Monday, May 11, 2009

Adjusting and Giving Myself a Timeout

Menu Plan Monday and the Weekly Shopping Trip is a bit up in the air this week. I've been struggling with adjusting to my new gestational diabetes diet AND navigating that around my gluten/dairy/soy allergies. This is no easy feat. There is not much left to eat outside of meat, eggs, fresh veggies, and fruit. I know that sounds like a wonderfully healthy diet - it is - but it's a total budget buster.

On top of that, some of the menu and snack items I've specifically purchased for Monkey are no longer viable, as we think he might have a food allergy like Momma and Pop-Pop (my father).

All of this realized this past week, so it's a double-whammy.

So until we know for sure what we're dealing with, I'm attempting to find alternatives for some basic snacks in his diet (Ritz, Goldfish, Saltines, etc), that are not totally cost prohibitive AND something this picky toddler will eat. If you've ever had a toddler, you probably already know how much food is wasted by their finicky palates.

So this week, I'm focusing on what's on sale and attempting to keep the budget as low as possible based on that. I'm not in my comfort zone at all this week, so I know I'll be over budget and I know it will be a few weeks before I understand what the heck I'm doing and how much it's going to cost us on a regular basis. I'm giving myself permission to do that and just deal with the financial repurcussions later, as I figure this out. When one's health and baby's health is at stake, there really isn't a viable option.

I guess that's my advice this week: Give yourself a break until you understand what works for your family. Eating foods that fit the budget, but literally make you sick is not even a viable alternative. Stop the game. Figure out the new "rules" and move slowly forward until it becomes your new normal.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Product Review: Good Karma Organic Rice Divine

It was back in 1999 that I realized I had a gluten-intolerance. My father had it for years, so I at least had someone that could help validate how awful I felt. Eventually, I started reacting to dairy products as well. Which stunk because whenever I'd go out to eat with family or friends, ice cream was always my backup plan for dessert at a restaurant. I don't know why, but fruit sorbet never quite cut it. There was something about the creaminess of dairy products that satisfied me in ways that frozen fruit didn't.

So slowly I switch to soy products. I bought soy milk, soy ice creams, soy butters, all in an effort to capture that same creamy essence in my meal enjoyment. It wasn't quite the same either, but it was really the only alternative I found that has halfway decent.

Eventually, it dawned on me that since giving birth to Monkey, I haven't been able to enjoy any soy product without repercussion. Are you serious? ANOTHER food reaction??? No soymilk in my lattes at Starbucks. No edamame with our sushi. No soy ice cream.

Is there ANYTHING I could eat that would fill the void of my ice cream fascination???

I tried Rice Dream ice creams. Not too much there I liked. The flavors or the textures were always just "off". My favorite out of their so-so products was the vanilla with TONS of chocolate syrup to cover the taste. LOL! But there was always something "grainy" about them. Grainy ice cream = a big yuck in my book!

After reading another GF/DF blog, I was introduced to Good Karma products. And last week, I decided to take the plunge and spend the $4 (oy!) to buy a pint of their Very Vanilla Rice Divine.

I'll be really, really honest. I had VERY LOW expectations. Every dairy substitute has direly disappointed me, so I didn't expect this one to be any different. Most non-dairy frozen desserts are not initially creamy, they are really hard. Letting the carton sit out on the counter for 2 or 3 minutes is best. I was a little leary because the Rice Divine had pulled away from the sides of the carton, which gave me the impression that it was old or something was wrong with it. This wasn't looking good.


I was very pleasantly surprised! In fact...YUM! The texture of the ice cream felt good in my spoon, as I glided it across the top...creamy, smooth. I could see little flecks of vanilla bean, which is always a good sign in my book. The taste? Soft, creamy, milky, rich, very vanilla, thus appropriately named. It didn't have that odd after-taste that I remembered in Rice Dreams frozen products. I was impressed! After a few bites, I realized I could easily eat the pint in a sitting, that's how good it was!

But since I'm watching my carb intake right now because of gestational diabetes, I slowed down to savor and only ate about 10 spoonfuls. I very begrudgingly put the pint back in the freezer. I will save some more for later. Even at $4 a pint, it was a really good experience!

I'll also blog later about having a gluten/dairy/soy allergy AND try to keep up with a diabetic diet. Talk about hard!!! Holy cow.

For now, Good Karma's Rice Divine in Very Vanilla gets two thumbs up! This is by far, the best gluten-free, dairy-free frozen dessert I've ever had! There are other flavors that I'm looking forward to trying: Mudd Pie, Coconut Mango, Mint Chocolate Swirl...and others. Although dairy-free, I'm not sure which ones are gluten-free, so I'll have to research those before I try. I'll update the blog later once I do it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Weekly Shopping Trip - 5/4/09

When I write out my weekly shopping trip, I do it in an Excel spreadsheet. In the second column I have an estimate of what that item will cost. And the fun thing with Excel is the formulas that automatically tabulate for you. So I get an idea of what I'm spending before I even hit the store.

Anyways, this week, the formula in the spreadsheet said I was going to go WAAAY over the budget this week. I was a little nervous going into it. But a lot of what I put down I overpriced or there were some good sales that really helped me out! Yay for good weeks!

I realized after I took this picture, that I had left some additional groceries in the car. By the time I discovered it, the above items were put away. Sorry!

Target Total - $42.64
Generic dryer sheets 3.49
Hormel Black Label Bacon 2.99
Peter Pan peanut butter 2.00 (The shelf was labeled with the wrong price, but she let me have it anyways! Woohoo!)
black olives .92
3 cans tomatoes 1.77
water chestnuts .89
Generic raisin bran 2.46
Rice Chex 2.99
black beans 1.54
generic oregano 1.64
McCormick paprika 2.54
McCormick onion powder 2.99
generic cumin 2.09
Bananas .43
generic apple juice 1.12
generic whole milk 2.29
generic eggs 1.67
Colgate toothpaste 3.64 (had a .75 coupon)
Box of Ziploc plasticware 4.99

Natural Grocers Total - $5.14
Pacific rice milk 2.15
Tinkyada rice penne pasta 2.99

Sprouts Total - $21.17
Mission corn tortillas 1.50
Bulk almonds (impulse buy, I was hungry) 1.95
Bulk dried apples (another impulse, but this was for Monkey) 1.12
GF waffles (BOGOF!!!) 3.49
2 lb grd beef 3.92
blackberries .77
celery .77
cucumber .69
cabbage .90
2 boxes strawberries 4.00
head lettuce 1.29
yellow squash .92
bag credit -.15

Weekly Budget - $75.00
This Week's Total - $68.95
Difference - $6.05 under budget

As I typed this out, I realized I left a few items off the list that I'm going to have to go back and get. But with the wiggle room in this week's budget, I think I'm going to be fine.

Visit more shopping savvy ladies over at Gayle's GCC Weekly Roundup.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 5/4/09

Cinco de Mayo has never been a big deal to me until I moved to Texas. It was here that I learned that it's an expectation to eat Mexican, or at least Tex Mex, on May 5th. So that's what we're doing this week! A simple Tex Mex meal of Taco Salad, because that's what fits into the budget. But we're doing things a little differently this time. No prepackaged taco seasoning. Eeks. The shopping trip this week will consist of purchasing everything needed for a scratch taco seasoning. We'll see how that goes! Here's the rest of the menu:

Monday - Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli/carrots, flash fried potatoes
Tuesday - Taco Salad
Wednesday - Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup
Thursday - Breakfast for dinner
Friday - Lunchmeat sandwiches
Saturday - Thai Lettuce Wraps (I didn't do it last week)

For more menu plans, visit Laura at Have a great week!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Product Review: Arico Chocolate Chunk GF Cookies

We had family in town this week from Houston and our little gathering was with some other family in McKinney. This particular hostess (N's aunt) always goes WAY out of her way to make sure I have something to eat. This time was no exception. She had my favorite bread, Kinnikinnick, since we were grilling burgers and dogs. Yum! But this time for my dessert, she got a bag of gluten-free cookies that I'd never heard of before: Arico Chocolate Chunk.

The cookies were moist, dense, with a sweet and slightly nutty flavor from the brown rice flour. The chocolate chunks were very large and soft with a rich, dark flavor. I was completely impressed! Since she purchased them, I'm not sure what they cost. There were only 10 cookies in the pouch, so I'm hoping they weren't too terribly expensive. But she was sweet enough to send them home with me, because she didn't want them. I wasn't going to fight her. :-)

They have other flavors that I plan on trying: almond cranberry, double chocolate, peanut butter, lemon ginger, and triple berry. The chocolate chunk definitely gets two thumbs up from me!