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http://www.thesugarbee.wordpress.com

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Roll with Punches and Bake Anew

Upon review, I have come to terms with three issues:

  1. Starting this past January, I have a slender budget to work off of. Eating out is limited. #SomewhatBroke
  2. My food allergies have won. I’ve actually been being good and not eating the stuff (for the most part). #LabelReadingQueen
  3. Writing posts more than once every few weeks has become a chore as opposed to the awesome personal outlet I love. #BlogBummer

Facts are only as good as the solutions they inspire, so here is my inspiration for some real change.

One: I’m “hiding” this blog. There are great local businesses and restaurants attached to it and I want to show respect by keeping only the initial association. Local, Arizona business adventures = Eating the Sunshine. Check.

Two: I am continuing my journey to health and attaching it to my personal life. I cannot write with such a tight, restricted subject line anymore. Food allergies changed the game, and I’m adjusting, but with freedom. I realized how much fun I can have and how much more I have to say when I talk about what I feel personally connected to. My money blog is covered with enough posts drafted for February that I have one post for every three days. I cannot wait to type more.

I want that kind of fire for food blogging, so here is the final thing I have to say:

Three: There is a new blog in the makings.

I am focusing on how I embrace food. It opens up doors for conversation on food as medicine, food as tools for cleaning, cultural expressions that may use food, and the occasional recipe. I am not going to record what I eat, where I eat, what YOU need to eat, or how to achieve foodie Nirvana. Far from it. Consider the new blog personal exploration and development. I’m looking for great conversation and bringing up my personal life as food comes up in it.

If that sounds appealing, I will tweet the link soon. I have not been able to start writing yet, but I am excited to draft to my heart’s content for now.

Theo, Cocoa, How I Heart Thee

Sends the Green & Black’s running. (What doesn’t? I’m done with wax.)

Beats the socks off of Dagoba bars. (A veritable foe.)

Leaves Enjoy Life speechless? A must see.

Theo 70% Dark Chocolate. New bliss and new favorite.

Vegan. Gluten free. Soy Free. Fair Trade. Organic.

Q: What is your favorite chocolate brand?

source: choco pic

Like a Good Blogger…

Aside

Good friends share. Like a good friend, I’m sharing a SWEET recipe. Ready?

1/2 cup Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk ice creams

+ 2 T Sunflower Butter

+ a MAD DASH cinnamon =

… Tuesday!

Nom nom nom.

Q: What’s your flavor combination?

Pepto-Bismal and Prosperi-Tea: Talking About Guts

This post is about guts. How many times have you had an upset stomach and reached for the magic in pink, Pepto Bismol? If you are anything like me, I grew up with this cooling, pink, minty elixir. Not a clue as to what is was. I just knew it was medicine. And that it worked.

Fast forward to the present. Every so often, you have one of those days. Days where you know you really do not need to eat a certain something (or really should not)… you really, really don’t… but you eventually munch it down anyway. For me, this usually involves gluten, because I am a sucker for sweets (if you did not know).

Of course, afterwards, I am in serious gut trouble. However, I do not reach for the nearest pink bottle of Pepto anymore. Instead, I’ve found a lovely solution for that bloating, awful feeling when the world seems much too round. Tea.

Yes, tea. You will note that these look a little oddly packaged. These are not ordinary, they are medicinal teas. Prepared properly, you can enjoy a world of soothing comfort from peppermint leaves or a little boost from cocoa extracts.

Now please note, there is no way I am promoting this chocolate tea as a chocolate alternative. It is flavored hot water. Let’s be real. However, I do enjoy the sweet flavor of the chocolate tea. It is also a “laxative” and while I do not think of tea as a “strong cure,” I do believe this tea gently re-engages the bowels. Off and on constipation problems? This is a more natural way to handle that.

You may be thinking, but what if I do not like tea? Sometimes, something sweet can be a little more appealing. Not a light, airy sophisticated sweetness, but a real blast of sugarcane. For times like this, I add my favorite sweetener.

Did I mention it is locally made in Arizona? Healthier than sugar? Gluten free? Oh yes. And as you can see, it comes in flavors! My favorite is in the picture. Vanilla Creme brightens my coffee, my tea… I love it.

SweetLeaf produces quality too. A few facts from their site:

  • SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener does not use chemicals, alcohols, solvents or enzymes at any stage of the extraction and purification process.
  • SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener contains only two ingredients: stevia leaf extract and inulin, a soluble vegetable fiber. Inulin is a naturally occurring prebiotic that nourishes the body’s good intestinal flora, supporting good digestive health and immune function.
  • SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener is ideal for everyone, including people watching their weight, managing diabetes and fitness enthusiasts who embrace clean eating.

I highly recommend trying the liquid sweetener for iced tea too. One thing I do not recommend it for is a sugar replacement in baking. Of course, for our purposes, it is golden. 🙂

Q: For all those bloated, ick days out there, I no longer rely on the pink bottle. What do you do? Are you willing to try a medicinal tea? A liquid sweetener?

image source: food craving, cookies!

Life & Chinese Cooking

Can I let you in on a secret?

I’ve been putting together an experiment.

No really, I’m serious. For the past three weeks, I have been coordinating and communicating with students, professors, and a board member to submit a research team proposal.

We are talking seriously nerdy here. Behavioral economics, wuurrrrd.

Haha. Yeah. Too cool.

This is why my posting has dwindled below the point of New Year’s resolve. Much too busy to do the fun food stuff I did have plans for. For instance, using the coolest cookbook I found a few weeks ago!

This is what I hinted at in a tweet before the experiment proposing took priority. I have reasons for thinking this book is so special…

1. As far as I can tell, this book is authentic. Let me qualify more (before you quit reading): I lived for a few months in Hong Kong and visited mainland China. I made tang yuan (say it: “tone-g you-ehn”) with HK friends. I love certain traditional dishes, and this book includes recipes for many of them. Therefore, since I can only work with deductive reasoning, I’m convinced this is legit. Phew. Lots of explaining.

2. Chinese traditional cooking is rice based (gluten free. BOOM.) and does not use milk products (dairy free. BOOM.). Non-western yummy. Now to raid my favorite place for Lee Kum Kee sauces (many of which are gluten free).

3. The greatness that is Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket! Have you been? If not, I am making a YouTube video guided tour in the near future. If you simply cannot wait for that, go! Your inner snack affectionado will discover at least one heading… “Japanese SNACKS.” *swoon*

Basically, half of the thrill purchasing this giant Chinese cookbook was so that I could learn new ways to make delicious food… the other half was having an absolute need to be raiding Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket on a regular basis. 🙂 I love local business.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I have been working on an experiment! Starting next week, I will have a chance to plot some Chinese cooking. Until then, you are at the mercy of my idea of  stir fry for the allergy free crowd. Coming sometime this weekend.

Q: Where do you like to shop for special foods? Have you been to Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket?

Tough Week Inspiration & Snack Olympics Recap

So much has gone on this week, would you not agree? Between SOPA, PIPA, and ASU getting hacked, the internet has been a crazy place.

Instead of venturing into my growing collection of allergy friendly office lunches, I thought it would be nice to recap the results of the gluten free dairy free snack Olympics and highlight some other strong contenders…

1. Roasted Seaweed (crunchy salty) 2.Bumble Bar (chewy savory) 3. Fruit bar 4. Fruit in a Jar 5. Blueberry Muffin Larabar (chewy sweet) 6. Sunflower seeds (chewy protein filler) 7. Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte (chewy chocolate chip) 8. Baked Snap Peas (chip-crispy veg) 9. Dark Sweet Cherries (chewy sweet)

Bumble Bar is a new addition, but one I luckily discovered. When you lose staple snacks, branching out is no longer an option. It is necessary. Though I thought I would completely hate a sesame-based product, Bumble Bars changed my mind. Cherry Chocolate is my favorite, with the Original flavor a close second. Do try this bar at least once.

The two fruit snacks I added were to jazz up a usual snack. I love bringing in raw fruit, but you can get bored (and unmotivated) with an apple. Instead, bring in a frozen version like frozen grapes or icicle pops made from local fruit. Another idea is to re-use an empty jar and fill it with chopped up favorites. Mix in dried fruits for a texture combo. Just be sure to keep it local and get quality produce on the cheap at your farmer’s market. 😉

There is the recap for you. I am always interested in suggestions though, so twitter me!

Q: Share the top 4 items in your internship or office food stash!

PS- I also thought I might share a really neat idea I found browsing the web. I’ve had free time since the ASU network is still unavailable and I cannot access half of my classwork. (Hooray?)

Washi Tape your keyboard! For anyone with white keys at home or at the office, it is removable, simple, and fun. There is even a local AZ Etsy Store to get cheap deco tape from!

My Cupcake Affair

Friends, I am very excited about this post.

I am also very concerned about this post, so please know that I do actually eat healthfully. I really do. Promise.

I’m turning this post into “Picture Monday.” Cupcakes, go!

Birthday Cake cupcake - sprinkles!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate cupcake - just look at that luscious frosting...

Espresso cupcake - not as pudgly as it looks, promise

Vanilla Bean cupcake - simplicity is often bliss, and this was

Each of these photos came from The Coffee Shop. On random days, I enjoy popping into The Coffee Shop and asking if gluten free cupcakes are available. Every day there are vegan (read: dairy free) cupcake options, but gluten free versions appear on random. I think it is always worthwhile to ask. Why? Allergy friendly cupcakes on demand and locally made, no less.

Support the community – check. Support my cupcake addiction – double check. 😉

The frosting especially is worth every penny. I love that stuff. There is one issue I do think I should mention. If you order the gluten free cupcakes, I sometimes find that they are dry inside. I think this is because I get the last ones of the batch, which have sat out for longer. Real food generally lasts less than forever. Surprise, surprise.

I am in love with Cruelty Free Cupcakes. Visit The Coffee Shop, enjoy the coffee, and tweet me if you find they have gluten free options!

Q: What is the most amazing cupcake flavor you have seen or had?

Larabars and Snap Peas

Today, I have another internship story for you and more sweet success. Which would you like first? Let’s talk food first.

You might have seen this in my twitter, but this Larabar flavor tastes just like a lovely blueberry muffin. No lie. I loved each bite. My co-worker W had not heard of Larabars before. I think I may have to bring some to share, since both he and his wife are interested in health food. W, as you will hear about later, is a great person to work with.

I’ve also been munching on these lovely baked snap peas. At first, I could not figure out this purchase from Trader Joe’s. I mean, these tasted like snap pea cheerios. What do you do with something as peculiar as that? A neat way to gravitate towards actual green vegetables, perhaps, but I’m afraid in our first dairy free gluten free snack olympics, this rookie fails to make the cut. Tough competition.

Now for a story. Another internship moment of brilliance, and why my co-worker W is such a neat guy.

Starting around 8:30am, I began updating our firm’s data collections with fresh numbers from the Federal Reserve, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, etc. Updating spreadsheets of data then allowed me to update all the files associated with the data. This took a number of hours and as I munched through some lunch at my desk, I wanted to make sure I did not miss anything before announcing to W that I finished. My co-worker W had been training me and telling me where to find data and how to update it appropriately. Since he had been so nice about a large amount of questions, I wanted to make sure I had done everything he asked, and well.

But I had nothing to announce. The computer folders I worked with showed no modifications made since December, according to the “date modified” tab. I told W the news and we both tried to figure out what happened. He believed me, but thought it was really weird. I determined that I would find proof of my work in five minutes or redo everything as quickly as possible. So many prayers rocketed skyward as I tried to search the computer for anything that might show my work.

Some things demand attention because they are simply gigantic. Unlike this rather obnoxious headband I found at Nordstrom, my mistake was small and unfortunately significant. I saved all of the data to the wrong drive without knowing it. The computer tracked down the changes I made once I searched the entire system for Wednesday’s modifications. I discovered my “recent work” attached to folders with the exact same names as ones I worked on, but in the completely wrong place. Lesson learned! W treated me with respect throughout the entire thing, which makes him the most amazing co-worker ever.

Q: Have you tried baked green vegetables? Have you had a co-worker W experience (or a gigantic headband like this one)?

Interns & Snacks

Hello guys,

I promised you a little update on my first day at my internship aaaand some snack reviews. Well, I have great news.

I am more than a glorified copy machine artist, though less than a presidential parking spot. Cheers! And oh- you get to hear the story too. I did not see marked parking for the firm on Monday and just picked a spot. No labels, rather obscure, no problems. Then the receptionist randomly calls in to my supervisor’s office and asks if anyone (cough, the intern, cough) drives a certain color car.

…which is parked in the president’s parking spot. …who will be returning soon. And would I like to move it?

🙂 Yes, yes I would.

Ms. Receptionist is a really lovely person in the office and I am so grateful she saved me from a terrible first impression. May your maternity leave be showered with people who massage your feet and cook for you. Amen.

On to our update on the allergy friendly snacks! More good news…

I have loved them. All of them. Ohm nom nom.

Chocolate Cherry Torte makes the world delicious and rich. I am seriously jealous of anyone who has access to the Larabar newest: cappuccino. I’ll bet it’s heavenly.

The salty green seaweed taste makes my other, more exotic treat really cool to eat. I like steamed vegetables covered in a salty dressing. Be prepared though. The seaweed wants to stick to your mouth, makes obnoxious crunchy sounds, and is somewhat chewy. I recommend stuffing your face with two or three sheets every time your colleague leaves the room so that you can have little green specks on your lips and fingers by the time he returns. I’m keen on those first impressions. I really am. 😉

Like I’ve resolved, I’ll keep checking back in with you as we continue on with our snack Olympic tryouts! Hopefully next week I can break into my lunchtime marathons. More on those soon.

Q: Do you have any first-time stories about work? Or funny incidents? Tell us!