Hello and welcome! Quick intro- I’m Samantha: mother, Army wife, Celiac, vegetarian. I’ve been living the vegetarian lifestyle (with a few vegan years thrown in) for seven years now. Vegetarian living isn’t for everyone, but my family and I enjoy it. Around this time last year, I started having some annoying, then nagging, then painful medical issues. A few moderately invasive tests later and I got the “Celiac” label. It’s been a difficult transition to a gluten-free life, but I’m feeling worlds better than I was. I’ll post about the symptoms, diagnosis, and transition in a future post.

I’ve always loved being in the kitchen. While some people hate the meal planning, the shopping, the prep, the cooking, and the CLEANING (always so much!), I don’t. I like having an idea in my head or a recipe in mind and have it come to fruition in a short period of time. It’s near instant gratification. If a recipe doesn’t turn out, I learn, I tweak, and I try again; unless it’s just awful, like the roasted red pepper vegan alfredo. There was no helping that. Blech. Now that I’m gluten-free, I’m spending more and more time in the kitchen now and really opening myself up to more interesting ways to eat. I can’t just go out to eat or have a pizza delivered and that makes life BORING. So, I spend more time in the kitchen and come up with things that save money, taste good, and are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

Now, I am in no way affiliated with Bountiful Baskets, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention them. I get most of my produce from them. There are many sites scattered over 23 states. It’s an all-volunteer food co-op and I’ve not been disappointed by anything thus far. For $15 dollars ($25 for an all organic basket), you’ll get roughly 6 fruits and 6 vegetables per basket. What you get depends on what they can get fresh at the time. Now, you’ll get ten fruits and veg, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ONLY get ten fruits and veg. For instance, my first basket had eight granny smith apples in it, and that counted as one fruit. Make sense? Good. Here’s a picture of my very first basket.

My First Bountiful Basket

Isn’t it beautiful? So much fresh produce! I also got an “add-on” pack. They run 5-10 add-on packs each week. That week, we ordered eight quarts of strawberries, which I was going to freeze for smoothies and ice cream. I did end up freezing two quarts, but the majority went into some strawberry jam. I’d never canned anything before, but the jars were just so cute! I remember making jam with my mom and grandma when I was younger and there was nothing in the world better tasting than that jam. So I made some. It really wasn’t difficult at all. I ended up with four quarts of jam. And yes, that is a quart jar. Because I decided that quart jars weren’t *that* big. Oh yes, they are. Strawberry Jam

Pretty, no? Tasty too! I gave some to the neighbors and kept the rest for a cold winter day when a bit of summer is just what you need. I had about a pint leftover, so I put that in the fridge. It’s almost gone. There’s a brightness in homemade jam that you just can’t get from a jar in the store. It’s about as close to heaven as I’ve come in a while.

I’ve got more pictures and plans to post, but dinner isn’t going to make itself. Until next time!