Valentine’s Day Thumbprint Cookies

So… It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I wanted to share these amazing thumbprint cookies with you! This past week, in Jersey, we had a pretty big snow storm and I was unable to get into the office. Since it was the first snow storm this year, it was quite exciting! I am still basically a kid and snow days excite me a little too much ;).  I had been experimenting in the kitchen with these cookies for a while and figured that since Valentine’s Day was coming up, it was the perfect time to finish them up and post them!  It was seriously within a few hours after making them that T and I were left looking at each other like, “WHERE did they go!!?!??”.  I am all about clean cookies – basically anything delicious made without sugar that I can eat without feeling guilty. Not to mention, the side effects I experience when I do eat sugar and its addictive qualities. For these cookies, the base is almond flour and there’s no added refined sugar but just a few other simple ingredients. They are delicate and smooth in texture but have so much flavor with the raspberry preserves!  I know you will love them!
As far as Valentine’s Day goes, it’s an annual tradition that T has always surprised me with a special date night. I always know when we are going, just not where :). While it’s kind of unfortunate that this year it falls on a Tuesday, we are going to save our date night for this coming weekend. There’s just something about going out mid-week that disinterests me. I am always exhausted after a long day at work and also stick to pretty set weekday meal plan, where I prefer to enjoy myself on the weekend.  I will have to wait to share what our date looks like this weekend! πŸ™‚
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
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  1. 2 1/2 cups super-fine almond flour
  2. 1/4 cup organic raw honey
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 2 tbsp almond butter
  6. 2 tbsp grassfed butter (melted)
  7. 1 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/4 tsp himalyan sea salt
  9. Raspberry preserves (I used Stonewall Kitchen - no sugar added)
  1. In one bowl, add dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, add wet ingredients, excluding the preserves, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with mixer until smooth. Be careful not to over-mix.
  4. Chill dough in refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Once the dough is chilled, remove from refrigerator and make small balls (about the size of a nickel), with an indentation in the center (about the size of a pencil eraser - I used the end of a utensil). **These cookies expand in the oven so I prefer to make them small!
  6. Fill the indentation with jam.
  7. Cook for 14-15 minutes or until they start to brown.
  8. Enjoy!!
Alyssa Grieco

It’s Beginning to look alot like Christmas + Orange-Cran Loaf {Paleo,GF}

Happy Friday everyone!! One of the things I love most is preparing early for the holidays.  I find we get to enjoy them the most when we prepare ahead of time and keep it stress-free!  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of the busyness of getting last minute gifts and all the baking that goes into the holidays.  We often forget the real meaning of Christmas and to sit back and ENJOY this awesome time of year!

While I love living close to family so we can spend the holidays with both my side of the family and my husbands, we also enjoy being home on Christmas morning to enjoy each other’s company and a nice, cozy Christmas brunch.  This tradition started when I was a child and ever since, I have loved putting it together for T and I so that we could continue this tradition with our own family!

One of our brunch staples is the Sausage and Egg Strada (option to make it gluten-free) I posted last year.  This is a personal favorite of mine that I’ve been making for years!  We only make it on Christmas Day so it is definitely something we look forward to each year.  This year I am adding another delicious staple which is a Paleo, Gluten-Free Orange-Cranberry Loaf!  I find this to be a light bread that doesn’t leave you feeling heavy all day.  It is sooo flavorful, I am literally obsessed! I think the best part of it is that is is free of refined sugar.  So many holiday breakfasts are full of sugar and having sugar in the morning makes me feel sick all day! Of course, we both eat these dishes in moderation as there is just so much food around the holidays!
Orange-Cranberry Loaf {GF, Paleo}
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  1. 2 Β½ cups almond flour
  2. 2 tsp baking powder
  3. ΒΎ tsp baking soda
  4. ΒΌ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  5. 1/3 cup organic honey
  6. 1/3 cup grass-fed butter (plus some to grease the bread pan)
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 cup chopped cranberries
  9. Β½ tbsp vanilla extract
  10. ΒΌ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  11. Zest of one large orange
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease loaf pan with butter and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a hand-mixer. After about a minute, add in the other wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
  4. In another bowl mix the dry ingredients, saving half of the orange zest until later. Stir.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing.
  6. Add the chopped cranberries slowly and stir until they are dispersed throughout.
  7. Slowly pour into loaf pan.
  8. Add the rest of the orange zest to the top of the bread.
  9. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Alyssa Grieco
Earlier this month, while out and about doing our shopping, we stopped into Pier 1 and found the most beautiful place settings for our brunch.  I had so much fun setting them up, and looking at them as I would pass our island the past few days!  They have the most beautiful stuff this season! Be sure to check it out!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!!

Alyssa’s Comprehensive Gluten-free Food List – Gluten Free Part 2

Trader Joe's gluten-free bread

You have just been told that you have Celiac or gluten sensitivity and you are unsure what to do. I felt this way when I started but with the knowledge in this post, you can take the first steps in changing your diet to become a better and healthier YOU! I tend to call the new lifestyle you will begin “gluten-free living” because the whole idea of the word “diet” makes me think of restriction, restriction, restriction! I don’t want this to become a “diet” for you, I want this to be a “lifestyle” that is easy to maintain! 

Cutting out gluten does not mean an end to delicious and exciting meals. It is only the beginning to a lifestyle of feeling good AND enjoying what you eat! One of the reasons that I have grown to love going gluten-free is that not being able to have the wheat I used to has opened my eyes to enjoying REAL foods even more than I ever did before. Please note that it is not that hard and can make an amazinggggg difference in the way you feel. If you are not feeling well and it is unexplained, I urge you to try cutting out gluten because there are so many ailments out there that are linked to gluten sensitivity. Someone might say their stomach hurts and the next person might say they have migraines but both can be symptoms of gluten sensitivity. 
Below I have compiled a list of naturally gluten-free items and also some of my favorite gluten-free brands and different products they have to offer! πŸ™‚
Alyssa's Comprehensive Gluten-free Food List
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Gluten-free Starch/flours
  1. Almond flour
  2. Amaranth
  3. Arrowroot flour
  4. Beans
  5. Cassava flour
  6. Cashew meal
  7. Chickpea flour
  8. Coconut flour
  9. Corn flour
  10. Corn grits
  11. Cornmeal
  12. Cornstarch
  13. Flax (seeds or meal)
  14. Legumes
  15. Millet
  16. Nuts
  17. Oats and oat flour (only when specified gluten-free)
  18. Popcorn
  19. Potatos
  20. Quinoa
  21. Rice
  22. Rice flour
  23. Sourghum
  24. Soy (NOT soy sauce)
  25. Tapioca
  26. Yam
  27. Yucca
  28. *Bob's Red Mill has such an awesome display of gluten-free flours, pizza crusts, and more. It is one of my favorite brands.
Naturally gluten-free foods
  1. Cheese (unprocessed)
  2. Ice Cream (not cookie dough, cookies n cream, or anything that has cookie/brownie in it)
  3. Milk - coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk
  4. Half & Half
  5. Whipping cream
  6. Yogurt (read labels of yogurt with fruit or additives)
  7. Butter/ghee -add Kerrygold to your list -delicious grass-fed butter!
  8. Margerine
  9. Cottage cheese
  10. Cream cheese
  11. Sour cream
  12. Eggs
  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Herbs
  4. (all of these fresh or frozen are naturally gluten-free)
  1. Alcohol - champagne, wine and other distilled alcohol is gluten-free
  2. Beer (gluten-free only)
  3. Gatorade
  4. Coffee (check label on flavored coffee as some is flavored with malt which contains gluten)
  5. Tea
  6. Juice
  7. Soda
  1. Unprocessed meats, poultry & fish
  2. Hummus
  3. Legumes
  4. Tofu
  5. Seeds
  6. Nut butters
  7. Quinoa
  8. Canned meat - Most all meats, fruit, olives and vegetable are safe but if they are in any sauce, check the label to make sure it is ok!
  9. Soup - you must check the label on this one!
  1. Jams/Jellies/Marmalade
  2. Nuts
  3. Ketchup
  4. Coconut aminos
  5. Tamari Sauce - this is GF soy sauce
  6. Mayonnaise
  7. Marinara Sauce (I have never seen an issue with this one but to be sure make sure to read the label!)
  8. Vinegar
  9. Vegetable broth - check chicken broth's as many are not GF
  10. Spices (McCormick makes a gluten-free taco seasoning. MOST other are not gluten-free! I usually make my own here :))
Baking Items
  1. Baking soda - I use Bob's Red Mill GF
  2. Baking powder - I use Bob's Red Mill GF
  3. raw cocoa powder
  1. Honey
  2. Maple syrup
  3. Coconut sugar
  1. Vegetable
  2. Canola
  3. Sesame
  4. Flax seed
  5. Coconut
  6. Olive oil
  7. Cooking Spray (Trader Joe's and PAM are GF - check label otherwise)
  1. Oatmeal - Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Oats are my go-to
  2. Cheerios - check for the GF label!
  3. Arrowhead Mills - makes a lot of gluten-free options
  4. Chex Mix
  5. Kellogg's Gluten-free Special K
  6. Van's - makes a lot of gluten-free cereals
  7. Natures Path Organic – now makes gluten-free cereal options
Here are some of my favorites!
  1. Bread - Trader Joe's gluten-free bread - you can find GF bread at any supermarket although this is my favorite.
  2. Garden of Eatin' - their tortilla chips and taco shells are the absolute best!
  3. Mission corn tortillas
  4. Udi's granola - my go-to when I am search for a gluten-free granola
  5. Conte's Ravioli - my favorite treat on our Italian holidays!
  6. Amy's frozen meals and soups (only those labeled gluten-free)
  7. Dr. Praeger's Burgers
  8. Pizza - Trader Joe's gluten-free pizza or Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust are my favorites!
  9. Bell & Evans gluten-free chicken cutlets / chicken nuggets
Alyssa Grieco
Some points to remember when you are out grocery shopping:
1. Read all labels.
2. Wheat-free does not mean gluten-free.
3. Salad bars and other items in bulk bins cannot be guaranteed gluten-free due to possible cross-contamination issues.
4.  If it does not say gluten-free and you are questionable about it, skip it!! πŸ™‚
 I find that when I walk through the aisles of my local stores, I see gluten-free labeled items everywhere! The thing we must be careful of is additives in things you would think are gluten-free.  These days, SOOO many brands have come out with gluten-free items so while I try to make my own gluten-free foods, if I want something in particular, there ARE tons of options out there making it very easy! 
I just wanted to mention to sign up for my email list in the right hand column of my page to get on my mailing list for emails on nutrition & fitness!! Anyway, that’s all I have for today!  Hope you all have a fabulous rest of the week! 

Protein Waffles + My YOUTUBE Channel!

Happy Friday!!! Hope you all had a fabulous week!  So much has been going on lately, its been quite chaotic but one thing I’ve been working on that I wanted to share was the launch of my Youtube channel!!  If you are reading this, thank you!! πŸ™‚ I spend a lot of time writing the content of the blog and currently studying but I wanted to put this video together on one of my favorite, simple, gluten-free recipes that I absolutely LOVE…Protein Waffles!!  We literally eat them ALL the time.  If you have the chance, make these! You will not be disappointed! πŸ™‚

Anyway, here’s to my first video!!

Thanks for watching!





Part 1 – Gluten-free – 6 Surprising Foods that Contain Gluten

I get a lot of questions on gluten-free living so I thought I would add in a segment to post on the diet itself and to familiarize those who are interested.  I am breaking it into parts since it is a lot of information.  Today’s post (Part 1) is focused on a few things I didn’t know contained gluten when I started.  I mentioned this before, but back in the day when I started on my journey of the gluten-free diet, it was a diet barely anyone did so there was such a lack of information.  If you are starting now, you are lucky!

Often, when I speak to people about gluten-free living, I get the vibe that cutting out gluten seems intimidating, hard and/or impossible.  Honestly, it is soooo simple.  For me, it goes back to the concept of mindful eating and that awareness of what you are fueling your body with before you begin to consume.

I by all means don’t think this is for everyone as it depends on the person. I’ve received a few questions about eliminating gluten for various autoimmune disorders and research continues to link autoimmune diseases to gluten sensitivity.  I believe, in most of these cases, while consuming gluten you are exacerbating it. While in this post I don’t want to get too much into the science behind it, I want to share a few foods that contain gluten that I never knew about.

To me, there is no such thing as “trying” the gluten-free diet. If you eat foods with the gluten protein in them, this will be in your system for a while.  If you are looking to really see if the gluten-free diet would really benefit you, then you need to truly eliminate it.  I learned the hard way with this one and still to this day come in contact with this issue as there is sometimes cross-contamination at restaurants so I have to be very careful.

1.Soy Sauce

I know I mentioned this in my post about going gluten-free a while back but one thing I DIDNT know when I started was that soy sauce contained gluten. Essentially, I gave up the bread and was like, “oh I will just have sushi!” with delicious rice!  (Rice is gluten-free.)  It didn’t seem that hard… I am a sushi addict over here! I didn’t realize that soy sauce contains wheat so it is definitely not something you can have. 

The solution? Tamari Soy Sauce. I have found recently that most restaurants now have tamari but just in case, I buy these packets and BYO.


2. Rye / Barley

Most people find grains an awesome way to improve their health. Choosing grains when eliminating gluten is a little tricky but easily fixed.  If you are wondering about a grain, you really should check into it before eating.  To name a few things that are not gluten-free: rye, couscous, durum, faro, matzo, semolina, spelt, barley, bulgur.  A few gluten-free grains are: arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava, millet, quinoa, rice and soy.  One of my friends from Ecuador makes the most delicious bread-like items with cassava flour and it is on my list to do some baking with it. I literally would never know it is gluten-free!

3. Oatmeal

This one goes under the grains category but I think it deserves its own number. I learned the hard way that oatmeal is not gluten-free labeled. I usually buy the Trader Joe’s brand or Bob’s Red Mill but for those of you who like Quaker, I recently saw that they have a gluten-free oatmeal now!


4. Soups

If it’s a canned soup, make sure it is labeled gluten-free!! If not, there is probably gluten in it. In broth soups there is often gluten in the broth and in creamy soups there are often thickening agents that contain gluten. Beware! I make my own soups and one thing to be aware of is chicken broth. Make sure it is labeled gluten-free. The solution for me has been Trader Joe’s Organic free range chicken broth and also Swanson Chicken broth – the low sodium version! It’s a pretty easy change as long as you read the label!

5. Hot dogs / Cold cuts

Gluten has made its way into meat options. Many lunch meats have hidden gluten in them as it is a processing agent. Be sure to look at the label and make sure it says gluten-free. Cross-contamination in this area is HUGE at the deli counter.  It is best to go for cold cuts that are packaged and labeled.  As for hot dogs, I usually go with Applegate Farms.  They have turkey or beef hot dogs that are 100% meat and are all natural.  BESIDES the gluten – still go with Applegate Farms when buying hot dogs.  The other processed stuff is …eeekkk!

edited hot dogs

6. Beer

I don’t think this is a surprising one for many but I just want to say that we have come far with gluten-free beer in recent years.  The most common beer brands are NOT gluten-free.  I am not a beer drinker so I am not that familiar but I was making corned beef the other day and realized that the recipe I used in prior years contained beer!  As upset as I was, I made a phone call to a local store and found out that there are multiple brands of gluten-free beer in MANY different varieties! 

That’s all I have for today.  Part 2 is coming which will include printable food lists making it very simple!!

Enjoy your Thursday!!