The Results of My 10-Day Yoga Challenge

Fitness, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

The Results of My 10-Day Yoga Challenge

6 Comments 11 August 2016

Clearly, I overestimated my newly found mindfulness, because on Saturday morning, hours after finishing Day 5 of my 10-Day Yoga Challenge, I looked down at my feet and didn’t recognize the flip flops I was wearing. They did look very similar to the ones I wore to yoga earlier that morning, same color, same style, and they fit rather comfortably. But there was a little pizazz to the stitching that I didn’t remember noticing before. At first I thought, “Wow, look at me honing my focus to such little details. Yoga is really increasing my awareness.” But upon further investigation, I realized that in my post-class reverie, I had slipped on someone else’s shoes. I feel terrible for the person who walked home or hopefully just hobbled to their car barefooted, which they must have done, because when I went back to the closed studio, there were my flip flops waiting for me outside the door.

If you missed my last post, I’m attempting 10 consecutive day of yoga at Power Yoga Buffalo while away from New York for the summer. Why? You’ll have to read that post which covers Days 1-5.

The first 5 days felt eternal. I was constantly sore, every class seemed never-ending, and I couldn’t help but come out of poses early in order to prevent total muscle failure that would have resulted in me collapsing to the floor. After every class I felt relief that it was over and thought that maybe that would be my last class, but as the day went on I started looking forward to the next one.

Days 6-10 were definitely hard, but each day I felt victorious instead of relieved at the end of class. I didn’t just endure and let it happen. I actually did the practice. The soreness started to melt away, and I became less intimidated by certain poses. Sitting in chair pose no longer felt like torture. I started to flow through transitions, albeit while wobbling, from one pose to another instead of seeing each pose as a separate challenge.

On Day 6 I found my people. My people show up on Sunday mornings at 7:00 when the 20-somethings with the cute yoga butts are at home sleeping off their Saturday nights. But Sunday mornings my people show up. They’re the ones who snuck out of the house before the kids woke up. They’re the ones who are squeezing in 75 minutes for themselves before they haul everyone to church and then cook brunch for the family. They don’t have tatoos or the most stylish yoga gear. But these people work hard. On Day 6, we smoked it.

Day 7 needed to happen at the non-summery hour of 6am in order for me not to break my streak. I had a few things scheduled throughout the day, and believe me, if I could’ve chosen another time, I would have. But I’m actually glad I went that early. I liked these people, too. I am these people. They rolled out of bed, just like I did, but now they will head to work feeling like the hardest part of their day is over. That’s exactly how I felt when I taught 6am spin class. After conquering that mountain, I could do anything. Bring it, Day.

What are the chances I can find a 6am yoga class in New York?

Day 8. The reason I had to take the 6am class on Day 7 was that my sister-in-law invited me to a BodyPump class at her YMCA. I adore BodyPump almost as much as I adore my sister-in-law, so there was no way I was going to turn this offer down. I used to be a certified BodyPump instructor and loved teaching it in that terrified love sort of way, but I hadn’t taken a BodyPump class in about a year because it’s not easy to find in the City. If I had kept up with it even as a participant I would not be the weak-armed, 40-something woman that I am today.


If you have a gym nearby that offers BodyPump. GO to it. You will find that strong self that you forgot was there.

I assumed I would feel the way I always feel when I lift weights for the first time after weeks/months of weightliftinglessness. Like Wile E. Coyote flattened at the bottom of a canyon by that huge boulder that inevitably caught up with him. But something incredible happened in that class on Day 8. Power yoga completely erased any potential soreness from Body Pump. I kept waiting for that delayed onset muscle soreness, which happens to my body like clockwork 36 hours after asking it to do something new. It never came.


On Day 9 I started to feel a little panicky. I only had two days left. And after that I’ll purchase another week, and then it will be over! I will be leaving Buffalo and this adorable little studio. I was already starting to miss it. Now that I know about this, how am I going to get on without it?

Day 10 was a powerful class. There wasn’t anything drastically different from what we normally do, but it was a powerful class because I felt powerful. There’s a lot of repetition in power yoga. The flow is repeated, poses are held multiple times, and it’s easy to get lost in the “one more time” mentality. In fact, on Day 9 the only way to keep my mind present was to count the vinyasas. We did 32.

My instructor uses a phrase that I’ve come to love. “You’ve never been in this warrior before…you’ve never been in this chair pose before….” Even though we’ve done it 10 times already today? Even though. This one is brand new. What does this do for me? It gets me out of my head, out of my preconceived notions about what I’ve done before and what I am capable of today. Yesterday’s successes and failures do not define me now. And this reminder pushes me to do my best. Be my best. Open myself up to new possibilities. This is something that I can take with me.

  • I’ve never taught this lesson before.
  • I’ve never run these 3 miles before.
  • I’ve never had this day ahead of me before.
  • I’ve never had this conversation before.
  • I’ve never had this opportunity to love this person before.
  • I’ve never experience this moment before.

If this had been the only thing I’d learned from this yoga challenge it would’ve been enough. But after 10 days of power yoga, here are my other takeaways:

  • Showing up is half the battle.
  • Breath is power.
  • I’m stronger than I think.
  • Being present on my mat spills over to being present in my life.
  • There is no such thing as a yoga body.
  • I need to make yoga a priority in NYC.

And in just 10 short days I’ve noticed these surprising little benefits too:

  • Defined arm and leg muscles
  • Tighter abdominals
  • Better posture
  • Deeper sleep
  • Improved flexibility
  • More positive attitude
  • Increased patience (confirmed by the Husband)
  • Disappearance of “age” aches and pains
  • Brighter complexion
  • A sense of gratefulness

Buffalo friends, give Power Yoga a try! I’ll join you there every time I’m in town!

Readers, dish!

  • NYC friends, do you have a studio to recommend?
  • In what area of your life can you remind yourself that you’ve never done this one before?
  • What positive effects do you experience from exercise?
Summer Goals and a 10-Day Yoga Challenge

Fitness, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

Summer Goals and a 10-Day Yoga Challenge

7 Comments 06 August 2016

Summer flies when you’re a teacher  Most people think we have 3 months off, but we really only have two. I know. Cry me a river, right? But you really do want us to have two months away from your children. Those 2 months are why we can welcome your kids back to school in the fall with genuine excitement and pour every last ounce of energy and creativity that we rebuilt over the summer into teaching them for another 10 months. By June, we are exhausted and running on the fumes of a distant memory when we passionately decided to change the world one student at a time.

Summer is also time for taking care of things that we let slide during the school year. Things like healthy eating, visiting family, decluttering cupboards, reading books above a fifth grade reading level, lunching with friends, and annual mammograms.

Summer is a great time for setting personal goals. Teachers are required to set goals. We have professional goals that we discuss with our principals, class goals that set tone and expectations, learning goals for each unit, individual student goals that can be educational, behavioral, or social. We are so driven by goals that when I have a few weeks without a goal I feel a little rudderless. I’m really not sure if I could function for two entire months without a goal of some sort.

One of my summer goals is to get back to my yoga practice. I have never been a yogi. When I taught fitness classes, I made sure to attend a yoga class or whip out a Baron Baptiste Yoga in a Box once a week. With all of my spinning, running, BodyPump, and sculpting classes I needed yoga to keep any kind of flexibility. But when I moved to New York, yoga was the first things to drop off my fitness plate. Then lifting weights soon followed. Now I’m lucky if I run or spin 3-4 days each week.

Yoga back in the day

Yoga in my favorite place

So enter this character in the Summer of 2016. Not the character pictured above. Enter a weak-armed, 40-something woman with the memory of yoga being a nice challenge that was pretty great for you. I needed to find a yoga studio.

Each summer we spend about a month out of the city. It’s refreshing to temporarily re-enter suburban life and remind ourselves that there is normalcy in rest of the country. Driving to the grocery store instead of walking seems a luxury. Buying a full cart of groceries, not limiting my purchases to whatever will fit in my backpack and two grocery bags, one for each hand. Wheeling that cart to the car, or better yet, having a clerk wheel it out for me. Then driving the groceries to the house where I unload directly into the kitchen which is 10 steps from the front door. Suburban normalcy.

I expected to have to drive to a yoga studio in the burbs, but to my surprise, there is a Power Yoga Studio literally at the end of the street where we’re staying. So in quintessential NYC form, I strapped on my yoga bag and walked a block to this studio.

They have a new student special consisting of 10 consecutive days for $20. It doesn’t take a Common Core math teacher to figure out that this is an incredible deal. Obviously the deal is sweeter if I go all 10 days. Two dollars per class? You can’t find that in NYC.

Motivated by a good deal, my goal began to clarify. Could I go to power yoga for 10 days in a row? Power yoga translates to hard and fast, and I’m coming from a base of zero. And it’s a 75 minute class in a 90 degree studio. That doesn’t sound too terribly bad, especially when it’s about 95 degrees outside. That’s what I told myself anyway. But I sweat while sitting on my mat waiting for class to start.

Don’t forget that the character in this story is a weak-armed, 40-something woman with the memory of yoga being a nice challenge that was pretty great for you. 

Her memory…


Yoga with a beach view

Well, I started the deal and tentatively set my 10-day goal.

Day 1 was a wake up call. I know that for some reason, whenever I get back into yoga after a period of yogalessness, I have to be careful how much time I spend upside down. A simple downward-facing dog will cause my head to pound so hard that blood vessels burst in my face. I learned this the hard way, by pushing through the discomfort. Pushing through and not listening to your body is very non-yogalike. So I warned the instructor that I’d need to come out of most inversions early. I flowed. I bent. I twisted. I held. I tried not to think about the 20-somethings with cute little butts who made it look so easy. I flowed some more. I wobbled. I warriored. I warriored so many times I wondered if she forgot the rest of the sequence. My face felt like it was going to explode each time I went down, I took breaks, and I made it through. I was so glad that I thought to bring my yoga towel left over from that Groupon package that one month I tried Bikrim. Beads of sweat dotted every inch of my flesh from the start. I left drenched but with my complexion in tact, and I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to move the next morning.

Day 2 hurt to get out of bed, as expected. But I went. And it was so hard! I had no idea one’s arms could shake like that.

Yoga Text


And this text pretty much sums up my intention not to continue with my goal.

Yoga Text 2

Specifically the “Bahahahahaha!”

But I went back on Day 3 for Power Yoga Hour. This meant that the class was literally an hour, a 60 minute class instead of the 75 that I had been doing. Choosing this class was the only way I could convince myself that I might be able to make it through the third day in a row. It would be shorter.

There are no clocks in a yoga studio. Why aren’t there clocks in a yoga studio??? For teachers whose days are run by the clock with every minute accounted for, time is a huge part of the day. We are constantly looking and checking the clock. Are we on schedule, behind schedule, miraculously ahead of schedule? Do I need to modify the lesson to get to Gym on time? Are they glazing over because they’ve been in their seats too long? How long have Suzie and Sally been in the bathroom? Even outside of school I’m addicted to the clock. I just need to know what time it is. I do have an uncanny ability to guess within minutes the time at any given moment. But then again it could just be that I checked 5 minutes ago.

There are no clocks in this yoga studio, but because of my ability to feel the minutes tick by I knew that this class was soon coming to an end. It just had to be almost over. I was drenched. I was spent. But it kept going. And I kept going. I reached the point where I wondered if the next chaturanga dandasana would be interrupted by a face plant on my mat, because I had no strength left to prevent it. Each vinyasa became a prayer, please don’t let me hit my face, please don’t let me hit my face. The first thing I did after class ended, after I dragged my limp body out of the studio to gather my belongings, was to check the clock. 75 minutes! That hour was not an hour at all! I felt tricked.

Something started to happen the afternoon of Day 3. I had an itch on my upper arm and felt something. Not a bug or a loose hair. It was a bump, the beginning of a muscle where my atrophied tricep used to be. I could actually feel my tricep again! Now mind you it was sore to the touch, but it was there! And walking up stairs I had this feeling like a cute yoga butt was in the making.

Day 4. I dreaded this class more than Day 2 and 3 put together, because I felt soreness with every step as I walked to class. Climbing the stairs I felt fatigued and out of breath. But I was also excited. I was getting stronger, and those extra suggestions like “and now you can try firefly” or “pop up into a headstand” or “flip your dog” didn’t cause my eyes to roll. They just hung in the air as a maybe. Not today, but maybe at some point.

Yoga is supposed to quiet the mind. But I find that my mind is still as active as ever. Here are a few things that were on my mind on Day 4:

(In plank) I can watch sweat drip off my forehead and onto my mat directly in line with my hands. I wonder if that means my alignment is on. Or off.

It must really hurt to get a foot tatoo.

There’s an ant crawling on that girl’s mat! (Girl effortlessly jumps from rag doll back to plank.) No! Little ant!! Did she smush him? Oh, there he is under the edge of her mat. Close one, buddy.

“Leg parallel to the floor.” I must be close. (I check myself.) Nope, nowhere near.

Please don’t let me hit my face.


How many of these are we going to do?

Please don’t let me hit my face.

No way! I did it!! (Wobble. Fall.)

How can my heart be pounding like this when I’m just standing still?

Do I feel so good after class because I spend an hour sweating out toxins or because this torture is finally over?

Leaving it on the mat

Interestingly, I haven’t once thought about what I needed to do that day, school, or things I should be doing but have been putting off. So at least my thoughts were truly in the moment even if I hadn’t reached that quiet space yet.

Then today, Day 5, happened. I had to get up summer early to fit in a class before Saturday’s activities. I woke up without feeling debilitatingly sore. I walked the quiet streets of the suburbs, recognizing that my city neighborhood would already be buzzing with dogs on leashes heading to the park, bead-headed dads stumbling into bodegas for coffee, and women in spandex heading to various fitness studios. Here, I was the only person on the street passed by an occasional car.

Laying on my mat before class, already feeling the sweat beads forming, there was no indication that this class would be any different than the 4 previous days. I scoped out a few people with watches and wondered if I’d be able to sneak peeks to gauge the progress of the class.

And then it started. I moved, I embraced the struggle of holding poses, I flipped my freakin’ dog! I noticed things about my movements that weren’t clear before. My balance was more steady. I realized that if I engaged my legs during chaturanga there was no fear of a face plant. Don’t hear me say that it was easy. It was easy like running 10 miles is easy when you’re training for a marathon. But it no longer felt like running 10 miles when I hadn’t run in a year. And at one point I realized that I wasn’t thinking about anything. I even tried to think of something that might distract me, and I couldn’t. Nothing else really mattered in that moment but the practice. Could yoga be the answer to taming the rat on the exercise wheel in my head?

We shall see!

Readers, dish!

  • Do you practice yoga?
  • What kind of yoga do you like?
  • How do you bring your mind back to your practice?
  • What are your summer goals?


Gluten-Free Vegan Eats and Blogger Re-Entry

GF Recipes, Gluten-Free, Healthy Living, New York City, Raw Foods, Vegan

Gluten-Free Vegan Eats and Blogger Re-Entry

7 Comments 11 June 2016

I can’t tell you how envigorating it is to be back in the blogging world. I drifted away from Gluten-Free Cat with the busyness of a new life in a new city after feeling blog burnout. To be back on my own terms is refreshing. My own terms may mean two posts one week and then not again for three. It may also mean being content with the one blurry snapshot of a dish that I took with my iPhone or a less than ideal “plating”. It most definitely means trying to capture as much natural light as possible on my windowsill and being content with the ugly metal window frame in every shot you’ll ever see.

But the best outcome has been reconnecting with blogging friends. I pretty much didn’t read a blog for about two years. I’m not entirely sure why a break in blogging meant a break in reading others’ blogs, but I think I suddenly saw myself as an outsider. Out of sight out of mind was easier. Reading blogs as a non-blogger was a bit on the depressing side too. I saw the incredible things these bloggers were doing and felt wistfully jealous. Even though my cooking time had been cut to nearly none, which is normal for New Yorkers, the rare times that I did cook would frustrate me. So when I read a blogger’s recipe, I knew I wouldn’t have time or space to make it. It was easier not to read about it.

Waking up Gluten-Free Cat (which sounds like a musical title) has reminded me of the talent, beauty, and deliciousness that’s only a few finger taps away. I definitely read blogs differently than I did before. I can enjoy the story behind the food without being hung up on circumstances outside of my control. And I’m finding that there’s more that I can do in my kitchen than I originally thought.

Like this Chocolate Chia Berry Crunch that I had for breakfast yesterday. The base is Gena’s Carob Chia Pudding using raw cacao instead of carob, sprinkled with buckwheaties, which I also learned to make years ago from Gena’s blog. By the way, did you know that her blog has a new name? (I’m sure it’s old news to many of you.) She changed it from Choosing Raw to The Full Helping. Whether you’re a vegan or not, your life can only be healthier and more full by reading her blog.


And as an example of blogging on my own terms, here’s the ugliest parfait ever, which I made while brushing my teeth, between spin class and school.


I didn’t actually have time to eat the ugly parfait in the classy stemless wine glass, although I did toy with the idea of wrapping it in saran wrap and bubble wrap so I could take my breakfast to school and eat it in style. But time was of the essence, so this nonbeauty was dumped into a thermos, tossed into my backpack, and thoroughly enjoyed at my desk while prepping lessons for the day. Despite the unromanticness of reality, it was delicious! The raw cacao made this pudding decadent, and the overripe strawberries tasted like the summer that is only 12 school days away, but who’s counting?

A simple, fun lunch I enjoyed recently was this Curried Chickpea and Avocado Salad by Davida of The Healthy Maven. Curry, avocado, and chickpeas are three staples in my life. Davida is the genius that put them all together in one cool salad.

Curried_chickpea salad_Gluten-Free_Cat

Don’t judge her creation by my snapshot. Look at these photos which are what made me realize I had to eat this now. Protein-rich chickpeas, curry, and avocado? Love in a pepper. I was really excited to see how Davida’s blog has blossomed in the two years that I was away. Do you love good food, fun stories, fitness, and gorgeous photography? Read The Healthy Maven.

With the heatwave we had in the City last week I was essentially existing on smoothies, handfuls of anything from a bag, and salads. I purchased sweet potatoes before the temperature rose, and they sat and shriveled because there was no way I was turning on the oven to bake them. And did I mention that was the week the air conditioner decided to die? But an oasis opened up with this Cold Almond Butter Noodle Bowl by Kimmy of Rock My Vegan Socks.


I found fresh gluten-free brown rice noodles, so I only had to boil water for 3 minutes. And the stir-frying that took just long enough to open up flavors and brown the tofu, kept the kitchen heat minimal. We enjoyed this Thai-inspired bowl for days right out of the refrigerator. Delicious!

Kimmy’s blog is a special one. I love how she shares her life with her readers along with her food adventures and creations. She invites you in, seats you at her kitchen table, and gives you a cup of tea to sip while she tells you a story. I have loved reconnecting with her. And if you want to see what a real parfait should look like, check out her latest post on Cherry Oat Parfaits.

Reader, dish!

  • What new recipes have you tried lately?
  • How often do you try new recipes?
  • Which blogs have you been enjoying lately?
  • Which of these delicious recipes are you hopping over to next?
The Glutening

GF Resources, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

The Glutening

18 Comments 24 May 2016

It began the way most of my favorite New York evenings begin. A much anticipated evening with friends, a train ride with laughter, a new restaurant selected, and theater tickets. This evening was particularly exciting, because our train was taking us out of the city to see a play starring a friend of ours. When I made these plans, I had no idea that the evening would end with a pineapple-infused cloud of impending doom hovering over my head.

The Glutening

I’m not going to slam this restaurant. I’m not even going to mention its name. Despite the fact that I was horribly glutened, the waitstaff and manager did the best they could in the moment, and they did comp the entire dinner for four.

We selected this cute little pizza joint because they had gluten-free pasta, not pizza, but pasta, and it was walking distance to the theater. My friends ordered pizza, and I ordered the gluten-free pasta. I clearly ordered gluten-free pasta. When the pizzas arrived, I assumed my pasta would follow shortly. When my friends had almost finished their pizza, I inquired about my order. “Don’t worry,” the waiter reassured. “Gluten-free pasta takes a little longer to prepare.”

I felt confidentbecause clearly the waiter remembered that I had ordered gluten-free. Clearly the staff knew enough to prepare a new pot of water instead of tossing gluten-free pasta into boiling poisonous wheat water. I sipped my wine, and minutes later a plate of pasta was placed in front of me. I didn’t even question whether this dish was mine. I was the only one without food, I had just asked about my meal, and this plate was served to ME. Clearly, it was mine.

The first bite only served to verify that this pasta was gluten free, because it was a bit chewy like bad gluten-free pasta. It wasn’t going to be a great meal, but I wasn’t going to complain. At least they offered a gluten-free option. I was a little confused about the sauce as it didn’t seem like the marinara and veggies that I’d normally order, but I had hemmed and hawed over the three vegetarian options on the menu. Maybe I didn’t realize I’d ordered a dark sauce. It was marked gluten-free, so I didn’t worry.

I ate the entire plate of pasta minus a few spoonfuls shared with those who wanted a taste. As soon as I put my fork on my cleared plate, a waitress appeared announcing, “And here’s the gluten-free pasta!”

That’s when my memory gets a little fuzzy.

I remember the waitress confirming that I’d just eaten a full plate of gluten-filled wheat pasta.

I remember involuntarily saying a word that I never say.

I remember everyone asking me, “What’s going to happen to you?”

I had no earthly idea what was going to happen to me. I hadn’t ingested that much gluten since before going gluten free 12 years ago. Was I going to get violently ill? Did I need to take the hour-long train ride home right now instead of staying for the show? Did I need to remain close to a bathroom? Was this going to get ugly and embarrassing?

I remember the waiter asking, “What can I get for you?”

He wanted to bring me more pasta on the house! That wasn’t going to make anything better. And I wasn’t going to put another piece of food in my stomach since I had no idea if the food already in there was going to stay put.

I remember the waitress suddenly realizing the severity of the issue and saying, “I will go to CVS and get whatever you need!”

I remember the Husband flying like a superhero to the manager. Their words were lost in the buzzing restaurant noise as the waitstaff swirled around my already spinning head. I just needed them to leave me alone so I could think. And within 60 seconds of hearing the news that sent this perfect New York evening careening off the magical evening track and into unknown waters, my head cleared enough to have the wisest thought of the evening.

I remembered Shirley. I had a blessed vision of Shirley. If you’ve been gluten-free for more than 12 seconds, you most likely already know Shirley of Gluten Free Easily. Shirley is the mama of the gluten-free bloggers, the teacher of newbie gluten-free eaters, and an inspiration to the gluten-free community as she demonstrates to her readers, year after year, that eating gluten free is easy, healthy, and delicious if you focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free. And I’m lucky enough to have Shirley as a friend.

The Rescue

I sent an SOS email to Shirley. Then the Husband and I walked to CVS and found this.


I’d never purchased the product before, but I was desperate to try anything that could help. The directions said to take the capsules before ingesting gluten. A little late for that, and confused as to why anyone with a gluten problem would willingly ingest gluten, but I figured it couldn’t hurt and I downed four capsules before even finishing the transaction with the cashier.

By the time we walked to the theater, my phone buzzed with a message from Shirley! With 8 minutes until the show started, my superhero Husband flew back to CVS to get Shirley’s recommended activated charcoal capsules and pineapple juice.

When was the last time that you purchased pineapple juice? At least at CVS, it still comes in a gigantic can that requires that special pointy-tipped can opener that you may remember from snack time in preschool. CVS didn’t have one of those. But the manager found a regular can opener for sale on a shelf and let the Husband borrow it to start the opening process. He ran with a semi-opened can of sticky juice to the theater parking lot.

This was the next step. Two minutes before show time, standing in the rain, we dripped the juice from the can into a water bottle so that I could smuggle it into the theater. Frustration and anxiety turned to hilarity as we realized that at this drip rate we’d be lucky to get to the show by intermission. Thankfully, my superhero made the hole a little larger with a key.


We did make the show, during which my friend wowed us all with her talent, and I slugged water and straight pineapple juice until I got home.

The Recovery

I firmly believe that Shirley’s timely answer to my frantic email took days off my recovery time. The pineapple juice provided enzymes to break down the gluten, and the activated charcoal helped to absorb it.

For the next week, my body was shock. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach. I didn’t feel like I had a digestive system at all. When I’ve been glutened in the past from cross-contamination, my biggest symptoms have been irritability, tiredness, and a brain fog that lasted a day or maybe two. This time, I felt like I had mono. I woke up exhausted after sleeping for 8-10 hours each night. Moving from the bed to the couch felt like I had just climbed a flight of stairs. The weirdest symptom I had was the sensation that my entire body was buzzing. If I had a normal job, I would have taken multiple days off. But I taught school that week through a mental haze because there was something I had to take care of each day that was beyond the scope of a substitute teacher. So I fumbled for words, lost papers in front of my face, and did the best I could to shape the minds of our future. I really can’t remember much of that week, sorry students. Thankfully I have great support teachers that helped me keep the class running.

And I had Shirley’s wise counsel ringing in my ears to take care of myself. I came home by 4:00pm each day and napped with Maggie until bedtime.


I continued taking enzymes, activated charcoal, probiotics, epsom salt baths, and I flooded my body with juices and water. Just when I was wondering if I’d ever feel like myself again, some energy and clearer thinking returned. It took six days for any improvement. I still don’t think I’m back to normal. Shirley warned me that it could take weeks, not to be discouraging, but to remind me to be patient and take time to take care of me. So I’m listening to my body, getting lots of rest, and eating well.

I want to thank my two superheroes. My number one hero is always the Husband. I’ll never forget him running to my rescue with a dripping can of pineapple juice. My number two hero is Shirley. After my brain fog lifted I remembered that Shirley wrote a post in 2011 called How to Recover After Being Glutened that you must read so you’re prepared for that inevitable moment when you will say, “What do you mean this isn’t gluten free?”

Fitness in New York City

Fitness, Healthy Living, New York City

Fitness in New York City

4 Comments 11 May 2016

Staying fit in New York is both ridiculously easy and ridiculously hard. It’s easy because there’s a gym on your way to just about everywhere, racks of CitiBikes line the streets at convenient intersections, a serious bike path parallels the Hudson River on the west side, and there’s this really huge park (you may have heard of it) called Central Park a block and a half from my apartment. Easy fitness, right?

Frisbee in the Park

Frisbee in the Park

Yoga in the Park

Yoga in the Park

But some days the City is your workout. First of all, New Yorkers walk everywhere, and with that comes challenges. Slogging through buckets of slush at intersections that rise unsuspectingly to your knee caps. Carrying grocery bags for blocks on every arm crevice from your elbows and wrists to pinky fingers. Sprinting for the subway station, because the app says your train is arriving in 60 seconds. Walking endless flights of stairs to get, well, almost anywhere, because Manhattan can only expand up or down. All of this exercise is just part of life. And there are days and weeks when just the simple act of living wipes you out, and an extra spin class or treadmill run just isn’t going to happen.

This morning, exercising was easy. Ok, a 6:00 am run before school isn’t ever really easy, but when you have this view the entire time you’re running, the pain is a little more palatable.


The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park is gorgeous any time of year, but Spring is definitely a favorite.

The Reservoir in September

The Reservoir in September

The reservoir while stretching

The Reservoir early this morning

Okay, you can do this.

Psyching myself up

And we're off

And we’re off


Finally in the groove

Reservoir 6_Gluten-FreeCat

1.66 miles of this…as many times around as you can handle


Rounding the bend



Shadow Selfie

Shadow selfie feeling accomplished

What’s the biggest obstacle to exercising that you face?

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

7 Comments 04 May 2016

I’m pretty freakin’ fortunate to have time during the school day to dash down the street for vegan gluten-free food when I don’t pack a lunch. When “dashing out” results in a meal like this, I feel pretty lucky.

Backing up… Every other school where I’ve taught has given teachers a whopping 30 minutes for lunch. And every teacher in America knows that dropping off kids at the cafeteria takes a few of those precious minutes right off the front end, especially if there are some special someones who need a little extra “support”. After walking down to the teacher’s lounge, waiting your turn at the microwave, returning an email to a parent on your phone, and trying to remember if your lesson plans are ready for the afternoon, you might be able to sit, shovel, and have a few minutes of adult conversation. After scarfing down a few bites, you zip up your half-eaten lunch mid-conversation, and you speed-walk down the hall to promptly pick up your students in order to stay on the good side of the lunch aides. Turning the corner to the buzzing cafeteria, you silently curse, or school appropriately curse aloud “oh, banana grams!” when you realize that you’ll be hopping ’til 3:30 because you didn’t factor in 90 seconds to use the restroom. Forget a mirror to check for lettuce in your teeth. No worries, your kids will find it for you. Conclusion, teachers have an average of 10.5 minutes to eat lunch.

Speeding forward… My current school gives teachers 50 blissful minutes. Just shy of an hour to heat up a lunch, eat a gigantic salad while actually chewing, make a personal call, have a conversation with a colleague, look over afternoon lesson plans, and even use the restroom. To top it all off, we are actually allowed to walk out the front door like other free Americans to spend our lunch time however and wherever we want. We can go out for lunch! And there are days, like today, when I take full advantage of that option.


Today I walked a few blocks to Juice Generation. Instead of grabbing a salad from their selection of raw food goodies, I opted for vegan sushi. The spicy mango roll with black rice, green mango, sweet potato, watermelon radish, and cayenne pepper was exactly what I needed to spruce up my lunch rut.


Washed down with “The Professional” and I was ready for an afternoon of fourth grade acrobatics.


(What is it about me that was attracted to a juice called “The Professional”? Clearly the marketing genius who came up with this name was targeting those of us who aren’t satisfied with a green juice of apple and kale. The professionals go all the way! The more greens the better!)

Thankfully I remembered I needed an afternoon snack while paying for my lunch, and I was so glad that I had looked in Juice Generation’s gluten-free vegan goodie case when I headed back to my quiet classroom after saying goodbye to my charges. This almond butter muffin was not only delicious, it supported my “highly effective” lesson planning this afternoon.

Almond butter muffin

Feeling thankful, well-fed, and highly effective, I’m calling it a day. Teachers, how long do you get for lunch? Are you allowed to leave the building?

Vegan Bowl with Creamy Mango Sauce

GF Recipes, Healthy Living, Vegan

Vegan Bowl with Creamy Mango Sauce

6 Comments 20 August 2014

Lately I’ve been all about making Vegan Bowls. I know that they’re a staple for vegans, but for some reason I’m a little late getting on board. They are actually quite simple to make.

I learned about Vegan Bowls by reading this post by Gabby of The Veggie Nook and thought, “This is brilliant! And easy. I can do this.” A vegan bowl has 4 simple ingredients: a grain, a protein, veggies, and a yummy sauce. Can you imagine just how many different combinations you could come up with? It could be as exotic as Gabby’s Warm Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad or as boring as seeing what leftover grains and veggies you have in the fridge, tossing on some beans, and saucing it up an olive oil/apple cider vinegar concoction.

Here’s a delicious Mexican Bowl that I enjoyed at New World Cafe.


The magic does seem to be in the sauce. I do love Gabby’s Cashew Cheeze sauce as well as Suzanne’s Dragon Sauce that you can find at Hello Veggie.

Recently I came across a very ripe mango that was begging to bedazzle my next vegan bowl.


So I created a Creamy Mango Sauce that we loved on this bowl filled with a quinoa/rice mixtures, chickpeas, sweet peppers, and carrots.


Creamy Mango Sauce

by Heather


  • 1 c. fresh mango
  • 1/4 c. cashews
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. gluten-free tamari
  • 1 clove of garlic


1. Place all ingredients in Vitamix or high-powered blender, and process until creamy.

2. Spoon onto your favorite vegan bowl.

Yields 1 cup

We love this sauce and hope you do too!

Readers, dish!

  • What’s your favorite vegan bowl combination?
  • What’s your favorite sauce? Please add a link, I’d love to try it!
Hummus Kitchen

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

Hummus Kitchen

7 Comments 18 April 2014

New York City has to be the easiest place to be a gluten-free vegan. Yes, I’m a lucky foodie girl. There are days that I still can’t believe I get to live here. While traipsing through the City we found this little place and decided to stop in for a snack.


Several snacks.

That turned into dinner.

With so many options it was hard to choose. The vegan items are clearly marked on the menu and many menu items are naturally gluten-free. I just ran my order past the waitress who confirmed that my choices would be safe.

Their hummus is insanely creamy and served warm. They were even kind enough to serve it with sliced veggies instead of pita bread. Now if they could make a gluten-free pita bread…


Creamy Babaganush


Mediterranean Chopped Salad


A rice and lentil dish called Majadra


Falafel served with Green Tahini


***Note: I have since read that the fryer at Hummus Kitchen is not dedicated gluten-free, which is important for those of you who are extremely sensitive. Thankfully it did not bother me.

A feast.


There are 4 Hummus Kitchen locations in New York City. I highly recommend stopping in for a plate or three.

Life After Juicing

GF Recipes, Healthy Living, Raw Foods, Vegan

Life After Juicing

12 Comments 10 February 2014

Several of you have asked me how I transitioned from a month of juicing back to solid foods. I wish I could tell you that there is a magic formula that works perfectly for every person. And that if you follow those directions precisely, all will be well. All I can give you is my plan, what actually happened, and a few tips.

I intended to ease back to solid food with smoothies, more juices, and pureed soups to slowly wake up my digestive system. Looking back, my fourth week was pretty rough. I was very ready to be finished with the New Year’s Juicing Challenge and needed more nutrients. I started pureeing bananas into my morning green juice and avocado into my evening juice. On the last few days, I used the same ingredients that I would have juiced for my Spicy Avocado Soup and made a raw soup, blending everything in my Vitamix instead of putting it through the juicer. I think these days served as my transitional days. They required my stomach to work a little harder at digesting in preparation for solid foods.

On the evening of Day 30 we went to a party hosted by two of my favorite NYC foodie friends. I came armed with a bottle of green juice and intended just to nibble a few soft foods. But when I saw that they had made the entire feast gluten free with a vegan option for every single dish, I knew that this would be my transitional meal. Thankfully every single dish was soft and easy to digest — roasted root vegetables, rice and veggies, marinated tofu and mushrooms, and guacamole. The flavors were so intensely delicious that I could barely participate in conversation.

I was a little afraid that I had overdone it and awaited a stomach ache, but it never came. I believe that pure, soft, vegan food was a great transition.

For the week after Day 30 I started each day with a smoothie like this one.


Love Smoothie recipe coming soon!

And then I turned to my blogger friends for lunch and dinner ideas. For 30 straight days, I posted about juice while salivating over the warm recipes that my friends were posting. As food bloggers, we love reading each other’s posts, but most of our time in the kitchen is spent creating our own recipes. So it’s rare that we have the time to try each other’s creations.

My transition week was filled with delicious meals thanks to some of you!


This Tomato and Red Lentil Soup with Dill by Janet of The Taste Space was perfect to take to work throughout the week. Warm and filling with the perfect amount of spice and fresh dill, it kept me singing joyfully about the wonders of cooked food again.


These Green Power Burgers by Emma of Coconut and Berries are fabulous! Made with buckwheat and edamame, they were a delicious dinner one evening and made great leftovers over salads. I loved these burgers topped with Carrie’s Pesto Hemp Dressing from Carrie on Vegan.


Are you a cauliflower fan? I am most definitely not, but I devoured this entire bowl of Tempeh and Cauliflower Pasanda by Emma of Coconut and Berries. This dish is to die for. It’s a meal to make for company.

Gabby of The Veggie Nook finished off my week of delicious meals with this Warm Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad. Rainbow quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and kale topped with a tantilizing dressing.


Speaking of dressings, Suzanne of Hello Veggie wowed us with her Vegan Grain Bowl with Dragon Sauce this week too. That sauce was so incredible that it was gone almost instantly! Fighting over the last spoonful of Dragon Sauce could get ugly, so next time I’m doubling the recipe!

Every afternoon I came home and made a green juice blended with a plain or vanilla protein powder as my afternoon snack.


Kiss Me Kale recipe coming soon!

I also turned the dehydrator on for the first time in a month and made this Zucchini Hemp Banana Bread.


I also made the BEST bread I have made to date.


It’s thick, it’s pliable, and it’s coming soon to a blog near you!

Here are my tips for transitioning from a juice cleanse back to solid food:

1. Start with smoothies and blended soups.

2. Introduce cooked, pure vegan foods.

3. Then add in raw salads and vegetables when you feel like your digestive system is ready to break them down.

4. If you eat dairy or meat, wait several days to a week before reintroducing them.

5. Keep juicing! Stay in the habit of juicing once a day, because it’s insanely good for you.

Post juicing challenge reflections:

1. I’m so glad that I did the Juicing Challenge, but I think 30 days was about 5 days too long for me. I was able to make it work, but it’s good to know my limits.

2. Juice cleansing provided me with some great results:

  • Clear complexion
  • Release from caffeine addiction
  • More connection with the hand to mouth reflex
  • Strengthened intuitive eating cues
  • Increased energy and brighter outlook
  • Resolve to keep my diet pure
  • Sharpened taste buds
  • All of my clothes fit again

3. They say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but I’d like to revise that. Nothing tastes as good as healthy tastes AND feels!

Thanks so much for your support during my challenge! I’d love to hear how you’re doing!


Readers, dish!

  • How did your juicing go?
  • How have you transitioned back to solid food after a juice cleanse?
  • What is the longest juice cleanse you’ve ever done?
  • How do you break food addictions or cravings?

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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