Cucina Kristina Goes Gluten-Free!

That’s it! I’ve had it! I’m going gluten-free and no one can stop me!

I decided to go gluten-free for a month last summer to see what all the buzz was about. It seemed that overnight every restaurant in Chicago was rolling out a gluten-free menu and grocery stores were dedicating entire aisles to gluten-free items. I never dreamed this little experiment would impact my life as drastically as it did.

After two weeks of being gluten-free, I felt amazing. I was sleeping less but sleeping better. For the first time in my life, I understood what it meant to get a good night’s sleep and what it felt like to wake up feeling refreshed. I had a ton of energy, and I never felt overly full after meals. When the month was up, I wondered if it was the elimination of gluten that was making me feel this way or the fact that I had replaced glutenous items with fresh fruits and vegetables. Whatever it was, I was feeling great and decided that I would try to remain as gluten-free as possible from there on out.

Ever since then ANY time I have had gluten it has been bad news. My stomach cramps, I feel like a rock is sitting in my stomach all day long, I have “digestive issues,” I toss and turn at night unable to sleep, my energy plummets, and I just don’t feel good. At first, I thought it was in my head, but this has happened often enough over the last year that I honestly think I am gluten sensitive. In fact, I think many people are sensitive to gluten and aren’t aware of it because gluten is in so many foods we are accustomed to eating.

This weekend was the last straw. I fell victim to the sweets table at a baby shower. The sweets table always gets me! However, the 45 seconds of joy I get when I eat a cupcake or a cookie doesn’t outweigh the hours afterwards that I feel like crap. After a totally sleepless Sunday night, I woke up Monday morning and decided to go completely gluten-free. Forever. No more cheat days. Done.

I am toying with the idea of pulling my pre-Paleo and non gluten-free posts down, but I like the idea that they are here and representative of my journey. The last thing I want is for people to come here and feel I am misrepresenting myself! I’ll probably keep them up for now and add a disclaimer to them, but I want you to know that every recipe I post from this point forward will be 100% gluten-free. I may post some recipes that are not strict Paleo occasionally, but I promise you won’t find a lick of gluten on Cucina Kristina ever again.

Here are some of my favorite gluten-free blogs.


I’m Breaking Up With My Scale

Cucina Kristina |

If you have a few minutes to read the Whole 9’s article, 5 Reasons to Break Up With Your Scale, you should; it’s a great read. If not, let me quote the sentence that spoke the most to me. “A $20 hunk of plastic from Target should not be the determining factor in your self-esteem.” 

YES. YES. So much YES. How many times have I worked my butt off at the gym, ate perfectly, resisted temptations, and gotten on that stupid thing only to find the number hadn’t budged? Or worse, had gone UP? The sense of accomplishment that I had felt mere seconds earlier flew out the window all because of a “$20 hunk of plastic.”

In October of 2012, I promised to weigh myself every Wednesday and post my progress online. It wasn’t long before I ditched that promise and vowed to measure my weight loss in other ways – like measuring body fat percentage. However, because that stupid scale lived in my bathroom, I couldn’t resist stepping on it in the morning. The first month of working out consistently and changing my diet led me to a 1.5% body fat decrease; yet, I still felt sad because the number on the scale hadn’t budged.

Sorry, scale. Our relationship is unhealthy and you’ve got to go! Adiós! Sayonara! Ciao! Au revoir!
Talk to you never.

I am going to take the next 6 weeks to get back on track and refocus my goals. I will be participating in a health and fitness challenge through Nerd Fitness. I’ve spoken before about how much I love that website; you should check it out if you’re interested in becoming more awesome. The health and fitness articles are super informative, inspirational, and well-written. For this challenge, I’ve given myself the following goals:

  • Break up with my scale. – Check!
  • Weight train 3 days a week and record my progress during each workout.
  • Eat 100% Paleo for the next 6 weeks.
  • Cut out alcohol completely.

Nerd Fitness talks a lot about setting SMART goals. A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Since my goals for the next 6 weeks could be a bit more measurable, I am implementing the following grading scale.

Break up with my scale. 
Get on the scale ONE time = F. I am sick of that thing. It’s leaving my house TODAY.

Weight train 3 days a week. This equals 18 workouts.

18 workouts = A
15-17 workouts = B
14 workouts = C
13 workouts = D
<13 workouts = F

Eat 100% Paleo for the next 6 weeks.
I feel this is an all or none goal. I’ve been meaning to do it for the last month and there is no time like the present!

Cut out alcohol completely.
I also feel this is an all or none goal. I am trying to build some healthier habits and drinking beers at a street festival or a baseball game isn’t going to help me do it. However, 4th of July falls in the midst of this challenge and I have a bachelorette party to attend next weekend. So, to be realistic, I will still consider myself successful if I allow myself to have 3 “cheat” days. On those days, I will limit myself to 2 glasses of red wine or 2 vodka/soda drinks.

I am going to do my best to blog about this over the next 6 weeks, but if it proves to be too stressful, I’ll just do a round-up post on July 15. Building new habits is hard and I’d rather focus on making healthy changes in my life than recording it on my blog… at least for the first go-round. 🙂

Two Weeks Of Student Teaching To Go!

Hello Internet! Remember me? 🙂

Student teaching is eating my life. God bless all of the Kindergarten teachers out there, I don’t know how they do it! It’s only been 8 weeks of full-time student teaching and I am EXHAUSTED. Going into a Kindergarten classroom everyday feels very much like training for a marathon. I have to get a full 8-9 hours of sleep. I have to eat a good breakfast. I have to be well hydrated and limber. I have to make sure all of life’s little distractions are taken care of because I won’t have time to tend to them during the day. It’s go, go, GO from the second I step inside school to the second I leave, and I love it. This has been such an amazing experience.

A card I got during Teacher Appreciation Week!

A card I got during Teacher Appreciation Week!

Kindergarten can be a very challenging age group to teach, especially when you are used to working with older kids. Before entering Kindergarten, the youngest age I had taught was 5th grade. I have learned more about patience, conflict resolution, and classroom management than I ever could have imagined. I was nervous about accepting a placement in Kindergarten since I ultimately want to teach at the Middle School level, but I think this was the best decision I could have made for my teaching career. Even on the most challenging days I ask myself, “Would I rather be here or back in the office?” The answer 110% of the time is: HERE. I love teaching so much and I can’t wait to have my own classroom in the fall!

Writer's Workshop. We are working on "brave spelling" and writing more than 1 sentence.

Writer’s Workshop. We’re working on “brave spelling” and writing more than 1 sentence.

Check out some of the wonderful work we’ve done over the last 2 months.

Paper plate craft for Shark Week!

Paper plate craft for Shark Week!

Duck/Rabbit opinion writing.

Duck/Rabbit opinion writing.

Ways to "Go Green" for Earth Week.

Ways to “Go Green” for Earth Week.

Vegetable opinion writing for "V" week.

Vegetable opinion writing for “V” week.

Eventually, I will post all of this in one place. I have two weeks left and then job-hunting begins. Any leads? Send them my way! I am open to teaching in the city of Chicago or the surrounding suburbs. 🙂

April Photo A Day – Days 9-14

I have been taking my photos each day, but have been too tired in the evenings to post them and write blog entries. I am telling you… these Kindergarteners are tiring me out! I am better about posting them to my Instagram so if you are in Instagram look me up under cucina_kristina.

Cucina Kristina |

Day 9: Tiny – Tiny raindrops make for big storms! We had a rainy week in Chicago and from the looks of the weather forecast, it doesn’t look like this coming week will be any different. I am trying to stay positive and think about the wonderful flowers all of the rain will bring next month, but I am getting a little antsy for nicer weather!

Day 10: A Place – This is the Kindergarten classroom I am student teaching in. This is one of the best school experiences I have ever had. I am learning so much from student teaching and can’t wait to have a classroom of my own next year!

Day 11: Detail – I taught a lesson in perspective this week. I read the students Duck! Rabbit! and then had them decide whether they thought the character in the story was a duck or a rabbit. The kids loved it and got super into it. I love Kindergarten artwork!

Day 12: In The Middle – This is a collection of chocolates that I picked up from Chocolat’ in Galena during our ski trip last month. My favorite was a toss-up between the chocolate chili truffle and the salted caramel square. I had planned on enjoying these as treats throughout the week, but they didn’t even make it home!

Day 13: View From Your Bed – Our bedroom is on the list as the next room makeover in our house. Right now we have boring white walls, no window treatments, and a mishmash of furniture. This is the view from my bed looking into our living room. I am still working on my pull-up (hence the pull-up bar in our doorway).

Day 14: Water – Does anyone else like to do dishes or is it just me? Dishes are probably the one house chore that I honestly don’t mind doing. We have a dishwasher, but I rarely use it. My knives and pots and pans have to be washed by hand so I find that it isn’t much more time-consuming to just do all of our dishes by hand. By the time I finish washing my pots, pans, and knives, I’m only left with a few plates and some forks. I am sure the dishwasher will get more use as our family grows, but for now it serves as our dish drying rack.

April Photo A Day – Day 8: “On Your Plate”

Paleo friendly!

Paleo friendly!

Remember the artichokes that made it into my carry-on from California? Well, today one made it to my dinner plate. I cook them by steaming them upside down for about an hour. I usually add garlic, salt, parsley, and lemon to the water and it gives the artichokes a light flavoring that isn’t overpowering. Typically, I dip them in melted butter, but I was so hungry tonight I just dug right in! My husband asked for chicken parmesan so I made him that and adjusted mine so that it would fit in with my Paleo diet. I used coconut flour and almond meal as the breading and topped it with the artichoke marinara sauce that my March Foodie Pen Pal sent me. I am glad I made enough for leftovers tomorrow because it was delicious!

April Photo A Day – Day 6: “Air”

Somewhere over Colorado

Somewhere over Colorado

I took this picture on my flight from Chicago to California. When I fly domestically I usually pick a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible, even if it is a middle seat. I like to get on and off the plane as quickly as possible, and since I tend to sleep on planes, getting an aisle or a window seat isn’t usually important to me. My flight was booked solid and the only 4 seats available were in the back of the plane so I opted for the window seat. I snapped this pic somewhere over Colorado shortly before falling asleep for the rest of the flight.