Posts Tagged ‘ Food ’

Gluten-Free? Help Me.

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually written about this here before, but Caroline has some serious GI issues.  I know I’ve written about her reflux in the past because it nearly killed both of us (her from aspiration pneumonia and me from pure stress), but I’ve probably never mentioned her extreme constipation because a) I keep forgetting to and b) talking about poop on the internet is super gross, you guys.

But here we are because, as in the past, I need your help.  Ready?  Caroline’s dermatologist suggested that her combination of severe eczema and constipation might be due to a wheat sensitivity, so she recommended we try going gluten-free.  When I was a kid, I technically tested positive for a wheat allergy (which I have ignored completely and proceeded to eat carbs like it is my job), and she’s seen kids with these issues have them completely clear up when gluten is removed from their diet, so… we’re giving it a shot.

I have to admit I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect.  Caroline, like most three-year-olds, is already an extremely picky eater.  I’m not sure how I’m going to get her to eat a balanced diet without gluten, since I have to put wheat products in most things in order to get her to eat them without a huge battle (i.e. macaroni and cheese with peas, blueberry pancakes, broccoli nuggets with bread crumbs, chicken nuggets, etc.)

In summary, here are the things she likes to eat: things with gluten in them.  Here are the things she doesn’t like to eat: things without gluten in them.

You see my dilemma.  She might starve and I might lose my mind.  (And yes, I am being dramatic.  I’ve been told I have a flair for it.  I don’t think it was a compliment.)

Despite the difficulties, I guess it can’t hurt to try, right?  Going gluten-free could be good for me, too.  I mean, I do technically have an allergy, and at the risk of sounding like a 14 year old teeny-bopper, I heard Miley Cyrus recently went gluten-free and have you seen girlfriend’s abs lately?  I’m just sayin’.  (I know she’s like 19, tops, and has never had a child that we know of but please just let me live in my fantasy world, okay?)

So, gluten-free parents out there, what’s a girl and very picky preschooler to do?  Any recommendations for recipes, websites, blogs, and/or gluten-free substitutes for wheat products?  How do you handle a child who has to go gluten-free when all they ever want to eat is carbs?


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St. Lucia Trip: Part 1

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Hey guys, remember when I went to Jamaica and reviewed family-friendly resorts and activities for you? (Here and here?) Guess what– I got to do it again, and this time, in St. Lucia. Same disclaimer as last time: the people asking me to review this stuff let me come down there and try it all out for free… But you know me and you know I’m always honest, so you know you can believe me when I say it was awesome. This one is gonna have to be another two-parter. Here we go!

I didn’t know much about St. Lucia before I went down there last week. I’m willing to bet you don’t either. In my opinion, that’s the best kind of tropical vacation destination– gorgeous views, sun, sand, and far fewer people around than any of the islands that Americans actually know about. Honestly, if I were you, I’d get down there before everyone else figures out how amazing it is and gets all up in your beaches.

St. Lucia is a tiny island in the eastern Caribbean sea, south of Martinique and north of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It changed hands between the French and the British about a million times in the past, which explains why the people there speak a French-based creole but drive on the left side of the (terrifyingly narrow and carsickness-inducing) roads.

I stayed at a beach resort in Rodney Bay called Bay Gardens that was so luxurious that I just assumed it was an expensive chain hotel. My suite was legit bigger than the apartment that I live in, no joke, and right on the beach. Here’s the view from my balcony:

Not too shabby, huh?

I was surprised to learn that the resort, and the hotel and inn associated with it, were actually a family-owned business. I’m going to digress for a second and tell you the story behind it, because I think it’s something that, in and of itself, makes the properties worth staying at.

Caribbean society is fiercely matriarchal, full of strong and seriously cool women, and Joyce Destang is no exception. Over 20 years ago, she bought the inn and a bunch of reclaimed swamp land in the area as well, and planned to build more hotels on it. She told us that she used to sit in the empty lot and imagine what she wanted her resort to look like. Everyone told her she was nuts for buying that land, but long story short, she basically built the three properties out of nothing, and constantly works to improve them and keep them competitive in today’s market– no small feat when you are competing with giants like Sandals. I met her and she was a fascinating woman, far too humble for the things she has accomplished and the empire she has built literally from the ground up.

I loved the story, loved the “girl power” aspect of it, and most of all loved that it was a family-owned resort that I found was a pretty awesome place for families to stay as well. Their Bay Gardens Hotel (less expensive, starting at $110/night for a family of four, but further from the beach) and Bay Gardens Beach Resort (more expensive, starting at $200/night for a family of four, but has a beach on property) have rooms that can be rented as a king-size bed or two doubles.  They also have suites with a pull-out couch and full-size kitchenette and living room, with attached rooms that have two double beds and their own bathroom that can be rented in conjunction with the suite in order to sleep up to eight people. They have sitters on property who are also regular hotel staff, so you can get to know them before you trust them with your kids. And if the beach and pool aren’t enough to entertain your kids, there are kid-specific activities scheduled when there are enough children on property to enjoy them. Really, the rates for families are pretty incredible considering the location and how gorgeous the properties are (and they’re actually running a 70% off special on their websites at the moment, just sayin’.)

Another thing worth mentioning about St. Lucia is the food. The first night we were at Bay Gardens, we ate at their Caribbean fusion restaurant Trios, and honestly, you guys, there are no words. Well, okay, there are some words: seared ahi tuna with a ginger orange glaze and pineapple chutney with shrimp ceviche. King crab and coconut chowder infused with saffron and chive oil, served in a coconut bowl. Red snapper sampler with coconut rundown, creole, and rum cream sauces, St. Lucian sweet potato mash, and a calaloo garnish. Mango cheesecake with passion fruit mousse and a cinnamon, vanilla, and strawberry rum cream sauce. I am drooling all over my iPad and also I am super fat now, you guys. It was all so beautifully presented, too. And in case you were worried about the kids, although there is no kids menu, the staff is more than accommodating with requests for simpler dishes, and that goes for any meal at any of their restaurants.

On our last night on the island, we ate at Spice of India, one of Rodney Bay’s newest restaurants. Despite its short existence, it has already been rated #1 on the island via TripAdvisor, and let me tell you, it’s well-deserved. They serve authentic Indian dishes that truly are some of the best I’ve had, and the service is impeccable. If this place were in New York City, you wouldn’t be able to get in the door unless you were Oprah or something. Go. Eat. Love it.

To be continued shortly, with details of SNUBA, sightseeing, and the most incredible luxury hotel I’ve ever seen! Stay tuned for part two…

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It’s Fall!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

‘Tis the season for pumpkin carving, apple picking, soups and stews in the crock pot, adorable little kids in costumes, and patients harassing me to get their treatment done before the weather and roads become icy and unpredictable.

I love fall.  Always have.  I love the crispness in the air, the smell of wood stoves, and the colors of the leaves (just kidding, I’m colorblind, but I threw that one in there for those of you who aren’t, because I’m nice like that).  Last fall was a little bit crazy for me, because Tyler and I had just separated and no matter how clear-headed I sounded, I probably wouldn’t have noticed whether or not the seasons changed at all.  Those first divorced holiday seasons are tough.  But this year I am in a great place and I am so ready to enjoy every minute of it.

Caroline and I went to the local orchard this past weekend with some friends and picked out some pumpkins, which we will obviously be carving and putting candles inside regardless of my apartment’s rules against such things.  I’ve also gone apple-picking, hayride-riding, and have been cooking all kinds of delicious fall things, like apple crisp and maple-roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and roasted squash soup.

Halloween is coming up quickly, and true to form, I haven’t even considered what costume Caroline will be wearing.  She says she wants to be a princess (this should come as a surprise to precisely no one) so I suppose that’s what she’ll be.  Tyler had her for Halloween last year, so he got to take her trick-or-treating– I’m so excited to take her this year for what will be the first time she’s gone with me.  Partly because I think it will be so cute… and partly because she still isn’t allowed much candy so I am totally gonna eat it all.  If any other dentists ask, though, I will of course be throwing out all the candy and replacing it with a bucket full of toothbrushes because that’s how we roll.

So tell me, how is your family celebrating the fall?  What are your favorite fall dishes?  What will your kids be for Halloween?  (HINT, I need ideas that aren’t princesses.  Thanks in advance.)

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Piece of Me

Friday, September 16th, 2011

So I was speeding driving to work today, my mind running on its typical fuel blend of caffeine and mom-guilt and “OMGI’mlateforsomething” and basically anything but sleep.  And I was thinking about how funny it is, that in all those many months of my marriage that I mentally prepared to be a single mom, my biggest fear was being lonely… and yet now that I actually am a single mom, I’m so very not lonely that there are times when I almost wish that I was.  I am so busy and my life is so scheduled that honestly, I almost crave the lonely.

Let me explain myself.

I’m a hospital resident, I’m a single mom, I have great friends, I date, I blog, I like my house to be not-filthy.  The list of people I would like to (and need to) spend time with is long: Caroline, my family, my friends, HSD, my patients, my coworkers.  (HSD is the guy I’ve been seeing and actually like, who will henceforth be known by the acronym my friends have given him: Hot Single Dad).

Dividing up my time is proving to be quite the balancing act these days.  Tyler took Caroline for an evening last week, and, no joke, I got a text from one of my friends asking, “So who gets you tonight?”  I am pretty sure I didn’t have quite so many people wanting a piece of me before I got divorced.  I can’t decide if this is because I didn’t want to have many close relationships outside of my marriage, or because I was so miserable and depressed that nobody wanted to be around me.  (I suspect it’s the last one, though.  Hey, if the shoe fits.)

Anyway, don’t get me wrong because I love my new life so I’m not complaining, but there isn’t much room in there for me-time.  And I happen to really like my me-time.

Me-time is when you get to do all those crazy things that you are pretty sure if anyone else saw you do them, you would be judged and side-eyed and fired and possibly even deleted on Facebook.  Because I have no shame, I’ll go ahead and list them out here on the internet, you know, like watching the same episode of Sex and the City four times while making and eating a truly repulsive number of deviled eggs and drinking cheap wine and tweezing your eyebrows and probably lounging around in your underwear while doing all of that.  Just… just normal stuff.  Throw in an impromptu dance party to embarrassing teeny-bopper music while steam-mopping the kitchen floor and you pretty much have my dream Tuesday night.  I try to squeeze at least a couple of those in per month, with minor variations in the activities, though I am not always successful.

So how do you get your me-time?  What slightly crazy things do you do during yours?  (Come on, I shared… let’s hear ‘em.)

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Money For Nothing

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I occasionally get emails asking how I do it on my own, financially, as a single parent.  Honestly, that is one of the toughest parts of a job that’s not so easy in the first place.

I’m a dentist, so I’ll be fine in the long run.  Being a new dentist and a resident, however, is an entirely different story.  I’ve got mountains of student loan debt and an extremely low income.  With only one small paycheck and a child to care for (and daycare being as expensive as it is), it’s a real stretch.  I’m very lucky in that my parents will help me out in a pinch, but it does get old to be worrying constantly about finances.  I’m pretty much at the point where if my online banking website had a box you could check that said “stop sending me statements because I just don’t even want to know”, I would totes check that box yesterday.

While I was in school, I didn’t qualify for any kind of assistance because I wasn’t technically employed.  Now that I am employed, I make just barely enough to not qualify.  I kind of have a thing about not accepting help anyway, but it would be nice to have the option.  Unfortunately, I do not.

So how do I make it work, several of you have asked me?  Well, I do get child support from Tyler and he is pretty good about paying it on time.  I have a strict budget and use to manage my finances.  I get the vast majority of things I need for Caro at consignment stores.  I plan our meals for the week every weekend and shop only once, so that I cut down on unnecessary grocery store trips.  I buy meat in bulk and split it up into smaller portions in ziploc bags and freeze those.  I’m big into clipping coupons and shopping at this discount grocery store which is a little sketchy but I haven’t contracted food poisoning yet.  (Although once a lady in the checkout line saw me pull out my coupons and must have assumed I was using food stamps, because she rolled her eyes and sighed, “babies having babies they can’t afford”.  Yep.  That happened.)  And I never, ever buy anything that’s not on sale.

It is exhausting to worry about money all the time, but I am lucky that for me, it won’t be forever.  Someday soon I’ll have a real job, a good one.  Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be able to buy a little house or a condo for me and Caro… and things like a new car, and organic food, and shoes that don’t come from Payless.

But until then, I’ll just keep plugging along and being as careful with my money as possible.  Anyone care to share your money-saving tips for fellow parents (single or otherwise) in the comments?

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