a male doctor was driving me nuts.
The doctor came in, he was in his late forties and was very talkative. He proceeded immediately to do a vaginal ultra-sound, but then he stopped and said I have to go pee first, because my bladder is in the way of seeing things clearly. I was embarrassed but tried not to show it in any way. I quickly ran to the bathroom, while Vitaliy stayed in the room to chat with the doctor.
I came back and we started the ultrasound again. I started seeing what looked like a jelly bean on the monitor. Inside the jelly bean (which is really the uterus) was the big head of our baby and a tiny body. The doctor turned on the volume and we started to hear extremely fast whooshing sounds. “That’s your baby’s heartbeat,” the doctor said.
That moment was exciting and heart warming, beyond belief. Vitaliy and I had huge grins on our faces. The doctor started to measure the baby from head to rump (butt) and said that our new due date is October 31, 2010. Halloween.
For those of you who know me, you know how much I despise Halloween. I couldn’t help but hope that our baby will be born either a little early or a little late, any day but Halloween. Some of you may not understand why I would feel that way…so I will explain a little.
Imagine going to the grocery store to buy your baby some birthday cake and balloons, but everything sold is either covered in monsters, skeletons, or spiders. All the candy and decorations sold at the time will be Halloween themed. Instead of your child’s friends coming over for a nice birthday party, the children will all be going “trick-or-treating.”
Overall, Halloween is a horrible spooky holiday and I don’t want my child’s birthday to be associated with it. Does this make sense?
I’ve been calmed down by several people who said that the first child is NEVER born on the due date. I’m sure counting on this to be true!
I haven’t heard Vitaliy give any opinion about our child being born on Halloween. I think all he really wants right now is for us to have a baby boy! He’s even picked out a name if we have a boy. The name is a secret for now…