Time to Level Up.

The story of how this began.

Surprise! Like most of you, the two of us have been trapped inside our apartment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Broke, unemployed, and having nothing but time on our hands; we thought, why not make the best of it?

Christian and I met in college, studying Acting at UNC School of The Arts.  Since graduating, we have made a home for ourselves in Chicago, IL. When we’re not isolated in quarantine, we enjoy the beauties of Lake Michigan, the amazing theatre scene, and frequenting the most satisfying and diverse restaurants of Chicago.

For now, and for the foreseeable future, the restaurants are closed for dining. But we didn’t want to let that stop us from experiencing great food. So we rose to the challenge.

In this season of isolation, we must learn to cook.
But what will we cook, you ask?
The answer is not so simple. Christian and I have something special in common.  There’s a lot of stuff we can’t eat.

I’ve been gluten free since being diagnosed with Celiac disease at the age of six. Those were the days when nobody knew what gluten was, let alone how to avoid it. Most of the exclusively gluten free products tasted like cardboard and cost my mom half a day’s salary. For those of you just now embarking on the glutenless journey- trust me… things are way better now.

Christian is also gluten free, among many other things. His journey began at age sixteen, when he nearly choked himself to death in the cafeteria and was later diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). At the time, he immediately eliminated gluten, soy, tree nuts, corn, fish/shellfish, cheddar cheese, celery, bananas and coconut.

So he ate mostly rice for… a long time.
After several years of an extremely restricted diet, he’s getting to introduce some foods back in. (Yay corn!)

All this to say, we know our way around an ingredients label.

We know what it’s like to spend hours in the grocery store, shopping for deals and splurging on overpriced items hoping their taste will fool you into thinking they’re the real deal.

We know what it’s like to come home after spending $12 on a pack of hamburger buns that end up disintegrating before it gets to your mouth.
We know what it’s like to buy ten different brands of pasta before finding one that doesn’t dissolve into a hot pile of mush.

We know less about our kitchen.

Sure, we felt like we knew the basics. And man, do we enjoy opening a pre-made pack of spices and making tacos together. But once confined to our home, we realized that we mostly used the same ten ingredients over and over again. We did our best to balance our meals with a protein, starch and veggie- but in terms of flavor, we didn’t go much beyond the 20oz. canister of garlic salt on the counter.

Why did we limit ourselves? Oh, the excuses!
We can’t eat anything!
Cooking takes so much time!
Our meals are good enough!
All those ingredients are so EXPENSIVE!

But it was truly time to level up.

Christian bought me an awesome cook book for my birthday.
We bought some fancy vinegar and started growing herbs.
We sharpened our kitchen knives.
We made some killer enchiladas.
At home. In our own oven!

And let me tell you, they were flavor-blasted.

From then on, we realized that with just a little more effort and a few key additions to our pantry- the world was at our fingertips.
Just in the pages of that one cookbook-
Gluten free potstickers.
Schezuan meatballs.
…Endless possibilities. 

We’re discovering that cooking flavorful and healthy meals can be easy, inexpensive, and allergy free

We’ll be using this blog to share our meals, our laughs, testing out products and recipes, and introducing you to our favorite bargains along the way.

Welcome to our restricted kitchen!
We hope you level up your meals with us. 🙂 

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