I’m Back and Moved!

I’m back to blogging, but with a site that makes more sense. I moved back to Seattle this year so this blog address won’t make much sense now! Come find me at www.lastbestblog.com!

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Keukenhof, The Real Story

I just got back from a 5 day trip with my mom. First trip we’d been on together and we had a lovely time. She wanted to go to Holland to see the tulips in bloom. And since I’d never been there during that time I was happy to go see them as well. My initial research into flower viewing kept bringing me back to the same place, Keukenhof Garden. “A Must See!” “Do It Before You Die!” “Fields and Fields of Flower.” The internet headline screamed. Sounded exactly like what we were looking for. S that was the plan, spend the day wandering in the fields at Keukenhof. Not exactly what happened. Here’s the real scoop on what Keukenhof Garden (KG from here on out) is all about. 

1) It’s just that a garden. Yes, I know that should have been the first, and a dead, giveaway. Garden, not Field, but you know how the internet can be misleading. (You did know that right?) Don’t get me wrong, it is a huge, beautiful garden with many flowers, not just tulips. There are hyacinths, tulips and daffodils too along with others I don’t remember at the moment. They also have about 5 buildings that showcase different flowers. For example:

Orchids

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And Roses

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And whatever these cool flowers are

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So the place is absolutely beautiful and a must see but if you are hoping for fields and fields of flowers this isn’t it. Which brings me to point number

2: You can see tulip fields at KG, kinda. There are fields around the KG grounds and you can see them from inside, and even take a boat ride around them, but you can’t really see them. Here’s what I mean:

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This was one of the views you could see, not bad, but not that great. And:

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This, this is the view from the boat. It was so bad I only took this one photo. You can’t see anything except the bank of the river. I don’t understand why the boat wasn’t a little taller so you could enjoy the fields. A bummer indeed. 

3) The journey there was, meh. I’d done some research about how to get there and it seemed you could: take a tour, pricey, rent a car, or take the bus from Amsterdam airport, Haarlem, or Leiden. I’d read a few reports saying it was easiest to go to Leiden from Amsterdam and then take the bus but that made no sense to me. Why go south of where we wanted just to back track? No, we would go from Amsterdam to the airport and take the bus there. Made way more sense. Now I question that. While it was easy it was time consuming. First, at the train station none of credit cards would work in the ticket machines so we had to go stand in the cash only line. That took about 20ish mins. Then we waited for the train to Schipol (the airport), another 10 mins. Then we got to Schipol and walked outside to catch the bus and found this:

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A crazy long line of people going to see tulips. With a sigh we got into line to wait. It took about 30 mins to get to the front of the line and on a bus. However, there we no seats and it’s a 45 min drive! We were packed in there like sardines. Not the most pleasant experience but it could have been better. You’re about to walk for hours and hours, you kinda want to sit on the way there. 

So from the time we left the hotel to the time we got to KG took about 2 and a half hours. I think if we’d just taken the train straight to Leiden, it may have been faster. Maybe. 

4) You can only walk inside the KG! I read multiple times that you could bike the KG, but that isn’t true. No bikes are allowed inside. You can rent bikes outside and bike around the area, but not in the garden. It’s ok, but I was thinking we could do that since:

5) I thought it was to huge for walking. It’s not. It’s very walkable and you can do it all in 3ish hours. 

Do I recommend KG? Yes! It was beautiful and a pleasant experience. Was it what I expected? Nope. I wish I’d know about the fields. I wish we had rented a car so we could drive around, on the Flower Route. The Flower Route, which I learned after the trip, is a road between Haarlem and Leiden where you can see tulip fields. If only KG hadn’t kept coming up in my Google search! 

So, if you have time and funds, rent a car and make a day of it. Then you can hit up all the good stuff.

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So, what happened with my food test? Nothing, I wasn’t allergic to any of them. Which I was thankful for. I love dairy too much! Soy might have been a bit tricky. I ate a lot of it one night, and the next day I was super cranky and mad at the world. So I am trying to lay low on soy for the most part. I am moving on to the next step in the book which is to remain gluten free. So far its been ok. About a week ago I fell of the wagon. It is so hard with my job and with yummy perogies staring you in the face. And since I really dont see or feel a difference its hard to keep at it. But I have lost 10 lbs over all. A plesant side effect. I am also trying to eat less sugar and more veggies. That’s step two.  Ill report back on that. 

In more exciting news, I am heading to Manchester, UK today for a 48 hour layover! The forecast is mid 50’s and sunny so I am stoked for that. I will take the train up to York on Saturday to explore that city. Then next week I am off to two back to back Florida long layovers, hopefully full of sun. 

That’s all, just a quick update.

Cheers!

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3 Weeks! Woo-Hoo!

3 weeks have came and gone! Hurray! Over all the diet change really wasn’t all that hard. I was doing great until last week, when I went to Amsterdam. Then I really hated the diet. Everywhere you turn there’s a cheese tasting room, delicious yogurt staring at you in the grocery store, fresh baked croissants wafting through the air. It was torturous. I left the store with a banana and a fruit smoothie and a growling, wanting stomach. Besides that grueling 24 hours I’ve done really well with the diet. The few times I felt tempted to cheat, I didn’t, and that felt good. 

Do I feel better? Honestly, no, I don’t really feel that different. Actually, this last week I’ve had some finger swelling that I haven’t had in a few months. I have however, lost 8 lbs. that was a nice side effect I guess. So, is this food thing going to help me? I am going to keep pressing on and find out. The next step is to add back each item individually and see what happens. Given my longing for cheese last week I chose dairy. And I’m going to start tonight! Yes, it may be 8ish hours early, but you’ve got to be a rebel sometimes. I’ve got my meal all planned out. Mashed potatoes, smothered in butter and cream. Steaks, cooked in butter. (Not concerned with cholesterol tonight!) And a tall glass of milk. If you never hear from me again it’s possible I’ve died and gone to dairy heaven. 

I do this for two days, which mean yummy pancakes in the morning with butter and milk in them and maybe a frozen yogurt later. Then I asses how I fell. If good, then it’s welcome back dairy! If bad, then it’s time to cry, but press on. I’m sure you can tell which option I am hoping for. 

 

Cross your fingers for me! 

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Two Weeks In!

Tomorrow will mark the two week point in my new diet! So far it has been quite eye opening and more or less fairly easy. I ended up having to work 8 days in a row, hence the lack of posting. Thanks to a winter snow storm my four day trip got turned into a 5 day trip backing up to another 3 day trip I had. Ugh. I do not like to work two 3 day trips in a row, so especially no 8 days! I slept like a log the last two nights here at home. The 8 day stretch prevented me from going to the store in between trips but luckily the last trip layed over where my family lives so they took care of me and I got restocked for my last 2 days of work. Here’s a few things I’ve learned so far about having to eat with out GDCS:

1: You need a food processor! This baby saved me a lot of time already. Cutting up veggies takes maybe 2 seconds.

Keep the salad fresh!

Keep the salad fresh!

2: You are going to have to take your trash out everyday. Maybe twice. All those fresh ingredient remnants leave an unpleasant odor behind. It gets gross, fast.

Use the ice bucket, plus liner, for a bowl in your hotel room.

Use the ice bucket, plus liner, for a bowl in your hotel room.

3: You need time. The first day that I really cook in prep for the week it took me about 4 hours. But I was cooking for four days so it was a lot at once. You also need time in the store. Especailly if you are just starting you GFDFSFCF adventure. You have to look at each label. I think I spent 2-3 hours total in Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Rice cake with almond butter, cinnamon and fruit spread.

Rice cake with almond butter, cinnamon and fruit spread.

4: You will waste food. I accidentally bought about 3 lbs of carrots. I like carrots ok, but not 3 lbs. worth. I thought I’d try and put some of them into a soup. So I make carrot/butternut squash soup. Turns out I don’t really like squash. So guess where that soup had to go? Yep, and I hated throwing it out. But any new diet needs experimentation. You will make things that are disgusting. Be ok throwing some stuff out.

An insanely yummy salad from Harmon's in Salt Lake City.

An insanely yummy salad from Harmon’s in Salt Lake City.

And lastly 5: Eating out it HARD! My crew on my 4 day trip was AWESOME. They even wanted to go out to dinner, 2 nights in a row. When that happens, you have to take advantage and go. The first night we went to a mexican restaurant. That was hard. Corn and flour everywhere! I got the skirt steak and prayed it didn’t have any of the stuff I could have drizzled over it. There was no way to know. Second night, Ruby Tuesdays. I got the salad bar and a grilled chicken breast. That was yummy. I was also proud of myself as I said no to all the salad dressings (I’m sure they all had corn syrup in them) and got oil and vinegar. There is so much GDSC in our diet that it takes effort to avoid it. Especially at restaurants. I can’t imagine how someone with a really bad allergy to anything could eat out, it would be almost impossible.

So that’s where I am at now. I still have one more week to go before introducing things back in. I’m excited for that. I miss a few things. Last night I really wanted a cupcake. I think that will be my first thing to come back in. Yum.

 

 

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S & B’s Amazing Gluten Free Pancakes (Soy Free, Dairy Free and Corn Free too!)

I like breakfast. I mean, really like breakfast. I can eat my weight in breakfast buffets. Waffles, pancakes, crepes, biscuits, gravy, eggs, hash browns, toast, jam, bagels, croissants, pastries, ect. I LOVE breakfast! With the exception of hash browns and eggs, all those things before have gluten in them. 😦 So when I started preparing for my GDSCF adventure I was sad about breakfast. Making breakfast would be tricky. Eggs, oats and smoothies were in my future. Which, don’t get me wrong, are yummy and I like them too, but I really like sweet items. I was sad for my boyfriend too, who loves pancakes. How could I not make pancakes for him? I set out to find a recipe that would work for us. And I am pleased to report that the first one I tried was delicious! I was shocked. How could it be so yummy? And on the first try! Even my boyfriend thought they were good. (For him, not as good as normal, but decent and edible. Yea!) And all I did was substitute from my normal recipe. Allow me to share with you this yummy recipe.

Just as fluffy and light as "normal" pancakes.

Just as fluffy and light as “normal” pancakes.

S & B’s (That’s us, Stephanie and Brandon) Amazing Gluten Free Pancakes. (Also Soy Free, Dairy Free and Corn Free)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 to 1 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened (I used Trader Joe’s) (Add 3/4 C 1st then a little more if needed.)
  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (Again, I used Trader Joe’s) (Try your own blend if you have one. I’m not that advanced yet.)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (Woot, TJ’s organic sugar here.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (Be sure it doesn’t have corn starch if you are doing this recipe corn free. I had no idea. You led me astray Trader Joe’s.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (Yep, you guessed it, from TJ’s.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (HAHA, not TJ’S this time, but Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.)
  • 1 egg (Farmer Joe’s Organic Free Range Eggs.)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (Back to TJ’s. Yes, they take all my money, they are only 1/2 a block away.)

Steps to yumminess:

1. Combine dry ingredients. I sift them together. I’m from the south, we like to sift. *Side note*, do not use this kind of sifter. Ugh, the horror. This is THE only type to use.

2. Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl.

3. Combine wet and dry together, whisk until just mixed.

4. Heat skillet over medium heat, add some oil and cook. They do cook a little faster than other pancakes so keep a close eye on them.

5. Pour on 100% pure maple syrup and dig in!

Enjoy! (I scarfed them down so fast, I forgot to take a photo!)

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Day One

Don’t worry, I am not going to be doing an entry each day. But day one seems important so it does get one. Yesterday was my first day on the gluten free, dairy free, soy free and corn free plan. (GDSCF from now on.) I think it went pretty well. It wasn’t very hard as I was quite prepared with food at home. I did spend about 2 total hours at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods reading labels. Do you know that soy is in EVERYTHING!? I had one idea, but it is. Take a look at some of the things in your house right now, I bet most have them have to word “soy” in the ingredients. Corn is close too. A lot of things had corn products too! I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to have a sensitivity to either of those since I rarely consume them, or so I thought! Now I realize I was probably getting a lot of soy and corn each day and didn’t even know it. It seems pretty simple to avoid these items however so I’m feeling confidant. 

I’ve already learned a few things too. #1, Don’t put your coconut oil in the fridge. I feel very stupid for do so, I mean it’s an oil! But I wasn’t thinking and when I got it out to use last night it was hard as a rock. Image#2, Chocolate coconut milk yogurt is not good. Blah.

#3, Randomly mixing flours together is NOT an equal substitute in a recipe. Sadly, my almond flour blueberry muffins smell and taste yummy, but melt into a gritty paste in my mouth immediately. Not pleasant. Homemade granola bars turned out pretty good though! 

But it’s just day one and there is more learning to be done. I’ll get better. Tonight I’m attempting to make Thai Beef Noodles. A recipe we like a lot, but calls for soy sauce. So I’m going to try to substitute soy sauce! More to come soon! 

 

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