Weekend Roundup & Gluten Free Expo Trends

Weekend Roundup & Gluten Free Expo Trends 

This sunny weekend was filled with good eats and spending time with some of my favorite people. The weather smiled upon us, and now that Monday is under our belt, it's on wards and upwards from here! 

Saturday started with the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo in the suburbs of Chicago. I had a great time seeing some familiar faces and checking out the latest and greatest of gluten-free foods! What dd we try? A variety of gluten-free bars, pizza crusts, bread, "nut" butters, baking mixes and probiotic products. Robby came with me, and ironically enough, his starter bag had a GF pumpkin bread mix in it...and he wouldn't trade me!  Don't worry though, they let me trade my sugar cookie mix for an unclaimed pumpkin one before we left! 

I've rounded up the top 5 most buzz worthy finds from the expo floor you should definitely be on the look out for! No gluten, no problem! 

1. Pumpkin Seeds & GF Pumpkin Products --Of course you know my pumpkin radar was in full effect as I walked the expo floor! I had my eyes open for any new pumpkin products I've never seen before. One pumpkin product that I am familiar with, but some may not be are the uniquely flavored pumpkin seeds from Superseedz! I'm talking tomato Italiano, cinnamon sugar, sea salted, somewhat spicy and many more! Just think of the pumpkin possibilities with this creative flavors. They are definitely not your run of the mill pumpkin seeds, they are made in small batches with premium ingredients. And at 8 grams of protein, and <1 gram of sugar per serving, this snack staple gets an A plus from me, no questions asked 

2. Frozen Superfoods--I'm a proud partner of Path of Life Organics, and was happy to see them dominating the frozen food scene with their super food side dishes! These blends truly cannot be easier to make for busy weeknight meals, and although I'm partial to their kale and butternut squash frozen vegetable mix (for obvious reasons!), I am very impressed with their entire line up from a dietitian's standpoint. Example A, if you've been following me on Instagram you know I've been experimenting with their colorful cauliflower, and as someone who didn't always like cauliflower, I keep wanting to find different ways I can eat it! I also found out they just launched a new organic green smoothie mix...available at Costco. Now that's something I'm willing to brave a Costco in the suburbs on a Saturday morning for! 

3. Healthiful Hydration--I'm talking beauty water, gut shots and zero-calorie water flavorings. Vital Proteins was sampling their new line of beauty waters--I think I tried a mojito lime one mixed with this flavor of Vital Proteins beauty water...it was delicious! I'm already a fan of their original collagen below. I put it into my coffee and smoothies on the regular and definitely fee like it helps to strengthen my hair, skin, and nails.  Another product not new to me, but definitely new to some is Farmhouse Culture gut shots! With tangy flavors that bring the heat, a shot is all you need to reap the benefits from how many probiotics they contain. I take a shot of ginger beet every morning before I eat anything. It sure does wake me up! 

4.  Make-at-Home GF Mixes---from breads to pancake mixes, it's obvious that there is a demand for gluten-free products people can make themselves at home. We received a box of King Arthur Flour's GF pumpkin bread mix, (which I've tried before and love!) and a Pamela's brand GF pancake mix sample. What I really like about make at home mixes, is the opportunity to further customize them to your preference. Add in things you like, and make it your own, if there isn't another gluten-free product out there like that for you! 

5.  Safe-For-School "Peanut" Butters--- I'm a nut butter addict, and the thought of kids with peanut allergies having to sit separately at school makes me so sad! I ate a peanut butter and sometimes jelly sandwich everyday throughout school, and can't imagine what my life would have been like if I was allergic, so I applaud the companies out there that are trying to provide kids with something that resembles peanut butter in that instance. The few that I saw were soy blends and Sunbutter. Both of which, unfortunately do not agree with my stomach, however can be great alternatives for you if you cannot have nut butters! 




Pumpkin Girl 


The Real (Health) Reason I Eat Pumpkin Seeds

I pulled my hair back to go for a run, and noticed it. 

My hairline on the left side of my head went way too far back. My hair was gone in that spot. Completely bald. It looked sick. I was already avoiding mirrors because every time I made eye contact with myself, I would see the dark circles under my eyes from months of inconsistent sleep, stress and nights of tears. 

My heart started racing: "how did I let this happen to me?" "What if it stays like that?"....insecurity racing through my veins, I started crying on that run. A long therapeutic cry. 

Seeing a bald spot was the ultimate confirmation that I needed to heal myself, take a step way, way back, and most importantly, find a way to manage my stress and anxiety. 

Girls don't talk about getting bald spots. At least none of my close friends have ever mentioned they got one from being extremely stressed out at age 24. Scary. I want to talk openly about it today because it did (and still does) make me insecure about my head/hair, and was really freaking scary. I knew it was my body telling me literally: "We can't deal with your stress anymore, we can't grow your hair here." I felt embarrassed. People come to me for health/nutrition advice, and yet my habits and stress was becoming so unhealthy.  

They say time heals all wounds. Well, I'm still dealing with some, but that's the beauty of it, I now feel like I can. Since moving back home, I've been doing a few different things to heal my hair, and regrow the spot. I see little baby hairs now! I know it will still be awhile before it's back to normal, but now I wear my hair up without fear.

When I see it everyday it's a constant reminder of how I got through that time, how I realized there was a serious problem, and how much stronger I am today because of it. One important thing that I would encourage anyone going through high stress to do is to have a blood test. Mine revealed vitamin/mineral imbalances, which explained my mood swings, anxiety, and other symptoms. In addition to adding supplements and the vitamins that I needed to my diet. I've been doing a couple other things too. I would love to know if you have any tips when it comes to hair loss. What you've tried, what's worked and what hasn't. It happens, and if it has happened to you, it will be ok.

How my hair is growing back today 

How my hair is growing back today 

Pumpkin Seeds Are Calming Me

Yeah, they're my thing, but it goes so far beyond that now! As an RD I always take a diet approach to the ailment, so naturally, I started with what I eat. Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of magnesium, the calm mineral, if you will. Magnesium is crucial for so many things in the body, including muscle relaxation, regulating heartbeat, and hormone production to name a few. It's such an underrated mineral, and that's why far after pumpkin season is over you can find me putting pumpkin seeds on my salads, pastas, quinoas, soups, and just munching on them! The fiber content doesn't hurt either! I especially make sure they are on my dinner food. The MAG helps me calm down at night, especially after a night time workout. I know my hair is benefiting from me relaxing and combating stress before it begins. 

Products I'm Using

Additional hair-specific things I'm using are:

1) Vital proteins collagen --I'll put a spoonful into my coffee in the morning, or a smoothie later on. Collagen is all the rage right now for strengthening hair, and nails, and increasing elasticity in the skin. I wanted to see if it would help me in this capacity with my hair, so I've been taking it since January. The verdict? My baby hairs are there!

2) Biotique-- Bio Shringraj Therapeutic Oil --An Ayurvedic recipe, I've been applying this hair oil twice a week for 30 minutes. I just started last week, so it's too soon to tell one way or the other, but I will keep you posted. It was recommended for hair loss in a mindbodygreen article, which is how I heard of it---It smells great!

What I'm doing may not be right for everyone. I would definitely do your research, and do what feels right for your body. By no means is this my full anti-stress routine! There can be so many factors at play contributing to the way you are feeling, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for feeling that way. I'm in this with ya, and if you've experienced something like this before, I'd love to chat with you. 



Pumpkin Girl 


Cake Pan Pumpkin Cookie

I saw a recipe out there, and I just knew I had to make it PUMPKIN......


If you out there on Instagram you may have seen this recipe by registered dietitian, @rachaelsgoodeats on Instagram. When I saw this dreamy recipe, I just knew it had to be pumpkin. A few modifications and some white chocolate chips later, I give you this cake pan pumpkin cookie! Not only was it easy to make, but it's light, moist, crunchy on top and oh so pumpkiny! I can see this recipe going so many different ways this fall, but for now I'm going to try to not eat this whole pan myself! Do yourself a favor, whip one up pumpkin style, and let me know what you think! 

Batter in the pan before going in the oven 

Batter in the pan before going in the oven 

Cake Pan Pumpkin Cookie (recipe inspired by @rachaelsgoodeats)


1 cup almond flour

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

3 tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp. unsweetened almond milk 

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp. sea salt



Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients, including egg and peanut butter and stir well. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk almond flour, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and add white chocolate chips if desired (highly recommend you do!). I used a cake pan to cook this in, but you can put it in a 8" skillet or loaf pan too! Using a silicone spatula spread batter evenly into pan that is coated with coconut oil. Bake for 19 minutes, and broil for an additional 2 minutes. Top with almond butter, more peanut butter or pumpkin seed butter, and enjoy!



Pumpkin Girl  

Pumpkin White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Happy Monday pumpkin people! Chicago has taken a turn back to winter lately....brr! The temperatures dipped over the weekend, which had me craving something warm and cheesy and pumpkin-y! I had a box of Banaza pasta handy in my pantry, and just like I like to pair white chocolate with pumpkin pancakes, white cheddar pairs perfectly with pumpkin paste! 

This recipe skips the heavy cream found in typical mac and cheeses, and swaps it for whole-milk yogurt! The creaminess from the pumpkin complements the yogurt and white cheddar cheese to a tee. The best part is that this meal left me feeling extremely satisfied because Banza pasta is made from chickpeas, aka lots of fiber! Pair that with the fiber from the pumpkin and you have the perfect meatless monday meal if that's your thing! And if pumpkin is your thing, (I'm assuming it is if you're reading this) you'll definitely enjoy this cozy pumpkin comfort food!



1 box Banza pasta shells

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 container siggi's whole-milk vanilla yogurt (client) 

1/4 cup Kerrygold aged cheddar cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, (additional to sprinkle on top)

1/4 cup pepitas 

fresh ground pepper

Optional add ins:

  • sauteed spinach, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes


Pumpkin Mac & Cheese


Follow cooking directions on the box on Banza pasta, and cook as directed. Meanwhile, in medium saucepan combine cheeses, yogurt and pumpkin and stir until combined. Pour pumpkin cheddar sauce over pasta and garnish with pepper and pepitas. It's seriously that simple! Enjoy!

From the RD corner, this pasta is a great source of protein and fiber. I also really like it because it's a great alternative to regular pasta--and no difference in taste! I love pairing it with other vegetables, and with or without another source of protein because it's a good source on its own. Swapping yogurt for heavy cream often found in mac and cheese recipes, didn't make me feel like I was missing out at all. Definitely worth trying! 

If you have any other tips or tricks for making a creamy mac and cheese, leave me a comment because I'd love to know! 


Pumpkin Girl