Happy New Year! #2016

New Year's Black Eyed peas

Happy New Year!!! Wishing everyone a #happy, #healthy and #bountiful 2016! New Year’s Day for Brett & me is all about football (because yesterday wasn’t enough) and eating “traditional foods” for good luck, health and prosperity!

Black-eyed pea salad (for #goodluck), greens (for #money and #prosperity) and pork/crumbled bacon (for #progress). Although we’ve been making black-eyed pea dishes for New Year’s Day for a long time – the idea of making the black-eyed pea salad first and letting it sit overnight, then using it in a soup came from @portuguesecooking cookbook’s recipe, which is absolutely perfect for today. And if you’ve got a lot of Hoppin’ John left over – a great way to use it is to turn it into a soup! Add some #homemade broth, greens, a little rice, crumbled bacon and whatever spices that make you happy.

Benji Dog

We had an interesting year with some great strides, deep personal reflection, challenges, and sadly we said goodbye to our sweet little Benji dog- my first true fur baby – at 12 years. I so deeply miss my poofy bear. Cassidy is on heart meds but doing well for the most part. So I’m grateful for her good days and sassy personality when it kicks in! We haven’t been able to entertain and have people over because she won’t tolerate strangers anymore and I don’t want her to have a heart attack, so she gets our full attention and love. I’m super okay with that. She is way more important to me! Old sweet sick dog just needs to sleep a lot.

Old Cassidy on my Lap

One of the things that I’m really proud of this year was that I started actively blogging about our food choices and menu plans. We cooked almost every meal at home, made veggie dishes for Meatless Monday, lots of salads and drastically reduced our food waste. I can’t even think of one thing we threw away this year except for some funky chicken I didn’t get into the freezer before it went bad (I do wish we had curbside compost for the inedible veggie waste, though).

Here are my most liked Instagram posts from 2015: Burrito Bowls, Meatless Monday dishes, Eggplant Chicken Parmesan and Salads!!!! #2015bestnine

Top Nine

I was forced to start cooking at home because of my incredibly sensitive system and we really enjoyed it once we got the hang of it. We took in a lot less salt, sugar and processed foods. We’ve still enjoyed the amazing Austin food scene, too. We joined the Wheatsville Food Co-Op so we could find affordable local organic food and lots of gluten free, dairy free, casein free products.

Menu planning was key because we don’t have money to burn and want to prevent food waste. Since we are cooking every night it really helps to have a plan, albeit a flexible plan. If  I went to a farmer’s market and bought a bunch of organic veg, I probably wouldn’t be able to cook it all or preserve it before it goes bad. So making a menu plan really helped me decide what I needed to buy and how to use it all up – so purchasing an entirely organic fresh local veggie basket doesn’t break the bank.

And I’m really happy that neither one of us got really sick this year (and I didn’t fall and hurt myself again) which is pretty incredible to be perfectly honest because it’s the first time in like 10 years. Plus my brain and digestive system are finally working well!? Besides food, I think the concrete floors make a huge difference (versus carpet or wood) and we stopped using industrial chemicals to clean. It’s all vinegar, baking soda, Dr. Bronner’s and a little bleach when necessary. Using chemicals used to give me the worst headaches and mess up my system for a couple days so we stopped. I hope next year to be genetically tested for so much, too!

So if you are looking for another productive New Year’s resolution, I would highly recommend focusing on what you eat and cooking at home more often than eating out. I highly recommend watching In Defense of Food on PBS (available online) by Michael Pollan and team. And then look through some of our menus from the last year, or the Salad Love photo gallery and recipes. We’ve really tried to take comfort food favorites (like buffalo wings) and keep the flavors we all love but remove all the bad stuff – like saturated fats and sugar (and for me gluten, casein, dairy) – while adding in fiber and veggies so it turns into a delicious Buffalo Sauce Chicken Salad! Healthified gluten free comfort food! 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Salad

It’s all about eating the best we can. I wish you the best year and look forward to getting to know you all even better! Happy 2016! ?

Deana Larkin Evans

Hi! I’m Deana. This food blog is all about cooking wholesome real food and developing gluten free recipes for some of our favorite comfort foods. I also create weekly menus to save time and money while reducing stress and food waste. I had to start eating gluten-free in 2010 and dairy/casein-free (except for the occasional Parmesan or goat cheese) in 2014. I’m kind of a science nerd, too. In the ’90s, I earned an undergrad degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Hook ’em! Then followed up with a PhD in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of Houston. I recently earned a certificate in genomics/sequence analysis from Johns Hopkins University, where I also took a very cool food microbiology course.

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