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?

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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)?

Gluten Free Dairy Free Snack Tryouts – Olympic Style

This will be my first week of work as an intern. Yes, I am nervous. What does an economist intern do? Is it hard to learn? Is it a competition for becoming America’s Next Top Copy-maker? I have no clue. We’ll both just have to find out tomorrow. Meh.

In the meantime, I wanted to start off with a whole lot of tasty pictures, but Olympic style. We have our returning champions from Trader Joe’s…

Dark sweet cherries (no sulpher, no nada!), sunflower seeds, and dark chocolate! I read the label and the dark chocolate truffle has no milk listed. I think it is smooth and safe for us dairy-free folks. I am new to this though, so check to be certain.

Each of these have been quite lovely to munch on in the afternoons, so I am taking them with me to the office! As for the newbies, I turn to some hidden (and remarkably cheap!) promising individuals…

You are looking at: two (new for me) flavors of Larabar (Blueberry Muffin, Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte)… one new Justin’s packet flavor (Honey Almond butter)… and the complete newbies – roasted seaweed! I looked at them and thought to myself… health benefits! how cool would I be to eat these and like them?!

Yeah. I went there. Feel free to judge.

In this Olympic style tryout, the rules are simple. Fill me up, be noms-to-the-delicious, and be portable. Since each of these are pre-packed, I think that last one is covered. We will see how these turn out taste-wise later this week! I am also working on a lunchtime version as well. I’ll sneak-tweet those results most likely, so follow this little bird as I wing out this week.

Q: Do you have New Years Resolutions with trying new stuff? Do you have office go-to snacks?

Let’s Create: the Alternative Holiday Treat Magazine!

Wouldn’t you like to have a nice back-pocket reference for the holidays?

Perhaps you would like to share some new concoction that tastes simply divine!

Maybe you have the cure for a frazzled parent in need of a quick, safe solution.

Well here is my opportunity for you. This month I hope to collect your favorite recipes for cookies, bars, or treats centered around the holiday you celebrate, since both Christmas and Chanukah will be celebrated simultaneously this year (for one day, anyway). There are a few rules which I outline below…

1. The recipe must be gluten free. That’s the only strict rule I have.

2. Mark any other avoided food allergies in your NAME box. Please code as follows: DF (Dairy Free), SF (Soy Free), EF (Egg Free), TNF (Tree Nut Free), PF (Peanut Free), CF (Corn Free), and comment below if you would like to code something else. I’ll update! Example recipe name: “Nana’s Gooey Snickerdoodles (DF, CF)”

3. Remember, this will be open until the end of December. If I have the opportunity, I may send one lucky participant something special for providing others with their hard work! It may be super cute if you happen to be a lady. It will definitely have to do with the theme of this link up! 🙂

4. Click to get started! You’ll get to see the current collection too. I made sure we have pictures with each link! Yay.

Please, please share this with your friends. I have come to realize how hard it is for those with harsh food allergies, especially in the middle of December. To find yourself without easy access to safe treats can be so difficult, especially when this season focuses almost exclusively on special foods. Your generous recipes are appreciated.

Local Treats: Frost

I wanted to share a little treasure I found this past weekend with you. Consider this local frosty treat…

I believe it is gluten free (removing the wafer) and it is certainly dairy free. I chose a strawberry-champagne sorbet with, as the employee put it, a “sample” of limoncello sorbet on top. Generous “sample” and generous staff!

Jessica’s mom actually recommended this location after hearing word of my poor reaction to Cold Stone. I need not describe all the details, but I do believe I am lactose intolerant. (Six hours of nausea and intense stomach pain. Thanksgivings started rather poorly in the early hours of Thursday morning.)

En liu, the Frost Gelato Shop offers a wonderful selection of flavors for the lactose intolerant and those who can enjoy dairy! I believe I could taste the bubbles from the champagne in my sorbet. Really amazing. The texture surprised me the most since it was so creamy. Sorbet? Creamy? What a top notch alternative since my dairy days are over!

If you want to check it out, a Frost Gelato Shop can be found in Tucson or in Gilbert at SanTan Mall (where I went). The original store opened in Arizona, even though it has out of state locations. Please let me know if you go and try other flavors. I love recommendations and am curious about their sorbettinis and (hopefully dark!) hot chocolate and… well, I need to make a few more trips. 🙂

Q: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Do you have seasonal favorites?

*For those who may have noted: Yes, I am allergic to citrus (strawberry, lemon) and so I did pay for that sorbet later, but sometimes you eat the bad stuff. Particularly when you know the reaction isn’t as bad as a dairy or peanut reaction. Particularly when you are lamenting the loss of ice cream. C’est la vie. I live to tell.

Double Up Smores: Food Allergy Friendly

Curious about my whereabouts this Thanksgiving? I have been sneakily waiting for the after party (my own creation) and plotting how to rock the season sans allergies! I love you guys and want you to be super healthy and happy this season. Therefore, I am bringing you treats of all shapes and sizes, and none of which will encourage your waistline.

Tell me more! Tell me more!

How about the healthiest SMORES you’ve ever tasted and a fire to huddle around for starters? We need to show the build up, and then I’ll break down the specifics… we’re making two. (Come on, one smore SO does not cut it. Gotta get our fix!)

First, a gluten-free graham cracker that tastes just divine. Does not crumble easily, and therefore tis perfect. Compare:

GF = gluten free, DF = dairy free/casein free, SF = soy free, PF = peanut free, TNF = tree nut free. Wow. So much avoided and so yummy. You’ll notice the calories indicated, but I save my explanation for the end. Ignore for now. Instead, hooray for the Smorables’ ingredients list! It is 2 ingredients short of completely recognizable and therefore very body friendly. Points.

Next, we assemble the most important filling selection: the chocolate. I think these mini chunks taste terrific melted and even beat the usual. Once again, an ingredient list you can read. Comparison…

We have 3 squares chocolate per smore. I like a ratio of 2 parts graham to 1 part chocolate. Flambe marshmallow just bonds the two together of course. Hehe. One importance thing to notice is that Enjoy Life offers chocolate without dairy, nuts, or soy. Huge deal. Huge.

FINALLY the critical marshmallow. Your typical marshmallow is full of crazy.

And not just that crazy. You know there are crazy ingredients in them. However, a nice little switch in labels means the same great taste, the same results can be had, BUT made from natural ingredients. Marshmallows that love your bod. Is not life so good today?

Alright. A nommy set of smores for us. What about this calories business, right? Perhaps you could care less about the calories, but my calorie notes serve a purpose. Those calories indicate how much of your intake comes from that product. If the calories are majority junk, then your treats are needlessly bad for you. It’s the holidays! Let’s indulge in really good stuff. 🙂 Our waistlines can jiggle from laughter all year round since we made smores and could enjoy them too!

Q: Do you have any other ideas for using these marshmallows, grahams, or chocolate pieces? I do!

*images: Smorables, Honeymaid, graham crackers, marshmallows pink, Elyon marshmallow & cartoon, Jet Puff, smore pics, Hershey, Enjoy Life, mini chunks