Gluten-Free/Allergy Free Bakery in Houston!

gluten free cupcake health coaching wellness celiac

I’m excited to share with you a great resource in the Houston area that I was not familiar with and the great news is that it is a bakery! How awesome is that?

Recently, there was a thread on our neighborhood Next Door app that and it was a lady looking to find a gluten free/allergy free bakery in the area for some children in her class who had allergies. She likes to celebrate each child’s birthday by brining in treats and needs to accommodate allergies that a couple of new children the class have. People were offering suggestions of local merchants who did gluten free cupcakes but not other allergies, and then Liberation Gluten Free Bakery came up!

Now, I am not a huge sweet eater, however, I occasionally like to bake something for either a meeting I’m going to or a party or family gathering I’m hosting at the house. I can usually make something that tastes ok but a baker I am not. Savory dishes are my deal but I am not patient enough to measure things properly as you need to when baking.

The owner of Liberation GF Bakery, Angela Winston, was kind enough to agree to talk with me today about how she started the bakery and why. Her start came from necessity as her son was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, soy and wheat. They discovered his allergies about 13 years ago as an infant when he was suffering with eczema, dermatitis and various infections.

gluten free cookies health coaching wellness celiac

I know how difficult it was to manage my diet when I was diagnosed with celiac so I can only imagine how much more challenging it is for a mom to manage their child’s condition at school, events or at a friend’s house. Angela mentioned an occasion when she and her son had gone to a friends house and her son was given a Ritz cracker and had a pretty significant reaction to it. An episode like that would certainly make you want to create your own treats to send along with him the next time he goes to visit a friend.

As she experimented with recipes and perfected them she decided to make a go of it by producing gluten free and allergy free items for others to enjoy as well and that was when Liberation GF Bakery was born about four years ago. She offers muffins, cookies, cupcakes and cakes that you can special order and tell her what allergens to avoid. Her menu list of items is expansive and includes things like Rich Chocolate Cake, Lemon Lavender and Hummingbird Cake. Delicious!

liberation wedding cake gluten free celiac wellness health coach


We talked about the challenges both children and adults can face when they have food allergies and I mentioned going to a local women’s group meeting and they serve refreshments and food at the meetings. For the first couple that I attended, there was literally nothing I could eat that was offered. I started to bring gluten free/dairy free muffins and they were a hit. Turned out that a few other ladies were also gluten free and/or dairy free and never really said anything so as not to be a bother. Angela said that sometimes “You feel you can’t eat well when you can’t have certain things and that is not the case.” She is totally right, especially now with places like Liberation GF Bakery who can do the baking for you. I’m lucky enough to be able to sample her goodies next month and cannot wait to try them.

So, if you are in the Houston area and need to find gluten free and/or allergy free baked goodies, contact Angela at ENJOY!

Tired of being tired?!?!

It’s Monday morning, the start of a fun and exciting week for me (it’s my 2nd wedding anniversary and a long holiday weekend…bonus!) and I woke up this morning, again, feeling exhausted. Why? I am one of the roughly 60 million Americans who suffer with chronic insomnia. Makes me crazy because I want to enjoy this week and feel refreshed and excited to celebrate with my husband and enjoy a little road trip this weekend.

I’ve always been a light sleeper but in the last six months or so, my sleep patterns have been, well, dismal at best. I started tracking my sleep about two months ago and I am averaging between 3.5 and 4.5 hours of sleep per night. The average person my age should get between 7-9 hours of sleep (those 18-64 years of age). So, needless to say, I am nowhere near the recommended amount needed to function like a normal person each day. It has become a source of frustration and irritation and the more upset I get about not sleeping, the harder I find it to get to sleep. Sound familiar?

You may have heard or read about Arianna Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post and best-selling author) had an experience several years ago where she was burning the candle at both ends and was so exhausted that she passed out and fell, hitting her face on the desk and she broke her cheekbone. Pretty drastic. She then made it her mission to share with others the importance of sleep. She asserts, in her book, Sleep Revolution, that what the world needs is nothing short of a sleep revolution. Even more than that, she shows that it is not just vital for our health but it is also a critical part of being able to actually reach our goals and be successful…smart lady.

tired insomnia sleep training coach help

What makes me even more crazy about not sleeping is that I teach my clients that that very thing, that sleep is one of the most important things they can give their body to be healthy. I believe that in my heart of hearts, yet I cannot seem to get my own body to sleep the way it should. The effect that it has had on me is that I am always tired and fatigued, my cognitive function is not nearly as sharp or accurate as it normally is and it makes me a bit short-tempered and crabby which is really not like me.

Taking matters into my own health coaching hands, I set out to put in practice all of the holistic things I share with my clients to help them sleep. Make sure to have the atmosphere and temperature in your room set to be cool, wear a sleep mask to help keep the room dark, use a diffuser with lavender essential oils next to my bed to help induce relaxation, etc. Nothing for me has worked, until now.

After meeting with two sleep specialists here in Houston, I finally found one that got it. She talked with me for nearly an hour to determine what had been going on in my life that may have changed my sleep patterns. Together, we eliminated sleep apnea or any kind of obstructive disorder. We then determined that my issue is not being able to turn my brain off at night when it’s time to sleep. I am against taking any kind of sleep medications as a solution as they addictive and downright dangerous long-term. We’ll get into that more later.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a Sleep Summit with a plethora of experts in health, nutrition and sleep. I was curious as to why there were so many nutritional experts on the schedule, but now it all makes sense. Your sleep is directly related to, not only your environmental influences but also nutritional ones. Sleep will never be completely effective and beneficial unless both components are working together.

So, I am now participating in a program called It is an online program for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. What is that you ask? Well, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. I was very excited to find a solution that does not include medications and one that I can do from my home.

sleep training insomnia health coach shuti

What does the program entail? Well, it is a six week course that helps to track your daily sleep with sleep diaries. Once a week of diaries is completed, it then analyzes the amount of sleep you average per night, what time you got in to bed, what time you fell asleep, how often/how long you woke up during the night and then what time you way up in the morning. The average number of hours of sleep you get that first week then determines your program for Week 2 which is to restrict sleep to the average number of hours from Week 1 and then use that to determine your time to bed and time to wake. For example, I averaged 5 hours per night in Week 1 and I wake up (normally and without an alarm) every morning at 5:30am. So, I now cannot go to sleep before 12:30am! Holy crap. The adjustment to stay up until 12:30am when I normally get into bed at 10:00pm is challenging but I am sticking with it.

sleep training insomnia shuti coach

The theory is that by limiting the time you spend in bed, you will train your brain to really sleep during those 5 hours instead of tossing and turning between 10:00pm and 12:30am trying to fall asleep. It’s an interesting theory and, over the course of the next six weeks, I will update you as to my progress and how the program works.

I wanted to share all of this with you as I know that so many people struggle with sleep and sleeping well. As I go through this process, I will share the different tips and tricks that I learn to help you and others learn to sleep better. You’ll learn about how gut health relates to better sleep, how environmental issues like proximity to electrical currents can impact your sleep and that the notion of sleep deprivation is a “badge of honor” proving to the world that you are working harder than anyone else really is counter-productive.

Please share your stories with me about your experience with sleep deprivation or insomnia. If I can provide any particular ideas or solutions for you, I’d love to be able to do so. For now, I am a student working toward a full night of sleep. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, I will graduate to an eight hour night of zzzz’s!

My Garbanzo Bean Obsession!

Foodie Friday, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, garbanzo beans

In my never ending search for healthy foods and snacks, I have discovered a new one that I am totally obsessed with….Chickpeas!

Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo Beans are members of the legume family. Legumes also include beans, peanuts, soybeans (also one of my favorites) and lentils. Good news…garbanzo beans have some great health benefits when you consume them regularly and here is how you will benefit by eating them.

Garbanzos contain about 15 grams of protein and, since it is a legume, it is a great source of vegetarian-friendly protein! They are a source of incomplete protein though so you will want to eat them in addition to eating other proteins like nuts, whole grains, eggs and meat (if you are not vegetarian) so your body will get enough amino acids to feed your body’s tissues properly.

Also good for colon health, garbanzos have a good amount of dietary fiber. This is important because it will help to control your blood sugar level, it helps to slow down digestion and helps to keep you regular. I like the fact that it helps to control blood sugar levels since I was recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic and look for all of the foods that won’t give me a big blood sugar spike. A cup of cooked garbanzo beans will give you about 12.5 grams of fiber which is half of the recommended daily intake for women.

Good for both brain health, protection against genetic mutations that may cause cancer development and helpful for bone development, these little nuggets are loaded with both folate and manganese. Manganese is also important to maintain your metabolism as it carries out a chemical reaction that is an essential part of the metabolic process. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps with new cell growth and is an important component for pregnant women for healthy baby development.

Garbanzos are versatile as well. If you don’t want to mess with soaking them and cooking them yourselves, you can find them canned and they are easy to then sprinkle onto a salad, incorporate into Indian dishes like Chana Masala or put them into some soup. What I did for today’s post was make a crunch snack out of them.

Foodie Friday, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, garbanzo beans

Crunchy Garbanzos
4 cups of dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the garbanzo beans in cool water overnight. Drain and rinse them then add to a pot full of water. Bring water and beans to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook for 2 hours. Drain the beans and put into a mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans. Take all the seasonings and mix them together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the beans to your desired seasoning level. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Stir them up and turn them over so they will cook evenly. Increase the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until they start to get a nice crunch to them. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Store in an airtight container.

Eat them as they are for a great snack or sprinkle them onto a salad! You have a healthy, crunchy, spicy snack that provides great flavor and energy. ENJOY!

Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup – Gluten Free

Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup Gluten Free recipe

So last night, I was in the mood for a light and delicious dinner and was kind of crazy Chinese food but was way to lazy to go and pick it up (our neighborhood has NO delivery food service, can you believe it?) I know, it is weird.

So, I took at look at what I had in the fridge and pantry and decided on Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup!
It was flavorful and comforting but still light enough for a hot summer evening. I hope you will try the recipe and let me know how you like it!

Chinese Corn, Shrimp and Mushroom Soup

6 cups low-sodium organic beef broth
1/2 pound of large shrimp (de-veined, and peeled)
1 large can of Chinese baby corn nuggets (or regular and just cut up yourself)
1 large can of straw mushrooms
1 can of diced water chestnut
1 bundle of asian rice noodles (I used the Haiku brand and the bundle is about 38g)
1 tablespoon of minced ginger (I like a lot of ginger but you can use a teaspoon and be fine)
1/4 cup of Tamari
1/4 cup of GF Mongolian BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon of siracha sauce
1 bunch of scallions (use white and light green diced small and add to pot) greens for garnish

Bring the broth to a boil. Add in the corn, mushrooms, scallions and water chestnut to the broth. Add in the ginger, Tamari, BBQ sauce and siracha and stir until well mixed. Reduce heat to medium and add in the noodles. Allow the noodles to cook in the broth for approximately 3 minutes or until they are tender. At the same time you add in the noodles, add in the shrimp. Taste and decide if you need to add any salt or more Tamari or siracha…totally depends on your palate.

Gluten and dairy free recipe rice noodles

Sprinkle the green diced scallion on top of the soup when you serve it. (I took the photo before I put the scallions on which is why you don’t see them…sorry!)

If you want the soup to be a bit more hearty, you can add in some firm tofu or if you don’t like shrimp you can substitute chicken or cup up pieces of fish. I would cook those ahead of time and just add in at the end to warm them up. ENJOY!

National Grab Some Nuts Day

Mixed nuts

Today we celebrate National Grab Some Nuts Day! It is a cute little holiday that no one is really sure of its origin. So, we will just go with the fact that nuts are good for you so, why not grab some for a great afternoon snack?

I love nuts and usually have some kind of nuts sitting at my desk when I feel a bit hungry but do not want to eat a full meal. Today’s nut of choice is the Blue Diamond smoked almonds! I know, they have a lot of salt on them, but i don’t eat that much sodium throughout the day so the small handful that I have of nuts won’t be harmful.

Here are some health benefits of nuts:
* Packed with protein
* Rich in unsaturated fatty acids (good for your heart – lowers the “bad” cholesterol)
* High in Omega-3 fatty acids
* High in fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine (makes arteries flexible and helps them to
be less prone to developing blood clots)

Nuts are relatively inexpensive and easy to pack and take with you anywhere.

Some nut are a little better for you than others. A good portion size is a small handful or about 1 1/2 ounces of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Roasted chestnuts have the least amount of fat at 0.6 grams and dry roasted macadamia nuts have the highest at 21.6 grams. Try some of the nuts in the middle of the road like cashews, almonds and pistachios…all somewhere between 12-15 grams of fat.


Want to make a super easy nut butter? Here is how you do it.

1 cup of toasted almonds
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of honey
Dash of cayenne pepper

Pop the almonds in a food processor. Process on high until the ground almonds begin to form a dough-like ball. Don’t be alarmed if your food processor gets overheated. When it seems like your processor may be getting taxed, stop for a few minutes and then begin again. Slowly drizzle the oil over the almonds and then add the honey and cayenne pepper. Continue the process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. If you do not want the honey and pepper, you can leave them out. If you need a bit more oil, drizzle in a little more until you get a nice smooth consistency.

Store it in an airtight container and I put mine into the fridge to keep it a bit longer. It is best when eaten within a week. Great to dip with apples or celery and also nice on a rice cake or some gluten free bread! You can follow the same recipe and process with many kinds of nuts so experiment and see which one you like best. ENJOY