Busy with Birthday Celebrating!

There is a joke in my family that we only celebrate two birthdays –  I obviously share my special day, and Mama & Papa Clifford are 366 days apart! In my house, we kicked off this week with a birthday celebration. 

The two crazy kids, just came home from celebrating my grandma’s 85th birthday in Cancun, so I did my best to have the house clean, and made preparations to make it a special birthday homecoming! Not only was I looking forward to seeing them, but this year I was so in love with the gifts my brother and I got them.  I literally was antsy with excitement.  I love giving gifts so I always try to get a little creative and put a lot of thought into them. This year was pretty easy! As I was browsing on Groupon, I found the perfect gift – an NYC bus tour (my mom has been saying she wanted to do this for years), and for my dad a beer tasting pirate ship sail in Manhattan (dad loves tasting local beers). Since finding this gift was painless and simple, I got creative with the card, bought balloons, brought my dad’s favorite kind of ice cream cake – thanks to the generous tips for Dunkin Donuts that I got on my last day of swim lessons – and made birthday breakfast muffins! 

Zucchini Bread GF 2

Let’s be honest, the muffins were really an excuse for me to bake, plus being a little selfish I really wanted zucchini muffins.  It was a win, win situation.  Once again I was full of excitement because this was the first time I was experimenting using chia seeds as an egg-free replacer, which was a suggestion made by Jennifer Esposito.  

I have perviously shared this recipe in my earlier blogging days.  This recipe was by far my family’s favorite.  I can still remember the night with tried these muffins with dinner on a summer night.  We were blown away! While there are noticeable texture differences with the egg-free muffins as I compared them to what I remember, I was still impressed.  The flavor was great, and the chia seeds are definitely a better baking substitute compared to flax meal.  The only ingredient I want to add to these muffins next time is a 3.9 oz of natural unsweetened applesauce.  

GF Zucchini Muffins

Mom's Zucchini Bread - Revised
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free (optional)
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  1. 2 cups evaporated cane juice
  2. 3 chia seed eggs (see notes)
  3. 1/2 c. melted coconut oil or oil of your choice
  4. 2 c. shredded zucchini, raw and unpeeled
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
  7. 3 c. GF Jules flour
  8. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  9. 1 tsp. baking soda
  10. 1 tsp. salt
  11. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  12. 1/2 tsp. ginger
  13. 1/2 tsp. cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Beat evaporated cane juice,chia seed eggs, oil, zucchini, and vanilla until blended. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture. Add nuts. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans, or prepared muffin tin. Bake loaf for 50-60 minutes. Muffins take about 25-30 minutes.
  1. Chia Seed Egg: 1 TBSP of Chia Seeds mixed in 3 TBSP of water. Let settle for 2-5 minutes. This is a 1:1 substitute.
Adapted from Everyday Gourmet
Adapted from Everyday Gourmet

 Stay tuned for another muffin recipe on Monday. You won’t want to miss this post. It’s a personal creation from yours truly!  What has been your greatest baking success this summer? 

Limitless Possibilities: College Advice from a “Wiser” Graduate

The “not going back to school blues” hit me just when I thought they would. Don’t get me wrong  I’m so excited for this next chapter in my life, but it feels awfully strange not running around and packing to go back to school this week.

It seems like yesterday that I was a junior beginning my blogging journey as a gluten-free college student, due to there not being any blogs that targeted this population.  Now three years later, there are much more college bloggers on the internet and great resources for college students (or perspective college students), parents, and university staff, thanks to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness


The other day I met an incoming freshman who will be attending the  U of S. I couldn’t stop smiling and felt so much excitement for her for so many reasons: 

1) I’m sightly obsessed with my school 

2) College is an amazing journey 

3) There are so many wonderful opportunities

Many feelings that come with starting a new journey at a new school; some individuals are ecstatic, some are scared out of their minds, some are curious, and some are eager.  I can still remember my inaugural trip up to school. One minute I was so excited to meet new people, and the next I was scared out of my mind. Whatever your feelings are, they are normal and acceptable. Everyone transitions at a different pace. For myself, it took me a month to get acclimated and not feel homesick. First word to the wise: Give yourself time. Don’t rush to conclusions that you chose the wrong school or college major.  Embrace the ups and downs.  

As I look back on my undergrad experience and graduate experience they are extremely different for a number of reasons. In my undergrad career I was trying to navigate the college experience while also being sick, especially during my freshman year. I really struggled to balance feeling like a “normal” college freshman, and doing what I wanted to do/ needed in the moment.  I also didn’t know how to live with my illness, rather, I let my condition control many of my actions and decisions. Second word to the wise: Whether you have just been diagnosed with celiac / gluten-sensitivity or you are a veteran, don’t let your condition hold you back.  Have safe limits, but don’t miss out on an opportunity because you don’t think it is possible.  There are so many people on college campuses who want to help. Scout them out! The worst that can happen is it’s not feasible. However, at least you tried. If there is an opportunity you want to take advantage of, GO! If your friends don’t want to, GO by yourself. You might even meet a new friend.  I can’t stress enough, Be YOU & Do YOU.  An opportunity like the one presented may never come across again. In graduate school I finally learned to not let my conditions defined my actions.  It’s the best feeling in the world knowing I went “balls to the wall” and left my college experience with no regrets. 

Muffin 2

Food is our medicine.  Celiac is the only autoimmune disease that is treat and improved with food, not medicine.  Embrace this, use this to keep your mind positive. You might not be able to have late night pizza with friends, but I promise you, it’s not the end of the world, and people will not hate you for refusing. Heck, if they are your friend they will accept you for YOU. You never know some of them might even be your biggest allies. Fun Fact: My friends prefer Snyder’s Gluten-free pretzels! Third word to the wise: Bring food where ever you go.  I always had a safe snack in my bag. After all, you never know how long your library study session will be!  Bring gluten-free foods that you know gluten-eaters love and share with your new friends. Food is our medicine, but the type of food we eat doesn’t define us. 

In my college career I was not only blessed to walk away with individuals who I believe will be life long friends, but I also left with a group of individuals who were allies, and professionals who became my mentors. Many of them knew I had a handful of medical issues, but they got to know me for Candice.  Not Candice the girl with gluten sensitivity, multiple food allergies and CRPS.  These relationships not only helped me grow personally and professionally, but their examples and acts have made me a better person. Fourth word to the wise: Find a mentor and a few allies.  My allies always helped me when I was having a rough time. Not many roommates can say they bonded in the emergency room because of a CRPS flare. My allies also get excited when they find foods I can safely eat.  Mentors are good to have; maybe it’s an upperclassmen, a professor, counselor or academic advisor. 

Going to college was the first time I was not involved in organized sports.  I made it my mission to stay active and get involved with clubs, and service opportunities. As a freshman, I was secretly scared of gaining the freshman 15 (A worry I now know I shouldn’t have been concerned about) and wanted to stay active and healthy so doctors didn’t blame my unhealthy lifestyle on why I wasn’t feeling well.  This started of my love-affair with the gym.  Over the years, I have really transformed, gotten mentally and physically stronger, and learned that strong girls are the prettiest ( Girls, don’t be intimidated by the weights, there is no such thing as the ‘girls’ and boys’ side of the gym’, despite popular belief). Immersing myself in service provided me with the most life-giving experiences. They often enhanced my classroom knowledge.  I learned some of the greatest life lessons when serving others. Fifth word to the wise: Get involved. If you feel in your heart you want to do something, do it! Even if you have never done it before, try it. College is the time of new beginnings!  


Well that’s a wrap!, It’s the end of the gluten-free in college chapter on Embrace G-Free.  While I am happy to talk to any college students or perspective college students, I will no longer be writing about this topic on my blog (I’ll leave that job to Casey the College Celiac, College Student with Celiac, and  Adventures of a G-Free Bennie, – Comment below for more of your favorites)

It’s been a roller coaster of ride full of so many joys, new recipes and great experiences. Good luck to all you college freshies. You are in for the ride of your life. 

Can’t Get Enough Zoodles

As much as I love pasta, and have found gluten-free pasta that my whole family loves, I’m not eating much of it lately. I’m a believer that food should give you energy, nutrients, and help you get thru the day.  While I will shamelessly admit I am a carb lover, there are some that leave me feeling more sluggish than others.  Past is one of those carbs

Some of our shift of not eating as much pasta is when my mom started the 17 day diet and discovered the blog Skinnytaste.  So far she has found some really great recipes which could be easily make gluten-free; zoodles has been one of these recipes.  Zoodles

Not only do I love Zoodles because this dish keeps me full, but I also love this recipe because it’s a sneaky way to get veggies into this picky eater.  Although I have only watched Mama Clifford make this recipe, it really looks like a simple and quick dinner to make.  Our only family complaint is that once the zucchini is cooked it shrinks down.  So if you happen to be really hungry use more zucchini. Hope you Enjoy! 

gluten-free, dairy-fee, egg-free, nut-free, garlic-free
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  1. 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  3. Shallot, minced
  4. 3 (8 oz each) zucchinis, cut into long julienne strips (with a mandolin or spiralizer)
  5. salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot add the oil, onions and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.Increase heat to medium-high and add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook about 1 minute. Give it a stir to mix everything around and cook another 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through yet firm.
Adapted from Skinny Taste
Adapted from Skinny Taste
Zoodles 2

Recovering from a Swim Across America Weekend

This weekend was great, the weather was beautiful, we got to see our Scranton friends, and took our first trip to Fire Island. The only thing that stinks about this past weekend, is I’m still recovering. Pure exhaustion. 


I’m 24, and I feel like I’m 84.  As usual I was in worse form then those who were up later then me and drinking. Heck, my brother was up till 4 and woke up at 7 – like it was no big deal, while I could of spent the whole day in bed.  

Most of the time I don’t feel “sick,” in fact despite having a chronic condition I don’t view myself as being sick.  Rather, despite being in pain 24/7 and having multiple food restrictions, I do my best to normalize my day. Managing my food sensitivities really feels like second nature, other then still experimenting with egg-free baking.  Managing my CRPS, is still a work in progress, but I’d like to think I’m doing my best this summer to normalize my days rather than letting my pain dictate my daily activities. 

I might of looked dazed and like crap on Sunday, but there was no way we were skipping Fire Island. This was something both my brother and I were looking forward to. However, for the past three days, I’ve been paying for it.  And while I don’t feel sick most days, this fact, is a stupid reminder of limits.  Limits which have left me feeling depleted, exhausted for  3 days, and making all tasks feel like a chore.  

However, when I think of the weekend fun, it was worth it. It’s the silly game of “cost-benefit” that I play with myself constantly as a young 24 year old.  

Swim Across America After my brother and his friends swam a 5K, a BBQ was a must. Nothing too special on the menu: hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, grilled veggies, and salad. However, what was pretty great was the desserts, but I may be a little bias. All of the desserts were made by yours and truly were 100% “Candice Approved” By the end of the night the desserts were all gone! 

I made the deep dish chocolate chip cookie cake, and rice crispy treats using Rice Chex, but my favorite was my creative “Swim Across America Cake” I made with Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Gluten free mix and frosting.  

Swim Across America CakeThis was the first time I was using this cake mix and frosting, and considering there were more gluten-eaters then gluten-free eaters in attendance I was nervous. However, not only were they the first of desserts to go, but the cake was moist and the frosting wasn’t overly sweet. Plus it was super fun to get creative.   

Have you tried Cherrybrook Kitchen gluten-free mixes or frosting? They are also free of eggs, dairy and nuts! 

Summertime Pondering & Crunchmaster Sharing

As I’m transitioning out of post-grad life, there are a lot of questions. Questions of what September will look like, questions on when I will find a job, and questions that just relate to being young and growing up.  Conversations with friends don’t revolve around prom, and college parties, but revolve around working, searching for jobs, and growing up.  

As much as I love sweet Long Island, home cooked meals, being so close to NYC, and family, one thing I’m not so sure about is if I will stay on Long Island.  It’s a question that has never crossed my mind but, as I think of future realties, such as cost of living and job availability, I’m just not so sure.  However each time my friends and I reminisce on the beach, I have no doubt that I will miss the beaches and experiencing the beauty of each season. When looking into my future, I just don’t know where I picture myself living. However, let’s stay present, and in the here-and-now… what I do know is I’m loving all the time I’ve been spending at the beach this summer.  

Beach Quote

As this summer is flying by, I can’t help but to think about where I was last year at this time: finishing up my 4th week at Brooks Rehab Pain Program.  Don’t get me wrong, if was a memorable and impactful summer, but what I missed the most was spending time on Long Island’s beaches.  Enjoy the beauty of nature and breathing in the sweet summer beach air.  

That’s enough of my beach dreaming… what got me thinking to the beach was all of the great snacks I have been bringing thanks to Crunchmaster! Crunchmaster has not only been a favorite of mine from the beginning but it is a snack that I can happily share with my friends and family.  However, with my additional food allergies, my selection of these products has been limited since many of the products contain sesame seeds. So I did what I knew best with the samples, I shared them with some fellow gluten-free eaters!! 

Gluten Free Trail Mix

In the package I was happy to find two of my favorite Crunchmaster products, Cinnamon Crisp and Edamame Sea Salk Chips.  I made my favorite trail mix with the Cinnamon Crisp and my mom and I devoured the Edamame chips while at our favorite beach, Cupsogue. Then I shared many varieties when my friend Jackie, and brought my friend’s dad the Cheesy Crisps since she is a big fan of goldfish and I knew her dad would enjoy these crackers.  

You can often find the Cinnamon Grammy Crisp on my shelf and my family often bring the sea salt crackers, with cheese, and grapes when going wine tasting. Thanks Crunchmaster for the yummy samples. So many individuals enjoyed your products!  Don’t worry you can enjoy these products too, visit their website or print this coupon and visit your local retailer! 

Today is a Good Day for Pancakes

Typically I’m one that sticks to a routine.  I have to. It’s something I’ve learned to rely on to keep me feeling good. However, after naturally waking up early on Sunday, I just wasn’t feeling it.  What I needed was more rest, so instead of starting my day bright and early I let myself sleep.  The next thing I knew, it was 10:30AM!  By the time I started my day, it was 11, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have brunch.  Since I was a sleepy head, my parents already made breakfast, but my mom suggested I make the pancakes they made since they could be easily made without any of my allergens.  GF Oat Pancakes 1 I can always remember teachers stressing to my classes in elementary school to read the directions before beginning the test.  I even had a test in middle school with directions that stated, “if you are reading the directions, do not take this test.” Needless to say, it is ingrained in me to read the directions before starting anything.  However, on Sunday I made the assumption that this pancake recipe was just like any other and started without reading the directions! As a result,  I missed a very important step (to process the oats) and had to start over. 

Oat Pancakes
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free
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  1. 1 1/2 cups certified gluten-free instant cooking oats
  2. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1/4 c. of apple sauce
  6. 1 cup dairy free milk
  7. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Put oats in a blender or food processor and blend about one minute, or until ground to a flour consistency. Combine oat flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Combine apple sauce, milk and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well. Stir liquid mixture into dry mixture; mix until just moist. Allow to rest 5 minutes.
  2. Heat a nonstick large skillet or gridle over medium heat. When hot, pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancake. Turn over and cook until lightly browned.

These pancakes were delicious. Of course I added my favorite add-ins to these pancakes: raspberries, blueberries and then topped with pure maple syrup, but they were great plain too. Note: I know a lot of individuals don’t do oats. I was thinking these pancakes would also work using quinoa flakes.  

Don’t they look Delish? What is your favorite thing to enjoy for breakfast? 

Gluten Free Oat Pancakes 2

The 500th Post & A Recipe

Well, this came out of left field! All of a sudden I went to go write what I thought was going to be a normal post, but realized it would be anything but because this very post marks the 500th post of Embrace G-Free. However, as I started writing this post, I thought “this is a pretty big deal.” I can’t just write a “normal” post.  While product reviews are wonderful, I didn’t want to mark this milestone with a product.  Rather, I thought it would be fitting to share a recipe.  

After all, it was baking and cooking that helped me heal mentally, emotionally, and physically. It was baking that helped me escape my painful reality for an hour or two, and it was the kitchen that helped me find the inner foodie in me. 

500 posts is a lot.  In three years this blog has gone thru a makeover, has journeyed thru two graduations, and has been my outlet during the most difficult of times. My writing has definitely decrease, causing stats to decrease, but after all, it was never about the stats for me.  I have always said if sharing my story can help one person it makes it all worth it. While I have questioned if I had the ability or time to write, this fact alone is what keeps me going. I love that this is a place I can share a bit of my story, while also having a place for keepsake recipes. And while my blog didn’t have a mission or direction in the beginning of my journey, I love that my blog now represents how I try to live my life each day, full of positivity, and striving to be the best me. 

Deep Dish Cookie One

I loved this recipe that I am about to share with you because it uses ingredients that I typically have lying around the house and all you have to do is throw the ingredients in the food processor.  Even a novice baker can make this delicious creation. It’s too easy to mess up. 

My mom, my brother’s girlfriend Jackie, and me made this recipe together before going to a family party.  Though our mouths were watering just by looking at the pictures. We just weren’t sure how the cookie cake was going to turn out, so we made two! 

As we watched family home-videos on a rainy Saturday, we all, including my dad and brother enjoyed this delicious creation.  However, we enjoyed the cake even more at my uncle’s house and determined we liked the cake better when it is put in a 10-inch spring foam pan. I even had two slices at my uncle’s house. This says a lot considering I’m not a big eater these days! 

Healthy Deep Dish Cookie Pie
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free
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  1. 2 cans white beans (drained and rinsed) (500g total, once drained)
  2. 1 cup certified-gf quick oats
  3. 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  4. 3 tbsp oil (canola, veg, or coconut) - We used Coconut
  5. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  6. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  7. 2 tsp baking powder
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
  10. 1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  1. Blend everything (except the chips) very well in a good food processor (not a blender). Mix in chips, and pour into an oiled pan (I used a 10-inch springform pan, but you can use a smaller pan if you want a really deep-dish pie.) Cook at 350F for around 35-40 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. (Some commenters have had success with a blender, but I did not. Try that at your own risk, and know the results will be better in a high-quality food processor such as a Cuisinart.)
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Kate
 Jackie and I liked how moist the cookie was, and thought it tasted better when the cookie sat and cooled for a few hours.  It reminded my brother of a David’s Deep Dish Cookie (gluten-filled dessert) and reminded me of a blonde.  Next time I make this creation I want to add walnuts. 

Deep Dish Cookie Two

Happy Baking! Cheers to another 500 posts. 

Summertime Fun with So Delicious

Around this time of year, the wonderful people at So Delicious send me delicious samples of their frozen treats! Although I had already brought their newest flavor of dairy-free, gluten-free deliciousness, Cookies N Cream, I was so excited to get this sample in the mail! Originally, I thought the company was just sending  me the almond-based and coconut-based Cookies N Cream, however, to my delight, they not only sent me a quart of Cookies N Cream, but also their amazing gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, as well as, some ice cream products from their no sugar added line. 

So Delicious Ice CreamI have seen So Delicious’ no sugar added ice cream when browsing thru the frozen section of Whole Foods, however, I was always hesitant to try it.  Traditionally I don’t go for no sugar added products because they are often packed with artificial sweeteners, plus I don’t usually like the taste.  

However, when it comes to So Delicious I trust the ingredients they put in their products and had full confidence this ice cream was going to be just as good their regular dairy-free ice cream. I was also excited since I am trying my best to limit the amount of sugar I eat, as I have notice this increases my CRPS pain.  

Not only was I excited, but my brother’s girlfriend, Jackie, who also follows a gluten/dairy-free diet was excited to try this ice cream since she is trying to also limit her sugar.  Due to my computer crashing and loosing some photos, I can’t show you  what our tasting party looked like on the Fourth of July, but what I can tell you is that we loved all the ice cream and had tons of fun! We both couldn’t tell that the ice cream was a no sugar added product.  

Cookies and Cream 1 .jpgIt isn’t summertime without some ice cream! Hurry, run to the store and pick up some So Delicious Ice Cream! It’s hard to pick my favorite, but I have to say it’s a clear tie between their gluten-free coconut based, Cookies N Cream and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Jackie’s favorite of the no sugar added flavors was Mint Chip.  Which one will you choose

To learn more about So Delicious products visit their website or find them on Facebook Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Also be sure to check out my other reviews of So Delicious products! 

No Sugar Vanilla So Delicious