Dear Younger Me

Have you ever looked back on things you did in the past and wish you hadn’t done something or wish had done it differently? Those things are part of who you are today. They helped shape you into the person you are today, yet often times those things are painful, not only at the time of occurrence, but as we grow older. 

Even though I know changing anything I did in the past would make me a different person today, possibly one without the people I love, there are times I really struggle and wonder…what if?

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A couple of months back I went to the MercyMe concert with a couple of close friends. They played a song from their new album that really spoke to me. I was instantly drawn to this song and the important reminders within it.

“Dear Younger Me” – MercyMe

Dear younger me

Where do I start

If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far

Then you could be

One step ahead

Of all the painful memories still running thru my head

I wonder how much different things would be

Dear younger me

 

Dear younger me

I cannot decide

Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life

Or do I go deep

And try to change

The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me

Even though I love this crazy life

Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride

Dear younger me

Dear younger me

 

Oh, If I knew then what I know now

Condemnation would’ve had no power

My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth

If I knew then what I know now

Would’ve not been hard to figure out

What I would’ve changed if I had heard

 

Dear younger me

It’s not your fault

You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross

Dear younger me

 

You are holy

You are righteous

You are one of the redeemed

Set apart a brand new heart

Oh You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley

Thru each heartache you will see

Every moment brings you closer

To who you were meant to be

Dear younger me, dear younger me

 

You are holy

You are righteous

You are one of the redeemed

Set apart a brand new heart

Oh You are free indeed

 

You are holy

You are righteous

You are one of the redeemed

Set apart a brand new heart

Oh You are free indeed

 

You are holy

You are righteous

You are one of the redeemed

Set apart a brand new heart

Oh You are free indeed

 

We are loved just as we are. Today, tomorrow, always. 

Two of the most important reasons I wouldn’t change a thing…

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Review: Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bread

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery introduced two new gluten-free breads in January. These breads can be found outside of the freezer section, in the baked goods or bread aisles in grocery stores across the US. More about the new breads:

  • Found in a store’s bread aisle or baked goods area, outside of the freezer section. No more defrosting!
  • Still has the incredible taste and fluffy texture gluten-free fans love from Rudi’s
  • Provides 5 grams of fiber per two slice serving
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • Certified to 10ppm or less gluten per serving by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
  • Sweetened with a hint of golden honey, a fact made sweeter because Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery™  has donated to the Xerces Society to protect the bees that make it all possible

The new breads come in two different varieties:

Original – INGREDIENTS: Water, brown rice flour, rice starch, potato extract, bamboo fiber, sorghum flour, Non-GMO and expeller pressed canola oil, cane sugar, dried whole egg, honey, yeast, dried egg whites, chia protein, xanthan gum, sea salt, distilled vinegar.CONTAINS: Egg

Multi-Grain – INGREDIENTS: Water, brown rice flour, rice starch, potato extract, bamboo fiber, sorghum flour, Non-GMO and expeller pressed canola oil, cane sugar, dried whole egg, honey, yeast, millet, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, dried egg whites, chia protein, xanthan gum, sea salt, distilled vinegar.CONTAINS: Egg

BreadRudi

In addition to being free of gluten, these breads are also dairy-free and Non-GMO. The ingredients are easy to recognize and pronounce, which isn’t always the case with gluten-free breads. 

I decided to dig into Rudi’s Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread first. I needed something quick to eat after my Saturday long run before I took Hannah to ice skating. I decided that a PB & J would hit the spot and could be taken with me, if need be. I was disappointed that when I took two slices of bread out of the bag they didn’t seem to be sturdy enough to make any kind of a sandwich. I switched my thinking over to PB & J toast and tossed the bread into the toaster. I wanted to only lightly toast the bread, but it was almost falling apart, so I put it back into the toaster. This is what I ended up with…

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Too dark and still not sturdy, one piece falling apart. 

Today I tried a different approach using the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Original Bread. The bread seems a little sturdier and I lightly toasted it so that I could spread PB & J on it. Pre-toasting…

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Post-toasting with PB & J…

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This worked much better, though they bread still isn’t super-sturdy and I’m not sure it would stand up to anything but light sandwich fillings. The bread is also very small, so I probably could have eaten 4 slices of PB & J toast if I hadn’t had a large bowl of fruit along with this. I hate to be so negative about this bread because it really does have a great taste to it, but it doesn’t seem to be functional. I am going to see about using it to make French Toast. Eating the bread with a fork may be the best option. 

Have you tried the new Rudi’s Gluten-Free Breads? Did you have better luck with it? 

*The products mentioned in this post were sent to me free of charge for review purposes. The thoughts and opinions here are mine and have not been influenced by anyone or anything. 

Review: Cedarlane Quinoa & Vegetable Enchiladas

Sometimes eating gluten-free when you are crunched for time can be a challenge. Cedarlane helps to make those times a little easier with their gluten-free frozen meals. This new meal is especially appetizing and contains 12 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and under 400 calories.

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Since I can no longer eat dairy, I had a local gluten-free friend sample these for me. She was kind enough to write her thoughts down for me to share with you all once she was done. 

I have enjoyed several frozen meals by CedarLane, since they have a nice selection of gluten free options. These enchiladas were no exception. Like many busy people, I don’t have time to prepare and pack my lunch every day. In a pinch, I grabbed enchilada meal on my way out the door for lunch at work. I followed the microwave instructions to microwave on high for 3 ½ to 4 minutes. I felt like the meal was still slightly cool, so I added another 30 seconds of time. The sauce was very creamy and tasty with a touch of spiciness. The enchiladas were filled with quinoa, roasted corn and black beans, which I found to be a nice blend of flavors. 

Look for Cedarlane products can be found in mainstream and health food stores across the US. It is important to note that not all of their products are gluten-free, but those that are will be clearly labeled. 

Have you tried any of the Cedarlane gluten-free meals? If so, what did you think? You can find reviews on some of the other Cedarlane gluten-free products here. 

Review: Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate

I have a new cereal love. While I don’t eat a lot of cereal, when I read about Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate now being gluten-free, I began to keep my eyes open each time I went to the grocery store. *It is important to note that the Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate is the only Honey Bunches of Oats version that is gluten-free. I finally found a box and didn’t waste anytime trying the new cereal. 

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Do you know what I like best about this cereal? It turns my almond milk all chocolatey. I have worked my way through an entire box and have had no stomach issues whatsoever. Post uses gluten-free oats in this variety of Honey Bunches of Oats, but not in any other versions of the cereal. 

Ingredients: Corn, Sugar, Rice, Whole Grain Rolled Oats*, Brown Sugar, Brown Rice Flour, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Canola Oil, Corn Syrup, Salt, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut And Palm Kernel Oils), Honey, Millet, Caramel Color, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Tocopherols (Added To Preserve Freshness), Annatto Extract (Color). Bht Added To Packaging Material To Preserve Product Freshness.

Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate can be found in grocery stores across the US. It will be nice if they add some other gluten-free varieties in the future. 

Have you tried Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate? What are your thoughts? 

Review: Honey Stinger New Gluten-Free Products

I have been a long-time fan of Honey Stinger Gels and Chews. I use them before or during my runs or long workouts. Many friends recommended the Honey Stinger Waffles as well, but they weren’t gluten-free at the time. Now Honey Stinger has introduced Gluten-Free Honey Stinger Waffles along with a new flavor of Gel and a brand new product: Honey Stinger Protein Chews

Honey Stinger Blog

There are three different varieties of Honey Stinger Gluten-Free Waffles (also dairy-free):

  • Organic Salted Caramel Waffle 
  • Organic Cinnamon Waffle 
  • Organic Maple Waffle

I immediately fell in love with these and don’t know that I can live without the Organic Salted Caramel Waffle. This may be my new go-to fuel for workouts. I can’t thank Honey Stinger enough for making these gluten-free! *It is important to note that not all flavors of the Honey Stinger Waffles are gluten-free. The gluten-free waffles are clearly labeled

Honey Stinger Blog

I have liked all of the previous Honey Stinger Gell varieties and this one is no different. The Mango Orange Gel is smooth and not overly sweet or too thick or thin. It is a nice addition to the line-up of gels. All of the Honey Stinger Gels are gluten and dairy-free. 

Honey Stinger Blog

The new Honey Stinger Raspberry Protein Chews are the first of their kind. The previous Honey Stinger Chews didn’t have added protein. These new chews are made with organic pea protein, so they are also free of dairy in addition to gluten. They contain 5 grams of protein per package. There are two more flavors debuting this month:

  • Cherry Lime Protein Chews
  • Juneberry Protein Chews

The protein chews are tasty, though I was able to detect a slight pea protein taste. This didn’t detract from the product for me, but wanted to mention in my review. I will definitely be buying these again in the future along with the GF Honey Stinger Waffles.You can purchase Honey Stinger products in select retailers across the US or online directly from their website

*The products mentioned in this post were sent to me free of charge for review purposes. The thoughts and opinions shared here are mine and have not been influenced by anyone or anything. 

Review: Daiya Cheezecake

I have tried quite a few new products lately, so I better get busy and blog about them! One of the foods I have missed tremendously since giving up dairy in addition to gluten is cheesecake. Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts. I would choose cheesecake over pie or regular cake as a child. 

When I was at Portia’s Cafe in January and realized they had dairy-free, gluten-free cheezecake I began to realized that maybe I didn’t have to go without. Then I found Daiya Cheesecake at Raisin Rack, our local health food store, a day or two later. 

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In addition to being free of gluten and dairy, the Daiya Cheezecake is also free of soy. 

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I followed the instructions on the box, thawing the cheezecake in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 hours, but still needed to let it sit out on the counter for a short amount of time. If there is one thing I have learned over the past 10 years of being gluten-free, and now dairy-free for the last 8 months, it is to not go into tasting something “new” with any preconceived notions. I didn’t want to imagine this cheezecake was going to taste identical to the cheesecake I was used to eating before. I cleared my palate and my head and dug in. Wow! I am impressed with both the flavor and texture of this cheesecake. The texture is dense and creamy, just like that of a regular cheesecake. Definitely something I will be purchasing again!

In addition to the New York Cheezecake variety, Daiya also offers a Key Lime, Strawberry, and Chocolate variety. Check the store locator to see where to find Daiya products close to you. 

Have you tried the Daiya Cheezecake? If so, what did you think?

Review: The Whitney House

Last weekend I met some close girlfriends at The Whitney House for dinner. I have heard many good things about the place, but had never dined there myself. The gluten-free items are on the regular menu and marked with a small symbol indicating they are made gluten-free. 

I had a hard time deciding what to order, but settled on starting with the House Salad. The salad is made with local greens, seasonal pears, crispy prosciutto, creamy goat cheese, lemon vinaigrette. I had the chef leave off the goat cheese since I no longer can eat dairy. 

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So simple, yet so flavorful! I really enjoyed this salad. For dinner I settled on the Faroe Island salmon with red quinoa, blistered tomatoes, butternut squash, arugula drizzled with a pomegranate glaze. I didn’t have to have this dish modified one bit! It was gluten-free, dairy-free and onion-free without my having to do anything! 

Faroe Island Salmon

Simply divine! I loved this dish so much that I have been trying to figure out when I can return to have it again! 

The Whitney House is located in the heart of Olde Worthington, right across the street from The Worthington Inn, another of my favorite places. While parking can be challenging in Olde Worthington, there are plenty of options close by, including a lot directly behind The Whitney House. If you live in or are visiting the area, I highly recommend The Whitney House. 

I can’t end this post without a photo of the girls, can I? We are all runners and met 4 or 5 years ago at various local running events. 

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Have a great day! 

Review: Portia’s Cafe

Columbus has a little known gem located on Indianola Avenue in the Clintonville area. This gem is called  Portia’s Cafe. I don’t often head to small, local places like this because there are so many foods that I can’t eat. However, I had heard from so many friends that Portia’s Cafe not only serves gluten-free food, but everything they serve is gluten-free. What?! Yes, a dream come true for those with celiac disease, a restaurant that is 100% gluten-free. Portia’s Cafe also serves a 100% vegan menu.

Portia's Blog

The options on the menu at Portia’s Cafe are plentiful. I had my lunch narrowed down to three or four different items, but checked in with our server to see which of those didn’t have any onions in them. Turns out that Portia’s Cafe also has a list of foods/menu items that don’t contain onions, too! I felt comfortable in this restaurant, which is the first time I have felt like that in a restaurant in a very long time. 

I finally decided on the burrito, which can be served in a bowl or in one of Portia’s house-made gluten-free wraps. Of course I chose the wrap since it has been over 10 years since I have had a wrap/burrito from a restaurant. 

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My burrito was loaded with rice, black beans, Daiya cheeze, house-made vegan sour cream and lettuce. I can’t even begin to put into words how delicious this burrito was. I can tell you that I believe I have found a new favorite restaurant.

My friend ordered the Mediterranean Wrap served in a bowl as opposed to in a wrap. She loves this meal and orders it regularly.

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Portia’s also has a number of vegan, gluten-free desserts that I am going to have to make a special trip to sample. Cheezecake, Mousse, and Macaroons? Yes, please! If you are missing gluten-free waffles, check out Portia’s on Sundays from 10AM to 3PM when they serve gluten-free waffles! Somebody please pinch me…I may be dreaming!

Weekly Hours:

  • Tuesday – Saturday: 11AM to 9PM
  • Sunday: 10AM to 3PM
  • Monday: Closed

Location:

4428 Indianola Avenue

(between Cooke Rd. and Morse Rd. with the burgundy awning)

Columbus, OH 43214

614-928-3252

The atmosphere in Portia’s Cafe is bright and cheery, which is exactly how I felt after this phenomenal experience. I highly recommend stopping in for bite to eat or ordering take-out if you live in the Columbus area or visiting from out of town. 

Katz Gluten Free Introduces New Donut Flavor

While eating donuts daily is not something I advise, I do like a treat every now and then. Katz Gluten Free makes a pretty spectacular Gluten-Free Glazed Donut, so I have no doubt this new variety is equally as tasty. The new donut variety is one I can’t wait to try… Sea Salt Caramel Glazed!

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Ingredients:Gluten Free Flour (white Rice, Corn Starch, Tapioca), Eggs, Water, Palm Oil, Canola Oil, Sugar, Baking Powder, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, Salt, Natural Caramel extract , Confection Sugar, Agar, Calcium Carbonate.

The donuts are free of dairy, soy, and nuts in addition to gluten. If you aren’t familiar with Katz Gluten Free, take the time to browse their website and consider ordering a free sample pack. I also happen to be a huge fan of their bagels, English muffins, and pies (blueberry is my favorite!).

Do you have a favorite Katz Gluten Free product? If so, what is it?

Workout Tracking – Garmin vs. Apple Watch vs. FitBit Charge HR

Since I began exercising consistently in 2008, I have used some sort of gadget to track my workouts. I started with a Polar watch (heart rate monitoring) to track my workouts, but then switched to a Garmin once I began running on a regular basis and wanted GPS to track my mileage.

Earlier this summer I purchased a FitBit Charge HR. I wore the FitBit Charge HR 24/7. I also wore my Garmin Forerunner 620 along with the FitBit Charge HR when I was running. I found the FitBit Charge HR to be somewhat accurate for tracking distance (without GPS) and within a beat or 2 for the average heart rate when compared to the Garmin. The FitBit Charge HR does have the capability to use the GPS via the FitBit app on my phone for more accurate distance tracking, but I never used it for that.

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On Black Friday I ended up getting an Apple Watch and knew that there was no way I would wear all 3 devices at once, but wanted to figure out which was the best for the information I wanted to track. I knew I would continue to wear my Garmin for coaching MIT and speed work, but I didn’t figure I would continue to wear the FitBit Charge HR. I committed to wearing all 3 for one week to compare data and then I would make my choice.

As far as distance is considered, the Garmin and the Apple Watch were pretty much spot on. The downfall is you have to be carrying your iPhone in order for the GPS to work with the Apple Watch, just like GPS for the FitBit Charge HR. For me that isn’t a big issue, as I always run with my phone. As far as heart rate data is concerned, all 3 devices were within a beat or 2 of each other when comparing averages. The big deal here is the method of monitoring the heart rate…both the FitBit Charge HR and Apple Watch have wrist heart rate monitors and don’t require the chest strap the Garmin 620 does. It is important to note that the device must be tight on your wrist in order for the heart rate to be accurate. 

The device you choose is dependent upon what your preferences are. For my daily runs, I have been wearing only my Apple Watch and have been completely satisfied with the data it tracks and records. As I stated above, for coaching MIT and speed work, I use my Garmin. I no longer wear my FitBit Charge HR. My daily activity tracker of choice is the Apple Watch. It has more capabilities that I use than the FitBit Charge HR. The only missing piece is the sleep tracker, which you can do using an App on the iPhone if it is important to you.

  • FitBit Charge HR – Monitors steps, heart rate, sleep, and has caller ID. Recently received some bad press regarding a lawsuit about inaccurate heart rates. MSRP = $149.99
  • Apple Watch – This is the only one of the 3 that measures how much you stand throughout the day. It encourages you to stand for 1 minute out of an hour 12 times per day. You can also use Siri, the alarm clock, your calendar, maps, instant heart rate, weather, texts, emails, and a number of apps. MSRP – $349 (38 mm – women’s version); $399 (42 mm – men’s version)
  • Garmin Forerunner 620 – Lots of bells & whistles, including GPS, heart rate, recovery time, and VO2 Max predictor. Does not monitor other daily activity or sleep. MSRP – $399 w/ heart rate strap

So there you have it. If you have any questions regarding any of the devices I shared above, please leave a comment below.

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